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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

MD Readers Respond to Anticipated Superbike Rule Changes

In our article on May 15, 2002, we discussed possible ways superbike organizers (both WSB and AMA) might restrict the performance of 1000cc four-cylinder machines in order to achieve parity with two-cylinder machines. Our readers responded with their own, frequently intelligent thoughts on this issue. Here are the unedited responses:

  • I think AMA Should adopt the Formula extreme class as the preimer class so that more privateers would have a chance to race something reasonably competitive against the shrinking number of factory bikes. It doesn’t make any sense to me that privateers only choice at the moment is to run GSXR’s with slicks when all those nice 1000cc extreme bikes are available for them at reasonable costs.

    Its kind of boring this year with only about 8 guys racing up front and then all the other guys a mile behind.

  • Easy…, what negates a horsepower advantage and makes races more fun to watch ? More tight turns.

  • I disagree that equal performance equals boredom in racing. The differential in output of motors in, say, the 125 class can be measured in hummingbird farts and yet the racing is fascinating. Equal engine output forces intensified efforts to improve the chassis, suspension and balance of the bike, to say nothing of riding strategy. Everyone benefits from better running gear. Nobody – and I mean nobody – needs 200 horsepower to have fun getting his streetbike down the road.

    On the other hand, I instinctively am not comfortable with engine performance restrictions because I fear they deny consumers of the resulting engineering advances. Yes, manufacturers should be encouraged to maximize performance. I say this in the context of “more from less” rather than “by this time next year we’ll all be able to buy 312hp motorcycles for $10,000. Shame they won’t turn or stop”.

    So WSB can go the way of NASCAR and restrict to equalise. Given than it’s the biggest spectator sport in America and is televised almost constantly I don’t see the downside from a commercial point of view.

    Or they can let the fastest bikes win. This could result in a one-make series (now who’s being boring?) until the competition comes up with enough unobtainium to challenge.

    Fans want good racing, not predictable results.

  • And World Superbike and AMA wonder why the number of factory bikes keep
    shrinking. MotoGP is where the factories and fans are going to watch.
    Anything goes to achieve maximum output and excitement for the series
    and fans. They are already turning the AMA series into NASCAR by using
    the same tracks that pack in the crowds but give them a boring race due
    to no elevation changes and the bike on the left side 3/4 of the time.
    Just my two cents worth.

  • World Superbike has become a glorified Pro-Thunder series with 1000 CC twins
    (usually Ducatis) dominating the competition. This makes no sense for a
    production based series when the true commercially available “Superbikes”
    are actually 1,000 CC in-line fours. How did this situation come about?

    The basic problem is this: Motorcycle racing is a European sport. The
    largest fan base is in Spain, Italy and the U.K.. European fans want to see
    European manufacturers compete successfully. This creates a problem when
    the most competitive production machinery (in-line fours) is made in Japan,
    and the Europeans have traditionally built less competitive twins. So, how
    do you fix this situation? Why, you cheat of course! You give the twins a
    250 CC advantage to level the playing field. Unfortunately two bad things
    have happened: the 250 CC advantage turned out to be too generous, and 750
    CC fours have been displaced in the show room by their 1,000 CC siblings.
    “Win today, sell tomorrow” doesn’t work when the bike you race (750 CC
    fours), is not the bike people want to buy (1,000 CC fours).

    Clearly, the rules need to change to bring in 1,000 CC in-line fours.
    However, this could devastate the Ducati and Aprilia racing programs,
    alienating European fans. So, how do you fix this problem? Why, you cheat
    of course! You give the twins a displacement advantage (1,200 CC?) or a
    weight advantage. You change the tire specs. Twins may have an advantage
    on street tires since traction is a bigger problem for the in-line fours.
    Ideally, you make lots of (seemingly) inconsequential “adjustments” that, in
    aggregate, make the twins competitive. The goal is to improve performance
    of the twins without being too blatant about it, and making the series look
    ridiculous. Which means the fours will end up being closer to show room
    spec, while the Ducati’s and Aprilias will be more exotic. This has the
    added advantage of being consistent with Japanese and Italian marketing
    strategies. The rules should be bent to bring in as many manufacturers as
    possible (that means you Triumph!) to race their current top-of-the-line
    production bikes.

    In addition, I think a conscious effort should be made to make World
    Supersport and Superbike the feeder series’ for GP1. Is racing a 250 CC two
    stroke really the best preparation for a 990 CC four stroke GP bike? I
    don’t think so. A souped up R1 should be pretty good preparation for racing
    the Yamaha GP bike (also an in-line four). I think such a strategy would
    ensure World Superbike’s continued success.

    The AMA series should change its rules to accommodate World Superbike.

  • How about just a cc limit? That way companies can decide whether they want
    1 or 10 cylinders and whatever engine configuration they want……what ever
    works. But I guess if they did Ducati would lose their advantage, and after
    all, Isn’t it all about Ducati?

  • Superbike needs to distinguish itself from GP, preferably by strengthening it’s stance on
    racing commerically available machines. Keep it very simple: race any stock bike of any
    displacement. No homologation, no parts-bin sorting for optimal performance. Performance
    would be tested to conform to specs that apply to stock bikes. No suspension mods except ride
    height and triple-clamp drop. No fueling, frame, or fairing changes. Tires dimensions the same as
    stock, but the compound and manufacturer could vary from stock. Tape over the lights, wire it up,
    add great riding talent, and go. Simple, inexpensive, great for the manufacturers, fair competition for
    privateers, and great fun for partisan sportbike owners. Track day riders could compare their results
    to those of their Superbike heroes.

    Another option would be to use Formula USA rules. That’d be easy enough.

  • It never really made since to me the displacement inequities with the v-twins in 750 class compared to the 600 class. In the 600 class of racing the v-twins are allowed a 150cc displacement advantage, which seems to be just about perfect seeing as how both types of bikes (4 cyl. & v-twins) win races quite often. Where as in the 750 class there is a 250cc displacement advantage for the v-twins and it’s blatantly obvious that the 4 cyl. machines can’t really compete. Why don’t they change the displacement cap for 4 cyl. machine to 850cc instead of 1000cc. I’d bet that the factories could make up their performance lag with a 100cc jump up in displacement and not bypass the current v-twin performance by so much that restrictors would be necessary. If they decide to make the jump up to 1000cc across the board, I agree with no engine restrictors, maybe a weight restriction, but I think that full factory powered 1000cc fours in racing would be the end to v-twin engines in the class, they wouldn’t be able to compete. Ducati would probably have to change over to their new V-4 similar to the one they are going to race in Moto GP. In my opinion, the only reason the factories are pushing for the 1000cc limit is so that they can race bikes that they already produce, and racing would help sales…it makes since. I just don’t want to see the tables reversed, the fours winning everything and the twins not being able to compete (I’m kind of a biased Ducati fan). But then again, I agree with letting the companies build the bikes they want and letting the race track decide which ones are the best, it’s kind of like survival of the fittest. If the V-twins can’t compete then so be it, those companies will have to design something that does.

  • The answer might be to do what we do with our series in Canada. Nobody can afford a full boat superbike, so we have only 2 rules, a fixed minimum weight, and a fixed maximum horsepower (dyno’d after the race). You can build any displacement or configuration you want (we obviously use off the floor bikes to base them on, but the factories could be innovative). The great thing is that there is no limit on torque, so development makes these bikes better and better, with the bike having the best midrange having an advantage with off corner acceleration. Maybe a recipe for some good bike development.

  • It is easy. Make engines unlimited. Let Honda make a 240hp 1200cc V4.
    Good luck getting the power to the ground. Maybe somebody will bolt a turbo
    to a 700cc twin. Cool. ANY rules restricting engines will ALWAYS result in
    less innovation. At most, you could make a sliding scale for weight as a
    function of the engine. Maybe even increase the race duration by 5 or 10
    minutes (to make it tougher on tires, further limiting useful hp).

    Also, make them run the following items pure stock:

    Engine cases

    Heads (can be flowed, but the stock casting)


    Frame (no welded reinforcements)

    Swingarm (I might be flexible on this one)

    This puts the manufacturers in the pickle of balancing a producible street
    bike, wanting mega power, having tires that can’t take it, etc. The public
    will get much better road bikes and an incredible variety on the grid.

  • If there were to be any “equalizer” that were fair to all engines and
    chassis, I think that making all bikes run the same diameter and width of
    wheel, and restrict to a maximum tire tire width and section profile would
    really keep huge horses from becoming the deciding factor in who wins.
    Power delivery would potentially become even more important than it is

    I think raising the 4’s displacement to 1 liter is a bit extreme – maybe
    give them an additional 50 – 100 cc.

  • If they really want to create some kind of parity they need to follow some kind of production based rule set like MotoGP where cylinder configurations will determine weight allowance…

    Running restrictor plates like nascar is going to turn ama superbike into the WWF of bike racing, just like nascar has become the WWF of auto racing (and I am a fan of nascar, it’s just getting ridiculous)…

    Whatever happened to the main principle of racing??? The guy with the fastest machine wins, and if you lose you go back to the shop and build a faster machine!!! Out of hand…

  • I doubt this will happen unless WSB wants their series to go in the can.
    Look at GP, everyone is more interested. The manufacturers were allowed to
    do what they want under certain weight restrictions and it works. If a GP
    bike doesn’t cut the mustard, then they can redo it or go with another
    engine configuration. WSB officials need to let the factories make their
    bikes and leave it alone. The era of the twin needs to end anyway.
    Progression is the key to life and motorcycle racing. Allowing, V-4’s,
    inline 4’s, and 1000cc triples is the way to go. That way the WSB series
    can compete with GP or at least maintain its’ fan base. Restricting the
    engines is like you said, reminiscent of idiotic leagues of American racing
    which are boring as hell. Get a petition going, I’ll sign it.

  • Everytime I see the word parity, I begin to think political correctness. We are not all equal, get over it. My suggestion would be to have two superbike classes, one for twins and one for multi-cylinder. The manufacturer could then choose to run in both or just one.

  • Think what would work better is leave Superbike class alone and create a
    pure stock class for the 1000cc bikes, dot tires, etc. just blue printed
    engines allowed. Maybe take the place of the Formula Extreme class.

  • I think a good starting point that could also benefit us “streeters” would
    be to go to 1000cc fours, but require that they run “stock” intake air-boxes
    and “stock” exhaust headers, back to what-ever slip-on muffler. This would
    “sorta” be along the lines of flow restriction but from a more purposeful
    direction. Then a little fine tuning between 2’s and 4’s by shuffling some
    weight requirements around.

  • Just use the example of King Soloman and split the difference.
    Have a race for twins and a race for fours. Then use any displacement
    you want. Let makers of triples pick which group they want to run
    with. Personally I love the sound of twins but that may be a
    generational thing.

  • to change the rules seems silly. maybe a small increase in the displacement
    of the 750’s would be ok to offset the disadvantage. the ama rule was put in
    effect to help american made twins. too bad the other makers have figured
    out that twins work better. do the lap times of formula usa bikes show the
    that much faster than the 1000cc twins? yes they do but their races are much
    shorter due to tire wear. let the 750s go to 800cc if you must or let them
    build twins that can compete. this is the same story in motocross with the 4
    strokes. wanna race big bikes then do so in their class if not either
    develop faster 750s or develop twins

  • Superbikes should be just that- super bikes! Set a size limit (1000cc sounds good) and race them. The number of cylinders is up to the manufacturer, and if they aren’t winning, they can change. Run what you brought, and hope you brought enough (horsepower, that is)!

  • I think the more the organizations try to create parity the really limit the privateers. The tracks and tires ultimately limit the power.

    Make the Superbikes really super. If you let the twins open up you might see Suzuki keep their twin or use the GSXR 1000 or Yamaha the R1,Kawasaki with a ZX12 in a racier chassis. How far do you think you can bore a 998? I’d rather see Formula Xtreme races than the socalled Superbikes as it sits now.

    I think the same should be done for MX and Supercross also.

    I’d like to see an Open class for the Carmichaels to the Guy Coopers and Dowds. If a privateer thinks he can use a 600 four stroke or 2 stroke, let the ambulance be the determiner. Limit the 125 (or support class) to anything from 250 4 stroke or 175 2 stroke. Their limits as they are now favor the factories with the works ignitions, one off carbs, computerized powervalves, personalized gear ratios. Let ’em have all the power they think they can use. You’ll probably see privateers or somebody other than Pro Circuit and the big 5 in the top 5 if they only had to go to the boring bar and Wiseco to get the power they need rather than $10,000 works engines that only a select few get.

  • To start with there seems to be strange disconnect between what is happening
    in the US and WSBK, so I will address them separately.

    On the world stage it is quite obvious that the twins have an
    advantage. However, it is too late to save the class as it was i.e.: 750
    fours against bigger twins. This system could have been saved if the rules
    makers had been paying attention. The twins (Ducati) should have been
    stopped at around 900cc. The 888 and 916 Ducatis were winning regularly and
    the fours were still competitive. Also, the new twin companies (Honda and
    Aprilia) had not completed their investments in machinery. So anyway they
    missed their opportunity. now we have to fix what we have, without pissing
    off too many manufacturers. Watching the races so far this year I have
    really enjoyed the competitiveness of the races, Bayliss’ domination not
    withstanding. Also from watching the Formula Extreme races here in the US I
    am concerned about top level racing with these 1000cc fours. They seem over
    powered and under chassied. What about “World Super Twins”? of course I
    really don’t want to dump on Bennelli, so how about 900cc fours. Kawasaki
    already makes one, and Honda used to. The more I think about this the more
    it makes like it. During a transition period 750s should be allowed to be
    bored out, but not stroked due to engineering cost. Punching holes is
    relatively cheap, calculating the best bore stroke combination sounds
    expensive to me, and should be left to the production engineers. I think the
    Japanese companies would be happy making 900cc fours the triples could still
    be run out to 1000cc the companies making the twins could be left alone. It
    sounds good!

    In the US things seem pretty stable but it seems as though it should
    eventually end up like WSBK. I think the system should be left alone unless
    WSBK comes up with something that is reasonable. I don’t like the proposed
    plans for WSBK.

  • I think Superbike is facing an upcoming identity crisis now that GP has gone
    to 1Liter 4 stroke engines. What I foresee happening is the move of
    Superbike to an “unlimited” or “open” class liter bike series not unlike
    formula extreme. Personally, I do not think increased horsepower will
    directly translate into lower lap times or an inherent advantage as traction
    and driveablility problems will only become more pronounced requiring even
    more from the riders.

  • I really think the superbike class should be able to run what ever they want
    and let the factorys and teams sort it out them selves. It sure would be more
    interesting to see 1000 cc fours running against the twins this year . They
    will be making a mistake to bring more politics in to road racing at a time
    when the sport is increasing in popularity as it seams to be.

  • No restrictions. Let manufacturer’s build what ever they think will go
    the fastest. That’s racing.

  • A different approach might be “Let Them Run”. Put the 1000cc bikes
    out there and see what happens. There are always other things that can
    be done if the big inlines kick butt across the board. The most
    practical thing is a c.c. reduction. This basically (and I said
    Basically!) reduces the horsepower output of the bike while changing few
    internal parts. The big dichotomy is that V-Twins and Inline Fours will
    always have different characteristics and each bike will be better
    suited to different tracks. That means at certain tracks each style of
    bike will have an advantage be it Power, Handling, Italian or not !

    So, I say Let Them Run and sort them out later!!

  • In re to your 5/15(?) piece on the new superbike class rules, my opinion is this. Superbikes in general seem to me to have become a production-based GP format – you can’t tell me that any bike under Edwards, Haga, Bayliss et al have any similarity whatsoever to what we can buy other than a facade. To me, Superbikes should be done in the same way that the AMA 600 SS class is done. The manufacturer runs what they produce. I think this is how real progress would be accomplished with sportbikes anyway – can you imagine how good an R1 would be if it were made based on the idea that it was the superbike platform? Another way you could limit this, rather than limiting horsepower, is to set the class rules up so that the eligibility rules were based in retail cost – say for instance, a manufacturer can only run a motorcycle in the superbike class which that manufacturer can produce for a retail cost of $12000 or less. What that would do is make the manufacturer’s get all the bang for the buck out of the stock bike as was possible. Then only allow exhaust, limited suspension mods, maybe cut valves, and you’ve got something that in theory any privateer could run for ~$20000. Superbikes are supposed to be production based, but you can’t really tell me that the RC45, the R7 or the 998SPS are production bikes. If you did it this way, I think it would be better (and cheaper) than what it’s become. There’s already a prototype class called Grand Prix – I fail to see the sense in having two.

  • No restrictors and no displacement limit. I’m tired of 10 factory bikes
    followed by 25 supersport GSXR750’s.

  • If you ask me, the idea of restricting the four cylinder bikes is insane.
    The way you (Motorcycle Daily) descrided it is exactly the way I feel. I do
    think that it would be alright to allow the twins and any three cylinder
    bikes that would be entered to have a slight weight advantage, but the
    engines should be allowed to run at there max. Otherwise they may as well
    leave the series the way it is. I was so looking forward to the rule changes
    in WSB and AMA Superbike. I am now left with much disappointment, but I do
    have a glimmer of hope that the people behind these series will see the

  • Try a claiming rule. $50,000.00. Then even a factory will tire of seeing $200,000.00 bikes claimed for 50 grand and if they don’t then soon the whole field will be be riding bargain basement priced real factory team superbikes.

  • Well, in my mind this is simple- keep the 750cc fours and limit the
    cc of the twins to achieve parity. I recall Ducati doing just fine
    with 851 cc’s and now they are up to 998! Is it any wonder Honda
    decided to go with the twin?

  • Amen, tell it like it is. I say 1000cc period, let um go.

  • Obvious…achieve parity by increasing the displacement allowed for 4
    cylinders…800cc, 820cc…to be determined by engineers.

    I stopped watching much NASCAR when the restrictor plate era began and
    the races became all about drafting rather than racing. Would hate to
    see something like that in bike racing.

  • If the 750cc machines were not competitive, they should have switched to
    900cc fours. It’s stupid to go all the way to open classers, but that’s
    what people are buying these days so it’s a marketing decision.

    As such, they really don’t have anything else they can do, except tweak
    the tires so that nobody has any traction, rendering that high
    horsepower useless (other than what they can do with restrictions on the
    engine output).

  • WSB and AMA Superbike should not limit 1000cc fours in any way other
    than the current superbike regulations. They should have the same rules as
    750cc Superbikes, rather than strangled with intake restrictions. While
    neutered superbikes might sound good to promote privateers or “close
    racing”, the fact remains that the factory riders got to be factory riders
    by being the fastest privateers. No matter what restrictions are placed to
    “equal the playing field” by limiting horsepower, the factory teams will
    still win, they have the best riders.

    What motivation would a race team have to improve their bike, if
    they knew that meant more restrictions in the future? For example, if Mat
    Mladin was capable of lapping the field on a GSXR1000, wouldn’t it be in
    Yoshimura’s best interest to just barely win, so it looks like they do not
    have an advantage? Who would want to watch a race like that?
    Two final thoughts. One, if unrestricted development were allowed,
    I would find it very interesting to compare lap times after a year or so
    development between a manufacturer’s MotoGP prototype and their 1000cc
    production-based superbike. I think the times would be closer than people
    would expect. And two, if twins are not competitive, let them have another
    displacement advantage like when WSB was founded. Bring on the Ducati

  • Why even bother moving the 4-cyl. displacement restrictions up from 750cc
    to 1000cc when you’re just going to turn around and restrict them? This
    makes no sense at all! I say maybe make some weight requirements, much
    like the GP series does, but don’t restrict the engines!

  • I think a 1000cc four would just walk away from a twin.Have the 4 four’s
    restricted to 850 to 900 cc.

  • Forget about restricting the bikes. Change the tracks. Superbikes should be just that, SUPER! The best they can be. A true superbike should be able to handle any course. Long fast sweeping tracks, short crooked hilly tracks, all kinds. A bike may have an advantage on one track and not on another. If someone can manufacture a bike that can beat everyone everywhere then it will be a true superbike. (There have been some:) If the twins can’t run with the fours, tell ’em to stay in the garage (or creat another class that is not as fast). You know what they say about the big dogs.

  • I would think that a simple cc increase for the four cylinders would do the
    trick, say to 850 cc. I agree that an unrestricted 1000 cc four cylinder
    would blow away a 1000cc twin. That would not be pretty.

    The manufacturers may not like creating a new category though as there is an
    already established 600, 750 and 1000 cc engine categories in the minds of
    the consumer.

    The four cylinder manufacturers as a whole may feel compelled to accept this
    restrictor fate as generally engine sizes like 800, 900, 919, 929, 954 tend
    to be mfr unique and scattered.

    Personally, it is quite obvious that there are a lot of uncompetitive four
    cylinder machines and they are too weak (and boring to the race fans)
    against a modern twin. I think some action is overdue as with World
    Superbike; it seems to be Ducati, Honda and sometimes Aprilia are the only
    guys on the race track.

  • I like the original idea of 1000 cc machines any configuration you want and
    a minimum weight as the best solution, if one configuration starts to outdo
    the other than the others will have to improve in order to compete, that’s
    called competition!!! Isn’t this exactly what has happened with Fours and
    Twins. First the Fours were dominating so they changed the rules to make
    Twins more competitive by allowing a larger displacement a move that I think
    was wrong at the time. I think a certain European manufacture sees that if
    fours are allowed the same displacement they might not be so dominant and
    they may have to change and think out of the box they have been stuck in for
    so many years. WSB & AMA have to stop trying to reach utopia and set up the
    basic rules and let the players go at it.

  • As per MotoGP, WSB should consider applying a weight penalty based on the
    number of cylinders used. With Honda currently trashing its rivals,
    regardless of its weight penalty, MotoGP’s weight based system has yet to
    prove its effectiveness and may therefore need future revisions. However,
    I’d rather see this approach compared to artificially limiting HP output.

  • To achieve parity, eliminate as many variables as possible: keep the max
    displacement at 1000cc for all bikes. Assess a 7kg penalty for each
    additional cylinder.

  • AAAA men brother! If they can engineer it and there is a guy who has the skills to ride it, well then I want to see it! I can go to Disney Land to watch the merry-go-round.

  • Strange hearing this from the same guy who was “all for” the lopsided new
    MotoGP rules.

  • It seems to me that distinguishing between twins and any other multi-cylinder bikes in a class already has problems. Why make any note of how many cylinders a bike has in the first place? Create a displacement class and let the manufacturers step up with their best platform to be competitive. The problem with the current Superbike class is that 1000cc twins were allowed in a class made for up to 750cc displacement machines. There was a perceived parity because of the difference in supposed “volumetric efficiencies” between the twins and four cylinders, giving the, again perceived performance advantage to the fours, so the twins could have extra displacement to offset this “advantage”. The fours have no problem making horsepower, just getting down to the track, whereas the twins’ power making is widely separated on each crank revolution, giving them better acceleration off of corners.

    Also, by setting a displacement class for Superbike, it may give the privateers more of an opportunity to compete by letting the factories concentrate on the upper-echelon MotoGP class, and less on directed efforts in the Superbike platforms. This would open up the field for more competitive races and foster a better environment for up and coming racers. Look at the past.

  • We already have a Supersport class, we don’t need another one. Horsepower
    restrictions should never be considered at such a high level of competition.
    If a 1000cc twin can’t keep up with other 1000cc configurations, then don’t
    build a twin. I think the only engine restriction they should have in
    Superbike is size. Leave number of cylinders, horsepower, and configuration
    up to the factory. Otherwise, they will really lose fans to Moto GP.

  • I agree with your stance against horsepower restrictions, and I say that as a big fan (and owner) of Ducati. But actually, I kind of like the idea of short IROC-style series. Allow the riders to adjust the suspension to their individual preference, but otherwise identical bikes. It would be interesting to see who wins based strictly on skill and adaptability. But only if this is in addition to, not instead of the current Superbike series.

  • I think Aaron Slight underscored this problem a couple of years ago in a podium interview. He claimed He was outriding Foggy most of the way but it didn’t seem to make any difference. The interviewrer seemed not to want to touch that with a 10ft. pole. Slight at that time was on Honda’s RC45. I saw that race and had to agree with Slight. The unfair advantage a Ducati V-Twin had over the fours was even more clear when I saw Gobert against DuHamel in AMA racing. Consider this, if Honda thought that there was some way to achieve parity between a V-Twin and a four, they wouldn’t have designed their own V-Twins(RC-51, RVT, SP1,etc).

  • I totally agree with your take on this subject!!!!! We don’t need “NASBIKE”. I believe the formula they are using now is fine. If 750 fours are not competetive the manufacturers can produce what is. Suzuki had the TL1000 racebike that in stock tune was making as much horsepower as the RC51 was and with a little development would have been competitive. Kawasaki is a manufaturing giant in Japan making ships and airplanes. I’m sure they can design a strong V-twin motorcycle as well. I say we leave well enough alone.

  • ban 4cyl machines…

  • I think Aaron Slight underscored this problem a couple of years ago in a podium interview. He claimed he was outriding Foggy most of the way but it didn’t seem to make any difference. The interviewrer seemed not to want to touch that with a 10ft. pole. Slight at that time was on Honda’s RC45. I saw that race and had to agree with Slight. The unfair advantage a Ducati V-Twin had over the fours was even more clear when I saw Gobert against DuHamel in AMA racing. Consider this, if Honda thought that there was some way to achieve parity between a 1000cc V-Twin and a 750cc four, they wouldn’t have designed their own 1000cc V-Twins(RC-51, RVT, SP1,etc).

    The reality here is that the design of a four is simply superior in power to any existing design given the same displacement. I think fours should be racing fours and twins racing twins in equal displacement classes. This way, tuners would still have the incentive to tune any bike to the best of their ability and both design manufacturers would have the incentive to improve a particular configuration. Maybe BMWs would develope some real hp if they kept getting beat by Ducati at every twins race. Harley would be down to their last excuse (not that it would make any difference to Harley buyers), and fans of both designs would certainly benefit. The only exception that comes to mind is that if a V-Twin manufacturer thought they could compete with the fours in the same displacement, they would be allowed to have at it ( kind of like 600s are allowed to run with 750s in Supersport).

    About parity: Everytime I’ve been aware of people trying achieve parity, one group always seems to wind up fighting with one hand tied behind its back. This is not exactly a fertile ground for true progress.

  • I definitely agree on this. Part of cool thing of a series such as Formula
    1 car racing is the technology i.e different engines BMW, Honda, Toyota,
    Renault different chassis etc. I think turning it into IROC would be a
    serious mistake (boring). Don’t you think WSB is in trouble because of
    the current rules changes in MotoGP.

    Right now WSB races are boring because of Twin domination. I think the
    rule should be 1000 cc anything goes. If everything drifted toward 1000cc 4
    then so be it but I doubt it. Look in MotoGP we have V-5s (Honda) V-4s
    Suzuki, Yamaha and 3s (Apprila) right.

  • If I’m not mistaken, the add displacement given to twins at the inception of the current superbike rules was to compensate for the twins inability to rev high thereby creating horsepower. Current V-twin superbikes can rev safely to 13,000 rpm and produce upwards of 170 horsepower, equaling the horsepower numbers attainable by the current 750 multi’s. Not only do they produce the same horsepower, but that have an added advantage of a lower minimum weight. Those factors combined with the more rider friendly power characteristics of a V-twin have led us to the circumstance we find ourselves in today. My suggestion is to increase the displacement maximum of multi’s to 1000cc and allow the twins to retain their lower weight minimum. This would allow the twins to run the same bikes they are running now but allow the multi’s to combat the dominance with sheer horsepower, if they can find a way to get that horsepower to the ground without destroying tires.

  • It’s easy, make everyone run knobby tires. This would virtually eliminate
    horsepower from the equation, and the racing would definitely be exciting to
    watch. Races would be won or lost based on rider skill alone.

    What do you think? Let’s give it a try, I bet the AMA wouldn’t be too hard
    to convince considering some of the previous proposals. Oh, wait they
    already wanted to run treaded tires on superbikes. I guess they’ve thought
    of it already. Never mind, I’ve been beaten to the punch…

  • Giving twins a displacement advantage has accelerated the development of
    twins and increased their popularity while encouraging a wider array of
    commercial products. We would not have the RC51 or TL1000 without this
    incentive and Ducati would not be a household name. All good things from my
    view. I would continue to introduce advantages like that to encourage the
    development of various products where an inherent advantage exists as in the
    twin verses four motor. Perhaps a triple should have a slight advantage
    too. Restricting output artificially seems totally contrary to the goals of
    racing – develop and enhance the technology ( I thought that was a goal
    anyway). Results seem to indicate that twins have been developed to the
    point that they now have too much of an artificial advantage. Perhaps they
    need 125cc vs the 250cc they have now and maybe 75cc for a triple…to
    encourage their use and development.

  • 2 rules, homologation must be carried out PRIOR to the bike racing in the
    series, and only a small amount of fuel can be used each race, and everyone
    must use the same fuel type. This would promote radical developments and it
    would also help devise a way toward better fuel economy.

    That’s it. No equalizers. Just a fuel stipend. Racing is about winning,
    not making everyone equal and happy.

  • You’re right–I don’t think that restrictors are the answer, either.
    However, it would certainly take away from the race experience for me
    (when attending as a spectator) if there was only one engine
    configuration competing effectively. I wouldn’t ride down to Laguna Seca
    to see a procession of GSXR 1000’s racing around the track.

  • ok, so this really doesn’t solve anything and you didn’t ask for lame comments but here goes.

    I think it’s time for the abandonment of the AMA and the leap to F-USA. I would think that with a massive migration away from the AMA, F-USA would use it’s power with Clear-Channel to hook up some great promotions and TV coverage. Maybe even a deal w/ Speed(vision)? I don’t know the politics involved between Clear and Speed.

    F-USA seems to spend a little more time listening to the riders in terms of safety and concerns about rules and regs. From what I’ve read in the past couple years, it seems like they actually care about what is good for the sport, the riders, the fans.. Just a kernel of an idea…I don’t have much past that, sorry.

  • Although the imposition of minimum weight limits is not the ideal way of levelling the playing field between different types of engine configurations, it is probably the only readily available solution other than what is done now. This would allow the manufacturers to maximize their engines’ performance but would still slow down the heavier bikes. The only other way of doing this is the present method involving different displacement limits, but this is no where near as easy to fine tune as the weight limit method is. They could allow 4 cylinder bikes a bump in displacement to 800, 850 or whatever number of cubic centimeters, but this takes away from the marketing opportunity the factories have to push their production 750s – unless they increase the production bikes’ displacement to match the race bikes. This would be very awkward for obvious reasons. Why not just allow 1000 cc 4 cylinder bikes, which is where the competi! on between manufacturers is now concentrated in the market place anyway – and then bump the v-twins to 1100 or whatever is needed to acheive approximate parity. Otherwise, we are likely back to the minimum weight limits as the only viable alternative.

  • Your on-line bike-a-zine is great. Really nicely done and timely.
    Let the twins fight it out separately from the ferocious fours.
    When it becomes obvious that the all powerful fours are the wave of the future, the v-twin circuit will slowly give in.
    Didn’t the Indy 500 have some sort of prohibition on the turbine cars?
    Now I think that they are all turbine driven.
    Keep up the great work.

  • Perhaps parity in horsepower would be a good thing. Unlike your IROC
    example, allow different motor configurations, frames, brakes, and
    suspension components, but all within a horsepower envelope. Let the rider,
    the very important setup, and the particular motor’s power characteristics
    largely determine the outcome. In my opinion, no or lopsided restrictions
    don’t serve us that well. This year for example the boredom has already set
    in, what with twins (lopsided restrictions) winning every SBK race, and Deep
    Pockets Honda(no restrictions) winning every Motogp outing. Thanks for the

  • 750cc across the board. No restriction on cylinders. Production of 2000 bikes required for homologation. If fours make more power than twins, so be it.

  • WSB and AMA SB need to pull there head out of… know where. How stupid is this last proposal. What do they have against four cylinders??? They’ll make too much power, they’ll dominate…..what the hell are the twins doing today in Superbike……..duh……..dominating. They need to have a 1000cc limit, and just have the four just alittle bit heavier, let them race… me WSB is the closest racing available. The GP is turning into a Honda show…….just my two cents…

  • I have an Idea,perhaps it has already been done, have two classes of WSBs, one for the WSB twins and one for the WSB inline fours. That way there is no power limit restrictions imposed the bikes they are in a class of their own.

  • Which is bigger a 1000cc twin or a 1000cc four? This is not a trick
    question. They are the SAME displacement!

  • I agree that watching a race of speed-governed engines sounds boring, kind of along the lines of a lawn mower race. Here’s a couple possible approaches:
    1. Limit 4 cylinder displacement to 750cc or 600cc.
    2. Run separate classes
    3. Restrict the fours to some level of stock, make the twins unlimited in development

  • Superboredom ? Sounds like NASCAR 😉 Used to be in the days of Fireball Roberts, you could run what ya brung. Now they might as well all run the same cars.

  • So 750 multi’s can’t compete with one liter twins. Not a problem; let’s see Yamaha and Kawasaki build their own serious V-twin sportbikes. Those large cylinders hold an obvious edge on the track, and their superiority is even greater on the street. Ducati, Aprilia, and Honda have shown the way, now it’s time for the other makes to step up and show us what they can do.

    As for the proposed misguided rule changes, I hope the powers that be come to their senses before another great racing series is ruined. The Superbike championship should never become a watered-down version of MotoGP; it can and should retain a compelling identity all its own.

    P.S. And one more thing, when is someone going to build a bike to compete with the Ducati 748? I know the SV650 can come close, but wouldn’t a strong 750 twin with first rate suspension components and wicked styling get YOUR blood pumping?

  • Dirck – I don’t think anyone would want to see the only difference
    between the machines on the track being their colour. Which to some
    extent is what NASCAR has become. If you accept that machines of
    similar capacity will always to some extent favour more cylinders. So
    you encourage, in effect the exotic in the more “challenged”
    competitors. Lets make the benchmark the 4 cylinder machines perhaps
    restricting minimum weight and basic things like that. Even formulate
    things so that 5 and 6 (even 8 or more!) aren’t necessarily discouraged.
    Assuming we soon see class leading 5 cylinder Honda sport bikes their
    riders are going to be pretty ” ticked” not seeing a representative
    Honda in the field…

    But for those who would stick to twins (even singles?!) for whatever
    reason, there you eliminate whatever stands in the way of making them
    competive. After all once the realities have established themselves it
    should be easy to apply a enough restriction to keep everyone in the
    ball park. After all for those of us who have no interest in more than
    two (air cooled) cylinders it would be nice to see even that
    configuration being given perhaps a small toe in the door.

    There I’ve given it away, at least where motorcycles are concerned,
    I am indeed not a realist. But then is any motorcyclist a “realist?”

  • As with most cases, when there is a governing body, it becomes so involved
    with rules it bypasses the reason for them in the first place. First the
    twins wanted more displacement because they couldn’t keep up with the fours.
    Now the fours want more displacement ’cause they can’t keep up with the
    twins, yada-yada! My take? 1000CC limits regardless of engine
    configuration. MotoGP is already showing how much power is available from
    sub liter engines. Ain’t nuthin boring about them races.

  • Just simply let anybody run anything——plain and simple !!!!!! No rules
    whatsoever. This won’t open up a horsepower war—–as a bike with 400hp
    would be useless on the track !! They will have to keep them somewhat
    reasonable to be rideable.

  • I would start the 1000 cc bikes later or at a different grid location, kind
    of like a relay race has a staggered start.

  • This is probably pretty far from realistic (at least, in so far as
    applying this to AMA superbike regulations), but I seem to recall a
    smaller racing series (F-USA? I don’t know for sure) a few years back,
    which had two basic rules for bikes in a race:
    –bikes had to produce no more than XXX horsepower
    –bikes had to weigh at least XXX pounds

    I think that they had two different series, two–one aimed more at the
    600s (no more than 105 hp, no less than 340 lb., or something like that)
    and one aimed at the bigger bikes (no more than 120 hp, no less than 340
    lb., or something like that).

    For superbike racing, a ceiling could be set at, say, 160 hp, or 170 hp,
    or 180 hp (which, if I’m not mistaken, is still in the realm of top
    current superbikes), and the minimum weight could be down near what the
    twins will come in at now.

    It was apparently very easy to check for infractions; after the race,
    all of the top finishers’ bikes are weighed & dynoed. And that was it.

    This imposes upon the manufacturers & tuners the need to regulate the
    power in such a way that they still have power where the riders need it,
    in order to run up front.

    But, then again, perhaps this is better suited for a support class (like
    the 600s).

    Just an idea. Not the best one out there, but an idea.

  • This has been on my mind for a long time. I became very interested in WSB racing in about 1999, and attended the race at Laguna Seca in 2000. I thought this series had so much going for it, as the bikes were the ones that you could buy. Yes, I know how heavily modified they are, and how so much unobtainium is on them, but irregardless, they are gsxrs, 916’s, zx7r’s, and Milles et al. As the following seasons unfolded, and the twins became so dominant, I had to wonder what the four cylinder engine had done to become such a pariah! Why do they have to be hamstrung? Twins have been dominant for the last 13 years, with a great deal of help from the rules. Why not see how they do against unrestricted fours, like the R1, 954, and gsxr 1000? These are the bikes I see people buying and riding on racer road, way more than the European twins. I have nothing against Ducati or Aprilia, (although Ducati seems to have contracted harley-davidson disease ) but the present formula presents them (or any twin ) with an obvious advantage. How about this: Twins, 1000cc, triples, 950 cc, fours, 900 cc. Equal weights. That’s it.

  • Why not just increase displacement of 4 cyl machines incrementally.
    The 4 cyl bikes are not that far behind in performance. Start with an increase from 750 cc max to 800 cc max and run with that for
    a season. The manufacturers could easily accommodated that increase in their
    production models. Honda already has (VFR800).

  • in regards to superbike rules………. eliminate attorneys !!!!!!

  • If they allow fours to race with twins, they should accept the differences that result.
    If they are unwilling to do so, they should not allow fours to race with twins.

  • i dont understand why parity would be bad…it has worked for nascar…you can say f1 cars and indy or cart series race cars are not exactly equal…and these series are succesful…but take a look at nascar…the money they make, the tv ratings they get…that would make anyone (in the business of motorcycle racing) salivate…and if you can lure other pilots from wsb to come compete here based on the premise that its a pilots race now and no one will have an advantage..(did i mention that i hate ducati?) it will be better for the sport. it sure will be. i dont see how can you favor a change and not favor parity…cause thats why the changes are happening. the rules favor the twins…and its obvious that they have a ridiculously unfair advantage. that makes me sick…watching eric bostrom and the “go show” struggle…because their bikes just dont have enough steam even on a good day. so let the parity begin…youll be surprised how many good pilots are out there.

  • It seems as though what we really need is a class with no minimum weight
    requirements, no engine size limitations and no governors. The only
    qualification should be that the bikes be production street bikes minus
    emissions equipment and plastics and lights. Make the rules less a part of
    the racing. Let the engineers run wild- as long as the result can be mass
    produced. Talk about excitement! “There goes my bike!” and “Man, I wish I
    could ride that thing like Bostrom does…” The AMA has been imposing
    minimum weights to all sorts of motorcycle racing to the detriment of the
    machines. I say let’s let what works win. If you can make the fastest and
    lightest bike, why should the rules prevent it? The production requirement
    will keep the cost down providing it is not some token number of production
    bikes. Let’s make it 1000 bikes must be produced in order to race it in
    this new “unlimited” class.

  • I am not sure why they are so concerned with the HP figures of the machines
    – on many tracks formula extreme bikes run roughly the same lap times as the
    superbikes in spite of having crazy amounts of power. The limit seems to be
    the traction and handling that tires can provide, not the theoretical power
    I think one equalizer may be to make the races longer – twice as long as
    they are now – this would mean running the races on much harder tire
    compounds (much closer to street compounds) and put more emphasis on the
    suspension, balance and controllability of the bikes rather then brute
    horsepower. Just a thought.

  • I’ve seem some car racing faire rather well without many rules. Just
    general broad statements such as:
    is nitrous legal?
    how many gears can be in a transmission?
    engine size?

    No governors or anything like that. It forces everyone to be on the same
    field by virture of competing to have the fastest bike AND fastest rider.