This weekend the Gran Premi de Catalunya Monster Energy will showcase the fastest motorcycle racers steering the pinnacle of road bike technology at speeds that will top 350kmph along the kilometer-long principal straight just outside of Barcelona.
These compact, cramped and explosive pieces of engineering are designed for one sole purpose: to meld with the Michelin tyres and obliterate lap-times. Unsurprisingly a MotoGP star’s view and controls are entirely functional. This is not a comfortable ride.
Their ‘cockpit’ is something they’ll tuck into at the soonest possible opportunity to minimize drag. Hunched into that bubble and hanging on to cope with dizzying levels of torque and acceleration, naturally, there is not too much to see or do. “We are obviously very limited with our view but the worst is being in the tuck position because your peripheral vision is a lot less and you are just staring into the dash and the triple clamp of the bike,” says Britain’s principal MotoGP ace Cal Crutchlow.
Being ‘tucked in’ represents a fleeting few seconds when, in fact, they can interact with the controls at their disposal. Crutchlow’s LCR Honda, HRC’s most advanced speed weapon, has several key options. “On the left side he has a standard clutch lever, a front brake lever adjuster, and then the pit lane speed limiter switch,” explains Crew Chief Christophe ‘Beefy’ Bourguignon. “We then have the three-map button, what we would call torque, engine braking, and traction control.”
“He can switch to have more or less engine braking and he’ll try it during a run-on-track and say where it is better or worse and then we’ll adjust the map for perhaps just one corner instead of two. He can see all of that on the dash because it is easy to get confused and you have to cycle through the three options.”