Guest Column: Cutting Costs In BSB, By Mike Edwards

Mike Edwards set up MIST Suzuki back in 2005, and has been involved in motorcycle racing at the British national level and at the world level in the FIM Superstock series for many years. Throughout his years running the MIST Suzuki team, Edwards has gained a lot of insight into the underlying costs of motorcycle racing, and where savings can be made. With MSVR - the company which runs British Superbikes - set to publish the rules for the 2012 BSB series, including a raft of measures aimed at cutting costs, Edwards recently published a series of articles on the MIST Suzuki website on the cost aspect of racing, and where he believes costs could be saved. The articles have been reproduced below, with Edwards' kind permission.

Racing Is Expensive

Racing is expensive. Get over it. Does it need to be as expensive as it is? Of course not, but it's a difficult balancing act.

For any SuperBike round you need rubber, lots of it. The regulations permit a total of eight front tyres and eleven rear tyres for each round. Some might be qualifying tyres, others wet or intermediates with the rest being whatever is required over the weekend. At £222 a pair it's not cheap, in fact it's very close to the cost to the trade price that any dealer can purchase them at, but they don't have to pay for a team of people support the racing and fit tyres to the never ending line of wheels over the race weekend.

MSVR, who run BSB events. have done well to reduce the fuel cost for 2011. The 2010 price was £3.79 per litre, or with the recent tax hike £3.87/L. Having said that why are racers still obliged to pay £3.59/L for the control race fuel? Sure, there is a cost associated with delivering it to the circuit and making it available in 25L drums but, after a back-to-back test at the end of the 2010 season, the 98 octane fuel from the local garage was found to offer a negligible power increase at just 40% of the cost. That's a significant amount.

With three practice sessions, qualifying, warm up and two races a SuperBike has a lot of track time. That's a full quota of tyres and around 125L of fuel. Add it up and it comes to £449 for fuel plus the £2154 spent on tyres.

And that's just the cost of the bike out on track. How about the wages for the team manager, the suspension and data technicians, the truck driver or the guy that sorts and manages the tyres? Not forgetting the crew chief and the two mechanics needed for each rider. One team we raced against last year said their biggest expense for each weekend was the hotels and catering required for their small team. Pretty soon you start looking at the cost of fuel and insurance for the truck, the public liability insurance for the team, the workshop and dyno facility; the list goes on.

Perhaps the cost of actually building the bike isn't the most significant part of the budget. That was certainly one lesson we took from our time racing in the FIM SuperStock class.

Moving On Up

So if racing in a National championship can be considered expensive how about running with the big boys in World SuperBikes? Sure the bikes are more expensive but the base costs are also much higher. Even when we competed in the FIM SuperStock class we spent an additional £20,000 just on fuel, tolls and ferry crossings to get there. Not forgetting the need for someone to drive all over Europe during the season.

Don't forget that WSB is a global championship and that for each fly away round it is estimated the cost to ship the full team, bikes and equipment, and look after them once there, costs in the region of 60,000 Euros per event. For 2011, the entry fee was 10,000 Euros per rider with a further 2,500 Euros for Clinica Mobile contribution. Then add a further 55,000 Euros for tyres for the 13 race weekends and 2 official tests.

For the World SuperBike teams, costs are even higher. Word around the WSB paddock was that one leading non-factory team was spending 3.2 million Euros a season, though that amount of money did bring them some success.

Whichever way you look at it the numbers soon add up regardless of the debate on the spec. of the engines or which electronics package to use. So it is crucial for any major racing series to take a look at keeping costs down where possible, as racing is expensive enough as it is.

What Is The Best Way To Cut Costs In SuperBike Racing?

A few years ago we switched to race in British SuperBikes after several seasons in the highly competitive FIM SuperStock series run as part of the World SuperBikes calendar. Having raced for several years in a world class series where stock engines were combined with higher than standard rpm limits we were acutely aware of the fragility of components taken beyond their intended performance limits. With much higher refresh intervals to ensure reliability the costs spiralled to the point where our relatively low spec. 200 hp SuperBike in 2009 cost no more to build and refresh for a season than the 180 hp FIM SuperStock spec. machine we ran the year before.

When the Evo class was first proposed for the BSB championship we suggested a number of alternative ways to reduce costs whilst ensuring an exciting and evenly matched field with close racing:

  • Permit aftermarket updates to potentially fragile stock parts when preparing their standard engines on the grounds of safety, e.g. cotters and retainers in some bikes, slipper clutches or gearboxes in others, etc.
  • Permit basic tuning rules to ensure an even playing field for performance across different manufacturers and models of bike, e.g. 174 hp Suzuki versus a 195 hp BMW. Getting a Suzuki to 195 hp is relatively cheap so why not let us keep our brand allegiance?
  • Implement a price limit for the aftermarket electronics similar to the FIM SuperStock rules, i.e. 1.5 times the cost of stock ECU, or for SuperBike a fixed price cap. If a manufacturer wanted to sell a £100,000 electronics package to everyone in the paddock for £10,000 then fair enough.

We thoroughly endorsed the concept of a fixed rpm limit. Spending money on titanium rods or other costly engine internals was always going to be a waste of money if the bike couldn't rev high enough for them to be of benefit. The fixed rpm limit rather neatly solves most of the other problems of engine cost.

After our sponsorship fell through shortly before the start of the 2010 season we chose to enter the BSB Evo class and built a completely new bike in just 30 days. With only the money for a few rounds we were still able to win races, set lap records and even led the championship despite giving away 20 hp, and a significant amount of budget, on the more powerful stock bikes.

The move to a one bike rule was inspired but you still need a second bike broken down in boxes should the unthinkable happen. Then only the big teams have the manpower to be able to put the parts together again in time for the next session. What are the small teams supposed to do?

To their credit BSB took note of some of our concerns and recommendations. For the 2011 season the rules were modified to allow teams to replace certain key components for reasons of cost and safety. Even models without air bleed systems to control engine braking or slipper clutches were allowed to add them.

They have clearly been listening again as for 2012 the rules will be changing once more and it looks like they will allow enough tuning to equalise the performance across the manufacturers. Trying to make up a 20 hp deficit really makes life hard, particularly on some of the faster circuits.

In fact, the key change for BSB in 2012, as the whole grid moves to the Evo rule concept, is that the proposed Evo rules are reportedly now the same as the previous SuperBike rules, but with standard pistons and a ban on titanium rods. Pretty much everything else remains with the addition of the control spec. Evo ECU, albeit with a slightly higher rpm limit.

Whatever the engine rules, and let's face it banning titanium rods will save a sizeable chunk of cash, a decent engine will still cost £10k to build. Kit gearboxes, generators, slipper clutches, head work, cams and other valve train components don't come cheap. Evo racing is still expensive so why try to sell it as a cheap alternative? The chassis is still the most expensive part of that equation.

Motorcycle racing is now at a crossroads. For so long the high costs have put people off, but there are still issues. It's not just the cost of the parts, it's the cost of the parts you cannot buy and the information on how to put them together.

This is where the AMA has it right. Everyone can buy the same parts at the same prices. I think they went a little too far in some respects but there are no factory specials for a few select teams. In the same way the one make tyre rule made a huge difference to letting everyone compete on an equal footing this takes it one step further.

Sure we can develop a swing arm just like the one the factory supplied to another team but it will cost us a lot more and that's money most teams just don't have. It doesn't have to be standard, especially as standard swing arms are invariably stiffer than the race items these days, but it does need to limit the input of the factory resources.

John Hopkins and the Samsung Crescent team put on an excellent showing at the recent Silverstone WSB round and they did it with a Motec ECU that costs £6.5k. Even at that price it includes the £2.5k data logging and analysis software upgrades so the base ECU is something of a bargain. That's less than a decent swing arm and, given the rise of the new fuel tanks that are required to help rebalance most bikes by moving the weight around, amounts to the equivalent of just two aftermarket fuel tanks once you have the special carbon bodywork and other parts you need to go with them.

Decent electronics need not be expensive. Sure, it's not going to be the same as the kit the MotoGP boys are using but it doesn't need to be. Does the Yamaha WSB electronics really need to cost up to 10 times the amount, as has been alleged in the press, to finish just 6 seconds ahead after a 106 km race?

If Motec can supply an ECU with full traction control, launch control, etc. that is capable of putting a bike on pole at a WSB meeting for a base price of £4k why is everyone so keen to remove traction control? Teams will still need a data guy at every round so it can't be about cost.

Do the front runners in any championship believe it allows lesser riders to keep up with them? Sure they do, although not everyone is trying to get it banned. Wiser minds than mine are already concerned that the riders in the CRT class at MotoGP won't be able to keep up without a decent electronics package. Would the gap increase or decrease if they banned them altogether? If you are looking for close racing then it could be argued that taking it away could be counter productive.

The poor BSB Evo guys are preparing their bikes and throwing away sophisticated electronics, incl. basic traction control, and replacing it with a very capable ECU without it. The 2010 BSB Evo champion on his BMW was only fractionally faster than the SuperStock champion of the same year on his BMW, despite better tyres, forks, brakes, suspension linkages, etc.

Even Giorgio Barbier, Racing Director for Pirelli Moto, has been quoted as saying that without traction control, Pirelli would have to change a lot. So the man that oversees the tyres that BSB riders have to run with says they would have to change, but because WSB retains their rules it is unlikely to happen.

As a small team we set out to make a point this season. We are building a bike as close to some of the race winning BSB bikes as we can in an attempt to show that it can be done on a budget. It might take us all season and we might not be able to afford the expensive swing arms but we can sure afford the not very expensive ECU with traction control. We just won't have the high staffing costs or other overheads associated with running a big team.

I wonder whether there are too many vested interests in racing trying to sell solutions without being able to clearly communicate the problems they are trying to solve. Racing needs to be cheaper but do you really need more than a few simple changes?

  • One bike per rider and a rolling chassis as a back up.
  • Price capped electronics with a fixed rpm limit for each manufacturer.
  • Homologated parts to reduce the gap between the factory teams and the rest.

The rest of the cost savings need to come from elsewhere, e.g. tyres, transport, staff, etc.

And the final word from someone working with a leading race organisation:

"Do you want to fill your grid from the front or from the back?"

MIST Suzuki first raced in World SuperBike paddock back in 2006 when the team decided that the highly competitive European SuperStock 600 class was the best place for young riders to learn their craft. With a dozen factory supported bikes and two riders on their first season of 600cc racing it was one of the most closely fought seasons in recent years. A further two years in the FIM SuperStock 1000 class saw more good results before returning to race in the UK, initially in the British SuperBike series before the inaugural year of the SuperBike Evo class.

Being almost entirely self funded the team is acutely aware of the cost of racing at such a high level, even to the point of building their own engines, albeit with a number of more experienced friends willing to offer advice when the need arises. For 2011 MIST Suzuki are focused on proving that a small privateer team can build a bike capable of scoring points at World SuperBike level with careful budgeting and limited resources.

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This article is exactly what I've been waiting for. Common sense sure is refreshing. Good stuff.

A fixed rpm limit? As opposed to what? A rev limit that goes up 100rpm every season? We're getting closer............. :-)

Overall, the article is a nice window into the world of Superbike racing, but performance balancing is not the way forward. The rev limit is good enough, and everyone should tune to it. If they need to cut costs, specify static compression just like the FIA do in their rev limited, capacity limited classes (S2000 and S1600). Low compression is what allows a Moto2 engine to go three events while a WSS engine can barely survive a single event.

Most of all, I think this blog/article illustrates what Livio Suppo was talking about in MotoGP. Everyone is obsessing about cutting costs, no one is thinking about raising revenues. His remarks are more poignant now b/c it looks like SBK has reached it's limit. Further cost cutting will only make racing less special, and, in the case of performance balancing, it may not even be racing.

I find the situation unnerving b/c production bike racing doesn't require factory teams. Participation should only requires a licensed rider, parts installation, and knowledge of basic modifications. WSBK could homologate pistons/rods as aluminum only with fixed static compression. They could ban carbon fiber and eliminate the custom tanks. Homologate electronics or establish a spec provider, and homologate all aftermarket swingarms.

By the time WSBK arrived at Nurburgring, the grid would probably have 40 entrants, and 20 competitive bikes. Revenues would come flooding in.........but it won't happen, imo. Now that WSBK have factory teams and SBK-only manufacturers like Kawasaki (and maybe Suzuki), IMS is most concerned with keeping them happy. The factory teams wouldn't hang around, and when they withdrew, the fans, sponsors, and TV people would panic just like they did in the AMA.

My point is that production bike racing needs to be production bike racing. Prototype racing needs to be prototype racing. WSBK should not be bargaining with factory racing teams, and all forms of SBK racing shouldn't allow any proprietary technologies that cannot be sold or claimed. Let MotoGP play technological hardball with the manufacturers. MotoGP shouldn't have claiming rules. Claiming works wonders to open source production racing technology.

Back when Australian superbikes ran under FIM rules, Sean Giles was racing on a GSXR750 built with kit parts. I vaguely remember numbers like $4000 (in 1998) for the kit radiator, and several thousand for the dry clutch.

Steve Martin was then racing for Melbourne Suzuki, where he also worked as the spare parts guy (I still have some braided lines he sold me... should have had him autograph them). They found it cheaper to have their own gearbox parts made up than buy kit parts. I know BikeRads would have fabricated an as-good radiator for much less than half the cost.

Now there is the problem: if you start homologating kit parts, there is no diy alternative...

As for increasing revenue... well yes, but is the vaue really there for the sponsors, and do they have the money at the moment? It's sobering to look at cycling, where HTC-Highroad have announced they are shutting down the team. They've been highest ranked team for several years; Mark Cavendish just won the green jersey for them in the Tour de France, and they've been conspicuously clean of drug scandals. No sponsor could be found to replace HTC, and HTC were not willing to continue.

I agree that homologation is tenuous, but I'm not sure homologation papers more dangerous than the rulebook. In the worst case, organizers could use homologation to establish monopolies for various suppliers, or they could use homologation fees to loot profits away from the suppliers. Perhaps the rulebook doesn't offer the same level of discriminatory precision to vindictive organizers, but I think the dangers of a poorly written rulebook are about the same. By allowing prototype parts and prototype electronics software, WSBK have effectively rendered (true) privateer teams uncompetitive, and forced out some of the engine tuning and electronics companies. I'm not sure homologating race parts could be much worse.

MotoGP and WSBK must stop cannibalizing one another. Prototype parts in WSBK increase costs and decrease the number of competitive bikes. The same prototype parts also allow manufacturers to build/race prototype equipment outside of MotoGP. Homologation is not a panacea, but I am convinced that it can differentiate WSBK from MotoGP. Both series will benefit.

Did you guys read the article?

The whole point was electronics can be cheap and can be readily available. Waging war on them because you have some vague concept that they are costly and hinder access to privateer teams is just ridiculous.

Homologation does not mean from the factory, they can be from the guy in his garage just as easily. It simply means approved by the organisers. If some guy can make a radiator for $500 instead of $4000 from another supplier then there is nothing to stop it being made available.

The whole point is to make the same electronics and parts available to all at an affordable cost.

Please have another read because it contains many good points that address the very things you seem to be complaining about.

Edwards was saying that factory electronics should be kicked out of the sport in favor of cost-limited 3rd party kit. In the off-chance a factory wants to make their electronics available for a set price, more power to them, but he wasn't counting on it. Homologation is less restrictive.

I can't speak for Graham, but Edwards blog doesn't address the things I'm worried about. He supports manufacturer-specific rules which are a Pandora's box (see: Ducati 1098R; Aprilia gear-cams). He's saying that if a BMW in Superstock engine trim puts out 195hp, Suzuki should be given special tuning allowances so they can also make 195hp. They already have a formula to equalize the engines: 1. capacity limit 2. rev limit 3. strict fuel rules. Those rules are expensive so Edwards is proposing a different direction. I think they need to add a few more restrictions until the sport is production relevant, and devoid of performance-indexing.

Edwards was saying any electronics could be made available if the pricing was capped.

He said nothing about manufacturer-specific rules. He simply used Suzuki as an example. All bikes should run to the same rules. There is no suggestion of performance indexing, I think you are reading something in to it that clearly isn't there.

What is production relevant? People want to see bikes they can aspire to riding around. The minute bikes on the road are a higher spec. than those on the track audiences just won't be interesting and won't pay to watch.

My point on the dangers of homologation is the little comment "it just has to be approved". Maybe I'm old and cynical, but that approval process is often at best slow and at worst loaded with conflicts of interest (aka corrupt). The strangest things get approved and refused... look at the control fuel issue Edwards points out

His point about cost-capping is excellent, since it leaves a lot of flexibility. I think the reason most people pick on electronics is because it is outside their expertise : they know how to build a motor, but not how to write code.

The trick is that something like a Motec M800 is really just a computer, you can program it anyway you like. If you want badly enough, you can erase the Motec code and re-program it from scratch and it will still look the same. The reflex reaction is "that's too expensive, we have to prevent that by allowing random substitution of ecu's".

However that's a bit like saying that you should be able to randomly swap shocks and forks: an Ohlins TTX is a hydraulic system that you can program with different shim stacks, pistons, preload springs etc etc. And the real trick is to get it set up correctly... and finding a guy who knows his way through all the options Ohlins don't put in their catalogue, or who can knock up some bespoke parts himself, is not easy or cheap either. Hence most people have some sort of contract deal with Ohlins or K-tech or whoever.

So maybe that's the answer: you don't just buy a control ECU, you lease an ECU and as part of the deal, you get technical support. Or, you impose a sealed box solution, something like a Bazzaz ecu... but is it reasonable to impose a step down from what some bikes have off the showroom floor?

To some extent it depends on what is the intended nature of the competition:
-to find the best and most adaptable rider?
-to find the best rider able to give feedback to set-up and develop the bike?
-to find the best team, including the rider, able to set up the bike and to ride it fast?
-to find the best team able to come up with innovative technical solutions to enable their rider to go fast?

The first is easy, you run an R6/street-triple cup type event where everyone gets the same bike.
The last is basically MotoGP. The question is then, where in this spectrum should the various series sit?

If electronics costs are capped and available for sale, Edwards is supporting a de facto ban on factory electronics. The manufacturers will not make their WSBK kit available to all competitors, much less for a reasonable price. Edwards understands the implications of price controls. If BSB required all stock bikes to cost 12,000GBP or less, would you understand that BSB were effectively kicking out Ducati, BMW, and Aprilia?

SBK racing already has a rulebook that makes all of the bikes relatively equal. WSS has a rulebook that makes all of the bikes relatively equal. SBK and WSS tuning rules are not cheap. Superstock is cheap, but as Edwards points out, the bikes are not equal. To run reliable, Superstock-ish engines with equal power output requires manufacturer specific rules. Edwards said, "price capped electronics with a fixed rpm limit for each manufacturer". He's talking about performance-indexing nearly-Superstock engines with different rev limits for each manufacturer.

"Production relevant" means sold on the open market. The manufacturers won't sell MotoGP technology so MotoGP technologies should be kept out of WSBK if possible. As I've said in my other posts, one of the most sensitive technologies is static compression. It shows how little clearance a manufacturer can run, it shows how well they can manage predet, and it generally reduces engine life b/c chain-drive spring-valve systems can't maintain the narrow tolerances for very long. Rather than dumb everything down to Superstock with performance-indexing, I think it would be wiser to homologate pistons with fixed static compression, and maybe put some technological restrictions on the con rods. Hopefully, the manufacturers will sell the titanium versions of these pieces like Honda did on the RC45 and like Ducati still do on the R specials. If not, well, I guess we are stuck with aluminum.

Production-relevant has very little to do with stock.

Enough of this performance indexing bull. Adding 500 rpm to each bike over standard isn't the same as you are making out. It's not trying to balance things across the models. It's not 500 rpm for this bike and 1700 rpm for that one. It's not skim the head on this one and not on that one. It's the same rule across the board for everyone.

Besides, who said the engines would be anywhere near SuperStock? As the article pointed out the chassis is still the most costly area. Well, outside of the running costs of the team.

P.S. If you wonder what he meant why not ask him rather than tell us something contrary to what he says.

Edwards just explained that a BMW makes 195 in Evo trim and a Suzuki makes 174hp in Evo trim. How do you suppose they make those two Superstock +500rpm engines equal?

2011 Evo rules: Balancing various motorcycle models
MCRCB reserves the right to review the race results and to handicap any model(s) that have an identifiable performance advantage. This may be achieved by one or more of the following applications:
a) weight
b) air restrictors
c) electronic rev limit

The rules were not sufficient to close the 20hp gap b/c Suzuki can barely reach the homologated rev limit, let alone homologated +500rpm. Rather than use SBK rules or SS rules, Edwards was asking for Suzuki-specific mods to get the GSXR up to snuff in Evo trim. The complex performance balancing would have been difficult to get right, and similar rules in the AMA DSB class have drawn cat calls from fans and manufacturers alike. Earlier today, BSB announced they will move engine regs towards Supersport like AMA SBK did. Supersport is the same tuning rules for everyone, the Evo concept is not.

If you want to talk about the rules, read the rulebooks.

"Edwards just explained that a BMW makes 195 in Evo trim and a Suzuki makes 174hp in Evo trim. How do you suppose they make those two Superstock +500rpm engines equal?"

The answer is that you don't need SuperStock rules, the concept of stock motors is crazy as Edwards points out a tuned engine doesn't need more maintenance as you replace the weaker parts so tuning isn't any more expensive than stock.

His whole article was saying tuning is good as it lets engines reach parity the natural way. Sure the WSB BMW has a bit more power but it can't use it. The rest are fairly equal.

The organisers didn't care to implement the 2011 Evo rules rule on 'balancing various motorcycles' nor was Edwards suggesting you do.

Lose the stupid concept of 'stock' engines, particularly a fake concept of what is stock, i.e. standard motors but with vastly expensive gearboxes, etc. and let tuning fill the gap.

"Earlier today, BSB announced they will move engine regs towards Supersport like AMA SBK did. Supersport is the same tuning rules for everyone, the Evo concept is not.

If you want to talk about the rules, read the rulebooks."

So it proves that Edwards was right all along. The only way to give everyone a fair chance is to let them tune their bikes.

Having read is article several times the only thing in his full on SuperBike motor that he can't use is the aftermarket generator. Everything else is permitted. P.S. Read the rules again, they are *not* SuperSport rules.

Nobody needs to modify cranks or other parts in the bottom of the engine so nobody will notice any chances for these new rules.

Edwards wants basic mods that allow 20hp for Suzuki and 0hp for BMW.

Translation: I want free compression and free cams for all competitors, and I want a lower rev limit that the Suzuki can actually reach. That will get us close to even.

Edwards also wants a fixed rev-limit for each manufacturer.

Translation: Airflow development and bench testing cost more than my mortgage. I'm also tired of the rev limit going up every year. Use the BSB performance balancing rules to set different fixed rev limits for everyone so that performance is equal (AMA DSB). It's much cheaper than airflow development.

I'm inclined to think that if Edwards wanted Supersport rules for engines, he would have said, "I want Supersport rules for engines".

P.S. I have a sneaking suspicion you are asking me to reread the rulebook when you haven't read it yourself. BSB engine regs are closer to Supersport than SBK. Here is the big difference:

SBK - aftermarket valves, pistons, con rods (factory titanium kit)
SS - stock valves, pistons, con rods
BSB - stock valves, pistons, and aftermarket con rods built to stock standards

Cams are still free duration and free lift. SS cams are just free duration.

If the factory titanium internals and the factory electronics have been prohibited, I find difficult to say that BSB is using Superbike rules for engines. Edwards can still use his "lowly" Suzuki SBK b/c it was already built to Supersport standards (with free cams). Maybe it didn't even have port/polish/welding airflow mods either.

Okay, I'm not quite sure why you are arguing here. That isn't what he's saying and isn't what he's thinking. In fact why don't you ask him because you are clearly reading something in to this that isn't there.

If you check out the MIST Suzuki website you can actually read what he's doing when building his engine. You can see the cams, the gearbox, the head, etc. You can even ask him how much he's taken off it and whether the ports are just polished or filled if you like.

You clearly have an agenda here that seems intent on purposefully confusing what he is saying so answer me this: If the current rules let his bike put out, say, 210 hp and the old SuperBike rules let him put out 215 hp then these new rules are hardly 'Evo' are they as the previous stock motors only put out 180 hp.

Do you think his 'lowly' bike is cheaper to build now than the previous 'Evo' version or is it irrelevant as you don't seem to understand the point he is trying to make.?

I have no agenda, I just understand the basics of engine tuning. The factory titanium parts are not really good for any additional peak horsepower. Ducati need factory titanium kit to make their big bore twins work so every manufacturer gets titanium internals. The reduction in reciprocating mass increases performance and handling which means you gotta have them to win.

Evo is a rules concept not a tuning standard. Evo engine rules were FIM Superstock, but what made it Evo was MCRCB's ability to manipulate the rev limits. Edwards pointed out that Superstock rules were not sufficient to make Suzuki competitive. He said he needed a few more basic mods for everyone, then they could ban port/polish and use a fixed rev limit for each manufacturer (a rev limit low enough that Suzuki can reach it). MCRCB and MSVR have apparently abandoned the Evo concept and opted for Supersport engine tuning standards (except free cam lift and crank balancing) which are more expensive, but the same for everyone. They might call it Evo, but that's b/c they are no longer using an FIM rulebook. Supersport rules should yield almost the same peak horsepower as SBK rules depending upon the fixed rev limit BSB set for next season.

If I'm wrong about what Edwards was saying, then I'm wrong, but I'm not going to listen to a bunch of blather about how organizers and private teams are not investigating manufacturer-specific-rules to reduce costs. It's just plain naive, especially in light of the fact that such rules have already been adopted in AMA DSB and BSB Evo.

Although the points Mr Edwards and the posters above make remain pertinent. Mandatory petroleum of the same octane as pump gas at three times the price smacks of a stitch up.

Personnel and logistics are where the real expense lies within a global teams annual budget. I counted the personnel of the Yamaha GP racing team from their website, a photo taken at Assen this year I presume. 33 people?! Transporting them, housing them, feeding them and paying them. I'm pretty sure G.P racing in the seventies was a van, a rider and a couple of mechanics.

Yamaha (and I'm not picking on them - just using as an example, I'm sure Honda and Ducati are little different) seem pretty top heavy. Lin Jarvis - Managing Director, Masahiko Nakajima - Team Director, Massimo Meregalli - Team director, Wilco Zeelenberg - Team manager. And that's even before you get to the nuts and bolts guys. A bit a middle management fat here.

Now I might be simple but I would've thought a two rider team travelling circus structure would require one team manager, two crew chiefs, four mechanics (to look after the bikes and parts inventory), two suspension specialists, four programmers, one tyre guy, one press officer, 4 kitchen staff, oh and two riders! Bang there's a 50% savings in the region of 1.5m euro's - which is a bit more than than debating the longevity of otherwise of a 100 buck valve stem. Who are all these extra people and what do they do?

Some of them are probably writing press releases and looking after the hospitality and making the finacial decisions that bring in the sponsor money...

Two winning factory teams and no primary naming rights sponsors. I cannot see that you require an army of personnel to endeavour to raise sponsorship funds. This should be the primary role of Mr Jarvis I believe, in the manner of Livio Suppo of Honda and ex of Ducati. I mean what does Jarvis bring of value to the race team anyway? And yes I do realise that sponsorship provision is to some degree a self serving indulgence - witness the lavish hospitality each team provides.

I'd be laying it on the line a bit with regards to rider salaries too. Whilst a rider is more deserving than so many corporate fat cats, nobody on the Devils scorched Earth is worth seven figures in my books. Particularly in todays economic climate.

Eliminating personnel (or reducing the number of personnel who are allowed to attend races) is certainly the most effective way to reduce costs and liability, but, if given the choice between parts and people, I prefer reducing costs for parts, mods, and development. I think team owners should decide how many superfluous personnel they wish to keep on staff even if their decisions don't always make sense.

I'm not the type of person to put pathos before systemic functionality, but if you look at the WSBK arrangement, the bikes and the corporate pomp-and-circumstance are consuming a majority of the funds. The people are often wanting for decent pay or stable jobs. No boo-hoo cry me a river stuff, but I do wonder if such machine-first paradigms are slowly eroding the sport.

If there was an award for post of the year, I'd nominate
Nostrodamus's effort. 200% on the money.

One minor " criticism " though, you forgot the " media/PR " personnel in the team " honors " list................ The day a GP team have one of those f#^#**g parasites stuffing a voice recorder in their riders face ( ala F 1... ) as he's being interviewed, I will throw something through my TV...........

So BMW makes a great bike that makes 195hp in almost stock trim. Suzuki hunkers down during the recession and doesn't update their bike for five years. It only makes 175hp.

So Suzuki should be rewarded for this? The columnist writes, "Getting a Suzuki to 195 hp is relatively cheap so why not let us keep our brand allegiance?"

I thought the rule was "win on Sunday, sell on Monday." What incentive is there for manufacturers to build lighter, faster, more powerful bikes if the rules hamstring them so that other manufacturers can keep up?

Any team is free to keep their brand allegiance if they want. Shouldn't it be up to the manufacturers to convince them to do so via better product?

If it were only that simple. Ultimately this is an entertainment business that needs to make money. If you can't keep the fans entertained and believing that their favorite team, rider, manufacturer, etc, has a chance to win they eventually disappear. Then nobody makes money..............

Where has it all gone wrong for motorcycles and motorcycle sport?

The worlds biggest sporting event is the 'Tour de France', based on an invention precursor to the motorcycle. Everyone loves the bicycle, me included, and just about every motorcycle racer there's ever been. Bicycles are today hipper than ever thanks to their recent political embracing (in slow learning Anglo Saxon based countries at least). Bicycles are gentle, non polluting, functional, socially acceptable, and just plain cool in all guises.

Yet according to Kevin Ash of MCN bicycles are 40 times more dangerous than motorcycles, which are 40 times more dangerous than automobiles to use. Such figures Ash (and I) take with a grain of salt, yet nevertheless are grounded in some sort of truth. Inner city bicycle riding involves an element of risk exacerbated by male bravado and (usually) negligible safety precautions (helmet at best). How are bicycles socially embraced (and weirdly that ass of a class- mule like mopeds / scooters), yet motorcycles socially scorned?

Motorcycle racing used to enjoy the same degree of popular support as bicycle racing, and still does in parts of Europe (Having attended a couple of Dutch TT's I can vouch for the support of the Dutch people. Riding away from Assen there are roadside people watching and cheering from their deck chairs as the road riding motorcyclists leave Assen some 20-30km+ away from the track). Yet somewhere along the line political fools like Martin Bangemann conned the people that Motorcycles are the modern day chariots of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Aided and abetted in the act of demonisation by Hollywood and Dean / McQueen. Not to mention the bigoted idiotic gangs that choose the motorcycle as a rebellious statement.

Motorcycle racing used to be an entertainment mainstay -Speedway primarily. Now the various arms of competitive motorcycle sport are little more than entries in the 'results only' sections of mainstream media. It's a big global market out there, with so many more sports competing for the viewers Euro than even twenty years ago. There are but a handful of sports that command attention on a global scale. Sadly ours has left that elite and is not likely to to re-join.

Adapt and survive. If that means dumbing down regulations, so be it. Racing will always captivate those of us that love motorcycles so much. I think it is naive to think that we'll ever return to days of public recognition with riders such as Hailwood, Sheene or even the walking talking 1990's ego Fogarty. As long as Superbikes remain tangible showroom floor proddie machines with a short skirt and a bit of lippie, and GP machines remain intangible, aloof, haughty movie stars then we as fans will continue to lust after both.

I have just watched a very interesting BBC T.V debate on the value of Mega sporting events for the host country. The event itself was hosted in Kiev, Ukraine - co hosts of the 2012 European Football Championships. 70% of the studio audience supported the event prior to the debate. Only 40% did after hearing the passionate debates of the 'no' team from India and South Africa. 'Lord' Peter Mandelson from the yes side (ex Labour U.K spin doctor, twice fired Cabinet minister, and E.U trade minister - who said Britain was an old boys club? - was made to look like a naive wishful schoolboy). Is sport entertainment or business? At its core it will always be the former. This should never be forgotten.

Long may the Greatest show(s) on Earth Continue to excite and thrill.

Motorcycling doesn't have to be on the rocks. The future of the industry relies on what the Japanese do next.

If Japanese 4-cylinder products go upmarket, and new sportbikes are developed with significantly lower production costs (e.g. 750cc Super triples replace 600cc I-4 Supersports), I think the industry will undergo a renaissance.

The Japanese manufacturers seem a bit shell-shocked right now. I hope they are able to adapt to a new marketplace in their core sportbike markets.

With any of that, actually.

First, motorcycling is on the rocks because motorcycles are expensive, discretionary income leisure toys and the world economy is currently bust. That's why there have been no new models out of Japan for 5 years... no one would buy them in the appropriate quantities.

Second, as pointed out in an interesting test/comparison I just read in a French mag, the European manufacturers are taking up the slack: Aprilia, BMW and KTM are now serious contenders.

Third, if triples are going to be cheaper than 4's, racing a Ducati should be a bargain. I think if you ask about you'll find it's not.

Then coming back to performance indexing and so on: sure it seems "unfair" that Suzuki racers are allowed to make up for the relatively under-developed stock bike... just as it's unfair that Ducati and BMW have the same minimum weight applied although an 1198S rolls out of the showroom 14kg lighter. It's also unfair that Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha are allowed to add traction control while BMW, Aprilia, Ducati and now Kawasaki supply it stock. That's assuming that the purpose of superbike racing was to find out which is the best bike. However, that's not the purpose and second, it would be a pretty poor measure of "best" for the average street-bike punter anyway.

750cc triples are about interchangeable parts, and reducing the rev ceiling in competition. Ostensibly, the manufacturers could use the 1000cc engine internals and the same combustion chamber profiles. Perhaps the 750s could even use the same inlet/exhaust port design, and the same transmission with different primary gearing.

Engine-scaling would spread the development costs across a wider range of models, and it would require fewer model-specific parts. The stock 750s would also be more powerful than the current 600s, and lower operating rev ranges with 25% fewer valves should reduce maintenance costs, imo. The high revving 600s would go upmarket as Moto2 bikes and Moto2 production replicas. Four-cylinder Superbikes are already moving upmarket with the introduction of the new Kawasaki, BMW, and Aprilia. Even if the Japanese didn't want to go upmarket, the currency exchange rate and commodities prices are taking them that direction anyway.

Regarding the rules, I'm not that concerned with fairness. SBK racing is already performance-balanced, but the rules are the same for everyone (except Ducati). Manufacturer-specific rules are divisive, and implementing manufacturer-specific rules (colloquially referred to as performance balancing) in the AMA middle-weight class has caused an organizational schism. It's not worth it to flirt with system breakdown just so teams can save a few bucks on parts and mods. MCRCB and MSVR have apparently taken note of the organizational breakdown in the AMA, and they have decided to play it safe. Good decision.


I'm glad my article has prompted some debate but I am a little concerned that some people have not understood my comments.

Nowhere have I suggested that Suzuki should get preferential treatment and this 'performance indexing' idea is as daft as a brush.

What I would like to see is rules that give enough freedom to allow the performance of all the bikes to be brought up to a similar level, just as they are in the existing 2011 WSB & BSB SuperBike rules.

The 2011 BSB Evo rules as they stand give significant bias to certain manufacturers. That bias is exacerbated by the SuperStock BMW being able to lap as fast as the BSB Evo SuperBike version.

SuperBike should be something to aspire to. Everyone wants to see close racing but you can get that in the MiniTwins championship I helped set up back in 2003. It provides some of the closest racing anywhere on the planet but it's mainly 72 hp SV650s. It's good but just not aspirational.

The article was to point out that building a tuned engine isn't the most expensive part of your race bike and certainly not the most significant part of your budget for the race season so limiting the tuning is counterproductive.

Even the electronics need not make up a huge proportion of the cost and why on earth would manufacturers not want their kit to be available to all if it gives that competitive advantage? Some of the threads in this discussion seem to think that the most of the WSB use some special kit when it is mostly Magnetti Marelli top spec., but still off the shelf, that anyone can buy.

The point is that it should be available to all at a reasonable price. The Motec kit Hopper used at Silverstone is more than capable and is already putting the Parkalgar WSS guys at the front so why should their price point not be an example for everyone?

Why ban traction control when there is no cost benefit and even the stock bikes have something more capable than the 'Evo' versions.

How about Pirelli sponsor the tyres to make them free to the teams and Elf do the same with the fuel? How about a hotel chain offers space for all the teams for each round? How about the organisers offer start money, etc., etc.?

I want rules that let everyone compete on an equally competitive footing, not some artificial rule to balance things out or hinder certain models.

I've even got a new concept for the series, how about we try 750cc fours and 1000cc twins? You never know, it might catch on. P.S. That's a joke for those that wondered!

Rather than put words in to my mouth when its fairly clear what I have been saying you can always reach me via the team website and ask me to clarify things of you. Who knows, I may learn something.



Congrats, madness. You made a better read than I did regarding performance balancing. Enjoy your day in the sun.

Thank you, Mike, for clarifying. I'm sure you can understand how I could misinterpret "a fixed rev limit for each manufacturer" to be indicative of manufacturer-specific-rev-limits in accordance with Evo rule Perhaps those rules were only meant to be used for Ducati.

While we have you, is WSBK rev limited via homologation?

intelligent and logical dissertation on the engine performance/specification/cost relationship . Probably the only one to date.

A pity that level of thought never went into Moto GP's CRT farce............................

Thanks Kiwi, it's a pity there are so many different agendas at play when all race fans want to do is understand the sport they love and watch close racing on bikes they would love to own.

The wording for the rule was a direct cut and paste from the main FIM rules. It was added, as you suggest, to placate the other manufacturers and get them to agree to allowing Ducati to increase their capacity to 1200cc. To my knowledge it has never been used in BSB in either the SuperBike or Evo classes.

There is no rev. limits in the FIM rules as used in WSB, hence the move to the over-square engine configuration in pretty much every redesigned biker from the BMW to the new for 2012 Ducati. It allows the engine to rev higher at the expense of mid-range power.

I've read the rulebook, but I'm interested in the homologation papers. I'm sure FIM intellectual property is kept secret for a reason so I won't push it. I'm not interested in getting you burned at the stake.

I'm just curious why the SBK Commission would put air restrictors on one of the least powerful SBKs on the grid.

I'm curious why Max Biaggi would say that no one wins SBK races in the straights, and why he says his bike gains the normal amount of horsepower every year.

I'm curious why teams and organizers want a fixed rev limit, as if some other rev limit is changing every season and driving up development costs.

I'm curious what the BSB Evo rulebook means by homologated (FIM presumably) rev limit +500rpm.

Very curious, no?

I'm curious what the BSB Evo rulebook means by homologated (FIM presumably) rev limit +500rpm

Well the common sense interpretation is that someone approved by the FIM sticks a stock bike pulled at random from a shop on a dyno and revs it until the limiter cuts in.
Same logic used to apply to the WSS weight limit: "homologated weight" less so many % or so many kg, can't remember. The homologated weight was established by weighing stock bikes.

I'd think that the only delicacy about the issue is that the manufactures don't want to advertise what a load of BS are the weights and rev limits they advertise.

And Mike, since you're reading... thanks for the article :) Was wondering where I recognised your name... Minitwins!

Common sense says the rev limit is determined by the bikes actual capabilities, but if you ask around, you'll hear the same number for all 1000cc bikes. The number Suzuki write on their form might actually be higher than the GSXR can reach in race trim. The same issue killed the Ducati 999R.

BSB teams are asking specifically for a fixed rev limit, so whatever they've got going now must not be fixed. Every year teams develop another couple hp, and the OEMs might have to pay a fat homologation fee to use it. Fixed rev limits would save a nice chunk of change.

The new Evo rules say that the standard rev limit will be determined by a dyno. I tend to believe the BSB dyno will give the same rev limit to all 1000cc competitors. My instincts say 12,500rpm standard and 13,250rpm Evo, but I could be off base. At least BSB are trying to be transparent--an admirable quality.

Anyway, I will just leave it alone. The only thing I'm going to accomplish is getting someone skewered by the FIM. I'd love to stay in Wonderland and see how deep the rabbit-hole really goes, but I'll just take the blue pill for now. Coca Cola doesn't publish their formula; can't expect sanctioning bodies to publish their formulas either.

The rpm limit for each manufacturer is different, in some cases very different. More importantly some bikes make more power the higher they rev hence the titanium rods, etc. to stop them destroying themselves at those revs. Other bikes are more than happy at lower revs.

Interestingly enough none of the homologation documents I have actually specifies a rev limit which is interesting. Obviously there is a hard limit when rev'ed on the dyno but even then it is only approximate. Dynos aren't very good at being exact when the engine is switching between revving it's nuts off to being neutered in a short space of time.

The existing Evo rules already do standard rpm limit + 500rpm so they have a rough idea. Our Suzuki hits the standard limiter at 13,500rpm so for Evo in 2010 we ran it to 14,000rpm. Well, they only got 13,400rpm on the dyne so we were stuck with 13,900rpm. Although Suzuki confirmed 13,500 rpm we could never get them to put it in writing so 13,900rpm it was.

Under the new rules we can run it to 14,250 rpm so we are only losing 250rpm - 500rpm over what would run it to if the choice were free.

Thanks for the info. I must have gathered some bad information.

I'm glad the new rev limit rules will let your GSXR reach a more respectable rev limit. Sounds like there will be less friction in the paddock next year thanks to the stable new rules.

The homologation papers you refer to are produced by the manufacturer and are sent to the FIM.

The list every spec. and measurement you can imagine and a whole bunch more. Even down to the type of casting for the head or engine block. They are very interesting to read but extremely difficult to get hold.

The Japanese tend to play it dead straight with absolute numbers for everything, very rarely even specifying a tolerance. Some of the others tend to play the homologation game a bit, perhaps the parts in the bikes off the production line aren't quite to the same extreme spec. that has been homologated (or the specified tolerance is quite large) but can supply a few parts to those specs. for certain race teams, etc. whilst still keeping fully legal.

The Faster documentary hinted on the logistical side of things in MotoGP very briefly, and how much had to be moved and setup each week, and I can remember thinking the first time I watched it 'bloody hell that has to cost'.
If a partial solution is to try and get the Hotels to discount for teams, how do you convince Hotel's to give away a big bunch of money? The problem I see is that it would make them a team sponsor, more or less, and there is only so many chains around.

The biggest challenge isn't the cost per fly away round so much as the number of fly away rounds.

BSB is a 12 round and 26 race series. WSB is 13 rounds and 26 races with two fly aways. MotoGP is an 18 round series with 6 fly aways but only 18 races.

Cost cutting is actually really easy. Cut the number of rounds. Sorted.

Fewer rounds means less travel, less engine refreshes, less chance of crash damage, less... well, less of everything really.

It's not rocket science but the organisers get paid for being there so the teams have to pay to put on the show.

You have all touched on the reason for the BSB EVO rules being adopted but failed to credit MSVR and the Teams with changing the rules to cause the effects….. bear with me.

The 2012 (and 2010/2011) rules restrict the electronics, done. Removing traction control and several other strategies that require full time attention does save money. The real cost is not however the hardware purchase cost, the saving lies in the reduction of highly expensive staff costs and testing to establish good setups for these strategies. No one can hand you a good set-up as is the implication in the article and the strategies employed by Crescent at the WSB round would not be freely available either. Any connection with these strategies being developed through BSB racing and then used on the road is purely imagined. As has been said many teams at the highest level use entirely their own software on these ECU’s anyway, you will never see that being freely available.

Lap times of various BMW’s have been quoted, however the times should be quoted form the 2011 season where several higher level EVO teams have run and at most circuits been considerably faster than the 2010 EVO lap times, these place a large distance between them and the Superstock times.
More horsepower does not equal better lap times, that’s a fallacy but scarily seems to be something that people hang on to the whole time.

If you stand a 2012 BSB spec machine beside a road bike, the road bike having a traction control system as standard will not make the road bike appear to be much higher specification (in my opinion) but it seems some have a different view…….
Now as stated racing is entertainment, when I watch races frankly seeing the best traction control algorithm competing against others doesn’t entertain me much, in fact the best systems are the ones that you can’t see working, same with ABS. Now call me strange but the most entertaining races for me are theose with the bikes entering the turns sideways, and spinning the tyre on the way out whilst trying to wheelie, all of which the ECU and an army of computer techs try to stop. So maybe MotoGP should only be about the manufacturer’s championship and no longer about the riders. Go back and watch Barros vs Rossi when Barros got a 990 at the end of the first MotoGP season….wow, that’s real entertainment.

That’s the electronics – as for the motors having are limit would allow performance balancing, but that’s not the main reason. By limiting RPM the life of the engines is massively extended, that reduces costs. Reduced number of rebuilds required means less full time staff in the case of teh biggest teams and less money being spent to engine builders in the case of the smaller ones. The tuning will allow the bikes to have the same HP figures to satisfy those that DO believe the horsepower is all that there is to lap times scenarios. The 2012 rules are not quite the same as Supersport, EVO will allow higher lift cams but specs standard valves. These are all decisions made collectively by the teams, manufacturers and organizers, the actual rules as opposed to the rumoured rules will be public domain soon!

As a note; there is NO homologated rev limit and European Superstock allows kit ECU's where the rev limits are either free or limited by the manufacturer who makes the ECU... The BSB teams and manufacturers have all agreed that several random samples of each machine will be tested by the series partner Dynojet. Without wanting to cause an argument I have made around 6000 dyno runs and when you look at them its really clear and repeatable to see where the hard limit is. If you use the retarder so the bike approaches the limit slower you can be even more accurate. All the bikes will be tested in all gears and the highest limit used. This was unanimously agreed as the best and fairest way of ascertaining the real rev limit of production bikes.

The chassis’ are expensive but most of the chassis parts last several seasons. On the one hand people don’t want things to look standard yet on the other hand criticize the cost of a ‘race’ chassis. You can’t have it both ways, and as for aspiring to the race bikes it’s easy to see the forks and brakes, but who knows what cams are in the motor…..

As for having less races, yes that would be cheaper, no races being the cheapest, seriously though if there were four round MIST would have completed the 2010 season and to keep it fair no one would have had a sponsor either (not meant as a dig Mike!). It would not make commercial sense to reduce the round count greatly as that also reduces the exposure of the series to the public and fans. Reducing that exposure means that it doesn’t make commercial sense to become a partner (sponsor) of the teams or the series. No money = no racing, that’s self-explanatory. (The Tour is a one off but actually is part of a seasons cycle racing).

There is no one cost saving measure that will suddenly halve the cost, however a lot of cuts do add up, watch the pennies and the pounds…. EVO was a bold step as that was needed to test the idea, it has now been honed to hopefully work at all levels in the paddock, it’s not necessarily perfect yet but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. British Motorcycle racing requires support not constant derision so hopefully reduced costs, a more achievable technical level, an understandable electronic standard should encourage teams to compete and provide a closer race – and that’s what we want, a great, fair, race.

Hopefully we will see you back Mike.

Scott Smart

It's an interesting topic and all the more so as the rules (2012 BSB rules announced last Sunday) now closely resemble those we proposed back in late 2009 when the Evo concept was originally announced. It's such a shame that it has taken so long for the powers that be to accept the need for them.

I agree one hundred percent that the traction control strategy has to be developed but also believe that most teams will still see the need for a top level data guy, even without traction control, so the personnel costs are no different. I would also hope that any team could develop a strategy in conjunction with their resources, either in testing or over the initial part of the season. Let's face it, there is no reason why the ECU could not come with the bones of a basic strategy just the same as they come with the basics to allow the bike to start up and actually run before the teams gets let loose to fine tune it.

I doubt anyone can argue against the basic concept of combining the key components of a restricted rpm limit and cheap electronics. Without revs the really expensive components are no longer required to keep the engine from eating itself. Having said that, removing them doesn't make the engine tuning cheap, just less expensive than it could be.

Four grand for a kit gearbox doesn't make for a cheap anything. Confusing when the few cheap parts such as kit generators are not included in the rules.

The BMW comparison was a very valid one. Similar skilled riders on equally powered bikes. Certainly having more experienced riders in a team with a significantly higher budget can only move the game on but, equally, with such a budget the same team could do even better with the more advanced rules.

Watching the front pack in any World SuperSport race, or even the classic second race in British SuperSport at Brands Hatch last weekend, and the only word for it is excitement. The fact that there is a greater depth of field at the front of the WSS grid only makes it more exciting so the answer clearly isn't a function of the costs involved.

The 2012 rules were published on Sunday unless there is something more significant to follow in the near future. Bar the craziness of the titanium internals they are what we have been calling for. Perhaps they are trying to present themselves as a little too restrictive but most teams don't take advantage of some of the more exotic parts so losing them won't hurt too many people.

It's sad that John Hopkins putting his bike on pole at Silverstone WSB was probably the last wildcard achievement we will see there for some time. I think the rules permit a degree of equality and competitiveness, certainly in the motor department, it's just a shame that the traction control and more advance electronics is seen as the limiting factor when it comes to reducing costs.

Limiting staff, subsidising tyres and fuel, etc. would have a much greater impact than some of the other options. At the end of the day I guess it depends how many of those teams are exclusively BSB and how many see it as both a learning exercise and a route to WSB and beyond.

As I said, the 2012 rules are incredibly close to what we proposed in late 2009. Just think where things could have reached by now had they been considered at the time. I hope the BSB championship next season brings the exciting spectacle they are searching for, it is just a pity that the cost of entry has been complicated by the idea of 16 two rider teams given the make up of the 2011 grid.

Either way, we will be back racing in one form or another fairly soon.

Read this:

Note these lines:
Rev limit 750prm above standard, set by spec ECU – standard level determined by street product on official dyno.
The ECU will have a fixed rev limit acting at 750rpm above standard street limit as prescribed by the MCRCB/MSVR whose decision will be final.

The homologated limit used in 2010/2011 was that ascertained by Dyno as discussed above. There have been no genuinely presented arguments about this, which is not to say that someone hasnt moaned in a motorhome or on a forum!!! :)

To make it absolutely clear the lines quoted above are for the 2012 series, which is what this discussion is about.
If that is still confusing please explain why and i am sure the powers to be will help write it yet more clearly.


As far as the SBK Commission is concerned, parity is a gift from Santa Claus. That's as good as the explanation is going to get, I'm afraid.

The chassis’ are expensive but most of the chassis parts last several seasons. On the one hand people don’t want things to look standard yet on the other hand criticize the cost of a ‘race’ chassis.

Fascinating... I've been part of Australian series where "looking stock" was considered important. That way the spectators were supposed to feel more engaged because the bikes looked more like their own.
To the extent that while you could drop Ohlins/K-tech/WP cartridges intot he forks, they had to be modified to work with the stock caps and standard comp adjusters. Seemed like bollocks to me, but happily I wasn't running the show :)

I guess the big question is how much difference many of these parts really make: will a pair of this season's Ohlins TT25 (or whatever they are now) really lower laptimes compared to some from 2009, or even a pair of open 25mm cartridges dropped into standard fork outers? How much is it just rider psychology, ie he won't push as hard into a corner as the guy in front if he has the excuse of "lesser" equipment?

Should teams be allowed to prioritise, ie spend more money on a good ecu programmer while using 2 yo forks, non-billet master cylinder and a lower rev-limit?

Of course most chassis parts are model specific. If the manufacturers are on a two year refresh cycle then most of the key parts have a two year life. Having said that most of the bigger teams evolve parts over that lifecycle so they may have several swing arms and several fuel tanks, Crescent Suzuki is a good example of this.

A friend and I created the MiniTwins series in the UK a few years ago that has become a common class at most club racing organisers across the country. It's essentially 650cc twin cylinder bikes putting out a maximum of 72 hp. Those rules are restrictive because we wanted cheap racing. It can be considered an entry level class but the front runners can still put in times capable of qualifying for the BSB SuperStock 600 or, on occasions, SuperStock 1000 or even SuperSport 600. Sure it's the back of the grid but this is a cheap series.

We specify that the forks have to look standard form the outside, including fork caps. The idea is to stop people spending an awful lot of money of aftermarket fork kits. Most lap records have been set using forks with different springs and a cartridge emulator, that's a £100 piece of kit to give a little more control in the push rod forks. It doesn't stop people from machining out the inside of their fork and fitting R6 race cartridge kits. It's crazily expensive but people do it.

The MiniTwins is a cheap class and people still spend the money for a potential advantage. SuperBikes is a very expensive class so what do you think people are going to do with their forks? Don't get me wrong drop in cartridge kits are great but from revalving the stock forks to a 25mm cartridge kit to a 30mm cartridge kit all the way through to a 25mm pressurised cartridge kit, people will do it because it does make a difference at the limit.

Trying to shoehorn that sort of technology whilst pretending that they are still standard with stock adjusters just makes it more expensive for teams rather than cheaper. For the MiniTwins making the choice of fork tops free would make it much cheaper to fit R6 cartridges but we don't want people to. We don't think they need them. It's an SV650 commuter bike, there are so many other weaknesses in the bike it is a waste of money.

On a SuperBike, it's essential. Stop pretending otherwise. The 2012 BSB rules are not cheap. People are not stupid and I feel they deserve more information than some of the propaganda that is fed to them. The 2010 BSB Evo rules were supposed to be cheap, the 2012 are significantly more expensive.

But, and it's a big but, at what level do you want to pitch your series. SuperBikes is aspirational, it is highly competitive and you need a level playing field rather than trying to control things. Personally I prefer the WSB SuperBike rules. When you are spending a great deal of money people will always spend a little bit more if it gives them a perceived advantage.

Just because you can doesn't mean you should but, however restrictive the rules, you can be assured that that teams will always try to find the advantage by spending more money.

In Australia, the stock caps rule previously applied to the premier class, ie production superbike. It still applies to all the historic classes of course, the amount of engineering that goes into squeezing current technology into a historic outline is amazing.

It just happens that my current money pit, now I no longer race, is an SV650 that will eventually have only the crankcases remaining stock. It even has a custom programmed microsquirt ECU running Ducati throttle bodies :D

Completely ridiculous, but fun. In fact the only reason I ran an 03 R1 at club level for a year was that I wanted to play without the restrictions of (then very tight) SSp rules. I wonder how many big dollar SBK teams are really motivated by the same silly desire to play with cool parts, deep down :)

Ok, that's probably far enough off topic...