Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - The story behind Ducati’s new MotoGP shapeshifter

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.


The story behind Ducati’s new MotoGP shapeshifter

Adjustable geometry is a bike racing holy grail – Ducati’s new shapeshifting device is the latest stab at achieving it, and probably more top speed as well

Gigi ‘Gadget’ Dall’Igna is up to his tricks again. Ducati’s chief engineer – the man who gave MotoGP wings, holeshot devices, wheel fairings, ‘swinglets’ and much more about which we’ll never know – has come up with a gadget that allows his riders to unleash the Desmosedici’s mighty engine harder than ever.

Adjustable geometry has been one of bike racing’s greatest holy grails for decades. Geometry – like pretty much everything else on a race bike – has to be a compromise, because it’s impossible to design a motorcycle that works at its best in all three zones: braking, cornering and accelerating.

Dall’Igna’s latest gadget is the logical next step from his holeshot device and does a similar job, by changing the motorcycle’s geometry and centre of gravity during the corner-exit phase.

Once again it’s technology borrowed from another form of racing: aero came from Formula 1, the holeshot device from motocross and the geometry adjuster from mountain-biking.

Canyon Bicycles calls its MTB geometry adjuster the Shapeshifter, which sounds much better than geometry adjuster, but the Shapeshifter does the same thing as the GP20’s device. It reduces the compromise in frame geometry – in this case for climbing and descending hills – via a switch on the bicycle’s left handlebar.

Pramac rider Jack Miller, who debuted the holeshot device at the end of 2018, started using Ducati’s shapeshifter (we may as well go with the cool name) at last October’s Thailand GP. This year all four GP20 riders – Miller, Andrea Dovizioso, Danilo Petrucci and Pecco Bagnaia – have the device at their disposal.

During last weekend’s Losail tests, Miller confirmed that the shapeshifter does what the holeshot device does: lowers the entire motorcycle to reduce wheelies and therefore improve acceleration.

But, hang on… how come Ducati is using a squatting device when for many years MotoGP engineers have been perfecting the anti-squat concept to improve corner-exit performance? Surely there’s a huge contradiction between squat and anti-squat?

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

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Comments

Fascinating that. We'll see if it makes a champion.