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In WorldSBK, there is no way to talk about technical regulation without mentioning the speed and rpm limits. One of the most discussed WorldSBK regulations in recent years has been the diet limits for each manufacturer. Fixed gear ratios for bikes mean teams need to assess what will work best for the full thirteen rounds of the season rather than any individual race track; the requirements in Assen and Navarre are very different and the teams have to cut their fabric accordingly.

THE BASICS: understanding the speed and transmission ratios

WorldSBK regulations impose a specific speed limit for each bike depending on the street engine. The calculation is based on the measured speed limit of the third and fourth gears. The average of this plus 3% gives the diet limit for the season. Some motorcycles will have more RPM than others due to the characteristics or configuration of the engine and unless there is a significant upgrade to the motorcycle the limit will remain the same.

The gear ratio is the number of times the front sprocket must turn for the rear sprocket to complete one full revolution. This is how the engine speed is translated into real speed. Over the course of a full season in WorldSBK, the gear ratio will determine whether or not teams are focusing on top speed or on a torquey engine coming out of the turn. You can’t have both, so teams will aim for a balance between acceleration and top speed.

FINDING BALANCE: How to Optimize What You Can

The biggest problem for racing teams is balance. While the gear ratios should stay the same, teams can still find ways to adjust the bike but by changing the length of the swingarm. This makes the chain shorter or longer and without changing your gear ratio you would be able to adjust the gearing and find a change in top speed or acceleration. The goal is to find the best balance between gearing and swingarm length to give the rider what he wants.

This means that when teams go to a fast track, like Assen, they will try to adjust gears and swingarm length to give them good top speed. In Navarre, the slowest track on the calendar, they will focus on cornering speeds as the defining characteristic for the gearing. This means that instead of top speed, they focus on the feeling a rider needs. This ensures that with a shorter gearbox they can adjust more to handling rather than top speed.

RPM limits in WorldSBK mean that different manufacturers have different limits. The goal is not parity in the Superbike category but there are attempts to cut the wings of any manufacturer flying too close to the sun. If a manufacturer proves to be dominant – as Kawasaki and Ducati were in the past when they reduced their revs, the WorldSBK can adjust the limit in 250 rpm increments.

IN PRACTICE: what does this mean on the track?

One of the main topics of discussion throughout the 2021 season has been Kawasaki’s pre-season engine upgrades. The FIM determined that they were not large enough to warrant a new diet limit. It was similar to what happened to Yamaha in 2020 when they introduced a new engine configuration due to European Union emissions regulations.

The effect of that has been profound this season. In the title battle, Jonathan Rea had to make many adjustments to the Kawasaki. Their problem is not top speed, but rather the gearing in the corners that affected them. Rea had to make some more changes than what Kawasaki expected as the bike is not perfectly suited for them this year. Overtime shifts cost time and mental capacity. The greatest ripple effect of the Kawasaki rev limit was seen in slower corners rather than in sheer top speed.

The magic of Superbike racing is that it is a production-based championship. Winning on Sunday and selling on Monday was the motto at the start of the championship and it is as true today as it was in 1988. The manufacturers are there to promote their bikes as the best sports bike in the business, and the rules are there. . to make sure that can happen.

Watch the Motul 2021 Spanish round in style with the WorldSBK VideoPass!

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