UK motorcycle trackdays: Get out there!

It's not all about going fast, it's about learning machine control

LET's be blunt. There's only one place to explore the limits of your bike and your own riding abilities these days and that's on the the track.

If you've never ridden your bike on a race track there's a hole in your life - and there are no more excuses.

It may have only once been intimidating to go head-to-head with experienced club racers when you had just passed your test, but there are now so many track days that cater for every level of experience it's not scary anymore.

Whether you want to take part in a novice day, get tuition from a top racer or zap round with a group of mates, there's a track day out there with your name on it.

How they work

Most track days or race schools run three session: novice, intermediate and advanced. Make sure you're not out of your depth to begin with - if you're faster than you think, you can easily move up a group. The more riders out in each group, the less one-to-one tuition you will get, so if you want lots of advice, book onto a day with small numbers or book an exclusive deal that will guarantee you personal tuition.

You are expected to use your own bike on most track days but some schools include the use of a bike - these cost more. Just remember you are probably not insured to use your bike on a track day so check with your insurer first.

Most instructors are former or current racers with experience ranging from club to international level so don't be surprised to see famous faces helping out on the day.

Your day will be broken down into sessions of 15 or 20 minutes. Don't be disappointed as you will be amazed at how physical it can be and you will be glad of the breaks to catch your breath and chat to instructors.

You'll start off with a briefing about track safety, what the coloured flags mean and specific rules such as when you're allowed to overtake and when you are not. You will usually be required to sign an indemnity form and don't forget to bring both parts of your license - most organisers will ask to see it.

Related article: Visordown's FREE iPad Circuit Guide

The first session starts with three sighting laps where everyone follows the instructor to get acquainted with the track. Instructors are around all day for advice on your lines and general riding. On request they'll both lead to show you how it should be done (adjusting their pace to suit you) and also follow you to see where you're going wrong. Listen carefully to all they have to say during the debrief and by the end of the day you'll be a faster, safer and more confident rider.

How to prepare

Don't drink too much booze the night before a track day and get a good night's sleep. You will need to be clear-headed and focused to stay safe and get the best out of your day.

Arrive in plenty of time and ask the organisers as many questions as you want. Tape up, fold back or remove your mirrors. You should never look over your shoulder or into your mirrors as you'll be weaving all over the track: instead, hold your line and trust faster riders to apps you safely.

Indicators and headlight should also be taped up to avoid littering the track with glass if you have a spill.

Make sure your bike is in good order before you get to the track (no wafer-thin brake pads and bald tyres). 

You must have either a on-e-piece or two-piece (zip together) leathers and a decent helmet. A back protector is highly recommended.

Many track days are constricted by noise laws so if you have an aftermarket exhaust, check with the organisers if it's legal in advance or you won't be allowed out.

Start slowly and build up your speed as you begin to know your way around, the correct lines to take, which gear you need to be in and where your braking points are. But most of all, have fun.

Related article: More tips & advice for your first track day

Related article: Visordown's FREE iPad Circuit Guide