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Warmer Question


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So. I'm a average track day rider on Dunlop Q3's. I have a set of tire warmers and a generator but have never used them. I always have taken the time to do a few laps before really expecting a lot out of the tires.

 

I'm wondering though. I have ridden a few days where it's been downright cold in the mornings where it's taken a while for it to heat up for the day. The first few sessions are always a bit on the concerning side because of the low temperature with a bike that's sat in the cold all night.

 

Would I get any advantage out of putting warmers on the tires before the first session of the day to "get them up to temp" to avoid the initial warm up cycle? I probably would not use the warmers after that and probably would still allow them to heat up. I'm just wondering how much residual heat the tire will hold and if it would provide any additional margin of safety or if I would just be wasting my time.

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Warmers do help with the first session or two in the mornings, and they help with the first lap or so of every session. Some people use the logic that if you add up the cost of all those "wasted" warm-up laps throughout the day on multiple track days, it justifies the cost of the warmers.

 

Having said that, I'll also tell you that I personally never use warmers for regular track days, I'd rather just take a warm-up lap or two. I DO use them for race practice and racing, because everyone else does and they will pretty much mow you over if you don't get out there and ride fast immediately.

 

Here is the conclusion I came to after toying around with and without warmers - this is just my personal opinion:

1) if you are going to use full race tires, like slicks, you will probably need to run warmers because otherwise it is hard to get them up to temp - they want a higher operating temperature and can feel very stiff or slippery until they get there.

2) for racing, you will need warmers, or the whole field will pass you in the first three turns while you are trying evaluate your traction. It's hard to get all those positions back.

3) If you are using Q3s (which have a wide operating temp and warm up fast) or other DOT tires, it's probably not worth all the trouble to set up warmers, generator, stands, etc. and take the warmers on and off every session; your body and your suspension also need to warm up first session so you probably won't be at max pace/max lean angle anyway, and you can always use the first lap or two or each later session to work on something like finding reference points, or body position, etc., until your tires are up to temp.

4) it can be very useful to get a lot of experience warming up cold tires - I know of people that have gotten rather dependent on warmers and if, for some reason, they weren't working or hadn't been set up in time, they were not very prepared to deal with cold tires and rode too aggressively and/or did not know HOW to properly warm up their tires.

 

Again, this is all just my opinion but I hope it is helpful to you. :)

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Some great info here. Thanks for all of the suggestions. In the short term at least my bike won't be seeing slicks or racing anytime in the near future.

 

I might try the warmers on a cold day early in the morning to get some initial temp in the tires and see if they help. Might be interesting to do a comparison.

 

What's interesting is during warm up laps I have felt the level of grip change. Each lap the bike seems more planted and stable.

 

So a question off a tangent. If someone wanted to "play" with low grip situations what would be the best way to go about it? Traction has always been my greatest fear and in order to conquer fear you have to face it. I have done this a bit already in the wet but now I'm wanting to explore a bit more. Of course the preferred method would not involve lots of crashes. Anybody have any ideas?

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I think the best thing is a small dirtbike and go play in the dirt, and if that is feasible for you. If not, there are schools that focus on this, where you can rent a dirt bike and they teach you how to slide the thing around, how to slide the back end going into turns, etc. I did one of the schools, it helped me and it was a lot of fun. For one of the exercises they wet the track and we rode around fast in the mud, very slick and very educational.

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Robert,

I know you're a repeat offender at the school so I'm guessing you've ridden the slide bike at some point. If so, do you remember what CSS skills/drills you can apply to either help prevent a slide or, if necessary, recover from one? I suspect you may already be able to answer your own question, at least a bit?

 

Benny

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It's funny you mention dirt bikes. A friend of mine has been trying to get me to do a dirt bike school for a while now. I hate getting dirty but if it will help me learn a bit more about the dynamics of a slightly sideways motorcycle bring on the mud and crud.

 

Benny. I have actually never ridden the slide bike. I need to make a point of that the next year. This year I was so distracted by the massive progress I was making out on the track I forgot to do any of the off track stuff. As for the technique. I think you are talking about throttle control. Rolling out in a slide can cause some really massive issues and makes it much worse.

 

I have thought a couple of times about finding some lower grip tires and then doing a track day. The problem of course with that is at speed if things don't go according to plan it could cause some issues to myself and perhaps other riders. Not really an optimal way to do that. The slide bike and some dirt bikes are much better ideas. I'm not a complete stranger to losing grip but I would like for it not to be an "oh no" moment. :)

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Hi Rchase,

 

Pretty much every world champ trains in the dirt in the off season, and this has been the norm for years.

 

I find it stupid fun, have had a blast every time I've gone. Some go to schools, some just ride with friends. Done very little of both, and great fun, and helps one's pavement skills.

 

There is the obvious suggestion, but I'll add it hear anyway: all the gear, all time. I had a low speed fall (like 7mph) that would for sure have been a broken arm--as it was, just a large bruise.

 

CF

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Thanks Cobie. I'm checking out some local schools here. Might even pick up a dirt bike as well and see what trouble I can get myself into.

 

With the potential of falling off a bit higher I certainly would take advantage of all the protective gear I could get my hands on. I do appreciate you looking out for me though! :)

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A buddy of mine is big into dirtbikes and that's his suggestion as well. I'm probably going to use a bit of restraint and sanity this time and go for a class before I run out and buy another bike even though it's SUPER tempting. With 7 bikes an 8th might be a bit much. I'm still recovering from my insurance agent punching me in the face and running off with my wallet when I called to insure my S1000RR. :)

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Benny. I have actually never ridden the slide bike. I need to make a point of that the next year. This year I was so distracted by the massive progress I was making out on the track I forgot to do any of the off track stuff. As for the technique. I think you are talking about throttle control. Rolling out in a slide can cause some really massive issues and makes it much worse.

Robert,

 

Throttle control is certainly one of them. Proper throttle control can help prevent slides in the first place and, as you say, rolling out in a slide is a great way to get it to hook up too quickly and throw you off. I'm thinking of a couple of others as well. How could you apply the pick-up drill to a low-traction situation? How about relax?

 

Benny

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Robert,

 

Throttle control is certainly one of them. Proper throttle control can help prevent slides in the first place and, as you say, rolling out in a slide is a great way to get it to hook up too quickly and throw you off. I'm thinking of a couple of others as well. How could you apply the pick-up drill to a low-traction situation? How about relax?

 

Benny

 

 

Benny,

 

Thanks for that! Throttle control was the one that came to mind immediately with the image of the lean bike in one of the twist videos falling onto it's outrigger on wet pavement. I did not immediately think of the others. Pickup of course gets you on the most stable part of the tire which is really important for maximum traction. Something I need to work on honestly. Relaxing is something I am getting better at as time goes on. Fighting the bike's natural attempts to adapt often causes lots of slides. I would love to get to the point where wildly gyrating handle bars did not scare the heck out of me. :)

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Exactly.

 

Using the pick-up body position coming IN to the corner will help you keep the bike more upright throughout. This is a good technique when traction is an issue.

 

Relaxing lets the steering head adapt to all the bumps, preventing small plows in the contact patch and maximizing traction and stability. Remember, the key to being able to relax on the bars is having a good lock-on to the bike with your lower body. If you're not stable on the bike with your lower body, you have a tendency to hold yourself up on the inside bar, especially if you hang off without that good lock-on. Relaxing is also an absolute key when you get a head-shake. The stiffer you are on the bars, the more it upsets the bike. Most of us have a very difficult time relaxing in that case, but grabbing the tank with your knees as hard as you can and removing pressure from the bars is your key to recovery.

 

Benny

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A buddy of mine is big into dirtbikes and that's his suggestion as well. I'm probably going to use a bit of restraint and sanity this time and go for a class before I run out and buy another bike even though it's SUPER tempting. With 7 bikes an 8th might be a bit much. I'm still recovering from my insurance agent punching me in the face and running off with my wallet when I called to insure my S1000RR. :)

I normally agree with that approach...but dirt bikes are sick fun! I have a KX-250 (2-stroke), I've only ridden few times but I pretty much giggle like a little girl when I do. You can get all kinds of older dirt bikes for not so much money---course with all those bikes, you might have to jump it in to the garage.

 

CF

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Exactly.

 

Using the pick-up body position coming IN to the corner will help you keep the bike more upright throughout. This is a good technique when traction is an issue.

 

Relaxing lets the steering head adapt to all the bumps, preventing small plows in the contact patch and maximizing traction and stability. Remember, the key to being able to relax on the bars is having a good lock-on to the bike with your lower body. If you're not stable on the bike with your lower body, you have a tendency to hold yourself up on the inside bar, especially if you hang off without that good lock-on. Relaxing is also an absolute key when you get a head-shake. The stiffer you are on the bars, the more it upsets the bike. Most of us have a very difficult time relaxing in that case, but grabbing the tank with your knees as hard as you can and removing pressure from the bars is your key to recovery.

 

Benny

 

I was quite lucky to get a rain shower at Barber that wet the track down while I as practicing the quick steer. The cool thing about quick steer is you also use less lean angle which keeps you on the more stable part of the tire. I have practiced quick steer many times before but for some reason it never stuck in my mind as much as it did on a wet track. I'm going to have to work on the pick up drill a bit more. :)

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I normally agree with that approach...but dirt bikes are sick fun! I have a KX-250 (2-stroke), I've only ridden few times but I pretty much giggle like a little girl when I do. You can get all kinds of older dirt bikes for not so much money---course with all those bikes, you might have to jump it in to the garage.

 

CF

 

 

Hmmm. Sounds like I might have to make an exception. Heck as inexpensive as they are and since they don't require street registration or insurance I probably could cheat. They probably also make super fun pit bikes although the track day organizers would probably frown upon me taking a short cut flying through the air jumping Barber's multiple parking lot levels. :)

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