When Amateurs Attack: Valencia Test Photos By David Emmett

What all the fuss was about: The aluminium twin spar chassis FTR built for Ducati

Whether it works or not, it looks stunning

Up close and personal

CF and CNC-milled aluminium. The stuff gearhead dreams are made of

Naturally, the photographers were trying to shoot whatever they could

So the factory team did their best to hide their blushes

Probably the best looking Ducati: the Pramac machine piloted by Hector Barbera

Some things never change

The BQR FTR Kawasaki CRT bike. TLA overload

Yonny Hernandez was getting the BQR bike sideways round the top of the track

Trick as ...

It's been a long time coming: the Inmotec finally rode in public at Valencia

And it looked especially good in plain black CF

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I don't know, but it looks to me like the engine could still be a "stressed member" of the frame. That's also what Rossi said, didn't he?
It's also interesting to see that it's already on the Pramac bike, so I guess that indicates Ducati are fairly certain of their future in that area.

...your photos are really, realllllllly nice, David! For the first time in my life, I find myself thinking the terms "D16" and "absolutely gorgeous" in the SAME sentence. Hopefully, next season, that beautiful eye candy won't just be adorning mid-pack to back-marker bikes next year...

I, too, was surprised to see the alloy frame on the satellite bike. Good for Ducati. Hopefully, they'll also find a way to put some more weight on the front tire.

Pardon my ignorance, but what, exactly, does "TLA" mean? I can't figure it out.

By the way, what kind of camera were you using? It looks as if you had rather comprehensive access to the pits.

Crimson Tide:
TLA stands for Three Letter Acronym, such as the many in David's caption "The BQR FTR Kawasaki CRT bike."
It's a joke within itself.
But definitely some great photos. The ink hasn't dried in this years results book, and I'm already eager to see what's in store for 2012!

From the Exif infos of the pictures, it looks like David is using a Canon PowerShot A720 IS

Top stuff David. More images and info on the CRTs, please! Very impressed with the efforts of the CRT teams so far.

Great photos Dave. Can't help feeling the Ducati's plastic rear brake reservoir looks a little fragile hung out there! My poor old Cagiva Elefant has the same reservoir and it's safely tucked away behind the fairing.

Love the upclose pics on the desmosedicis.
And those CRT racebikes... wowzers! They do not look any less prototype than the propper ones.
From some amateur videos on the web, they don't seem to sound like your average SBK/STK 1000 either!

I wonder if the next version of the Ducati will have an aluminum swingarm.

And the Pramac bike is definitely the best looking Duc

Hector said he loved the new bike, said it felt like the Aprilia he used to race..
it had feeling.. going in to the corner..
Rossi said he was bad all round...

they did not compare it with the same bike.

Hector was comparing the new bike with the GP11 he raced all season, merely an evolved GP10.
Rossi was comparing with his GP11.1 alu edition which was his 3rd bike of the season (not counting all the mods) and which he was the only rider to use.

First off, thanks for the pics. Awesome!
I was wondering if some of your more engineering minded readers could speak to the subject of how difficult it must be to build a new twin spar frame for a bike that already exist and that wasn't originally designed with that frame in mind? The fact that they could pull it off and have that frame run competitive lap times seems amazing to me. It also seems that there must be a limit to lap times, which will ultimately be decided by tire design because at some point it doesn't matter how much horse power or how much lean angle (which they seem to be at the limit, unless dragging a shoulder is next) you have, the contact patch will break free and you will slow down. I'm all for unlimited fuel (volume / mix), testing, displacement, one off tires, etc. Let's seem what they can come up with.

Hard to say for sure but here's a hypothesis - the original arrangement may have been bolted to the motor with six bolts at each end. Remember it is a monocoque so it goes 'over' the motor, and forms the airbox as well as the frame - here's a Kawasaki ZX-12R frame, similar design, to show how it works:


So the motor will take the bulk of the forces as the bike corners. Ths is the crux of the problem - the motor is so rigid that the forces cannot be absorbed in 'controlled flex'.

Now you run a twinspar over the same motor, but it goes along each side of the motor. And rather than put six bolts in at each end, you only use four, so that less of those forces are directed through the motor and instead they go into the spars - allowing more flex.

In 2002 when Colin Edwards was racing Troy Bayliss for the WSB title, Bayliss was winning almost every time - he took 13 wins in the first 8 races. Edwards was struggling with the stiffer frame of the SP2, which was beefier than the SP1 that he'd taken to the 2000 title. So apparently his team removed a couple of bolts from the frame (which went through the frame into the engine block), which allowed the frame to flex that much more, and although Bayliss won race 1 at Laguna, Edwards took race 2 and went on to take every win from then till season end (9 consecutive wins!), and wrap up his second title.

...And why is it that during the Valencia race, none of the commentators mentioned the Ducati's new megaphone exhausts?

Great shots by the by. Juicy bits!

The Ducatis have always been crazy loud, it was the same in the 990 days. I was at Valencia and listened to them up close too, and it was nothing new. But it is always a bit shocking whenever you see a race live and hear(and feel!) them go buy you. The noise is out of this world.

The remaining question for me with the new Ducati frame is how they mounted the front of the motor: is it via a long strut to the crankcase like all the other bikes, or a short one to the front head? I haven't seen a photo that shows that yet.

Re designing a frame for an engine designed to be a stressed member: it's not the same engine (at the very least they must have cut of the swingarm mounting boss), so it doesn't really apply.

I can't help but notice the beautiful,organic lines the frame seems to have, it doesn't look anywhere near as angular as them other "prototypes" we've seen, that looks like a well designed and executed piece of metal.

Long ago I remember reading that Aluminum looses half of its strength
at the temperature that water boils. I know that these frames are an
Aluminum Alloy but lets say that they can loose a quarter of their
strength a that temp. How hot do the frame spars get or any frame
parts down by the radiators? Is CF's strength affected by temps
in the 200-300 degree range?

Are you talking Fahrenheit or Celcius? Most alloys of aluminium are useless at 200°C. At 100°C most are fine... things go downhill after 120°C or so.

Look at it this way: the frame isn't going to get hotter than the engine, which is made of...?

Also, remember that strength (relavant for re-use after a crash) is different to stiffness (relavant to handling), and ask the same question for carbon fibre!

No one's said much about it, but Ducati are taking advantage of this characteristic of aluminium in their design. They are actually ducting superheated coolant and engine oil through parts of the twin spar frame to make it more or less flexible at any given time. This is all controlled by GPS and the engine management systems. Valves are opened and closed to pump the fluid in our out, depending on how much flex they need to dial in or out at a particular point on the track.

This was the main reason for the switch to the twin-spar frame. Valentino Rossi actually came up with what paddock insiders are calling the HeatFlex frame system himself and it was refined by Jeremy Burgess. It illustrates how they are indisputably the best development rider and best paddock engineer who ever drew breath, bar none. Furusawa was devastated to lose Rossi because Yamaha were about to put this system in place on their bikes but Rossi and Burgess hold the patents.

The repeated temperature variations do inevitably cause fatigue in the aluminium, so each frame has a limited lifespan, but since there's only a limit on the number of engines, Ducati can simply replace the frame - I believe the current estimate is that the HeatFlex frame will be good for up to three races, so they will err on safety's side and replace them after two.


wow, that's a great bit of information, it's quite a revelation!

I've never heard of that fact before (rossi and burgess holding patents of a type of frame), anywhere I can read about it?

thanks for sharing!

...admitting that, it's quite embarrassing, but honestly no, I didn't get it was a joke...

Thanks for pointing that out mate, I just re read the post and can't stop laughing at myself!!

Today the laughs are on me :)


Edwards had more help than a few bolts, he got Suzuka 8 hour bike up dates,
Like Rea got this year after the 8 hour, then started to win
Also Bayliss had some help in lossing his championship, from his team mate Xaus, who took him out in one race, then two weeks later took Bayliss out in Qual and tore his finger off.

Great photos! From what they guys on MotoPod were saying the new Ducati frame is technically not a twin spar chassis but Rossi has commented that it gives them more flexibility with where the engine is located relative to the CG.

Also maybe I'm a little biased since I ride a Kawasaki streetbike but that BQR FTR Kawasaki looks awesome!

And finally whoever went down this post giving everyone's comments 1 star get a life!

If that's not twin spar I don't know what is. Maybe those guys were talking about the earlier aluminium
version Rossi raced the last couple of rounds on, which was a slightly modified aluminium version of the CF subchassis.

No they indeed were talking about this bike and upon reviewing what they have said and the info they have from Filipo Preziosi is that Ducati is referring to it as a "perimeter" frame not a twin spar. They briefly talk about that technology of frame being from the 70's and state that Preziosi said during the testing that they are imitating the monocoque carbon fiber frame with this one but this new one allows for more flexibility as to mounting of the engine. Maybe this is all to do about nothing but I'm sure David could elaborate on the technicalities more and also attest to the knowledge Jules Cisek and Jim Race have.

Also I could be wrong but according to what Preziosi has said I get the impression the engine is no longer a stressed member of the frame. Possibly that is their interpretation of the difference between twin spar and perimeter.

In the old one, the frame connected the head-stem to the engine (in fact, the heads). The swingarm was mounted to the engine and not the frame.

In this one, the frame is bolted to the rear of the crankcase and the swingarm is bolted to the frame and not the engine: just like every other bike in MotoGP (or Moto2 or 125GP). The only remaining question is whether the front of the frame attaches to the cases between the cylinders, or to the front head.

Whatever words they come up with, it's now essentially the same frame design as everything else.

AFAIK, a twin spar and a perimeter frame is the very same thing on a motorcycle. Its design means basically it - two spars (or two cradles) follow the perimeter.

Wether the engine is a stressed member or not, doesn't make a difference to the chassis type/name, it's a particularity (or quality) - it still is a perimeter frame in both cases.

Same thing for the position of the twin spars regarding the engine, which could go either slightly OVER or AROUND the engine - in this case it can also be related to what GrahamB29 is referring in the post above this one, i.e, where the frame attaches to the engine.

Ok maybe I'm mistaken here but although a perimeter frame and twin spar look very much the same possibly the geometry sets them apart. A twin spar uses two beams to connect the headstock to the swingarm pivot in as straight a line as possible where as a perimeter frame simply uses two cradles to follow the perimeter. Maybe you can call all twin spar frames perimeter frames but not all perimeter frames are twin spar because they don't use the shortest distance possible from headstock to swingarm pivot. A perfect example of the difference is looking at the frame from a 1987 VFR 750 otherwise known as the RC24. Now look at the frame from 1992 BSXR-1100. The RC24 uses a twin spar while the GSXR-1100 has a perimeter frame. Both run around the "perimeter" of the engine but have very different geometry and surely difference handling characteristics. If Ducati and many of the press are calling it a perimeter frame then how can you argue that? That's just my 2 cents.

I see what you mean. I think the confusion of what "perimeter chassis" is related to, can also result of what one see on the interweb. I probably didn't help either.
I was just now searching examples to illustrate this and came out a little surprised how one can notice that "perimeter frame" term is being used in some articles for "double cradle", and in others for "twin spar" (aka "beam") frames, but not both at same time. ...pretty interesting!

Just like trellis or monocoque, I always looked at perimeter frames as a design/solution. In this case, where two robust beams (of whatever form or material) connect the steering head to the swing-arm, passing around the engine (ex.: Bimota SB6) or slightly over the engine (ex.: ZX10R '04).

If I think about "perimeter" frame, and for a matter of simplification, I usually associate it with "twin spar", not so much to "double cradle" frames like in the early GSXR (pre-1996 models).
Of course, I can be wrong and, in this case, I would appreciate some in-depth from someone that can correct me.

Anyway, what brought us here was the 2012 Ducati. I think it's pretty clear from pre-season pictures (and leaked early CAD design pictures) that the frame used on the Desmosedici GP12, so far, is a twin spar.
Can't see it being anything revolutionary or different in its design as, I think, Ducati will probably want to simplify things for easier understanding by everybody involved.
There's obviously the fact that it's the first time such thing is used in an "official" Ducati racebike, so that in itself is BIG news.

I will agree with both you guys here. The important thing is that Ducati has made a drastic change with their frame design considering they seemed hell bent on trying to make the all CF frame work for so long. I think they're off to a good start by having more flexibility with engine mounting location but from what I've read it still has a lot of the same problems the GP11 had. I wonder if at some point it becomes less CF and more aluminum than it is now.