MotoGP Winglets | EXPLAINED

In the Moto GP 2015 pre season testing, Ducati
introduced a new Winglet design on their fairings, which they updated several times during that
season. Other manufactures took notice, and by the
2016 season, all of them had winglet designs in use. During that 2016 season, safety concerns about
the winglets were raised by riders to the FIM, who before the beginning of the 2017
Moto GP season implemented a ban on dangerous winglet designs, with the following rule: “Anything not integrated into the bodies streamline,
that may provide aerodynamic effect, including downforce, are not allowed.” This rule was shorty after its announcement
dubbed to be “a winglet ban” and controversy ensued, with some fans blaming the FIM to
consciously be trying to remove Ducatis advantage. Calling the rule a complete ban proved to
be wrong, as by the 2018 season, the Technical director of Moto GP Danny Aldrige, now approved
updated winglet designs, where the wings have been integrated into the fairings, and are
according to Aldrige no longer a safety concern. Updated versions of these designs are expected
to be seen at the first race at Qatar in March. So in todays episode of Speed & Noise, we
are going to explore the often misunderstood subject of Motorcycle aerodynamics. ——
Motorcycle aerodynamics were a hot topic as early as in the 1930s, when manufacturers
such as Zündapp & BMW were experimenting with fairings shaped almost like a torpedo,
often referred to as Dustbin fairings. They discovered that by shaping the fairings
in that way, they could increase the top speed of their motorcycles without adding additional
power. These dustbin fairings were used in GP racing
into the 1950s, with the Moto Guzzi V8 being clocked at an incredible 301 km/h (187 mp/h)
at the MIRA test track in France, 1957, and 286 km/h (178 mp/h) at the Belgian GP the
same year. The bike produced only 75 bhp, weighting in
at 135 kg. Considering the low power output, the speed
is astounding. For comparison an unrestricted 2012 Suzuki
Hayabusa, weighting in at around 264 kg wet with 197 hp, clocks in at 327 km/h (203 mp/h). Only 26 km/h faster than the 1957 Guzzi. So why is that? Well, an important factor affecting the top
speed of a motorcycle is the gearing, but, consider that the Moto Guzzi could reach 286
km/h in a Grand Prix race, or in other words, it was geared for a race and not for a top
speed run, which means that the gearing is not the full answer. The most important factor affecting the top
speed of the Guzzi was its dustbin fairing, which provides an astounding CdA value of
0.186 m2. The CdA value is the combined Drag coefficient
& Reference area of an object moving through a fluid, and yes, air is a fluid. Where the Drag coefficient is a dimensionless
quantity of the resistance of the object, and the Reference Area is the projected frontal
area of the rider & motorcycle. So to get a small Cd value, you want a streamlined
shape of the object, and to get a small reference area, you try to minimize the frontal area
of the object. The smaller the number, the less drag force. For comparison, the 2012 Suzuki Hayabusa has
a CdA value of 0.27. (Moto Guzzi GP V8 CdA: 0.186.) So the Guzzi would be exerted to 30 % less
drag force at any speed as compared to the Hayabusa. Interestingly, if you would put the Dustbin
fairing on a Hayabusa, its top speed would increase to 353 km/h (219 mp/h). That speed increase would require an additional
75 hp at the rear wheel without the fairing. This gives us a perspective on how big influence
the CdA value of a motorcycle has on its top speed. So why isn’t dustbin fairings used in todays
Moto GP racing? Well, these types of fairings were, surprise
surprise, banned from racing by the FIM in 1958, because of safety concerns. These safety concerns were related to the
fact that the very thing that made dustbin fairings so efficient at cheating wind head-on,
also made them dangerously unstable. This is because the Center of air pressure
on a dustbin fairing, is ahead of the center of gravity, which introduces a strong yaw,
or left/right turning force on the motorcycle. Have you ever tried to carry a large cardboard
sheet on a windy day? When the wind is blowing towards you, nothing
happens, but if it comes in at an angle, you are both pushed and pivoted to the side. In fact, side winds are a concern also in
modern racing, where many teams drill holes into the fairings to reduce lateral pressure
at especially windy tracks, such as Philip Island in Australia. But what exactly did the Dustbin fairings
do, that modern sport bike fairings don’t do? They covered up the enemy of smooth laminar
flow: The rider. The rider of a motorcycle is the cause of
most of the turbulent flow, which increases the Cd value significantly and thus increases
the drag force. Since fairings cannot cover up the rider entirely,
because of issues with instability, the focus of most manufacturers have been to minimize
turbulent flow around the riders without covering them entirely. Turbulence around the rider is important not
only because of the drag it creates, but also because it requires more physical effort from
the rider. This is a very important factor, because a
tired rider is not a fast rider. So to minimize turbulence around the rider,
manufacturers have borrowed several solutions from the aerospace industry, such as Strakes,
Turbulators, Pressure ducts, Winglets & Vortex generators. These devices cause controlled turbulent channels,
that add small amounts of drag, but effectively create an invisible air wall over the riders
body, protecting them from turbulence. The manufacturers have been experimenting
with these solutions for quite some time, for instance the 1999 Aprilia RSV Mille had
Vortex Generators implemented into the fairing. Most spectators just did not take notice. So what happened in the 2016 Moto GP season
was simply that it became more evident for the average spectator that the manufacturers
are experimenting with aerodynamics, since the winglets on the fairings were such an
obvious deviation from previous fairing designs. The winglets they were experimenting with
had two major advantages: Anti wheelie at high speeds, which provides
more acceleration, since modern Moto GP bikes tend to wheelie at speeds well above 200 km/h. Front tire grip when braking from long straights,
where the winglets provide downforce pushing the front wheel down There were three downsides with winglets:
In effect the winglets were airfoils fastened to the sides of the fairings. These airfoils needed to be very stiff in
order to provide predictable flow. This led to designs which were effectively
small, stiff and sharp fins, which could be very dangerous if they hit a rider. Turbulence for riders that were behind bikes
with winglets, which made their bikes front ends start to shake violently
Exhausting the rider physically, since the downforce requires the rider to use more strength
to steer the bike & because of turbulence around the riders themselves The two safety concerns were raised by riders
to FIM, who as you know implemented a ban on those dangerous winglet designs because
of this. The updated fairing designs for the 2018 season
looks promising, both in providing downforce but also minimizing turbulence around the
rider. We shall see what the outcome is, but we are
surely in for an exciting season! I hope that the video helped you understand
motorcycle aerodynamics a bit better, and that you are now prepared for heated debates
with your friends over the different manufacturers design choices. If you liked the video and want to see more
of this content, then please subscribe to the channel. If you want to support the channel, then please
share the video on social media, press like and leave a comment below. As always, see you next time!

100 thoughts on “MotoGP Winglets | EXPLAINED

  1. I could be wrong, but your CdA data for the Hyabusa seems somewhat ambitious. Typically the standard Busa achieves a CdA of between 0.55 to 0.60. There are drag/power calculators out there you can check to see the effect on potential top speed. 200bhp to achieve 200mph seems in the ballpark for a bike with a CdA of 0.5. I agree that stability is the main issue for reducing the CdA to levels achieved in the '50's. My own race bike was tested at MIRA Wind tunnel during 2015 where our CdA was verified at 0.21. Our design minimised turbulent vortices around the rider and showed good indifference (stability) to side winds and minimal front or rear lift coefficient figures at high yaw angles. It can be done, but the blinkered FIM have consistently thwarted attempts by aerodynamicists and designers over the years to improve and develop the bikes to be safer and more fuel efficient. It is a much misunderstood subject and much under explored in the 2 wheel world. The FIM technical team have a sketchy understanding of this science that ironically, has been the main driver for the huge developments for improved efficiency in the automotive world and the very lifeblood of F1 along with their advanced hybrid power trains that we have yet to see in any FIM championship. Oh dear this sounds like a rant. Sorry about that. BTW I liked the video.

  2. LOVED the Video!
    I only wish you had done more, at the end, about the 2018 'pass-thru' aerodynamics and how they still provide substantial downforce with less turbulence and without the exposed 'winglets' that were so dangerous in a crash.

  3. Can you do a video on Craig Vetters race years please? His stream-liners decimated before the FIM ruled on nose cone angles and how far a fairing can extend beyond the bike.


  4. I thoroughly enjoyed your video and analysis, but I did want to mention that in some ducati and aprilia cases Vortex Generators have been used to aid radiator performance to energize flow ahead of the outlet duct to aid heat extraction. I also feel like we might see "air curtains" in coming seasons in motogp, or my hope, some attempts at "trapped vortex" applications.

  5. This winglet concept is feasable only since anti-wheelies software are available. With conventional throttle if the nose begin to lift then the negative angle of attack of the winglet get smaller reducing the downforce allowing the nose to lift even more thus further reducing the angle of attack to eventualy end up with positive lift pushing the bike to do a backflip. That's called an unstable equilibrium the opposite of what an airplane tail is made to do.

  6. Man I hate technical progress. Looks shit.
    Best looking GP bike is still Doohans last champion winning Honda following Spencers NSR500

  7. Awesome explanation dude, it's true that turbulence flow around the rider, it sicks and tired the riders, even I also experienced that

  8. πŸ˜‚ Just to think they didn't need all that tech for with a lesser price for speed at that time..πŸ˜‚ WTF.!!… Yeah I don't k ow my self but I understand it.

  9. Riding race bikes in the 50s is like "If I fall,I am dead" .Anway,have you ever seen motorcyclists with bicycle helmets?how stupid funny is that?a mountain bike helmet lol

  10. Watching this beautifully explained video on aerodynamics exactly on its 6 months anniversary…. Good job….

  11. Yes yes yes!
    I fell in love with winglets the 1st time I saw them on an aprilia 2018 RSV4 RF LE#14.
    I now own it. My goodness, it makes me into a far better rider than I ever was before. If someone does not like wings, ask them on which bike did they try them… because I have.
    I love them. Take it from me…
    145mph never felt so smooth.

    I got youtubies, first road thru aprilia wings video and stuff…
    have fun!😈😡😈

  12. Huh, interesting, I'm a car guy (might get into bikes soon tho :P) but aerodynamics doesn't really affect a driver's physical state as much. Crazy to see how much changes on a machine physically affects the rider tho I guess that should be obvious with bikes in the first place

  13. Can someone show me the math to get the new top speed of using the dust-bin fairing on the hayabusa, thanks. Its for my Math Internal Assesment. πŸ™‚

  14. Great informative video Sir .
    I'm currently attempting a 200 mph run on my hayabusa and will give your advice great consideration.
    Thank you and add 1 sub

  15. That ''dustbin fairing'' was banned for a very good reason. It's just not safe in the cross winds and people have died, a lot. The benefits of ''dustbin fairing'' is that it covers up the front wheel, not the rider.

  16. It's funny cause downforce was made to make the car go faster, but it also seems like it's the bane of good motor racing action.

  17. The interesting thing about motorcycle aerodynamics is that the more you streamline for top speed the more you lose in cornering speed. It is a compromise.

  18. What? Turbulent flow decreases drag and laminar flow increases it, thats why golf balls have holes and aircrafts have a high rugosity material on the nose

  19. Really good video, referencing the 85 year old technology of dustbin fairings was useful in explaining the purpose of modern fairings and how its not always the fastest design that works best.

  20. Mikael,
    Very well made videos. I really like and learn from you.
    Just one little detail, Cx, Cd don’t have units. I noticed that you have put square metres, but the area is considered by A in the formula.
    Thanks and keep up the good work!

  21. Why don't they just get rid of the RIDER since it causes a lot of air turbulence? And as said, it's the enemy of the smooth laminar flow, therefore No rider = No drag = Increased speed = Faster lap times. The Motogp aerodynamics department is lacking brains.

  22. if CoD is the same and the Surface area is the same. then we can say that

    75bhp Moto Guzzi @ 301kph is 301×301= 90,601 =75bhp. (90601/75 = 1208.01/hp)
    197hp Suzuki Hayabusa @ 327kph is 327 x 327 =106,929 = 197hp. (106,929/197 = 524.78/hp)

    the Moto is doing less work to the air. if it had 197hp i could go maybe as fast as 1208.01 x 197 =237,977.97 Square root of 237,977.97 = 487kph 302.6mph max
    Put it on salt and it will not be as quick of cause. so just a rough guess.

  23. I didn't watch anything associated with bikes, but i never expect that bikes need downforce, isn't that the downforce will push the bike outwards while the driver are leaning to take the corner.

  24. A wing on a car provides downforce at all times. A wing on a motorcycle provides a force that is directed towards the tires. When the bike is in a corner and leaned over, the aerodynamic force is angled with the bike. It doesn't push downwards only, but outwards from the turn as well.

  25. If these winglets offer harder steering, I would think an assisted steering will be introduced in the future. Like some sort of a Steering assist/damper combo. If this is implemented, someone should pay me for this brilliant idea..

  26. I would add that the dustbin fairing covered up the front wheel, a major source of drag. The spokes are moving at twice the vehicle speed as they come over the top. As drag increases as the square of velocity, even those skinny spokes can have quite an effect at speed.
    Also, Cda is simply how efficiently air moves around an object, compared with a flat panel with the same frontal area.

  27. Does that really need to be explained? They are there to make the front end lighter. They are there to make the bike FLY. They just need to put wings on the back and then you can fly for a little while and when you touch down again pick up speed once more to fly.

    So, it's going to be touch and go

  28. Quite frankly, I would be embarrassed to have those on my bike on the street! I would remove them and only use them on the track.
    I would NOT want to be seen with wings on my bike.

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