Does WorldSBK Need A Minimum Combined Bike/Rider Weight?

Last week, the debate over the role of rider weight was reignited by a post on Instagram by BMW WorldSBK rider Scott Redding, comparing his own weight to that of Aruba.it Ducati's Alvaro Bautista, and asking whether there needs to be a minimum combined rider/bike weight in WorldSBK. To back up his claim, he posted some video clips and sector analysis from the San Juan Villicum circuit in Argentina. "I just think it should be as fair as possible for all of the riders," Redding wrote.

Though the sentiment is admirable, the thing about motorcycle racing is it is fundamentally unfair. Somebody else's bike will always be better than yours. Some other rider will be lighter, stronger, have it easier than you in one way or another. That is of little comfort to those racing in a particular class at a specific event, but it remains true nonetheless.

The way this has traditionally been dealt with is through what is usually called "the package". The combination of bike, team, and rider is different for each competitor, and rule makers have attempted to create space in each class to allow riders and teams to find multiple ways to be competitive.

Horses for courses

That does mean that each class requires a different set of specifications, depending on the philosophical starting point for that class. There are combined weight rules in Moto3 (152kg), Moto2 (217kg), and World Supersport (between 239kg and 244kg, depending on the bike). The reason for having a minimum combined weight in those classes comes down to a single, simple factor: in one way or another, the bikes in those classes are restricted from producing enough power to overcome the difference in combined weight.

The Moto3 bikes themselves are very small and light, and the technical rules are so tightly formulated that big differences in outright horsepower between manufacturers are almost impossible. The KTM may have a couple of extra horses one year, the Honda the next, but those differences are not sufficient to offset a difference in rider weight of 5kg, or 10kg, or more.

In Moto2, the riders are assigned identical engines, prepared by an independent party (Externpro), and distributed at random. Any power differences that exist fall within very tight tolerances agreed between Dorna and Triumph/Externpro, and the only part which the teams are allowed to change is the exhaust. Again, finding power to overcome weight difference is impossible.

World Supersport functions within the very narrow confines of production racing rules. Much effort is put into balancing bike concepts, but at its core, a World Supersport machine is never going to produce the kind of massive power that could overcome a weight difference.

Freedom to compete

Compare this to MotoGP. There is no minimum combined rider/bike weight, despite frequent calls for one to be introduced. The reason for not doing so is simple: the technical rules are free enough that manufacturers can design their bikes to produce more power to overcome a rider weight disadvantage, if they are willing to accept the compromises that entails.

The evidence backing up this philosophy is clear. The numbers 1 and 2 in the 2022 MotoGP championship are on motorcycles which differ by perhaps as much as 30 horsepower, and maybe more. And yet, Pecco Bagnaia and Fabio Quartararo are separated by just 23 points after 19 races, a difference of just 1.2 points per race.

How is a 270-ish hp bike capable of competing with a 300+ hp motorcycle? Because there is more to going fast than horsepower. The Yamaha is much better at carrying corner speed, better at braking on corner entry, and is faster out of first part of the corner. The Ducati is good on braking in a relatively straight line, and thanks to the gains made in aerodynamics and the ride-height device, has greatly improved traction on corner exit.

Traction is everything

And traction is the key to 80% of MotoGP. Traction is what determines how early and how hard you can accelerate out of corners. The sooner you can get on the gas, and the more of the power and torque you have you can convert into forward drive, the faster you end up going. Or more precisely, the quicker you cover the distance between corner exit at the start of a straight, and corner entry at the end, as KTM crew chief Paul Trevathan explained to us on the Paddock Pass Podcast over the summer.

This is why there is no real need for a minimum combined rider/bike weight in MotoGP. There is enough freedom in the technical rules to allow manufacturers to build engines so powerful they can easily overwhelm the rear tire, and for them to design a chassis and everything around it to maximize the amount of power they can actually use. Rider weight does become a factor in acceleration at some point, but that is long after it has been an advantage in increasing traction.

Being heavier is not solely a disadvantage in MotoGP. A decade or so ago, I interviewed Mike Leitner, at that point in time, crew chief to Dani Pedrosa. He pointed to the fact that it was easier for taller and heavier riders to move their weight around the bike in search of traction, something which was much more difficult for the short, light Pedrosa to do.

That disadvantage becomes an advantage once the bike hits fourth, fifth, sixth, and the tire can handle the full power of the engine. Then the physics becomes simpler, the translation of energy into velocity a more direct equation. That also applies to braking: with less mass to stop, braking can start later.

Speed vs drive

What does this mean for the World Superbike class? Is WorldSBK more like MotoGP or World Supersport and Moto3? Does it need a minimum combined weight limit?

It is tempting to think so if you look at the way Alvaro Bautista is ripping up WorldSBK on the Ducati Panigale V4R this season. With two rounds to go, Bautista has a nearly unassailable lead of 82 points over Toprak Razgatlioglu on the Yamaha YZF R1 and 98 points over Jonathan Rea on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR with 124 points still in play. That impression is reinforced when you see the way in which Bautista is able to pull away from both Razgatlioglu and Rea out of each corner.

Yet here is where we return to traction. Watching the races from the San Juan Villicum round in Argentina, the advantage which the Ducati has is quite clear. Both Bautista and Aruba.it Ducati teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi pull away in the first part of the long back straight in Argentina. But Rinaldi is unable to hold off Razgatlioglu, Kawasaki's Alex Lowes, and Jonathan Rea on the brakes and through the corners, and so goes backwards. Bautista, on the other hand, is able to maintain the advantage he has getting out of the corners down the straight and into the corners as well.

This looks like it is just down to the package as a whole. Both Bautista and Rinaldi are able to use the advantage of the Ducati in the first part of the straight, but only Bautista is able to capitalize on that advantage for the rest of the lap. That difference can't be put down to the difference in height and weight: Rinaldi is only a couple of centimeters taller than Bautista, rather than towering over the Spaniard.

The difference is bikes, not riders

Looking at the bigger WorldSBK picture is more instructive of the problem. Alvaro Bautista leads on the Ducati, with Razgatlioglu on the Yamaha and Rea on the Kawasaki still close enough to threaten Bautista's coronation, at least theoretically. Then there's a massive 149 point gap to Rinaldi on the Ducati, with Alex Lowes on the Kawasaki 43 points behind Rinaldi in fifth, and Yamaha's Andrea Locatelli in sixth, 5 points behind Lowes.

There are three riders who are head and shoulders above the rest of the field. Alvaro Bautista, Toprak Razgatlioglu, and Jonathan Rea are capable of winning races and dominating the series. This should hardly come as a surprise, given that Bautista nearly the WorldSBK title at the first attempt in 2019, Razgatlioglu is the reigning world champion, and Rea is the greatest superbike rider in history.

The fact that the field behind the leaders echoes what is going on at the front shows that there is a structural inequality here. The Ducati's advantage over the Kawasaki and Yamaha is in traction and top speed. The Kawasaki and Yamaha make up some ground on braking and turning, but not all. And the position of the Hondas shows that speed isn't everything: the CBR1000 RR-Rs of Iker Lecuona and Xavi Vierge are clocking very similar top speeds to the Ducatis, around 312 km/h. Yet the Honda is clearly not competitive.

Balancing performance

Here, it seems to me, is where the crux of the problem lies. Yes, rider weight and height (not discussed here, but relevant in terms of aerodynamics) make a difference. But WorldSBK's performance balancing rules seem to be falling short.

In that respect, WorldSBK has a much more difficult task than MotoGP. For MotoGP, the factories build bikes to fit the technical regulations and try to maximize performance based on that. In WorldSBK, manufacturers build bikes to sell in dealerships, with only one eye on maximizing performance, and the rule makers, led by Technical Director Scott Smart, have to find a way of balancing the various bikes to give everyone a chance at winning.

Scott Smart's approach has been meticulous and thorough, with constant tweaks to the rules to try to make them as transparent as possible. Yet that approach has obvious downsides: the vast majority of the technical regulations used to balance performance relate to the engine and intake system. But with severe restrictions placed on chassis changes (too many and too complex to summarize here), that is an obstacle for manufacturers who are building bikes that need more help with chassis or geometry changes.

Giving them what they want

Before the World Superbike championship was bought by Dorna and became WorldSBK, its previous owners Infront, and their predecessor FGSport operated a different system. Manufacturers would tell the series organizers what they needed to be competitive, and the organizers would weigh up the options to see what they could do. If a factory needed a swingarm, or a change to a frame, or different injectors or airbox, they would get it, within reason.

That is an old fashioned approach, and one which is completely opaque to outside assessment. How can fans and rival factories tell if the changes being allowed are fair? And is it fair if, for example, Honda are allowed to modify their frame, but Ducati are not?

That approach springs from a different philosophical view, however. For Dorna, the WorldSBK series is a championship where manufacturers can race the bikes that they sell. For the Flammini brothers, who owned FGSport and Infront, World Superbikes was a series in which manufacturers could bring the bikes they built and adapt them for racing.

Rules-based vs results-based

The issue, it seems to me, is that Dorna and Scott Smart are trying to operate within a very tight set of constraints. In part, due to the desire to be transparent and have the rules be completely clear. And also due to the cap on costs, with a range of parts being available for a fixed prices to anyone who wants them.

That has left them less quick to respond to rebalance the relative performance of the various bikes. Kawasaki are still operating without the extra revs they hoped they would get at the start of the season, but were denied due to the bike not being considered completely new.

To return to the original question: does WorldSBK need a minimum combined bike/rider weight? The answer is not self-evident. The bikes have enough power to break traction almost at will, with traction being the limiting factor, rather than horsepower. But controlling that traction with electronics, chassis, and aerodynamics is much more difficult in WorldSBK than it is in MotoGP.

Build to race, or build to sell?

This is the biggest difference between MotoGP and WorldSBK, and where things are ironically simpler for MotoGP. The bikes that race in WorldSBK are based on the bikes that manufacturers sell. But the decisions that go into building a road-going 1000cc sportbike can vary enormously for each manufacturer. Manufacturing costs, the degree to which they are designed to cope with rough and uneven roads rather than the pool-table smoothness of circuits, and how much attention they want to draw from legislators with outrageous horsepower and top speed figures, all these feed into the bikes which end up in dealer showrooms.

That means that the starting point for each WorldSBK manufacturer is very different. And each bike needs an individual approach to help make it competitive. In MotoGP, the factories start with a level playing field. In WorldSBK, the playing field is distorted by a wide range of manufacturing decisions.

A minimum combined weight may help address some of the inequities in WorldSBK. But the bigger issue is more fundament. WorldSBK needs to be able to address performance disparities faster and more flexibly, while still managing costs. That, however, is a good deal more complicated than deciding to introduce a minimum weight.


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^ Good consideration, thanks Krop. I remember Dani arriving, called him "Pedrosa-bot" here... the HRC secret advantage with no extra mass nor personality (as a joke, love the guy). 800cc's came, not a good era. Anyhoo, agreed. No on minimum combined weight.

Looking like what IS being considered now is a 500rpm chop off the top of Ducati. Red just shared a "dont forget Beautista is a Top 5 MotoGP rider!" pitch to try to keep their revs. 

This parity correction rule is in place, and seldom used (Kawi got whacked last). In Summer when there was serious talk about reducing Red 500rpm, Rea said "don't penalize Ducati, just give us our revs back." Looking like WSBK is inclined to use the rule more in Winter than in the midst of a Championship. If the rule is going to be used, that is more palatable timing. 

But wait, what JUST popped out while we weren't looking? A special one off concession for Honda re their soft frame (the 600RR had the same thing, it is more an all arounder road compliant/rider friendly than others by design...hence not road raced so much) THAT "CAN'T MESH W THE SPEC SERIES TIRES."

So, the Pandoras box has just been opened/can of worms? Or just a one off correction? Simple answer seems the latter. But Special Concessions are now a thing. In both MotoGP and WSBK we are now in an era of cultivation of closeness in racing as well as encouragement of participation by the various manufacturers. (Do you miss the Ducati 999 Cup here? Enjoying the 2017 and on MotoGP era? Wish we could go back to 4 bikes total from 2 manufacturers win races again? Agreed!).

Despite various arguments against the rule itself, it might seem that the "every 3 races review" rev limit is meant for the current Ducati situation. Why chop Green, but not Red?

Me? I see Duc now as what Honda used to be. GP's? I fookin hate shapeshifters, and want more constrictions on aero. SBK? If it were me I would have thrown the 500rpm chop out a while ago on them. Or, would suggest we remove the rule doing so. 

One observation...the global economy may well be tipping the precipice into a DEEP recession like the 2008. Literally in November, watch what the USA Fed does in a few weeks and how the 2023 Bear breaks loose. Concessions can also be seen as keeping the series healthier re participation in bad economic times. Honda was NOT going to make a new Fireblade frame just for these tires in WSBK when it works ok elsewhere. Want the bike raced? 

Suzuki let the GSXR vanish from WSBK. Now the same with my favorite MotoGP bike, the "Conventional" "real motorcycle" has left the series. It isn't coming back soon either. 

My 2 cents tossed in yet again. I know, I treat this place like a wishing well/good luck fountain. 

I remember whenever there was a fuss over the number of revs being taken from Kawasaki and hearing the explanations of how the change would take account of all Kawasaki riders....I wondered why they didn't hire me to ride....they would never lose any revs ever again...might even be gifted some extra.

Well it's true isn't it ? After half a season the Kawasaki would have two little training wheels at the back, an extra 500cc, no rev limit, a turbo and a head start of at least 5 laps....JR, you're welcome, no worries, buy me a pint later.

That one made me laugh. I'm not in favour of the minimum weight thing for several of the reasons David mentioned, one of the main ones being that no other Ducati other than Bautista's is exhibiting that straight-line speed that everyone seems so upset about.. I'm also not impressed with the "special concessions" that Scott Smart is issuing; the more you fiddle with something to make it more complex, the more chance there is something will go very wrong (adjustable suspension = 100 ways to get it wrong vs 1 to get it right, no?). I like what Rea was reported saying a while back, let everyone build the best bike they can within the existing rules and go racing. Too simple? Maybe.

Should WSBK implement minimum weight rules? This debate is already over. SBK took the BoP path to reduce costs and allow SBK to be pure production racing, insofar as every part is available for sale, including all racing parts. SBK cannot ignore a 20kg weight discrepancy between the riders. It undermines the entire sanctioning concept.

The real debate is how to implement the minimum weight rule. Should they decree that all bikes and riders must have a hard minimum weight (e.g all bikes and riders must weigh at least 240kg?) Or should they use the WSS style rule, which only requires that a team add a maximum ballast amount (e.g. add ballast until you reach 10kg of ballast or 240kg bike-rider)? The former makes all bikes and riders the same. The latter merely aims to reduce the variance.

Should the governing body mandate placement of the ballast? Should they make it illegal to add ballast to certain parts or outside of various boundaries, like the headstock and rear swingarm pivot? Should they have spec ballasting or allow any material?
 

These are some of the questions that must be answered because the governing body needs to ensure the rule does not unduly burden some competitors. They also need to ensure the rule doesn’t have disparate or inverse affect, which could lead to an even narrower talent pool, and/or perverse effects on the state of competition. Safety is critical too. SBK cannot raise the current average bike-rider minimum weight if legit safety concerns are detected.

If these questions and concerns cannot be addressed to the satisfaction of the manufacturers, stewards and insurance stooges, minimum weight cannot be implemented. It’s not a matter of should/shouldn’t, imo. The min weight question revolves around can/cannot.

 

was Scott so concerned in 2019 in the Brit Superbikes ?   also wondering where you would even try to draw the line when a literal 2.0m, 125 kg, NFL linebacker feels he really really has to ride motorcycles and its just UNFAIR that all these 'shrimps' are winning everything...  ;)  I could also complain that Scott's hand-eye coordination and his balance are so much better than mine its unfair...  must add 60 sec to my lap times just to even things out.. ;)))  

trying to make a 'level' playing field is a serious issue and I agree with attempts like the RPM limits as one way to balance, but feel even that got out of hand with the Kaw this year.   Had not heard about the Honda special and gut level == negative on first pass.

thx for the reminder about Pedrosa and the negatives of small size ..  also including difficulty in getting heat into the tires.. iirc

 

was being a politician, pure and simple.  If Dani's light weight was an issue they could have ballasted the bike, ballasted his suit, fattened the wee fella up...but they did none of that. I remember his trevails at the time, even during qualifying he had issues, yet they still sent him out with a light fuel load, not a heavy one.

Neither was Bautista, at the time, packing on the pounds.  

The answer why is fairly obvious: weight is the enemy.  At no point on the track is a heavier bike/rider combination going to have an advantage over a lighter one.  In braking you are braking a mass, adding more mass to aid braking the existing mass is nonsensical.  Same with acceleration, it is the mass that resists being accelerated, and stresses the tyre.  It is the resistance to acceleration that overcomes traction and results in spin.  The answer to improve acceleration is to improve traction or reduce the mass (reduce the resistance to acceleration) it is not to increase the mass you are trying to accelerate. I mean, Peewee Gleason was successful for a reason.

Same for corners, the mass of bike and rider wants to continue straight on (momentum), the greater the mass of bike and rider, the greater the momentum.  To reduce the momentum and improve turning you must either reduce velocity (which kinda goes against the whole racing thang!) or reduce the mass.

Redistributing the existing mass is making the best of what you have but is in no way as effective as simply reducing the resistance to braking, acceleration, change of direction: mass.

I get Redding's point, but had he been racing against say, Dave Jefferies in BSB and Dave, who liked a pie or two, suggested the same thing but at a weight more in line with his "magnificent" physique I wonder what Scott's reaction would be when you told him he needed to add 10kg of ballast?

Agreed. There will be some advantage in being a big tall rider if using that leverage and throwing that mass around can achieve something. A bigger rider can affect the weight distribution more than a smaller rider, can keep the bike more upright while hanging off the side etc. However, in the majority of circumstances, overall for lap time, lighter is better...faster. Also, a smaller rider can fit behind a smaller fairing....significant for drag.

I am pretty sure if there a weight concessions in WSBK then I might be competitive. In fact I think I might be competitive on a Honda Monkey. (With me on board that ride would have a very flexible frame too.) So I say bring it on. On current form I am only 10-15 seconds a lap behind the normal race pace and on the basis of Mr Redding's suggestion, I am definitely going to get a pole or two. I am also going to be much more effective a knocking other blokes out of the way than even Toprak under brakes or Jonny '...it was a mistake' every now and then. So bring it on. 

David, If I was remembering correct, Rea was taken 500rpm from his Kawasaki last year, (or was it the year before? ), and if I remember correct, they would adjust the rpm limit every third race, depending on the performance on the bikes.
So how come Ducati haven't been limited with an rpm restriction? Or have they scrapped that "penalty" system?

I was a big fan of WordSBK the last years, but this year has changed it all, since I see Bautista pass Rea and Toprak as an 1000cc vs a 600cc..
I won't renew my Wsbk video subsciption next..

I’m conflicted when it comes to rider weight. In most sports, physical size is important, with bigger often being an advantage. Why not allow smaller to be an advantage, like a jockey? Also, Ducati has made a great bike and they should reap the rewards. But watching WSBK this year is a bit frustrating. The Ducati riders make nearly all passes using bike performance, while the others are having to pass in ways that involve rider talent and increased risk. Of course Bautista is talented, but he is in a position to avoid risk in the corners and simply pass at will on the longer straights. Watching Bautista (and occasionally Rinaldi and Bassani) go from three bike lengths back on exit to well ahead by the next turn is a bit of a joke. It is the disparity in the amount of risk riders are needing to be competitive that tells me something is wrong. WSBK has balancing rules, and they can make changes every three races, at the end of the season, or at their own discretion, according to those same rules. The problem is RPMs are just one metric, and perhaps not the correct tool to solve this current issue. Combined weight impacts performance over the entire lap and tire wear. Perhaps narrowing that divide, combined with some RPM balancing is a better overall solution. Smaller riders should still have an advantage in my opinion, just narrow it down somewhat.

^ Well articulated, so glad you are bringing this perspective Paul. 

RPM chops are expedient. It is Series electronics anyway, so it seems an area more of WSBK discretion? But they are a bit...rudimentary. Long history there, Ducati used to have the restricted air intake in a bygone era. Those are pretty disgusting to me. 

As a lover of light nimble bikes, it sure would be cool to get to ride lower minimum weight machines. 

If we are wondering what direction the Series organizers are going in, there seem to be some breadcrumbs. The HUGE reinvention of World Supersport has been my focal point. This isn't a conservative/maintain status quo rulebook team. If you aren't Jonathan Rea you may enjoy it? Looks like never timid/always hungry Scott Redding is hoping it hands BMW some help, and right now is a good time to as the rulebook is open for business.

^ The discussion in this article looks like the beginning of the Winter stuff MMatters is great for. Thanks for it.

Except for your comment about jockeys. Last time I looked at horse racing (long time ago) horses were assigned different amounts of extra weight to carry depending on their performance and jockey size. Not the same any more?

I don’t see a lot of the current crop of superbikes on the road. These bikes are designed with two goals in mind, I think: compliance with global safety/emissions standards and to be the basis for competitive competition machines. Now that they are all 4 cylinder, I don’t think there should be any variation in rules (rpm, etc) per brand. As for the riders, weight is just one variable and even that isn’t simple. Should every rider also get a fitness or reflex test before each race, with grid position or ballast or rpm concessions to even the field? I think not. As others have said, jockeys are small, basketball players are tall, sumo wrestlers are … uh, big, etc. And while the field is close so small variations can make a difference, we’re not talking about a huge percentage of the total weight here. I’m more open to balancing brand capabilities in WSS “600” and 300, where the costs are lower and brand-to-brand variation of the popular production bikes is much greater for legitimate marketing reasons. Let’s face it, BMW has been trying a long time in WSBK and not getting far. 

Besides creating a level playing field at lower cost (usually), the other big benefit gained from balance of performance is production racing parts.

Under the old rules, the bikes were limited by the rules, but tuning the bike to reach its maximum potential under the rules was a proprietary race technology. Many of the key racing components were under lock and key, and could only be leased by the teams at incredible cost. Now the parts are basically available for sale to anyone. Riders even sell their old race bikes to the public on occasion.

While I don’t particularly care for balance of performance, it does have wide ranging benefits, if used correctly.

presents a clear example of weight not mattering as much as HP increases seems false. An n=1 anecdote is fine but not conclusive. Rider + bike weight minimum goes a long way toward removing a key differentiator among participants and should result in closer racing. motoGP should follow that same logic or remove the weight minimum all together, the compromise they have now just creates a huge weight loss demand on larger than average (motogp) riders. It was even worse under the old 800 rules when the bike weight was 150kg minimum becuase the riders weight as a percentage of total weight was greater. Reminds me of this article: https://www.superbikeplanet.com/skinny-nicky/

There is a significant difference in the current crop of 4 cylinder engines. A V4 makes power very differently than an inline 4, which is even different than an inline 4 crossplane design (Yamaha). Where they produce power and torque is different, and how they apply power to the ground is different which results in different tire wear considerations. 

From a very personal perspective I am very thankful for SBK tinkering with the rules to create a more level playing field. If they hadn't given the Ducati v-twins that 33% displacement advantage 25 years ago, my beautiful RC-51 wouldn't exist!

…and comments from mutterers. I like SR 45 as a rider but he is a serial whinger. BMW need to build a more competitive bike. I don’t favour a special rule just to limit Bautista. As DE says, there are 3 riders in SBK who are head and shoulders above the rest of the field and Bautista is one of them. Don’t peg back the top dog, bring the others (bikes and riders) up to top dog level. Would you argue that JR 65 should have been pegged back over his 6 World Championships?

Howdy Trumpet...JR65 just WAS pegged back 500rpm's in 2021. 

Honda just GOT a special concession frame stiffening modification. (Ducati is likely to be about to get a 500cc chop). No one is considering a combined bike/rider weight at this time but Redding, a microphone and us here. 

It isn't so clear and easy to me personally. I DO think BMW's advantage was (and is in Superstock) electronics when it came out. I genuinely thought the newest M version was going to do the business. Racers in other series' have praised the package, but not under these rules/tires/conditions.

(That 2019 IOM Lap Record? May stand a good while)

What would you do if you (folks) had to decide?

a combined weight is BS. That would give the "huge/heavy" riders an advantage, as they have the possibillity to shift that weight arround wherever it is placed best arround the lap.

Does Basket/voleyball have a rule about height of the players ? Are the hurdles placed at heights determinned by the height of the runners ? Do fighters in any of their sports have a rule that ensures  they are all fighting with "the same combined arms length" .

it is simple : there are guys faster than you Scott, live with it !

 

I can’t see the logic in cutting the revs of two of the brands in the racing series. One brand maybe when there’s an exceptional performance advantage, but not when multiple brands have advantage. The slow ones should be encouraged to improve performance with aftermarket parts. Racing should be about allowing development and going faster, not slower. Sure try to make it so that costs don’t get ridiculous, but where aftermarket parts are available let them be used. As JR said give Kawasaki back the 500 RPM that was taken away, rather than also penalising Ducati. If Yamaha needs more RPM to be competitive, then let then use some of the shelf stuff to achieve it. If Honda has the same top speed as Ducati, then when they finally sort that bike out, it will need to have its RPM clipped to. Where does it all stop?

If not for the crippling of all manufacturers to a relatively equal playing field, SBK would not exist. Without crippling Ducati, Kawasaki would barely be able to race against the Panigale.

The riders are complaining about the definition of fair competition. They are not complaining about their technological innovations or performance potential being hampered by the rules. They know that’s going to happen. They are worried about their bikes being adjusted to counteract their skills and they are worried about losing various strategies that allow them to game the system.

Notice this ONLY comes up when someone starts winning? How is his physical size being an advantage any different than Loris Baz's strength being an advantage? A rider should see where his advantages lie and disadvantages lie and try to mitigate the downfalls and use the strengths as much as possible. And why are we not talking about the manufacturers roles? Yes Ducati has built the best bike - but the V4R is still within the rules. The rules are the same for everyone, go build a better bike if you want to win. Don't try to say 'oh, well he's too small and therefore needs to be penalized.' Piss off, that's not competition. 

And Rea whining (after 6 straight titles no less) that "Well when one bike is 40 grand and another is 17 grand it's hard." Guess what Chief, the ZX10RR isn't 17 grand, it's 29 grand. So let's stop crying and start yelling at Kawasaki - "HEY, GET OFF YOUR ASSES AND BUILD ME A COMPETITVE BIKE AGAINST WHAT'S OUT THERE NOW". The limit is 40,000 EURO, Ducati aren't doing anything wrong - Kawasaki could make their bike cost that much too. Stop bitching and go build it. Kawasaki is using the same bore and stroke and basic layout it's used for DECADES - no wonder it's not as fast in a straight line. Are you surprised the fastest straight line bikes are the Ducati (newest), Honda (also 81mm maximum bore dimensions), BMW (again, 80mm bore..seeing a trend toward short strokes and high peak hp yet?)

Everyone's mad that Bautista on the V4R is a rocket in a straight line - guess what, there's not shit you can do about that aside from making him pull a sail behind his bike. Sure being 15kg lighter than some riders is an advantage, but his small stature is an even bigger advantage. So if we make Bautista carry 15kg during a testing session and see his top speed is no less, then what? Make him wear a fat suit? Make him carry a pillion? The whole thing is stupid. Stop trying to manufacture the results, this is racing, not politics. 

Is being small a fundamental skill set of riding a motorcycle?

No, obviously. The issue is how much of the riders diminutive stature is attributable to the harsh realities of physics, and how much is attributable to the rules regarding fairings, tires, power, fuel, etc.

Analyzing these things should not offend anyone’s vanity.

Will SBK hire Diana Moon Glampers from the story "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut jnr.

The Handicapper general will sort these fast riders out. I will beat them all once they are nobbled.