Review: MotoGP Technology

In Product, Reviews, Tech, Tech Talk Tuesday

NEIL Spalding’s MotoGP Technology book isn’t just a coffee table read, but if you decide to make it so I guarantee you’ll be drinking a lot more java.

The aptly named hardcover, now in its third print edition, walks readers through the ins and outs of Grand Prix engineering in the four stroke Era.

Using just the right amount of diagrams to explain key concepts without becoming too arithmetic, the book strikes a great balance between easy-to-digest explanation and theory…

Three complete editions means the MotoGP technical journalist and author didn’t kick back after he introduced the first edition in 2006, instead choosing to continue the hunt for answers as to ‘why’ this and ‘how’ that as the world’s top tier two-wheeled machinery continues to evolve each season.

What’s more, Spalding takes the time to crack open the major points of racing motorcycle science, talking through main systems such as the engine, brakes, electronics, tyres and more – including the new topic of aerodynamics.

It would be easy enough to say ‘this works best and that’s why Team X is winning’, but with more than 15 years’ experience in the blue riband paddock – taking notes, drawing diagrams and snapping photos – Spalding is able to break down otherwise extremely deep subjects into consumable bits of information.

After a brief history of the four stroke age and a solid chapter on each GP manufacturer to point out their strengths and weaknesses, as well as how they’ve evolved over the past decade, the book then moves through to dig into each major system.

It isn’t all equations and formulae either – it does go into some of the mathematical rhyme and reason behind chassis flex, steering angle and centre of mass, among other things, but that’s only half the target.

Each GP team, past and present, is profiled in its own chapter as the author explains what makes each bike strong in some areas and weaker in others over the past decade…

Yes this book is full of pub ammo, stats, figures and diagrams that will undoubtedly give you the leg up on your mates, but it’s also a fantastic reference. Even as an experienced suspension and tyre engineer myself, I find it very difficult to close the cover and not come back to it minutes later curious about something else.

Why didn’t Ducati make their wings bigger? How does that seamless gearbox lark work? Why does the KTM tend to wheelie more than other bikes? What’s with Honda’s exhaust configuration? Patience, the answers are all inside these crisp, glossy pages.

And for the too long, didn’t read version here are the top reasons to get your hands on MotoGP Technology:

  • You’ll learn more than you ever could by just watching bikes on the box . More importantly, you’ll gain an understanding of how race engineers make those fire-breathing monsters work so well.
  • There is always something more to figure out. This isn’t just one of those books you put in the loft, it goes on your coffee table because you’re going to want to pick it up every time you see new trick bits in winter testing photos and every time you watch a grand prix. Alternatively, keep it close to the garage – it may even help with setting up your own bike.
  • It’s full of stunning images of GP machinery and immaculate pieces of engineering. Every picture serves a purpose and gives you something to investigate, whether it’s a curious bolt, a hole in the fairing, a stray wire or an askew carbon wing. But rest assured, there’s plenty of eye candy as well.

Find the book on Amazon, or head to MotoGPTechnology.com to save a few quid with free shipping.

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