Motorcycling in the Isle of Man

The Isle of Man is world-famous for the annual motorcycle racing festival the TT, which has been running for nearly 110 years.

For two weeks every year, the sights and sounds of real road racing fill the Island as thousands of fans arrive to watch their heroes race at speeds approaching 200mph just inches from the hedges and walls of the legendary 37¾-mile TT Mountain course.

However, there is so much more than the ‘Tourist Trophy’ for bikers to enjoy when they visit the historic home of motorcycling and you can visit taking advantage of one of our great Motorbike Offers

Lying at the heart of the British Isles, the Isle of Man is rightfully proud of its motorcycling heritage. The TT began here in 1907 and this was the birthplace, in 1949, of the World Championship today known as MotoGP.

Over the decades many of the greatest names in racing have tested themselves against the daunting Mountain circuit, legends like John Surtees, Geoff Duke, Giacomo Agostini , Mike Hailwood, Joey Dunlop, Carl Fogarty and today’s racers including John McGuinness and TV star Guy Martin.

With such a history it is no surprise that the Island has produced its own biking stars, including TT star Conor Cummins and off-road legends David Knight, the multiple World and British Enduro Champion, and trial superstar Steve Colley.

Visit the Isle of Man during the TT and you are treated to an action-packed holiday you will never forget. Whether you are travelling on foot or with a bike, car or even a van, you will never experience anything like the thrill of sitting so close to flat-out superbikes in full race trim, meeting fellow bikers from around the globe and soaking up the unique atmosphere that can only be found in the Isle of Man.

And if you don’t get your fix of racing on the Mountain, head south to the 4.25-mile Billown circuit near Castletown on the opening and closing weekends of the festival and there’s even more to enjoy. The Pre-TT Classic is a must for anyone who wants to see older machines in action, while the Post TT Races are another chance to watch a range of motorcycles, and sometimes a few TT stars, racing.

The TT is a very busy time for the Isle of Man, and with so much going on there is little opportunity to explore the Island at your own pace. Due to the global popularity of the event, which thanks to the movie Closer to the Edge and worldwide TV coverage continues to grow, it can also be hard to find accommodation and travel to suit you.

So, why not plan your visit for a quieter time of year, when you can see much more of what the Isle of Man has to offer.

It doesn’t mean you’ll have to miss out on the racing, as there are other action-packed meetings to choose from.

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company International Southern 100 Road Races take place in July around the Billown circuit. Famous for being ‘the friendly races’, this meeting features a great mix of classes, including superbikes and sidecars, and is always popular among such road racing greats as Guy Martin and Michael Dunlop, and rising stars. The Southern 100 marked its 60th anniversary in 2015, with celebrations alongside the jaw-dropping action. 

Just like the TT, you can sit right on the edge of the circuit, and all within a short walk of the centre of Castletown. The harbour town, dominated by the impressive Castle Rushen, is well worth a visit at the end of the day’s racing, so you can sample the local beers, get a bite to eat or just soak up the historic charm.

There’s another chance to enjoy racing action on the Mountain course later in the summer when the Isle of Man Festival of Motorcycling bursts into life. There really is something for everyone during the Festival, which has become a true celebration of the ‘best of biking’. Running August / September, it includes the Manx 2 Day Trial and Classic 2 Day Trial, the famous Manx Grand Prix, the Classic TT, the VMCC Rally, the Festival of Jurby and much more. Whether you’re into off-road, classic bikes or modern racing, you’ll find it all at the Festival of Motorcycling.

The Classic TT has been a huge success story since its launch, bringing stars of the TT festival past and present together to race the Mountain course on a selection of older machinery. Where else can you see the TT’s current fastest man John McGuinness going head-to-head with fellow Mountain course champion Nick Jefferies on classic racing machines? 

But, for many bike enthusiasts, a visit to the Isle of Man is not just about the racing action, it is about history you find around every bend. That’s why a trip outside one of the busy race festivals will give you time to explore at your own pace, and discover more of the delights the Island has to offer.

With our year-round sailings, you can bring your motorcycle over whenever you choose, and set off for an unforgettable journey.

You can ride the same Mountain course which has been the setting for some of bike racing’s most legendary battles, and because there is less traffic when the race meetings aren’t on, you’ll be able to stop for photos and a closer look at landmarks like Guthrie Memorial, Ballaugh Bridge and the Bungalow, where there is a statue to TT icon Joey Dunlop. You can take your time having your photo taken at the iconic TT Grandstand, or alongside the corner markers bearing legendary names like Duke, Dunlop and Hailwood, and maybe enjoy a bite to eat at a legendary spot like the Sulby Glen Hotel or Creg-ny-Baa.

If you’re looking for a little more nostalgia, you can still see the building at Ballacraine which George Formby rode through the front door of in the 1935 comedy film No Limit, or visit the ‘other’ TT courses – the original St John’s circuit used from 1907 to 1910 and the ‘Clypse’ course used in the 1950s.

You may be looking for an indoor attraction during your visit, and there are plenty of museums perfect for bike fans and petrol heads. Kirk Michael is home to the A.R.E. Motorcycle Collection, featuring more than 100 classic bikes, while you can also find two, three and four-wheeled machinery from the past at the Manx Transport Heritage Museum in Peel, Jurby Transport Museum, the Isle of Man Motor Museum also in Jurby and the Manx Museum in Douglas.

Perhaps you like your two-wheel action off road? There are several clearly marked green lanes where you can get up into the hills to see even more of the Island, and you can join guided tours of these trails with a local expert if you prefer.

If you are planning a dirt bike trip to the Island, it’s important that you check in advance which routes are open and, if possible, get in touch with one of the local clubs and see if you can join an organised ride.

Visiting outside the racing periods also means there will be time to explore more of the Island.

Instead of watching the race bikes roaring through places like Kirk Michael, Sulby and Ramsey, why not take time to stop and explore more of the Island’s towns and villages.

Jump on your bike and head away from the TT course to discover the delights of picturesque Peel, with its beautiful beaches and stunning castle, explore Port Erin and Port St Mary, or travel to The Sound, the Island’s southern-most tip, to enjoy the breath taking views and maybe spot some seals.

Of course, it isn’t just motorcycling the Island is famous for. Make sure you enjoy the stunning scenery, miles of spectacular coastline, historic railways and sample the incredible local cuisine, including the fresh seafood.

From quick snacks, including locally-made ice cream and fresh crab baps, to mouth-watering meals, featuring Manx meat and locally landed fish, there’s a huge choice of places to eat all over the Island. During the racing events, you might only have time to grab a burger or bag of chips – come at a different time and you can get a real taste of the Isle of Man.

The Island is home to a diverse range of wildlife including, believe it or not, a colony of wallabies in the north! You may not spot a wild marsupial during your visit, but look out to sea and there may be chances to see basking sharks and dolphins depending on the time of year.

Whether you visit the Isle of Man just for the racing, or explore the motorcycling history and much more at your own pace at another time, there’s a great holiday waiting for you.   

If you would prefer a ferry and accommodation package deal then Steam Packet Holidays has a range of accommodation to suit all budgets. 

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