Honda RC213V Revealed To Use A 90°V Engine - Now, Rethink Ducati's Problems

Just over 18 months ago, I wrote a long analysis of what I believed at the time was the main problem with Ducati's Desmosedici MotoGP machine. In that analysis, I attributed most of the problems with the Desmosedici to the chosen angle of the V, the angle between the front and rear cylinder banks. By sticking with the 90°V, I argued, Ducati were creating problems with packaging and mass centralization, which made it almost impossible to get the balance of the Desmosedici right. The engine was taking up too much space, and limiting their ability to adjust the weight balance by moving the engine around.

Though there was a certain logic to my analysis, it appears that the engine angle was not the problem. Yesterday, in their biweekly print edition, the Spanish magazine Solo Moto published an article by Neil Spalding, who had finally obtained photographic evidence that the Honda RC213V uses a 90°V, the same engine angle employed by the Ducati Desmosedici. Given the clear success of the Honda RC213V, there can no longer be any doubt that using a 90°V is no mpediment to building a competitive MotoGP machine.

The photographic proof comes as confirmation of rumors which had been doing the rounds in the MotoGP paddock throughout the second half of the 2012 season. Several people suggested that the Honda may use a 90° angle, including Ducati team manager Vitto Guareschi, speaking to GPOne.com back in November. I had personally been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a naked RC213V engine at one rain-soaked race track in September, but while the glimpse through the window may have been good enough to form the impression of an engine that looked like it may have been a 90°V, it was a very long way from being anything resembling conclusive, and nowhere near enough to base a news story on.

Spalding's persistence has paid off, however. The British photographer and journalist is a common sight wandering among the garages, either first thing in the morning, as the bikes are being warmed up, or late at night, while the mechanics prepare the machines for the following day. At some point, the Honda mechanics and engineers - protective to the point of prudishness of displaying any part of their machine to the outside world - would let their guard slip. When they did, Spalding pounced.

So why did Honda elect to use an engine layout which is blamed for causing Ducati so much trouble? And how do Honda make the layout work where Ducati have continued to fail? The first question is relatively simple to answer; the second is a good deal more tricky.

There are many reasons to use a 90°V for both four cylinder and two cylinder engines. First and foremost is that such an engine layout offers perfect primary and secondary balance - put crudely, the vibration caused by the mass of the piston moving, and the vibration caused by the difference in motion between the crankshaft and the piston (see animation here) - which means that no extra measures are required to balance the engine out. Adding a balance shaft - as is needed for a 75°V, as the previous RC212V was, and as is needed for Yamaha's big bang inline four - saps power, requiring around 1-2% of the engine output to drive the balance shaft at sufficient speed. In addition to that, a 90°V also has perfect inertia torque: the torque created by the movement of the pistons all balance each other out, the reason Yamaha chose to use the big bang firing order for the M1 inline four. There are more reasons as well - more even cylinder firing means more manageable intake pulses in the inlet tract, from air intakes to airbox, among other reasons.

Rule changes also made a 90°V more attractive. When Spalding spoke to HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto about the engine, Nakamoto explained that the maximum bore size of 81mm - primarily introduced to act as a rev limit - had allowed Honda to think of expanding the engine angle when they switched from 800cc to 1000cc. The fixed bore meant that the engines required a longer stroke, moving the exhaust ports further away from the crankshaft, and making the cylinder heads higher. This gave more room for locating the rear shock; with the 800cc, the exhausts had to be kept away from the shock to prevent the shock oil from absorbing too much heat and losing damping; on the long-stroke 1000, this is less of a problem, as the exhausts are routed further away from the shock anyway. The taller cylinders also moved the center of mass significantly; with a narrow V, that weight would have been further up; having a wider V, 90°, the weight is distributed a little better, Nakamoto explained to Spalding.

So why does the Honda work, while the Ducati doesn't? For a number of reasons, few of which have anything to do with the engine angle. Contributing a small amount is the fact that the Honda engine appears to be rotated slightly further rearward than the Ducati Desmosedici. Ducati had abandoned its more L-based approach, with the front cylinder bank close to the horizontal, at the end of 2011, choosing to rotate the engine back to close to 45° from the horizontal. But far more important is the location of the engine in the frame, and the arrangement of the gearbox and output shaft. On both the Yamaha and the Honda, the gearbox is more compact, and everything is packaged more tightly. The Ducati engine and gearbox takes up more physical space, leaving less room for maneuver in terms of frame and swingarm design.

Ducati's biggest problem, though, remains the concept around which it was built. Ducati appear to have built the most powerful engine they could ensure would be reliable, and put it in a frame. What Ducati Corse did not take sufficiently into account is the fact that a motorcycle is just that: a motor- cycle. There are two parts to the equation - both engine (motor) and chassis and running gear (cycle) - and getting them to work together is what turns a racing motorcycle into a winner. The synergy between power delivery and handling has always been the Ducati's weak point, even during the 990cc period. Then, however, custom-built tires and excessive horsepower allowed riders such as Loris Capirossi to exploit the strengths of the machine - horsepower and drive - to ride around its weakness, an unwillingness to turn. With the advent of the 800s, the Ducatis lost much of their advantage, and once the spec tire was introduced, only the combination of the riding genius of Casey Stoner and the set up genius of Cristian Gabarrini could make the bike work, and even then, it remained horribly finicky.

The spec tire meant that the Ducati could no longer solve the lack of feel from the front end with a specially constructed front tire. The carbon fiber subframe had been a massive improvement in consistency over the steel trellis frame for the Desmosedici, but with the spec Bridgestones built around a standard chassis layout of an aluminium beam frame, Ducati's frameless design, using the engine as a stressed member, was doomed to obscurity.

That design was scrapped at the end of 2011, and an all-new aluminium beam frame, similar in design to those of Yamaha and Honda, was introduced in 2012. But there is more to chassis design than just copying the layout: Ducati's previous design, using the engine as a stressed member, had placed a very stiff and inflexible lump of engine in the middle of two more flexible chunks of subframe, connecting the steering head to the front cylinder and the rear swingarm to the gearbox. Once the beam frame was introduced, the design appeared to follow the same pattern, maintaining a central, extremely stiff section, with two softer sections at front and rear. The chassis changes through the year have had less and less material around the swingarm pivot point, for example, as Ducati searched for more flex in their chassis. The problem, however, may have been in the beams connecting front and rear, rather than in the attachment points for the swingarm and steering head.

The engine, also, retained the solid construction which had previously been required by its use as a stressed member. It was a much heavier lump than the Honda and Yamaha units, as the history of the minimum weight increase for 2012 reveals. At the end of 2011, Dorna proposed a weight increase from 153kg to 160kg. This proposal could only be rejected by unanimous agreement of the MSMA, the manufacturers. After the MSMA met, they reported to the Grand Prix Commission that the proposal had been rejected by a unanimous vote. It transpired that the vote was far from unanimous: one manufacturer - though it was never confirmed, it is widely accepted that this was Ducati - had voted in favor of the weight increase, and after they informed the GPC that they had been misinformed, a compromise was reached where the weight was increased to 157kg in 2012, and 160kg for 2013. Ducati had the most to gain by a weight increase, as their bike was already the heaviest of the bunch.

The heavier engine makes weight distribution even more critical. Getting the basic weight distribution right is key, and this is where Ducati have suffered most. How critical this is was demonstrated by Honda in 2012, as they struggled with the added weight and with the altered tire construction. Both were causing huge chatter for the Hondas, a problem which it took the factory over half a season to get to grips with. Once they did get it under control - or at least, get it under control sufficiently to allow the Honda men to win 8 of the last 9 races - the Hondas were nigh-on unbeatable.

Weight distribution, chassis stiffness and flex, power delivery. These are the variables which a racing motorcycle designer is required to control to build a competitive machine. Ducati's problems stem from the fact that they have not mastered these three sufficiently to produce a rideable machine. That Honda should be able to do so, using the engine layout previously blamed for Ducati's woes, speaks volumes about HRC's resources, their engineering skill, and their experience. It is a foolish man who bets against Honda when they decide to go racing.

So I was wrong, 18 months ago, to lay the blame at the door of the engine angle selected by Ducati. I should have known better, given Honda's long history of racing success with V4s, in World Superbikes and Endurance racing with the RC30 and RC45. Their 90°V engine will be the basis of their production racer (which writer Mark Gardiner has proposed be named the Honda PVT), as well as the design template for the World Superbike homologation special due to be launched in time for the 2014 WSBK season. The layout itself is not important: it is not a matter of getting the right engine angle, it is a question of getting the engine angle right for the bike you are building. These remain motor-cycles. The two parts truly create a greater whole.

Just over 18 months ago, I wrote a long analysis of what I believed at the time was the main problem with Ducati's Desmosedici MotoGP machine. In that analysis, I attributed most of the problems with the Desmosedici to the chosen angle of the V, the angle between the front and rear cylinder banks. By sticking with the 90°V, I argued, Ducati were creating problems with packaging and mass centralization, which made it almost impossible to get the balance of the Desmosedici right. The engine was taking up too much space, and limiting their ability to adjust the weight balance by moving the engine around.Though there was a certain logic to my analysis, it appears that the engine angle was not the problem. Yesterday, in their biweekly print edition, the Spanish magazine Solo Moto published an article by Neil Spalding, who had finally obtained photographic evidence that the Honda RC213V uses a 90°V, the same engine angle employed by the Ducati Desmosedici. Given the clear success of the Honda RC213V, there can no longer be any doubt that using a 90°V is no mpediment to building a competitive MotoGP machine.The photographic proof comes as confirmation of rumors which had been doing the rounds in the MotoGP paddock throughout the second half of the 2012 season. Several people suggested that the Honda may use a 90° angle, including Ducati team manager Vitto Guareschi, speaking to GPOne.com back in November. I had personally been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a naked RC213V engine at one rain-soaked race track in September, but while the glimpse through the window may have been good enough to form the impression of an engine that looked like it may have been a 90°V, it was a very long way from being anything resembling conclusive, and nowhere near enough to base a news story on.

Comments

Good stuff!

FYI: "That design was scrapped at the end of 2011, and an all-new aluminium beam frame, similar in design to those of Yamaha and Ducati, was introduced in 2012." should probably refer to Yamaha and Honda, not Yamaha and Ducati.

That said, good article and props to you for admitting you were wrong rather then trying to sweep it under the rug. I always enjoy the analysis here at Motomatters- it may not always be right, but it at least is always thought provoking... unlike a lot of other sites which only seem to regurgitate press releases. Keep up the good work!

Total votes: 152

Correction

Thanks for pointing that out. Fixed it now!

Total votes: 133

90deg V: Impediment?

"Given the clear success of the Honda RC213V, there can no longer be any doubt that using a 90°V is an impediment to building a competitive MotoGP machine." (2nd paragraph).

DE (please don't take this as criticism): would you allow me to clarify the above sentence as follows:

Given the success of the Honda RC213V, its clear that using a 90deg V isn't an impediment to building a competitive MotoGP machine.

Total votes: 140

Engine freeze?

Top article, thanks for that. The HRC guys must have been having a right old chuckle at what was being said on the interwebz, and Ducati - especially Preziosi - can feel some vindication after being the focus of so much fan-hate last year.

So what of the engine freeze we've heard about? It seems if Ducati can not reconfigure their crankcases (at least) they are pretty much doomed to wander midfield between the Japs and the CRT's at best. Even if it's just bore and stroke that is frozen, it still impacts them heavily if they have gone with a sub-1000, high-revving, high-power, peaky engine as rumored.

Total votes: 126

Excellent piece. It's

Excellent piece. It's illustrative that copying one piece of someone else's design misses the comprehensive approach that makes a bike successful. Ducati manages quite well with a 90 degree engine in WSBK. I still think the carbon frame concept was doomed by spec tires and rider preferences.

The season hasn't started yet, what is the deadline for sealing the engines, and do you have to do all of them at one time?

Total votes: 127

The teams chose to seal them

The teams chose to seal them whenever they want.

Total votes: 136

I know this has little to do

I know this has little to do here, but calling Honda's production racer PVT is wrong if it stands for "Prototype with conventional Valve Train". A production model can't be a prototype, the prototype is the basis for the production model. Those production-racer will all be exactly the same therefor they will no be prototypes.

Total votes: 122

Good stuff

David, quite big of you and proper as well to admit you were wrong. Clearly we need to look beyond the limitations of the 90 degree V-twin. I look forward to further insights, perhaps with fewer definitive statements of what might be the rights and wrongs of the Ducati!

Total votes: 144

BARKING UP THE WRONG VEE...

Good on you David. Not many of us are big enough to admit our mistakes, so full marks for that. However, I think one or two of us disagreed with your analysis at the time, saying there was absolutely nothing wrong with a 90 degree v-angle. I think it was pointed out that with a much physically bigger engine, a short swing-arm (and a single sided one at that) as well as the supposed inferiority of a steel tube frame, a certain Spaniard on a Ducati Superbike had lapped Phillip Island faster than a certain Italian on a Ducati MotoGP machine. But of course the Yellow Hordes would have none of that. Let's face it, Mr Rossi's constant demands for major chassis changes to the MotoGP Ducati have taken it further from the front than was the case in teh second half of 2010. Hayden's race times at Aragon are most revealing on this point. Also, the C-F frame was abandoned mid 2011 if memory serves, replaced by the first of the twin spar designs. So to claim the C-F frame was a mistake does not really stand up, does it?

Also, that 'certain Spaniard' has just clicked off the fastest Superbike lap in testing at Philliip Island so far... with a metal version of the supposedly inferior C-F 'airbox frame".

No, the problems with the current Ducati MotoGP machines can be laid squarely at the feet of Valentino Rossi.

No other rider has demanded, and received, so many chassis changes at Ducati...

Total votes: 168

IIRC Burgess kept going to

IIRC Burgess kept going to Corse to get the thing to turn and quit understeering. The multitude of attempts were Corse's doing. Rossi is a rider and Burgess is a chief, and neither actually log onto the cad machine. They get what Corse gives them, try setup, evaluate, and report findings back to Corse. Corse were the ones attempting design after design to get the thing to turn only to fail. If you want to keep crowing about Rossi's failure then include Corse as they design the bike or Valentino Rossi or Jeremy Burgess.

Ducati's problem is they don't have the experience of Honda or Yamaha in creating an aluminum frame and this is what is needed and missing at Corse.

Total votes: 155

Rossi finished 20 points

Rossi finished 20 points further behind the eventual champ, than Stoner did in 2010 Can"t be right?? Pretty much both bikes were crap, Casey had 3/4 races where he used his experience of the bike and shear skill to produce a smattering of great results, ones he sometimes couldn't repeat on the honda(a story for another day).
Those aside his season was worse than Rossis, that's only 3 1/2 races in 18 or 19.. The whole argument of which bike/rider was best, considering they were both factory number one riders should be void, as both were miles off the competition in similar guise ie spec tyres..I suppose it could be argued that Casey had the better bike, as Ducati have never be able to get to grips with it and have made little progress in terms of competition over the last 6/7 years..but that aside...
As for, Rossi is to blame!!! that relies on the huge assumption that there is a fix for the bike without major redesign.. An assumption it's difficult to make with any authority..

Total votes: 168

glad to see you come back to

glad to see you come back to earth,david
i for one never beleived the horses#!t about the 90 degree layout being a problem,i was especially against it after reading a longwinded explanation last year by a certain well known armchair- engineer on ADV !! bahhahahahahahahahah

Total votes: 144

I think it's clear that the

I think it's clear that the 90-degree motor in the CF "frameless" design wasn't working. And further, if I'm reading correctly, the motor designed for that frameless design, whether in CF or aluminum, isn't the right one for the twin-spar chassis.

Whether the Ducati engine's design was dictated by the needs of the "frameless" chassis or not is unclear to me. But it's safe to assume that the output shaft, swingarm length, etc., all were correct - as far as Ducati's designers wanted them - with the CF "frameless" chassis, and the bike didn't work as well as the more traditional designs (if "traditional" is the word you can apply to prototypes!)

I don't think this revelation about the Honda engine in any way rehabilitates the CF frame. What if, instead, a narrower V-angle was exactly what the CF "frameless" design needed to work properly? Who's to say that Honda wouldn't have failed in the exact same manner as Ducati had Honda tried to go the CF "frameless" route? Honda has a history of radical GP attempts that have failed, sometimes spectacularly. It seemed like such an obvious plan to put the exhausts on the top and the gas tank underneath the two-stroke engine, but Honda (actually, its riders) got burned on that!

I think that all it shows is that the Ducati motor that failed - not by much, but it is still a failure - as part of one fairly radical engine/frame design doesn't work very well as an integral part of another engine/frame concept that it wasn't designed for.

Total votes: 135

At this level, issues are never solved by something as simple as

as engine layout or attachment points.

I'm sure Ducati engineers know full well that their bike doesn't turn in like the Japanese bikes, nor is it as stable under acceleration.

Also isn't the praising of Honda a bit undeserved, considering that Yamaha have beaten them 5 out of the last 7 years?

Total votes: 145

Er...in the last 7 years

Er...in the last 7 years Honda and Yamaha have each won the constructor's championship thrice and Ducati once. Of the rider championships meanwhile 4 have gone to Yamaha, 2 to Honda and one to Ducati.

The praising of Honda is not really undeserved if you look at how they have come up in the last 3-4 years when they actually meant business. It requires a lot of changes in terms of how the management behaves apart from what they are providing to the riders if they are to expect something long term. One of the major reasons why Rossi started winning on a Yamaha had a lot to do with how the Yamaha management's attitude had changed.

It's not like Yamaha always got it right or Honda always did. Both have had nightmarish times during the 500cc days trying to get the chassis/engine configuration right. For the massive amounts of factors that go into consideration, it sometimes really evokes awe as to the level of sophistication these two have achieved in a few decades.

With a few exceptions, has there ever been a case where Honda has decided to put in a full fledged dedicated (keyword) factory effort and has gone wrong? Be it durability, reliability, power, electronics, handling, innovation or any other avenue in bike development that's not coming to my sleepy mind right now, Honda has always put the buttloads of money they have to good use.

Also why is it that someone like Rossi (no disrespect meant) has to be the reference point for developing a good all-round bike? Isn't it time the racers evolved? King Kenny was the turning point during his time. Shouldn't there be a Stoner school of riders? Or am I setting the bar too high?

Total votes: 152

Right, sorry forgot about Ducati winning in 2007

Still, Yamaha have won the title 4 times to Honda's 2 in the last few years. I just thought that Mr. Emmett gave a lot of praised to Honda for something that they should be expected to do - create a great bike especially considering their budget.

If you want to look for a time when Honda put a lot of effort without success, just look at the majority of the 800cc era. They couldn't find the right combination from 2007 until the latter parts of the 2010 season.

Total votes: 128

Its very similar to the

Its very similar to the Yamaha story in 2004. Furusawa had joined sometime in 2003 and the way he overhauled the team dynamics (and also the engine) was one of the main reasons Rossi was able to win on the Yamaha. I think his commitment was one of the major reasons why he was able to win Rossi over. When the Yamaha wasn't doing so good in 2007 he made sure Furusawa attended all races so he knew what was happening.

Forward to 2009. Nakamoto takes over the Honda team. And begins getting rid of its miseries. If you look deeper, Yamaha had two aliens on their team in the 08-10 period. That makes a lot of difference. Dovi was never an alien. To stack up points you need to win consistently. Dovi never did that. The story changed once Stoner joined. Now you had two aliens. And now Stoner's wins motivated the guys back in Japan to do even better. Probably just like Rossi's had for Yamaha. I think if Stoner had stayed on this year we would have seen one of the best fights in history in terms of a championship duel. Not just between the riders but now even between the manufacturers. Here's hoping Marquez is an alien.

Total votes: 142

Rider and constructor (manufacturer) title

BigCHrome, I think that you're confusing rider titles with constructor (manufacturer) titles. Rider title goes to rider, not manufacturer, and vice versa. Since 2006, Honda and Yamaha have won three titles each, and Ducati just one.

Total votes: 125

much ado about turn-in

re: "I'm sure Ducati engineers know full well that their bike doesn't turn in like the Japanese bikes"

something they/we also know is that we don't race on tracks built for motorcycles, we race on tracks scaled for the dimensions and turning radius of F1 cars. has anyone ever LOOKED at an F1 car in real life...? they're HUGE...!!! has anybody seen bj nelson's (long-time yank photographer) recent pictures of CRT's wobbling tilke's circuit of america...? it's MASSIVE...!!!

http://www.superbikeplanet.com/image/2013/cotatestfeb/2/

http://www.superbikeplanet.com/newind.htm/

you don't need MAX turn-in for this and how many F1 and tilke circuits do we race on again...?

Total votes: 137

Chassis dimensions

And then there's this. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=158610204292041&set=a.1164418118... an analysis of chassis dimensions between the three main bikes.

Ducati has a short wheelbase, short rear swingarm, long chassis, tall seat compared to the other two.

Total votes: 144

albeit counterintuitive, it worked

re: "short rear swingarm"

the shortened swingarm length is a development found at one point to work better with the bridgestone control tyres. it was being used successfully by both casey/ducati and rossi/burgess on the M1 at the height of their rivalry.

Total votes: 132

What wasn't said

by Burgess was that the Ducati needed a new engine. In this context that's an interesting omission. Burgess talked about needing new crankcases and the problem of the swing-arm pivot. He perhaps knew that the Honda was not that fundamentally different and what Ducati needed was a thorough ‘tweaking’.
As for ‘rider preferences’, how can you imply its riders’ fault when so many have said it’s the bike design!
Neither is Preziosi let off the hook here. He was the design leader and, whilst he may well have been denied the budget to do what Burgess or others suggested, his statements and silence on key matters were less than open and honest.
The secrecy around the technology in this type of sport is understood to some degree, but I cannot help feeling that a bit more openness and honesty would add to the attractiveness for most fans without the manufacturers/teams losing very much.

Total votes: 133

Burgess actually mentioned the 90 degree V4 is an ideal design

JB in an interview with MCN published in their sport 2012 review, said that he asked many Japanese engineers about the 90 degree V4. All said that it is actually an ideal configuration.

Total votes: 113

carbon subframe, engine, etc. superbike vs motogp

I know that MotoGP and WorldSBK are not exactly comparable, but we have to remember that
Ducati have built a ridable bike with a 90 deg V-twin for a number of years -- assuming one
accepts that their WorldSBK titles are valid on this platform.

Now we have the Panigale racing in WorldSBK with a similar design to the
discarded MotoGP bike with the carbon subframe and stressed engine member.

How many people believe that the Panigale is barking up the wrong tree and will
never win a WorldSBK title? I really fear that all of the effort they spent
in trying to make the MotoGP carbon subframe work was wasted, but do we really
KNOW that this was the wrong path (now that the 90deg V beast has been slain)?
Now Ducati are probably going to spend a few more years in the
wilderness trying to outdo the Japanese in their own twin-spar backyard (as pointed out by
others they are losing ground since they moved to the twin-spar). Unless they
manage something miraculous as they did in 2007 with the tire wars, an amazing rider,
and a powerful engine (I can still see Casey powering past Rossi and others
on those long straights) I don't see where else they can end up other than just
in front of the CRTs (for now). What will happen when the Honda production
racer gets thrown in the mix? I would predict that Ducati leaves MotoGP unless
bringing back the tire wars allows Ducati another avenue.

But I (like many others) am rooting for Ducati. Here we have a battle
of the giants of automotive and motorcycle engineering: Honda versus Audi/Ducati,
Japan versus Europe. Let the battle begin, but lets hope it doesn't take too long
to have some competitive fights at the pointy end.

Total votes: 118

ROFL !Sorry, can't resist.

ROFL !

Sorry, can't resist. Congrats to David at least for having the balls to say he got it wrong... I'm sure most of the journalists and other web-experts who confidently told us the Ducati V-angle was the problem, based on never having accomplished a more complicated engineering task than opening a beer, will just move on to other certainties...

What is clear is that the Ducati frame design is very different from everything else in the class - proto or CRT - in that it appears to be flexible at the front and stiff at the rear. Exactly the opposite of what works for everyone else, and apparently an attempt to reproduce the characteristics of the frameless construction. That would align with the comments relayed from Rossi via his entourage that the Ducati was vague then became stiff under load, and also that it worked better in the rain. Both suggest a frame that is too flexible at the front, rather than too stiff as proposed by most of the media.

The other thing is that the data on wheelbase etc info, if it's not just an accident of a particular day when it was adjusted that way, reflects the team's best attempt to make the bike work. They can adjust the wheelbase, so if they made it short, they were trying to compensate... most likely for a too-low CoG which doesn't transfer enough load front or rear under braking and acceleration. The obvious solution is to lift the bike higher on the suspension, but at some point the swingarm pivot is too high and you get too much anti-squat, making the rear unstable. So, they needed to pivot the engine around the sprocket. But what they really needed was to change the position of the gearbox shafts relative to the crankcase, to tuck the gearbox more underneath the engine. That was most likely the engine promised all year to Rossi, but never built.

The fact that when Corse finally agreed to try a regular frame, they engineered it to work like the frameless bike, speaks volumes. Someone's ego was more important than doing the experiment properly. Similarly, would machining a new set of cases really have made such a huge hole in the budget, given the number of engineers on the payroll, as seen in those photos from the tests in early 2012?

There is also a tremendous irony in that the 1198 was clearly the best handling bike on the WSBK grid, as demonstrated by it being competitive despite a massive power disdvantage. So then Ducati decided that the way to win in GP was to have the most powerful bike, and hope that the handling would be good enough.

Seems the real issue for Ducati is cultural.

Total votes: 158

The engine is the problem.

There has been a lot of speculation and comment about what the fix(es) for Ducati’s problems is/are. The emphasis has been on the vee angle because all the information was telling us that Honda were using a 75⁰ or something like that. However, the key thing was mass and the C of G.
Whilst many (incl. me) have said “Oh,….” David’s explanation of Honda’s logic is totally plausible and it reinforces the need for today’s bikes to be integrated designs, not a mash of concepts.
Ducati racers have long tried to get their front wheel as close as possible to the front cylinder/spark plug. Ducati themselves only seem to have designed for better weight distribution and geometry since the chassis change.
What is exciting is that Ducati ‘only’ need to produce new crankcases, it would appear. Assuming that their new gearbox allows a more compact drivetrain and a longer swing-arm.
If MotoGP bikes were like WSBK, or vice versa, bikes then Yamaha or Honda (yes the ‘blade is an I4 not a V) would have been leading both championships. I do not know what it’s like to ride a factory superbike, never mind MGP, but it’s pretty clear that MGP machines are very different – as Crutchlow and Spies have shown/spoken of quite clearly.
I recall that Checa rode the MGP bike (last year I think) and perhaps Ducati have/will put some carbon brakes and Bridgestone’s on a Panigale. Until there’s a Ducati near the front of MGP and someone explains why it’s the bike and not the rider we can carry on enjoying risk-free speculation.

Total votes: 121

Valves; Pneumatic Vs Desmo

One other variation between Ducati and Honda is the valve train.

Ducati has to fit in the Desmo gubbins whereas Honda has the much simpler Pneumatic spring (and the rest is conventional) to fit into the head.

Pictures of the various HRC motors always show quite a short (not tall) head.
This must add to improving the mass distribution.

All that said, I still don't see enough positives of a 90 degree in the article
- HRC makes power in spades. Another 1-2% is overkill
- A balance shaft gives firing order variation possibilities

HRC used 75 instead of 72 to open out the vee to improve breathing. Yes?
Maybe the 90 allows something more radical in the breathing department.

There must be some very compelling reasons for HRC to make the move.
I don't see them here. David? Neil?

Total votes: 130

the single-tyre rule

The spec tire meant that the Ducati could no longer solve the lack of feel from the front end with a specially constructed front tire

What exactly was special about the tyres they used in 2007 and 2008? It's clear (at least it used to be) that the Ducati preferred something with a softer carcass that made it easier to get heat into them, but that is hardly a special construction. If they are going to force everyone to use spec tyres they could at least provide a wider selection.

Total votes: 143

I posted this quite awhile

I posted this quite awhile back, but I'll post it again. When they were using the CF frame, and all the blame was pointed there, I asked a friend, who 'was' an aerospace engineer (I'm understating his expertise by a factor of 1000!!!) about CF. He laughed that the problem was the CF frame, for the simple reason that you an do 'anything' with it. You can build it with as much, or as little, flex as you want, OR make it stiff at one end and flex at the other, OR stiff at both ends and flexible in the middle. It's way more 'workable" then aluminum! He was adamant that the issue with the bike was not the CF frame. They went away from CF and to the 'normal' twin spar alum and......Hmmmmmm

David, great article!

Total votes: 117

Yes it Flexes, but how does it un-flex?

Totally agree with your comment about CF, you can do anything with it, however Casey said something during the year of front end loses - he said the Ducati CF flexes, but then gives up the flex too soon, usually mid corner or at apex rather than staying flexed until corner exit like twin Al spar.

Total votes: 138

but how does it un-flex?

that's a good question...

1. might wanna ask GE, the entire fan section of both the 90 and GnX are c/f. (bird strikes anyone?)

2. might wanna ask boeing, or airbus, the new 787 (leave off the battery jokes for a moment) and forthcoming A350 are designed to loft 300+ passengers (our mothers, fathers, wives, children, etc) while being more than 50% composite.

3. might wanna ask sikorsky or agusta how important the control of flex, flutter, and dynamic loading (coriolis effect) is to the extreme operating conditions of rotor craft with main and tail blades employing c/f.

what i'm getting at is somebody (and more than just one somebody) has figured it out. and the stakes in aerospace for getting it wrong are EXPONENTIALLY higher than either F1 or MotoGP.

Total votes: 125

Smart post and thanks David

I've bemoaned this V/L nondesript detail for ages. L is simply 90 degree with accompanying primary balance. Anything V shakes itself to pieces without cumbersom balance shafts. The Desmo valve gear within the constraints of engine dimensions vs Honda's pneuematic system probably makes Honda's L-4 ever so slightly more compact (Maybe 1 seconds worth over a 2 minute lap). The cylinder heads may have to be ever so slightly longer to accomodate the mechanical rocker arms with desmo actuation.
Anyway. Kudo's to you and the article. Desmo and L-4, never were and never will be Ducati's Achilles' heel in terms of competitiveness in MGP.
It's like simply calling a spade a spade. The sooner one accepts the geometry of 90 degree angle = L and anything less = V, the sooner the better.
Ducati built parralel twin desmo's in my heyday too. The Yamaha advantage is its super compact Transverse 4 layout. A philosophy that has ruled the street for decades by the Big Four. Nimble,with an infinately adjustable high or low COG per task. It never was an in line 4. It's a transverse 4 given its fitment within the chassis.
I could rabbit and nit pick this to the last spacer. Guzzi were renouned for Transverse L- twin,not in line and blah.
Anyway. Thoroughly enjoyable article as ever.

Total votes: 127

Good reflection BrettS69

Sort of what I was driving at. At this level. Length of cylinder head in terms of fundamental L and valve actuation. Millimeters worth of adjustment and 100th's of a second nimbleness on corner entry. Over a 45 minute dash from start to finish in a dry race ? Well. We have seen it over the years. Every 100th counts and manifests itself as 10,20 or 30 seconds sometimes by race end.
Bring back the tyre war to avert the inevitable tedium I say.
A credence within the sport of different strokes for different folks may be a good thing.
I for one would rather see topsy turvey race results per weekend as a result of engine configuration,tyre manufacturer of the day etc. Right now,it is so bloody predictable that the series is a gambling man's dream,except that everyone's backing the same old predictable horses. No thrill,just general expectation.
Outside of unwanted and unexpected and sometimes horrific injury, GP 2013 is just so predictable, given Sepang 1.

Total votes: 136

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