They say that sometimes the best things in life are free. That’s true in the world of motorcycling too, with some great events and activities for you to try out throughout the year.
There are loads out there, so keep an eye out on social media and in the pages of the specialist press, but in the meantime we at the Insidebikes team have banged our heads together to come up the five free events we’re most looking forward to visiting in 2018.
Real road racing is one of the ultimate motorcycling spectacles, with brave racers brushing the hedges at almost 200mph, and there are few other types of racing where spectators can get as close to the action.
The Daddy of these events are the Isle of Man TT races, a two week festival of road racing that takes place each year, and although theoretically that’s free to attend, the costs of ferries and accommodation can be astronomical as race fans from around the world tick off this ultimate event from their bucket list.
But the road racing is king on the island of Ireland and there are plenty of great events to see throughout the year. From the Ulster Grand Prix, the world’s fastest road race, to the up close and intimate course at Skerries, you can’t go far wrong at any Irish road race. Our choice though is the Northwest 200. Why? Its timing in mid-May means that it’s the traditional prelude to the TT, so all the big name road racing stars are in attendance, as well as some of Ireland’s top short circuit riders, like last year’s main man Glenn Irwin and 21-time winner Alastair Seeley, the most successful rider ever around the nine-mile triangle. Top speeds often exceed 200mph before braking for University Corner, with massed starts leading to thrilling slipstreaming battles throughout the field.
Off track, there’s plenty of great craic. The circuit runs between the towns of Portstewart, Coleraine and Portrush and there’s always loads going on away from the racing.
The event’s held on public roads, so it’s free to spectate, although purchasing a race programme means that you can put something back into the coffers and help contribute to the running costs of the event.
Barton Bike Night
Bike nights are a great way of meeting up with like minded riders, parking up, chilling out and enjoying the weird and often wonderful bikes and bikers that turn up.
There are loads held each year up and down the country but for our pick we’ve chosen Barton Bike Night, which this year takes place on Saturday July 14th.
This will be the 22nd year the event has taken place in the small North Lincolnshire town of Barton-Upon-Humber. It sees around 20,000 fans descend on the town centre, enjoying stalls, live music, displays and special VIP guests.
It may not be sexy and it’s certainly not glamourous, but spending a few hours attending a ‘Biker Down’ course may just save you or a mate’s life.
Run by fire brigades up and down the country, Biker Down is a free training course designed to prepare motorcyclists provide support in being the first to attend an accident.
These half day courses can make all the difference in saving a stricken rider’s life. Do you remove the injured rider’s helmet? How to you assess who is most at risk? What emergency first aid can you administer? These are all questions answered during a Biker Down course.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a new rider, a veteran or even a pillion, attending a Biker Down course could be the most worthwhile time you invest in 2018.
Don’t ride yet but want to give it a try before you buy? GetOn is just the thing for you!
Backed by Britain’s Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA), the programme offers free taster sessions run by qualified motorcycle instructors. All safety equipment is provided, with the training taking place off the public roads, so there’s plenty of opportunity to get a feeling for motorcycling win a traffic free environment.
Like it? Great, the guys will help advise on the next steps, including how to take your compulsory basic training. Not for you? No problems, there’s no fee and you can walk away saying ‘hey, I rode a motorbike today!’
Try outs take place all around the country, so check out the GetOn website for more information.
Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride
The DGR has become a worldwide phenomenon since being founded in Sydney, Australia, in 2012.
Inspired by an old photograph of Don Draper, a character in the TV series Mad Men, sitting on a classic motorcycle while wearing a suit, Mark Hawwa had an idea of creating an event where ‘gentlemen’ would challenge the ‘biker’ stereotype by creating a most dapper classic ride out to raise money for men’s health charity. And so the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride was born.
In the intervening years, the ride has grown to include over 56,000 participants in over 500 cities. Moustaches, cravats, monocles and classic bikes are the order of the day, and it all makes for a fun day out. Riders (which can include distinguished ladies) raise money for the Movember movement and even if you don’t feel that you or your steed are distinguished enough, heading along to one of the ride outs is a great way to spend a Sunday morning.
Date for this year’s event is September 30, so get it in your diary and check out the DGR website for details of your local ride out.