Top 5 Cheap/First Track Day Bikes

An aid to the “what track bike should I buy?” question

When a rider new to track days is on the hunt for their first track motorcycle, they’ll most certainly be looking for something that isn’t too much of a handful, but still has the potential to be fast.

Often people’s thoughts go to newer machinery because they think it’ll make the track experience that much better, but don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t have just as much fun on an older track motorbike, because that’s simply not the case.

Yes, newer stuff is going to give better performance, but older bikes are softer and more forgiving for the less experienced track rider, and they’ll still offer enough performance to run with some of the latest machinery on any given day.

And anyway, would you want to go and buy the latest shiny two wheeled piece of kit only to throw it up the road? I would guess not.

Below, then, I have listed my best track day bikes that can be had for good money, that’ll still offer all the potential performance any budding track rider could want.

Suzuki SV650 (99-02)

Don’t let this dinky little bike with its 70 rampant horses fool you. The Suzuki SV650 is arguably the most popular bike on the track day scene.

There is nothing fancy about the SV, but its 650 liquid cooled engine is super smooth and loves to be revved, and even in standard form its light and accurate handling is sublime.

It is simple in every respect, but every part of the machine comes together to form one fantastic little track day bike, and one that’s very capable too.

You only have to look at what the fastest guys are doing at the head of the UK Minitwin Championship to see what they’re capable of; in very much standard form too!

Probably the most loved track bike in the UK.

Yamaha R6 5EB (98-03)

The original R6 is well over a decade old now, and back then it was leagues ahead of the competition with its powerful revvy engine and super sharp handling characteristics.

Jumping on one today though you’d have a hard time noticing that this bike was born before the turn of the millennium, and even today it is plenty capable enough to sit at the sharp end of the fast group given the right rider.

I actually own the following 5SL model, and I am still yet to find the bike’s limits in standard form. It is an absolute joy to ride fast with its sure footed handling and screaming engine. Satisfaction guaranteed.

The 5EB can be had for great money now, and I would put it high on the list for a first, cheap track bike.

Suzuki GSX-R600 K1 (01)

Very much in the same league as the 5EB R6, the K1 GSX-R600 was Suzuki’s answer to the dominant force at the time, the R6.

Sharing very similar power and weight figures, the K1 will also keep up with the latest race reps with the right rider on board.

Like the R6, they too love to rev and go crazy up top, but the K1 offers a better helping of power in the mid-range.

Knowing they had the R6 to beat, it’s no surprise the handling is just as sharp and precise, and would be plenty capable enough for almost any track day rider. The one weakness the GSX-R had though was in the brakes, which weren’t quite a match for the best of them on bite and feel.

The K2 and K3 are exactly the same bike mechanically, so should be found for around the same money, which if you buy at the right time, isn’t very much.

Honda CBR600F ‘Steelie’ (91-97)

Almost as unsuspecting as the SV650, the old steel framed CBR600s are very popular among budget club race championships. In standard form they may not be as sharp as the other bikes listed here, but the upside is they can be had for very little money.

With a little bit of fettling they can be turned into very capable track bikes, and you will hear many a steelie owner singing to the exact same tune.

There were quite a few changes made to the bike between 91 and 97, so the newer the bike you can get the better, but even a well sorted 91 bike will give you a tonne of smiles per mile around the track.

Aprilia RSV Mille (98-00)

Now for something a little more rare, the Aprilia RSV Mille. It is an extremely underrated bike, and while its firm and sharp nature made them a bit of a handful on bumpy British roads, on the track it offers a sublime ride.

Its beefy 60 degree twin engine serves up a claimed 128bhp, and it’ll give you that power right low down, pulling hard in the mid-range before going ballistic at the top – though not to inline-four 1000 standards I should add.

It’s the most powerful bike here by a good margin, but it is on the heavier side, so even though it’s a 1000 you will probably find the latest 600s will pull away on the straights. They won’t, however, have the same punch out of the corners.

They may not be in abundance, but if you can pick one up for good money they will make for a superb track bike for anyone looking to get more involved in track days.

Have a trawl through any track motorcycles for sale section and you should be able to find one of the above track motorcycles for good money. I feel sure that if you can pick one of them up you will most certainly not be disappointed once you get it out on circuit.