Taking your motorcycle on track in the UK can be daunting, with some confusing rules about what your bike has to have, and what you need to wear.
Here at Bennetts BikeSocial we want to encourage as many people as possible to ride the fantastic circuits in the UK, including Cadwell, Donington, Brands, Oulton and more, so we spoke to Mark Rusted, car and motorcycle track-days manager at MSV to help us explain what you REALLY need.
And don’t forget that BikeSocial members can save money on track days here...
You don’t need any track experience; just a fully unrestricted road licence (or an ACU 17+ licence), and most will have sessions specifically for novice riders. Don’t forget to take your licence on the day!
The track-days that Bennetts BikeSocial offers have instructors on hand all day to give you advice and guidance. You don’t have to be fast by any stretch of the imagination; it’s all about the experience of riding the greatest circuits. If you’re in any doubt about the types of riders that will also be at the event, and how you’ll fit in, give the organisers a bell. You can be sure that all Bennetts BikeSocial track days are geared up for riders of any level to enjoy.
Besides track-specific motorcycles, you can ride any road legal bike on track; I once did Cadwell on a Honda MSX125, and I’ve ridden with people on NC750s, Harleys and R1100GSs.
Yes – your motorcycle has to have a guard protecting the front brake lever (you don’t have to worry about the clutch).
If you already have handguards fitted – like Barkbusters or similar – then they’re fine, but otherwise you’ll need to invest in a lever protector.
There are plenty to choose from at a variety of prices, and BikeSocial members can save 15% at Performance Parts, 10% at Evotech Performance and 10% at R&G. Also consider the offerings from Oxford Products, with a nylon guard costing just £29.99, and a racing version at £39.99.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on lever guards to ride on track
No – there’s no demand to do this. You’ll often be told to only focus on what’s in front of you when riding on track, so some riders will tuck their mirrors in, but this is your choice. Personally, I like to be aware of when someone is coming up from behind me, but it is true that you should concentrate on the track ahead as you might be riding faster than you usually would.
Headlights sometimes get taped up to keep them together in the event of a crash, but it’s not compulsory and anyway… you’re no more likely to crash than you would on the road, unless you ride outside of your own abilities. So just enjoy yourself!
Noise limits for UK motorcycle track days vary from circuit to circuit, but they’re between 101dB to 105dB. Your bike will be tested in accordance with the ACU (Auto Cycle Union) noise test protocol; it’ll be stood still with a test meter held a set distance away. The scrutineer will ask you to hold the bike at revs dependent on the engine type.
Basically, if you’re on a road bike and it has a standard road-legal exhaust, you’ll have no problems.
As long as your bike’s tyres are in good condition and the tread depth is at least greater than the wear markers, you can use what you like.
Don’t fret about tyre pressures or having ‘special’ rubber; until you start getting up into the advanced groups there’s no need. Most instructors use sport touring tyres on their bikes, and you honestly don’t need anything extra grippy. You can find out more about tyres here.
Yes – you have to wear one-piece leathers, or two-piece leathers that zip together. Some track-day organisers offer rentals, but do check before you book.
Yes – almost all track day organisers now insist you wear a back protector. This can be the one that came with your leathers, or a separate one. It should cover the majority of your spine, but that does include a back-protector that’s fitted to the jacket of two-piece leathers.
We strongly recommend the use of only back protectors that are certified to EN 1621-2:2014 as these have been properly tested. You can find out more about safety standards here.
Many of the Bennetts BikeSocial track days have Helite lending airbags to riders who want to try them; these have an integrated passive back-protector, but be aware that some devices – like the Dainese Smart Jacket – do not, so can’t be used without a standard back-protector.
No – GoPros and other action cameras cannot be fitted to the helmet when riding on track, or indeed anywhere on the rider’s body.
You can fit an action camera to the bike as long as it’s securely mounted (the scrutineers will check), but you can’t use any extension arms that make it stick out. If it’s held on by a suction mount it’ll need a secondary fixing, and you can’t put it on the top of the tank or anywhere that would affect your vision.
Any helmet you wear needs to be approved by the ACU, but not all of them will have an ACU Gold sticker on. In reality, that covers a very large proportion of full-face lids, but only a small number of flip-fronts. If you’re in any doubt, check with the helmet’s importer or the store you bought it from. Or you could try asking the ACU here.
No, you don’t have to wear specific race gloves, but they do have to be made of predominantly leather, and the cuffs must overlap the sleeves of your jacket when you stretch your arms out.
Any boots you wear on a UK track day must be designed for motorcycle use, and they have to overlap the legs of the trousers when you’re sat on the bike. High-top trainer-style bike boots aren’t allowed, but your waterproof touring boots are.
Just go with the intention of having fun! Timing is not allowed on track days and for good reason; it’s not a race!
You will get sent some details of what you need to take with you on the day, and that’ll include your licence, so don’t forget it. Also take some snacks and plenty to drink (we don’t need to point out no alcohol, do we?!).
You’ll have to check in when you get there, so arrive in plenty of time; if you’re travelling a long way, it’s worth getting a hotel the night before as it’ll be an early start.
For the first few sessions of your introduction to track riding, take it easy and just treat it like a wide road with nothing coming the other way. Don’t go attacking bends faster or more aggressively than you would if you were on the road and you won’t end up running off onto the grass.
Build your confidence gradually – you’ll get plenty of track time and by the end of the day you’ll have learned loads about your bike, and you’ll have had a brilliantly memorable experience.
Now what’s stopping you?