When we first saw images of Suzuki’s inline-Four MotoGP mule being tested in preparation for a return to the series in 2015, we wondered if the Hamamatsu-based company was also planning to make a limited-production repli-racer. Here, Technical Editor Kevin Cameron shares his thoughts.
The big question surrounding Suzuki’s return to MotoGP next year has two parts: 1) Why did a company famed for its transverse inline-Fours go GP racing with V-Fours, and 2) Why switch to an inline engine for next year?
There are sub-questions as well, helping to explain why we had an illustrator modify this spy photo of the new MotoGP Suzuki, adding GSX-R-like graphics, a muffler and rain-grooved tires. Does the new MotoGP bike foretell the coming of “super GSX-Rs” based on use of a common “look” and engine architecture?
At the beginning of MotoGP in 2002, everyone was furiously predicting a Honda V-Five repli-racer, but so far, only Ducati has done anything of the kind, with its limited-production Desmosedici RR. Will Suzuki, whose income and tradition are so linked to the GSX-R, be the one to manufacture a repli-racer in higher volume?
Suzuki’s use of V-Fours in MotoGP put the inline engines of production GSX-Rs in the shade—not exactly an ace marketing move. It may be for the same reason that in 2004 Yamaha adopted a 90-degree crankshaft in its YZR-M1 MotoGP engine: An inline with a flat crank seemed to be at a disadvantage versus a vee engine in cornering. Keeping inlines in GSX-Rs made commercial sense because other makers’ sportbikes had the same “handicap,” but in MotoGP, the V-Four looked like an advantage.
Today, the proven concept of an inline engine with a 90-degree crank makes it possible to use these powerplants in both production and MotoGP.
One last thought: Every time I see early-season shots of MotoGP bikes in unpainted black fairings, I am struck by their rounded, low-drag shapes. That’s understandable, for those are the shapes the wind tunnel likes best. Fairings on streetbikes, by contrast, sport the 1950s’ jet-fighter sharp edges that marketing focus groups like best. There’s no accounting for taste!
CAUGHT IN THE ACT: Suzuki’s 2014 MotoGP prototype testing at Motegi in Japan.