Fuel Or Electronics? Where Are Hayden And Redding Losing Out On The Honda RCV1000R?

The news that Honda would be building a production racer to compete in MotoGP aroused much excitement among fans. There was quickly much speculation over just how quick it would be, and whether it would be possible for a talented rider to beat the satellite bikes on some tracks. Expectations received a boost when former world champion Casey Stoner tested the RCV1000R, praising its performance. Speculation reached fever pitch when HRC vice president Shuhei Nakamoto told the press at the launch of the bike that the RCV1000R was just 0.3 seconds a lap slower than the factory RC213V in the hands of a test rider. Was that in the hands of Casey Stoner, the press asked? Nakamoto was deliberately vague. 'Casey Stoner is a Honda test rider,' he said cryptically.

Once the bike hit the track in the hands of active MotoGP riders Nicky Hayden, Hiroshi Aoyama and Scott Redding at the Valencia test, it became apparent that the bike was a long way off the pace. At Sepang in February, the situation was the same. Nakamoto clarified his earlier statements: no, the times originally quoted were not set by Casey Stoner, who had only done a handful of laps in tricky conditions on the bike. They had been set by one of Honda's test riders. And yes, the biggest problem was the straights, as times at Sepang demonstrated.  Test riders were losing around half a second along the two long straights at Sepang, Nakamoto said.

In the hands of active MotoGP riders, the gap was around 2 seconds at the Sepang tests. Nicky Hayden - of whom much had been expected, not least by himself - had made significant improvements, especially on corner entry. Turning in and braking was much improved, something which did not come as a surprise after the American's time on the Ducati. Once the bikes arrived at Qatar, the Honda made another step forward, Hayden cutting the deficit to 1.4 seconds from the fastest man Aleix Espargaro. 

By the time the race rolled around, the Hondas had cut the deficit again. Comparing fastest laps of the race, Scott Redding set the quickest lap for production Honda rider, lapping just 0.841 slower than his teammate Alvaro Bautista, who set the quickest lap of the race. But consistency proved to be the undoing of the Hondas, Scott Redding and Nicky Hayden crossing the line just 0.035 seconds apart, but over 32 seconds down on the winner, Marc Marquez. Where the difference between the fastest and slowest flying laps of Redding and Hayden was nearly 2.4 seconds, for the front runners, that difference was just over a second.

The difference in performance and the big gap to the front has been cause for much speculation. Where are the Honda production racers losing out to the Factory Option bikes? Is it purely top speed, or is it a combination of speed and acceleration? And where does that lack of speed and acceleration come from?

Both Scott Redding and Nicky Hayden have blamed their lack of top speed on a lack of fuel. Though the Open class bikes are allowed to use up to 24 liters a race, the fuel tank on the RCV1000R will hold only 22.2 liters, Scott Redding told Bikesportnews at Silverstone, during the presentation of the Bennett's Insurance Search for a Star competition. 'We could have used more fuel as it’s more speed when you are underpowered, to an extent. We couldn’t use the full power we used in qualifying as we had to save fuel. Maybe if we had more fuel we could have latched on the group in front for ten laps,' Redding told Bikesportnews. Nicky Hayden had also complained that he had been unable to use full power, as the bike had been short on fuel.

Livio Suppo was unconvinced that the problem was fuel, however. The Honda boss told Motorcycle News that he felt the issue was one of electronics. 'We have been struggling a little bit to match our machine with the new Magneti Marelli software,' Suppo told MCN. 

Is the issue straight horsepower - an issue which may be helped by having more fuel - or is the problem the electronics? Judging the issue precisely is hard to do, without access to full data from all of the bikes, but we can make an educated guess based on sector lap times. Like all tracks, the Losail circuit is split into four sectors, with the bikes times as they pass through each sector separately. The nature of the Losail circuit is such that the first three sectors consist largely of braking zones and corners, whereas the final sector contains a couple of short straights, then the final corner and the run onto the main straight, of over a kilometer in length. Sector 1 tests braking set up and fast changes of direction, though top speed plays an important part in the first part of the sector; sector 2 tests corner speed, braking and acceleration; sector 3 tests agility and the ability to get power down while the bike is still leaned over; and sector 4 is all about acceleration off the final corner and speed along the front straight. Differences in sector 3, especially should reveal differences in electronics, while sector 4 is about horsepower and acceleration off the corners. If electronics is an issue, the differences should be large in sector 3; if it's about horsepower and fuel, then sector 4 is where the gap is opened.

We averaged the sector times over the entire race, minus the first lap, for five riders. We took the times of Scott Redding and Nicky Hayden as the measure of the Honda RCV1000R; the times of Dani Pedrosa as the benchmark for the RC213V, Pedrosa not having spent too much time engaged in battle with other riders; the times of Aleix Espargaro as a more powerful Yamaha, but using the same electronics as the Open Honda; and the times of Valentino Rossi as a benchmark to see the difference between Yamaha's custom electronics and the Dorna-supplied championship electronics used by Espargaro.

First, the raw data for the average sector times for all five riders. Valentino Rossi is fastest in the first three sectors, with Pedrosa quickest on the final section, much as you would expect for the relative strengths and weaknesses of the Honda and the Yamaha. The times of Espargaro are close everywhere, while the gap to Hayden and Redding is large.

Average sector times, laps 2-22

  T1 T2 T3 T4
Dani Pedrosa 25.383 30.369 28.672 31.826
Valentino Rossi 25.311 30.303 28.665 31.829
Aleix Espargaro 25.412 30.391 28.786 32.011
Nicky Hayden 25.680 30.586 28.938 32.331
Scott Redding 25.597 30.587 28.849 32.474


Looking at the average gap per sector gives a much clearer picture of the relative strengths of the bikes. The factory Honda and Yamaha are well-matched, the Open class Yamaha is closest in sector 2, and the production Hondas lose out most in the final sector. 

Average gap per sector

  T1 T2 T3 T4
Dani Pedrosa 0.072 0.066 0.007 fastest
Valentino Rossi fastest fastest fastest 0.003
Aleix Espargaro 0.101 0.088 0.121 0.185
Nicky Hayden 0.369 0.283 0.273 0.505
Scott Redding 0.286 0.284 0.184 0.648


To make the differences even more clear, we can compare the differences by percentage. The table below shows the gap between the rider's sector time and the fastest sector time as a percentage of the fastest sector time. It shows where bikes are losing and gaining more clearly.

From the percentage times, it is clear that Rossi's Yamaha gains most in the first two sectors of the track, compared to Pedrosa's Honda. A more interesting comparison is with Aleix' Espargaro's Forward Yamaha, which loses similar amounts to Rossi in the first and third sectors, but is closest to Rossi's time in the second sector. The final sector, with the final corner onto the straight, is a test of top speed and acceleration, and here, the seamless gearbox comes into its own, Espargaro losing most to Rossi and Pedrosa, both of whom have a seamless gearbox, while Aleix does not.

But the clearest picture emerges from the sector times of the Honda RCV1000R. In the first and last sectors, both Hayden and Redding lost most to Rossi and Pedrosa, staying closest in the middle two sections. Both men were within 1% of Rossi's sector times in sectors 2 and 3, but nearer 1.5% slower in sector 1, and around 2% in sector 4, the sections where top speed and acceleration matter most.. 

The comparison between Hayden and Redding is itself illuminating. Sector 2 is the only section of the track where the two men post similar times, just a thousandth of a second between them on average. Redding's better corner speed - a skill he acquired in Moto2 - pays off in sector 3, Redding 0.089 faster than Hayden through the difficult and twisty section. Hayden wins out in the final sector - 1.59% slower than Pedrosa, compared to Redding's 2.04% deficit - but at the end of the straight, and in the first couple of turns, Redding wins out again, with 1.13% to 1.46%. The fact that Redding is giving away 10kg to Nicky Hayden means the Englishman loses most out of the relatively slow final corner and onto the straight.

Average gap per sector by percentage of fastest sector time

  T1 T2 T3 T4
Dani Pedrosa 0.29% 0.22% 0.03% fastest
Valentino Rossi fastest fastest fastest 0.01%
Aleix Espargaro 0.40% 0.29% 0.42% 0.58%
Nicky Hayden 1.46% 0.93% 0.95% 1.59%
Scott Redding 1.13% 0.94% 0.64% 2.04%


Though their styles may mean they are losing different amounts in different parts of the track, the place where they are losing big is very clear from the sector data. The RCV1000R loses most of its time coming off the final corner, and along the fast front straight. Top speed differences between the Repsol Honda and Movistar Yamaha are negligible, but there is a much bigger gap (8.4 km/h) to Aleix Espargaro's Forward Yamaha. It is possible that the gap for the Forward Yamaha is down partly to the lack of seamless gearbox, with no power lost as the riders shift up from 2nd to 6th along the straight. Electronics may be another part of the Forward Yamaha's gap, the anti-wheelie not as successful at maximizing thrust while keeping the front wheel down.

The difference between the RCV1000R and the factory bikes is vast, Hayden losing 15.4 km/h, Redding giving up 16.6 km/h. They both give up over 7 km/h to Aleix Espargaro along the straight. The big difference both in sector times and in top speed point to a lack of horsepower as being the main culprit. This point is underlined by the sector 3 times, the tricky section of the track containing 6 of the circuit's 16 corners. Espargaro is 0.42% slower than Rossi through that section, while Scott Redding is 0.64% off, in broadly comparable times. The two factory bikes are within 0.007 of each other, pointing to the biggest difference being electronics and seamless gearbox between the Factory Option and Open class bikes, rather than horsepower being much of a factor. The story from sectors 1 and 4, however, are all about power.

Top Speeds

  Top Speeds Diff
Dani Pedrosa 340.2  
Valentino Rossi 338.0 2.2
Aleix Espargaro 331.8 8.4
Nicky Hayden 324.8 15.4
Scott Redding 323.6 16.6


So is the problem with the Honda RCV1000R production racer one of electronics, or one of horsepower? Judging by the sector times, you have to say horsepower. Through the section where electronics play a large role, Scott Redding can match the time of Aleix Espargaro on the more powerful Yamaha using the same electronics. Through the sector where horsepower and acceleration play a role, the RCV1000R is being blown away, getting off the corner much slower and never reaching the top speeds of the faster bikes.

Would more fuel help? If both Hayden and Redding were complaining that they had to go careful on fuel, then not having fuel to burn along the straight will impact their performance. Having 1.8 liters more at Qatar would not close a 32-second gap by the end of the race, but it would add a couple of km/h more top speed, and perhaps a little more grunt off the corners. The added speed the Honda needs will not be found in electronics alone, not with differences this large. A little more fuel at tracks with fast straights and tight corners would definitely help get the production Hondas a little closer to the fray.

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This is what I suspected. HRC made an inferior bike to keep the Repsol Team at an advantage, now is hurting the Open Class teams with the RCV1000R. Now, it looks the way of the CRT era when there were two races, MotoGP and CRT, but in this case, we have three races, MotoGP, Ducati+Open Class, and then the Open Class entries with RCV1000R machines.

The 'production' bikes were made to a much lower price point. I don't think it was the intention to make them slower, but the reality of the money involved.

It's all a bit silly to me. As far as I'm concerned anything that is not factory (or satellite with near factory kit) shouldn't even be there. Maybe they can make a Moto 1 class and stick all the grid filler, also rans there.

Honda has a faster, cheaper bike that they could sell to the teams. All the development work has been done. Spares exist. And I'm sure the tooling still exists.

It's called the 2013 RC213V.

It's not that Honda can't afford to rent-to-own them at $1.6 million ($2.4 million for the the two-year deal). It's that they don't want to.

Too bad Yamaha beat them to it.

I've been wondering this too for some time too since the whole Open Yamaha/Ducati fiasco.

Where is Bautista's or Bradl's bike from last year? Could Redding or Hayden be on that bike for 1-1.2 million/ year?

Yamaha is realizing the real marketing comes from when many of their riders are competitive regardless of what team they are on. A Yamaha making headline news is a Yamaha making headline news.

The situation is clear now for rcv production racer, HRC has to upgrade its horsepower while the teams require to dial in the electronics better ........considering the fact that they can't set it up like the rc213v data engineers. But as always there is room to improve as nicky has said. The rcv racer will be improved sooner rather than later~11

Open bikes that need to conserve fuel???

Pretty obvious that HRC was trying to build a bike that was fast enough to look a step ahead of the old CRTs but slow enough to never be any kind of threat to their factory and satellite teams.

Unfortunately for Honda, Yamaha and Forward and Ducati scuttled that plan.

Fuel will help but I'd be surprised if there weren't some HRC engine boffins secretly working on some power-ups. They probably don't want anybody to know about it while they ignore the egg on their faces.

The open class Hondas are not going to get pneumatic valves, are not going to get a seamless gearbox, and are not going to get aliens piloting them. And the "championship" software does is not geared up to save fuel. A 24 liter tank might help some. I'd make that a priority.

Great Post. One of the best posts for sorting through the corporate rhetoric. I hope that Redding and Nicky get a larger tank and pneumatic valves.

Honda's reaction is pretty much why Rossi left.
There was a time when I thought that Livio Supo wasn't ruthless/unscrupulous like Lin Jarvis. Now I don't hold him is such esteem.

Factories choose which rider that they want to promote and support the rest get scraps.

Cheers to Bradl, Cheers to Bautista, Cheers to Bradley... You are fighting with the best weapons that you will ever get and it may be a half a step behind your factory counterparts.

Redding and Nicky....You will languish all year.

Nicky if you ever read this site, I hope that you read this article.
Go to WSBK and win the championship.

Also noteworthy that the RCV @ 22.2 litres is awfully close to the 22.5 restriction that Ducati will run up against if they are podium takers.
I wonder who thought that up?
Given HRC's famous 'electrical failures' on race bikes, Suppo's comments could mean anything from fuel management strategy to compression ratios, valve overlaps, cam profiles etc., etc., etc. Or, perhaps, by 're-configuring the ECU' location they can make room for a larger tank?

What's to prevent Aspar from knocking out a new, bigger tank? I'm sure it's one of those underseat deals with limited space but there's probably mechanically a way, but does anything in their purchase contract with Honda prevent them modifying the bike in any manner? I'd suspect there is.

The teams are not allowed to modify the RCV1000R. The don't even actually own the bikes until the end of their two-year deal. Honda controls the performance of the bikes. Period.

"Designated the RCV1000R, the bike will be sold—not leased for $4 million, as with the satellite Honda MotoGP teams who are forbidden from taking apart the engine or modifying the bike, and must return the bike back to Honda at the end of the season—to teams for the initial price of €1.2 million (around $1.6 million) in the first year of a two-year deal, with the second year costing an extra €550,000 (around $760,000) for the “upgrade package”. The teams will get to keep the Honda at the end of the two-year contract, but until that time, all engine maintenance work will still be performed by HRC, and no modifications are allowed to the engine; the teams can modify the suspension and brakes however, which consist of what appear to be a standard racing issue Öhlins TTX36 shock and FGR300 gas-charged front fork for suspension, and Nissin monobloc calipers for the carbon brakes."


That's right I remember reading that. I'm sure Aspar didn't have to pay up front either, right?

You know, Honda bitches about Yamaha breaking the "spirit of the rules" by leasing bikes but they're doing the exact same thing under a different guise. They still have control of the bike until it's out of date. The "spirit of the rules" is to sell someone a bike that they can do what they want with to go as fast as possible. No one did that. And Dorna seems OK with it for some reason.

I think Ducati was offering a completely for sale GP13 for less than 1 million Euros.

....No team wanted it.

I think Yamaha came close to the spirit of the rules.
I like the fact that NGM got a 3 yr old uncorked bike.

I think the RCV1000R is a pepped up WSBK.

On a different note a few years ago we wondered how a WSBK would fair against the protos... CRT showed us very well that the WSBKs and Aprilia are not close to GP bikes.

I think if you compare the RCV customer bike to their intended target: The Aprilia CRT bike , youd find that they re indeed faster, its just that Yamaha out-honda'd Honda with the rules interpretations!

In last years race, the ART bikes were 49 secs behind the winners , in Fact Scott Redding with the same racetime as this weekend would have been 9th and Hayden 10th , both behind Nicky on the Ducati which was 24 secs behind the winner .

Isn't saving fuel one important function that good electronics settings can provide? When Rossi thanked his engineers for allowing him to race full throttle with only 20 liters last Sunday in Qatar I assume he meant electronics engineers. So if what Suppo says is true, namely that they have yet to fully translate the Honda strategies to Magneti Marelli software, I would expect that when this happens it also means a bit more fuel available in the straights. Not to mention factors like wheelie control and getting out of corners that affect in a straightforward way acceleration and top speed.

The best thing about improving electronics on the RCV1000R is that it seems the only solution that HRC would actually want to pursue given that everybody goes spec in less than two years. This is part of their homework.

But you have to ask why the bike is carrying 1.8 liters less fuel than the maximum allowed. It might not be ideal for them to carry the full load for weight/mass-centralization reasons, but surely they could have given the bike more fuel.

One could easily draw the conclusion that this bike was engineered to be just fast enough to be better than last year's CRTs and ARTs, which it is, but that's not fast enough anymore.

I don't blame Livio too much; kidding aside, I'm sure they don't want to make sensitive information about the bike's problems public. I'd be surprised if they were only working on the electronics. The bike is pretty well known to be at least 20hp down on the factory bikes. That's the biggest problem, for sure.

Redding stated that they could use full power in qualifying as the fuel isn't limited at that stage.

Top speed (km/h) at each session (top speeds likely to include being towed down the start-finish straight):

FP1 324.4
FP2 321.7
FP3 322.7
FP4 322.0
Q1 318.2
Q2 #N/A
WUP 323.2
RACE 327.3*
*lap 3 -towed?, otherwise ~324 when following Hayden and ~321 towing Hayden

FP1 328.6
FP2 324.1
FP3 324.0
FP4 323.7
Q1 326.4
Q2 #N/A
WUP 320.7
RACE 327.5*
*final lap -towed by Redding, otherwise ~324 towing Redding and fairly inconsistent when following Redding 323-327

Maybe you can give them a couple of km/h on the straight for top speed or allow them just to tag onto a faster bike in front for a few seconds more down the start-finish, but other than the speeds posted in FP1 the bike doesn't look that inconsistent going from Quali-trim into Race trim...

Your comment renders mine (right above) semi-useless but I believe you have a point actually :)

Funniest thing to see in the chart with top speeds of Qatar is that Danilo Petrucci on the Aprilia ART is in front of all the RCV1000R's. Hayden and Redding are even behind Michael Laverty's PBM-Aprilia...

Yes, by the looks of it both Petrucci and Laverty had a lap with a good slipstream, but still. A purpose-built MotoGP bike ending up behind a couple of bikes with tuned road bike engines, that's pretty embarrassing. And as I understand it, the MotoGP-spec RSV4 engine is more restricted (oh wonder) and therefore slower than the Superbike version...


Great analysis work David. As it happens I did a very similar analysis while I was at work killing time.

One thing you may want to look into is the standard deviation of the average sector times. This number would speak to a riders consistency. Also it can help answer whether some bikes are easier to ride than others or whether Jorge Lorenzo truly is the most consistent of all.

Using standard deviation highlighted the fact Nicky Hayden had ridden off one time which hurt his average in the 3rd sector .

Anyway fantastic analysis overall.

As we all know, the RCV1000R was created with cost cutting measures in mind. Therefore, it lacks quite a few features found on the factory bikes - no pneumatic valve springs and no seamless gearbox to name a few.
One thing that comes to my mind is that the production bikes almost certainly also lacks a lot of the friction reducing measures that are in the factory bikes to gain horsepower and reduce fuel consumption. From exotic materials to high tech surface treatments will most likely have been scrapped to reach the cost goals. This is rarely mentioned in the media though, as they mostly focus on the tangible things like the gearbox and the valves.

Even with the extra 1.8L i doubt they will come much closer to the top. I'll be happy if they prove me wrong.

with you, but then, they have created a machine that resembles more closely a WSBK bike instead of one for MotoGP, or let's say, a "Improved CRT/Enhanced CRT" Bike.

The term "Production Bike", I think, says it all, IMO.

Hi there. Just for clarity, regarding the RCV1000, please could you explain what you mean by,

"...they have created a machine that resembles more closely a WSBK bike instead of one for MotoGP..."

I don't understand.

I was referring to your comments regarding the RCV1000R was lacking the exotic materials and parts that makes the RCV213 so expensive, and I think that if those parts are removed, the "prototype engine" designation begins to loose its meaning, which is the reason why MotoGP exists. This "production" engine, then, is designed to be produced is large numbers and less expensive.

Aprilia, for example, used a RSV4 (WSBK) engine as a CRT engine. I don't know how much modification was made to make it competitive as a CRT entry but it was a "production" engine.

One can only speculate that the RCV1000R is very very similar to the new WSBK CBR coming in 2015

That's the only real reason for producing true "production" parts. There seems to be nothing about the RCV1000R currently that requires large-scale production techniques. They'll only build a few for MotoGP teams.

With only a brief sample to go with, audio analysis of on-board video from Qatar indicates that Hayden's lump-o-sh*t is barely breaking 15,300 RPM. This was late in the race on a short straight, and may not be fully representative...

Rossi was shifting at 16,3xx for much of the race.

MM/DP: 16~16.8
(Down a few hundred from last year.)

Bradl 16~16.4

BS: Max 16.2, many 15.8~16.1
(Possibly last year's software with one less liter??)

AB: hitting 16.5~16.6 fairly often.

Youtube onboard with unknown Ducati suggests they are still running a shorter stroke engine that hits ~17.4.

Very interesting data, Geonerd, but I'd be shocked to learn the Ducs are running less than 1000 cc displacement to boost the revs. I know that was rumored when the limit was increasing from 800 to 1000 cc, but have heard nothing about that for a long time. (Are we sure a 48.5 mm full-stroke motor can't go to 17,400 revs with desmo magic?)

I think the Duc is full capacity and is just a rev-happy engine. Everyone says how onerous the fuel and engine regulations are for companies like Suzuki and Kawasaki to keep up with yet tiny Ducati's beastly engine never seems to have durability or efficiency issues. Their attempt at Open status was all about being able to make mid-season changes and nothing about needing more engines or fuel.


Chris you don't think Ducati is going to run 20L this season do you? I am thinking they are benefitting quite a bit from more fuel, incl less electronic trickery. Not the 24L. Closer to 22.

They are not using 20l because they don't have to but last year they had no issues with 21l and 6 engines so I think they have the technical capability for 20/5.

>>I am thinking they are benefitting quite a bit from more fuel, incl less electronic trickery.

More fuel is one less thing to worry about optimizing but they are using more advanced software than they had last year. They are not an Open entry anymore, its spec hardware and custom software for them. And they are also benefitting from a Gigi upgrade.


Assuming the figure arrived at through Geonerd's analysis is correct, 17,400 rpm would require a mean piston speed of 28.13 m/s for a 48.5mm stroke motor.

That's probably a bit much, even for a Desmo valve Ducati. Although, it wouldn't be the valve gear that would be the problem. The poor connecting rods would be under colossal stress.

If the rpm figure is right, Ducati must surely be using a shorter stroke motor.

Yea, I'm hardly the only one to note that the Duc has been spinning significantly faster ever since the 1,000cc rule came into effect. As suggested, it's not the valves that are the limiting factor - steel springs can be made to work - but the piston speeds that start to get out of hand.

That said, pneumatic or desmodromic valves likely allow more aggressive cam profiles, or higher revs with the same cam.

I'd expect, although I've never been privy to the internal of the pneumatic valve engines, that the valves are triggered electronically and the 'cam profile' is an electronic one rather than wasting energy spinning a physical camshaft, with all the frictional losses associated.
The advantages of pneumatics are that you can have the sort of valve lift that mere mortals dream about, along with more control over duration and actual opening and close timing. Which means more air and fuel into the combustion chamber than a comparable non-pneumatic engine. Not to mention less weight and a shallower head.
I'm guessing they are triggered by piezo electrics or similar.
Anyone have any tech articles to reference??????

The pneumatic part of the system merely replaces the metal spring which closes the valve with a chamber filled with compressed gas and a piston. The valve is still opened by a normal camshaft.

I would add that one should keep in mind that the "Factory Option" and Yamaha Open raced the medium rear tire while all the Honda Open raced the soft rear tire.
This is one of the reasons explaining why Redding and Hayden got much slower towards the end of the race.

Also, as Espargaro raced the same tires as Lorenzo and Rossi, comparison of their laptimes is completely valid but the gap between Pedrosa and Hayden/Redding would probably be bigger if the Honda RCV1000R had been fitted with the same tires as the HondaRC213V.

Clearly the Honda lacks horsepower. Given that it is an L-4 like the Desmo, the valve train and related fuel consumption is the issue. Maybe HRC should run desmo for the street. Its not like Ducati have a patent on it. HA HA! Reduced to street spin off's from GP racing, Ducati and Honda are on the same plane. The L-4 Honda handles well, but is asthmatic sans its pneumatic valve train, hence Dorna Rev limits proposed. The L-4 Ducati handles only when its neck is wrung like that of a chicken, but enjoys massive lung power. Pneumatic valve train BAH! Let me know when that technology filters down to the street.
Off topic this early in the season, but already I'm wondering about the factory teams engine allotment, particularly Yamaha. That is one (George) M1 that was seriously 'graunched' on the opening lap.Tech3-ditto. Those transverse 4's don't take kindly to spinning on their sides,eh Brad and Pol? The L-4's are much tougher. Take heart # 69 and Scott. They will improve and don't break without one hell of a fight.
At the end of the day, the 'black magic' tyre war needs to be resumed as a matter of urgency. Currently we have a gang of 3. HRC/YAMAHA/Bridgestone and the rest be damned. Make that a gang of 4, add Repsol/Dorna.
I do believe a tyre war introduced as early as 2015 will turn the sport on its head. Clearly that is not in the interests of current GPC corporate interests, but the viewership certainly does. This is getting as 'droll' as F1. Prototype bust!

If I am not mistaken, Honda has sold these bikes to teams and that is the reason why they have put in inferior technology. They do not have pneumatic valves, they do not have the seamless transmission and by doing this (stripping the motorcycle of any cutting edge technology) they were hoping to sell the production racer at a price that was around the one stipulated by Dorna and the FIM. The usage of the nomenclature production racer suggests to me that they do not have to keep control over the bikes with one engineer from the factory making sure that certain things like the engine are not accessed by teams. So probably they kept the electronics to the minimum. But the petrol tank completely confounds me, unless of course Honda to show its technological might may have deliberately made the tank smaller.

Lots of people had high hopes but these bikes were merely meant to beat the Aprilias and were built to a budget like the V2 500cc customer bikes way back when. Although I wonder how they'll do come the first wet race. Apparently they handle very well......

As far as the 22.5l tank this is Honda's large (and only sometimes well deserved) engineering ego getting in the way. They throught it would be OK but in the end were wrong. 1.5l more would not put them on the tails of the satellite bikes but it may put them nearer the Forwards and Ducatis.


Actually you are both wrong about something.
In spite of general belief the Honda isn't sold, it's leased. only after leasing it for 2 year do the team own it. For some reason most of the press makes some difference between the Yamaha Open and the Honda but the teams don't own the bike (as you can see David explaining on this very thread) and they can't modify anything on the bike without Honda's permission (Dennis Noyes has said so in twitter). I don't see any difference between what Honda does and what Yamaha does, Yamaha just does it better.
As for the tank I would have to massively underestimate Honda engineers to think they didn't knew how much their bike would benefit with a bigger tank. Most of the engineering that went into this bike was to make sure it would be faster than a ART and slower than a satellite Honda.

If I am not mistaken, Honda has sold these bikes to teams and that is the reason why they have put in inferior technology. They do not have pneumatic valves, they do not have the seamless transmission and by doing this (stripping the motorcycle of any cutting edge technology) they were hoping to sell the production racer at a price that was around the one stipulated by Dorna and the FIM. The usage of the nomenclature production racer suggests to me that they do not have to keep control over the bikes with one engineer from the factory making sure that certain things like the engine are not accessed by teams. So probably they kept the electronics to the minimum. But the petrol tank completely confounds me, unless of course Honda to show its technological might may have deliberately made the tank smaller.

that Honda would do whatever it takes to make sure the bikes NH and SR are on would be able to beat the FWD bikes. They will never allow them to be better than the factory bikes of course and that's understandable, but with their abilities they can at least be where the FWD guys are.

So what can Honda do about this?

- Increase fuel tank size. This may be hard because it may mean re-engineering a bunch of other things. Remember when Cal was demanding the factory fuel tank on the Yam? There may simply be no more room without doing something like moving the exhaust.
- Allow more revs. Honda won't want to do this without proving reliability.
- More aggressive cams. Same as for revs. I suspect this is possible even with valve springs. but see the comment on revs.

Honda being Honda I think it's very unlikely they'll change anything this year. Next year's Open class Honda will learn the lessons and be a better machine. But then so will the Open Yamaha and the Factory machines as well.

How many engines have Honda already supplied so far and assuming it's not the full set, when are the next engines due? If say 2 rolling chassis and 4 engines have been supplied to a rider's team, but only 2 engines have been used, could Honda take back 2 of them, and replace them with engines with a more aggressive camshaft and higher compression? If 4 have been supplied, when are the next engines due to be delivered?

Yet again, it occurs to me that sealing engines was the wrong way to go. What might have been better was to limit the number of crankcase and head castings but allow engine refreshes. This always annoyed me about Ezpeleta's claim that Aprilia WSB used anything up to 24 engines. It was 24 rebuilds of 6 engines (roughly) not 24 engines.

only those things. honda just made a realy cheap/expensive bike. cheap performans, expensive to buy. it share nothing from the rcv prototype. if you gave sykes those open tyres he would be faster on the zx10r for 1/10 of the price

Honda clearly just did not anticipate that the Open field would have a Yamaha with slightly less electronics. Or Ducati choosing to go that route, (but no longer really in the Open Class especially if they get podiums). Hayden and Redding are both getting the short end of the stick. Even without the educated guessing, anyone can see with their own eyes that the Open Hondas are far too slow. This is a great failure coming from Honda. It takes more money to develop a bike than it will cost, but they can develop a bike that is better than this one. The chassis seems good. But the engine is too weak. Cannot believe Suppo is saying it is electronics. Electronics are not going to give that bike another 40 horses. Great article. Enjoyed it thoroughly. Was wondering if anyone was going to cover this.

In the 1970s, Suzuki built a close replica of its factory XR14. The XR14s were raced in the World 500 Championship in 1974 and '75, then in 1976 Suzuki built a new factory bike - the XR22 - and also released a replica privateers could buy. This was the RG500 Mk1. The record shows the grids were quickly full of RG500 Mk 1s, and some them made it onto the podium. Those Suzukis were not expensive, around $US6000, about the same as a TZ750. And they came with a spares kit. The RG500 gave 500 class racing a shot in the arm at national and international (non-GP) level as well and resulted in a lot of riders getting ahead in the sport. Randy Mamola came through the ranks on an RG500. The situation today compares very poorly with that golden period when lots of good riders got a clear shot at GP success. It came down more to their riding ability, not their financial backing. Today, MotoGP is a private club that requires a serious amount of money to join. It is by no means a case of seeing the best riders in the world competing. It is a very few of the best riders in the world shooting fish in a barrel. The Superbike World Championship provides far better sport.

While it sure would be terrific if the rule makers somehow manages to conjure rules that would have factories and privateers alike having equal shots (or at least more equal than now) at winning, let alone the podium, alas, i think that will remain a pipe dream.

1 thing, during the golden era, it was easier to get a leg up because there were many unknowns in bike design yet to be discovered. So clever privateers often manage to outsmart the work teams from time to time with what was then new discovery. Now though, teams are not chasing seconds, they are chasing hundreths or even thousands of a second. Bike design principles are more or less pretty much established, so the slightest advantage is severely guarded. Ironically, nobody wanted to venture away from the known knowns and the known unknowns so everybody is basically sporting very similar kits and hardwares with only the the software relatively remaining area in which to gain advantage. Ducati tried with the frameless idea, but we all know what happened there.

We know there is no current provision in any racing organization that would prevent competitors borrowing winning IP from others. Patenting ideas is far too slow, so teams have no choice but to be secretive. I dunno if 'open source' racing is something msma are interested in.

The only hope we have in having another golden era is that if control over the bikes are returned to the riders. I think the 2016 rules is the closest we are going to get from now, but again it depends on how the open software is going to become. I have a feeling the future open software is going to be like the spec tires are now, it will favor some teams over others, and then the debate continues...

But remember the 90s and the ROC/Harris Yamahas or the Honda 500 V-Twin. The tech was always old and slow and all too often they were lapped. ISTR Mackenzie put the ROC on the podium and Gibernau, Aoki, Barros all got podiums on the Honda V but several Brits got burned by woefully un-competitive versions.

"Ducati tried with the frameless idea, but we all know what happened there."

I don't. Did I miss something? Your rhetoric is passé.
How many races or podiums have been achieved by Ducati on the new aluminium frame that was seen by all and sundry as a panacea?
Nicky Hayden did faster lap times at Sepang testing on the "frameless" 800 than on the aluminium bodged up piece of rubbish 1000.
Nicky Hayden Sepang 2009 02:02.497 carbon fibre frame introduced 800cc
Nicky Hayden Sepang 2010 2:00.703 (3rd fastest) big bang 800cc
Nicky Hayden Sepang 2011 02:01.534 no notable changes 800cc
Nicky Hayden Sepang 2012 02:01.729 aluminium frame 1000cc (the great leap forward)
Nicky Hayden Sepang 2013 02:02.184 aluminium frame 1000cc (further refining)

First of all it was the carbon fiber frame(less). Next was the "engine can't be moved forward enough because of the stupid 90 degree engine"; until it became widely known that the Honda also is a 90 degree V4. After that we had the mass centralisation rubbish theory. Oh please, like moving a few kilograms a few centimetres is going to suddenly transform the handling of a motorcycle. What happens when the riders shifts 70kg of mass, his body?

You have brought some interesting numbers:

Nicky Hayden Sepang 2009 02:02.497 carbon fibre frame introduced 800cc
Nicky Hayden Sepang 2010 2:00.703 (3rd fastest) big bang 800cc
Nicky Hayden Sepang 2011 02:01.534 no notable changes 800cc
Nicky Hayden Sepang 2012 02:01.729 aluminium frame 1000cc
Nicky Hayden Sepang 2013 02:02.184 aluminium frame 1000cc

We knew it (frameless) got scrapped, and no, it wasn't performance, it was the "we have to cast new engine cases each time we think we need to move the engine a few mm here and there to fix the bloody understeer, and we only got 6 engines a season" given by Preziosi (spelling?). My point was, out of the box bike design is very few and far in between that basically, these guys are sticking to known hardware configs rather than be the pioneers to what maybe a silver bullet or blind alley. Besides, now that the Ducs are open, have more engines than factories, have Audi pockets, they're not rushing back to this concept. A concept they had since they 1st joined i might add. It might be because this concept have a narrow operating window (needs special tires?) or that they can make the same concept work with the delta box, or the advantage was cancelled when they increased minimum weight, frankly i don't know. What i see is that it's not in GP anymore, and struggling in WSBK (although testing looks promising)