For many motorbike riders, taking their two-wheeled pride-and-joy out for spin on a track day is one of the most exciting and educational things they can do. If you’re thinking of getting out on the track, then it’s essential you do the right amount of research and preparation first.
It can be quite daunting for novices, so we wanted to put together a quick and easy guide on how to prepare for your first track day.
Do your research and preparation
It’s essential that you take the time to plan ahead for your day on the circuit, especially if you’ve never done it before. Most companies that operate circuits in the UK, or in Europe, will categorise any riders as either a Novice, Intermediate, or an Advanced rider. Some experiences will be specifically aimed at Novices, and others include ‘Women only’ days, so look around to find the one that’s going to suit you the most.
Keep in mind, many track days have their own on-site instructors to provide you with professional advice. Look into any ratings and reviews of tracks, and always look into the likely weather conditions you may get at the time of year you’re considering.
Even once you’ve found a track event that suits you, don’t stop with your research and preparation. Plan your day it terms of how you’re getting there and how long it will take you, as many events start early in the morning. Look into the track as much as you can, so that you know exactly what to expect before you arrive, things like YouTube videos of the track will be helpful for this.
It goes without saying that you must bring both parts of your driving license with you if possible, as you might not even be allowed on the circuit without them. It’s also a good idea to thoroughly read through and sign all booking forms and waivers before you get there as well.
Get the right gear
Sounds obvious, but to be as safe and as comfortable as possible out on the circuit, you’ll need to bring the right bike gear with you. It’s best to get yourself either a one-piece set of leathers, or two-piece that zips together all the way around your waist.
It might not be compulsory to take part in the event, but it’s also a great idea to get yourself a back and chest protector. And of course make sure you bring appropriate gloves and boots with you, along with a good quality biker helmet. In terms of the helmet, check that it’s also got a race approved ACU gold sticker, as some events require this.
Rainy weather is always a possibility, so consider taking an oversuit and a demister for your helmet visor. Having a big kit bag would certainly make life easier for you to pack all of this into, so that you can grab and go. Also, bring a change of clothes with you, in case it’s cold and you need the warmth or hot and you get sweaty.
Prepare your motorbike
Although certain companies will allow you to use a rental bike that they will provide, most riders want to take their own motorbike out on the track. If you’re taking your own, then you must prepare it accordingly.
Test that everything is working properly, from your brake pads to your tyres. Make sure nothing feels loose, and that your oil level is fully topped up. You may not be aware that a lot of events have maximum noise limits, which are normally around 102dB. If you happen to have an aftermarket exhaust, then check you aren’t too noisy first.
Top up your fuel tank, and either remove or at least fold in your mirrors as you won’t be needing them on the tack. You could also consider taping over your speedo, because this will only serve as a distraction on the circuit. It’s a good idea to bring a basic tool kit with you, just in case you run into any mechanical faults. Usually other riders will help you out if you do, but it’s still a good plan to take some tools.
Organise how you’re getting there
If it’s road legal you have the option of riding your motorbike there and back, but this might not be the most comfortable option, considering you will be riding all day on the circuit anyway.
Instead consider using a van or trailer, as this will be a far more safer and comfortable option. If you’re going with friends, it could also work out cheaper too. This will allow you to easily transport all your gear, tools, and food etc.
What to do on the day
After you’ve done all your preparations, and you’ve found your way to the circuit, it’s time to get yourself sorted for the day. First, get yourself to the paddock by following the signs, and set a base up for yourself. Certain circuits will let you use a pit garage as a base, if not, just make sure you can hear the tannoy from where you are.
You’ll need to register once you arrive, by presenting both parts of your driving licence and any completed paperwork. After you’ve done this, you’ll usually get a wristband and a sticker for your motorbike. Then you’ll have to get your bike noise tested in order to get another sticker. Once you’ve listened to the mandatory safety briefing, you’ll finally be ready to get onto the track.
For the first session you’ll usually be lined up in the pit lane with the other riders, where your wristband and stickers will be checked, then you’ll all be led onto the track. Generally the first few laps will be conducted at a fairly slow pace with no overtaking allowed. This allows everyone to get used to the circuit and warm up their tyres. After this, you will re–enter the pit lane, form up with the other riders and be released to enjoy the rest of the event at your own pace.
Always to ride within your ability and don’t get carried away. Focus on making gradual improvements as you get more confident with the track. If you feel yourself getting tired, make sure you stop, as fatigue could lead to a crash.
Remember, insurance works differently
Keep in mind that when it comes to motorbike insurance, it’s very unlikely that your standard insurance policy covers you for riding your motorbike during track days. After all, track days carry a certain amount of extra risk, mainly due to the high speeds and lack of any actual speed limits.
You will need to look at some specialist insurance providers that will be able to cover you on a track day. Remember, to always check what’s covered with specialist policies, including any limits and excesses before you make a decision.