During the past few years, I've ridden and raced several 600cc motorcycles, from high-dollar prototypes for Team AGR in the FIM CEV Repsol Moto2 European Championship to a Supersport-spec Yamaha YZF-R6—third place in Race 2 at Round 5 of the MotoAmerica Series at Utah Motorsports Campus—and my personal relatively stock Honda CBR600RR. Here are a few of the differences between those machines:

Engine: All Moto2 bikes use a CBR600RR powertrain. In the world championship, those engines are built by the same company and sealed by the FIM to prevent tampering. They put out around 120 horsepower and are usually mapped to have a hard-hitting midrange with less over-rev. A typical Supersport-spec R6 makes around 125-130 horsepower. Every R6 that I've ridden has a pretty tame midrange and really takes off once the engine spins past 11,000 rpm.

Electronics: Moto2 bikes are not equipped with any electronic rider aids, such as traction and wheelie control. Mapping is not on-board adjustable, either. As such, engine tuning and riding technique are critical. These machines really bring out the best in the riders and teams. Nearly every Supersport bike, however, has some form of electronic aid. Even my CBR600RR came standard with ABS and an electric starter.

MotoAmerica Championship of Utah - Supersport Race 2

Chassis: Every bike competing in CEV Moto2 uses a Honda engine, 2D data acquisition, Dunlop tires, and Total fuel. Carbon-ceramic brakes are forbidden, and every bike must meet the minimum bike/rider weight limit of 217 kilograms, or 478 pounds. Everything else—brakes, suspension, wheels, and materials used (except carbon fiber)—is left for the teams to decide what works best for them.

Many different manufacturers—Honda, Kawasaki, MV Agusta, Suzuki, and Yamaha—battle for Supersport supremacy in domestic and world championships. The frame must be produced by the manufacturer of the motorcycle. In MotoAmerica, Supersport bikes race on Dunlop slicks in dry conditions, wet-weather rubber in the rain. Minimum weight for each bike is 163 kilograms, or 359 pounds. Sunoco produces the spec fuel for the series.

jayson uribe agr team race action
Jayson Uribe is in his second season of CEV Moto2 competition with the AGR Team. This year, the 18-year-old Californian is teamed with former MotoAmerica Superstock 600 Champion Joe Roberts.AGR Team

Feeling: Riding any motorcycle quickly is not easy, but a Moto2 bike is hands down the most challenging machine I've ever ridden. Physically and mentally, the Kalex chassis that I race is exhausting to ride. It is rough, uncomfortable, and very picky in terms of what it likes to turn quick, consistent laps. Riding a production bike at speed is much easier because I can focus my attention on going fast, not fighting to keep the bike under control.

Now that I’ve bagged a bit on the Moto2 class, I will tell you that these bikes are incredibly rewarding to ride. It’s so satisfying, for example, to roll through Turn 13 at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain, with the throttle wide open, power sliding all the way around that downhill, off-camber corner. I’ve never had that experience on any other motorcycle while still in complete control.

My Moto2 bike doesn’t feel that much different from a well set-up CBR or even a good R6. The biggest difference is the weight (about 44 pounds lighter than an R6) and where that weight is placed. The fuel tank for the Moto2 bike is low, between the frame rails, behind the airbox and above the shock. The seat is also located farther back, toward the rear wheel. Most 600s carry their fuel at least partly above the frame with a small portion over the airbox.

agr team racebike engine details
Cockpit of an AGR Kalex Moto2 racebike is all business. ECU and 2D data-acquisition system live under the "hood," with the space behind the airbox dedicated to fuel.AGR Team

Tires: In my experience, tires are the biggest difference between prototype and production racers. Moto2 bikes are similar to flat-track bikes in that they are designed to be a little bit sideways, both on the brakes and throttle. I think the Dunlop rear slick used in MotoAmerica provides better traction than the Dunlop Moto2 slick. The Moto2 tire gives good feel on the edge during initial throttle inputs, but grip doesn't get really good until you take away some lean angle.

The profile and sidewall of the Moto2 front tire is much more aggressive and stiffer than other tires. It gives really good grip until it reaches 99 percent capacity. Instead of starting to push, like a Pirelli, the tire folds under and jams the handlebars to the lock as it skids across the pavement—really good grip, really good grip, no grip. As long as I stay within the limits of the tire, however, the lean angle that I can achieve while trail braking still gives me chills.

jayson uribe on the motoamerica supersport podium
Uribe (right) celebrates on the podium at Utah Motorsports Campus with MotoAmerica Supersport Race 2 winner Valentin Debise and second-place finisher Daytona Anderson.Brian J. Nelson