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  • Lap Timers, Help or Hindrance???????????????

    Lap Timers, Help or Hindrance???????????????

    I first want to thank a buddy of mine for suggesting this topic to me, one that is discussed a lot, and brought up a lot among newer track riders..

    First a lap timer is a tool used by most racers to record their lap times around a track. A lot of newer track riders get all wrapped up in their lap times. As they progress further in their skill, they also want to get faster and faster and move through the ranks of Novice, Intermediate and Expert. I have heard many riders talk about their lap times, walking around the paddock, asking others, as if it is a badge of honor, a way to weed out the herd.

    I want to try to express to the newer riders that while lap times are a great tool to judge your progress, they should not be the end all in determining skill, and overall speed.

    If anyone watches any type of organized racing at all on TV, they will always hear the announcers talk about the lap times for each rider. Most expert and professional racers use lap times as a very important tool for multiple things. Expert and professional racers can ride lap after lap and consistently hit the same times, usually down to the tenth of a second. With this information, the slightest of changes made to the bike, tires, riding styles or anything can help the rider learn more to see if something works. Suspension adjustments and tires can seriously affect the way the bike performs, and affect their lap times. As tires begin to fall off and lose grip that will also affect lap times.

    Riding style can affect a rider’s lap times, any changes a rider makes can increase or decrease times. Changes in braking points, turn in points, throttle roll on points, all of these can have dramatic affect on a riders lap time. In this writer’s opinion, these are all great reasons to use a lap timer, and a rider can gain a lot of valuable information.
    I have noticed over the years in my own riding, control riding for private track days and talking with a lot of newer track riders, that most novice and intermediate riders lap times vary between 2-5 seconds per lap. With this much a variance in times, there could be so many different factors for the gap in times. A rider needs to become smooth and controlled in their riding. Once that is achieved, the speed will come and they will become faster, and the rider will begin to notice some consistency in their times.

    Another concept I want to discuss is people discussing their personal best lap times. This is both another one of those situations where it is good and bad. Every time at the track, as you progress in your skill you will become faster, so hopefully your new personal best lap times will drop. But more importantly a rider should be working on skills at the track, not chasing lap times. What is a lap time, or a personal best lap time anyway? For one lap, you had everything work for you and resulted in a new personal best time. Maybe you had a clear track ahead of you, or you followed someone faster than you, so you were able to see what they were doing. But this should not be a gauge for your skill. Use this as a tool, try to learn from it. I have told many people that lap times don’t really mean shit and my reason for it is this: Lets say you are at your favorite local track, and your personal best lap time there is a 1:30.00. Now you are either on the track or in a race, and you are behind someone who is lapping the track doing 1:32.00. But your personal best is 2 seconds faster. Now you are stuck behind a person who is 2 seconds slower, and cannot get around that rider. Guess what? You’re now riding 32’s at that track. You need to learn how to pass. So your personal best lap time of a 1:30 means nothing right now, because a slower rider is in front of you and you cannot get around them. So in a nutshell, you are STUCK behind a slower rider, not because they are holding you up, but because you are not fast enough to get around them. But I will constantly hear riders say, “I got stuck behind a slower rider.” Was the rider that much slower? Or did you lack the skill to pass that rider?
    On the track, a faster more experienced rider will get around a slower rider anywhere, and will do it safely, quickly, and the rider being passed probably won’t even notice it, until after the pass has been made. Bike size means nothing in this; I have seen riders on bikes that have half the horsepower of larger bikes get around the slower riders quickly, safely and easily.

    Ok back to the use of lap timers. A lap timer is NOTHING more than a tool to measure changes on the track. Whether the changes are suspension, tires, body position, lines, braking points, throttle roll on points, corner entry points or anything. But as a tool there must be some sort of baseline used to see if the changes made by the rider have had an effect on his or hers performance. Don’t get sucked into the lap time game; don’t get sucked into chasing lap times for a badge of honor. Do yourself a favor, and work on being smooth, consistent and gain experience. The faster lap times will come with experience, don’t push to get them, let them come to you.
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. ApogeeNow's Avatar
      ApogeeNow -
      Lap timers will be of no use to me, I'm quite sure the battery in them would die before I ever finished the lap . . . . .
    1. vfrsam's Avatar
      vfrsam -
      good stuff. I have been debating on buying one for a few months. Maybe some one can lend me one instead. I only need it for one session to see what kind of times I am running.
    1. jb razor's Avatar
      jb razor -
      Quote Originally Posted by vfrsam View Post
      good stuff. I have been debating on buying one for a few months. Maybe some one can lend me one instead. I only need it for one session to see what kind of times I am running.
      You can borrow mine Sam.