If there’s one positive thing about the FIM stealing TTXGP’s electric racing platform, it’s the return of streamlining and feet-forward riding positions to racing rule books. That’s right, Craig Vetter’s finally gotten what he’s been asking for for decades: aerodynamic motorcycles. What’s that you say? Your R1 already has a fairing? Think again, we’re talking about all-encompassing, functional aerodynamics and not just a place to stick logos.
Fully streamlined motorcycles were initially banned in 1957 after
manufactures expressed a concern that motorcycles covered in dust bins
didn’t look like production bikes. A clear marketable connection was
needed between the bikes that were racing and the ones in showroom in
order to justify the costs incurred by manufacturers.
The lack of functional aerodynamics are one of the main reasons MotoGP
bikes are still slower than Formula One cars, despite superior
power-to-weight ratios and the absence of drag-inducing downforce. The
fastest 800cc bikes are now reaching speeds in excess of 207mph, yet F1
cars are hitting 221+ on the same circuits.
Despite the concerns of conventional wisdom, it’s inarguable that
racing motorcycle would be faster with streamlined fairings.
Traditional concerns expressed against such fairings include stability
in crosswinds and while cornering, but these have been proven unfounded
both in theory and in practice, witness the high speeds possible on
machines like the Peraves Monotracer and EcoMobile. Just like in car
design, the effects of variable wind conditions can be included in the
design of fully streamlined fairings.
The full streamlining clause in the FIM e-Power rules reads:
Solo motorcycles and ‘vehicles with ‘feet-forward’ configurations
within the criteria listed below are permitted in order to improve
energy efficiency, according to the following provisions:
Air foils or spoilers may only be fitted on solo machines when they are
an integral part of the fairing or seat. They must not exceed the width
of the fairing nor be positioned above the height of the handlebar.
Sharp edges must be rounded off. No movable aerodynamic devices are
Any part of the streamlining which faces rearwards must be finished with rounded edges.
The rider must be completely visible from either side except for the
rider’s hands and forearms which may be obscured by bodywork, the
inclination of the number plate must not render the front number plate
invisible when viewed from the front.
Vehicle’s minimum ground clearance when loaded: 100mm.
The minimum angle of inclination: 45°
Any part of the bodywork may not exceed 1000mm in width at any point.
Streamlining may not protrude further than 100mm in front of the front
wheel. Streamlining may not protrude further than 400mm beyond the rear
The streamlining in front of the rider shall not be higher than the
rider’s shoulders when seated in the ‘race’ position. Any part of the
streamlining behind the riders’ helmet shall not exceed the top of the
rider’s helmet when seated in the ‘race’ position.
For events on public roads, when required by law: mirrors must be
shatterproof and fold back when the vehicle is on one side. The mirrors
must retain their normal configuration when vehicle is upright.
Any design should take into account the characteristics of the course, corners and gradients.
The TTXGP eGrandPrix rules are very similar, differing in the following areas:
TTXGP: Bodywork may not protrude further forward than 50mm in front of the front wheel
FIM: Streamlining may not protrude further than 100mm in front of the front wheel.
TTXGP: No part of the bodywork may come in contact with the ground when driven at normal racing speeds.
TTXGP: It must be possible for the unloaded machine to be inclined to an angle of 30 degrees from the vertical without any part, other than the tyre, coming into contact with the ground.
FIM: The minimum angle of inclination: 45°
Streamlining represents a clear benefit to electric motorcycle racing.
Unlike MotoGP or SBK racers, which can make up for their lack of
aerodynamic efficiency with excessive power, electrics are still
exceptionally short on power and on the ability to store enough power
to complete long distances at high speed. By exponentially reducing the
effects of aerodynamic drag, streamlined bikes will have a clear
advantage in making the most of the limited power and capacity
With the re-introduction of streamlining to motorcycle racing, we’re
adding a technology from which we could see real benefits on road
bikes. Vetter’s already seen 470mpg from 125cc bikes at highway speeds,
compound that with the exceptional efficiency of electric motorcycles
and we could see even better economy figures while massively increasing
the useful range of existing electric platforms.