After taking a year off in 2020, track days are back. If you’ve ventured out to one this year you might be tempted to take it further and invest in a bike specifically for them. But what are the best track day bikes? Bikesure knows. And Bikesure is about to tell you.
Why should you get a dedicated bike for track days?
Getting a dedicated track bike rather than using your daily driver is a good idea for a number of reasons. If you’re getting into track racing, then you’ll be pushing yourself to the limit of your skills more regularly. Unless you are already the greatest, most careful, luckiest driver in the world it’s very likely that your bike will take a few dings and bumps while you’re out on the track, whether it’s some chips from gravel or even the odd spill.
This is why it also makes sense that your track day bike should be second hand. But you should also try and make sure that you choose a bike where spare parts are readily available. Obviously, if money is no object then your dedicated team of engineers will be able to fix up your new superbike to factory standard at the end of every track day, but for the rest of us the repairs and maintenance can add up.
It’s also a good idea to start off with something in a similar power range to what you’re already used to. There’s no point in risking your health with a bike that’s too powerful for you, and you’re unlikely to have seen what your road bike’s engine is really capable of.
Luckily, even with these requirements, there’s a wealth of options out there for you. The last couple of decades have seen manufacturers release some great racing bikes with many older versions to be found for a decent price today.
The R6 has been in production since 1999, with updated versions launched in 2001, 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2017 and numerous revised versions in other years. Despite their age, the earlier versions are more than capable of holding their own and are a regular sight on track days. The 2006 model introduced ride-by-wire capabilities and a lighter chassis. Pre-2006 models can be found in good condition for under £3,000, while you can pick up a 2006 era R6 for around £4,000.
Another bike with a number of different revisions available, the GSX-R600 was originally launched in the late 90s. The version released in 2001 introduced fuel injection and can be picked up for less than £2,000 now. The model for 2004-2005 had new fairings, a redesigned fuel tank and engine tweaks, while the version from 2006 had a completely new engine. Both versions can be found for between £3,500-£4,500. With their more forgiving handling, they make a good track day bike for beginners.
A lot of the bikes Honda have released in the CB family of bikes make great cheap track day bikes. If you’re looking for a real budget option, you shouldn’t sleep on Honda’s 90’s bikes. Despite their age, they remain popular track day bikes thanks to the sturdiness of their steel frames. They’re more than capable of shrugging off the odd ding and tumble and can even be hammered back into shape if they get lightly bent. It’s also easy to find spare parts and replacements if need be. Most Honda models before 1998 have these steel frames and can be picked up for less than £2k now.
Triumph Street Triple 675
Now, you might be wondering why a street bike is included in a list of racing bikes, but with Triumph’s legacy of racing everything they make is a contender. While they’re slightly pricier than some bikes on this list, you can find ten-year-old models for just under or over £4k and even the occasional older one for £3k or thereabouts. Like the Honda, spare parts are easy to come by and it will be happy to show you what it can do out on the track. If you’ve got a slightly larger budget, you might be able to find a 00’s Daytona 675 for just under £4k, which will give you even more of Triumph’s racing DNA.
Kawasaki is another manufacturer with a huge range of track day options in their history. A cheap option from Kawasaki is a turn of the century ZX-6R, which should set you back a sprightly £2,500, or even a Versys 650 from that era which is in a similar price bracket.
Another option from Kawasaki is the ER-6F, a 650cc bike that can be found for well under £3k if you look for a model from the first decade of the century. But you can also find more recent models for under £4k.
Aprilia Shiver 750
If you’re looking for a bit of that Italian engineering excellence, the Shiver 750 is another good road bike that’s secretly a race bike like the Street Triple. And it’s easy enough to pick one up for just under £3k these days. You might also be able to find the more race-tuned GT variant for only a little more, although these are rarer than its parent model.
Looking for a larger capacity bike? The Honda CBR900RR – otherwise known as the FireBlade – is a great choice and can be found for between £3,000 to £5,000 depending on the year you choose. The CBR900 is a sturdy but nonetheless lightweight bike that’s ideal for track days.
Another larger capacity option that was first manufactured in the late 90s. An R1 from 1998-1999 will offer 150hp and it can reach a top speed of up to 168mph. You should be able to find a Yamaha R1 from the 90s or early noughties for around £4,000 to £5,000.
If your budget can stretch a little further, the Ducati 848 can be found for around £5,500. The 848 is a reliable and lightweight model with an 849cc engine. Maintenance costs are usually relatively low, which is always a plus.
Make sure you get track day insurance
Planning on hitting the tracks? Nothing beats the adrenaline rush from a track day experience, but if you’re planning on putting your bike through its paces make sure you get track day insurance. At Bikesure, we provide track day insurance for as little as £67.20 – call us on 0344 381 6502 for our best rates.Motorbikes