Taylormade Carbon2 - First Look

Will this prototype Moto2 chassis manufactured entirely from carbon fiber find success on the racetrack?

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Taylormade, the Van Nuys, California, designer/builder of racing motorcycles such as the Saxon Triumph, has addressed the notable lack of innovation in Moto2 with this carbon-fiber monocoque chassis, which combines the gas tank and bodywork into a single fabrication to reduce weight and increase strength.

Identical-spec Honda CBR600RR engines currently power Moto2 bikes. At its inception, the class was touted as "unleashing chassis innovation" by deliberately making expensive engine development unnecessary. Yet there has been almost no innovation, as all the successful chassis in the class are of the Cobas twin-aluminum-beam type.

My thoughts on the Taylormade Carbon2 chassis:

I like:

  1. Carbon fiber is structurally efficient, having greater stiffness-to-weight than any metal. The potential for light weight is real, which is why Boeing chose carbon for its new 787.

  2. The front-to-back air tunnel to the underseat-mounted radiator is more efficient than a conventionally sited radiator, which is poorly cooled in the turbulence behind the front wheel.

  3. Placement of the fuel tank behind the engine and extending below the swingarm closer to the machine/rider center of mass may keep handling more constant as fuel load burns off.

  4. BMW-like wishbone-and-telefork front suspension retains traditional feel but can be stiffer than a conventional fork.

  5. This chassis' claimed "exceptional tunability," which presumably refers to changeable steering geometry, wheelbase and swingarm pivot height, is a necessity in adapting handling to rider style and venue.

I wonder:

  1. MotoGP teams have retained metal chassis because they are quick and relatively cheap to make and alter. If a carbon chassis/swingarm turns out to need more or less flexibility, it must be completely redesigned. Carbon had better be right!

  2. What do you do about crash damage? It's going to take more than a $4.99 NAPA fiberglass repair kit to restore any lost structural strength.

  3. Was a goal of this two-year chassis project to achieve the lateral flex and "feel" of successful chassis? Or was its goal just stiffness? In 1993, describing Yamaha's super-stiff YZR500 chassis, a desperate Wayne Rainey said, "We have chatter, we have hop and we have skating."

Developed in the U.S. by former Buell test rider/racer Shawn Higbee, the Carbon2 bike will debut at England’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, July 11-14.

View images in photo gallery:

Taylormade Carbon2 - left-side view

Static left-side view

Taylormade Carbon2 - right-side view

Static right-side view

Taylormade Carbon2 streamlines

Streamlines of the Taylormade Carbon2

Shawn Higbee test ride

Test riding the Taylormade Carbon2 prototype with Shawn Higbee onboard