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Wasted Billions?


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Around the Le Mans circuit, the difference between Criville on the NSR500 and Pedrosa on the current RC212V is a massive(?) 3%. And the difference seems to be around 2-4% throughout the series. When we consider the amount of time and money spent on tyre-, chassis-, suspension-, engine- and not to forget electonic developents, that really is a poor return on investment. Add that the level of competition is now harder and the level of the riders likely higher as well, and the gains seems even worse.

 

Of course, if you try to win races, 3% is a massive amount. But for the average wobbler, it really is very little. So while I'm not saying that this year's model cannot feel better than last year's, the fact is that in real term performance gains, there really isn't much in it.

 

One thing is pretty certain from my standpoint, and that is that racing has not gained anything by all these advancements and the bigger teams required by the electronics and more complex technology in general. Races were just as exciting 10 or 30 years ago as they are today. For me, more so. As such, I find it hard to justify the waste(?) of money and labour we see in the top racing classes today.

 

What's your opinion?

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That is correct. But what if they just kept the old formulae and improved it a little by little? Matching the tyres/chassis/suspension/engine ever better. I think that would have brought almost the same improvements over a decade - at a fraction of the cost and energy.

 

One problem today is that the rider cannot cover for a poorly set-up bike. You don't need just the best rider and the best bike to be competitive, you need to have the best engineers and programmers. Perhaps several of them. Whereas it used to be basically a couple of spanners and the rider, it's now a huge industry. One that I do not believe benefit the sport at all. The cost is soaring, the spectacle is declining and although the rider still matter, he simply cannot overcome bike issues by riding harder.

 

Today's GP bikes could have been faster and safer if they were allowed to use more fuel. Since fuel is limited, engine mapping is literally specified for each metre of the track. This makes the engine difficult to control because power output and characteristics vary from one corner to the next. The rider has only limited control over what the engine is doing; mapping goes a long way into deciding who wins and who ends up 5th. And setting up the bikes have also become ultra-difficult; Spies said that simply lowering the rear of the bike .5 of a mm had a big impact and that is SBK bike would require 5 mm change for a similar effect.

 

I belive racing was better when it was less complex. It took a hell of a lot less money for starters, and the rider's ability to adjust to the tyre wear and suspension fading was what mattered, not how well it was programmed.

 

But regardless of what you prefer, be it the current incredible level of technology or the simpler times, I still think that there have been incredibly little return on the investment - and that much the same could have been achieved by small improvements rather than rewriting the rules and adding complexity.

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We're talking 500's. That was a long time ago as it pertains to racing. No single part on the 500's is as good as what is currently on the GP bikes. Whether it was overnight or if it takes a century, the equipment is better. Doesn't matter how long it takes.

 

Racing then allowed the rider to compensate for a poorly set up bike because they didn't have the technology they do now. Now you've got to get the bike set up properly before the race and you need to be more in tune with your bike than Hayden (he's HORRIBLE in conserving fuel). Racing is more a team sport and preparation ever more crucial. I like it a lot better because Rossi and Lorenzo can have an awful day because of poor preparation, rather them being able to dominate every race whether they're properly prepared or not.

 

Everyone has their own preferences. I love watching Lorenzo take advantage of newer technology (he's a slave to his bike), while watching Rossi ride like he's on an older bike and still able to ride with, or faster than, the younger riders who've grown up with traction control and GPS guided set-up. One of the big four (Kawasaki) pulled completely out of competition because of lack of funding. Even if they were willing to spend $3 million dollars a year on a bike, it wasn't enough. I don't think investing what these companies do is a waste at all if they want to compete. That's called an investment. You can argue whether it's an insignificant return or not all day, but if you were a company wanting to get your name out there, you'd be doing so from the sidelines.

 

That's why they DO it. Because it is a significant investment. It's advertising. Companies advertise. To sell merchandise. Mazda was sold to Ford because they didn't advertise. Mazda made a better car and had better technology that Ford incorporated into their vehicles because it was better, but they didn't sell because they didn't invest in advertising. Suzuki sold more 2009 bikes than Kawasaki did 2010 bikes in the US because Kawasaki didn't advertise, or didn't advertise enough. Back of the pack in AMA and WSBK (lack of funding [investing or advertising] and nothing in GP. That's how they advertise.

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It is simply evolution, everything in life would be a waste of money if you looked at things that way, but take honda for example, look at the performance capabilities of their CBR1000RR fireblade compared to their version 10 years ago! £10000 or whatever the conversion to dollars is can buy you a very technologically advanced superbike! Thanks to race teams research and development!

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That's why they DO it. Because it is a significant investment. It's advertising. Companies advertise. To sell merchandise. Suzuki sold more 2009 bikes than Kawasaki did 2010 bikes in the US because Kawasaki didn't advertise, or didn't advertise enough. Back of the pack in AMA and WSBK (lack of funding [investing or advertising] and nothing in GP. That's how they advertise.

 

I can understand that people get excited by the technology, even if I don't. Guess I was born 3 decades too late for my preferences tongue.gif

 

But the advertising would be just as good if the bikes were more basic. And with more basic bikes we would see 30-bike strong MotoGP grids instead of 17. And more good riders could find a seat. Now, it's a very similar to F1 where you A) must have the complete package and skill can only help you so far and B) most riders must bring money in order to ride. In other words, we only have a handfull of the very best riders the world can show up, whereas there's too many riders at a notch or two below that are there because of sponsors just as much as their skills.

 

I still believe they could have reached similar lap times they are doing today through evolution instead of revolution at a fraction of the cost.

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That's why they DO it. Because it is a significant investment. It's advertising. Companies advertise. To sell merchandise. Suzuki sold more 2009 bikes than Kawasaki did 2010 bikes in the US because Kawasaki didn't advertise, or didn't advertise enough. Back of the pack in AMA and WSBK (lack of funding [investing or advertising] and nothing in GP. That's how they advertise.

 

I can understand that people get excited by the technology, even if I don't. Guess I was born 3 decades too late for my preferences tongue.gif

 

But the advertising would be just as good if the bikes were more basic. And with more basic bikes we would see 30-bike strong MotoGP grids instead of 17. And more good riders could find a seat. Now, it's a very similar to F1 where you A) must have the complete package and skill can only help you so far and B) most riders must bring money in order to ride. In other words, we only have a handfull of the very best riders the world can show up, whereas there's too many riders at a notch or two below that are there because of sponsors just as much as their skills.

 

I still believe they could have reached similar lap times they are doing today through evolution instead of revolution at a fraction of the cost.

 

Since the financial crisis they've been making changes to lessen the expense so more bikes and companies can afford to be on the grid. I agree that 17-18 bikes on the grid is too little. I like the tight competition between Moto 2, but don't want to see lapped riders in Moto GP premier class either.

 

Moto GP also needs to be careful of lap-times against their competition. If you and the other guy have a literbike, you're not exactly the premier class if they have lap-times faster than yours. The results of their investments show. Put more into it, get the faster bike.

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Didn't Rossi even comment on this somewhere, take the electronics out?

 

CF

 

Yes. And Kenny Roberts Jr even more vividly so. He wants 1200cc and virtually no electronics.

 

It is easy to see why Rossi would want to get rid of the electronics. Most of the others wouldn't be able to see where he went. It wouldn't take too long for the best to master the required control, but Rossi would definitely hold an advantage at first along with Edwards and Capirossi.

 

But I just think it would be more interesting to see bikes wheelying and spinning and sliding a lot, and where rider skill was the main ingredient of the outcome. Racing used to be much wilder than it is today - which was a particularly good thing IMO biggrin.gif

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Interesting quote from Kevin Cameron, Cycle World, while reviewing this year's Indy race:

 

Not falling is a sign that a rider has a proper strategic reserve. No one wins championships by riding on the edge.

 

I went to visit Doohan after he retired and asked him why I didn't see point-and-shoot tail-sliding much anymore. He replied that as long as the tire stays in good condition, a corner-speed style is fastest. When the tire fades, he said, riders revert to point-and-shoot for its security. [Current] bikes further encourage the corner-speed style, because even with the bike on the edges of its tires, smooth power can be applied to begin acceleration. The faster you go and the more you know about what you are doing, the less unexplored margin there is for brave passing maneuvers.... The high corner-speed style will continue with the new 1000cc formua.... If these alleged "electronic prodigies" were removed, only Rossi might remain to reign in solitary excellence as Mick Doohan did for five straight years in the 1990s.

 

What made the tail-sliding 500s so exiting? They defects! Two-strokes' steep powerband prevent the rider from applying power smoothly, so he does most of his turning early, the lifts the bike up off the edges of its tires and gasses it, steering with the throttle because there's too little weight on the front tire for it to steer.

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Gentlemen,

A very interesting topic. I have to agree with Eirik on this one. I don't want to get into an argument over waisted money but the argument over the competitiveness and participation of riders and teams. I think the MotoGP class is boring as hell while the Moto2 class is exciting and fun. Does throwing all that money at MotoGP make it fun to watch? No. Does it bring a large field? No. There is something to be said about the skill of the rider being more important than the technological advances of the motorcycle. If it keeps going like it is, we will be watching future riders controlling the motorcycles from a viewing podium with X-Box remotes in their hands!

My personal opinion about competition and what it means to me is the human connection, the rider, the player, the team. I am following Valentino Rossi to Ducati. I followed Nicky Hayden to Ducati. I followed Ben Spies to Yamaha. Lets keep the technology but put racing back in the hands of the riders. Let us keep our loyalties to our particular machines but praise the men who make them great.

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