Is MotoGP lost: 500 > 990 > 800 > 1000 > CRT > ?

Companies race for only a few reasons: R&D, Sales & Marketing and hopefully passion, fans watch for even fewer; to witness the greatest competition known to man.



In an era where it is more important then ever for companies to innovate and differentiate themselves from the competition the race track for a motorcycle company should be as central to their operation as the boardroom.  If companies no longer deem racing essential, it is because the formula is no longer relevant.  Worse, if racing classifications are not clear then fans fail to connect and eventually even care.  Ask even a loyal fan to explain the difference between DSB and SuperSport or WSB and a CRT.

Racing directs development and to make it relevant in the 21 century, efficiency should trump top speed.  Every company (and individual) should be focused on doing more with less and fans should easily understand the structure and goals of each class. What is needed is new architecture, a solid, stable foundation that can scale from Moto3 thru MotoGP and WSB while maintaining each classes unique individuality.

Go to the heart…

Motorcycles go faster because every aspect improves but at the center of this improvement is the cylinder, the heart of the machine. Cylinders have evolved to a diametric science of laminar flow and turbulence.  The heart has moved far beyond simple porting and polishing of cast heads.  The design and development of the cylinder (airbox to exhaust) is a serious, expensive endeavor and with every seemingly random displacement or bore/stroke change the entire expensive cycle starts over.  More than anything else, global rule changes preclude smaller companies from becoming competitive and even plays a part in why existing manufacturers drop out.  The result? A MotoGP grid with 3 manufacturers.

The first step; lock down the lowest common denominator, the single cylinder.  The obvious choice is a 250cc 4 stroke.  The only limitation should be, no pneumatic valves. Ultimately the investors in race technology want to commercialize their technology and pneumatic valves are not easily commercialized.  Limiting RPM or bore/stroke ratios are misguided, the goal should be to leave the rules as open as possible.

Once a team has successfully designed a single cylinder a single cylinder engine is a relatively small next step.  Once a team has built a single cylinder engine a multi-cylinder engine is well within reach. All the technology and costs spent on any engine could be applied and shared with any other engine yet every engine and class stays and sounds unique.

The 250 multiplier
We have been nearly here; the greatest era of GP racing from a cost development and fan appreciation perspective had to be the 125, 250 and 500cc era and the distinction between superbikes and GP were at their greatest; 2 stroke vs. 4 stroke.  Even though 4 stroke engines have migrated into MotoGP there is still a solution- it utilizes what I call the 250 multiplier:

Moto3 = 250cc (250 x 1)

Moto2 = 500cc (250 x 2)

MotoGP = 750cc (250 x 3)

WSB/Superbike racing = 1,000 (250 x 4)

This allow the clearest path forward for even the smallest company from China or the largest company from India to enter and create a long term plan to race.  Nearly all the investment made in Moto3 would be directly applicable to Moto2 and so on.

Of course fewer or more cylinders should be allowed with displacement considerations.

MotoGP vs WSB
MotoGP = 250cc, 500cc and 750cc prototype engines and chassis

WSB/Superbike = 600cc and 1,000cc production engines and chassis

Under the 250X format MotoGP will continue to race technology leading prototype chassis and engines.  With a common cylinder across the classes, MotoGP will not only have built in feeder classes for riders but for manufacturers too.  Superbikes will continue to be the most directly connected series to consumers as the motorcycles raced are available in showrooms. However Superbike needs to be more disciplined, a minimum number of motorcycles must be manufactured and delivered before allowed to participate.  The trust is lost when a series homologates bikes or equipment arbitrarily that do not even meet the basic definition of “production based” (i.e. AMA/DMG)

Electronics, tires, back-up bikes, etc.
I generally feel fewer rules are better than more and that fewer restrictions will create more interesting racing and over the long run will cost less. Change costs money, the greater the change the greater the cost.

Electronics are a reality and will continue to play even a bigger roll in racing. Electronics can bring outside industry support and money to racing so it needs be managed, not limited.

Moto1 = controlled electronics (single supplier system)

Moto2 = homoligated electronics (open system from any supplier, available to all teams)

MotoGP = unlimited electronics

WSB 600cc = homoligated electronics (open system from any supplier, available to all teams)

WSB 1000cc = unlimited electronics

Tires = open

Back-up bike = allowed

CRT’s = cancelled

Historically, whenever a restriction is implemented to save money it often cost more. Currently WSB does not allow a back-up bike in an effort to save money.  In response every team now has a back-up bike that is apart, packed in crates instead of already built and ready. There is little difference in outright cost but all teams encounter much more work and cost in the event there is a problem with the ‘one’ bike.  By definition Suberbike is to be production racing, which means highly available.

Most importantly; vertical growth over lateral change
There are hundreds of motorcycle manufacturers and suppliers in the world that are candidates to participate in racing but do not.  The greatest limitation is not money but time.  Unless a company is already experienced in racing it takes time to work into the system.  Money is still a requirement but many companies have more than ‘enough’ to participate at some level and enough of them could significantly contribute to the overall health and wealth of the sport.

What I believe keeps many companies on the sidelines is the lack of transparency and reason behind wholesale rule changes reinforcing a general fear that the sport is too big and they (we) are too small. However if it was clear that a company would have years to move up and grow into the sport this fear would be reduced in not completely eliminated.  If a company could be certain that every hour and every dollar it invested in racing would remain relevant and applicable as they executed a measured, vertical growth plan then the ROI and value proposition of racing dramatically changes.

If motorcycle racing become the best organized, most transparent race series with the clearest, communicated long term vision I believe it could be the most successful motorsport in the world.  There is nothing as beautiful and courageous.

Michael Czysz

8 Responses to “Is MotoGP lost: 500 > 990 > 800 > 1000 > CRT > ?”

  1. designing says:

    designing…

    [...]Is MotoGP lost: 500 > 990 > 800 > 1000 > CRT > ? « Club MotoAmerica[...]…

  2. [...] a new post by MotoCzysz boss Michael Czysz on the company blog, he makes a claim that CRT will be the death of [...]

  3. jzj says:

    Great post, I couldn’t agree more with most of what you say. Truly, a perfect example of the lack of stability that you decry is found in the engine size: what was the possible advantage of MotoGP going from 1000cc to 800cc and back to 1000cc, but apparently eying a change again in a few years? (Obviously, the “we need to reduce speeds for safety” assertion has been dispatched: they were way over 200MPH in Qatar.) MotoGP — and really, all motorcycle racing — is going through some soul-searching. The racing bodies want to keep as many bikes on the grid as possible and so try to create rules that level the playing field (or open F1-like second-class classes like CRT so the grid has more than a handful of players), but the all-powerful manufacturers’ group wants to win and so the rules have to be relaxed to meet its demands (AMA has admitted as much regarding the electronics cost limit).

    I think your proposal must be seen in this political light: if you lay down the law for the sake of long-term stability and at the risk of pissing off the manufacturers, will the various lesser-entities you refer to really come out to play? Racing is an expensive habit, and perhaps it’s less about the parts than the cost of the show: the traveling, the crew, the trucks, etc. I would be curious to know, at the MotoGP level, how much of the cost of a whole season is actually comprised of the cost of motorcycle parts. It might be that, ultimately, the cost can only be borne by privateers with really great sponsors (few of these exist), and the manufacturers who know that there is still some truth in “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.”

    Nonetheless, you are correct that setting basic standards makes so much sense. I also have long shared your 250/500/750 proposal, as I do your electronics proposal (these days electronics are clearly the most diabolical part of getting top performance). And sure, let tires be an open choice — assuming that the tire manufacturers will not sign limited exclusive deals such that only some teams can get the best tires. Chassis development is the perfect place for teams to work their magic. But, in a sense, isn’t this sort of a description of CRT (but for the tires)?

    In any event, I very much agree with your perfect description of the dichotomy of flow dynamics as the key to naturally-aspirated volumetric efficiency (ah, but then there are the ram-air boxes to consider…).

    Now, as to REAL revolutions in motorsports racing: about those electric vehicles — now that’s the neat stuff!

  4. ludofrenchalpes says:

    vivement bientôt … ;)

  5. Ricardo Ferreira says:

    As this discution might not leave this blog, I’m posting again what I wrote on the Lean Angle website:

    Ricardo “Smile” Ferreira
    Both writers with brilliant ideas, hope I can keep up with both somehow.

    About the racing differences, I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Mercado when he says “a loyal fan knows exactly the difference between DSB, WSB or CRT. The casual fan probably doesn’t even care”. The problem is, even if they do know the differences, do they agree with them? Shouldn’t they, if they are the final target? As a loyal fan, as I believe the three of us are part of them in different ways, I disagree with the existing differences. Different competitions should have different racing machines, and they’re getting closer every year that goes by. And though those differences go missing very slowly in a two-year period for most fans to notice, it’s amazing how they disappear incredibly in a short decade. And I believe that if the various championship managers want to captivate the audience attention, they should try set different philosophies.

    The pointed issue of changing rules so often, no doubt it does not help cutting in expenses. We can see that, from what MotoGP riders are complaining on 2012 tests, and the great effort both their technical teams and manufacturers need to do for the riders and the prototypes to be competitive and achieve good results.
    I believe that when Mr. Czysz says “and even plays a part in why existing manufacturers drop out. The result? A MotoGP grid with 3 manufacturers” he’s referring exactly to Kawasaki and Suzuki huge manufacturers. And I have to disagree with Mr. Mercado, when he says that “If Aprilia can field a Factory-supported, production-based entry, then what is stopping Kawasaki and Suzuki returning under the same pretext”, because neither Aprilia nor other manufacturer can support a CRT in MotoGP, as these teams have to be precisely privateers using factory engines, without help from those factories. On the other hand, it could mean a Kenny Roberts KR Honda comeback.
    Do I agree with the CRT policy? No way! But there is a bigger problem than CRT in MotoGP. It’s the Honda racing championship, most commonly known as Moto2. And this is troubling me. Why is everybody so concern about CRT if it’s no more than an upgrade of what’s happening in the lower category Moto2? Is it so hard to see? It’s a shame that Mr. Ezpeleta gives more credit to Honda, than to Aprilia or KTM. They are all competitors. Their opinion should be considered and respected equally, despite their power on the motorcycle market.

    “I also agree that tyre rules should be opened up. On the other hand, I do feel that Unlimited rules will always serve those with the deepest pockets unfortunately. I disagree that time is the primary limiting factor.” Couldn’t agree more. And on this final statement, it’s sad that Mr. Czysz claims that “The greatest limitation is not money but time”, while his beautiful bike only races twice annually (congratulations Münch and Brammo) and his website is not up-to-date, turning his fans (I’m a big one) frustrated while waiting for any news. Again, if “In an era where it is more important then ever for companies to innovate and differentiate themselves from the competition the race track for a motorcycle company should be as central to their operation as the boardroom.”, where is the E1pc on the other races of TTXGP North American and World Championships?

    On the displacement issue, I support the “Looking at those suggestions, personally I like the look of it the other way around. I’d prefer 1000cc Moto1 bikes and a return to 750 production bikes in SBK.”
    If MotoGP is the main competition, and we’ve seen the times sheets getting more similar between WSBK and MotoGP with 1000cc vs 800cc, should we take another 50cc capacity and one cylinder from the prototypes? It would probably be the end of MotoGP due to the probable lack of interest of both fans and riders.
    I suggest double engine capacity to the different classes:

    1 cylinder 250cc
    2 cylinders 500cc
    4 cylinders 1000cc

    “Bring SBK regs back to a 750 class and the 750 street bike will be reborn.(…) I love my litre bike, but it’s stupidly overpowered for 90% of the riding I do.” No more, no less, and there we could get that refreshing bigger difference needed between MotoGP and WSBK classes. And for WSBK, maybe it wouldn’t mean that much increase in expenses, because it wouldn’t mean new motorcycles. It could be seen instead as a revival of the old machines and possibly a superbike marketing help, recreating and restyling old superbikes. We could learn that from what’s happening to the automobile market, as various brands are bringing back old models with new shape.
    On the other hand it would set a smaller gap between Superbike and Supersport series.

    And finally, a big ovation to the rumor floating around that World Superbike, which starts with Infront boss man Paolo Flammini allegedly saying to the journalists that he was considering the format switch for WSBK, as it would increase the spectacle of the sport, and we presume help differentiate it from its rival series, MotoGP. You bet it would, although I think that instead of the CRT solution, Mr. Ezpeleta could have come with this brilliant idea before, motivating sponsors to back up manufacturers and riders.

  6. Wayne says:

    How long before MotoGP switches to electric bikes? Maybe 5-10 more years if the series survives.

  7. Jacques de Villiers says:

    I absolutely agree with this way of thinking!

  8. gpfan says:

    For the most part i agree with you. I was sick when i saw the rules changing forcing you guys out of gp before it started. Join forces with Kenny Roberts and put a gp bike on the grid! Sign Nicky Hayden too!

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