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Royal Enfield Track School – Welcome to reality

by caradmin
Royal Enfield Track School – Welcome to reality
GalleryIntroductionThe BikeThe ClassroomOut on the trackIs it worth spending your money?

Introduction

It had been more than a year since I rode on a racetrack and about two years since I had been at the Kari Motor Speedway. Moreover, the last time I was on this track, under me was a 200cc bike. But this time, with an engine capacity three times more, my ride for the next two days was the Royal Enfield Continental GT 650. But before you read ahead, I need to confess – the thought of riding a race-prepped Conti GT and the fact that it was on Kari, had me intimidated to an extent.

But here is how the entire race school unfolded…

The Bike

As one would expect, this was a race-spec Royal Enfield Continental GT 650. And its modifications weren’t just limited to the body panels and the tyres, but a lot more. To start with, the headlight was replaced with a cowl and so was the rear seat alongside the rear frame and tail. Then, the stock meaty exhaust was replaced with a much louder aftermarket unit with no decibel killers. This amped up the overall fun of gunning the bike at the straights even more.

Other functional changes included sticky JK Tyre rubber and aftermarket brake pads with the ABS removed at both ends. The latter added to my nervousness even more since I was worried about locking the front in case of panic-braking. Even the clip-on handles’ position was altered to give the Conti GT a thorough race-bred stance.

The Classroom

If you are planning to attend any race school, you need to remember that it is just like your, well, school. Before you get a hands-on experience with the Continental GT 650 on the track, the trainer, which in this case was Anish Shetty, holds a classroom session to get you familiar with the bike. For reference, the Coach not only races as a professional but also has multiple titles. It is more than justified to say that we were put in good hands.

Day one began at a relatively relaxed pace as we got done with the registrations, riding gear allotment, and warm-up, post which we had our first of many classroom sessions. Here, the objective was to get acquainted with the track and the bike. As the session began, the Coach asked us various questions to get our juices flowing and thinking about the race track and riding since that was the only agenda until the next evening. One of the best parts here was his patience and ability to break down the nitty-gritty of riding motorcycles as an entire concept. This became even more evident when some of my fellow students asked their questions and revealed that they had begun riding bikes just a few months ago.

Following this was the breakdown of acceleration, braking, and leaning of the bike. A total of 100 points were assigned among the three aforementioned aspects, and students were presented with various scenarios so they could evaluate where to get the most points. This made it easier to remember the drills and act as per the momentum once we were out on the race track.

But this wasn’t it. Throughout the two days, we learned counter-steering and no-braking too. Both of these were first demonstrated by the Coach and we had to follow the same later. Once these drills were performed, students gathered in the classroom for their doubts and a debriefing session. Here, we all brainstormed why some of us struggled to maintain our composure on the bike and had to battle it while taking the corners. A few possible reasons were later discovered including the fitness levels and vision. More often than not, we held tightly to the handlebar while leaning or flicking the bike around, whereas we were supposed to grab the fuel tank with the thighs and press against the footpegs if needed. This meant that the rider had to engage his core and counter-steer rather than apply the pressure on the handlebar.

Once rectified, the Coach also took turns to clock a lap with each student in the two batches that we were split into. This included working on the body position and racing lines. In one of the classroom sessions, we were also explained where and how to be placed on the race bike. I struggled with grabbing the tank with the outside knee while taking corners. This not only hampered my overall confidence but also affected my ability to carry speeds throughout the corners when leaned over. But after the two days of multiple track and classroom sessions, things were different, for all of us.

Out on the track

It was only sensible for the students to get a couple of free sessions towards the end of the Royal Enfield Track School. Once we were allotted the said time, it was time to execute all that we had learned by picking the Coach’s brains and from the countless laps that we practised. I first started by setting my entry and exit lines on the track along with the right gear to be engaged for an adequate drive. However, the Continental GT 650’s engine packs truckloads of torque, even in its race-ready trim. So, its forgiving nature allowed us to carry low exit speeds at a higher gear and then still accelerate toward the redline without downshifting.

But with so much adrenaline running through my veins, I ended up braking a little late and a little hard right at the end of the first lap. Naturally, the front brake locked, the bike lost its momentum and there I was, scared to my wits of the front wheel locking any moment. To my good luck, all that happened was the speed drastically reducing and the Conti coming to a full stop without any drama.

The bike went back to the pits and I was assigned another one immediately to finish my open session. Being a tad more calculative and gentle on the front brake this time around, I managed to not only drop the anchor correctly but also in the correct manner, which is loading the front as the corner approached and gradual acceleration during the exit.

Lap after lap, the pace increased, and the bike felt more familiar than it did in the morning before. We even got better with the race lines as that also helped us look further to straighten the corner. These are some of the most basic things that ideally need to be aced before you start pushing past your limits on the race track. While a single track day does wonders for your riding skills, it takes multiple of them to get faster, have the perfect body position, and hone your ability to the extent of considering motorcycle racing full-time.

Is it worth spending your money?

YES! If you want to change the overall outlook towards motorcycle riding and become a safer and sharper rider on both, road and racetrack, signing up for the Royal Enfield Track School is the way to go. While it is a fairly expensive affair, the experience of riding a 650cc bike that goes screaming on a tight and technical track like Kari, triumphs it all. A motorcycle racing school with good coaches and the right bike develops you as a rider that road-riding or weekend jaunts to the nearest ghats may not.

It allows you to unlearn, re-learn, and then execute at your own pace in a safe environment, under the wings of an experienced racer/coach. So, if you have the opportunity for a two-day race school up next, don’t think twice!

Gallery

Royal Enfield Continental GT 650
169 Kmph|211 kg|47 bhp @ 7250 rpm
₹ 3,18,418Onwards
Avg. Ex-Showroom price

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