It doesn’t matter what bike you ride and how you ride it; you may be a courier, a commuter, a recreational chip-hunter with your mates or a motorcycle track day addict. Somewhere along the line, you are going to fancy the idea of something different and this is where we can help.
If you like the slower things in life and getting dirty, then you may have a fancy for heading off-road. A nimble dirt bike, a sunny day and hopefully, a dry stretch of off-road byway or greenlane – it’s a great way to escape the urban jungle.
Related: Best sports bike kit for all budgets
Or you may decide you want to venture farther afield and embark on a long, multi-day tour to visit a region you haven’t been to before; the Napoléon way winding through France perhaps or a mega-journey to Nordkapp.
Or, if you have the slightest affinity for speed, then a track day could be for you. The chance to exploit your bike and your abilities in the safety of a closed environment, with marshalls on every corner, no farm traffic or HGVs around the next bend and the opportunity to gain some tuition from professionals at the same time.
Related: Best knee sliders
I’ve done a couple of track days (more planned when my project is finished) and really enjoyed them both. One was at Lydden Hill in Kent and the other, at Rockingham just before it ceased operating as a racetrack.
Very different circuits, very different days but the same enjoyment and the same grin on my face. I feel both helped my road riding – not to increase my speed or get my knee down on the B660 but a better appreciation of grip and how the bike behaves.
What do I need for a track day motorcycle?
Motorcycle Track days for Virgins, Simon Bradley
Aimed at those who have yet to enjoy their first motorcycle track day rather than coitus, this book by former marine and motorcycle racer Simon Bradley was written to give track day newbies the essential information to get going and enjoy this great pastime.
From what to expect to the kit you need, from key skills to how it can help your road riding, Bradley also introduces some if the UK’s most iconic circuits. It gets good reviews on Amazon and at just £3.48, is a sure-fire start point for anyone interested in hitting the circuit.
Shoei X-Spirit III Helmet
If youu2019re doing a track day, youu2019ll need some proper kit and that starts with protecting your head. This five-star rated helmet from Shoei is one of its flagship models and is developed from the racetrack, gaining five stars from SHARP, the government testing house.
It is designed for the racing tuck that is adopted on sportsbikes, where the head is canted forwards and the rider tends to look up and out of the helmet and features plenty of space around the mouth for breathing.
It has six intake and six exhaust vents for cooling air and the aerodynamic rear spoiler helps with high-speed stability. Dark visors are available for track use and of course, it is ACU (Auto Cycle Union, motorcycle racing’s governing body) approved for use on circuits and in racing.
Also read: The best sports motorcycle helmets
RST Podium Leather Suit
If youu2019re new to track days, then this entry-level one-piece suit from RST is perfect. It is AAA CE-rated for ultimate protection thanks to its construction from full-grain leather and it uses four-way stretch panels for a comfortable and secure fit on the bike.
It comes with level-1 armour in the shoulders, elbows, knees and hips and there is also additional external TPU protection at the shoulder. Knee sliders are not supplied but there are hook and loop panels for riders to fit their own choice and the back features an aerodynamic hump.
But the ace up its (tight) sleeve is the In&Motion-powered airbag that is built into the suit. The system has a race profile so it knows when the rider is on circuit and monitors the conditions for signs of a circuit accident, as opposed to a road one, deploying the airbag in around 50ms if necessary.
Also read: The best motorcycle leathers
LS2 Swift Racing Gloves
These gloves from helmet specialist LS2 are seriously impressive bits of kit. First, they are rated 2KP, which is the highest rating possible for gloves and is up there with race-spec items costing five times as much.
They are made from goat skin and cow leather and feature hard knuckle armour as well as vented TPU panels over the fingers. The third and fourth fingers are bridged to prevent injuries in a tumble and the long cuff is also padded for protection.
On the inside, there is a rubberised panel across the palm for grip while there are also several Superfabric panels in the landing zones to protect the hand, on the heel of the palm, the outside of the hand’s edge and on the base of the thumb. There are vents and perforations to help keep the hand cool and in use, they work exceptionally well.
Read also: Best sports motorcycle gloves
Sidi ST Boots
Protecting your feet is as important as any other part of your body and these boots from Sidi will do just that. They are made in Technomicro microfibre and feature external bracing to prevent over-extension of the ankle joint while allowing plenty of movement to use the bikeu2019s controls.
There is a side zip to get them on and off with a ratchet buckle at the calf to make sure they fit properly. There is a TPU shin-armour panel and a hefty heel cup as well as bracing around the toe and a replaceable toe slider. They also feature a ventilation panel on the side to allow cooling air in, essential in the heat of a track day.
Also read: Best sports motorcycle boots
The Yamaha Motorcycle Track Experience
Best motorcycle track day for newcomers
If you've never been on a track day before and want to dip your toe in before committing to bringing your own bike along then this serviced experience day is perfect.
With riding equipment, fuel and a line-up of track-prepped bikes including Yamaha R6, R1 and Niken models all thrown in, all you need to do is turn up and turn in.
Available at historic circuits including Brands Hatch and Silverstone, this package is perfect for newcomers and more experienced riders alike.
It's not cheap but likely to be a very memorable day riding some top machines.
Metzeler Sportec M9RR Tyres (Pair)
The M9RR is Metzeleru2019s sportiest road tyre, combining day-to-day safety with performance and grip when needed. The tyre uses full silica for quick warm-up and wet-weather grip and the grooves have been designed to clear water when upright or at lean.
The construction is fairly stiff to give excellent response to rider inputs and both the front and rear use multiple compounds, for grip while cornering but water clearance and wear-resistance when upright.
The edges of the tyre are slick for ultimate grip at high lean angles and in use, they deliver excellent performance and can be used on the road on your way to and from the track day.
Also read: Best motorcycle track day tyres
BMW Function 4 Rucksack
If you are taking your bike to a track day in a van, then you donu2019t need any luggage but if you are riding there and home, then a rucksack is the easiest way to carry your essentials with you.
This one from BMW (it isn’t just for BMW owners) has an on-paper capacity of 30 litres but it expands and has two separate compartments, so you can keep waterproofs in one, for example, and your other essentials in the other – spare visor, glasses, etc.
Even though it looks large, it’s comfortable to wear, is stacked full of clever features – you can fix it to the bike like a tailbag, for example – and is expandable to accept a helmet when off the bike. It’s also waterproof so it will keep your sandwiches and crisps dry ready for the lunch break.
Also read: Best motorcycle rucksacks
No Limits are one of u2013 if not the u2013 biggest track day companies in the UK and offer a huge range of track day and evening events at most UK circuits as well as numerous ones around Europe (local restrictions permitting).
It has both evening and full-day events throughout the spring, summer and into autumn and visits most of the UK’s circuits, from classics such as Cadwell Park and Donington to the purpose-built Bedford Autodrome and the diminutive Lydden Hill.
It also hosts events at foreign circuits, including Portimao in Portugal, Spa in Belgium, Aragon in Spain and the world-famous Le Mans in France. The company also has several instructors – former or current racers usually – at each event to help riders develop their skills.
Motorcycle track day guide
There are track days available at most UK circuits, predominantly from spring until autumn, to make the most of the daylight hours and most work in the same way. There will be several groups divided into riding ability; novice, intermediate and advanced. If you haven’t done one before, then definitely start in the novice category – you can usually move up a group but if you start too high, it can be overwhelming.
Related: MCN's guide to your first track day
Generally, each group will be on-track on its own for perhaps 15 minutes at a time, every hour. This means that you potentially get six sessions in a day with plenty of downtime to watch other riders’ techniques, relax, catch your breath or even debrief with one of the instructors who may be on hand.
There are days for pure road bikes (some ride to and from the circuit as well) while others also allow full track-spec bikes, that arrive in vans and plug into tyre-warmers the moment they hit the ground. The key is to start slow and build up from there. And have fun!