To include a specific part on a racing machine, that part needs to be capable of an excess of wear and tear. It needs to endure higher forces than road-going machines, and it needs to be reliable over the course of an entire race. And that’s something Brembo knows well when it introduced its brakes to MotoGP bikes.
A recent feature by Mat Oxley in Motorsport Magazine enlightened me to a lot of the complexities around MotoGP braking systems that I hadn’t been aware of before, namely that riders repeatedly experience about 2Gs of forces when braking. Oxley lays out a lot of the details in his article, which I’ll leave to him. But his measurements will probably be foreign to us Americans, so I’m going to do a little translation for ease of reading.
A MotoGP bike itself has to weigh no less than 346 pounds, or 157 kilos. The grid average of a rider, plus his riding gear and fuel, turn that 346 pounds into about 573 pounds. Oxley uses Turn One at Portimao as his illustrative example, where riders have to accelerate up to 210 mph and then decelerate as quickly as possible. In that image, he reports that Brembo engineers have seen negative g-force figures of 2gs—which means that, at that point, riders on their bikes weigh half a metric tonne, which is over 1,100 pounds.
Someone will probably point out that Formula One experiences g-forces double that of MotoGP riders, but riders are taking the brunt of that force through their wrists, crotch, thighs, butt, and feet. They have a higher center of gravity, but they’re also short. They only have two thin tires. And they have to maintain balance all the while.
Oxley’s article is great, because he goes on to detail the increase of braking forces in tandem with improvements in aerodynamics and how brake and tire manufacturers like Brembo and Michelin have been countering the situation so that both the bikes and the riders cross the finish line in one piece.