The track day bike that cost less than £400
Track days can be an often hugely expensive pastime, but Instagrammer crashtestkatie from South Wales shows that you don’t have to win the lottery to get some fun and experience. You just build yourself a cheap track day bike.
Scrolling through Facegram and Instabook it’s difficult to miss all the summer track day posts from a pantheon of influencers.
New supersports bikes, nice clean race suits, eye-wateringly pricey helmets and carbon fibre accessories make great images on the socials. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Katie Dunkley is a born and bred biker who started riding at (good grief!) three years old. She’s good with the old spanners and when she spotted a stolen/recovered Hyosung GT650R (see here for the full specs new) on eBay she snapped it up for a pretty damn reasonable £312.00.
“It was an impulsive eBay bid. I like a project and I’m not put off by getting dirty and doing some hard work. With it being Korean I knew there wouldn’t be much interest, typically they’re not seen as reliable, but with it being a track bike it won’t be used regularly enough to worry about the reliability.
“I also knew that I could turn it around and make it tidy for next to nothing as there were no dents or significant fairing damage, and I could get it through an MOT with less than a days work. There’s always someone wanting a cheap sports bike so if I were to get it road worthy with an MOT I could easily sell it on and not lose anything.”
The bike had been sprayed black, but Katie rubbed the paint off to reveal the beauty beneath. That’s a shrewd move, tidy the bike up, put it on the track but keep the option of getting it road ready and salable.
“So, first of all, I knew the bike wouldn’t have the best brakes, so an Adelin master cylinder was the first upgrade, essentially a budget Brembo copy at £25.
“Next was HEL braided hoses, which I’ve had on every bike I’ve owned that’s had disc brakes, they were £50 for the front race lines in banana yellow!”
“Then I needed to replace the fuel cap. Being stolen and recovered it had had the fuel cap broken open and didn’t close anymore, £9 on Wish bought me a CNC lookalike race fuel cap.”
“The Scorpion exhaust would have been the most expensive part had I bought it, but was given to me by someone who no longer needed it, it’s a little tatty but sounds great! The race switch was already in my garage and I wired it directly to the ignition as the bike didn’t have a key.”
“Some ‘eBay built’ stickers at £1.99 each, just for a laugh. The headlight tint and googly eyes came in at £1 each, just for the humour, although they’re rumoured to add 10 bhp.”
My abacus gives me a neat running total of £399.99 so far. I’ll repeat that. A running track bike for less than four hundred quid. Obviously, there are other costs, but that’s cheap enough not to worry too much if it comes home in a skip.
“For now, the work I’ve done will be it. Once I’ve tracked it I’ll likely have to change the tyres, and potentially swap out the calipers for something better. Old Ducati 748/996 Brembo callipers, they’re regularly for sale at less than £80 on eBay, and would need minimal work to fit.”
The Hyosung hasn’t had its first outing yet, but Katie’s no stranger to the track. She’s ridden her previous KTM Dukes 390 and 790 on track days.
“I love track riding. For me it gives me the freedom to test my abilities, improve my riding and push myself and bike to the limits roads just won’t allow, while remaining relatively safe without the hazards the roads hold.
“I’ve been riding since I was 3! My dad rides, it was just what I did growing up so I never saw it as something not everyone does, although, I’ve been on the roads for seven years, since my CBT. I commute – live and work in a city, ride after work for pleasure, ride fast on weekends. 30 mins away from the Brecon Beacons, it’d be hard not to!”
Obviously, we now need to know what bikes she’s had. “I love working on my own bikes, I started with a rubbish Chinese moped my dad was given. He then bodged it to a roadworthy-ish standard which made me want something better, so I started my first build. That was a Honda CG125 cafe racer when I was 16, which was then killed by a taxi (it’s now been restored! And kept safe) I won a couple of shows with it, I then built an SV650 cafe racer, then moved onto a Honda Hornet from a box of spares. From there I bought a KTM Duke 390 as I was waiting on the release of the 790 (my dream bike). I got the 790 which subsequently dropped its oil and coolant, and got a refund. While owning the 790 I bought a K6 GSXR 750 that was meant to become a track bike but then had to be my road bike. Then traded that up for my K9 750 and was left without something for track days, which is why I bought the Hyosung.”
That’s quite a list.
Katie’s obviously very capable. Not everyone has the ability, space and tools to do up their own bikes. Many people would love to get out on a track to see just what they can achieve but are put off by the cost, the risk of trashing their daily ride or their pride and joy. But Katie’s shown what can be done on a shoestring budget.
So if you’re out on a track day this year and you see those googley eyes coming up on you, you know who it is.
Follow the further adventures of Katie here: https://www.instagram.com/crashtestkatie/