Can the DUSTBIN (for road racing)

Moto_Guzzi_racing_dustbin[1]In 1957 dustbin fairings were banned from road racing, in 2009 some people think it’s a good idea to bring them back- they are seriously mistaken.

There are many debates about why the dustbin (AKA “garbage can”) fairing was ruled illegal in ’57. The reasons range from aesthetics to politics but one of the undisputed reasons is that several crashes were attributed to the dustbins and their negative effect on handling- and that was on a 1957 motorcycle! What made the dustbin fairing dangerous for 50’s era racing motorcycles makes it suicidal for 2010 era racing motorcycles.

From my office desk I can see my Grandfathers (Circa early 1960’s) 125cc Grand Prix motorcycle, this race machine was state of the art for the era. Though 125’s have the slowest top speed they often achieve the highest apex speed. 125’s are designed with very aggressive geometry to be the quickest steering and best handling bikes on the grid. Want to understand the ultimate handling abilities of motorcycles from a by-gone era? Look to 125’s.

My Grandfather’s 125 looks old, old tires, old steering angle, old Cg, old suspension everything looks old- because it is. The steering rake is 26.5 degrees the trail is more than 100mm, the tires have virtually no profile and the Cg looks lower than any modern motorcycle I have ever seen and this was one of the best handling motorcycles of the era. This “razor sharp” 1960’s Grand Prix motorcycle would be considered a slow steering street bike by today standards- it is all relevant to speed.

As motorcycles become faster, so must steering. The faster you ride a motorcycle the less time you have to do… well… everything. Speed compresses time. For a given bike to go thru a series of corners faster it must brake harder, steer quicker, transition faster and do so ideally with the same amount of rider input as before. Since the beginning of motorcycling every part of the motorcycle has evolved to allow the motorcycle to turn faster with less effort. Since the 1957 ban, rake has steepened, trail decreased, Cg raised, wheelbase shortened and tires profiles optimized. Modern motorcycles turn significantly quicker with less input than they did “back in the day”.

Racers push the limit, that’s what racers do and the “race line” is no exception. Racers enter a typical corner inches from the outside edge of the track, ride an arch to the apex then again to the outside edge of the track on exit. They do not just steer this arch changing trajectory at will like you do in your family car, this is the consequence of carrying the maximum speed possible thru a corner. This optimum line is duplicated by nearly every racer, ever corner, every race, it is the limit and there are only millimeters of cushion between being on line and running off the track.

When the best racers in the world arrive at a track with winds in the 15-25+mph range a modified fairing can be fitted to their bike. This fairing has less surface area, often achieved by drilling a series of holes in it. The holes reduce the overall area and help balance the Delta P (pressure drop) across the fairing caused by a side wind. This pressure differential creates a very noticeable force on the motorcycle sucking the fairing into the low pressure area opposite the direction of wind.

Remember motorcycles turn by leaning and modern motorcycles turn/lean very easily. Take a modern motorcycle and add a large side area or fairing to it and it will be subjected to forces beyond the rider’s control. Stretch that fairing fore and aft the wheels and you have now increased the leverage of that force and effect. Add additional height and now the fairing is subject to even higher wind speeds that have an even greater lever to lean and pull the motorcycle. More frightening, the rider can only overcome the unwanted change in direction by turning the motorcycle towards its new trajectory as to counter the lean initiated by the wind. This is a very counter intuitive maneuver that takes additional time and real estate most racers do not have.

Cigars and Toothpicks
Even straight line instability can be the experienced (no need for side winds) if the motorcycles center of pressure is too far forward ahead of the Cg which is typical to dustbin style fairings (with no tail). There is a great simple explanation of this in the “Worlds Fastest Indian” (highly recommended). The instability caused by this mis-calculation is even an issue at Bonneville where riders only go straight, have miles of course and can’t even find anything to hit. If Bonneville was 24’ wide and lined with stone walls streamlining would be banned- and so it should be at the IOM.

Electric racing is still racing
There is a place for streamlining. Our joint venture with Bajaj has identified aerodynamics as a project priority and one of the best methods to achieving greater efficiency and range in our project. The original C1 spent time in CFD and actual wind tunnel testing, by no means am I opposed to improved aerodynamics. As efficiency is such a component to electric racing it is easy to see why someone may think this is a good idea but I am certain this same person has no modern day racing experience.

Personally I have ridden at pace at, Willow Springs, Las Vegas and Miller Motorsports; tracks that get periodic winds. I have been blown of track several times, sometimes from a tailwind at the end of the straight, other times at corner exit. I can personally attest that in every case the bike would have been more out of control if it had a larger fairing- suicidal with a dustbin.

I hope the other manufactures and team owners will stand with me and personally elect not to race the IOM with the antiquated dustbin fairings. As our rider Mark Miller recently said: It’s war out there, this is not some college HPV project.”


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45 Responses to “Can the DUSTBIN (for road racing)”

  1. rick says:

    mistaken, not ‘mistaking’

  2. Sam Stoney says:

    Characterizing a movement to open up the limiting and arcane aerodynamic rules formulated 3 generations ago to limit motorcycle development as “bringing back dustbins” is akin to calling a movement to improve front suspension as “going back to wiggly girder forks”. Time has moved on, and yes, motorcycles are going a lot faster, but the greatest block to motorcycle efficiency and parformance today is aerodynamics.

    Improving aerodynamics certainly will allow higher speeds and much greater efficiency. Over time, however, I’m sure stability and handling will improve even moreso. I too have been blown around by gale force side winds while racing, and I think revising aerodynamics can offer a path to improving this problem rather than exacerbating it.

    Perhaps there needs to be a way to use the rules to spread aerodynamic development over a period of time, allowing relatively safe, progressive fairing evolution. But the time is long overdue to bring motorcycle aerodynamics into the 21st century the electric class is an excellent place to start.


  3. says:

    Mistaken mistake corrected- Thank you.

  4. Jim Race says:

    frightening, not freighting ;)

    and for the record, as a former racer I totally agree with Michael and have been active in the TTXGP rules wiki. Better aerodynamics do not have to come all at once. There is a reason race bikes are shaped the way they are. And while there is always room for improvement, dustbins have inherent limitations. Same with proposed FF designs, which I can’t even imagine being competitive on a short circuit.

    I mean… It is supposed to be racing, isn’t it?


    Jim Race
    ex-AFM #250

  5. GNMacy says:

    Hey, super-efficient aerodynamics for race bikes is already here – today. It’s called the Ecosse Spirit ES1 – innovation in the fairing, driven by further innovation in the chain drive configuration, and front and rear swing arms…that offers “50% reduction in drag”. That bike is the bar to which all motorcycle aerodynamics should achieve…no dustbins needed. Check it.

  6. John Merlin Wiliams says:

    Note I also posted this to “Asphalt and Rubber” where I read of Michael’s Blog entry. Michael Czysz is on to something – modern racing motorcycle aerodynamics is about a lot more than straight-line, straight-up efficiency.

    Here’s an interesting simulation studying the Lift/Drag ratio of a rider and motorcycle that suggests the fairing of a conventionally-faired race bike acts as a lifting body at high lean angles. With today’s lean angles exceeding 55 – 60 degrees from vertical could it be that, in addition to Michael Czysz’ concern about cross winds, that an enclosed dustbin, at that flat angle could act as a highly effective lifting body (i.e., reduce grip and traction)? Tests would tell. Nobody leans at Bonneville.

    To quote from “Aerodynamic Analysis of a Motorcycle and Rider on a high speed corner”
    Giorgio Pagliara and Giuseppe Ganio © CD-adapco 2009

    “The results of the simulation predicted that at a straight line speed of 120 Km/h, the motorcycle is well balanced with neither excessive lift or down force experienced. During a turn, however, the rider and bike are at an angle to the ground, generating large amounts of lift and a rolling moment that acts to straighten the bike.

    Plots of pressure coefficient show that, during cornering, the rider produces aerodynamic downforce while the bike produces lift. The L/D ratio (lift over drag) ratio of the bike and rider is around 0.4 which may be compared to a typical value of between -3.5 to -2.5 of an F1 car, a difference which is largely accounted for by the lack of any lifting surfaces (front and rear wings) and the effect of rider on the overall aerodynamic performance.”

  7. Jimmy Jam says:

    Interesting…..I have to disagree with Michael. I wonder what would have happened had they band Collin Chapman from affixing wings to his Lotus F1 cars in the 60’s. If I remember correctly they weren’t very successful at first attempt, but look where they are now. I think the answer may come in the form of an active aero package with speed, brake and lean sensors which could actually aid the rider around the circuit.

  8. Craig Vetter says:

    Michael speaks from experience. And, he explains it well.

    I too have road raced, but that was 35 years ago. I confess: my bikes were more akin to Michael’s grandfather’s bikes of the 60s than the Czysz racers of today. My 1100cc Kawasaki Rickman Café Racer of 1975 was big and fast. But it was slow in handling and very forgiving. I can only imagine the handling of the modern bikes he describes.

    Today my passion is learning how to consume less fuel. I have no commercial ambitions. After all, who makes money by selling less? Consuming less fuel however, is important to the well being of our country because we are consuming more fuel than we are producing. We are not living within our budget of energy. Two out of every three gallons of gas we consume in our vehicles comes from foreigners. Some of these foreigners use the money that was once in our pockets to destroy us.

    This is serious business.

    The solution, of course, is to live better on less energy.

    Consider this:

    It is power that consumes fuel. For example, gasoline engines burn about ½ a pound of gas per horsepower per hour. Do the math: More horsepower consumes more fuel.

    Today we want to burn less fuel, which means that we need to learn to live on less horsepower.

    Improving aerodynamics allows less power – translated, “less fuel” – to do the job. Read again what Michael wrote:

    “Our joint venture with Bajaj has identified aerodynamics as a project priority and one of the best methods to achieving greater efficiency and range in our project.”

    It is as simple as that.

    Now we get to the point. An old adage in the motorcycle racing has been:

    “Win on Sunday… Sell on Monday”

    This is why motorcycle manufacturers race. Street riders want to look like the racers they see on Sunday. Since streamlining has been banned since 1957, no racers are really streamlined. Consequently, no street bikes are streamlined and everybody burns more fuel. For 50 years, designers have had no reason to streamline motorcycles. Who would buy them?

    Rather than complain, which I have been doing for years, I went to the FIM and TTXGP folks, suggesting that we have wasted a half-century of fuel and it was time to change the rules. Surprisingly, everyone was receptive and I had a role in writing the rules for streamlining for 2010.

    Streamlining is easy to say, but hard to do. Dealing with the wind is even harder. Right now, for the first time ever, people like Michael Czysz – and you and me – have the unique opportunity to address and solve the problems Michael has so clearly described.

    Can we do it?

    I think we can. I suspect Michael Czysz thinks we can, too. It will take time and a lot of work. But, the rewards will be great. Racing will change forever. Streamlining will allow less horsepower to go faster and farther. When bikes on the track are streamlined, street riders will be streamlined too. Everyone will consume less fuel. America will be stronger.

    Improving aerodynamics is like having “free fuel.” Can you think of a better way to reduce our energy consumption?

  9. Jim Race says:

    Craig… I have immense respect for you. But for the electric racebikes, I still keep falling back to the axiom “Is it a race or an exhibition?”. If it’s the latter garnering long-term support will be incredibly difficult, if nigh on impossible.

    I still believe in the various series with all my might, but the limb some seem to be willing to go out on quells my enthusiasm. I want real racing. I suspect the public will as well. And if they don’t buy into the concept, and soon…



  10. Jim Race says:

    BTW… when dustbin fairings were the rage *no one* hung off their bikes to garner a larger contact patch. Wheels in line, full steam ahead, damn the torpedoes.

    Times have changed, and as Michael mentioned so have the bikes. Granted, you could likely build a DB fairing that would clear modern track curbs at full lean at a modern speed. But the downsides are unknown. I say test first, and extensively, before trying to put this bit into play.

    I don’t know. It just seems way too far-reaching to me…


  11. TTXGP streamlining rules allow FF two-wheelers. Please see if you haven’t come across this term. Streamlined FF’s have been running rountinely since the seventies, my own is 22 years old. It’s proved easy to identify shapes and general rules that prove stable even in heavy, turbulent sidewinds, although early work confirmed that dustbin fairings without tails can be problamatical. Trials included laps of the IoM with a dustbinned faired FF.

    This knowledge has been incorporated into the TTXGP rules and I have no doubt that perfectly stable full-enlcosure is readily achievable with the FF layout.

    It may be however that the Motorised Bicycle layout, already handicapped by it’s poor dynamics and stability, is unable to accept streamlining even with current aerodynamioc design. This simply means they’ll be thrashed even more comprehansivly by the first people to get FF’s onto the grid. Forgive the delay, we’ve been banned for forty years…

    Remember, it’s PTW, not just motorised bicycle racing. Maybe time’s up for traditional thinking?

  12. Jim Race says:

    Royce, with all due respect… Have you *ever* been involved with current day competitive motorcycle roadracing? Have these bikes you’re putting forward run lap times that could be considered competitive with a standard faired and normal geometry electric bike?

    The reason that the rules read as they do at the moment is *because you wrote them*. Remember, it’s a wiki, and nothing is set in stone yet. You even wrote a part about MIRRORS. To be honest, I read that and my jaw just dropped. Even the most newbie trackday rider, and certainly racer knows that mirrors are not needed and that 100% of your focus is needed in looking ahead, not behind.

    While the race compound tires of today are certainly light years better than what we had available 30 years ago, I still think the current geometry arrangement of a modern racebike is near close to the ideal and allows the rider to get the best out of them. How much hanging off can you do when you’re riding FF?


  13. Jim, race bikes are and have been shaped the way they are for at least the last half century because the rules preclude them being any other shape.

    Guzzi’s dustbins were noted for both their speed and their stability, but some other competitors made versions that were said to be pretty frightening. Guzzi had a big wind tunnel and the knowledge to use it, the other folks just made something that they thought might be what was needed and largely guessed wrong. If Guzzi could make effective and safe dustbin fairings then they’d seem to not be inherently dangerous.

    Isn’t pushbike racing the same kind of deal as m/c racing? After recumbent bikes blew away all the conventional bicycles sometime between the WW1 and WW2 they were banned and so today’s racing bicycle looks like the ones from 80 years ago. Lots of detail improvements, but because of the rules there are no basic changes. Today’s motorcycle isn’t any different in basic form than a 1955 BSA, even though there are other forms in which “two wheels, a powerplant and a rider” can be packaged.

    Racing largely rewards not innovation but rather incremental improvements of proven technology. This is especially true when the rules ban innovation as the case in most race series I’ve ever seen.


  14. Jim Race says:

    Michael.. OK. You and I have raced against each other, so I know *you* know about design. I fondly remember your 250SB franken-bike, with its custom retro swingarm, subframe, minimal (read:none) fairing and twin-shock setup. And I will give you the benefit of the doubt about little time to test and setup. But honestly, in the end who finished ahead of one another? Me on my relatively stock bike, or you on your heavily modified bike?

    Nice to hear from you again…


  15. What I seem to be hearing from the anti-dustbin contingent is that modern fast-turning bikes could never deal with aerodynamic technology from 1950. Besides being debatable, nobody is advocating taking a 1950 Guzzi fairing and putting it on a GSXR1000. What they are advocating is freeing up the arbitrary aerodynamic restrictions in a class that could benefit from drag reduction more than any other. The TTXGP winner had the equivalent performance of a 1960s 50cc racer and a 106mph top speed. Something with this little power could use all the aero help it can get. Didn’t Suzuki test a dustbin fairing on their MotoGP bike a few years ago? They didn’t get the speed improvement they expected but I don’t remember hearing about instability issues. Since they were unable to compete with it in any race class , they stopped testing and development. But wait, isn’t that what racing is supposed to be about, development to improve the breed?

    Michael states that he has already been pushed off tracks due to winds on a conventional motorcycle. By his reasoning then shouldn’t we eliminate fairings altogether? Or should we use modern technology to develop better solutions? Don’t ‘Racers push the limit’? Why would an innovator want to restrict the rules? Didn’t the joint venture identify aero drag as a major area where improvements can be had? If a team does not think they can develop a stable ‘dustbin’ fairing, then don’t. Simple testing can determine if a design is safe to allow on the track in competition.

    Racing used to be about innovation and the increase of the capabilities of street bikes in the last 40 years is a testament to its success. In the past decade marketing departments have managed to partially hijack the purpose of most motorcycle racing to support sales and not technology development. Now that we have a new series based on immature technology which can benefit from the no-BS environment of a race track the rules try to pigeonhole the bike design to a conventional bike but with batteries instead of a gas tank. It makes no sense to me.

    Sorry to sound so bitter, but I’ve been developing and racing and winning with my own creations for the past 8 years. So far Michael has spent lots of money, gotten lots of press and coverage, and has yet to complete a race (or even a timed practice session) on either of the machines he built.

    The proof is in the pudding, and I have yet to see any from Czysz.


  16. Hi Jim,

    You forgot to mention that I’m far from an ace rider. You can put me on Rossi’s bike and Rossi on foot and he’d still beat me. :) I build stuff for my own amusement because I’ve yet to have a bike that holds me back — I’m the rate determining factor!

    NSU, a major manufactuer and technical powerhouse with multiple GP titles, was poised to enter shortened versions of the Baumm LSR recordbreaker FF in the 1956 GP season. That was abandoned with Baumm’s untimely death in a track accident and in any event the FIM moved to set in stone their definition of a “proper racing motorcycle” shortly thereafter.

    An equivelant today would be if Yamaha or Ducati were to announce their intentions to enter an FF in the World Championship (if the rules allowed it). The people at NSU weren’t a bunch of fools and they saw developing and building FFs with full enclosure as a way to take a prestigious championship. If Baumm’s death and the FIM rule changes hadn’t happened motorcycling might well look very different today after another 50 years of development of the concept.

    It is pretty hard to say that FFs can’t run competitive lap times in modern times when AFAIK none of the underfunded (often zero-funded) private enthusiasts who are the only ones who might build a racer can’t actually enter them in a race due to the rules. To date any FF development has been focused on the street because they aren’t allowed on the track except at a track day. And when the only FF I know of that has been running track days is being piloted by a non-racer and the bike is basically in street trim less lights, it is hard to say that a valid conclusion about track suitability can be drawn. I will mention that Arthur has let one of the faster club racers try out his FF and that racer has been reported to be quite positive about the experience.

    But as long as the rules say “no FF riding position, no more than minimal streamlining” no one is going to know if a bike like that is better, worse, or just different.

    Here’s one of the NSU roadrace FFs and a standard bike for comparison.

    FWIW, I’ve done some work on a design for a trackday FF, but as with many of my projects it proceeds at a glacial pace. It may or may not be better but I won’t know unless I can get it to the track.


  17. Craig Vetter says:

    Morning Jim: You ask, “Is it a race or an exhibition?” While racing at entry levels is fun for the riders, eventually it becomes a way of making money for most. Racing, unfortunately, becomes a business. The rules are always changed so as to not allow any great design ideas to be used. After all, who would pay to come see the same person win all the time because he was an extraordinary thinker and inventor? “He’s cheating” would be the reaction from most. “He shouldn’t be allowed to do that.” Fans seem more interested in idols. There are probably more fans on Rossi sites than on Cyscz.

    Regarding electric racing: Petroleum powered vehicles need petroleum. Electric vehicles can be powered directly from the sun. Really, electric race bikes ought to be charged from the sun in real life and at all TTXGP events. I had the opportunity to discuss this with the Honorable P.P. Shimmin, Minister of the Isle of Man. He understands this very well. At present, tho, too many rely on “The Grid”, which is mostly fossil fuel based. Personal, roof top mounted collectors will also make any country less vulnerable to attack.

    The problems of streamlining are great. The problems of travelling on electricity are great. But these problems are worth solving. Michael Czysz is one of those rare people that can do it.

  18. I think the E-bike folks would do themselves a favor and spur
    development if they’d do a Formula Libre where “two single track
    wheels, one rider, electric power only” was the complete extent of the

    Otherwise they’ll just be trying to shove a round electric powerplant into
    a square ICE hole in a regular motorcycle and people are going to be not
    too terribly impressed at the result with the current electric motor/battery technology.

    After all, who knows if the regular bike format is the best way to package 2-300lbf of batteries and motors? They aren’t going to find out if they don’t try anything different.

    If you want innovation you need to allow innovation into the rules. And probably the most important thing you can do once you’ve decided on the rules is to make them stable for a 3-4 year period so that people have a chance to organize an attempt to build a bike


  19. Rider 1 says:

    That is what racing is all about. The track and conditions don’t lie. If you can build a FF or a modern dustbin that is faster around the track then you can put the critics to rest. Rules shouldn’t restrict invention. If they aren’t as fast well I don’t think you will see them on the track. Let results shape the bike not rules.

  20. Alexander Lowe says:

    1) Not all ‘dustbins’ were bad. See mention of Guzzi fairings, above.
    2) Design technology, e.g., simulation, has come on in leaps and bounds since 1957. This would be modern streamlining for a modern application.
    3) Why assume no tail fairing as well?
    4) Why assume that the streamlining will be applied to a tall, conventional motorcycle (making it aerodynamically like a sail) rather than a low one, e.g, an FF?

  21. Harry Mallin says:

    Jim, Craig, and Royce: you’ve all contributed to the TTXGP Technical Rules Wiki at It sounds like there are several of you (Michael Moore, Chris Consentino, etc.) who have strong viewpoints on the streamlining and the FF issues. I hope you (and anyone else who has an interest in chiming in on the rules that will shape electric PTW racing) will join, read, and make the changes that you want to see.

    Jim- Re: Royce’s changes to the rule that included mirrors – You have the power and ability to change that. The changes to the rules will be documented over time and when the Wiki closes in August, the contributions will be filtered for practicality with an eye toward inclusion.

    Michael Czysz — you’re invited too. There’s room for riders, engineers, fans – everyone’s invited. Be the change.

  22. Harry, those vehicle rules seem OK. There are rulebooks for lots of different race clubs online and picking out commonsense safety rules that apply to any vehicle that goes on a track should not be difficult. As to the mirror rule, if people are allowed to mount video cams on the bikes/rider a discreet mirror that doesn’t pose a safety hazard doesn’t seem a problem. I think many race cars are required to have mirrors so motorcyclists ought to be able to deal with them.

    I can’t address the electric-specific rules as I’m a gear head, not an electron head. :-) I’ve nothing against e-bikes and I’d be willing to run one but the powerplant would have to remain a black-box deal for me.

    The question for me is if the rules that open up vehicle design will survive their meeting with all the different sanctioning organizations who seem to have resisting change (unless the change is actively detrimental and then they’ll encourage it) as one of their major goals?

    I’d be thrilled to see some vehicle innovation take place and I wish we didn’t have to wait for e-vehicles to come along to get some of it. I’m not sure that racing with organizations that have often done their best to stamp out innovation any time it appeared (and who seem determined to continue doing that) is the way to do it.

    Best of luck to you!


  23. David Emmett says:

    A fascinating discussion, and some interesting opinions. However, there are a few factors that people seem to forget when discussing dustbin fairings.

    The most significant factor that people overlook is that the dustbin fairings were being raced at a time when most of the circuits were basically long, high-speed street loops. They were tracks where you would be running full speed for miles at a time, and hence could gain significant advantage from streamlining.

    Modern circuits are not like that any more. The longest straight on the grand prix circuit is now a little over a kilometer, if I recall correctly. While streamlining would offer an advantage down the straight, round the back of the circuit – which generally tend to be tight and technical, and often designed on a computer – such a dustbin-style fairing could well be more of a hindrance than a help.

    I am reminded of Honda’s first version of the RC212V 800cc MotoGP bike, which had so little fairing that they had to paint the sponsors colors onto the frame to actually get the full logo on the bike. Honda went for flickability over top speed, guess – wrongly as it happened – that the new formula would be about maneuverability rather than horsepower. Ducati came out and blew everyone away, using the extra horsepower (and the more streamlined fairing) to obtain an advantage.

    This suggests that though the streamlining of modern race bikes could be improved (which is why the Ducati riders spend so much time in wind tunnels), it is unlikely to be changed radically. I am reminded of the opening scene of Mark Neale’s iconic movie Faster, where Peter Clifford and the WCM / Red Bull Yamaha team are testing a new fairing with a kind of “pilot whale” nose bump, looking for an aerodynamic advantage. They measured an advantage, but not a big enough one to cancel out the downsides. This is, as Jim rightly points out, because riders no longer keep the wheels in line, but are sliding (to a limited extent) round corners, hanging off the bike. The wheels in line style would hugely disadvantage a properly fast race bike with big horsepower.

    In other words, race bikes would only adopt streamlining to the extent that it offered a benefit to the racer. Feet Forward designs are, in my view, extremely unlikely to be adopted in motorcycle racing, as the aim of modern race bike design is to put as little between the tire contact patch and the rider’s brain as possible. At Valencia, I asked Guy Coulon why we weren’t seeing any experimentation in front end design, and he said that it would confuse the riders, and therefore mean the bikes going more slowly. The riders can’t understand the feedback from a non-conventional design, and so such designs don’t get used.

    If streamlined bikes required a radical rethink of riding style, then they are unlikely to be adopted. Freeing up the current aerodynamic restrictions would not cause a revolution, but would see some minor changes, especially around the tail section, as teams fight to cut down drag from turbulence.

    Electric vehicles, on the other hand, do not have huge horsepower (or they don’t for very long, anyway), and so the advantage of streamlining might outweigh the loss in corner speed. Of course, the one track where the aerodynamics would offer a clear advantage for any kind of bike is the Isle of Man, which due to the nature of the course and its exposed location in the middle of the Irish Sea is probably the track where a dustbin fairing is likely to cause the most problems.

    If I was experimenting, I’d probably buy an Aprilia RS125 and play with the aerodynamics on that, as I can see that in small capacity racing is where aerodynamics will pay off most.

    Of course, there is another reason for not changing the aerodynamic rules, at least not in MotoGP. Roughly half of the money that is spent in F1 goes on aerodynamics, and opening up the rules would probably cause a spending war, unless the engine rules were also opened up to allow teams to make horsepower more cheaply (e.g. turbos or unlimited capacity. Or both.) After one round of major cost-cutting measures (though the question of just how much they cut costs by is debatable), opening up the rules to allow spending on aerodynamics is very unlikely. Despite the fact that Craig – quite rightly – points out that what we really need from our vehicles is radically improved fuel efficiency – whether that fuel be hydrocarbons or converted sunlight.



  24. Brett Vegas says:

    Mmm, that round peg getting hammered into the square hole.
    The whole idea of street bike racing with battery electric vehicles has people looking for bigger hammers for that round peg.

    There are a couple of things a BEV does well. Torque. Sound. Instant response. Um, thats about it, Oh, you can save the planet too. The thing that BEVs don’t do well at all is going fast for a long distance. For some reason that is exactly what people try to force the vehicle to do. Why? Dumb. Put bikes into 10-15mi races, you might not have more than half the entries DNF like at ttxgp last year, shit it might even end up like real racing. you can stuff the fans(if there are any) right next to the turns and they can listen to the tires. Put lots of turns in the course and the bikes may even do well compared to ICE.

    A dustbin, or ff, isn’t going to make BEVs a real racing venue, much as I like forward thinking. Lets say that a dustbin/ff is a done deal. It makes a slow race slightly less slow, and sure as shit the promotor will add another lap, pounding that peg just a bit more. Current race bikes can hang 10-14kwh on a bike, it just isn’t very much energy. In a race like Isle of mann, 40min, it amounts to 15-20hp per hour. Lame. If you make it slippery, it will give you 10-20% ‘better’ numbers. The problem is that the numbers are so shitty in the first place that 20 points dont amount to much.

    Cut the time in half, a 20min race, and the bikes can use 30-40hp per hour. cut it in half again, 60-80hp per hour, and all of a sudden the horsepower gap is closed, and you might actualy have some folks bumping elbows. 10 minute race is all that batt tech is able to do right now, a 40min race is exhibition(and a slow one at that!).
    If you want the event to last longer, then make it a ten minute lap with a batt swap, and run it for 3,4 or five laps.

    Ten minute lap.

    See ya!


  25. Robert says:

    Reading the article I was in agreement about the dustbin type fairings being less safe for the rider. In my opinion it is not due to aerodynamic issues.
    Simply, it seems that additional structure restricts the rider in a way that can easily break bones, sever body parts, or injure when the bike is crashing or in a particularly dynamic mode.
    I see some potential for fairing design. I want to see much more. Perhaps there is not much middle ground between bikes with conventional fairings and cabin bikes such as the Pereaves when physical safety is considered.

  26. Ben says:

    Why not make the e-bike racing more like Motocross, or Rally with heats that last maybe five to ten minutes on a smaller/more demanding course (more turns, etc). Then it could be exciting as well as showing off what the machines are capable of.

  27. Harry Mallin says:

    Michael… you need to get some spam filters on your comments or maybe just attentive guys like me to watch them. Nathaniel Wood, for instance… that’s a spammer.

  28. Ed. Gordon says:

    Craig has found a good solution to road side-winds. Racers need to move around and hang off the bike. Optimal solutions are often compromises. Would a good starting-point for incremental and safety-primary rules be:

    “Nose and Tail” streamlining, as minimal as possible to still flow well, BUT with enough central gap to allow both “Hang-Off” and “Blow-Through” ??

  29. Grant Connor says:

    First I recommend that anyone interested in motorcycle aerodynamics read Chapter 10 of “Motorcycle Design and Technology” by Gaetano Cocco, 2004 from Motorbooks International. This covers the basic relevant issues. My personal experience is producing fairing systems for upright bicycles. So far I have succeeding in building simple fairings that allows a 50% increase in cruising speed with the same input energy. Road tests in 15 mph crosswinds have had very minor effect on steering control. The nose piece is a cone so the lateral Cd is low. The rear section is larger than the front so the center of pressure is well behind the center of mass.

    Raising the height of the rear section to blend to the rider’s shoulder will likely yield the greatest immediate improvements. Stability would improve with downforce (negative lift) both through the general body shape and ground effects at lean angle. Fixed wings or canards are not as helpfulf as on a car chassis. Just as the least drag comes from a body that is elliptical at the front and conic in the rear, the downforce is increased by a shape that is curved at the bottom and flat or even concave at the top.

    Electric motorcycles and small displacement bikes will benefit most from drag reduction. Perhaps the current 125cc 2-stroke class will be replaced by a 250cc 4-stroke Moto3. In the larger 600cc Moto2 and MotoGP downforce will be more of an issue. Limits on the amount of fuel for a race will drive improvements to overall drag.

    Each designer and rider will have to sort out the best combinations for riding a given circuit on race day. The full fairing is not to be rejected out of hand but carefully applied. If nothing else there will be more room for sponsor logos.

  30. tahrey says:

    As someone who knows practically nothing about any of this and only has experience of small nakeds and scooters … and therefore has no loyalty tied up in my thoughts etc… can’t we conquer this problem with modern technology?

    The early, and particularly 50s/60s racing cars that made use of heavy streamlining to achieve enormous speed and efficiency were incredibly dangerous as well. There was just for one example the infamous crash at Le Mans when one went airborne, and plenty others have done backflips down the years. But you don’t see a great deal of un-faired, un-streamlined cars around do you? No. We’ve figured out how to deal with the lift, and create downforce instead without compromising the overall airflow. Splitters, air dams, strategically placed vents and the like.

    Give the “dustbin” idea over to the CAD boffins, tell them “no limits”, and lets see what comes out of it. And whether the result can be toned down into a race-compatible (and then, road compatible :) version.

    No-one in the 50s could even DREAM of having the kind of modelling and evolutionary-algorithm design facilities we have at our disposal. It may be worth giving this old, but crudely implemented idea a second go. Particularly if it’s combined with all the other benefits you list of a modern bike – the high CG (maybe more resilient to the wind?), better tyres and frame geometry, etc.

  31. ashwin chansder says:

    i did not completely understand the concept of the dustbin but i think i understood what john merlin williams has to say. drag force is the direction of motion of flow of the fluid(in this case air). lift is the force in the perpendicular direction to the flow. lift force weill be zero when therer is no inclination of the bike to the vertical. but at turnings there will be lift force acting. this lift force helps in bringing the bike up. but the lift force bepend upon many things like the velocity of the wind, the weight of the bike and the rider, the angle of inclination with the vertical, and also the coefficent of lift(here the medium is air, so the density of air will be considered here)

  32. ashwinchander says:

    i could not complete my blog the last time i entered. for the drag force the weight of the rider and the bike is not considered. in the case of f1 cars there is this phenomenon called the surging effect. here this effect can be calculated and adjusted according to the race track. in simple words when the race track is circular or oval in shape and the racer has to keep moving in a clockwise direction. the rear tires are different in size. the left rear wheel will be larger than the right rear wheel. theoretically it can be said that the car can make turns on its own without the racers help. but practically it makes the turning easy for the racer. i want to learn more about this dustbin effect ,so i am going to do some research about this. i would love to hear about the working of the electric bike. till next time …….

  33. Andyj says:

    I fine example of a fully bodied motorcycle that is not affected by side winds:

    In all my motorcycling years I have noticed marked effects from side winds on bikes kitted up in various ways.

    The worst things to have are:
    Low, rear slung panniers and/or fairings high and forward. All enclosing front mudguards etc.
    Here is a very good example of scary:

    All the successfully faired bikes that have little side wind effect tend to carry the front (frame mounted) fairing low and the rear bodywork high.

    Back to Allerts latest and most brilliant example of what can be done:
    His little Honda 125 has gone from around 55mph to 85mph. 120 mpg to nearly 300mpg (UK) max. Works well in side winds; it’s a game changer!

    Just about every modern high speed bike on Bonneville has a high tail fin at the rear to gain some stability on side winds. Not wings to induce a reverse roll and balance downforce’s. You see my point?

    At this moment in time I have bought a little scrap scooter and working on a full body just to have a play with the concept. My seat is where the footplate is. Being feet forward, it will be no racer. (Horses for courses). Sat in it, the CofG feels high. Will have retractable outrigger wheels.

    But if I can cross EU states for a pittance in weatherproofed relative comfort. 100cc at hauliers speeds plus its 150 litre storage. I will be more than over the moon.

    After all I have written I will still back the authors point of view for racing. Safety first!
    However, I do not agree with making the steering on race bikes too fast. I never see any fast turning while the rider is racing in control but see hellish skittering which must play havoc with the bike/rider efficiency as a whole. The only useful purpose I can find is racing in a tight pack and avoiding last moment obstacles.

    Call me wrong but I once took a Honda XL600L (dumper truck on rails) around a go-kart track in a very notable time and I’m no racer!

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  35. thomas lewis says:

    One only has to look at the ecomobile,monotracer or the worlds fastest bicycle at 82mph to see the advantages of streamlining in work.I see road racing as more of a challenge then as a ”it can’t be done’.

  36. I must take issue with the statement that forward center of pressure is more dangerous for a streamlined motorcycle than rear COP.

    I have ridden my Peraves ECOMOBILE 96,000 miles here in the USA and have had to deal with sudden 50 MPH cross winds several times.

    It automatically self corrects the lean angle when the wind hits requiring very little steering input required to keep on the intended line because the COP is forward.

    It pushes the steering to counter steer to the correct angle of oposition to the force of the wind.

    Rear COP doesn’t do this. It causes a rear slide which must then be steered through by rider skill (which is not quick enough).

    It is actually maintains cornering line better than my open bike in similar situation. And it is a fully enclosed streamliner.

    I am very interested in finding a way to power my ECO with your 2011 IOM TT winning power train.

    I know, from witnessing last summer’s $2.5 mil X-PRIZE win by Peraves, that 200 MPGe with 200 mile range @ 75 MPH (with 150 MPH top end) will be achieved.

  37. Frank Lee says:

    Dan: Your explanation of Ecomobile stability doesn’t make sense. When the COP is ahead of the COG, x-winds will tend to blow the vehicle off course in the direction of the wind which equals unstable. When the COP is behind the COG x-winds tend to point the nose into the wind which equals stable.

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