When you’re a MotoGP rider like Valentino Rossi, lap times are everything. So it won’t come as a surprise that a MotoGP or World Superbike dashboard costs around £2,000. Factor in the additional sensors and you’re looking at around £4,000.
However, it might surprise you to know that you can get almost all of the info that Mr Rossi has on his 2D Big Dashboard, for a fraction of the price.
For Rossi & Co it’s not just about the lap times; their data-logging packages come with a whole host of sensors and around 4 full-time staff to interpret the data.
For a trackday enthusiast, you might find 4 data analysis staff a bit overkill. Forget their wages, just the lunch bill at the Brands Hatch cafe could bankrupt you.
While we won’t get anywhere near Valentino’s lap times, we can get his lap timer technology for a fraction of the price.
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Laptimers: A brief intro
Thanks to the march of progress, the costs of lap timers have tumbled in recent years while the features and functionality they offer has multiplied. A decade ago you’d have had to use infra-red beams on the pit wall and your lap timer would have had to break the timing beam. It was more accurate than having your girlfriend hang over the pit wall with a stopwatch but you wouldn’t have got much more data.
Five years ago, you’d have had GPS functionality but you’d have had to plug your lap timer into a laptop and use specialist software to download and interpret the spreadsheet-based data.
These days, the best motorcycle lap timers are truly plug-and-play. They can locate the circuit you’re on and you can transfer data wirelessly to your laptop and display it visually, showing your split times, ideal lap times and even your position on the circuit.
There are around ten companies who produce motorcycle lap-timers, from specialist companies like 2D and Marelli who supply the World SBK and MotoGP paddocks to off-the-shelf providers like Starlane, AIM, GET, Racelogic, I2M and Speedangle.
In this guide we’ve picked our two favourites and listed others that are worthy of your attention.
The best motorcycle laptimers
As you can see from this guide, the technology is improving at a rapid rate and there are some great lap timers on the market. However we’ve picked these two great options below, which are a great fit for anyone from the improving track day enthusiast, right up to professional racers.
Precise laptimes, circuit recognition
AiM’s Solo 2 is their latest GPS lap timer. It has a database of over 2,000 race circuits and automatically knows which circuit you are on. Predictive laptime, configurable LEDs, race mode, data recall and wifi transfer. Can also provide video-overlay and connect to your bike’s ECU.
Feature-packed laptimer at a bargain price
Starlane’s Stealth 4 Lite is a feature-packed GPS lap timer that shows you your laptimes, split times, ideal laptime and highlights your sector times (and whether or not you’re up or down). There’s a slightly pricier model that also shows you your position on track.
The cheapest motorcycle lap timer
If you’re not ready to shell out £250+ on a lap timer then don’t fret, you can still get a handle on your lap times but you’ll need a smartphone.
Some people don’t want to carry their smartphone on the bike (whether in their leathers or mounted on the bike) as they’re not prepared to risk their smartphone should they lob their bike away chasing a glorious lap.
If you stash it in your pocket, it might not grab hold of the satellites and it won’t actually be that useful because you won’t be able to see sector times or lap times.
The whole point of a lap timer is to get a precise and easy-to-read idea of whether you’re on a good lap or not and I just don’t think a smartphone is any good for that.
However, if you don’t want a dedicated lap timer, then for Apple and Android users there’s Harry’s Laptimer, which costs from £8.99 for the basic app up to £27.99. There are mixed reviews with some rating it and others slating it but as a first-timer lap timer, we think it looks OK.
Then for Android users there’s RaceChrono and RaceChrono Pro which both get good reviews.
So there you have it, you can get a free or cheap lap timer but it won’t offer the functionality of a dedicated unit.
Motorcycle Lap Timer Buyer's Guide
- GPS sensors: These days you should only be buying a laptimer with GPS functionality. The plug and play nature of these devices means once you switch on your ignition, the lap timer is busy locking onto a sateltite.
- Sector / Split feedback: Knowing your lap time is just the start. Knowing whether you've just improved on a recent sector or set your best sector is even better. The Starlane and AiM both flash an LED to give you sector feedback.
- Data export: Either via WiFi or using a USB stick, your lap time data should be simple to export and import onto your computer for deeper analysis.
- Usable buttons: You won't always have gloves on when fiddling around with your lap timer but it pays to have one that's easy to use with gloves on, for those quick pre-session display changes.
Can lap timers help you ride better?
Laptimers aren’t just for posing and bragging rights.
When it comes to racing, lap timers are crucial, especially in qualifying. When I was racing, I realised there’s no point risking it all in the final sector when you know that the previous two sectors have been slow. Similarly, you don’t need to go out and crank out lap after lap and hope that one of them was good enough. A lap timer helps you focus your efforts to qualify better in fewer laps.
When it comes to trackdays, lap timers provide useful data following a session, to see if any tweaks you made to the bike or your riding made a difference to your lap time but also mid-session, the visual feedback a lap timer gives helps you know when to push and whether or not the lines you’re using are helping trim your lap times.
While a lap timer might not improve your riding technique, they’ll probably help you improve your lap times.
Other good lap timers
Starlane DaVinci II-S – feature-packed 5-inch full-colour TFT display, shows lean angle and lap times and connects to your bike to display more information than you can shake a stick at, from gear position to a rev counter, water temperature to max speed. With a Bluetooth data export, you’ll be kept busy between sessions.
AiM MXS 1.2 Strada – Top line AiM dash that looks and features everything you’d expect on a top-end Superbike. From water temperature and oil pressure, to a lap counter, lap times and more. If trackdays are your thing, you’ll want to check this out.
Lap timer FAQs
Do lap timers record my lean angle?
Most don’t but the SpeedAngle unit will record your maximum lean angle. Good for pub bragging rights or showing you the exact angle you were at when you tucked the front but they’re not useful for much more than that.
Can I record my lap times on a trackday?
Most modern bikes come with a basic built-in lap timer (although most require you to press a button to record each lap) and accordingly most operators have relaxed their rules on personal timing.
However check with your operator as some won’t be insured if riders are timing their laps as this could classify the trackday as a timed event, potentially landing the operator in hot water.
Most operators are happy with a GPS-based dedicated unit as long as it’s properly secured.
How do I mount my lap timer?
Both Starlane and AiM sell brackets but you can also use double-sided sticky foam mounts to securely stick your lap timer to your screen or tank.
Thanks to the following websites which helped us research and write this motorcycle lap timer guide: