Motorcycle Aerodynamics

Earlier we discussed Basics of Aerodynamics in our article Breaking The Basics : Aerodynamics and for further details on Aerodynamics you can check out our article Cutting Air Better. This time we turn our attention, specifically to Motorcycles. Many books have been written on the subject of Motorcycle Aerodynamics and so we can only scratch the surface of the subject in one article.

The effects of wind pressure on stability and control are to be considered when designing, but this becomes vastly complex on a Motorcycle compared to Cars because of many stability and control problems which are not present in Cars.

Importance of Aerodynamics in Motorcycles :

Parameters like Performance, Efficiency, Stability and easy Heat Dissipation are taken into consideration when it comes to designing a Motorcycle, especially for bigger and faster Motorcycles. These kind of Motorcycles are built to go faster but here the engine’s most of the power is used to overcome the wind resistance; and this is where the Aerodynamic Design comes into the picture.



Understanding the Motorcycle Aerodynamics :

The main motive of Aerodynamics is to minimize the Wind Resistance at High Speeds which is achieved by adding a full or partial fairing, optimizing the airflow around the Motorcycles and thus reducing the drag. In addition to achieving low drag designers also have to pay attention to the cosmetics of the Motorcycle as it should be highly appealing and ergonomic too as it has to be easy and comfortable to operate.

Partially Faired Bajaj Pulsar 220

Unlike cars with a fixed coefficient of drag, during the designing of Motorcycle, An Aerodynamics Design Engineer has to consider other factors that affect the Aerodynamics which is the Rider. Considering the Height, Weight, Posture (How the Rider sits and positions himself). The Aerodynamics of Motorcycle keeps changing as the Rider brakes, accelerates, and goes through the corners and all the other maneuvers of the Rider are taken into consideration.

Seems tough and challenging? Wait, there is more. The task of design engineer does not end here, in addition to designing good looking aerodynamic aids with low drag coefficient, the design should be in a manner that it works positively affecting the handling of the motorcycle.  Studies show that wind pressure can affect the stability of the motorcycle so it is designed in a way that it can easily deal with wind turbulence helping the Rider to have a proper control over the machine.

Aerodynamic Solutions :

Now, we will discuss some solutions to aerodynamic problems. In MotoGP bikes, design engineers have used winglets mounted/integrated on their fairings which create down-force to add grip and stability, along with strategically placed strakes and ducts to manage air pressure and high-speed turbulence. These added winglets aids in Anti-Wheelie system which helps the Motorcycle’s front wheel to stay on the road.

Aerodynamic Testing :

The testing of Motorcycle Aerodynamics can be done through various methods. Choosing a particular method depends on the complexity of a particular design. Study of aerodynamics being complex, with airflow evaluation which requires dedicated wind tunnels and massive, powerful fans are heavy on pockets to build and run. In addition to that, repeated wind tunnel testing, followed by incremental vehicle modification every time, is not only expensive but also time-consuming. However, by the use of powerful computers and CAD programs, things have become a bit easier for engineers who can now use computational fluid dynamics (CFD) for Aerodynamic Design.

World of Motorcycles has really benefitted by the R&D in Aerodynamics not just in terms of Fairings but even in other Aerodynamic Aids which help the Non-Faired Motorcycles as well. With this we conclude our Article and hope we further increased the depth of your Automobile and Motorsports Vision. If you want to know more feel free to comment down below.

2 thoughts on “Motorcycle Aerodynamics”

    1. Since it is difficult to get your hands on specific Motorcycle Aerodynamics books, you can try :
      Race Car Vehicle Dynamics by Milliken W F and Milliken D L, the book is published by Society of Automobile Engineers. The fundamentals are pretty much the same.

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