In the first part of the interview with Brembo engineer Andrea Bergami, we talked about the effect the holeshot devices and aerodynamics on MotoGP bikes, and how they have dramatically increased braking in the class, and we talked about the physical strain that is placing on the bodies of the riders.
In this second part, we continued our conversation about how the brakes have evolved over the past couple of years, how Moto2 is preparing riders better for entry into MotoGP, and how developments in racing are feeding into consumer components and road bikes. And Bergami explains in detail precisely what it is riders are looking for when it comes to braking.
First, Peter Bom and I asked about managing temperature in the brake discs. In the past, the difficulty with carbon discs was getting them up to temperature in the first place. With the additional cooling options for the discs – finned discs, finned calipers – was it hard to keep temperature in the brake discs?
"Sincerely, it's easier with the lower temperature," Bergami told us. "Yes it's always a problem. We see that tomorrow [Saturday at Portimão] will be a rainy day, and the weather is cold. So, here is not a demanding track for the brakes, so I think that tomorrow will be more the task to keep the temperature in the brake than dissipate the temperature in the brake. But this is easy. Why? Because now we have the solution of the covers." The brake disc covers are not a one-size-fits-all solution, but are tailored to each particular set of circumstances. "The teams have many steps, many specific covers that they can play easily with the temperature of the brake. And this can be used also for aerodynamic reasons."
Are there any tracks were there is a big gap in between hard braking zones where discs can lose temperature? "Portimão is not an easy track for this because you arrive in Turn 1 usually where you are very cold, but if you cover the disc a lot, the problem is then because the temperature increased a lot during hard braking for Turn 1, and with the cover you can't cool down the temperature the following turn. So you have to find the balance between these points."
While brake discs have to be brought up to temperature, for the calipers, it was more important to keep the temperature below a certain level. "For the caliper is the most important thing is the maximum temperature," Bergami said. "Because the limit of the caliper is obviously in the seal, which are rubber seals, so at a certain temperature you have a real consumption of the seal."
"So your limit on the caliper is 210°C. If you can stay under 210°C, for us, the performance is OK and consistent." Stable temperatures translate to a consistent feel at the lever, the point at which the rider interacts with the brakes. "Obviously, this is then very related to the the brake lever stability, because if you run very near to the limit, you can expect that the travel of the lever will be longer. If you stay in the middle temperature, say 150°C or near to this, you have a stable travel of the lever, and so stable performance of the braking system."
This was where the finned brake caliper Brembo had introduced made such a big difference. "Let me say that after the last introduction that we did in the last year of the finned calipers, I never saw any teams that reach 200°C. All are near 150°C." That really helped give the riders the consistency that they are looking from from the brakes.
The only time brake caliper temperatures start to rise is when riders get stuck behind another bike, Bergami explained. "The only variable that can affect this is the slipstream. Because when a rider rides very close and in the slipstream of another rider, obviously you have a sudden increase in the temperature, a sort of thermal heat shock that can create a longer travel of the lever. And this is the only time in which the rider can expect to find the lever with a little bit longer travel, or have to adjust a little bit. But apart from that, no."
This highlights perhaps the most important design factor for Brembo. "This is one of the most important targets of our braking systems, to give the most consistent possible braking system," Bergami explained to us. "Because at the end, like many other parameters of the motorbike, the riders also have to ride every lap expecting always the same thing. Because only in this way can you improve."
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