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How to ride the Nürburgring on your motorcycle | Is it dangerous?

By Dale Lomas

Nürburgring instructor




The Nürburgring Nordschleife: a weird and wonderful, anachronistic, dead-end in the evolution of racetracks. Nobody else has ever built anything quite like it in the 97 years it’s been open, and (probably) nobody ever will again.

For that reason alone, it’s worth a visit. But is it worth riding your motorcycle around the famous Nürburgring, and its legendary 20.8km/12.9 miles Nordschleife (the Northern Loop)?

As a resident of nearly 20 years, instructor and ‘expert’, even I find that question a very hard one to answer. The truth is that the more you know, the more likely you won’t want to ride it, but with over 25,000 laps under my belt, I haven’t stopped yet.

The Nürburgring is the best, most challenging, racetrack in the world. It’s an unhealthy addiction, but one that hasn’t been banned. Yet.


How to get to the Nürburgring from the UK

The absolute quickest way from your front-door to the ’Ring is always going to be the Eurotunnel, closely followed by one of the many Dover ferries, especially if you live anywhere south of Cambridgeshire. From riding off the ferry/train in Calais, you can easily be arriving ’Ring-side within about five hours, including a fuel stop and a sweaty baguette from a Belgian motorway services.

A more relaxed way to travel is the Hull-Rotterdam crossing, or even Harwich-Hook of Holland, though you’ll pay quite a bit more for those as you’ll need an overnight crossing, and you’ll still be faced with a totally uninspiring ride down Dutch motorways at depressingly slow speeds through heavily congested areas. Is it a shorter ride at least? Not really, it's also about 4.5 hours.

I get asked a lot if there are any scenic routes to get here, but none are really worth the detour until you’re almost in Germany. So here they are:

  • From France: Head for Liege, whichever way the GPS points you, but I prefer the E42 via Lille, just to avoid the Brussels ring road. When you pass Liege you have the opportunity to head south, past Spa Francorchamps, and run into the Nürburgring’s native Eifel region via the beautiful back roads of the Ardennes. If the weather’s nice, and time isn’t pressing, I get off the E42 at Malmedy, head for the Old Smuggler’s café linked here. Then follow the B421 until you see signs for the ‘Ring. This will add maybe another hour to the journey, but it’s worth it.

  • From Holland: As above, it’s all pretty rubbish until the last hour, which you can stretch out into about 2.5 hours of Eifel fun by leaving the autobahn anywhere close to Duren, then putting Nideggen into the GPS. Nideggen is the home of the old public-roads-racetrack that was the forerunner to the Nürburgring (the Eifelrennen). From there, go via Schleiden, and down the B258, and you’ll have a fun ride in. Be careful though, as bikers come from all over the heavily populated Ruhr valley to this Eifel route. It’s busy at weekends, the road next to the Ruhrsee is banned for motorcycles in summer (seriously!) and the whole route is prone to a heavy Polizei presence. 

Riding through France and Germany isn’t without nuance, so it’s worth checking this guide to riding a motorcycle in France and this guide to riding in Germany.


Beginner’s guide to riding the Nürburgring


Is the Nürburgring really as dangerous as I’ve heard?

I don’t know what you’ve heard about the ’Ring, but I’d be willing to say it’s even more dangerous than what you think it is!

In the last 30 years the Nordschleife has been transformed from a secret hidey-hole for hardcore petrolheads, into a social media bonanza of epic emotions, driving, racing, and – of course – crashing.

Truthfully, there are far more crashes here than anybody ever expects – or sees – on social media. On a busy Sunday of TF (see below, for what THAT is), there can be literally dozens of crashes, with closures, injuries, fires, and regular paramedic heli-lifts to the not-so-close emergency hospitals. Several helicopters per day is NOT uncommon.

Naturally, riding your motorcycle in the middle of that pandemonium is not without risk, and nobody should treat a cheeky lap of the Nürburgring too lightly.


When is the Nürburgring open to the public?

The easiest way to enter the circuit is the almost-daily ‘touristenfahrten’ sessions, which locals call TF (teh-eff).

In TF, the Nordschleife becomes open to the public – subject to public road rules – and you pay per lap. Typically it’s open Monday to Friday from 17:00 or 17:30, to around 19:15 (when the gates actually shut).

I say typically, but the truth is that it’s quite irregular at best, and short-notice changes to that schedule for bad weather (floods, fog, hail) can happen at almost any time. Hey, it’s the Eifel, and in Germany it’s a region that’s renowned for unpredictable bad weather.

On top of that, any ‘dirty’ crash or oil spill during a public session will close entry to motorcycles for at least one hour. And if there’s another crash or spill in that one hour? You guessed it, it stays closed to bikes. That is a common situation here, and it’s relatively common for us bikers to not be able to enter for days at a time.

In fact, on busy Sundays, it’s often possible to only make one or two laps, even if you arrive early and leave late. And unless you’re already pretty quick and knowledgeable, those laps will be a hot mess anyway. Many busier weekends, you won't be able to ride a single lap.

The official Nürburgring opening times are on page here.

Don’t believe anything that’s from another website. Lots of nefarious businesses publish their own calendars of the ’Ring’s opening times in an effort to win search traffic – or sell products of their own – but then fail to update it.


How much does it cost to ride at the Nürburgring?

Prices are per lap on the old Nordschleife, and are €30 from Monday to Thursday, and €35 from Friday to Sunday. You can buy a ticket at the Portakabin located here, outside the Nordschleife entrance, from the info center at the GP circuit (about a mile away!), and also at the closest petrol station.

The ‘season ticket’ is €3,000 per person, per year, but be warned: it’s hard to make it break-even on a motorcycle, as even a piffling 100 laps a year are tough to find in between all the motorcycle closures.


Yes, you can ride for free, but you won’t get a fast lap in!

How to ride the Nürburgring for free

It’s true that you can ride the Nürburgring for free, but the rumours don’t tell you the full story…

This year over 45,000 riders made the pilgrimage to the "Motorrad Anlassen", literally the 'letting on of the motorcycles'. A couple of priests make some prayers, and you ride a very slow convoy lap. But it is free, and it's quite the sight! It did take me over three hours to make that one lap though...


The GP track is another option at the ’Ring

Are there other tracks I can ride at the Nürburgring?

Only one, the Nürburgring GP track. That’s the 5km circuit that you might have seen in WSBK or MotoGP through the 2000s to 2010s. It’s a big ol’ F1-style circuit, and if you’re lucky, it’s open to TF twice a month, for a couple of hours in the evening. The pricing is €35 per 15 minute session, it has similar rules to TF regarding road legality and insurance, and is also absolutely bananas, with regular crashes.


What license do I need to ride on the Nürburgring?

Your regular road license is required to ride the Nürburgring, and you are expected to have at least third-party insurance. Though the fact is that most insurance policy specifically do not cover you even third party for riding the ’Ring. They tell you what you need, then if you don't have it, well... that's your problem.


The GP track is another option at the ’Ring

What motorcycle can I take to the Nürburgring?

Your motorcycle must be fully road-legal and insured at least third-party. Don’t even think about ‘daytime-only’ MOTs, either: you’ll need lights, mirrors, and a road-legal exhaust.

Drive-by noise tests are automatic, and backed up by the workers at the gates who try to catch any loud-looking machines before they annoy the growing base of anti-ring residents(!).

The static test is 95dB(A), and the drive-by is 130dB(A). In practical terms, a stock Ducati V4 will fail the hand-held test most times, though the drive-by is a little harder to trigger as most first-time riders won’t be full throttle at the measurement points.


Can I get a ticket from the police on the Nürburgring?

The Nürburgring is private land, but the police can still come in and prosecute you as it’s private land under the care of the public road system. The rules and regulations of the road all apply to that road when riding it on the TF.

The police DO have a strong presence at the ’Ring, not least to deal with the confrontations that can apply in a collision.


Do I need to wear full leathers on the Nürburgring?

You’d be well advised to wear well-made, well-fitting full leathers on the Nürburgring, but you can ride in textiles and motorcycle jeans, as long as they’re armoured and designed for motorcycle use.

Really though, you should wear the best protection you have. Including an airbag.



How much experience on road and track should I have before riding at the Nürburgring?

I’d say you need lots of experience before riding TF on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Lots and lots. Just the traffic and the twisting, deceptive tightening bends will occupy about 90% of your brain on the first few laps.

Riding your bike, knowing your limits and knowing your tyres, all has to be happening on autopilot, while the front of your brain deals with what is essentially Mad Sunday on the Isle of Man, but at even higher speeds. Remember that something like 50% of the traffic will be 500hp cars driven by Insta-hungry wannabe racing drivers.

If you’re riding the Nürburgring on a training event you won’t need as much experience, but it’s not a good idea in your first 12 months either. More about the motorcycle-only events below.


Can I take a pillion on the Nürburgring?

During TF, it’s perfectly allowable to ride your motorcycle with a pillion on the Nürburgring, though the dangers of going too fast also have to be weighed against the dangers of going too slow.


Is there a minimum engine capacity or speed for motorcycles on the Nürburgring? 

No mopeds (pedal-assisted motorcycles) are allowed, and recently the Nürburgring management added a new rule: “Neither vehicles which cannot exceed a manufacturers top speed of more than 130 kph because of their construction or technical condition nor quad bikes are permitted to take part in tourist drives.”

That's German-English for "Your bike must be capable of at least 80mph"

In practical experience, anything looking like a 125cc or under will be pulled out of the entry queue, and even sidecars and trikes are also at risk of being turned around.



What’s the difference between a touristenfahrten and a trackday?

So you’re probably thinking that TF on the Nürburgring sounds pretty crazy, and you’d be right. But what about a nice motorcycle-only trackday?

Well, there aren’t any.

For over a decade motorcycle-only trackdays have not been allowed on the Nordschleife by the owners of the circuit.

But there are TWO, two-day-only, motorcycle training events. One Nürburgring motorcycle event is run by Doc Scholl and the ADAC, and  the other by Motorrad Action Team.

Both of these events are pretty pricey (circa £700 at time of writing), and you can only do them on street-legal motorcycles. But the instructors are friendly, knowledgeable, and fast enough for TT podium-sitters to follow without getting too bored, so don’t think that it’s going to be dull. Groups range from dead-slow to damn fast. I instruct here, and it’s fair to say that I’ve never met somebody who regretted forking out extra for the 2-day course. It's way more fun – and loads safer – than any public session.


Am insured if I ride on the Nürburgring?

Always check your own policy documents, but since the mid-2000s most UK insurers have explicitly exempted the Nürburgring Nordschleife from any and all cover. Be warned! In most cases if you damage your bike, you're not covered and if you damage someone else's property, or hurt them, you're NOT COVERED.



What happens if I crash at the Nürburgring?

Depending on how severe it is, you could be looking at losing anything from a few hundred euros to tens of thousands if you crash on the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

Even if we just assume that you’re happy to wreck your motorcycle with no possible recompense, there’s the small issue of the ‘track damages’. The Nürburgring management bills EVERYBODY who crashes, no matter how small, and the prices are non-negotiable. Barrier bills include parts and labour, but no VAT (as it's damage), and even a single impact will likely entail resetting two posts and replacing anything from four to 12 meters of guardrail. Typical bills are between €1,000 and €4,000. Even a low-side with no damage – and no injury – might attract the attention of a marshal who stops a car and waves a flag. That’s around €150, please. As an example, I dropped coolant in the carpark during a particularly nasty traffic jam, volunteered to help clean it up, and still got a bill for over €150 for the sand and marshal time!

And what if you somehow manage to cause an accident involving other riders or drivers? Current legal precedent means that your UK insurer will be obligated to pay out for whatever claims come in against you (Google the Vnuk case). But after that, they might choose to come after you in UK court, because you broke the contract between them and you.

Think that sounds unreasonable? Every year I have direct contact with incidents involving hundreds of thousands of Euros, where everybody is blaming one driver who dropped fluid, didn’t stop, stopped too quickly, etc… Don’t forget, if you accidentally scuff a €350,000 German-plated supercar, the driver’s gonna expect to have your insurance details immediately. And you're probably not covered.

Let’s talk about medical expenses next:


Should I take out any extra insurance for the Nürburgring?

Nearly 20 years ago, I had an accident on the road just outside the ’Ring, and a helicopter had to take me away for a nice little all-inclusive stay in Koblenz for a few weeks. In those days, I just flashed my European Health Insurance Card, and the big €16,000 bill was footed by the inter-cooperation of the NHS and German systems.

Now, post-Brexit, you are responsible for your health insurance when leaving the UK. When choosing a travel insurance policy, be sure to check that motorcycles – and specifically race circuits – are still covered. I’ve been stung before by limits on the size of the motorcycle too, and a friend of mine had to pay for his own ambulance and hospital visit because his policy excluded bikes over 250cc.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any suggestions for this, as most companies do run a mile when you mention the Nürburgring. In the end, I “just” moved out here.


Can I hire a motorcycle to ride on the Nürburgring?

A few companies over the years have attempted to rent motorcycles for the Nordschleife, but all the ones that I know of ended up crashed, with the customers in hospital.

Currently, as of June 2024, no companies offer rentals for the ‘Ring. Local dealers, like Schmitz in Adenau do offer rentals for the glorious local roads, but specifically forbid the machines from entering any racetrack.


Can I hire a car to drive on the Nürburgring?

Firstly, don’t even think about taking the airport rental. Now that the Nürburgring is privately owned (since 2014), German insurance companies have got the right to refuse your first-party cover, which means whatever you rent from a normal Hertz/Sixt shop will NOT be covered at the ’Ring. In fact, most of these regular rental firms will fine you if they find out your rental has been on track. And because all the photos of all the cars are online every single day, it’s not exactly easy to stop them finding out where you’ve been (premium sportscars even have GPS locators fitted).

A whole industry in track-ready rental cars has sprung up to cater for this need, and you can rent cars, with instructors – like myself – from firms like Rent4Ring and similar.


The GP track is another option at the ’Ring


Can I get an instructor to take me around on a motorcycle?

Officially, all forms of remunerated ‘guided’ or ‘convoy’ instruction are verboten (banned) by the rules of TF at the Nürburgring. But, I always recommend doing your first lap with a friend who’s familiar with the place. If you don’t have that friend yet, I encourage you to reach out on the Bennetts Bike Social Facebook group, and make one.


Where can I stay when visiting the Nürburgring?

Bike crime is basically non-existent in this region of Germany, outside of large events. Recently the only big thefts have occurred from the ‘secure’ big-chain, big-name hotels where all the out-of-towners can see what’s parked up, every night.

Anecdotal evidence confirms my opinion that the best thing to do is stay local at B&Bs and guesthouses. is a good place to search for these, as is google maps. Local places like the Pension Schwedenkreuz and The Gantry offer indoor bike parking and very reasonable rates.


What’s the best advice for riding the Nürburgring?

When riding the Nürburgring, keep right, overtake on the left and treat the track as you would an unsighted high-speed road.

Ride keeping in mind that you MUST be able to stop in space you can see: there are blind crests and bends at the Nürburgring, and literally anything could be hiding there.

If you see yellow lights on the course, slow down and put your hazards on. It’s rare that you have to stop, but in a serious incident you might have to. Use your bike to filter to the front of the queue, where you’ll be safer.


So, should you ride the Nürburgring?

If you made it this far down, without clicking away, then I firmly believe you’ve got an itch that needs to be scratched. Take all of the above into account, plan on spending a couple of mid-week evening sessions dodging the summer storms and the oil spills, and I’ll see you here!

If you have any more questions about the Nürburgring, get expert advice at


Full video guide to riding the Nürburgring