Brembo Engineer Andrea Bergami Interview, Part 1: "We Are Also Reaching The Human Limit"

A lot has changed in MotoGP over the last two years. Despite a freeze on engine development, and restrictions on aerodynamics development brought in at the start of the pandemic, the bikes are faster in 2022 than they were in 2019, the last time MotoGP had the same set of development rules.

Where has this extra speed come from? A huge amount has come from the introduction of ride-height devices. These contraptions, first trialed by Ducati at the end of 2018, have radically changed the way MotoGP bikes make their lap times. The devices lower the center of mass, helping to significantly reduce wheelie and improving acceleration. But they also change the way the bikes brake at the other end of a straight, changing the way the weight transfers and allowing for greater braking force.

To find out more about the way MotoGP has changed in the last couple of years, Peter Bom and myself interviewed Brembo engineer Andrea Bergami at the Portuguese Grand Prix in Portimão earlier this year. Bergami gave us some fascinating insights into how MotoGP bikes have evolved, the effect that is having on braking, and how Brembo is working to address and adapt to those changes. He also explained how he felt Moto2 was helping riders prepare for the jump to MotoGP, and the role of racing in development consumer products, which end up in the hands of riders on the street. We spoke at such length that this interview has been split into two parts.

But we started off with the influence of ride-height devices. At the Sepang test, Michelin Motorsport boss Piero Taramasso had explained to me how the changes to aerodynamics and ride-height devices were increasing the loads and stresses on Michelin's front tire, raising the importance of Michelin being able to test and introduce a new front tire with a stronger carcass.

Bergami told us that Brembo were seeing exactly the same development. "Piero described the situation very well," the Brembo engineer told us. "And this situation involved us a lot because in the last years we saw an increase year by year of the braking power and the braking energy that has been massive compared to the old years. Before, we saw some points, 1%, 2%, of increase, not an important increase in braking energy. In the last year, we saw +10%, +20% of increase of braking energy year by year."

Such massive increases in braking energy left Brembo with a lot of work to do to dissipate it. "This involved us a lot in order to redesign and to find new solutions in order to allow riders to always have good brake performance, the best brake performance," Bergami said. "Because, OK, the motorbikes are going faster, but they also need to brake more."

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But I wonder ... limiting brake performance (smaller discs, steel instead of carbon) might help slow the bikes down a bit, which after all is the prime concern of track safety, overtaking, etc.

^ Carmelo just said he is focused on safety and affordability, and that aero fits that. Noted that he didn't mention ride height, should I be encouraged? Get them gone! Then our brakes are fine? 

If Brembo back in Portimao is focused on issues problematic of ride height gizmos in discussion with DORNA, where is this leading to? Fingers crossed "for safety and cost" gizmos are tossed. THEN Michelin brings the new front.

Arm pump surgery has become like fake teats for strippers. Can we expect it to be less expected? Ducati has too much influence right now. Ezpeleta, please give them the heave ho like you did Honda w Championship Electronics. Don't be diplomatic, just go for it. 

Is there a lesson to learn here? Like the 800's, that was shite. You fixed it. Suzuki just Kawasakied, HALF the grid is Red. BMW doesn't return your calls. Did you hear Suzuki in 2021? See Mir's face? Michelin and Brembo have been miffed. "The Devices" have been divisive. Put a stop to it. Now is 2nd best to 2020 for when. Hire Suppo in a new position that holds the rulebook and just waves it at the MSMA. Honda and Ducati have had their time, give them a long lap. Smile on KTM and Aprilia, ignore the rest. Yamaha can give you 4 bikes, and have fresh engineers thawing out a motor. Ducati isn't going anywhere. They are spending too much, and we aren't having decent safety. Ask Marquez where you should shove ride height devices. 

If what you say is true then Carmelo is, in my opinion, making a mistake. However, my perspective is that of a fan and his is that of a business. Like it or not Ducati are a big part of the sport. It's a tricky thing. On the one hand they are very much supporting the sport with a huge effort providing eight bikes, that's four teams. They are providing those teams with top notch equipment and support. It's easy to think 'yes yes yes other manufacturers would do it' but currently they are not. Ducati are providing more satellite bikes than the other manufacturers put together. I think it's inevitable that their opinions carry some weight. Ducati like the aero as is. My opinion, if they want to reduce the speeds of the bikes, it's aero, tyres and ride height devices. Aero in the bin increases braking distances, reduces acceleration. Less grip from the tyres reduces speeds everywhere. Binning ride height devices broadens the compromise of bike design and setup again slowing the bikes. The horrendous result of that, ugly as it might be, may be something akin to the mid 20'teens. My worry is that Dorna are looking over the fence at 'drive to survive', see the popularity despite the lack of racing and see it as the future coin. It is a good thing to attract more people, dress it all up as an epic saga even when it's not but to neglect the core of the sport (the real life, real time battles on track which made it as popular as it is) would be a real crime.

Also, the notion that aero which increases speeds when the track isn't straight somehow fits with safety is a bucket of nonsense literally filled with bones.

It has been a while, but Honda had one bike for Bautista they tried running their Showa shocks and Nissin brakes. The shocks kinda worked, brakes went back to Brembo. He didnt want the lower kit, and his performance sufferred.

KTM has WP suspension. That is our token diversity lately.

;)

The tech has gone bonkers. It’s not just a MGP issue either. Once the rider/driver is no longer the key factor the sport has to change to level the playing field. MGP is still the purest motorsport for me and the riding style evolution is spectacular. It needs to slow down though. Keep it below 300k’s and limit g-force by fuel, tyre, and brake tech controls. Introduce m/c+rider weight compensation and allow fewer/more revs etc. Require road standard brakes. I know the prototype argument is relevant, but the tech should be relevant too. Races being won or lost in the first few seconds or laps detract from the racing spectacle too. I would favour keeping all wheels on the asphalt too. Every kerb use should be penalised to cancel out the benefit and once the accumulated time exceeds the lead the rider should concede the place immediately.  The technology to do this exists and it will contribute to slowing things down. I don’t like long laps or deferred penalties unless they are cumulative such as licence points. It’s all controversial I know, but so is doing nothing.

In my opinion road standard brakes would be a bit silly unless you had a road standard bike. Adjusting bike performance for individual riders would produce either nothing or a bit of a farce where riders enter a weekend knowing they do not stand a chance. Kerbs are great, bikes using kerbs are great, riders using bikes using kerbs are great. Kerbs (not all) are a delicious temptation of time if you are willing to ride them. The rules currently surrounding track limits are mad enough on their own. Moving that limit from one line to another line doesn't fix anything. Adding in a complicated system of 'measured advantage' leading to position changes in a race will just amplify the issue and noise to world ending levels.

To protect the notion of prototyping, MotoGP bikes need systems that are more sophisticated than systems found on road-going bikes. Carbon brakes are a suitable technology because of their lightweight and durability, which improve the handling of the motorcycle and the braking performance during the race. 

The fundamental issue is that other systems, like ride height devices and wings, are drastically reducing braking distances, and putting increased stress on the braking components. Brembo already possessed the brake designs necessary to handle the strains of MotoGP competition, but with the arrival of ride height and wings, Brembo has invested considerable money to design new systems.....which in turn has surely created additional institutional inertia that Dorna will need to overcome to make reforms.

I'm in awe of the technological prowess and sophistication of the engineering personnel involved in MotoGP; however, every time these technical exposes are made public, it merely reinforces how little the tech industrial complex understands about sports entertainment. 

Hundreds of riders assembled. Thousands of spectators on the lawn. The dogs are pulling on their leashes, ready for a day of running and howling. The ground is laden with pomp and circumstance, and the air is filled with anticipation as the hunt is about to begin. The horn sounds. A single shot rings out. A group of camouflage-clad engineers leap from their hunting blind, and begin furiously high-fiving each other. "We've shot the fox!!!" The masses let out an audible groan, and ask "Is it really necessary to keep inviting these people?"

Objectively speaking, the technological accomplishments of the paddock are laudable and inspirational. Within the context sport and spectacle, their behavior and ambitions are self-destructive and abominable. The point of motorsport is not to reach the end of the performance rainbow with reckless abandon at maximum speed. In fact, creating a formula that makes the performance threshold elusive and somewhat unobtainable is what makes for incredible motorsport.

So I'm curious how we find ourselves in this predicament, with bikes that are breaking riders, outrunning circuits, and defrauding shareholders. If the MSMA saw potential areas for exploitation in the 1000cc formula, they needed to closely manage those areas. Instead, they plot to exploit unrestricted areas in the regulations, and vigorously deny the need for careful management, while using the furious pace of development as leverage to consume more funding. 

The race to the bottom must stahp. 

Triumph has an electricmotor bike too.

https://bikerkaz.com/triumph-te-1-project-completion/

220 kilos seems heavy, our Adventure bike riding friends don't seem to care. Fast in a straight line!

Possibly not your cup of sangiovese Motoshrink. Who wants English wine anyway?

Wonder if the Triumph TE-1 will do demo laps at Donington this weekend?

Took a look at the Triumph Ebike, visually and conceptually wonderful. Toes are being dipped in. Until the fridgid waters of weight deter. From dry shore, you then see distance travelled between charges. And, cost. Then, a Mutterrer shares the dirty low down on the batteries and where that electric power came from. Environment my ass. 

They should compete E bikes with the gassers. Give us some time to adjust, see their character.

Oh wait, they can't.

;)

YET (could you imagine Moto3 blending in the Duc? Think the V4's and Inlines converge from different lines, sheezus). Really though, not in Moto3, but this is the way. In the above video of Suprr Hooligans the Energica and Zero are nowhere near the front against 890 Duke, but in the basic field pace. Those are previous generation E bikes, and 890 Dukes are nearly...Supersport.

I'm watching lots of racing over break, its good to catch up on other series'. Give a shout if you see a humdinger in a National/regional. BSB is coming next here.

Go Aprilia! Go away shapeshifters! Quarty is Alien! And, put E bikes in Supersport. It has been spoken.

Cheers Ape

-- soundtrack, "Red Barchetta" by Rush. Foreshadowed "before the motor laws." RIP at the farm with your Uncle Neil Pert, a class moto lover. They used to tour w a moto hauler off the bus so Pert could pop his bike out and ride. It was his therapy after lising his wife and child. He may be saying 4 wheels, but he dreamed in 2.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uukZgfHZIoc

...Back to work with me. British GP soon enough!

I am not sure where to start. I agree with Shrink that there has to be call made on devices that threaten rider limits, impede racing and make little if any contribution outside the paddock. There do seem to be limits being approached all over now, with the idea of 'outrunning circuits' as Phoenix describes it being a real issue (look at the number of people missing braking markers now...). And I thought that WaveyD's thoughts were spot on too. For those of you who completed the recent MotoGP survey, there was an awfully strong odour of promoting spectacle and entertainment over sport. I got really annoyed with the questions about having more celebrities at MotoGP and the idea this would make it a better event. In fact I thought about 50% of the questions were headed in that direction. I mean as much as we all love Keanu and Orlando, I would far rather hear from and have a beer with any mutterer, any day.

"More Simon Crafar" has been joked. Hope they read what we all put down. 

Carmelo's thinking was that manus are putting aero on street bikes so cant be kept out in some form. His NOT saying anything about shapeshifters encouraged me.

I recall Simon Patterson on The Race podcast maybe 12 months or so ago (?) saying with utter certainty that shapeshifters will be banned once all manufacturers have had a chance to develop them. 
He spoke as if he had rock solid inside information.

Let’s hope so.

 

Well there you go. Compatible with safety and on road bikes. What do these road bike wings do ? For show only ? Some added stability at speed ? Needed on production bikes for SBK rules ?....ahhhh. So it's aero for racing.

The instabilities caused by aero in turbulent conditions might be more of a disadvantage on the highway. Carbon or ceramic brakes are much more prone to damage than steel discs. Yes, the best steel rotors will not match carbon, but that’s their advantage. The cctv, bike tech, and timing on MGP tracks makes small calibrated automated adjustment relatively simple and much less of a sledgehammer solution than long laps. Racing would be hardly disrupted any more than a rider error and would return the riders to competitive racing entertainment immediately. Kerbs are debatable, like all of this, but if you want to slow them down…. If F1 etc. did the same the sausages could stay in the frying pan and any pro or amateur rider unfortunate enough to slide over the track edge would be less bruised, or worse.

It's a prototype class......... taking the tech out of it seems to be missing the point IMO

And for all the whining about the tech........ the bikes have never had more parity, there have never been so many competitive factories, and the rider pool has never been more talented. This is all in the context of more and more tech so I don't think the mere presence of tech is the problem

I think there are some fixes that can be done through tech. Main one is reducing power. Spec fuel, capped fuel flow. The bikes won't accelerate as hard, which caps their speeds, which reduces braking demand for example. I don't think getting rid of aero/ride height devices is the answer either. IMO if anything the suspensions should go full electronic. If a $30K road bike can have active suspension then the idea of electronic suspension "driving up costs" on million dollar prototypes is ridiculous.

Dorna has already shown it can manage the balance of tech/racing/entertainment well. I think they just need to make some adjustments.

I'm not sure electronic suspension was banned because of cost. I think it was banned to improve the show. Whether that made a difference I dunno. Way way more torque than tyre and it's a winner regardless I think, especially with spectronics. I wouldn't drop power, my opinion they need to drop grip and/or the ability to exploit that grip...wheelie being the biggest problem of exploiting available grip.

We need tyres that can take a beating, smoke everywhere and can last race distance, no aero or shapeshifting....

I'm talking about Gary McCoy stylee, old skool powerslides

Saw Garry McCoy at Wakefield park during the Australian SBK/championships round. He is now a rider coach for the kids in the Oceania junior cup. better than installing garage doors for a living.

Mister Squiggle, winner of 3 500 GPs in 2000. Very speedway style on a 500 two stroke road racer. Thanks Stumo.

stumo as you like it. I respect your wishes, promoted you to capital as a sign of respect. 

 

High Ape!

Are ye Reddy Steve?

(My Grandfather said calling him Sir was like putting an elevator in an outhouse). Apical, notice who's looking at a Podium in the 2022 Top 5 and Rookie? Not us!

The purpose of active suspension on a road bike is primarily to relieve you of your money, and create barriers to entry that discourage new manufacturers. Active suspension on MotoGP bikes is also to discourage new manufacturers from joining the series, but the end goal is to relieve other MotoGP manufacturers of their money.

It's gonna get a bit pricey to put it mildly. 

^ Bingo! Well put.

Active susp is good for variable riding intensity and style. But if you are only riding it in track mode then giving it full beans with race tires, I'd call that an expensive thing I pull off and sell on Ebay. You too phoenix?

Simple is beautiful

No electronics. No ABS. No gizmos. No 2 stroke engine rebuilds. No vintage oil leaks. No valve adjustments. No dealer service. No problems. No debt. 

2008 - 2018 4 strokes...I keep getting older but they just stay the same right where I love em. Should tuck a couple under tarps in the back of the shop.

If a $20-30K road bike can have active suspension cost isn't the issue. Other tech hasn't stopped MotoGP from having the most number of active + competitive manufacturers in the history of the sport and there's no evidence to suggest active suspension would be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

True, it's not about cost. If they want to do away with shape shifters then active suspension, which is a very superior shape shifter, has no chance. I don't think active suspension was ever banned because of cost. It was banned to improve the show. We now have a very limited pre-historic version. It's only the very specific wording of the rules which allows it.

"Its like a video game but with real consequences...you could get SERIOUSLY KILLED."

mtiberio ever heard of braking where you could get casually or humorously killed? Is that better or worse? Kurtis' career, that was seriously killed wasnt it? (Hope you are feeling good and with energy). 

Those tires back then brought the limit, didn't they? Hence Barry Sheene could party his human limit back to where everyone else was. Until the American flat trackers came...

We've come a long way and quite a few human limits since Roberts. The humans have to train like Olympians now!

At the time I was under the impression it was a forearm/mechanical advantage/brake actuation thing. Not a staying on the bike thing. Not a earth shattering statement, just a recognition that perceived issues have been with us for a while (all car guys seem to talk about is brakes), and then lo and behold, tech comes along to breakthrough. I seem to remember Raineys first run down through Craner with carbon rotors. He smoked everyone with the reduced rotating mass and increased braking. Re: My cancer... Thanks for the shout out. Exhausted OTS chemo and immuno therapies, exploring experimental clinical trials at Georgetown University or Nation Institute of Health Bethesda (NIH). Certain perks to being a resident of the Washington DC area. 8^))