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Top 10 Sub-£2,000 track bikes

Get track fast for minimum brass. These machines all have what it takes to get right on the pace

Most track bikes started life as road bikes. If you’re looking for a bike purely for track use, there’s no shortage of machines which have already been converted. Some are race bikes which may have had hard lives but come with some top extras like quality suspension and useful tuning.

If you’d like the option to use a bike on the road it’s best to get an original, road legal bike. Making a track only bike road legal once it’s missing loads of parts like lights and clocks can take ages and cost loads.

Few people take a good, clean, useable road bike and convert it into a track bike. It’s far more likely they’ll use a damaged machine as the starting point so check for damage and do a data check (see opposite). A daylight only MOT is another  useful option. Track bikes are almost always worth less than road bikes of equivalent age and condition. Prices above are for road going bikes in good, standard condition. Always consider consumables. They’re significant on any bike but extra relevant on a track bike. Brake discs, chains and sprockets need to be good or better because you’ll be giving them a hard time. Decent tyres are a must too but bear in mind if you buy a bike with old or touring rubber you will want to replace them.

Write offs and rip offs

Quite a few track bikes are insurance write-offs. This means they’ve been in an accident (or theft) and were deemed not economic to repair afterwards. Some may make good track bikes, others should be avoided at all costs. Recorded write-offs are grouped into several categories.

  • Category A bikes should be crushed and never used again.
  • Cat B machines shouldn’t be ridden but can be broken for non-structural parts. 
  • Cat C bikes may have suffered some structural damage (which can include a cosmetic mark on a frame) but can be ridden on the road. 
  • Cat D bikes typically only suffered cosmetic damage and can be ridden on the road too. Unlike cars, written off bikes do not require a VIC check before being road legal again.

We’ve heard of quite a few Cat B machines ‘escaping’ from breakers and being used as track bikes with no paperwork. Obviously we’d avoid any Cat A or B bike. Cs and Ds may be good buys but the fact they’re recorded write-offs reduces their value by 10-25% even if they’ve been fully repaired to as new condition. We’d advise doing a data check. MyCarCheck.com do them for £3.95 online or £3 to a mobile phone (text CTC[space][reg number] to 83600). Always check frame and engine numbers!

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10. Aprilia RSV Mille (1998-2000)

10. Aprilia RSV Mille (1998-2000)

Engine 998cc, 8v, injected, V-twin
Power 128bhp
Torque 75ftlb
Weight 189kg
Top Speed 165mph
Rating ????
Used prices £1,750 £2,400 £2,900

Litre class Italian exotica for moped money. It’s tall, slim, firm, frisky and responds best to confident input. Quite a handful on the road, but superb on track with a quality chassis and powerful, grunty engine. Problems are more from known niggles than major flaws. Rear brake and clutches can need regular bleeding and electrics, especially the starting and charging systems, can give grief but there are relatively simple, reasonably effective fixes for all common problems. Make sure it’s running right as owners fit (and remove) performance exhausts and filters but don’t always re-map to suit.

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09. Suzuki GSX-R750 (1996-1999)

09. Suzuki GSX-R750 (1996-1999)

Engine 749cc, 16v, carb/inj, four
Power 130bph
Torque 59ftlb
Weight 179kg
Top Speed 165mph
Rating ????
Used prices £1,400 £1,950 £2,800

About as old (and cheap) a bike as you can buy which’ll still give a decent rider a chance to stay with the latest hot kit. The SRADs re-established the GSX-R family as cutting edge race bikes and the fact they feel so rapid and modern today is a testament to how good it was in 1996.
Significantly updated for 1998 with fuel-injection, slightly taller screen and many more mods, making it a smoother, more powerful bike. The FI light is the easiest way to identify these later, more desirable machines. A few ’96 bikes had major engine problems but most should be fine now. Get the suspension forted and they fly.

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08. Yamaha YZF750R (1993-1996)

08. Yamaha YZF750R (1993-1996)

Engine 749cc, 20v, carb’d four
Power 123bhp
Torque 51ftlb
Weight 196kg
Top Speed 165mph
Rating ????
Used prices £1,200 £1,600 £2,400

Never appreciated at the time as everyone was Blade bonkers when the YZF was on sale. The Yamaha’s a better handling bike than the iconic Honda with superior suspension and a regular 17-inch front wheel.
Updated for 1995 with improved suspension, curved rad, new carbs and revised fairing. Better finish and new fork top adjusters for 1996. Single seat SP version’s no better unless you spend big bucks on it. Problems are pretty rare but EXUP valves need attention to stay sweet, clutches can be short lived and be wary of bikes which guzzle oil – a few engines have given up the ghost.

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07. Ducati 900SS (1990 – 1997)

07. Ducati 900SS (1990 – 1997)

Engine 904cc, 4v, carb’d, V-twin
Power 84bhp
Torque 62ftlb
Weight 180kg
Top Speed 140mph
Rating ????
Used prices £1400 £1,900 £2,600

The original ‘Super Sport’ Ducati is still a great ride and very track capable. Like so many Dukes it’s a slow steerer but very stable mid-bend so invites those big lean angles that make track riding a rush. Engine’s a grunter not a revver and with about 80bhp it will stay ahead of SV650s and the like even if fast 600s pull away on the straights. Head studs used to break but most are sorted, electrical gremlins common but many can be avoided by keeping connections tip-top and servicing can’t be ignored. Carbs can ice-up, but only in winter. Keep mint bodywork safe and values could even rise. If you don’t bend it...

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06. Honda CBR600F (1999-2000)

06. Honda CBR600F (1999-2000)

Engine 599cc, 16v, carb’d, four
Power 108bhp 
Torque 48ftlb
Weight 169kg
Top Speed 160mph
Rating ?????
Used prices £1500 £2,100 £2,400

The first alloy-framed CBR600F is a blinder. It’s light, handles, stops and goes like a full on race bike. There are very few differences between this and the later F-Sport model of 2001/02 which was winning races against newer, more powerful bikes for many years. These carburetted F-X and F-Y models give a smoother delivery than later injected bikes too. They’re even reasonably comfy, practical road bikes too. OE mild steel downpipes rot. Front discs warp if used very hard, camchain tensioners and regulator/rectifiers can fail but it’s still one of the most reliable bikes out there.

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05. Triumph TT600 (2000-2003)

05. Triumph TT600 (2000-2003)

Engine 599cc, 16v, injected, four
Power 108bhp
Torque 50ftlb
Weight 170kg
Top Speed 160mph
Rating ?????
Used prices £1500 £1,900 £2,500

Plane Jane looks and a fraction less power than rivals made the TT a slow seller when new. But it makes a great track bike as they steer beautifully and the brakes are extremely strong too. And because they’ve never been popular road machines you can get a newer, fresher example than Japanese rivals for a set price. Overall it’s a pretty reliable machine. The alternator can fail but you can get it rewound and replaced for well under £100. The pick of the bunch is the final model on sale from late 2001 onwards. It’s got numerous engine mods, a powder coated frame and swing arm plus colour coded air scoops.

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04. Yamaha YZF-R6 (1999-2000)

04. Yamaha YZF-R6 (1999-2000)

Engine 599cc, 16v, carb’d, four
Power 108bhp
Torque 58ftlb
Weight 169kg
Top Speed 160mph
Rating ?????
Used prices £1600 £2,200 £2,800

It’s hard to believe the R6 is a decade old either looking at it or riding it. It wowed us when it appeared with its smooth, revvy and powerful engine as well as a pin-sharp race developed chassis and it’s still a very handy piece of kit today. The bars can get a little flighty when accelerating, especially over bumps. Either get used to it or fit a steering damper if it unnerves. Problems are rare enough for no worries unless you’re buying a real hound – which you shouldn’t at this price point. Don’t be afraid of the ‘odd-profile’ front tyre size, you can still get super sticky rubber to fit and away you go!

03. Honda VFR400RR NC30

03. Honda VFR400RR NC30 (1989 – 1993)

Engine 399cc, 16v, carb’d, V-four
Power 59bhp
Torque 26ftlb
Weight 165kg
Top Speed 135mph
Rating ?????
Used prices £800 £1,600 £3,000

Sublime handling from the mini-RC30. Relic from an era where Japanese factories on an economic roll built ultra-high-spec machines for their domestic market. Identify rare UK bikes by the extra oil cooler and different mirrors. Imports are perfectly fine too but all may benefit from a suspension refresh or at least new fork oil as some are 20 years old now. Regulator/rectifiers often give trouble and lunch the battery at the same time but replacement’s not too costly. Valve checks and plug changes sometimes get ignored at service time, but overall they’re solid little bikes..

02. Kawasaki ZX-7R (1996 – 2003)

02. Kawasaki ZX-7R (1996 – 2003)

Engine 748cc, 16v, carb’d, four
Power 123bhp
Torque 58ftlb
Weight 203kg
Top Speed 165mph
Rating ?????
Used prices £1,400 £2,000 £2,800

Super sweet-steering, if slightly dated machine. A sorted front-end was Kawasaki’s sports bike signature in the early 90s. And that’s exactly what this mean looking customer is – a typical early 90s sports Kwak which outlasted its competitive window but still works well on track. Heavier and less powerful than rivals, it sold on brand loyalty and image. It’s still a very capable track tool thanks to a sorted chassis, enough power and a committed riding position. No major vices but OE downpipes rot easily. Almost unchanged during its model run so used spares generally easy to track down.

01. Suzuki GSX-R600K1 (2001)

01. Suzuki GSX-R600K1 (2001)

Engine 599cc, 16v, injected, four
Power 101bhp
Torque 48ftlb
Weight 163kg
Top Speed 160mph
Rating ?????
Used prices £1,700 £2,200 £2,500

A two grand bike which handles almost as well as the latest race reps. It’s quick with strong brakes too. £2K should just score one but don’t expect it to be low miles or mint. Problems are pretty rare. There’s the odd electrical niggle and engines can give trouble if not looked after or at high miles but corrosion, abuse, crash or theft damage are the key things to look out for. Later K2 and K3 models are identical except colours plus they have tidier mirrors and stainless rather than mild steel exhaust downpipes. As with all GSX-Rs, blue and white is worth more than other colours, especially red or yellow.