Is This How Ducati's New Front Ride-Height Device Works?

The one near certainty coming into the Sepang MotoGP test was that Ducati would have found a new way to push the boundaries of vehicle dynamics. We have seen it before with the wings, with the rear swingarm spoiler, with the holeshot and ride-height devices, and more. The only question for onlookers was what exactly Gigi Dall'Igna and his team of engineers had dreamed up this time. After a tip by French MotoGP tech guru Tom Morsellino, I set out to investigate.

The answer to that looks like it is at the front of the GP22, instead of the rear. Ducati have installed a new holeshot device on the front of the Desmosedici, which appears to double as a front ride-height device. Where the old holeshot device was a simple latch, the new one is much more sophisticated, and looks like it is being used on corner exit, as well as at the start.

First, a quick look at the old holeshot device. Like the units fitted to most of the bikes on the grid, it is relatively simple. There is a catch on the bottom of the fork, and a latch mechanism operated by a cable. The rider loads it by compressing the forks, then rotates a butterfly switch on the top triple clamp to engage it. When the rider brakes for the first corner, the latch releases and the front comes up again.

Walking down pit lane, I took the following photo of the mechanism on Fabio Di Giannantonio's bike. (As it's old tech, mechanics are a lot less paranoid about it.)

You can see at the bottom of the right-hand fork leg a small wheel with two cables going to it, and directly above that, the metal hook the mechanism latches into. (Excuse the poor quality of the photo, it's from my phone).

The 2022 mechanism is very different, however.

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Comments

The forks look fully extended in the third picture so its just the angle of the bike and the fairing that makes it look so "low".

 

I noted the front suspension looks extended as well. If we assume the ride height is not just an optical illusion perhaps transformation of the triple clamp into a linkage system could be at play.

My guess is that they're using long travel forks with long top-out springs. That result in good front-end feel mid-corner and the ride-height system mitigate the negative which is that such forks tends to extend much more when accelerating.

…this sort of info is a Motomatters trade mark. I’m still looking for where Gigi has put the red herring this time, he is known for sometimes leading his rivals up a blind strada!

what ever happened to "then we raised the forks 2 mil, and that made all the difference" ?

also... if the forks are lowered on corner exit, then, maybe, allowed to stay low for aero reasons down the straight, then, compressed by braking forces at end of said straight, then, mid-corner, are compressed by centrifugal forces, when the hell are they extended?

My thoughts exactly.  if the front is kept down at every stage...... just put in short springs with short travel suspension.....

...clearly shows the front lowering in a 'hydraulic' sort of manner at the same time as the rear.  I would guess that they have a hydraulic cylinder in place of what we down-at-heel common folk would consider 'preload spacers'.  So it can lower to the equivalent of the old system's 'latched' position independently of actually compressing the springs.

https://youtu.be/Y9sajk0hAqk

Interesting development.

This would seem to confirm the forks are compressing and we must assume the same system is being used for both launch and during the race? Makes me wonder. I believe your idea of hydraulic preload spacers would prove relatively simple and reliable to achieve what we see here.

Difficult to say from that video how far the front drops. 40mm ? 80mm ? Some of the compression would be a result of the swing arm change. I suppose the other 'cylinder' could be a sort of parallel quasi shock with three states...bugger all, damped and closed from adjusted apertures at the base (top of the forks). Closed would give a decent lock in place and the transition from locked would be nicer than a simple latch. No idea to be honest.

It would be interesting working in the Ohlins engineering and design crew since they provide most of the front and rear MotoGP suspension. Even if they separate engineers to respective teams, internally someone(s) would have to have a fair idea of what the various teams are up to with ride height devices etc based on their spec requirements. I’ve often wondered how they ensure they don’t unwittingly advantage other teams. As they say you can’t unlearn something, and a market leader like Ohlins wants to provide the best product to everyone. How do they integrate universal improvements whilst limiting the IP shared between the key players?

Really interesting! Great spy work Mr Krop, hugely appreciated. 

I see money. Are we entering the era where, like the old Honda - Yamaha Factory electronics, we get a budget floor on something necessary to win? 

Enter our David Hume "what is, vs what ought to be" dilemmas. These gadgets are amazing. I rather like aero. Cannot overstate how right it is for me that the Championship Electronics corralled that other crap and we didn't get "turn by turn" and GPS et al. 

Can you see this NASA crap working on the inline 4s like it does on the Duc? I have trouble, admittedly via layperson generalities. Suzuki has budgetary limits, but even Yamaha - can the tuning fork bike do these transformer contortions? We know Honda didn't want to do aero, but they can. And are. 

Me? With Hume and perhaps you? Start device yes, shape shifter no. Really interested in seeing when, how, by whom and why there is a backlash. 

Like the camel going into your tent in a sandstorm, it is always much easier to keep something from coming in vs getting it back out. It behooves the Dorna rulebook folks and IRTA to be proactive. 

Ducati are crafty buggers!

But we do have turn by turn right?  The ECU's just use the timing loops in the track rather than GPS.  This still exists under the spec electronics as I understand it.

Sorta, right? "Turn by turn" was the moniker for the bike knowing where it is on the track independently. It was nixed. Then, a timing loop based system was tried that has some limited functionality and flaws. I never heard JUST what it is an isn't doing. When it hiccups and miscalculates, then we hear about it (Crutchlow 2020 was it?).

You can model it. Go out and do laps. Record all the things that you are allowed to record, which is many. In the beginning manually tag some of the laps as anomalies. You have a pattern. This pattern directly correlates to the track. Every lap done increases the database. Soon 'it' will recognize normal laps and abnormal laps. You can put a number to how certain you are where you think you are. That should go up with more laps. Sit all this on some clever contingencies. Cover all options, fail safe. If it leads to a situation where an error grows with time, remember, you get a reference with every sector loop. They won't be able to say...the bike is at x,y +/- mm but they don't need to. +/- ?m would do? Football pitches are not measured in microns etc.

I recall that his ECU got confused once (Estoril?) and thought one of the track loops was the start-finish, so that it was using the wrong maps everywhere. He said the bike was unrideable.

Well, part of me wants to see what might happen with no limits on development, just max cylinders and capacity and let the engineers and techs go wild. Crazy Dall'Igna and his opponents shooting for the moon. What unimaginable monster bike might result?

But my yang just wants to see an incredibly basic 250hp bike with only the incredibly talented rider's wrist controlling it all. Lurid slides and wheelies for 22 laps.

I think, just maybe, the latter is more entertaining. But I'm not quite sure...

Any of our tech/engineering folks see the brand new game changer polymer development this week? Think this is our next carbonfiber sort of material?

(Google "2DPA-1")