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Hi Everyone,
I've been riding on the road for a number of years, but I just finished my first track riding course. From what I've experienced, I've decided that I really need to move down in displacement/horsepower from my CBR600R for improving my track riding. I don't want to race, but I definitely want to make some riding improvements through track days and more track courses.
I have done a lot of reading, and I know that the KTM RC390, the Kawasaki Ninja 400, and the Yamaha R3 can all be reasonably prepped for track days without a whole lot of fuss - tires, perhaps brake lines and pads, some crash fairing, and a pipe (not necessary).
The general consensus out there is that all three of those bikes are higher revving and more suited to the track. I get that, but I have had really good luck with my Hondas, and I just think that, for my level of riding (novice on the track), are they really any more suitable for me than a CBR500R? I know the CBR has lower ground clearance, so I thought I could get some rearsets and move the pegs up a bit, swap out the tires for something with easier turn-in, and perhaps get some race fairing (if I can find it) and a pipe.
Wondering if anyone has done this and how it's worked out. Any suggestions you have will be appreciated.
J
 

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I track my cb500f. Your R should be fine for learning. One thing to consider: if this is your commuter, be prepared to pay out of pocket for any repairs should you crash. That’s another reason a $2,000-$3,000 300cc prepped bike is better if you track a lot.

Get good tires and tire warmers and progress from there. No need for anything else at this point in my non-professional opinion. That money saved put toward your dedicated track bike.
 

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Your CBR600R would probably be considered the best track bike of the ones you mention. If you are going to track once or twice a year, you can take it easy and concentrate on learning basics.

However if you go more often, it's likely you will start pushing yourself and the bike harder. maybe much harder.
Hence the very good comment above about having a cheap track bike where you don't pay to fix all the cosmetic damage of a minor crash.

I did my first motorcycle track day last summer on my 2014 CB500F. It has a modified suspension (front and rear) set up for my weight and was confidence inspiring. So these Honda 500's can do it.

Whatever bike you get, make sure the front spring stiffness is about correct for your weight to minimize brake dive.
 

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Whilst the 500 is a nice easy going bike (good price), the suspension is really low budget, and would seriously fade if you start to push it, given the general lack of power the engine has, you would be really depending on good handling to keep reasonable speed and lap times, therefore I suspect you would have to spend more money on good suspension for the 500 than the bike is worth. The CBR600 has reasonable suspension to start with.. I love simplicity and I am sure the 500 would be fun and easy to maintain, but I think the suspension would really let it down, only you can decide if that is an area you want to invest in!!.. Best of luck whatever you do.
 

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What about somewhere in the middle with a CBR650F or CBR650R? I love how my CBR500R rides over crappy roads but I'd probably have to put over a grand into the suspension if I planned to race at the track.
 

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Did my first trackday with my 500F last summer. The soft suspension was the limiting factor for me causing me to drag hard parts near my maximum lean. I think rearsets and a slip on can that won't drag on the pavement would solve my (and possibly your) initial problems. Keeping up with the 400s?? Yeah, I dunno..
 

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Do you already have a 500? If so, don’t waste your money on another bike just because it might be better suited for the track (which the R3 and 400 would be, in some ways). Take the money saved from not buying another bike and spend it on track time. I tracked my 500 for years in mostly stock condition. As mentioned above, you’ll want rearsets and maybe a slip-on . It will work fine until it doesn’t, and then you can take the 600 out again.
The 500 seems to have a significant power-to-weight ratio disadvantage to the 400 and even the R3. However, I suspect I would prefer the 500 as a street bike over those others, so once you’re ready for the 600 back on track, you can make the 600 dedicated to track only duty and ride the 500 on the street (that’s what I’ve done). And if you crack up the 600 a little, the 500 can serve as backup until you get the 600 fixed.
I wouldn’t waste money on race fairings on the 500. Parts are cheap for this bike, and it survives crashes fairly well. I crashed my 500 and only had to replace the turn signal and a peg to get it street worthy again. I bought a new middle fairing, but I’ve never replaced the scuffed one, since it still had some track day duty to come. Was gonna sell the 500 but never did. If I had a bigger trailer and tow vehicle, I’d take the 500 every trip as a backup and rain bike.

If you go with the 500, the stock tires will be ok for a weekend or two depending on their wear, if you must. Otherwise, put some Q3+ on it right away. If it rains, ride anyway; it’s great practice and slows you down more and really makes you focus on body position while you do everything you can to lean less. The Q3+ is pretty decent in the rain; pretty sure I wouldn’t feel as good in the rain with the Q4. Q3+ is still great in the dry, too, at the speeds you’ll be going for now.

As far as track prep goes, I wouldn’t waste money on suspension upgrades. By the time you’re really ready for a better suspension, you already have the 600.
If you have a later 500 with fork preload adjustment, you’re probably good to go. Set your sag and then make sure you’re not bottoming out (cable tie around 1 fork tube will tell ya).
Make sure your brake fluid is fresh. You might start getting some brake fade, but I never did until I had to use the 500 after having ridden the 750 for a while and was faster (also, I had to switch to the 500 quick and didn’t put fresh brake fluid in). I was always impressed with the stock 500 brakes.

The track updates you’ll really need will be rearsets first. I put Woodcraft on mine. Well made and bomb proof, but maybe a little too bomb proof. Instead of bending the rearset when I crashed, the frame got a little tweaked where the mounts bolt on. Minor, but less than ideal. You might give Vortex rearsets a try (at least look for info on them here). They’re less beefy (so they will bend before the frame), and their pegs are designed to give before the rearset does.
With more lean angle capability, you’ll almost certainly be scraping the can right away, so a slip-on will be in order. The Leo Vince GP Corsa will give you the best clearance (well, among what was available 4-5 years ago, anyway). I’m pretty sure it was the GP Corsa that I bought; I know I posted that in another thread here, but I’m writing this on my phone during a bout of insomnia, and searching would be a pain.

Depending on how long you track the 500, those two minor upgrades might be all you need. By the time you’re really wanting more, you’ll probably be ready to go back to the 600. I had no options, so I also dropped the stock clip-ons below the top triple. I think some of us have posted info elsewhere here, but I wouldn’t do it right away.

Have fun.
 

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I do a lot of aggressive riding on my CBR500R (like probably 75% aggressive, 25% "normal). IMO stick with your 600 and just take it easy until you get comfortable with it. You'll need to replace the suspension on the 500 at a minimum. I'm looking into replacement rearsets for mine because I'm constantly dragging the foot pegs. Also, unless its a really short, twisty track where you're staying in 3rd the whole time the 500 is going to leave you wanting more. I'm a fairly big guy (XXL helmet, XXL gloves, very wide shoulders, etc) so I'm sure that contributes but these little guys don't have a whole lot of torque once you get towards the top of 4th gear.
 

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I purchased some sub$100 cnc rearsets on ebay but have not put them on yet. I am trying the puig racing foot pegs first. I'm concerned that the riding posture geometry with rearsets might be uncomfortable. That said, I have scraped the puigs on the street so.. but I'll try them next trackday anyway. Still have the stock can and suspension. I love yhe feel/feedback I get with the stock suspension and 30psi in my Dunlop Roadsmart 2s. Next trackday will be my 2nd
 
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