MotoGP Technology In 10 Photos

Machine art at the racetrack

The fact that the subjects of these lovely photos are machine parts does not detract from the beauty they present. Nature is full of the grace of living things adapting to the world around them—a bird's wings or tree limbs moving and dancing in wind. These elements of MotoGP bikes became beautiful through a similar process but through human intention rather than a billion years of trial and error.

motogp tech photo

MotoGP Tech Photo #1

The man-machine interface on one of the Repsol Hondas. We can read, so we see the mode switch (results show up on the dash) and the red "run" button. There's the Brembo hydraulic clutch lever, and right above their symbol is a connector for the force- or line-pressure sensor. To the right, a hose to the hydraulic reservoir, and between them, a rotary lever-height adjuster. Directly below that might be a thumb brake. In the background, the giant Öhlins upper outer fork tube.James Wirth
motogp tech photo

MotoGP Tech Photo #2

A view with seatback removed. Some of this stuff looks like it's associated with the on-board camera equipment. Looking up front, see how very far apart are the two fork tubes, a result of needing room to move brake discs laterally away from the front tire and into faster-moving air for improved brake cooling. Lots of discs reaching surface temps over 1,000 degrees Celsius these days, bringing support for use of bigger 340mm discs at more tracks.James Wirth
motogp tech photo

MotoGP Tech Photo #3

Those Showa fork bottoms are the real thing, as you can tell from the tool-path marks from their milled-from-solid manufacturing. Remember that the brake torque that regularly lifts the rear tires of these bikes off the ground on corner approach has to pass through these parts. One of the cylindrical extensions probably contains a gas accumulator whose pressure prevents oil cavitation, and the other contains the valve shim stacks. The hydraulic line to the caliper has a quick-change connector, and you can see a front-wheel speed sensor at 7:30 on the yellow circle.James Wirth
motogp tech photo

MotoGP Tech Photo #4

People are so struck by the strangeness and grace of CNC tool-path marks that they have become a "look" in the aftermarket. On the right, you can see the bracket (retained by two 6mm Allen cap screws) that secures the rod for the suspension-movement sensor. The knob on the left is ride height, while the red disc and its two screw heads are for "tension" (rebound) and "compression." The milled-from-solid aluminum linkage arm disappears downward out of focus.James Wirth
motogp tech photo

MotoGP Tech Photo #5

To the left of the mechanic's head you see the growing mass of the racing motorcycle's "nervous system," wires rushing sensor data to the ECU and commands flowing away from it. Right at bottom center we see the engine's "dagger" oil sump, made so deep and narrow to keep the oil pickup always submerged yet allow space for pipes to pass next to it. Engine cases are sandcast because such material can be heat-treated for high strength. A clutch inspection is in progress here.James Wirth
motogp tech photo

MotoGP Tech Photo #6

This is the Suter-designed Mahindra Moto3 bike. Note the big air passage through the front of the frame. Early engine airboxes took air by flex-hose from the sides of the fairing front into the airbox through holes in the sides of the frame beams. Today, intakes are central, with the steering stem faired into them. The giant intake is similar to those in MotoGP because this 250's single cylinder is allowed the same 81mm maximum bore as in MotoGP.James WIrth
motogp tech photo

MotoGP Tech Photo #7

An Öhlins tech uses a large syringe to adjust fork oil quantity. The fork spring(s) are supplemented by the compression of air above the oil in the tube. The more oil there is, the more progressive becomes the "air spring." Just above the open top of the right fork leg you can make out the letters "HRC." For years, Honda has found room for necessary exhaust pipe length by curling the tubing up in the seatback. Freddie Spencer's 1983 NS500 was the first.James Wirth
motogp tech photo

MotoGP Tech Photo #8

We have ignition. The Ducati's slipper clutch action does not always have the reverse torque capacity to allow starting on rollers, so this starter spins the crankshaft directly via a hex on the end. The team also carries roller starters. Hmm, that chassis upright on the right side of the photo looks fairly thin. Flex much, you think?James Wirth
motogp tech photo

MotoGP Tech Photo #9

Right-hand footpeg and rear brake pedal and master cylinder. What can I say? Beautiful parts, attractive composition, singleness of purpose. At bottom left, an exhaust pipe is supported by rubber mount and link, and the swingarm adjacent is narrowed to provide clearance for its passage. Hefty spring on master cylinder is common, reminding riders to release the rear brake fully.James Wirth
motogp tech photo

MotoGP Tech Photo #10

This is the other pole of the man-machine interface. Laptops allow us to read and write important realities: gear, acceleration, and decel maps, kill switch, battery voltage, the air/fuel ratios for cylinders one through four. Magic words, keys to the kingdom that Tolkien heroes seek through terrible travail and danger. Every factory garage has a back room in which quiet men with laptops sit at a table, evaluating data. What does it all mean? They hope to know by Sunday, noontime.James Wirth

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