Thursday, 10 November 2011

How to look good naked vs. the copycat chassis

The Ducati PR machine churns out another new pic of the 1199 Panigale, this time with the bodywork removed to show how they've adopted a "frameless" monocoque very similar to the one on the MotoGP bike so hated by Rossi and Burgess. So hated in fact that they've got their beam frame (below, reputedly Made in England) for testing in Valencia.

And guess what - the times aren't really any better. The armchair pundits will now move on to the "90 degree V4 layout isn't compact enough"guff: amazing our manufacturing industry's in such poor shape given the number of engineering "experts" we've got...

But it's a shame (if understandable) that Burgess and Rossi want to chase convention rather than innovation. I recently had a long chat with someone who was very (very) well placed in the Japanese motorcycle business (including racing) and he used to tell the Japanese, "If I gave you a blank sheet of paper it'd still be blank tomorrow - but I show you someone else's plans and within half an hour you've improved it!" How can this be?

Japanese art and culture is about incremental improvement, but since the renaissance in Europe it's been about pushing the boundaries, but always with an explanation of why the new way's better. That's might explain why all Japanese bikes are in essence either based upon 1950s Italian racers, or East German racers. Can we please try something new? Me, I'd love to see a V8 desmo with a monocoque chassis and hub centre steering. As John Robinson once said, "if racing's to improve the breed the rules should read `the motorcycle has two wheels (one in front of the other) and an engine' Full Stop." Well said.that man.

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