Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Welcome to MotoGP’s controlled electronics era

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


Welcome to MotoGP’s controlled electronics era

When the future looks uncertain, some people like to take refuge in the past, which goes some way to explaining the success of events like last weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, which is largely about old motor sport metal.

The metal is all important because, unlike most sports, motor racing has a hugely tangible history: gawping at the goal posts used at the 1938 FA Cup final is never going to be as much fun as examining the supercharged DKW that won the 1938 Lightweight TT.

Among those paying homage to the past at Goodwood was Valentino Rossi. The (currently uncrowned) king of MotoGP jetted in from Saturday’s Dutch TT, still giddy on the taste of his 111th Grand Prix victory, to take part in celebrations marking Yamaha’s 60th anniversary.

Unlike most racers, Rossi has always been interested in racing history. He knows plenty about the old days and goes misty eyed when he talks of the scary 500cc two-strokes he rode at the turn of the millennium and of the early days of MotoGP, before hi-tech electronics suppressed some of the skills he had laboriously and painfully learned.

Like most top MotoGP riders, Rossi would prefer fewer electronic controls, because he enjoys riding the bike himself and would rather use his skills to make the difference over rivals.

Next year, for better or worse, that’s exactly what he will get. Dorna’s new unified software, currently only used by Open bikes, commenced its takeover of the entire MotoGP grid at 00:00 hours this morning, when factory teams had their own software frozen, banning all development prior to the introduction of the control ECU at the first winter tests.

I’m like The Fast Show‘s Indecisive Dave when it comes to MotoGP’s unified software: when someone tells me it’s a great idea I nod vigorously, and when someone tells me it’s an appalling idea I stroke my chin and nod sagely.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

Total votes: 86
Total votes: 136

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Comments

Electronic strategies are just a tool, and their merit depends upon the application.

MotoGP is supposed to be sports competition, which, by nature, is always entertaining. If electronics are undermining the competition and ruining the concept of sportsmanship, they should be curtailed or eliminated. If the manufacturers want to keep free electronic development, they must secure competition and sportsmanship no matter how many millions the manufacturers pour into development.

The MSMA didn't observe the inconvenient necessity of balancing sport with corporate R&D hegemony. As a result, Dorna banned their toys, and despite MSMA acquiescence to concession and additional fuel capacity, the private equity companies are probably still pushing to slash every penny and reduce proportional payout to IRTA and MSMA.

Cause and effect. As predictable as if the engineers tried to play football in the street during rush hour traffic. Someone is going to get hit so just call the ambulance ahead of time. They didn't protect their electronic toys or their bore measurements or cylinder counts or anything else, and now it's all gone.

Let the crocodile tears flow like the Nile.

Total votes: 162

The lesson from every standardised competitive sport, ever, is that some people will exploit the potential (of whatever is standardised) better than others, and dominate. These days that takes money - the more you can spend, the better (probably) you'll fare. So while unified software may turn out to be a good thing in terms of limiting the ever more extraordinary lengths (and costs) that some manufacturers would go to, I can't see it making much difference to who is at the pointy end and who is at the back. And if I'm wrong I'll sorrowfully eat my words this time next year, since it would mean seeing Rossi, Marquez and Lorenzo mid-pack and new faces on the podium.

Total votes: 140

So what happens if only one manafacture is ready to stop development of their software, do they get total control direction (within Dorna's limits)

Total votes: 136

I think you're more likely to see the younger riders thrown for a loop. Rossi started racing when there were almost no electronics. Marquez, on the other hand - yes, electronics in Moto3 and Moto2 are very simple compared to what's used in MotoGP, but still, the younger riders grew up with this stuff, no? Rossi is the great adapter. I can't wait to see what he does with the simpler ECU.

Total votes: 154

You're probably right, which incidentally is why I was a little surprised by a comment elsewhere on the site that this was probably Rossi's last chance to take a 10th title. I think the day to write him off will be the day he retires.

But back on topic, I think that proves the point. It'll be the same faces in much the same places, just some juggling midpack.

Total votes: 137

Is there any news on whether the spec ECU will contain turn-by-turn tunables? That is still the main thing I'd like to see disappear from the electronics.

Total votes: 156

"when someone tells me it’s a great idea I nod vigorously, and when someone tells me it’s an appalling idea I stroke my chin and nod sagely."
Pretty much nails it!

Total votes: 155

I'm still disappointed by the electronics in MotoGP, especially with the myriad of adjustment that can be made. Traction/spin control for left and right corners, fine tuning 5 parameters and running simulations in the background to work out the best strategy, etc, etc.

This could have been the moment Dorna/MSMA could have introduced a complex (in terms of inputs/sensors) but simple in terms of settings (think ZX-10R, RSV4, R1M and the ability to switch between traction control levels).

No ability to have different settings for left vs right handers, no team running programmes overnight to choose which of the 104 combination of settings is the one to go with (multiplied by another however-many for weather/temp scenarios).

This would have driven improvements in sensors and traction control software towards something that can perform at the highest level, but do so simply without turn-by-turn TC, without running your computer overnight to come up with today's settings.

Same teams & riders will be upfront, gaps won't change, because this isn't really a change.

Total votes: 144

pretty much, a lot of people watching MotoGP don't know what they are looking at and believe what the commentators are saying to them even though some of the times the commentators have no clue what they are saying. Lots of buzz words, and lots of hype, in the end, the factories with the engineers, working out the math, the tire manufacturers and sponsors will continue to dominate the direction, and the winners and losers of GPs. Until Traction Control is banned outright, and the factories get cut down at the knees, it's gonna be like this. Never mind the control tire and staged race finishes for the cameras.

Total votes: 150

...but this is still pretty much how I feel:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXU2PwNqe-4
(pardon the brand/model publicity in it, that was not my intention with it)

Through the years I've learned to accept that the gizmos, toys and techy stuff in racing are all here to stay and won't go away from the sport (unfortunately), and to enjoy things as much as I can, to a point where I can almost forget/ignore them.
But I still look back (to memories, or old videos) and can't help to still consider those guys back then as much, much bigger heroes and masters at their craft. Even if it is accepted that the ones around today could probably be just as good back in those days.

For street and public roads use? Definitely.
But for racing use? Still a well round "Please, just NO" to electronics.

I always believed that it shouldn't have been about "MORE" power, because at some point it obviously becomes uncontrolable (without driver aids), but about the "QUALITY" of power and, most of all, in less weight.
I'd rather watch ~190HP/130Kg GP machines with no rider aids (whatsoever), than ~260HP/160Kg GP machines which are neutered, with all said and done.

I love technology myself, being attached to it for professional and hobbyist reasons but, like with everything, there is a limit.
Some years ago I had an interesting conversation with someone in sportscar racing. We both concluded that Motorsports have always been the domain of tactics, smarts, advancements in equipment but, most of all, a celebration of superior human skills in regards to the control of racing-machines.
If the control is taken from the individual, even if partially, it means the magic is broken, and something very important in the whole thing is therefore lost in the process.

Total votes: 145

Its called vintage racing, AHRMA here in the US.

I always wonder if modern GP riders feel insulted by the underlying 'you are not going that fast, its the computer' that old GP guys trot out while they were lapping 10+sec a lap slower. As if Mr. Crafar would not have used whatever aids available at the time to gain an edge over his competitors. But, those damn kids.......

>>than ~260HP/160Kg GP machines which are neutered, with all said and done.

Wow, never heard anyone refer to a modern GP bike as neutered. The original 990s were all about useable power possible and then the 800s which were peaky power were nearly immediately faster. And these 100s are even better. Progress demands one thing, improvement, and in racing that is lap times.

As it is now braking is the only area where computer control has not encroached and the main malady of riders seems to be arm pump. I wonder how quickly an ABS race system would make those issues disappear for the susceptible riders. And I wonder what maladies will reappear if the computer control of the throttle is simplified. Astronaut training for one.

>>a celebration of superior human skills in regards to the control of racing-machines.

So the 4 aliens are merely normal human skills augmented by good programming? Rossi is self-admittedly riding the best he ever has and its on a bike that is the most computer-assisted ever. Think it is a coincidence? Marquez likes to slide the bike but does not like it when the bike slides itself. It's not computer control, its computer assist and if it is not assisting a talented rider the results are no different from when there were no aids. Look at the latest DARPA self guided vehicle contests to see how advanced full computer 'control' is. Not very.

>>If the control is taken from the individual

Why think about it like that? Why not that the electronics give the rider a level of control previously unobtainable? Why CDI when a good old fashioned advance lever does the same thing? Spark cutting traction control (around in GPs for a long time) is OK but FBW is a step too far? If the computer was really removing some element of rider skill or talent from the sport then more different people would be winning races, not less. Fewer people are winning because it harder to eke that last .01% out. By removing the parts of the torque/lean angle map that would only cause misery, it allows the rider to focus on the rest that much more.

Chris

Total votes: 162

Rossi proved with his ill fated move to Ducati that the emphasis these days is more about the bike, than the rider. Many fans are unhappy with this state of affairs. Many of us want to see the race decided on the track, not by duelling laptops. We want to see another Schwantz or Rainey at least have the chance to overcome the deficiency's in their machines and be competitive via pure undiluted talent, instead computers tame the extra 30hp Espargaro's (for example) rivals have at their disposal and he is reduced to an also ran despite his obvious talent. Haven't we all said at some point "I wonder what he could do on a Factory bike..."? When not so long ago privateer on a well prepared bike COULD actually compete with the top guys.

And those "damn computers" you say would give Crafar an edge do no such thing when every other manufacturer has similar computers. All they have done is increase the cost of competition exponentially and reduce the variation in laptimes because every bike has near perfect traction on corner exit. It's this lack of variation, the lack of human's being allowed to make mistakes, that results in the processional Lorenzo-type wins because the the only place you can make up time is on the brakes, not on the gas.

And yes, when a rider can open the throttle exiting a corner asking for 260hp and a computer decides sorry I'm going to control wheelspin to the optimum +9% of front wheel speed, -36% throttle opening because of the lean angle, +3% for the excellent track surface at turn 3 and only give you 172hp then yes, neutering sounds fairly accurate. Just as Dani Pedrosa found at a few years ago at Phillip Island when he looped it during a practice start after an issue with the launch control unleashed The Hulk instead of the mild mannered Bruce Banner he was expecting.

Now while the top riders are considered "aliens" many of us think slightly differently: they are no doubt extraordinary riders, but it's the "alien technology" at their disposal that puts them in a different realm. It's no coincidence that the rise of electronic intervention also gave rise to the term "alien". After all it wasn't that long ago that Elias and Melandri found these so called "Aliens" very beatable, and many other privateers mixed it up amongst the Factory bikes.

Control IS taken from the individual if a computer alters your actions 500 times/second. Control is asking for a certain thing and getting exactly what you ask for, control is NOT asking for something and receiving something slightly different no matter how much the result may be improved. See how far that attitude gets you with Donald Trump on The Apprentice: "Sorry Don, I know you wanted your regular toupee but it's a little windier outside so I went for something shorter.....". So the rider may work in concert with the electronics to achieve a faster laptime, but they do not have as much control as they would on a fully analog albeit slower bike.

Your statement regarding more people should be winning because computers are removing some element of rider skill or talent doesn't play out. As Mr Oxley pointed out in his usual succinct manner: only the Factory's have the necessary resources to maximise the potential of the electronics packages, be they the existing or soon to be standardised systems. No way in hell can a privateer team ever come close to perfecting settings the way a Factory can with their cubic dollars, computing/simulation power and bulk of expertise. So unfortunately we are depriving ourselves of ever seeing another Stoner come along and put a privateer bike on pole in their 2nd ever MotoGP race or nearly win their 3rd but for a last corner pass by another privateer in the form of Melandri.

Bottom line: laptimes are NOT the be all and end all of MotoGP. I'd gladly suck up slower laptimes to see more talent from the riders and less from the IT techs. Man, it would be so refreshing just to see a front wheel more than 50mm off the ground somewhere other than a cooldown lap.

Total votes: 139

For a brief moment I thought I've writen this piece, I have nothing to add and will silence now and read your masterpiece over and over again!!
Sometimes you feel alone and think you are the only one who thinks this way, I've rewarded your statement with FIVE stars, beautiful :-)

Total votes: 119

>>Rossi proved with his ill fated move to Ducati that the emphasis these days is more about the bike, than the rider.

Stoner won 3 of the last 6 races on the Duc. Rossi then proceeded to win no races the beginning of the next season, so in that case it was all about the rider. A good bike and team structure has always been necessary to win races and a even more so to win a title. It may not be as obvious or celebrated as a great rider but it is always there.

>>Many of us want to see the race decided on the track, not by dueling laptops.

Well I want to see races decided on the track, not by guys dueling screwdrivers and wrenches. What's the difference in these two statements? Nothing, they are both equally dumb. Regardless of the era of racing if a rider's team did not give him a well prepared bike he would not win. The rider wins the race on a bike the team provides.

>>Haven't we all said at some point "I wonder what he could do on a Factory bike..."? When not so long ago privateer on a well prepared bike COULD actually compete with the top guys.

Yes, I said that too and the sad truth is that the factory bikes usually go to the guys that can use them fully. Dovi is a perfect example. He is the best of the rest. From a satellite Yam to a factory Honda and Ducati his results have plateaued. I think any of the 4 aliens would have won on the new Duc already.

>> All they have done is increase the cost of competition exponentially and reduce the variation in laptimes because every bike has near perfect traction on corner exit.

No, the 4 strokes have increased the cost. Electronics are cheap. Changing maps needs no new parts, only a smart engineer. A smart engineer in any discipline is worth his money. Simulations can be run on a laptop in a hotel room or on a beach somewhere. But after paying riders in the millions can you balk at paying an engineer a few hundred k if he brings a competitive advantage? Look at the transporters in the paddock. The money is not in the electronics. And I think the rider training and optimization is the majority of the laptime consistency. Remember the days of riders smoking on the podium?

>> It's this lack of variation, the lack of human's being allowed to make mistakes, that results in the processional Lorenzo-type wins because the the only place you can make up time is on the brakes, not on the gas.

No, Lorenzo leads to Lorenzo style wins. Last year with perhaps the most electronically controlled bike (the Honda) Marquez was sliding and making mistakes all race long. And winning. And passing is usually done on the brakes as that is where it is always easier to find a difference.

>>And yes, when a rider can open the throttle exiting a corner asking for 260hp and a computer decides sorry I'm going to control wheelspin to the optimum +9% of front wheel speed, -36% throttle opening because of the lean angle, +3% for the excellent track surface at turn 3 and only give you 172hp then yes, neutering sounds fairly accurate.

What an inaccurate view of what is really going on. And why is it that the riders who use the most TC go the slowest? I don't even think they should call it TC anymore as cutting power is so 2000s.

>> many of us think slightly differently: they are no doubt extraordinary riders, but it's the "alien technology" at their disposal that puts them in a different realm

You are the first person I've heard to put this opinion out there. You may be more alone than you think. Besides, it is a provably wrong statement. Dovi won only one wet race in his 3 years as a Repsol Honda rider with the 'alien technology.' Haven't we all said 'if I had his bike I'd be that fast too'? We were wrong. Next year there will be no 'alien technology' and I'll make you a bet that we have the same winners in the dry races.

>>After all it wasn't that long ago that Elias and Melandri found these so called "Aliens" very beatable, and many other privateers mixed it up amongst the Factory bikes.

Our current era having 4 top riders is highly unusual in racing. When it was Rossi and everyone else if Rossi had a bad day there was a whole group of 2nd tier riders ready to take the win. Not to mention he was nice enough to make it a race up to the end because he always felt he had a margin on everyone else. He does not feel that way any more. With 4 top riders all of them need some sort of problem to allow a 2nd tier rider a win. That is highly unlikely which is why the 4 have been winning everything and why they are aliens. Nothing to do with whatever electronic control strategies are developed.

>>Control IS taken from the individual if a computer alters your actions 500 times/second.

Do you think the ECU is changing the rider's input? That would really build rider confidence! I think the simplest way of explaining it is that the computer is constantly remapping full throttle to be slightly more than what it thinks the tire can transmit. 100% throttle is always max tractive force regardless of leaned over or upright. The rider still needs to roll on and off the throttle at the appropriate points and actually ride the bike and provide control input.

>> I'd gladly suck up slower laptimes to see more talent from the riders and less from the IT techs.

Jeez! With the racing we've been having the last couple of years you are not seeing talent from the riders?!?!?! Open your eyes.

>> Man, it would be so refreshing just to see a front wheel more than 50mm off the ground somewhere other than a cooldown lap.

Watch some 500cc races. They look so awkward when they pull power wheelies during the race. It looks dated and archaic.

Chris

Total votes: 130

Many of your reponses seem to support my arguments. But I'm not into this whole "competitive arguing" thing so I'll leave things well alone. Besides I'm quite certain I'm a different genus of homosapien motocyclus to one who doesn't like power wheelies so we'll never speak the same language. (insert epic pic of Bayliss on the charge on the 996)

Total votes: 119

Read my responses as I wrote them and not as you would like them to be written.

>>insert epic pic of Bayliss on the charge on the 996)

You mean the near 15 year old streetbike with all of 136Hp? How about some pics of him on the 1098 that had lots of TC?

I don't mind power wheelies to showoff but any racer knows they only slow you down. And that's what we are dicussing, a race series.

Chris

Total votes: 154

Haha, I think you'll find Mr Bayliss' bike put out just a couple more ponies than that remembering this was the era when WSB bikes were approaching GP500's for laptimes .........not to mention that crummy "streetbike" helped develop technology (desmodromics) which is more than a match for the pneumatic valves which have no practical application outside MotoGP and F1.

Come to think of it MotoGP may be responsible for more technological blind alleys than any other single motorcycle sport:

1. Corner by corner mapping where the bike is essentially brainless unless a tech goes out and maps various points on every single corner for inclination, surface texture, geo-position etc etc. Useless in the real world, just ask Crutchlow how good a MotoGP bike is once it loses it's location.

2. Why restrict brake rotor size to 320mm? Erik Buell's road bikes show more imaginative thinking.

3. Carbon brake rotors? Again, useless anywhere except MotoGP, and are basically a spec part across the board helping no-one except Brembo.

4. With a restriction of 6 manual gears, and no dual clutches scooters, touring bikes, cars and even tractors have more advanced gearboxes than the average MotoGP bike. Even the expensive as moon-beams seamless gearboxes being rolled out now are only matching what has already been done for decades with simple inexpensive dual clutch set ups.

5. No ABS in MotoGP? Sheesh, again my local club racers are more high tech!

Speaking of which why IS there no ABS in MotoGP? Surely it is just TC in the braking zone instead of the acceleration zone, why is it ok exiting a corner but not entering it? It would restrict the passing you say? Then why allow TC for acceleration and not for braking, surely the exact same argument applies? As it stands it's nonsensical and hypocritical.

Marquez has lit up the sport because he pushes the envelope on corner entry better/further than anybody else. He is no different to anybody else on corner exit, so why not double the viewing pleasure and also have a spectacle on corner exit as well as entry? Why deprive ourselves?

Which brings me back to Troy on the old Italian warhorse. The pic I have in mind is iconic because it perfectly displays the speed, power and battle that is bike racing. Not just the battle between racers but also the battle of the rider trying to tame the animal he/she is riding. No photographic effects are required, the attitude of bike and rider are plain to see, front wheel lofted, slightly crossed up, rider weighting the outside peg as they body steer, he is CLEARLY on a charge. But instead of rider taming bike we are now treated to a divorce battle between man and wife under the watchful gaze of a marriage guidance counsellor: you know something is going on but everyone is on their best behaviour and you just can't see it. Lets lose the marriage counsellor and bring the drama out in the open where everyone can see it.

Competition between evenly matched top riders is masking the problem at the moment but there are some boring times ahead. Valentino retires after winning the championship, Pedrosa's body cry's "enough!" and all of a sudden there is going to be very little reason to tune into MotoGP.

We, the paying petro-sexuals who watch the sport should be the prime focus of DORNA, we are the ones paying for all this. Instead we pay to have DORNA treat the series as a promotional activity for the Manufacturers. Talk about the tail wagging the dog, we are effectively paying to watch an advertisement. I'm not happy with this arrangement and neither are potential sponsors who are loathe to become involved as they watch the audience dwindle.

As you correctly say, it's "a race series." So lets concentrate more on the racing and less on the bike show. I know you will say "What's wrong with the racing?" but as above, we live in extraordinary times being spoilt with Rossi, Marquez, Lorenzo and Pedrosa but they mask a problem that will be revealed when "normal service is resumed".

Total votes: 131

>>Haha, I think you'll find Mr Bayliss' bike put out just a couple more ponies than that.........

The point was that the streetbike had half the horsepower that the current GP bikes do. The racebike had a few more but still at a significant power disadvantage with increased weight meaning electronic controls were less beneficial.

>>not to mention that crummy "streetbike" helped develop technology (desmodromics) which is more than a match for the pneumatic valves which have no practical application outside MotoGP and F1.

If you read your Ducati history they developed the desmo system to win the 125cc GP series. It had already been used successfully by Benz for their F1 car. Yes, it is good and yes it is used on streetbikes. Great! GP tech on the street, that's the plan!

>>Come to think of it MotoGP may be responsible for more technological blind alleys than any other single motorcycle sport:

SO? You can't get it right all the time, that's why its called R&D. And as for your points 1-5, I agree, these 'rules' create no incentive for actual development and hinders competition.

>> It would restrict the passing you say?

I didn't say that. ABS is not allowed becuse it is banned. Talk to Dorna about the reasons. I think it is stupid to have streetbikes with more tech than a GP bike.

>> As it stands it's nonsensical and hypocritical.

Yup, but I didn't have anything to do with drafting those rules......

>>so why not double the viewing pleasure and also have a spectacle on corner exit as well as entry? Why deprive ourselves?

I think the state of TC and slideless corner exit is more due to BS's tire design requiring a bike that pushes the front hard and not the rear. Michelins were rear biased and most of the GP history people wax about with the loose rear behavior were riders on Michelins which is how they were designed to be ridden. Or with WSB where the chassis and tires are soft and slide compared to the rocks that the BS tires are. The visual aspect of the sport will change next year with new tires, but the change will be non-negotiable and for the riders it will be adapt or die, one more problem with the spec tire rule.

>>The pic I have in mind is iconic because it perfectly displays the speed, power and battle that is bike racing.

What pic? And because you have a 15 year old image of champ in your head GP bike development needs to stop? What if in 2000 someone said, no, I have this pic of Freddie Spencer in my head and that is what racing should look like?

>>Competition between evenly matched top riders is masking the problem at the moment but there are some boring times ahead.

Yes, but I think they are due to the creeping spec rules, not electronics development.

>>Valentino retires after winning the championship

Huh? Dosen't he have more time on his contract? He seems to be having fun and I can't imagine him retiring when he is so visibly enjoying himself, especially if he gets #10.

>>So lets concentrate more on the racing and less on the bike show.

Then why have the last 5 years been about Dorna pushing what they think the bike should be?

>>as above, we live in extraordinary times being spoilt with Rossi, Marquez, Lorenzo and Pedrosa but they mask a problem that will be revealed when "normal service is resumed".

If there are fewer top riders then more riders will get the podium and the odd win as they have issues. Isn't that what people want, more riders having a chance to win?

Chris

Total votes: 149

I really like your comments Chris on this matter, but I will try to explain what the different perceptions are. You can look at our beloved sport from a technical way in two directions, that is the sport as it is today, mechanical/electronics or as a sport with enough parameters you can change but only on the mechanical way, so as less electronics as possible.
No we don't have to go back to breaker points (don't know if this is the correct word, appologies for my poor English) to get a spark from the ignition, but no rider aids in forms as traction control and drive by wire. You look at a power wheely as dated, to me is it wonderful to see how these men control the enormous amount of power the bikes had in the past and have today. I Always really liked at the end of the race when they could make a burn out, today this is not possible without risking your live, but more importand the electronics make it impossible to do and won't allow you to make one. I like to see the bikes wobble coming out of corners and see the rider fight with his machine to keep it in line, this to me is what bike racing is all about a rider controling the bike without all the aids and no I do not like to see riders crash heavily. Even with no electronics there is enough room and challenge to make a bike ride easier or as easy as possible, also for the engineers is it harder to make an engine easier to ride when there are no more electronics to support some bad behaviour of the engine you just made. Most important thing is as mentiond above, you want to see riders make mistakes and fight with their bikes as the race comes to an end and the tyres start to wear, when they hit a fraction of a second the throttle to early and there are no electronics to keep you out of trouble and let your opponent slip through. I hope that I have explained what we are missing.

Total votes: 118

>>You can look at our beloved sport from a technical way in two directions, that is the sport as it is today, mechanical/electronics or as a sport with enough parameters you can change but only on the mechanical way, so as less electronics as possible.

GP racing has always been the best riders on the most technologically advanced machines. If you want to look at a different series that emphasizes other aspects that is fine, but GP has always been unlimited technology within relatively open rules. To abandon that in order to please the private equity dollars that Dorna borrowed is the ultimate in shortsightedness.

>>could make a burn out, today this is not possible without risking your live, but more importand the electronics make it impossible to do and won't allow you to make one.

Blame the spec tire rule for lack of burnouts. Just like the power wheelies on the cool down lap, a burnout would be easily accomplished if it didn't make the race engineers have a heart attack due to not being able to examine the tire's condition after a full race of use.

>>Even with no electronics there is enough room and challenge to make a bike ride easier or as easy as possible

So? Fuel economy and software optimization are about as relevant to modern life as anything else so why bother to develop anachronistic machines for the pinnacle of our sport?

>> as the race comes to an end and the tyres start to wear, when they hit a fraction of a second the throttle to early and there are no electronics to keep you out of trouble and let your opponent slip through.

You mean like what happened when Rossi chased down Marquez over the last few laps and passed him? Or when Rossi nearly caught Lorenzo on worn tires?

Its funny but I feel that people want to have racing go back to the 'good old days' and think that by making rules that never existed back in those days that it will somehow magically happen. Racing is not, has never been and should never be, about equality. Equality of equipment, rider talent, or machine capability is the opposite of competition and competition is the heart of our sport. The best earn the equipment by showing they are able to use it. A great example is Redding this year. He can't believe how hard it is to ride the full factory bike and not the proddie racer. The higher a machine's capability the harder it is to access that level and the fewer riders there are that can. Its a self limiting system. Give the entire grid factory Hondas and Yamahas and the results would largely be the same but the cost of machinery would be higher. So far the traditional 'caste' system they have has gotten the fast bikes to the fast riders. Prove yourself very capable and you'll be given access to top level machinery.

Chris

Total votes: 135

>>Wow, never heard anyone refer to a modern GP bike as neutered. The original 990s were all about useable power possible and then the 800s which were peaky power were nearly immediately faster. And these 100s are even better.

You didn't? Strange.
For years we've been reading/listening to riders talking about it, that they want back more control, wishing there were far less electronics in the class. From KR.Jr., all the way through C.E.II, Toseland, Capirossi, Rossi and Stoner, among others...

You may know this but others here may not, so -for what is worth- I'll drop this here:
http://www.superbikeplanet.com/2010/Aug/100824200wchampion.htm

The longer, full audio version of that same enterview is also available here:
http://www.soupkast.com/kast/soupkast112.mp3

About the "usable power".
There's a curious less known episode with Rossi, after he tested the RCV211 prototype, before the 2002 pre-season, when it was evident that the bike would demolish lap-records.
Regardless of the effectiveness of the bike, he enquired HRC about the possibility of keeping the NSR500 for the following season instead (that year the 2-strokes ran with the new 4-strokes) because he felt that one was still far more interesting for him to ride. Honda/HRC refused such "nonsense" (and the RCV211 story we all know began).

Yes, the more "usable power" was initially the biggest advantage for the MotoGP 4-strokes, as Barros confirmed in 2002.
But, from memory, somewhere in the 2003 mid-season, it was hinted that the "usable power" in the factory 990s could be fading away at some point when HRC confirmed initial developments of traction-control in their bikes, and then other manufacturers followed suit later.
It all went to hell years later when the 800s stepped in, and up to this day with the 1000s, which are no more than over-developped 800s.
There is no longer such a thing as "usable power" in MotoGP, for many years now. Not unless you maintain the huge ammount of electronics anyway.

>>Why think about it like that? Why not that the electronics give the rider a level of control previously unobtainable?

How couldn't one think otherwise?
How can you call it "control and skills from the individual" when the electronics are there to limit and neuter reactions? (because that's exactly what they do - fact)

These guys have launch control for the perfect starts. They have selectable power/torque curves for different weather, track conditions and also for tyre/fuel management. They have anti-wheelie control, and then the traction control to keep the bike going as in rails, with the freakin throtle pinned down.
You even have clutchless down shifts now (LOL), so good that you can just kick the damn gear-shift "bam-bam-bam" before the corner and let the electronics do the rest.

How is that not taking away skills and control from the rider?
How is that not neutering?

The fact that Pedrosa imediately lost control when Marquez clipped his rear wheel and broke the rear wheel sensor, for the electronics, put a spotlight over the dependancy of it for the "control" in these racebikes. Did it not?

This hasn't anything to do with "rose-tinted glasses" and nostalgia. Dismissing the subject to "there's vintage racing for that" is the easy way out subterfuge when no arguments can counter the pointed issues.

Please (re)read or (re)listen to Kenny Roberts Jr. enterview.
See the replys from Seven4nineR and BrickTop.
Some great points and even analogies highlighting the issue(s).

Total votes: 126

While you raised excellent points, there remains an issue that is crucial to the sport and directly related to electronics. And this is none other than rider safety. I, too would like to see rider control and ability express themselves unadulterated through direct throttle-injector connection but I am certain that this would lead to the "nostalgic" era of highsides. Highsides got gradually reduced as traction control got introduced and improved and now they are reduced dramatically compared to the pre-electronics era. This can not be disputed.

So, taking this into consideration I have to say that since I have much respect and admiration for those riders, I cannot ask them to risk more in order for me to have a better time when watching the race.

Total votes: 131

»While you raised excellent points, there remains an issue that is crucial to the sport and directly related to electronics. And this is none other than rider safety.«

Thanks.
Unfortunately, the "safety issues for racing" argument, which has been used so many times, is just only one side of the coin.
The other side of the coin (of electronics) is a problem that was hinted further back than the time they were actually introduced, which is that it would be used as an exploit for peak power and speed escalation. Not for rider safety.

More than just the brute power, a whole GP racing motorcycle is now developped with them in mind. These new 1000s, as were the 800s before them, are unrideable without electronics. I suspect similarly could probably be said for the SBK racebikes, also affected by them.
As a relevant contrast, look at the RCV211v from 2002, the first champ.winner in the 4-strokes (re)introduction. It was tested by a selected number of fine jornalists (racers and ex-racers), as some of you may remember in such magazine articles of the time. They all, with no exception, were left astonished how it was so easy to ride and control on the limit, surprisingly refined, for a premier-class GP bike with estimated ~230HP.
A particular relevant detail here - the 2002 RCV211v did not have any sort of electronic rider-aids then (its initial years). Same for the other MotoGP bikes in their initial years.

The one thing that noone has yet stopped to think about (in regards to MotoGP) is power escalation and limits/boundaries.

- One issue is that the electronics allow engines to get more and more peak power, because you can easily get away with nasty power/torque curves that, otherwise without them, wouldn't become usable. The electronics allow(ed) the sort of unnatural refinement overall, continuously so, by masking and interfering first on areas that go beyond the rider's capabilities, by taking control of particular delicate situations that a rider could not instantly control. More and more so.
Then the whole paraphernalia follows suit to adapt and serve that concept (tyres, chassis, etc). A dependancy turned into a whole vicious-circle.
More speed, in the straights and in the corners - that has been their biggest purpose, not safety.

MotoGP tyres in 2002/2003 used to be made with a certain grip factor and feeling which allowed a somewhat wide window of control, as well as sliding, because that's how many of those bikes were being used best. The newer MotoGP tyres have insane ammounts of grip today, but their usable window is tremendously small. Maybe not the exact opposite of their older counterparts but perhaps close. I would even defy saying that they are "not as safe" (not without electronics anyway).

- Another issue is that, at some point in the future, the speed will dangerously outgrow the current tracks (it's already starting) - there goes the safety argument.
Most tracks are over 25 years old (some dating back to the 60s and 70s), with designs and run-off areas that were never ment for the sort of speeds that, no doubt, will be reached (be it straight or corner speed). At some point, no matter how much little changes those tracks get, things won't be easy to manage in that regard.

The GP bikes weren't more "dangerous" in 2002 or 2003 than they are in 2014 and 2015. I am apologist of the argument that the wrong concept was taken to develop MotoGPs at about the middle/later period of the 990s era, when electronics took over, for the (awfull) 800s that substituted them.
If you kept on developping the concept of the original MotoGp 990cc of 2002/2003 to this day (remember that 6 cilinders was the limit) without electronics and with tyres to suit, they would have been spectacular to watch (so much more than these), with the riders able to slide and wheelie (if they wish) with most (if not all!) with a wider window of control for the machine on their hands, therefore more satisfaction also for those using them, not just the fans.
A win-win situation that the manufacturers, Dorna and etc dismissed too soon.

Total votes: 140

Can't wait to see Footballers get electronic kicking aids. Runners to get running gizmos, tennis players to get electronic raquets. Wonder what the fans would say?

I say toss all the electronics in the trash. Motorcycle mfr's have their own test tracks. Some of these tracks have sprinklers to simulate rain, with parts of the track mangled up with horrible pavement to simulate the road. They can sort out their road going electronic wizardry there. Then maybe we can let the riders talent show through. Make a sweet handling chassis, the best engine you can, then throw on the best brakes and suspension. How much better the sport would be.

Total votes: 143

I'm starting to think that this site has a lot of older, let's say 500 2stroke fans, I'm getting curious how many of the people who gave their opinion on Mr.Oaxley his masterpiece are born before 1990 ;-) I know I am.

Total votes: 113

Funnily enough when the weather changes to foul so does the rider behaviour. Confidence is shattered or raised and that cant be explained away by the electronics packages. The ability to win in good or poor conditions comes down to grit and determination and god (which ever one you subscribe to

Total votes: 138

Funnily enough when the weather changes to foul so does the rider behaviour. Confidence is shattered or raised and that cant be explained away by the electronics packages. The ability to win in poor conditions comes down to grit and determination and god (which ever one you subscribe to

Total votes: 121

I can't imagine that my Honda NC700X could get 70 miles per gallon on regular unleaded gas, all the while starting and running flawlessly without the experience that Honda gained making MotoGP bikes run on unleaded with fuel restrictions.

Total votes: 118

Sorry to burst your bubble but you could not bring a modern motorcycle that is further from any MotoGP tecnologies.

Any NC series Honda, including your NC700X, has an engine that is basically half a Honda Jazz car engine. Yes, you did read that right.
That's why it has such low fuel consumption - it's made for torque in the low-to-mid range RPMs, like in the utilitarian car from which the engine concept derives from.
Honda's automotive division had a hand at that. There isn't a single Honda/HRC adopted or derived tech from MotoGP in it.

Total votes: 121