A Beginner's Guide to KEIRIN

A Beginner's Guide to KEIRIN: How to Watch Races

Flow of a Race

Understanding the different phases of a KEIRIN race provides deeper enjoyment of this three-and-a-half minute battle royale.

KEIRIN events include several races on each day.
Understanding the different phases of a KEIRIN race will let you effectively allocate your time and bet wisely.


image The warmup is an important information gathering opportunity for bettors. Before the start of the race proper, the competitors enter the track and warm up by riding around the banks.
This is a time for cyclists to show off their abilities and decide who will be in each line, so should not be dismissed as a mere preamble. Use the warmup to carefully examine the makeup of each line.


image Once betting has closed, the rear wheels of the bicycles are attached to the starting blocks, then all the competitors start simultaneously at the sound of a starter pistol. At first the cyclists ride behind a pacer in the front.
(Cyclists try to gain the position that best suits them by comparing their own performance characteristics to those of the other competitors, and considering factors such as wind direction, wind speed and bank radius. Seeing whether each cyclist can gain their desired position is the highlight of a race opening.)


imageTo minimize the wind resistance on the competitors, a pacer rides in front as a windbreak up to a predetermined position on the track.
(The number of laps varies with each race.
The number of laps remaining in the race is indicated by the lap indicator next to the finish line. Blue means three laps remaining; red means two.)

4Bell or gong

imageA bell or gong sounds when the lead cyclist crosses the backstretch line one-and-a-half laps away from the finish line. At the sound, the race starts to reach its climax and the pace picks up.

5Finish line

imageOn the final straightaway, cyclists form a pack as they race toward the finish line at speeds approaching 70 kilometers an hour.