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Track Days – Become a Better Motorcyclist

27/10/19 by vicwomersley
Training

The freedom that track days give to motorcyclists is undeniable. Not only are they bags of fun, you’ll improve your riding skills more than you can imagine. You don’t need to be an aspiring racer to get value from this sort of motorcycle riding – although if you do fancy yourself as racing bikes, this is the place to start. Track days help riders to focus on their acceleration, braking, cornering and feel for riding without the distractions of riding on the road. If you’re not convinced a track day is for you, it is possible to attend one as a bystander and watch the action. We’d recommend joining in though because track days are a fun way to become a better motorcyclist.

What to expect from a motorcycle track day

Smooth tarmac, sweeping corners, and other motorcycle enthusiasts are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the joy of track day riding. Track days are dedicated to the fun and freedom of riding a motorcycle. When you’re out there, riding on the road, there’s a lot to think about. Other cars, traffic hazards, road rules, pedestrians and wildlife are just some of the things you need to be aware of and prepared for. At a racing track, these distractions are removed, creating one of the safest places for you to push yourself and your bike to the limits and improve your skill.

Most track day organisers run three groups over a track day – novice, intermediate and advanced. They’re held almost every day somewhere in the UK, but you may find some weekends are reserved for racing. Each group gets around 20 minutes on the track per hour, with a break for lunch. If you’re unhappy in one group, you can ask to be moved up or down and generally you’ll be accommodated.

Track days aren’t just about riding fast; they’re about fun and the opportunity to improve your skill by riding unhindered on some great tarmac. In some cases, you can even get some free tuition for the first session or two.

The track day experience from two  first-timers’ perspectives

Preparing for a track day

You don’t need a particular kind of bike to enjoy a day at a racing track. Organisers accept cruisers, vintage motors, sports motorbikes and street motorcycles. In fact, if your machine is roadworthy and the tires are in good nick, you’ll be able to take them out to Silverstone, Brands Hatch, or one of the many other racing tracks in the UK or around the world. If you want to try a track bike, you may be able to hire one for the day, but don’t feel you have to leave your regular wheels at home.

You’ll need a full unrestricted A level licence. Either that or an ACU licence that’s just for racing. Along with your licence, you’ll need to have the right kit. This means helmet, boots, gloves and full motorcycle leathers – either an all-in-one suit or a minimum of a two-piece that zips together at the waist with a 360° zipper. If you regularly ride a motorcycle to commute to work or for weekend pleasure, it’s likely you’ll have most of the gear you need already. Some tracks and organisers have one-piece suits for hire. But, if you plan on making track days a regular feature in your riding, it’s worth looking into getting your own affordable yet quality one or two-piece leathers.

Finally, think about insurance. Most policies for everyday riding won’t cover you for a track day. You can arrange a day certificate with some insurers to cover major damage to your motorcycle. Alternatively, a specific track day insurance policy can cover you and your bike for riding on tracks in the UK, Europe and further afield. As with all insurance, the level of cover, your age, and riding history will impact the premium.

How much does it cost?

Where you ride on a track day is the biggest influencer of cost. The more famous tracks command higher fees. Obviously, the length of your track day also influences the price.

A three-day track experience at the Portiamo track in Portugal next year will set you back a cool £799. That doesn’t include getting there, but it does cover three days of riding, 4-star accommodation, instruction and a few other details. At the other end of the pricing scale, you could have a full day riding around Caldwell Park’s track at the end of this month for just £49. As well as a 9 – 5 day of riding, you can elect to camp over beforehand and save yourself getting up at ridiculous o’clock to make the 7:30am signing on and 8:30am safety briefing.

If a track day is something you’d like to try, shop around for different organisers to find something that’ll suit your pocket and schedule. Track Days, No Limits and MSV Trackdays all organise track days for motorcyclists in the UK. Other organisers focus on Europe or tracks further afield. If you have a friend or family member who rides a motorbike, track day vouchers are a great gift they’re bound to appreciate. Wherever and however you decide to ride on your first track day, we can almost guarantee it’s an experience you’ll love and one you’ll want to repeat time and again.