200MPH BAL­ANC­ING ACT

The fastest bike with the most skilled rider wins, right? Not any more: Mo­toGP’s move to con­trol tyres and ECU has forced the best rid­ers in the world to adapt their rid­ing and even bike set­ting lap-by-lap to make it to the flag the fastest

Performance Bikes (UK) - - CONTENTS - Words MAT OXLEY

How con­trol tyres and ECUs have forced Mo­toGP stars to change their style.

IT’S IN­EVITABLE: as Mo­toGP be­comes more and more com­plex, rid­ing tech­niques be­come more and more com­pli­cated.

For most rid­ers, de­vel­op­ing their tech­nique to get the most out of their bike and their tyres is now a full-time job. They don’t just go out and ride; when they’re on track they study their ri­vals, try­ing to learn new tricks. And when they’re back in their mo­torhomes and back at home be­tween races, they spend hours watch­ing the TV, analysing their own tech­nique and those of their ri­vals.

The big­gest changes in tech­ni­cal reg­u­la­tions – and there­fore of rid­ing tech­nique – came in 2016, when Mo­toGP switched from fac­tory to spec elec­tron­ics and from Bridge­stone tyres to Miche­lin. This trans­formed ma­chine set-up and rid­ing skill re­quire­ments. It forced engi­neers to rad­i­cally change chas­sis ge­om­e­try to shift bike bal­ance from the rear to the front, which in­creases load on the front tyre to help Miche­lin’s front slick. And it re­quired rid­ers to move their fo­cus away from cor­ner en­try, which was where they made time with Bridge­stone’s amaz­ing front slick, to cor­ner exit, where they now make time with Miche­lin’s im­pres­sive rear.

Dis­cussing rid­ing tech­nique with the world’s great­est is fas­ci­nat­ing. When they de­scribe what they do, as you’ll read over the com­ing pages, you re­alise that rid­ing a Mo­toGP bike at lap record pace has pretty much noth­ing to do with how you and I ride a bike.

Tech 3 Yamaha rider Jo­hann Zarco even be­came quite pro­tec­tive when asked to ex­plain his tech­nique in de­tail. “It’s dif­fi­cult,” he said. “You are ask­ing me about things I do nat­u­rally, so if I ex­plain how I do it, I won’t be able to do it nat­u­rally any more.”

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