As it turns out, bikes are more fun than I originally though…
Finally got to experience what a bike is (almost) capable of doing at Circuit de Bresse on the 10/11 September. The two day event was the longest track day I’d been to and it was organised by FVP.com; very friendly and fun group to go with a vast range of skills and bikes taking part.
Circuit de Bresse is a small track in the South-East of France, not too far from Switzerland. Despite its size it’s very technical, lots of corners and is quite narrow, making it more suited to bikes than cars. The relatively slow speeds were perfect for me to start track riding on a bike. The tracks lack of armco and gravel traps make it quite safe, limiting the amount of things you can hit!
Such are the number of corners that the top pace of a Superbike would break just under a 1:30 time.
I went with a couple of more bike track-day seasoned friends, which would provide useful in giving me guidance and showing me how a two day event is catered! Proper setup with van, gazebo, table, chairs and even a mini-fridge.
The bikes accompanying my Honda X-11 would be an Aprilia Tuono and an Aprilia RSV Mille (track only), and they would both be running on slicks.
Starting out at what seemed like walking pace, I slowly worked my way up to faster speeds as I grew confident with the bike’s and the tyre’s performance. Once the foot peg feelers where hit, it was time to remove them and continue going lower. One of the shocking aspects of track riding was the amount of body shift needed to actually make a difference. What felt like hanging off the bike was nothing more than a slight lean on your torso; you really have to exaggerate all movements and even then it’s probably still not enough. So that was one of my main goals throughout the whole experience: to work on correct body position and confidence on the bike.
Fortunately my confidence grew enough to be able to be bumped up from the bottom group where the pace was more consistent with mine (4 groups in total). This also allowed me to be on track with the others and enjoy some riding together.
Fastest lap of the day for me was a 1:48.602, which I am very pleased with considering I’m only just starting out and the bike is a heavy brute. I was only 2 seconds slower than what my friend managed on his MV Agusta F4 750 (he did a 1:40 on his Tuono with slicks this time round), and a bit faster than the RSV Mille on slicks, although the rider hadn’t ridden the bike before.
Here you can really visualise how little I am moving on the bike. The lean angle of the bike is approaching the limit, but I could turn much tighter if I had all my weight shifted as inward as possible. It did improve throughout the day, but my toes where still scraping more often than not.
Overall I was very pleased with the performance of the bike and the tyres. I never had any concerns or hesitation on the grip levels available and the bike was as easy to ride as ever. The engine has a lot of low-end torque which allows me to be more relaxed on gear choice but the smooth delivery doesn’t provide any twitchiness or high-side scare.
Overall it was a very successful weekend and I can’t wait to go again with the bike.
Part 2 to come.