Top ten cheap track day motorcycles

Finding a track day bike is a tricky thing to do, with that in mind, here’s Visordown’s guide to the best cheap track day motorcycles

BUYING a track day bike is a totally different ball game to buying a motorcycle for riding on the road. Trying to find a cheap, quick, and reliable track day motorcycles is even harder. But there are some tips you should try and follow.

First off, it’s a good idea to get a bike of similar performance to the bike you ride on the road. We aren’t saying that because you ride a Kawasaki Versys on the road you should convert one to track use, but selecting a bike with around the same horsepower as the Versys is a good starting point.

Think about what you’re trying to achieve, if you want to go on and do your ACU licence and then some club racing, the bike to start on should really be in the same class you wish to eventually race in. If you’re just out for fun it’s probably better to look for something cheap and cheerful to begin with.

Think about crashes too, they do happen after all. It’s not good buying a spotlessly clean example of a bike and then hurling it through the gravel at Redgate, only to find that the parts to repair it are as rare as hen’s teeth and stupidly expensive to buy!

Once you’ve thought about that, here’s our guide to the best cheap track day motorcycles

10. Suzuki SV650 S (2000-2006) faired

The little SV is a very good choice for the novice to intermediate track day rider. It’s sweet handling, features a strong and tuneable engine, and the parts for the bike, should anything go wrong, are cheap and plentiful.

9. Honda CBR600F3 (1995-1998) steel-framed

The early CBR600Fs are a great option for budding track day riders. The steel-framed (nicknamed ‘Steelies’) is the best option, as the frame can withstand some minor straightening and repair work should your bikes go cartwheeling down Hall Bends at Cadwell!

The engine is strong and like the SV above, almost all the parts are still available off the shelf. If there is anything that isn’t, there are thousands of crash-damaged Steelies waiting in a yard to help keep another track day steed running.

8. Triumph Street Triple (2012) the facelift model

Going for the facelift model is a better bet than an older round headlight bike, those are appreciating in value while many couldn’t get to grips with the styling of this slightly awkward looking machine. Triumph sorted the styling out for the later bikes though, making this version one of the cheapest you can get. As with all these bikes, parts are easy to obtain and the bikes a doddle to work on thanks to no fairings and very little bodywork – which helps if/when you do bin it, as replacement fairings can be costly.

Once you're out on the track though, the DNA of the all-conquering Daytona sports bike shines through. The Street Triple is a demon on the track and will need little to no modification to keep up with many of the machines in the intermediate group of most track days.

7. Yamaha R6 5EB (1999-2003)

The older R6s are a very safe bet for track day riders, and still show up in their droves at the track, even now over 20 years after its launch.

Even at the grand old age of 21, the original R6 is one of the fastest turning machines on two wheels, thanks to its exceptional lightweight, bang-on sports bike geometry, and near-perfect weight distribution.

The engine of the R6 isn’t the most grunty out there though, even for a supersport 600, and it does need to be revved to make the best of its power. But with careful gear selection and some decent rubber, an R6, a twisty track, and a sunny day is a combination that is hard to beat.

6. Suzuki GSX-R600 K1 (2001)

Sticking in the land of the 600s comes the Suzuki GSX-R600 K1. Prices for these have been ridiculously cheap for half-decent examples that just need some TLC, although, like many bikes from this era, they may start to go up soon.

Handling is much the same as the R6 above, although the Suzuki is a slightly less razor-edged machine, possibly making it better for a less experienced rider.

The Suzuki too has an engine that screams it’s way to the redline making lots of power for a bike of this age. Unlike the R6 above though, the GSX-R is backed up with a chunky mid-range spread of torque, a very handy thing to have on the UK’s tight and twisty track day venues.

5. Aprilia RSV Mille (1998 – 2003)

It may seem strange to be lumping a 1000cc, thumping Italian thoroughbred in with some supposedly cheap track day bikes, but the Mille provides massive bang per buck.

Used examples can go for as little as £3k, and with an already respectable level of performance from the machine, there’s not much else you’d need to buy to make a top-level track tool.

It also has something not many other bikes on this page have; one of the best V-twin soundtracks on two wheels. Chuck a set of open pipes on a Mille and it is truly a sound to behold – just keep an eye out for the pesky noise tester and that bloody decibel meter!

4. Suzuki GSX-R1000 K6 (2005 – 2007)

Few cheap track day bikes command as much respect as a well-sorted K6. In the right hands, a tatty looking K6 can run rings around many of the modern sports bikes, even with their bulging amounts of power and fancy electronics.

And it’s that simplicity that is part of the charm with GSX-R1000, they are bike built at the cusp of the technological revolution of the mid-2000s. The tech they do have doesn’t hamper the rider, and the 150bhp (ish) they have now makes them so much more accessible than some new machines.

3. Yamaha R1 4C8

For cheap, track day speed, you actually can’t do any better than an old R1. With around 170bhp on tap the R1 has a punchy mid-range rarely seen from this era of Japanese bike. Race derived suspension and brakes are superb on road and track, and there’s enough adjustability to allow most riders to find the perfect set up.

2. Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade

The Honda Fireblade is the bike that defined what a modern superbike is. Again, there are plenty of ’Blades about and around £4k should get you a decent bike CBR900RR from the mid to late 90s. Spend a bit more, and you should be able to get hold of a CBR900RR from 2001 - £5k should do the job here and although the 2000 bike wasn’t quite as hardcore as its competitor at the time, it’s solidly built, reliable, has 170hp and should be good for a day on track with just a set of sticky tyres.

1. Honda CB500 (any year)

Ask any avid track day rider what they’re worst fear is and most will come back with: ‘being overtaken around the outside by a CB500 while riding a thousand…’ And it’s true, most track day riders have encountered somebody testing in prep for the CB500 cup and been mugged on more than one occasion.

Sure, a thousand will blast past on the next straight, but you can guarantee that by the next braking zone, the 60bhp wonder will be breathing down your neck once again.

They are super cheap too, and there are hundreds of thousands of ex-riding school bikes lying around to scavenge parts from if something goes wrong.

A CB500 probably offers bang for buck that no other track day steed can.

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