A lazy Sunday afternoon in late October, the rain comes down in the yard and the settee is so inviting. You turn the TV on and click through the channels to find the MotoGP and happily watch Dovizioso ride a great race to win the Malaysian round.
I love to watch the best of the best battling it out on the best machinery, I love to dream that maybe, if I had a bike as good as theirs I could be up there on the podium with Dovi and the GOAT. I don’t of course have the talent to do that, but is it possible that I could have a bike comparable to theirs. Just what are the differences between a MotoGP bike and an off the shelf sports bike and can I make mine like theirs?
Well firstly there is the price tag, a top of the range sports bike that can be bought off the shelf will set you back, in the case of Ducati’s Panigale S, $25,000. That is a lot of money, but when you compare it to the $2,000,000 of a MotoGP bike then it turns out to be a real bargain.
A Panigale has a lot of exotic materials in its construction, Titanium con rods and valves and carbon fiber body work cut its weight down to 367 lbs dry weight, very light indeed. A MotoGP bike has even more of these materials used, and because money is not an issue the bikes weigh a mere 346 lbs and they weigh that because that is the minimum weight they are allowed, they could be a lot lighter I am sure. The important thing is that with the unrestricted use of the light materials they can put the weight where they want it, thus lowering the centre of gravity of the bike and making it even better in the corners.
Then we can look at the engines, of course the MotoGP bike is more powerful about 50 bhp more powerful in fact. The power of a top of the range sports bike is about 200bhp, a MotoGP bike is 250 bhp, and that power equates to a top speed in excess of 215 mph but that immense engine power is not the only factor in this huge top speed, there is also the matter of aerodynamics. A huge amount of time and money goes into making these bikes slice through the air with the greatest of ease. This is because when you are getting up towards 200 mph air does a very good impression of being as thick as treacle and the power needed to push through it is astronomical. It is a real case of more and more power for less and less increase in speed and so minimizing air effects becomes a priority.
And that brings us to the riders, the biggest difference by far, they understand all that goes into making a bike go fast. They know how to crouch to minimize wind resistance, shift their body weight around to lower the centre of gravity, brake at the last possible millisecond and open the throttle so smoothly that the 3cm patch of rubber on the track can transmit 250 horses to the tarmac to propel them forward at mind numbing speeds. They have supreme control over their machines, they play with the limits, sometimes they get it wrong, but then they go back and play with the limits again and this time get it right. It doesn’t matter that these bikes are actually meant to be quite easy to ride, they push them until they are not easy, and then push them a little more and that is why I am on the settee and they are on the podium.