Full-on sportbikes can deliver remarkable versatility with the addition of a few simple changes. For example, you can transform a formidable canyon-carver into a more broad-based platform readily capable of long-distance touring. Or in this case, we’ll stick a little closer to type as we transform our 2007 CBR1000RR into a track-day bike with a few simple mods.
In this scenario, we’re not viewing the track as a place for racing or even competition; instead, think of it as a tool for learning, a controlled setting free of cross-traffic and other road hazards, where you can grow to become a better rider. Track days and riding schools abound all across the country, with literally hundreds of options. For this story, we’ve chosen Reg Pridmore’s CLASS Motorcycle Schools for our day at the track.
These many organizing bodies typically require various regimens for track-oriented bike preparations, so we have covered bike-prep basics in this article. With a modest assortment of tools and a modicum of mechanical know-how, this transformation should take an afternoon to accomplish. Restoring your mount to full street-going status following your excursion to the track should take even less time, especially now that you’ve become familiar with the drill. So roll up your sleeves and let’s begin the wrenching!
At the track, you won’t need your rearview mirrors; in fact, some organizations require them to be removed or taped over. On the 2007 CBR1000RR the mirror mounts hold the upper cowl in place and therefore need to be retained. Simply remove the bolt for the mirror stalk from the threaded mount. It’s firmly cemented in place with lots of thread locker, but it will come out with moderate effort.
The taillight, brake light, running light and turn signals also need to be deactivated. Disconnecting the wiring for these elements requires unbolting the tailpiece in order to gain access, so it’s just as easy to unbolt the entire assembly, including the license-plate holder. To black out the headlights, tape them with painter’s tape; duct tape usually leaves some messy, gooey splotches. We added a layer of black duct tape to our 1000RR to make it spiffier for our photos.
Remove the belly pan and fairing sides to facilitate a number of steps, including the unbolting of the front turn signals. Many organizations will require that the engine drain plug, filler plug and oil filter be locked in to place. On this CBR1000RR, a reinforcement plate bolts to the engine cases in the drain-plug area; drill both bolts and safety-wire them together.
The blade-shaped handle of the oil fill plug can be easily drilled, and Honda has conveniently left a small ear around an adjacent engine-case bolt that can be drilled to serve as a safety-wire anchor. Next, a large hose clamp is used to secure the oil filter in place. Simply locate the clamp mechanism next to the engine case to prevent the oil filter from rotating.
Run-of-the-mill engine coolant prevents freezing in cold weather, but it’s made with ethylene glycol, very slippery stuff that should not be used at the racetrack. Instead, drain the cooling system (see your owner’s manual for instruction), flush with water and refill with a high-performance coolant for the track such as Engine Ice, Cool-Aide or Water Wetter, products that lower operating temperatures and lubricate water-pump seals much more effectively than plain distilled water. Naturally, your machine should be entirely free of leaks of any kind; be sure to check it over thoroughly before setting off to the track.
Fresh tires are also a must in preparation for a day at the track, and they need not be dedicated track tires for you to enjoy yourself on a closed circuit. The tires we selected for high-performance street use, Dunlop’s Sportmax Qualifiers, worked quite well during this trip to the track. Even at elevated speeds, the grip returned from the Qs was impressive.
To create a little more room and streamline things, you can remove the passenger pegs. The one on the right side mounts on a heat shield that can also be removed, since a second aluminum heat shield remains in place over the exhaust system. We also decided to install frame sliders as “insurance” since a damaged frame is not as easily replaced as bodywork or bolt-on controls in the event of a tip-over.
With these few tasks under our belt, our erstwhile street machine now becomes a track star, ready to take us to the next level of the riding experience. Whether you choose to learn under the tutelage of a former racing champion such as Reg Pridmore, a more experienced riding buddy or your local track-day organizers, you’re likely to find that time spent on the track will serve to expand your riding horizons and make your street riding all the more enjoyable!
Disclaimer: Although using a Honda CBR motorcycle for track-day riding is acceptable, use of a Honda CBR motorcycle for competition or racing disqualifies that unit from warranty coverage. In addition, units prepped for the track and then returned to street-legal condition may have mirrors, lights, body parts and more aligned improperly, or may incur damage to bodywork due to over-tightened bolts causing stress fractures. Damage of this nature incurred by the owner is not covered as warranty repair.