WorldSBK Rev Limit Changes: Ducati Panigale V4R Loses, Honda CBR1000RR Gains

After Alvaro Bautista's runaway success since joining the WorldSBK series, winning all six main races and all three Superpole races, mostly by a significant margin, the FIM has made the first move toward balancing out performance. Starting from the next round at Assen, the Ducati Panigale V4R is to lose 250 revs, while the Honda CBR1000RR, which has struggled badly since the start of the year, is to given an extra 500 revs on the maximum rev limit.

This is not the only step taken to limit the advantage which the Ducati has. Because Bautista has won every race so far, Ducati will also not be allowed to bring any engine performance upgrades, the so-called concession parts, which includes items such as cylinder heads, air intake funnels, etc. The Panigale V4R will have to compete in the state of tune they started the season. 

The same applies to Kawasaki. As Jonathan Rea finished every race in second place, the ZX-10RR will also not be allowed any updates through the 2019 season. 

All other manufacturers - Honda, Yamaha, BMW - will be allowed to bring one set of updates at some point during the season. This also applies to the brands not currently competing, MV Agusta, Aprilia, and Suzuki.

As Honda have struggled since the beginning of the year, and since Honda switched from the Ten Kate squad to the Moriwaki Althea team, riders Leon Camier, Ryuichi Kiyonari, and Alessandro Delbianchi all struggling to get close to the top ten, Honda have benefited from the rev limit system working two ways, and not just one. Honda have been granted an extra 500RPM to increase their maximum to 15,050. 

The press release from the FIM also notes that BMW chose to use the standard engine during the first two rounds of 2019, and so those results were weighted less when taking any change to BMW's rev limits into account. If the S1000RR continues to struggle in top speed against the other brands, they may yet gain more revs after the next three rounds.

What difference will all these changes make? It is unlikely that the loss of 250 revs will make a huge amount of difference to the Ducati Panigale V4R. Bautista's dominance seems to be more about the perfect match of rider and machine than any specific amount of horsepower. What's more, Ducati used their recent test at Aragon to try the bike with 250 RPM less, and so they already have an idea of how the bike will react.

The added revs for the Fireblade may give Honda a chance to catch up, though: if Moriwaki can coax a little more horsepower from the top end of the bike, they may get a little closer to the front.

Below are the new and old rev limits for all bikes, and below that, the press release from the FIM announcing the changes:

Bike New rev limit Old rev limit
Aprilia RSV4 RF 14700 14700
BMW S 1000RR 14900 14900
Ducati 1199 Panigale R 12400 12400
Ducati Panigale V4R 16100 16350
Honda CBR1000RR 15050 14550
Kawasaki ZX 10 RR 2019 14600 14600
MV Agusta F4 RR 14950 14950
Suzuki GSX R 1000RR 14900 14900
Yamaha YZF-R1 14700 14700

FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championships
Balancing and Concession updates

At the conclusion of the 3rd round of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship the concession points scores see the top two manufacturers Ducati and Kawasaki at the top of the table. Due to the gap of only 7 points (20-13) neither will be allowed a concession parts upgrade during the season.

The remaining manufacturers will all be allowed one upgrade.

The calculation is made considering the results of the full distance races (Races 1 and 2).


The DWO and FIM in consultation with their performance analysis partner have concluded that the following updates will be made to the manufacturers rev limits:

  • Ducati – reduction of 250rpm
  • Honda – increase of 500rpm

Special consideration has been applied in the case of BMW – the German marque, after declaring their concession parts, chose to compete in the first two events using a standard engine. This is compliant with the regulations and therefore the weighting of the calculation has been biased towards their performance during the third event where the concession specification engine was used.

The changes must be in increments of 250rpm and the Honda’s performance indicates that two steps should be applied at this point.

From Round 4 – Motul Dutch Round (Assen) - the rev limits will be:

Brand Rev-Limit
Aprilia 14700
BMW 14950
BMW 2019 14900
Ducati V2 12400
Ducati V4 16100
Honda 15050
Kawasaki 2018 14100
Kawasaki 2019 14600
MV Agusta 14950
Suzuki 14900
Yamaha 14700

Back to top


Can Honda simply add 500 revs? It sounds like an awful lot to just be able to flick a switch on, at some point won't the engine expire? Or are revs set at the beginning of the season in relation to potential maximum revs?

Sounds like when the AMA restricted the Honda flat track bikes because they were handing the Harley-Davidson XR750 its ass. Instead of H-D upgrading their own racer, they have the AMA force Honda to make changes. Unless I am wrong, I don't remember Kawasaki having to dumb down their bikes when Rea won title after title. And to do it during a season seems even more suspect or at least unfair. From my point of view it looks like Bautista is the only rider having dramatic success on the Ducati. How about we give credit where credit is due. It's more the rider than the bike. He is simply the best rider on the track. What's next for restricting the Ducati? Remove one spark plug wire? Make Bautista use ape hangers?

I feel the same way... and would support the rev limit reduction if ALL the Ducatis were up and leaving everyone in their dust... But it is just Bautista... Davies, Rinaldi and Laverty... all Ducati riders btw, are back duking it out with the other "lesser" bikes... That should lead any logically thinking person to the conclusion that this is merely a case of a superior rider with a competative bike winning races... simple as that...

Rea is also a great rider.

Kawasaki was hit with 1100rpm penalty. Their 2017 bike (which has the same base for their 2018 and 2019 bike) had 15200rpm and reduced to 14100rpm for 2018. The organizer can give 250rpm penalty in 2018 if someone become too competitive but I believe they didn't do it. Probably the reasoning is because Ducati was roughly competitive enough with Kawasaki. But the penalty that Kawasaki got is mainly because of Rea's success. So it kinda mirror what happening with Bautista.

If it weren't for Rea, most people will only think that Kawasaki is a good bike but not an overpowered bike. Personally I think that Ducati might have a slight edge on the bike last year and it was Rea that made the difference. But a lot of people commenting on various sites seems to think Kawasaki had a massive advantage last year (Rea winning the last 11 races!) and for this year they think it is about Bautista that is making the difference because other Ducati rider were nowhere and ignore the fact that in the last race Davies making a massive improvement in finishing 3rd, 4th, and 3rd.

Can someone help me out. Did they reduce Kawasaki revs when Rea won 11 straight races and Sykes had a lot better finishes last year than the next best Ducati this year? I don't remember.


I'm not sure why Kawasaki was handicapped back then (pre-season) - I could find out, but there's no point.

The answer to the question is no, Kawasaki was not restricted despite Rea winning five straight doubles - because no other Kawasaki was anywhere near him. Ergo, it was the rider, not the bike. That was the correct decision.

Same situation with Bautista this year, but they're going to hit Ducati with a penalty?

See you later, WSB - you're not a necessary part of my life anymore. Sad really, we've been partners since 1997. But you've changed, and I just can't love you like I used to.

JRea  in 2018, won 5 doubles in a row; USA, Misano, Portugal, France, Argentina  and won final round at Quatar with one race cancelled. 

The Kwaka should have been nobbled for 2018 French round!

Yet the Ducati is nobbled after 3 rounds!

Take note, qualifying races do not result in calculation of event results!

Missguided parity going on in WSBK!

Will still kick ass. It's not the bike winning. A bit childish from Dorna though.

once Bautista is out of sight. I have enjoyed these first races more than any recent season. It’s as good as makes no difference to the best we have seen IMO. AB isn’t appearing on TV much and it’s easy to forget he’s there until the post-race interviews. The loss of only 250 rpm must be due to the overall pace of the other Ducs and if Davies’ pace and progress at Aragon is maintained the rest may struggle.

I do wonder if there are some Desmo trials going on in R&D centres in Japan and Germany.

Can anyone tell me if a DSG shift would be allowed in WSB if it was homologated? I know it’s not permitted in MotoGP and wondered why it hasn’t been done on a sports road bike. It works so well on cars, and Honda etc. only seem to use it on tourers. Is the weight/bulk a problem?

I've ridden several Hondas with the double-clutch transmission, and for touring the current generation of it certainly works (the first version on the VFR1200 in 2011 or thereabouts was far from perfect). So it's perfectly suited to commuter bikes like the NC750 series or big tourers like the GoldWing, but the system is very heavy. It adds about 10 kilos to the engine, and most of that mass is rotating as well, so that is a double disadvantage. You can actually feel a big difference in handling between the DCT version and the normal version, as you could choose from with the VFR1200, for example. Which is already a very heavy bike, and still the difference was very noticable.

Also it makes the clutch much bigger in size, to the point of interfering with your foot or leg. Even if DCT was now allowed in MotoGP, nobody would use it, because the seamless gearbox they have now is a much better solution. Maybe it's more expensive to make, and maybe the durability is less, I don't know, but it's much lighter and smaller and fulfills the task of eliminating the interruption of power transferred to the rear wheel.

Yes the Ducati is good, but many seem to be conveniently ignoring AB’s riding ability which might be worth half a second or so a lap. Its nice to watch a change of the guard with JRea being relegated to regularly coming second instead of first, however I also believe JRea will fight back and up his game. 

Rather that reduce the performance of the Ducati and Kawasaki wouldn’t it be better to just have a realistically achievable maximum rev limit of say 16,000 revs or whatever for all the bikes? The GFC and subsequent lack of sponsors was over a decade ago so reducing costs shouldn’t be the priority these days. To balance things out they might need to let the gearing be adjusted but I think the same maximum rev limit for all bikes will still produce great racing.  The factories already have the technology so let the teams do what they need to do as long as they don’t exceed the maximum rev limit. The good thing about a universal rev limit is that it could be controlled in real time, and monitored on TV so we as viewers will be able to see what’s going on. 

It’s a long shot but even those slow Honda’s might suddenly appear in the group at the front if they were allowed to phone the factory engineers and ask for few a upgrades . . . “Hey Tetsuhiro can you send us that blue thing and reshape the heads and cam to the same spec as Marc’s please?”.


It seems to me that a consistent rev ceiling across the board might be the answer. 

How bikes that are at best mid pack have a rev limit over 1000 rpm down on a visibly faster Ducati is beyond me.

I’d rather we either had no rev ceiling or it was set to 18000 but really this is just WSBK fiddling around when we all know the answer is to adopt BSB rules and regs. 

The parity rules were brought in for a reason,  and WSBK needs close racing in order to thrive.

It's pretty ironic for WSBK that their big trump card for creating more interest in the series this year is actually the main thing now ruining races - GP star Alvaro Bautista. Remove him from the results and there would have been some stupendous racing for the win this year, albeit with Rea 'winning' every single race still. 

But on balance when a manufacturer is dominating every single race by 10 seconds ish, even if it's only for one rider, it's fair enough to institute the parity regs. Trouble is Bautista is so fast I doubt 250 revs will make much difference. 

I missed the rev's added to Aprilia and MV Augusta to get their performance in parity?

(To be fair, the other Ducs outside of Bautista have had some motor too. It isn't completely out of the realm of this rule model to knock 250rpm outside of Bautista's riding. Please don't interpret this as approval of the rule).

Ducati -250 and Honda +500 will do almost nothing I bet. Also then, wondering if the experience of the transitional nature of the CRT rules gave organizers a similar plan here. Perhaps it is seen as a short term step towards a fix to the problem of the last several years? A problem here though, the 2019 V4 Duc AND Bautista have made that a spit in the ocean.

Guaranteed that we are going to see a major rule change in WSBK at the end of the year. Bike specification will change. This fiddly hopping rabbit rev adjustment every 3 rounds will just not have worked, and be seen as dragging out a process.

There will be a 15,400 ish rev limit for everyone. Betcha a conventional valve spring and a frustrated rules committee.