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Are MotoGP Bikes Too Powerful?

Safety on the Circuit Has Many Faces, It Seems.

A Ducati MotoGP bike doing what it does best. Media sourced from MotoGP.
A Ducati MotoGP bike doing what it does best. Media sourced from MotoGP.

An Italian multi-time world champion Grand Prix racer has spoken up on the new winglets taking MotoGP’s bikes by storm – and it’s pulled up a strong opinion on the power of MotoGP bikes. 

“I do not like it,” cuts Agostini in a report from RideApart

“The bikes go too fast and are too extreme, what are three hundred horsepower for? Half of it would be enough to have good races and then we need to stem the engineers.”

“Let’s leave the wings to the planes.”

Giacomo Agostini with his limited edition replica bike, created by MV Agusta. Media sourced from MotoGP.
Giacomo Agostini with his limited edition replica bike, created by MV Agusta. Media sourced from MotoGP.

Rather than having speed be a priority for the circuit, Giacomo Agostini has put forth the concept of ‘good races’ needing priority.

Making bikes safe makes sense – and it is true that the ferocity of the GP grid has been commented on by other members of the racing industry; still, while I love a good race as much as the next rider, Agostini’s comments don’t exactly line up with what the industry’s specs show.

Giacomo Agostini. Media sourced from Wikipedia.
Giacomo Agostini. Media sourced from Wikipedia.

Let’s take the extreme side of MotoGP as an example; if we look at the list of fatalities that have happened on MotoGP circuits from her founding decade, the numbers per decade are as follows: 

1940s

3

1950s

29

1960s

27

1970s

24

1980s

14

1990s

2

2000s

1

2010s

3

2020s

1

Giacomo Agostini on his machine of choice. Media sourced from beIN SPORTS
Giacomo Agostini on his machine of choice. Media sourced from beIN SPORTS

According to that same list compiled by Wikipedia, 104 riders [in total] have given their lives for their sport, with “the most recent fatal accident…in May 2021 when Jason Dupasquier was killed after a crash during qualifying at the Italian Grand Prix.”

Based on the above numbers, Giacomo’s golden years of motorcycle racing – 1963 to 1977ish – fell in the more deadly decades to aim for a MotoGP championship.

There’s no such thing as racing a danger-free motorcycle, but there IS such a thing as live-time research to improve safety on the circuit; today, our riders are better protected than ever before, arguably taking all necessary precautions to ensure their career is as prosperous and pain-free as possible.

Giacomo Agostini with his limited edition replica bike, created by MV Agusta. Media sourced from RideApart.
Giacomo Agostini with his limited edition replica bike, created by MV Agusta. Media sourced from RideApart.

Time will see what further numbers are pulled up to add to this argument (where the age of technology fits into past decades, for instance), but for the time being, Agostini is entitled to his opinion – as are all of you. 

What do you think? Should motorcycles be limited in speed or power on the MotoGP circuit?

Drop a comment down below, subscribe for further updates on everything in our good industry, and as ever – stay safe on the twisties. 

*Media sourced from RideApart, Wikipedia, MotoGP, and beIN SPORTS*
  1. I remember back in the 60s and 70s when racing organizations restricted vehicle upgrades in performance, both auto and motorcycle, because tires couldn’t manage the speeds. Now electronic and technical upgrades are used to manage the motorcycle performance increases. If it hasn’t already, technology with surpass rider skill in determining performance. Human reflexes don’t upgrade so easily.

  2. I would leave that decision to the riders, not owners, pit crew, engineers, etc. Listen to what the riders are really saying.

  3. From a security standpoint, the figures must be reviewed in the light of the security progesses made on both the rider’s equipment, and track security. I guess that with the bike of the time but with modern top level security equipment and present tracks, the death count would probably had been far lower.

    On a broader perspective, the big question is what are the races made for ?
    – If it’s a test for devlopment and new technologies, then no technical restriction should be edicted, aside of security and a kind of « class » to keep the cometition on par.
    – If it’s a show, then why not push the things further and go to monotype races where only the pilot (and also the teams in the pit) will make the difference ?

    The present system is a kind of mix of both. Where strict technical regulation leaves only small areas of technical progresses. The goal being to keep a « show » on the track, and to try (in vain?) to limit the skyrocketing of the budgets.
    That’s why engineers try to push extreme solutions on the possible zones of freedom, to make a difference from other teams.

    From my racing experience (LMP2 in World Endurance Championship. Sorry it was on 4 wheels…), I saw the category going to a unique engine and a few homologated chassis. I don’t think the race became tammer than before when there was more engines and chassis.
    Before that, our engineers upgraded our then « old » car (one of the last open-cockpit) to remain on the podium with a new front suspension (with a third shock absorber). One of the few « small » areas where progress and inovation remained open.

    1. Hey Frederic,

      Beauty comment here. Thanks for contributing.

      I know this is a topic FIM has been struggling with more lately; new tech means riders can do things that were previously considered impossible (this became more obvious when I read Simon Crafer’s opinion after he took Ducati’s GP22 for a spin).

      However, I also believe that questioning new results in the racing industry will never not be pertinent – sure, the risks are what attract many to the circuit in the first place, but engineering for safety needs to still be relevant.

      I’ll be excited to see what happens when MotoE starts up with Ducati’s V21L; if Crafer’s realization with prime rear wheel shtick is anything to expect from Team Red in the near future, I’d imagine we’ll see improvements for those heavier MotoE bikes, possible an even more interesting test run comparison board for MotoGP.

      Cheers,
      Amanda

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