MotoGP Electronics: Even More Complex Than You Thought

If there's one subject that makes a MotoGP fan's blood boil, it's electronics. Electronic rider aids have removed a lot of the spectacle that formerly characterized the series, controlling wheelspin and managing tire wear, turning MotoGP into a series where the front wheel is paramount and the winner is the rider who can carry the most corner speed. 

The electronics consist of a battery of sensors, monitoring the location and state of the bike on the track. GPS tracks the precise position of the bike as it travels round the track; gyroscopes monitor its attitude; accelerometers measure the forces being exerted through corners; and a range of engine and wheel sensors monitor wheel speed, engine speed, throttle position and a multitude of other parameters. All this data is fed into (for Yamaha and Ducati, at least) the Magneti Marelli Marvel 4 ECU, which then translates all that information into an engine mapping perfectly matched to the conditions on the track.

At least, that's what we thought they did. For at the annual (and fascinating) debrief held by Yamaha  in which they share with the media how they developed the YZR-M1 race machine to help keep it competitive, Yamaha's departing MotoGP project leader Masao Furusawa revealed that they don't just match the data coming in via the sensors to calculate the correct power characteristics for the bike. 

In fact, as the bikes are circulating, the on-board electronics are running a series of real-time simulations with the data, predicting how the bike will behave in the next couple of laps. The ECU takes data from sensors to map tire wear and traction over the course of the laps, and runs simulations to predict how those will develop based on current conditions. Not only are the electronics matching the power and throttle response to the current conditions, they are also working out what to do on the next lap as well, and what changes the harsh or careful treatment being handed out to the rear tire by the rider will require to the engine mapping.

Running real-time simulations on incoming data is a direct result of Moore's Law, the rule-of-thumb used in the computing industry that predicts that the number of processors per square millimeter of silicon on a computer chip doubles roughly every 18 months, a prediction that has held good since the early Seventies. As a result, the ECUs being fitted to MotoGP bikes are now roughly equivalent to the Supercomputers being used to model scientific problems twenty-odd years ago. 

With Moore's Law still holding good, despite continuous predictions of its imminent demise, the simulations being run by the MotoGP electronics are only going to get ever more sophisticated, including ever more parameters and running multiple times per lap, producing more precise predictions. Technologically, that is an astounding feat. Whether that is good for the show is another thing altogether, though. 

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Comments

Pretty soon they won't even bother to have an actual race...just let the simulators duke it out.

Total votes: 199

...actually pertains to the number of transistors that can be placed on a microchip (an empirical observation made by my uncle in 1965). However, this trend does mean that other variables, such as processor speed, also tend to scale exponentially. Interesting article, btw: I would be curious to know how they perform the forward simulation--presumably by means of Monte Carlo (parametric bootstrapping) methods. This would certainly reward rider consistency, as the mappings would be positively reinforced.

Total votes: 208

Maybe this would account for the distance between the riders by the end of the races? Whomever gets their bike setup right and the first few clean laps begins a positive feedback loop becoming stronger till the end?
Which begs the question though "how did Wayne Gardiner used to do it ?"
:)

Total votes: 204

That explains some of the sensors we see, and many we likely don't see, on the bikes. The frequency that the bike's brain needs to update the various sensors likely varies. I'd guess the temperature sensors - to tell what the tires, ambient air, air charge, exhaust, etc would be lower frequency. Whaddya think the degrees/second change in the tire temp. is?

The wheel rotation sensors would be very high frequency - especially if you are trying to understand tire wear.

Then the GPS alone would likely not be as accurate as one would likely need, so that input would be integrated into an inertial unit that gives the brain all the six degrees of position in x, x', and x''.

I had read about Nicky picking gearbox ratios for Aragon on the Ducati simulator. I'm guessing this simulator actually would tie into the race ECU. So, El Daddio is on the right (virtual) track.

Total votes: 196

If this is true, I guess with the limited testing nowadays, a simulator would be the preferred method to narrow down to the last few choices leaving the rider to decide his preferred gearbox ratios by physically riding them. I'm sure a team could simulate all they want as long as the bike does not turn a wheel on the track when it is not testing time.

On the street, remember how many times we heard Racetech, Penske, Bitubo have some simulations that they could key in some basic informations, select the road course, rider's present laptimes and get some springs/setup settings information? I knew my Penske for my DRZ 400 came ready to bolt on from them, with the clickers dialed in. Not to say they felt the best, which over the time, I still click it a little here and there.

I guess I am not surprised by the simulators, and the more precise they are, the more they cost, which again, likely favors teams with the biggest racing budget.

Total votes: 207

*Spit*

I can be happy on a carbureted two-stroke single, yet these people want to sell me a $20,000 superbike that knows where I'm going before I do.

If everything I knew about Japan was learned from the Japanese motorcycle industry, I'd conclude that Japan was doomed. Human beings are not cool. Robots and artificial intelligence are the cat's meow.

What choice do I have but to admonish the engineering Yakuza who run the sport? They are worshiping an inferior version of what's sitting in the saddle. Honda can't mass produce the guy in the saddle; therefore, he is unimportant in the grand scheme. Asimo is the future.

I'm sure they are already fantasizing about the day when they will sell Asimo his first CBR.

*Spit*

Total votes: 216

... when you see it from a very different point of view.

Electronics are not an isolated "disease" that when removed will cure the patient MotoGP. Or motor sport in general. Or sport in general.

I think you have to "zoom out" and use the philosophical view: What is a MotoGP race about or sport in general? It is about performance. Performance is everything. The racer, bike or team that performs best will solve this sports equation to its most satisfaction.

If performance is the one single key to success, everything has to obey it.
"Alien" or not alien racer? Alien racer, performs better.
Mechanics that are focused and make no mistakes or sloppy bohemians? The focused ones.
Engine with linear power delivery or the "rodeo engine"? Linear.
A bike with electronics that predicts when a certain racer will make a mistake on the brakes or on the gas that would lead to 1/10 sec lost time and corrects it or a pure mechanical bike? Obviously the electronic version.
A bike where the rider just have to hang on to some handles, do nothing and let some ultra sophisticated software "ride" the bike to victory or an "alien" racer that will lose some 2 sec on a race distance due to micro errors? The software version.

If you agree that performance is the one and only factor that has to decide the end result you cannot condemn anything that enhances performance.

So if one wants to have electronics banned out of MotoGP this persons also implicitly demands a change of the fundamental parameter that decides who wins or loses.

I personally have no problem with changing this decisive parameter, but one has to be aware of it.

Total votes: 195

Vale: At this corner, I need much more aggressive throttle mapping, and I want the rear wheel spinning with much less TC.

Engineer: Sorry, Vale. The BORED members at Honda have concluded that socio-ecological and political factors will make wheel-spin and fuel-inefficiency impossible for future road riders. We can only use 21L of fuel on your new Ducati, and we cannot turn off TC off unless you are running out of fuel.

Vale: Road-riders will never ride this bike.

Engineer: We have to make them believe they will ride a bike just like this someday.

Vale: Faaaaahk

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Fans: We need better racing.

MSMA: Sorry, racing isn't in our corporate mission statement. We are in MotoGP to increase our technology portfolio and to increase long-term profitability.

Fans: We can't afford your overpriced crap now that you stopped subsidizing your currency (manufacture in the US and Europe!) and we don't want to take out more credit.

MSMA: Actually, our marketing research says that motorcycle sales are trending towards more-expensive, higher-displacement motorcycles with more electronic features. Here, look at this chart. This is what you really want.

Fans: This chart caused the collapse of the moto market.

MSMA: Sorry, we are on a 10 year corporate plan since 2007 and there is no changing course. We will revisit this issue in 2017.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

I really wish people WOULD look at the big picture for a change. The purpose of the sport is to make people happy. Performance makes us happy, until rider aids and mega-corps start causing problems. People are sending the sport down the river for .1 improvement in lap times. Are people really that sick? I choose to believe they are simply not paying attention.

In the real world, the MSMA have been cutting performance (displacement and fuel) for quite a while now.

Total votes: 207

In the real world, the MSMA have been cutting performance (displacement and fuel) for quite a while now.

Just like in Formula 1 some egg heads (DORNA, MSMA ??) got scared shitless some years back by the outlook of "unregulated" technological advancements for the upcoming years. So they pulled the emergency break to "tame" the galloping technological advancements and introduced rules to cap this trend. They also had accomplices from big (Japanese) factories that saw a chance to get an advantage through expensive technology because the manufacture with the deepest pockets should benefit most on paper. (Your "they don't pay attention" acting).
So the performance race didn't stop, it's just that the performance level is now set back artificially with every new regulation. But then the technology race starts again.

Historically performance enhancements were welcome and didn't change the overall equation of human/machine contribution to the overall performance level.
Today performance improvements are achieved more and more through replacing human input by machines/software/electronics.

So my argument is: We have arrived at a crossroad in MotoGP history, or sport history for that matter, where it is necessary to make a decision whether to stop technological development completely, even take a step back to older, less advanced technology and stay there.
This has serious implications:
1.) Factories will leave because they lose the reason for investing money
2.) Motor sports as being the spear head of technological advancements will deflate to a note in sport history
3.) Motor sports fans have to get to grips that from "The worlds best racers on the worlds fastest and most exotic vehicles" show one half gets lost.

Because motor sports fans *do* get crazy about technology they also have some responsibility that motor sports has become what it is today, it's not the MSMA's exclusive fault.

Total votes: 183

This has serious implications:
1.) Factories will leave because they lose the reason for investing money

-maybe they'd leave this series because it did not meet their needs, but another series will likely sprout that would. Technology will continue to evolve based upon what the market for the commercial goods demands. The "follow-the-money" reason is why factories are involved. Without new technology, how will they sell new product that differentiates them from Harley-Davidson/Ural?

2.) Motor sports as being the spear head of technological advancements will deflate to a note in sport history

-I disagree. The manufacturers will still need to develop new technology so you buy there widget. Their value proposition will be performance (think Ducati), or safety (think Goldwing Airbag), or whatever the market will pay extra over the cheapest guys (why not buy a used bike?) for. Technology in sales, and hence in racing, will still be a major factor in what the media tells us we need to care about when considering our purchases. ;-)

3.) Motor sports fans have to get to grips that from "The worlds best racers on the worlds fastest and most exotic vehicles" show one half gets lost.

- I have heated grips, so this is not an issue. :-) I don't think either half - the best riders, or the prototype bikes are going somewhere else unless Dorna implodes.

Total votes: 188

I want to know what Honda have done to make you call them Yakuza. They are not most popular in motorcycle racing, but they do not deserve to be called Yakuza. As a corporation, they have contributed a lot to society, far more than some companies in wall-streets.

I think the balance between technology and human element is important, but the MotoGP should stay as a pinnacle of motorcycle racing. Otherwise, WSBK will take over as they use likewise lots of electronics already.

Total votes: 196

MotoGP is about creating an emotional response or psychological attachment to various symbols and ideas like technology, progress, high performance, world championship, and prototype. Because MotoGP is an evocative contest, MotoGP is art, or at the very least a highly stylized product designed to elicit an emotional response. If MotoGP were about technology for the fans, we would have access to the data, no? Without the data we are simply consuming the ideas and symbols. If the fans realize that they are emotionally attached to these symbols, they can step outside themselves (sort of) and judge the situation dispassionately. Imo, people will see the same inconsistencies I see between the abstract marketing concepts and the objective realities of the sport.

Most importantly, if fans realize MotoGP is a highly stylized form of riding, they understand that the most evocative elements of MotoGP must be protected. Surely, the riders are the most evocative elements b/c they possess human emotion and they communicate emotion to us in the way they ride, compete, celebrate, and converse with the public. To protect the riders, all electronic forms of steering, braking, and shifting have been banned; but electronic throttle control continues to go unregulated. Throttle control is most important rider skill, thus it should be electronically unencumbered so we can watch a rider's interpretation of proper throttle manipulation.

I understand that banning rider aids damages the technological concepts that we all love, but rider aids must be replaced with something else. Does anyone else find it sad that direct-injection will be banned starting next year? Isn't DI one of the most relevant road technologies for fuel efficiency and emissions reasons? Why do we allow GPS-controlled adaptive mu learning at the expense of the riders, while allowing the MSMA to ban DI (ostensibly at our expense)? I don't see "technological development". I see a group of people who are interested in halting the expansion of performance with fuel rules while they attempt to exploit a minor competitive advantage by encroaching on the rider's ability to control the throttle. How is this good for the sport or for the production market? b/c it is the realization of the inevitable? That's the definition of progress these days?

We should be holding the sport to much loftier standards. We can have more technology (better technology for us) without wrecking the rider's ability to control the throttle.

Total votes: 201

Is that we have 4 or 5 riders capable of riding a given machine to 100% of it's capability for 45 minutes (when they're fit and not broken). And machines that are built to provide 100% of their capability for 45 minutes. Once the first few laps have shaken them into their correct order, they then separate inexorably given the machine's different capability on the day. It's amazing, but it makes for horribly boring races.

The best thing about WSB currently is that we have more riders making more mistakes on more temperamental machines. And the racing is more entertaining as a result. If MotoGP is to match this, maybe we have to alter the rules to make it less certain. Like getting us back to way too much power with not enough handling or tyres. So, take the engine/fuel limits off but force them to use crappy steel brakes, for instance.

Total votes: 193

"Like getting us back to way too much power with not enough handling or tyres."

What do we always tell the kid that turns up on a trackday using sports touring tyres or some bad tyres? We always tell them to get something better so we do not *crash*.

Why do we expect racers to put themselves in more risk just to "entertain" us? Is the customers always right? Let's go to a WSBK/MotoGP track and try to go really fast and experience some *oh shit" moments. Dude, our timing are still gonna be way off. These racers are just plain stupid fast, and do we want "more riders making more mistakes on more temperamental machines. And the racing is more entertaining as a result."

Really? Unless you are some ex-MotoGP racers or ex-WSBK racer, I guess you do qualify to ask these racers to put themselves into more risk.

Cheers!

Total votes: 182

I too like a single cylinder air cooled two stroke for the proper worship of simplicity and instant gratification by way of the zing following the twist of the right grip.

But this whining about electronic aids is a giant steaming bowl of crap. These aids do not make the bikes slower. They do not make the bikes more dangerous. They make the bike more predictable lap after lap so riders can depend on the performance of the engine and tires the same way from the first to the last lap. It's surely not perfect as we read the comments from everyone that didn't score 25.

If people want drama, demand figure-8 crash up derby races with riders forced to wear blinders. But don't complain about increases in reliability of performance from the machines from beginning to the end of races possibly making an observers afternoon less exciting. Either be honest about why you watch racing or come to terms with that racing isn't to satisfy the audiences bloodlust.

Total votes: 182

I'd like to see the rider who best predicts, controls and manages wheelspin and tire wear win the race. Not the best software gurus.

I'd like to see the rider who manages rear brake control of wheelies win the charge out of the corner exit. And not have to listen to the bikes sputter and burp and hiccup.

I'd like to see the rider with the best downshifting and clutch control skills enter the corners the smoothest and fastest. Not a GPS/gyroscope controlled slipper clutch robot.

I like watching the RIDERS use ALL their skills.

Total votes: 197

I do not think that will happen unless you form such a team and line up on grid with a MotoGP bike that has no such rider's aid, couple with a willing racer who will have no choice but to use ALL his/her skills to keep up.

MotoGP has move forward into what it is right now, even Rossi have no choice but to carry on. As influential as Rossi is, or as vocal as Rossi is, he will simply race on and find ways to deal with the situation.

I will believe the electronics in the series is so bad the day when racers start walking away from this series to another.

Total votes: 202

I never mentioned crashes or a Colosseum full of people lusting for blood. I said sport is spontaneous and human not pre-programmed and robotic.

ABS (braking) is banned. Brembo supplies brakes. Electronic suspension and steering dampers (steering) are banned. Ohlins provides suspension and dampening. Electronic engine management systems, traction and wheelie control systems, and fuel computers (throttle) are nearly unlimited. Honda supplies the engines and writes the technical rules.

The most important skill a rider can possess (throttle) is moderated by a host of supercomputers. Anyone who thinks this is a good idea needs to get real. We are selling the sport to a Fortune 500 company b/c it satisfies our vain desire to watch the fastest, most-technologically-advanced motorcycles on earth.

Guess what? If they turned MotoGP into a spec series (I'm not advocating spec at all), lap records would continue to fall for the same reason Olympic records continue to plummet. People will always push themselves to new heights. Pathetically, MotoGP does not accommodate the average male athlete (only miniature manorexic athletes), and MotoGP does not allow the rider to control the throttle as he once did.

What glorious new tomorrow do fans suppose this arrangement is leading to? Is anyone paying attention to sport or is everyone busy humping the the shiny new GP motorcycles? The only people benefiting from the current MotoGP paradigms are the MSMA teams who continue to bilk the board for budget and run GP as if it were a space race. Conveniently, the MSMA control WSBK (through threat of withdrawal) so MotoGP has no competition, and the MSMA can do whatever they please with GP even if it is wildly unpopular or detrimental to the long term stability of the sport.

If not for the human element, and the history these guys are making (to me anyway) by competing, I would have turned the TV off after the first race in 2007.

Seven years ago, the sport needed 4-strokes. Today, the sport needs artificial intelligence that learns how to clone a GP riders throttle movements. These people are as fickle as they are unwise.

Total votes: 191

First off, electronics are much needed on nowadays MotoGP, and they allow exploring diverse original technical solutions previously deemed unsuitable because now the electronics are there to improve the performance and ease some design drawbacks, contributing to the continuous improvement of the performances.

All riders acknowledge the need for electronics, including Stoner and Rossi who are really vocal about LIMITING the electronics, but don't advocate getting rid of them because they have drastically reduced the number of injuries (there is a very interesting article about that on motomatters, Stoner's interview a few weeks ago).
If you think throttle control does not exist anymore I believe you have not seen Stoner racing and sliding around these past races (and past years indeed), does he appear to be limited?

Why do we always see the same riders on top? Because the cream always rises on top, the introduction and continuously increased role of electronics did not upset the rider's order nor make the field more even, it is still very much based on riding skills (obviously riding the right bike has always been a factor since motorcycle racing exists, think about Agostini?).

Now that street bikes are equiped with tons of electronics (anti-wheelie, traction-control and so on), why would the pinnacle of motorcycle racing have inferior equipment? This is a perfect example of technology developped in MotoGP trickled down to the customers (though I agree, most customers won't need those, and the same cannot be said for all technologies developed in MotoGP).

Then the eternal size argument...for the top8 in the championship: Lorenzo is 1m72 (5'7), Pedrosa 1m60 (5'3), Rossi 1m82 (6'0), Stoner 1m71 (5'7), Dovi 1m68 (5'6), Spies 1m80 (5'11), Hayden 1m73 (5'8), Simoncelli 1m83 (6'0).
I don't see any pattern in size (Pedrosa is very small but 3 out of the top 8 riders are over 5'10, the average US male height for that matter) and I haven't never seen Vale hampered by his size. European riders are typically small because they come from 125 and 250 racing, very nimble, light and not so powerful motorcycles where rider'sweight and height will actually make a difference. Capirex (1m65, 5'5) and Biaggi (1m68, 5'6) are notorious examples (and world champions), ages before electronics came into the equation. The great Troy Bayliss, superbike legend, is 1 inch taller than Lorenzo and Stoner.
Rider's height has NOTHING to do with electronics in MotoGP, Hayden and Bayliss are 1 inch taller than Lorenzo and Stoner, but I don't believe their success has anything to do with electronics in dirt track racing or the AMA and SBK championship in the 90's.
It's like in numerous sports, your physical characteristics gives you advantages and drawbacks (acceleration out of the corners and top speed VS flicking the bike easily and much better endurance).
Are you also angry that basketball players are not the same size as the "average male athlete"?

By the way, MSMA does not control WSBK, the organizers (Flamini Bros) have much more power than their counterpart in MotoGP (Dorna) since the MSMA did effectively withdraw years ago.

Total votes: 198

There is no fundamental defense of electronics only strange logic. Paraphrase: The best riders are on top; therefore, electronics are good (what?). Paraphrase: Electronics are high technology; therefore, the ends prove that the means are sound. I'm not sure what kind of logic that is, but I don't recognize it.

Is there an alternate universe where motorcyclists live? If there is, will somebody please tell me how to get there? The bikes I own keep getting more expensive to purchase and maintain, but the power I'm able to put to the ground stays the same. The speed I'm allowed to go on the roadways is the same as well. My lap times don't improve with $2,000 in production bike gadgetry. The thrill is still just as good always regardless of how much or how little money I pay. I'm so confused! Does anyone on here actually ride, or do they just imagine that they ride? All I see are higher expenses for the same thrill.

I've got a very powerful imagination. If there was a way to connect all of the lies in MotoGP so that we could continue this unlimited technology charade, I would have found it. Every year I ride the same speed on the same roads, and every year the MSMA jack up the price and tell me I'm better off b/c I'm faster, and cooler, and my bike is more like [insert GP rider name] bike. Believe me, I'm trying, I really really am. I want to be more awesome every year, but it's just not true. I keep going the same speed for more money. I can only conclude that I'm actually a materialistic, financially-inbred American fathead who will pay any price for compliments. Thanks, MSMA, for all you do for me.

We are inventing new ways to spend money on motorcycles we already can't afford. Currency agreements between G20 nations and import taxes suggest we won't be able to afford them for quite some time. We are witnessing the SUV boom of the motorcycling industry, and we are reading justifications for a credit-based consumptive boom in the United States that has systematically dismantled the sportbike industry.

Hell, maybe we should let the engineers make artificial intelligence. It adapts much more quickly than Japanese corporations. Haha. Asimo can replace the people in the board room. That's what I can dream about. Asimo will conclude that motorcycle racing is illogical which will allow humans to get back to real sport. Problem solved.

Alright, I changed my mind. Pedal to the metal, let's get this over with. I want 20 electronics engineers on every team, and mandatory electronics budget of 25M euros.

Total votes: 187

That may be the best post of yours I have seen. It does seem like madness. The only electronic trickery my bike has is FI, lights, a soft rev limiter and an electric start. It is good enough for me.

Total votes: 199

What he calls funny logic is just making a point with excellent examples.

The fact is that the issue of the purpose of racing doesn't all make sense like a unifying theory in physics, but each point should be respected on it's basic purpose rather than misdirected with capricious replies (even thoughtful ones). I read a lot of gut reactions and broad generalizations yet few with concrete examples to make specific points. That's fine for down at the bar, but I'd expect more from folks chiming in on the 'most intelligent ongoing discussion of motorsports online'.

Total votes: 208

Let's start with: The cream is always at the top; therefore, electronics are preferable or acceptable.

1. The riders have said the contrary. The only endorsement of electronics was by Casey Stoner who defended them under the pretense that very highly tuned engines require lots of electronics to be safe. Luckily for all of us (hardly), Dorna have specified bore starting in 2012 and reduced the rev ceiling so the engines are not so highly tuned. Thanks MSMA.

2. The best riders being at the top does not mean that the art/skill of riding a MotoGP bike has been preserved or improved. Those criteria are independent of one another. Cream at the top is a teleological evaluation of electronics based upon competitive landscape as seen on the stat sheets. Basically, it is a regurgitation of vapid MSMA marketing rhetoric--electronics do not interfere, they help. Tell that to Rossi who wants them turned down or off.

3. The premise is not objective. It is presumptuous to say that the MotoGP cream rises to the top. Not only has it undergone no objective evaluation, anyone who has watched the sport during the last 4 years would know that no satellite runner has won a race in 800cc competition. It's very difficult to extrapolate anything from the "cream" the the "wannabe cream" don't have bikes that can win (mainly b/c of electronics).

I don't relish picking apart someone's post, but if others cannot see the value in foiling MSMA rhetoric against the reality of being a normal motorcycle rider/owner, then I have no choice.

If people want performance, there are better ways. If people want better road bikes, I've offered my experience (common amongst bikers) as to why more expensive road bikes with racing electronics won't help. The only way you can advocate electronics is if you want to believe in the MSMA rhetoric b/c it is good for your racing psyche. Good. Fine. I'm not going to judge, but when a slew of former MotoGP world champions say "electronics are interfering with my job", no fan should ever say, "I'm sorry, I'm going to trust the judgment of the multinational Japanese industrial conglomerates who are trying to get a bigger piece of my nest egg".

Total votes: 191

As underlined in a post later on this page, one of the main purposes of the series (as stated in the FIM reglementation) is to drive innovation.
One of the points of MotoGP, so-called pinnacle of motorcycle racing, is to develop cutting edge technology in order to get the ultimate racing prototypes. Therefore it is plainly obvious that this is the place where electronics should be the most advanced and where the greatest efforts in research and development (no matter if designed to develop on street bikes or not) should be carried.
It is the very definition of MotoGP, to build the ultimate racing motorcycle, defying currently-used technologies and commonly accepted rules.
Of course the human factor should not be lost in the equation, but is it?

My previous points were directed at common recriminations against electronics, so what do people commonly have against the use of electronics?

1. "Electronics limiting the role of the rider, especially throttle control."
Throttle control is still very important indeed, and electronic aids can be tuned according to the rider preferences; this is why Stoner uses little and this is why you can see him sliding on tracks all around the world. Are electronics limiting the role of the rider? Well in my opinion they offer the rider far more options regarding setup, enhancing his role.
Most fans (and more importantly most riders) want less electronics in the future, because they fear the could become too invasive. I share this desire but I doubt anyone could find a statement by any current rider advocating the removal of all the electronics. Because they know that electronics have a good reason to be there.

2. "MotoGP should get rid of electronics"
Getting rid of electronics would be all but doable, all the riders state that these bikes can simply not be ridden without electronics. You would have to decrease the bikes performance to make them rideable without electronics, this is why thay have been introduced in the first place, to boost performance, and this is why they will remain. This series is about building the ultimate racing bike, not about ignoring the evolution of technology (yes your car and your bike are full of electronics).

3. "The riders skills are hampered by electronics."
All the riders currently at the top of MotoGP were world champions (or runner up) in the feeder series GP125 and GP250 (barely any electronics). The "aliens" at the top of MotoGP are the ones that had the best resume before reaching the series (Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Rossi, each with 2 world championships under their belt before reaching MotoGP, Stoner being kind of an exception being brought early after only a runner up position in 250 at his second attempt, 3 years after the previous one).
This is not meant to say electronics are a good thing, but rather to say that "since electronics the riders skills are unrewarded" is irrelevant and not backed by any fact.

4. "Satellite riders do not win anymore because of electronics."
I will develop this very interesting point in a forthcoming post.

Total votes: 189

Let's limit this discussion to the 4-strokes, and let's take a look at the chronology:

990cc 2002-2006:

Honda starts off the 4-strokes era very successfully, as they ended the 2-strokes era.
Yamaha is successfull, particularly with Biaggi, then Rossi.
So effectively in 2002 you end up with a top8 composed entirely of Hondas and Yamahas, and the satellite bikes being reasonably similar to the official ones, satellite riders have good chances to score podiums or even wins. In these days Honda and Yamaha were supporting different teams with almost identical energy and ressources.
Then Ducati and Kawasaki enter in 2003. Ducati does not become really competitive before 2006, which is also the first year they field satellite bikes.
Suzuki is never really competitive and never fields any satellite bikes (neither will Kawasaki).
So regarding satellite bikes, all you're only really looking during this period of time at the competitiveness of the Hondas and Yamahas. And yes, by that time, official and satellite bikes of these 2 brands were pretty close.

800cc 2007-2010:

Ducati became really competitive in 2006 with Capirex on his way for a very possible first world title before being taken out by his own teammate. And here comes Stoner storming the field on his red demon bike in 2007. This got people at Honda reconsidering their politics.
Well, with more actors capable of reaching the podium, less chances for Honda to shine, they can't afford the status quo and in order to stay competitive, they focus all their efforts on the official Repsol team.

So in 2007 the satellite Honda was still up to the task, Melandri scoring 3 podiums and finishing up 5th of the championship and finishing way ahead of Hayden, official Honda rider and world champion the year before.
Yamaha Tech3, desperate for cash, could only find Dunlop as a sponsor, consequently they weren't battling for podiums with this new actor in the MotoGP tire battle.
For the last satellite bikes, the Ducatis, well history has long proven that only one rider was successfull on the beast, and it had nothing to do with being an official or a satellite rider. Plus the fact that Ducati is probably the manufacturer investing the most in his satellite teams, most mechanics and enginneers being directly contracted with Ducati, and date being shared between all teams and riders without any limitations.
For 2008 and 2009, Honda put in place a new politic to efficiently limit the competitivity of the satellite bikes, by leasing bikes totally different from the official Repsol ones (different engine AND electronics AND frame, pretty much everything). And it is pretty much indeed killing the hopes of the Honda satellite riders except for a daring rookie, Dovizioso, who scores 1 podium and finishes 5th in the 2008 championship, ahead of the official Honda rider Nicky Hayden.
In 2008 Yamaha Tech3 gets rid of Dunlop, gets Colin Edwards, obtains bikes very close to the factory ones, and on those 2 years Edwards scores 3 podiums and 1 pole on his way to a 5th position in 2009. It has to be noted that for his switch from the official team to Tech3, Colin scored as many podiums (2) and finished higher up in the end of the championship (9th with the official and 7th with the satellite). Simply, even if he would have been given the exact same machinery, he could not really compete with the official riders, Rossi and Lorenzo.

It is really impossible to truly gauge the performance of the satellite bikes compared to the factory bikes, but it is clear that while only Hondas and Yamahas were successfull, the chances for satellite riders of these brands were very open. But since Ducati became a major actor in the championship (coinciding with the switch to the 800s), Honda reversed to a very conservative approach to improve the chances of the Repsol squad, which included supplying different electronics as well as a different engine and a different frame. Hopefully this approach ended in 2010 when satellite teams have been leased bikes much closer to the Repsol ones.
On the other hand, satellite Ducatis and Yamahas remained very close to the factory ones, but leading the Ducati to the victory or even a podium has been proved to be next to impossible if your name is not Casey, which has nothing to do with the level of support of the satellite outfit, whereas at Yamaha, it is more likely that the level of the factory riders compared to the satellite riders is responsible for their respective finishing order (with a more particular case 2010).

Obviously for a realisitic comparison you would have to put the same riders on both the official and the satellite bike. Two close examples come to mind, first with Edwards downgraded to the satellite Yamaha outfit (without decreasing his podium chances and improving his ranking in the championship from 9th to 7th), then Dovizioso upgraded to the Repsol team (scoring 1 podium each year, including 1 win on the official bike, but finishing the championship lower on the Repsol, 6th compared to 5th).

In the end, my armchair expert opinion is that the performance of the satellite riders in the 800 era has much more to do with the Honda politics (and also the inability for non-Stoner Ducati riders to be fast and B-team riders/rookies at Yamaha Tech3) than with electronics themselves.

Total votes: 207

Very good couple of posts.
Add the fact that te dawn of high-end electronics have made possible extreme designs in the mechanical part, and you've pretty much gone all over the question IMO.

But the sport desperately need now some little electronics geniuses in the (satellite) teams, I mean, sort of "Kanemotos & Witteven of the new era". Now having the best in mechanics just isn't enough. We can bet those guys will come soon. Just let them realize how motorsports are cool for them. I guess for now MotoGP isn't really their classic 'royal way' just yet, but it will come in time.

Total votes: 192

"One of the points of MotoGP, so-called pinnacle of motorcycle racing, is to develop cutting edge technology in order to get the ultimate racing prototypes."

Oval pistons - Banned
Composite Metal - Banned
2-Wheel Drive - Banned (b/c all hydraulics must be man operated)
Turbocharging - Banned
KERS - Banned
Variable Intake - Banned
Variable Exhaust - Banned
Exhaust Gas Recirculation - Banned
Electronic Clutch - Banned
Electric VVT - Banned
Hydraulic VVT - Banned
Auto-Gearbox - Banned
Twin-Clutch - Banned
Continuously Variable Transmission - Banned
7 Gear Transmission - Banned
Electronic Suspension - Banned
Electronic Steering Damper - Banned
Direct-Injection - Banned
ABS - Banned
Ceramic Brakes - Banned
Titanium Chassis - Banned
Titanium Wheels - Banned

This is the sport I'm watching. Are you?

In 2012:
5-cylinder engine - Banned
82mm bore - Banned

1. Never said all electronics have to go. I said the sport is spontaneous and human which means that artificial intelligence and mu learning are not appropriate. Those systems exist in the rider's head, and that's the way it should remain as long as MotoGP is still a sport.

2. Never said it. See #1. I do frequently speak out against almost all rider aids. That's not all electronics.

3. The riders have said it. Ex-riders have said it, too. You can tell Rossi he's wrong next time you see him. KRJR was even more outspoken than Rossi about systems like wheelie control. He revealed that on his Roberts bike at some rounds he had 300 unique throttle movements per lap, but with wheelie control, it was far less b/c the throttle was pinned a lot more often. Talk to him about it. I wonder how many unique throttle movements the 2-stroke riders had? o_0

Electronics are not impacting rider skill? I don't think you are paying close enough attention. If hundreds of unique rider-controlled throttle movements were the key to victory, satellite bikes would still be winning.

Total votes: 205

One comment: Whatever bikes you put the 17 MotoGP riders on to race against each other, none of the satellite riders would win (barring freakish weather conditions / racing incidents). The top 4 riders are so good that they make the rest look like amateurs, and there are a couple of others (Ben Spies, Andrea Dovizioso, Nicky Hayden, Marco Simoncelli) who are also close to that top pace (and Spies may even match it in 2011). All of these riders are on factory bikes, but you can argue that these are all also the 7 (or at the very least, 5) best riders in the world at the moment. That much talent leaves no room for satellite victories.

Look back to 2003-2005, and Sete Gibernau was on a satellite team (in the same vein as Simoncelli this year), while the dominance of the factory riders was much less marked. Barros, Edwards, Biaggi, Tamada and Checa were no Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Stoner, while only Valentino Rossi's name remains the same at the top. The difference right now really is the riders.

Total votes: 192

Those top 5 riders could ride broomsticks and still win. The unfortunate by-product of a very very expensive sport is that having talent doesn't necessarily guarantee you a place alongside those other really talented riders. If you can bring money to a team these days that will get you a place. The electronics make up for some skills shortage to an extent and that makes things a bit safer too so not all bad. Teams need money to compete. Sattelite teams also need good electronics (among many other things) to get close to the top 5 bike performance which means that they need even more money which means they bring in the financial riders which means they need even more electronics which means they need even more money ...

BTB ... does the 107% qualifying rule still apply when you only have 17 on the grid?

Total votes: 165

I'm sure the aliens would stay the aliens. I'm not concerned with rearranging the pecking order so the current 4-way dice is fine with me. I'm concerned with the foundation of the sport b/c it is causing serious issues with the facade.

Right now, the displacement, fuel capacity, and electronics are all causing serious problems. Dorna is hoping that raising capacity by 25% and specifying bore will reduce costs substantially, but the major problems of fuel efficiency and electronics still loom.

The MSMA need to pick. They either get electronics or fuel, but not both. Both fuel and electronics together are ruining the spectacle and the infrastructure of GP racing (teams, sponsors, fans). I'd prefer they raise fuel back to 24L b/c that would eliminate half of the electronics right away, but I understand that Honda would prefer fuel. Fine. Then ditch wheelie control, traction control, and adaptive mu learning software and let the riders sort it out.

I'm not trying to send the sport into the dark ages. I'm trying to eliminate the iron-curtain that the MSMA have put around MotoGP with terrible technical regulations that do not improve the show, the competition, or street technology.

Total votes: 180

Most if not all of the technologies that are in Pheonix's banned list were actually reduced to practice, if not raced, prior to their being banned. That is why MotoGP is so cool. I still think the engineering that went into building an oval-pistoned engine is amazing.

Many of the other banned technologies are now on production motorcycles.

I don't think the racing suffers from this, in fact I think the opposite is true. Stoner was still sliding both wheels at Phillips Island. The grid usually changes from start to finish. If the racing is not close at the front, mid-pack action still occurs.

So I enjoyed the show Dorna put forth this season. I'll enjoy seeing how teams evolve to the new regulations in 2012.

Otherwise, there's still dirt track racing in Indy next year. Get your tickets now ;-)

Total votes: 198

It seems that the manufacturers like having rules that force continued development of electronics. They probably learn a lot from racing about this continually evolving field that seems to be more an more a part of every day production vehicles.

Aren't they the ones that push for lower fuel limits?

From an (electronic) engineer's point of view it wourld be a really exciting project to work on. I don't think the restraint will come from the manufacturers, it'd have to be Dorna and the teams.

Oh well, if MotoGP follows F1's path we'll have stock ECU in a couple of years anyway. It's definitely made F1 more interesting.

Total votes: 185

...processional now than it was before the spec ECU.  There's just more slower cars on the track and more engines blowing up.  Formula One is always a bad example to follow.

On a related note, somewhat back on topic:  an F1 car generates 2.7 terabytes of data during a race (this year).  How much more in 2012?  This level of detail is inevitably headed to MotoGP.

Total votes: 193

Like it or not, MotoGP is MotoGP because those bikes are the most advanced and fast prototypes. Why the fastest guys on this planet keep wanting to ride the fastest bikes on the planet, despite "the electronics doing all the job" & co ? That's right, because they live for being the fastest fellas on Earth on two wheels.

Add to this the fact that the lap times are vanishing year after year, so that racing fans keep watching "the move forward" instead of lamenting the race being the same for decades. And electronics play a huge role in the process. How come 800s are of approximately the same power than 990s just after a handful of years ? Because you can now create very peaky motors, with absolutely destroyed power & torque curves (worse than 2 strokes these days) and still have riders able to ride the thing, thanks to the electronics keeping the throttle response in an acceptable fashion.
Back in 2006, motorists had to keep the 990s under 270 hp for the bike to be fast. But they had a lot more under the hood, if only they could tame it. What will become that figure in 2012, after all this progress in electronics made over the years ? MotoGP is also a technical challenge, and yes we WANT to see those guys battling on 300+ hp moving laboratories.

And I wouldn't be surprised if electronics help also in using more radical chassis characteristics. Think anti-wheelie and programmable steering dampers.

Finally, one can think that the use of riders skills is experiencing a trade-off. Hearing them complaining about tire wear is less frequent, but they sure spend more time during tests figuring out the best strategies and tuning for their electronics, because "The Computer" can't figure out everything without the rider's input.

And the field is pretty mixed right now with Honda, Ducati and Yamaha sharing the top spots, as weel as the lowests. So the rider and the crew still play a massive role in racing.

So yes, MotoGP is evolving. This is in the nature of the pinnacle of motocycle racing. We can certainly wish that the technology & the science are getting more accessible to privateers, and see the return of those succesful geniuses who could put a low-end bike in the filed, tune it as masters and have their rider competing on the top. Just now it's not 100% down to mechanical knowledge anymore. But the cost surely is an issue for now.

Total votes: 188

Old skool racing technology is great, but let's start a different series for that. MotoGP is about high tech prototypes and I for one would not like the development to be restricted (just as I wouldn't want restrictions on amount of fuel, number of engines etc). Ofcourse electronics are playing a big role now as in any development field. But there's a certain sci-fi element to it that I personally like.
When I look at MotoGP now, I still see guys wheelying and wresteling their bikes around. Some still slide as much as they can, they still high side (for those who like that) and go around corners under angles that you can't believe. We have to keep the racing exciting, but I think there are a lot of people who are just echoing opinions since all was better in the old days.

Total votes: 186

To pheonix1: That is perhaps the best piece of literature I have read in years.

Total votes: 188

Electronic controls that monitor conditions and limit power to the rear wheel has no place on a race machine.

Limiting fuel on a race machine is absolutely ridiculous.

I love motorcycle road racing because it is a man on a machine pitting his bravery and skill against other men. I don't care who's computer programmers are the best!

Just look at how the satellite bikes being de-tuned has restricted the men on them to second class racers.

MotoGP is too sterile and predictable because of these electronic aids. Get rid of them!

Total votes: 174

Why do they have no place? Why is limiting fuel ridiculous? Any reason?

MotoGP is as competitive as ever. Who wants more run away victories like the pre-electronic aid Doohan era? Anyone?

I'll leave waxing poetic to others and put it in terms with which you may more easily identify: Is Spies not a man pitting his bravery against other men?

Total votes: 184

. . . . called racing. So, you think it's a good idea to make a racer go slower during a race just so it can be stated that he did the race with only 21 liters of fuel? Really!? That completely contradicts the true spirit of racing which completely envelopes the abilities of both man and machine to go as fast as possible till the checkered flag flies.

Get rid of the spec tire rule, engine and fuel limits & the racing will improve soon thereafter. It won't solve all the issues but would be a huge step in the right direction. The ball is in DORNA's court, do they have the balls to take the technical rules away from the MSMA? If they want to save this series, they have no choice.

Total votes: 163

Lap times drop. Total race times drop. How does that happen? Electronics. If a racers power drops from electronics at the end of the race it came at the expense of using too much at the beginning. If the electronics weren't there they would have run out of the expendable assets earlier and been even further back.

Reducing fuel is just as valid as a regulation on displacement. Are displacement rules ridiculous?

Total votes: 189

Are actually probably the most arbitrary and ridiculous rules of the lot. Just they're so long standing that we accept them.

If someone wants to build a 3 liter 12 cylinder engine that can run the same race on the same amount of fuel, why stop them? when did the range of 600-1000cc become the only practical option? was there any actual experimentation with different ranges in recent history?

Total votes: 168

if one is ridiculous, then the other is equally ridiculous.

Experimentation is what has gotten everyone all angry in the first place. I think it would be exciting and interesting. I'd be all for it. I'd think endurance is the place to be for real testing.

Total votes: 198

"They are going faster, and isn't that the point of racing?"

Well, that depends. In club racing, where it really is just about one person and his or her machine against the rest, I'd say it can be. But professional racing? I don't think professional racing is as pure as that.

First, there are the paying spectators. They're there to witness a show. Some see "a show" as simply going as fast as possible. If one rider/machine combo happens to be head and shoulders above the rest, so be it. If there are two or more battling it out, so much the better. Which brings up a second, and not necessarily mutually exclusive, definition of "a show": close competition.

The second reason professional racing's not as pure as club racing is the commercial aspect, which ranges from manufacturers using racing as the ultimate R&D lab to sanctioning bodies using racing as a way to stay financially relevant. The manufacturers tend toward the first definition of "a show" above; the sanctioning bodies tend toward the second. And racing fans? I think it's pretty obvious from the posts here that we fall on both sides of the line.

So, really, what is the point of racing? In the end, it doesn't seem to matter whether you're a guy who builds a race bike in his garage, joins a club, and hits the track, a manufacturing giant bent on world domination, or simply someone who likes to watch -- we all come to our own conclusions as to the point of racing, and we'll all defend those conclusions as vigorously as we can.

Yay for free will!

Total votes: 169

Yeah the point of racing is entertainment. for the club racer you could argue its for the entertainment of self, and at the world level its for the entertainment of paying fans. From the manufacturers perspective, racing is for marketing. Race bikes to sell bikes. Honda is in the business of making money from, amongst other things, bike sales. If it wants to do R&D it can do so in far more forgiving and less restricted environment than the race weekend - 45min practice and 30 lap race. Yamaha has likeky sold a gazillion R1s thanks to full page spreads in the monthly rags of showing Rossi on an R1 and a headline that reads 'bred on a racetrack' or some such.

Dorna too is in it for marketing, they own the media rights and make money on the distribution of the broadcasts. What do they care if the tech trickles down to street bikes. They just want a bigger and better show to generate more interest worldwide.

Which is why its in their interest to save the series from the boring electronically-managed race the 800s have given us.

I'm curious who actually writes the rules for MotoGP. Is it really Dorna? Or the MSMA or the FIM? Clue me in...

Total votes: 182

"Is Spies not a man pitting his bravery against other men?"

Well, yes he is, but he might as well have one arm tied around his back because he is riding on an artificially inferior machine. Watching Ben race a hamstrung motorcycle simply so that some sponsor can get their money's worth is unfair and frustrating. To me it is like the tail wagging the dog.

The santioning body has allowed the manufacturers and sponsors to hijack the series and someone has to man up to them in order to restore man vs machine to the equation.

I think we shall see how much difference there is next year when Ben is on a competitive bike. I can't wait.

Total votes: 193

Yamaha 2011 sponsors: Cyberdyne Systems.
In 2012, with the return to 1000cc bikes, Yamaha present the M1000, which goes online in February testing. Human decisions are removed from the decision-making process, in light of having signed Marco Simoncelli. It becomes self-aware at 9:14 a.m. Eastern time, March 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug. The M1000 then sends Jorge Lorenzo back in time to try and kill Sarah Stoner. Hijinks ensue.

Total votes: 186

Brilliant. Sir, you should join the forum.

Total votes: 176

Did the internet screw up domain names?

Showing results for MotoGP. perhaps you meant:
http://www.ahrma.org/
http://www.historicmotorcycleracing.org/

or are you interested in the simpler form of two wheel racing where the rider provides total control of the vehicle with no electronic aides - even powering the rear wheel.
http://www.letour.fr/indexus.html

or are you interested in the prior form of transportation before metalworking. They have horsepower that the prototype MotoGP boys at Dorna can not compare with. You can find that here:
http://www.britishhorseracing.com/generic/general_links.asp

The Gran Prix series is about advancing the state of the art in the motorcycle. The rules that governed the 2010 Championship state,2.1.2 "Providing that the following Regulations are complied with, the constructors are free to be innovative with regard to design, materials and overall construction of the motorcycle." The series is set up to promote innovation, so why argue here to take that part of the series away?

Every motorcycle racing series has riders. No other series has the innovation that MotoGP has. As a tech geek, I like that about this series. I do wanna see the riders working with the nerds as well as the wrenches. Seeing how the riders manage to evolve with the technology is what makes MotoGP appealing to me.

Total votes: 167

Electronic rider aids have removed a lot of the spectacle that formerly characterized the series, controlling wheelspin and managing tire wear, turning MotoGP into a series where the front wheel is paramount and the winner is the rider who can carry the most corner speed.

```

I think this is the heart of the matter. Do you want faster cornering machines or faster straight line machines? My vote goes for high cornering speed.

Total votes: 197

"Do you want faster cornering machines or faster straight line machines? My vote goes for high cornering speed."

Oops, here comes the switch from 990s to 800s all over again.
Just kidding ;-)

Total votes: 174

I think we'll have the best of both worlds. With a 1000 we'll have more torque and that is what is needed to bring the riders together. The new 1000cc power module will be everything a motogp machine could need and more. So more development will go into chassis development which means high cornering speeds also.

Total votes: 172

As much as I would like to say that there needs to be less electronics etc...I honestly believe at its core, is the exact thing we claim we want to see, the most sophisticated motorcycles racing at the maximum speeds while keeping the rider safety at a maximum. Why else have we developed NFL football equipment for NFL Football? For improved safety of the sports. No longer do we lust for the blood of competitors like we did back in the gladiator days of the performance we deem "sport." Today we are more humanistic. We want to see who can win at performing a task the best. So with this humanistic approach, motorcycle fans want to see riders live and sustain the least injuries while also going the maximum speeds. Let's not forget the original intention for the reduction to the 800cc formula. Now as we have learned, this makes for very peaky, sometimes extremely dangerous machines...

Can someone provide numbers showing the average number of crashes in MotoGP throughout each of the different cc era's?

Total votes: 182

According to internet lore, software programmers now win races.

If software programmers won races there would be more than 4 "aliens"

Total votes: 186

The satellite bikes are purposefully de-tuned (programmed) to ensure the factory bikes finish ahead of them (within each manufacturers control of course).

This is easily seen in the fact that Ben Spies finished only 4 seconds behind the winner at the first race of the season, and how he finished within 3 seconds of the leader at the year ending tests at Valencia. I believe those were two events where he had equal "programming" and the results showed it. After the Qatar race Yamaha cut back on Ben's "programming" so the factory machines would prevail.

Is this the racing world you would like to see into the future?

I can accept that the factory machines get the latest and best parts and support, but I am repulsed by someone artificially limiting the power on the machine with a computer, or limiting fuel capacity. This is going too far!

The way things are today, we will never know who is the best man/machine combination on the track on a given day.

Total votes: 163

I feel the proof for your theory to be a little thin... based on the performance of one rider in his first year in MotoGP?

Total votes: 173

It's easy to sit in front of the TV and bemoan the lack of competitiveness of satellite machinery.
If you were spending 100 million dollars on going racing, you might see it a bit differently.

Total votes: 169

You can argue for electronic aids, and you can argue against them.

If the racing is not exciting to watch, less people will watch it. As less people watch it, ultimately, this leads to it not making any money and, ultimately, it will cease to exist. End of story.

Total votes: 181

That's about it isn't it... whatever draws in the crowds, if electronics does it by lowering lap times and that's what people want... then pile on the silicon.

If it bores people away because people believe the rider/machine balance has tipped too far to the machine side... well then rip it out smitty, and dust off the carbs while you're at it.

For some racing purists, the top priority is firmly establishing the rider/machine balance, so that when they watch a race, they can be convinced that once the red lights go out, the team's contribution is fixed, and no longer a variable. From that point on the rider is in full control of the fundamental inputs to the bike. They want the people to rule. Let's call them the communists.

For other purists, the development of the bike is paramount, why interfere with development at all... no rules, all of the time. No restrictions on displacement, turbo, cylinders, spec tire, etc. Free market decides, with regulating bodies only existing to ensure basic safety... they are the libertarians.

Somewhere in the middle are the rest of the purists, who want to believe that both are possible and don't want any trade offs... we want absolute rider control, but without putting any restrictions on the "prototype" series (electronic restrictions are "okay"), while insuring that lap times continue to drop every year so we can say : "hey our generation of fast guys are clearly better then the previous generation's (e.g. who's the GOAT?) , and that's due mainly to rider talent which somehow inexplicably gets better every generation. But bike development also play a part (but always less than 50%)". We (me) are the socialists.

Then there's everyone else, who just wants close racing, no matter what... just put on a good show, and the reason echoplex is right. The proletariat.

All in good jest.

By the way, I've seen tires mentioned only a couple of times... if we're talking lap times, I don't think I would be the first to say that tire technology is the dominant factor there.

Total votes: 180

Mr. Emmett:

Excellent story. Any chance we might hear more from you on the Yamaha end-of-season debrief?

I am surprised no one else has asked.

Total votes: 176

... and plenty of space to fill. There will definitely be more to come over the course of the winter. 

Total votes: 166

Am I the only one that thinks Asimo racing a RC212v sounds awesome? Anyone skilled at Photoshop? As I would love to see this.

Total votes: 176

If we can just reach the stage when the ECU can do all the controlling and simulating and at the same time fabricate silly season rumours on a par with the Italian motorsport press and send them to the world via Twitter during the race, then the electronics will be perfect.

Total votes: 169

You forgot about making excuses when it doesn't win.

Total votes: 161

I suppose it explains why Casey Stoner always says "we" when he's making excuses. Him and the ECU concocted the story between them on the slowdown lap.

Total votes: 188

Giving everyone the same bike does not make them equal, the cream always rises to the top. Rossi, JLo, Stoner & Pedrosa r the best, Period. Electronics have made riders able to go faster in corners and then they go over the edge with more crashes this year than in history of sport.

The demon 500s without all the electronic gizmos in 2001 produced in one year practically the best racing ever seen, especially at Philip Island with 10 riders battling for victory and more passing in 10 laps than whole season of 2010. 2003 Brno another awesome race with four men battling for win and Rossi pwer sliding out of turns without all traction control. Good bloody racing mate.

Racing should not be about developing latest techs if it kills the show because its becoming such that u log on 2 c the result n not waste time with whole race. Did anyone c Moto2 race at Valencia, Awesome, that was a show, rider skill without all the gizmos. The fans, the fans without them no racing, THE FANS... if u lose them u have no racing and sponsors will not supprt it.

Total votes: 178

Hoping that the MSMA will endorse limiting electronic aids and development is like expecting Bridgestone to call a moratorium on improving the black magic.
Won't happen. All things considered I'm in favour of technological advancement in any form.
I'll give one simple reason why. Without electronic advancement,particularly in the area of information technology (data), I would not have a favourite sport to complain about, 'live' from my armchair 17 Sundays and 1 Saturday per annum.
I notice the Ducati winglets have a larger surface area. Is this because the super quick CPU's and ultra responsive sensors require more cooling than the engine ? HA HA.
As for improving the racing,sometimes its a procession,but if you equate it to let's say soccer,not much to complain about really. A 90 minute game may produce only one goal in an enthralling match. By the same token a single overtake for 4th in a 45 minute race in my view, equally enthralling.

Total votes: 169

I don't buy the soccer/football analogy.
In football, you may have only one goal, but you also have many shots on goal.
And in order to get those shots on goal, you have beautiful play.

In Moto GP, we have a 45-minute parade. That lone pass for 4th place does not make it enthralling.

Total votes: 192

Fantastic thread of commentary here folks!!

2 things I'd like to add. Electronics are here to stay so there's no point even debating that. The problem with the "electronics" seems to be driven by the fact that due to the fuel limits, the engines are not allowed to produce full power for racing, or they cut it back half way through the race so we end up with processional racing (those damned tires don't go off any more so that's a non-issue these days as well!).

No one seems to know why the fuel limits are so low so why have them? Allowing full power will actually demand better electronics to help control that power so I'd suggest bigger tanks!

I too agree with the comment that the rules are much too restrictive for a supposedly "prototype" class. Only 4 cylinders? Why not 3 (Triumph and MV) or 5 (Honda once again!) or 2 (Britten or Vincent!).

What will happen when an electric engine manufacturer wants to enter MotoGP? As the rules are currently written, they can't play. And if they were, would they be "limited" to AA batteries?

Manufacturers will always want to use less fuel as that's the easiest way to reduce the weight of a bike. The incentive is there, just don't legislate it please.

Total votes: 163

Even with the rotary engines they had trouble figuring out how rules would translate. Electric bikes are a whole different ballgame. It is impossible to compare them with combustion engines so they will always be a separate (if growing) series.

Total votes: 151

Hi, This is the first time I write on this page and I´m gonna use this "first" to say something I believe most readers of this page will dislike profoundly, however I really enjoy and respect your opinions so let’s see what you think about mine (unoriginal as it may be), of course since I´m no-one you can all ways ignore it.

There is a mantra almost everywhere on this page that says that "the purpose of hi-tech racing is the development and improvement of the everyday vehicles", with this I strongly, strongly disagree. Vehicle technology advancement is NOT the cause for racing is a gladly welcomed consequence. I used to think that was what racing people said to annoying people when they ask them to justify their passion.

Racing is first a sport and second an engineering endeavor. Sports, just like their prettier sisters the arts, are an expression of human essence. People want to do it, they enjoy doing it and ultimately need to do it therefore they do it. Sports and art have no purpose or more precisely they are their own purposes.

I´ve all ways have found this argument about driver aids to be hard to believe. If on monday I fitted some device inside a football that made it swerve to the goal even when it was kicked not so well, football fans around the world would crucify me on tuesday. However if i make it so that the bike decides how much to accelerate when the driver opens completely the throttle people say "that is so cool".

I´ll illustrate what I think about this "racing purpose" proposing a new kind of racing:

On friday teams place their engines on test benches and run them for a couple of hours. Points are awarded for more horses and torqs produced and taken away for liters of fuel used and breakdowns.

On saturday, chassis, suspension and brakes are put to stress tests to see which ones coup better. Points are awarded for stability of materials and dynamic response.

On sunday a single riders test each bike for 10 laps and points are awarded for best lap time and total race time.

Surely the engineering information obtained from this competition would be through the roof but I would not force my beer filed brain into consciousness on sunday morning for that, and I thinks most of you wouldn´t as well.

¿Why I´m so categorical about all this? Let me tell how I came to be a MotoGP fan: I used to be a huge formula 1 fan however as the last decade progressed I found less and less reasons to wake up at 4 am to watch it, there was no other word to describe the races than "tedious". And since I´m a diehard fan of Petter Solberg my racing heart was completely broken. Then by chance I stumble upon MotoGP. The lid of my brain was blown away, things would never be the same. But since the allowance of driver aids the moments of extreme maneuvers and extreme overtakes have been fewer and farther between. I tell you all (have in mind I am no one) I´ve seen this happen to F1 and I´m seeing it happen to MotoGP. Ask Formula 1 fanatic that live through the 90´s what they think about driver aids, they won’t necessarily bash them (tough probably) but be sure to keep their word close to you heart for I’m sure in 10 years’ time they’ll be coming out of your mouth.

One last thing to the people who finance racing it´s also not about development, it´s about selling. Schumacher sells Ferraris and cigarettes Rossi sells Yamahas and... ¿fiats? If racing becomes boring it becomes less popular and sells less. Again you only need to look at F1 to understand.

My god what a painfully long post!!

P.S: Sorry about the spelling I´m argentine and we speak Spanish down here.

Total votes: 165

"Vehicle technology advancement is NOT the cause for racing is a gladly welcomed consequence."

Definitely. When the history of the sport is taken into consideration, this describes how FIM GP racing got started. I find it sad that competition amongst the manufacturers has become so weak. I think back-in-the-day, Soichiro Honda would have changed the rules in order to allow more people into the sport just so he could kick their butts. Now, Honda put up fences to keep out new entrants and protect their corporate turf.

Total votes: 146

Well said Javi, people seem to forget the sport side of racing. U first get involved for the competition and cause u love it and the fans following make u feel even better, then regulations allow u to use electronic aids to improve ur performance.

If ur electronic aids have improved ur performance to the point where ur fans don't even watch u much anymore, because for them its no fun, what have u achieved.

Formula 1 has passing in pit lane and little passing on track, if electronics r allowed to continue unchecked there will b no spectacle as it is becoming now, similar to formula 1.

Those who r all in favor of more rider aids r not racers at heart but fans of SciFi, more cpu's does not equal better racing. everyone is born with traction control in their right wrist, u just have to learn how to use it.

Doninton Park 2005 was a great example of rider skill in wet, saving about 4 or 5 crashes then setting lap times 3 sec quicker than any one else. Pure skill.

Total votes: 180

Keeping pace with the comments in this thread is difficult, so forgive me if I am saying something that was already said. We all want good racing and we all want innovation. The union of those two sets should be MotoGP. But increasingly it seems like the area of that union is getting smaller. So it becomes an optimization problem to maximize the union area; if we can get the best engineers and most influential motorsports bigwigs in that area, all the better.

Steve Gallagher penned a triumphal trilogy whose middle work – Hunter’s Moon – contains a philosophical truth about society in general. But read what he wrote and then substitute our world of motorcycle racing for society and civilization.

“There is a question which every society at some time during its existence must ask itself. Because any society which develops a taste for the securities and comforts which can be gained from a high degree of organization usually goes the same way – it develops a technology. The question we have to ask is this: knowing we can do it, can we attain the wisdom of knowing when to stop? When our powers were limited, we could meddle without fear of lasting danger. But a mature knowledge requires judgment and restraint; a mere appetite for knowledge is no longer sufficient. Consider, when we set in motion a change in our environment, how the alteration may be minor but the effect could be significant. And we may suddenly find that we are living in a world for which we are not adapted.

The situation’s even more precarious than this would make it seem. It isn’t enough simply to dig in our heels and demand a return to simpler times. There are too many of us, and true to our ancestry we’ve already begun to try to adapt. Eating bran and learning to nit is a petty and trivial way of deluding ourselves that we are returning to a simpler and somehow BETTER way of life. There is no better way, for every regression like every advance has its penalty. Junk food and mass catering bring us obesity and cancer of the bowel. Medical care brings us overpopulation and famine. It is the mindless encouragement of the machines of commerce to keep giving, handing out more and better, together with the failure of the individual to examine what is offered which doomed his civilization.”

When this website first started out there were only posts; I cannot recall if there were even comments. The articles were primarily race previews, race reviews, and opinion pieces. More live reporting came along as MotoGP and WSBK streamed content and as David was funded to travel further and further abroad. Now he can post on the fly and comment via Twitter. Sure you may want to travel back in time and do away with live reporting, touch screens, streaming race feeds, and text messages – but you cannot. They are here to stay. So it is with electronics. And so it is with electronics in the motorsports area. Our task is to proceed forward with judgment and restraint.

Total votes: 172

Awesome post, lots of class. However I´m not entirely sure we have the same interpretation of what mister Gallagher says or how it applies to MotoGP. He says:

“It is the mindless encouragement of the machines of commerce to keep giving, handing out more and better, together with the failure of the individual to examine what is offered which doomed his civilization”

This to me it’s a perfect reflection of mi sentiments: Just because Electronics get more and more advanced it doesn´t necessarily mean they are better even if the man how designed them says so. It is a matter of what you seek and how you define “better”. In my point of view: Electronics to improve performance: “Great”. Electronics (aids) that diminish rider input, importance, control and/or responsibility: “boring”. And unfair for the rider and the sport, after all if a rider is capable of maximizing performance not one a single lap but on the conjunct of 20 something laps ¿shouldn’t that skill be prized?

Total votes: 174

The sport has judgement and restraint when the rules change to take away a given technical advantage and/or development. (Phoenix has a nice list of these)

Then the technology battle will start to take best advantage of the new rules.

The joy of motorcycles, like horses, is that even if they have a mind of their own where to go, the rider has a huge influence on their path.

Bikes are significantly different to an f1 car where the driver is basically baggage and a computer could drive the car around the track without much effect from the driver. A motorcycle has a rider that can influence its path by how they move, or do not move. This difference is one reason why I am not particularly bothered by the current rider aides.

Total votes: 185

F1 one cars are not auto piloted. But since it would be easier to do that there, than in bike racing it is a lot easier to see in F1 where the fault (or the danger) of electronic aids is. ¿What if they put small servo-controlled weight under the hull of the bike (not sure how you say it in English) that shifted around to improve stability?
For sure that would imply a tremendous improvement in road bike security and would be massive for maneuverability. But for my it would be the same basic problem as TC, anti-whelie and the rest.

More there is to control more there is to aid.

P.S: I think that what is fun about horses is that you both decide what to do not that he decides for you.

Total votes: 171

one could make a control system to car drive very quickly around a circuit. Adding a human passenger to the cockpit with not control inputs would not significantly change the lap time, except for the extra weight.

One could do the same with a motorcycle. Yes, you'd need some type of gyro stabilizer, but it could go around. Adding a human passenger to this machine though would significantly change the lap times due more to where the extra weight was and how it shifted in concert (or not) with the machine's trajectory.

My point was that the rider has an enormous amount of influence over the performance of a motorcycle by virtue of where they position themselves on the machine and when and how they move there.

People have tried to compare rider aides in F1 and MotoGP as equivalently bad. I do not think this is a particularly useful comparison due to this difference in how a rider must influence the motorcycle.

I was not trying to say that rider aides are good or bad. If they get "bad" enough, they'll get banned, but certainly the rider aides do not decide what bike wins the races, nor do they reduce *my* enjoyment of watching MotoGP.

Perhaps we could argue for ways to enhance by addition instead of subtraction? Nozzle's first suggestion is to have umbrella girls ride on the back during the "sighting" laps.

Total votes: 159

Let's have a separate series where riders race agains autopiloted bikes. Kasparov vs. Big Blue all over again ;)

Total votes: 173

Absolutly right, Rider will allways have a bigger influence than drivers. My point is that the more influence you take away from the rider the more you take away from the sport. And I was trying to make that point by calling upon the extreme (auto-pilot) that I think we all agree would be awful.

Of course this is just my opinion as important as any fan´s and i´m sorry if I was a little blunt about it.

P.S: You have some interesting ideas about improvement, if you ever decide to become president of FIM you have my vote.

Total votes: 159

Where do I start? GP, as we see it today, is a mirror view our society today . . . where technology is god and everything bows at that alter . . . . . . BUT there's a price to be paid for doing that! Man has taken a second seat to the computer chip and is about to do that in GP! Rossi, bless his racing 'soul', has always acknowledged and has always referred to his motorcycle as SHE and that SHE has a 'soul'! You see him squating at his bike, before getting on her, each and every time, 'communicating' with her. Can you techo guys please read my last two sentences!

WE ARE LOSING THAT WITH THIS ERA OF MOTO GP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today's 'racers' are STUNNINGLY fast and talented! BUT THERE IS SOMETHING MISSING! Why is it that the 500cc era and the 990cc era so longingly looked back at? Why are the racers of that era looked upon as gods of racing! Legends for taming the 'beasts' that they rode?

Technology is killing our SOULS and racing, SPORTS, is all about our souls!

I'll stop my rant . . .

Total votes: 173

When you write "Legends for taming the 'beasts' that they rode?" I have an image of Stoner sliding just about everywhere around the track on his way to the first world title for the red beast in 2007.
On the beast that only him can ride so fast (until now at least).
Then come pictures if him sliding towards 23 race wins these past 4 years.
To me it looks like the rider still makes the hell out of a difference on the bike.
But he's too young to be a legend.
And that's just me.

Total votes: 160

It very interesting to me the fact that so many people that seek out to defend the present of MotoGP and electronic aids talk about Casey and his sliding Ducati, exactly what electronic aids are meant to prevent.

¿How can you defend traction control and be marveled by sliding tires at the same time?

¿wouldn't it be great if everybody slided, like in Moto2 or far better yet pre-TC MotoGP?

The ultimate goal of computer engineers in MotoGP is to develop a computerized system that makes Casey`s style unnecessary.

Here, have a little taste of what E-Aids prevent:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj1GGsxPk9Q

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkQmENop4T4

(interesting laps considering how uncontrollable a bike without E-Aids was... I guess 2-strokes where calmer and smother and tires where a lot better back then)

Total votes: 171

¿How can you defend traction control and be marveled by sliding tires at the same time?

You and Phoenix have made some brilliant posts in this thread.
I think the bit of Socrates above may be my favorite.

Total votes: 160

I'm just saying traction control does NOT prevent riders to slide if it suits their style because electronics can be set low, as Stoner does.
Therefore it is an evidence that electronics preventing riders to win races while sliding around the corner is a false statement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yw24pY6ScNA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ydg4Y04K0U

http://www.motorcyclenews.com/upload/252520/images/stoner-sepang-slide.jpg

I am not arguing if electronics are good or wrong for the sport, but I am stating that I don't buy this argument.

Total votes: 167

What seems funny to me is that we always see the same fragments of the 500 era.
Don't get me wrong, the racing was great, I was there. But sometimes I feel the two stroke blues are turning legend into myth.
And McCoy, honestly, was in a class of his own. No one else did that.

Total votes: 159

I´ve seen many races form the early 90`s and I think they were great, with better tyres they would have been out of this world. As a matter of fact the latter year of the 500cc era where really really good I´m actually sad that I came to the sport when the Two-strokes were dying out. But I´ll agree that MotoGP era can be just as exciting.

What I think this overly repeated couple of youtube minutes show is that the whole "E-Aids are necessary because you could not control the bike without them" is quite wrong.

Yes I´ll accept that riding is safer now, but I don´t think that it is that much saffer. I believe the truly remarkable jump in safety came in the 90´s with better safety gear, better tracks and better medical assistance.

Total votes: 166

I think when people (mostly riders) say the electronics are mandatory on their bikes, they mean the current MotoGP bikes cannot be ridden without 'em. They would have to be designed all over.
Your point about the tires is interesting. I wonder if the racing would have been even better. The laptimes would have been faster, but I think the predictability of todays tires would actually have spread out the field.

Total votes: 160

2 stroke engines deliver power in a less gradual way and at higher RPMs, 4 strokes are faster but more docile, and the tyres where a lot worse offering far less grip on the braking and the cornering. That's why I think that if people could control those bikes they can surely control today bikes with better tyres and chassis.

I´m not sure that races use to be more unpredictable simply because rider error where more often. I think there was a lot more up to the rider, either to make mistakes or to make on the edge maneuvers. but maybe your right and I´m just romanticizing the old ages.

Total votes: 176

While its true much of todays street technology has trickled down from the racetrack, to say the manufacturers use racing as a test bed for consumer technology is a falsehood. At the end of the day, racing equates to marketing for the manufacturers. Its all about bragging rights in the full page press ads. The costs required to race are part of a global budget to enforce the brand. From Dorna's perspective its simply entertainment. Its a huge industry and Dorna puts on a show in return for large revenues. I dont think Dorna cares what technology is used in its product as long as the fans keep buying it.

Now we've seen in AMA if the fans are not engaged how destructive it can be for a series. 2009 was a disaster year for AMA. I'm not going to be foolish enough to compare AMA to MotoGP, as grand prix fans would have to be REALLY disgruntled to turn away from the series the way AMA 'fans' did. But eventually, if the racing continues to become processional or boring, who knows. I'm sure numbers were down globally for attendance this year. That has to get Dorna's attention.

If electronics really do make the bikes less involved to ride, and make the races predictable and boring, if the winners and losers are decided on a laptop and not on the track, then thats a HUGE disservice to the paying punters, not to mention the heros we worship -the riders.

I agree electronics have made a huge impact generally in the area of safety. We rarely see the huge highsides typical of the 500cc era. Having said that, where was traction control to save Vale's highside at Misano. Obviously not foolproof. So where do we draw the line. Is wheelie control acceptable? Is launch control acceptable? Should electronics only be used in areas of safety concern? This idea of predictive mapping just sounds ridiculous, unchecked its gone too far.

Look at F1, there are inevitably every year some great groundbreaking technology to eek out an advantage (KERS, the deflective front wing flaps) that F1 ruling body has no problem stamping out quickly. Now personally I think they are a little too heavy handed in their restrictions over there. But we have not sen any restriction from FIM in the area of electronics and I think before too long they really need to address it. For the good of the future of our sport.

At the end of the day, I want to see close racing with an unpredictable outcome. I want the best rider of the day to win (and that means no team orders but thats another topic). I want to be dazzled. I want to be entertained

Total votes: 171

"That has to get Dorna's attention."

You'd think so, but I have a sinking feeling that the will of the fans is being ignored. From the outset of the 800cc era people have been complaining about the displacement rules and the fuel rules. The MSMA and Dorna thought we were resistant to change. Over the last 4 years the whining has progressed from complaints about displacement and fuel to complaints about the grid size, the quality of the racing, and the electronics. Yet nothing has changed other than the introduction of 1000cc engines, but with a Draconian 81mm restriction and cylinder count rules. They've also said that they want a tight-knit country club with 22 entrants. Somehow I doubt that Dorna are listening to the fans. They certainly aren't explaining why they think it is a good idea to restrict mechanical variety and creativity while allowing the MSMA to continue 21L and unlimited throttle electronics.

Dorna are not listening at all. I can only conclude that they are blaming MotoGP's hard times on the recession, not the unpopular technical rules and the poor racing that has characterized MotoGP since 2007.

I was going to say something similar in response to mbccohen's post. Imo, the fans are demanding the responsible implementation of new technology in order to preserve the sport. Unfortunately, Dorna are clinging to the brands names "Honda" and "Yamaha" at the expense of the riders, fans, and the entire motorcycling industry.

Total votes: 164

What were attendance and viewership like during the Reign of Doohan?  Were you "entertained" then?

KERS was F1's idea (not the manufacturers') to start with and it is not stamped out, it is back next year...  cost limits be damned.

Rossi's highside was at Mugello, not Misano.  As was predicted, the 800cc/21L rules are exaggerating the bikes' propensity to highside, especially when the fuel maps are in a constant state of flux (particularly in the cooler morning sessions); the computers can only do so much.

The whole crux of this problem is the "advanced technology" of lean fuel requirements.  If the fuel limits were gone, the "electronic aids" would retreat as soon as the riders show they can ride faster without their help (and that won't take long).  These aids were all there during the 990cc era (and even the end of the 500cc era), but they were less intrusive because the fuel constraints weren't as tight and the riders had more freedom to ride with their preferences.

Total votes: 179

"The whole crux of this problem is the "advanced technology" of lean fuel requirements."

Here's the real kick in the pants; the "advanced technology" of lean fuel mixtures is high-pressure direct-injection systems. This technology is production relevant and useful for consumers who want less emissions equipment, better fuel economy, and more accurate fuel mapping.

Direct injection is banned!!

The real purpose of 21L of fuel is to stabilize performance while protecting the aggressive horsepower competition. Rather than inventing a fun way for stable performance and horsepower competition to coexist, they restrict fuel, and control the right handlebar to whatever degree they deem necessary.

Anytime the fans tell the MSMA they are cowardly, unimaginative idiots, the MSMA go to the press and say "technology", "prototype", "progress", "trickle down". Half of the fan base swallows it hook, line, and sinker which prevents Dorna from taking decisive action. Then the MSMA meet behind closed doors to stabilize performance and cost. They ultimately ban production-relevant mechanical technologies that benefit consumers and fans.

It is the biggest crock I have ever seen. The racing is so poor that rider aids (once considered to be an intriguing technological advancement) are the villain. If they would come up with a fun way to stabilize performance like reducing the number of gears or using a hard Dunlop control tire, the fans probably wouldn't care how much electronics were on the bike. As you say, additional fuel would allow the riders to turn off the electronics if they were displeased with amount interference.

Total votes: 165

What has never made sense to me is having a sophisticated traction control system allowed but banning ABS. ABS is simply the reverse of TC, and it would be hard to argue that banning ABS helps with safety, which seems to be the current excuse for allowing TC and other such systems.

The other item that has changed rather drastically in recent seasons are race starts. With launch control and anti-wheelie systems more refined than ever, it seems like everyone (except Pedrosa) gets roughly the same start. Boring. I wonder if Pedrosa turns his off?

Total votes: 172

Pedrosa likes to keep launch control on if u remember an incident at Phillip Island 2007 practice session ;)

Total votes: 169