Traditionally, the design of motorcycle
front trains has required long experience, a little guesswork and
a lot of trial and error. The interaction between such widely different
components as tyres, the motorcycle frame and shock absorbing systems
can be difficult to predict. At the same time, the performance of
these components is crucial to both rider comfort and safety. Up
to now, observations made on test motorcycles have provided only
partial answers to questions concerning critical parameters like
tyre stiffness and suspension damping capacity.
This project was aimed at rationalising
motorcycle front train design through the use of models and a new
test bench as an intermediate step between computation and actual
road testing. The new approach allows the rapid, risk-free evaluation
of front train performance under extreme riding conditions, and
at a substantially reduced cost. It can also be used to study fatigue
effects in ageing components.
The new approach has already been used
in the design and production of a new, lighter and more straightforward
front train providing improved stability and comfort under variable
road and track conditions. What is more, say project partners, it
means improved European competitiveness with rival Japanese motorcycle
manufacturers who currently dominate the market.