Top tips to tackling a track day successfully
You will need a full bike licence to take part in any track day; some may accept a restricted A2 licence as well. Riders do track days for different reasons, some want to build their skills as a biker and apply it to riding on the roads. Others are focusing on taking part in a race day. Take a read though our top tips below to make sure your track day is a success…
Booking your track day
Luckily, there are plenty of different circuits up and down the country so you’re really spoiled for choice. It’s a good idea to visit a circuit that you’ve watched a race at before, this way you’ll have more of an understanding of the track and that will help you on the actual day. However, if that’s not possible then you can always read up on any of the UK circuits and watch videos on YouTube to help build a better understanding.
There are ‘Novice Only’ track days that are perfect for those who have never been before.
Check out these guys for booking your track day:
Check for wet weather policies!
We do live in England after all, and the best laid plans for a track day in June can have just as much chance as being rained off as one in November. If the weather isn’t on your side then your track day will be cancelled, and sometimes no refunds will be in place. Checking for wet weather policies when you book is always a good idea!
Preparing your bike
You can hire bikes for track days, but there is the option to use your own. No, you don’t need to have a proper track bike or sports bike to take part. Whatever you ride on the road normally can be used for a track day. However, you will need to check your bike over and make some small adjustments before you get out on the track…
You don’t need special racing tyres for a track day; the ones you use to ride on roads will do the trick. Make sure your tyres are inflated correctly and are at the mandatory tread level then you’ll be just fine!
You’re going to need these so it’s best to give them the once over. Make sure there’s no signs of wear and tear that could cause any accidents.
Of course, another thing that you probably always give a once over between rides but make sure everything is fit for purpose.
Make sure you remember to check your oil levels, and make sure the cap is secured tightly – the last thing you need is an oil spill on a track day, it’s safe to say you probably won’t be the most popular person there!
It goes without saying, but make sure you’ve got enough fuel in the tank for the whole day. There will be an opportunity to grab more fuel at the circuit but you’ll be paying a lot more for it.
Remove your mirrors and tape up your lights
This will make the whole experience a lot easier for everyone. You won’t need your mirrors for a track day, there’s no need to see what’s happening behind you – you need to be aware of what’s ahead. You can either remove your mirrors completely for the day or tape them up, that’ll get rid of any temptation to check behind you, like any sensible biker would.
All lights and lenses will need to be taped up as well in case of an accident which would result in shattered glass or plastic across the circuit.
You could also think about taping over your speedo and removing your number plate.
Do I need insurance for a track day?
Insurance for a track day isn’t compulsory but if you’re using your own bike then it might be worth considering, especially if you’re a novice. Your normal insurance won’t cover track day use so if you were to damage your bike in an accident then you’d be footing the bill!
You can purchase one-off insurance policies to protect your bike during a track day, or your current insurer might be able to provide this as an additional extra.
Some track days will let you use their motorbikes and cover will already be in place.
What do I wear to a Track Day?
All track days have strict rules on what you can and can’t wear on track; this is for your own safety. You’ll need to own or hire a pair of leathers; all-in-one or a two piece that zips together. You will not be allowed to take part wearing textiles/jeans etc. as these are not deemed safe enough. You’ll also need:
- Motorcycle helmet with a gold ACU sticker
- Motorcycle gloves
- Motorcycle boots
- Back protector – not compulsory but can give you that extra layer of protection in the result of an accident
Arriving at your Track Day
Track days are known to start early, and why not? You’ll want as much track time as possible because that’s what you’re paying for – early bird gets the worm and all that. It’s always ideal to turn up as soon as the gates open, you’ll be able to bag yourself a good spot in the pit garages (which is always good if the weather isn’t always favourable outside) but if not you’ll have to stick with the paddock.
Sign on for the days event is usually between 7.30 – 8am.
Your bike and kit will be thoroughly checked before you’re allowed on track; anything that’s not up to standards will be refused. This is for your own safety and for everyone else, it’s no point letting someone on the track with a dodgy tyre or bad brakes – this is why you’ll need to spend a bit of time giving your machine some TLC ahead of the big day.
The Noise Test
All bikes will be subject to a noise test when they arrive on track; this will happen during sign on usually but can differ between organisers. Most circuits will have a noise limit so you’ll be asked to rev your bike to a certain RPM (this is based on your engine size) and hold it whilst the noise measurement is taken. If you think your bike may be over the limit, you can purchase aftermarket products for your exhaust. Once you pass you’ll be given a sticker for your bike.
Next up is the sighting lap, this will be your first ever experience on track. You’ll be taken out in your group and shown around the circuit to start with. You’ll get to familiarise yourself with every element of the track whilst being given expert advice from your instructor.
This will usually consist of three laps that are normally quite slow but it gives you a chance to make sure you’re happy with the track and how your bike is performing.
Your first lap
Now the real fun starts, it’s time to head out for your first lap on your own. Take your time, build up speed and get a real feel for it all. Don’t be scared of going too fast, if you know your bike and how hard your brakes work then you’ll be absolutely fine.
Use all the track – remembering there’s no oncoming traffic!
One thing all bikers forget is that you can use the whole of the traffic; all traffic is flowing in the same direction so you can pick a different line and work with it. There’s nothing coming towards you, like you would ride on roads. It might take a while for this to sink in but you’ll find the whole experience easier and enjoyable when it does.
Be consistent – find your speed, find your groove
Sessions usually last 20 minutes on average, but if you feel you need to pull into the pits for a little breather then there’s no problem with that either. You don’t want to overexert yourself too early on. Instructors will be watching you when out on the track and will provide you with any feedback they feel is necessary, you both want to get the most out of the day
Break time and feedback
Make the most of the lunch hour; you’ll definitely need to refuel after a busy morning. Drink plenty of water, have a bite to eat and sit back and relax. This is a good time to speak to your instructor and gain any extra feedback or advice, and also a chance to properly catch up with everyone else involved in the day.
It’s always good to listen in on others conversation to build up more advice, and obviously share your own pearls of wisdom. Take a watch of the video below talking about the importance of body position when you’re riding on track…
Make the most of the afternoon session
The importance of pacing yourself throughout the day is exactly for this session, you’ll find those who have overdone it in the morning to not taking enough time to pace themselves and rest will be the first off the track to pack up and head home. This is the perfect chance for you to make the most of everything you’ve learnt today and put it to the test, and it’ll be made even easier with less people on the track!
The track will usually close at 5pm, but there’s still an hour of pack up time after this so you can really push yourself to the final minute. Once you head off, you’ll be left to pack all your belongings and leaving your space clear.