How to Race Keirin

London 2012 Olympic Keirin Final

Keirin Primer

Originated in Japan, Keirin has evolved to an Olympic event. Unpredictable, physical and lightening fast, the keirin is always an entertaining bike race and is one of the most favorite track disciplines among spectators.


  • 8 laps (250-meter) or 6 laps (333-meter).
  • Max 8 riders per heat. Riders draw lots to determine starting positions.
  • Riders must remain behind the pacer/motorcycle/derny.
  • Pacer swings off with 2.5 laps (250-meter) or 1.5 laps (333-meter) to go.
  • Sprint begins.
  • Riders jockey for position to finish line.
  • Top 2-3 riders advance to next round.


Each athlete tries playing to his/her strengths. Some prefer to go early and attack from the front. Sir Chris Hoy, who started his uber successful career as a kilo rider, coined the term “Hoy Attack” by taking and never surrendering the lead. Other riders, however, may choose to sit in and accelerate with 1/4 to 1/2 lap to go. At the international level, top speed exceeds 70kph.