This tiny hole made 230hp possible

Dailies -



This tiny hole on the side of Casey Stoner’s 2011 Honda RC212V can’t be terribly important, can it? Turns out it was absolutely essential. Why? It cooled the electronics that provided traction control and managed power delivery to stretch just 21 liters of fuel across the duration of an entire race.

“The parts we make don’t look all that flashy or interesting, but they are the equivalent of the nervous system in a human body,” explains HRC electronics development engineer Atsuyuki Kobayashi. “In modern racing bikes we are trying to optimize the traction control system and to optimize engine performance through real-time monitoring of factors such as gear position, intake/exhaust temperatures and fuel injection levels. In the worst case, a break in the electronics system can put the bike out of the race.”

See it hiding there behind the brake line?

“Put an engine generating over 210hp [it’s rumored that last year’s RC212V made something in the region of 230hp — Ed.] in a bike weighing just 150kg and you’ve got a real monster machine. Without electronic controls, there’s no way any rider could get the most out of an RC-V series bike.”

“Serious bike fans will already know this stuff, but here’s a quick overview of what electronic control involves: The best known example is probably traction control, which allows the rider to manage engine power more easily. It prevents the bike from becoming unmanageable when engine braking causes back torque or due to too much engine power during acceleration. A MotoGP bike’s tank is limited to just 21 liters, and constant control of the level of fuel injection ensures the rider can use that fuel for maximum performance. When power is really needed the system supplies all the fuel required, but the rest of the time it minimizes fuel consumption. This control relies entirely on the data acquired from electronic components.”

“A tiny hole you wouldn’t notice unless it was pointed out specially, the intake duct helps ensure reliability in the extreme heat of the race track by directing cooling air over the electronics. The ideal location was determined through repeated testing.”

  • James

    Just call it what it is: a speed hole.

    • Scott Pargett


    • Scott-jay

      In three hole different views.
      Tech presentation newer riders can appreciate.

  • Jhon Alexander

    Yes, but can you f#@! it?…lol!

    Robot chicken jokes aside….being that it’s 101° in NYC right now brings to mind an interesting question. With all the new electroniks on the pricier models out now, I wonder how THEIR systems hold up when in hot, steamy traffic. I have none of these of course, but I would imagine that having the equivalent of a mac mini next to the motor or the pipes would almost melt these components, making for a pricy fix. do the manufacturers specify an “optimal” operating temperature?…Even the best laptop or phone innards will seize under “kinda” hot conditions.

    • Mike

      That’s why they torture-test the crap out of vehicles. As you point out, the environment for car & bike electronics is far far harsher than any laptop could imagine, in regards to heat, vibration, electrical interference, etc, and are designed to suit. The mfgr’s sure don’t want to be replacing these things under warranty..
      Think about all the brainboxes scattered throughout your car- they’ve been there for years & bikes are now just catching up.

      • Jhon Alexander

        Kind of figured they would test the electronics in extreme conditions in the bikes just as they do with all the other mechanicals in cars. However,,, dimensionally speaking, bikes are much smaller with everything for the most part centrally located as well as much more exposed to the elements.

        Being that you can stash lots of kit behind the firewall of the car, not to mention having more means of cooling it’s not exactly the same thing. Also, the hard drives and chips that are in laptops are the same ones used in vehicles, cars will actually use less expensive, outdated stuff sometimes, you’d be surprised. if the engine can overheat, so can the electronics.

        • Ryan

          Chips have gotten smaller and more powerful while remaining within the same power envelop, and it’s well known how to weatherproof something.

          I’m not surprised cars use older chips. The chips are already validated, so they don’t have to debug them. They don’t need any more power then the old chip provides, and they’re less expensive.

          The ECU will overheat if you take a blowtorch to it, and it will break if you hit it with a hammer. This stuff is pretty rugged, and electrical problems are more likely then an ECU overheating.

    • Ryan

      ECUs are nothing like a Mac Mini; they have more in common with a DVD player then a laptop or PC. Industrial embedded stuff has totally different design specifications then consumer stuff.

      Yes, design specifications are set, and the engineers build a product that will meet those specifications. Then they test the product to failure, or they should anyway. The engineering behind this stuff is pretty well known at this point, so there’s not a lot of guess work going on.

  • Gene

    I wish that part *would* melt! Traction control, shitty control tires, the stupid 21 liter fuel rule, and the limited number of engines have made MotoGP pretty boring.

    The British race actually had Jorge & Casey tangle for a couple seconds, which about the first time in 2 years there’s been actual racing. Usually it’s one bike buggering off in the distance.

  • mugget

    Wow, interesting stuff!

    I don’t wish the traction control would melt, but they should have just stuck with 990′s (or at least now the 1000′s) and allow unlimited fuel, and just generally stop changing things in the series!

    But I think that TC is here to stay now, the best riders in the world (Stoner, Lorenzo… Rossi) all use TC to some degree, they way MotoGP bikes are now, they can’t not use it.

    • Ben

      The Early 990s supposedly didn’t have it. Those bikes were all about smooth slides that were suicidal on the two strokes. There is also no freaking way that a litter bike with such fancy fuel injection is any where near as gnarly as the 500cc two strokes that still made about 200hp. Those bikes made some of the best racing in history.

      Im anti TC. Look how fun F1 got when they ditched it!

  • KR Tong

    Really great article. More things like this plskthxbai.

  • dux [87 CBR600, 95 XR600R]

    Tech stuff! Yes!

  • the_doctor

    Electronics < Stoner?

  • rohorn

    The latest in a long line of Honda TechnoPlacebos (r).