What is the value of saving weight in racing?

Posted by Dan Dilkey on Aug 24th 2018


First and foremost, the ultimate goal in racing, no matter what type of racing it is, is to win. In order to win a race you have to be better than all other entrants, with regard to each and every aspect of the race. Whether it's the racer with his/her mental and physical skills, or the motorcycle with its performance, durability and the racers personal settings thereto. The combination of all have to be better than the rest, any shortcoming with any aspect(s) has to be made up via 'extra effort' from another, and 90% of the time that 'extra effort' comes from the racer having to perform beyond his comfort level of control. We've all had to race over our heads, but know one wants to have to. Therefore, anything that can be done to create an 'advantage' for the racer is going allow him to win races with less effort.

The weight reduction formula is simple: 7 Pounds = 1 Horsepower. A seven pound weight reduction to the motorcycle or rider does not give the engine an additional horsepower, but what is does do is free up the engine from 'pulling drag', and at a seven pound weight reduction you will realize one horsepower worth of value. One advantage for the small, light weight racers on the start!

A lighter motorcycle will also allow the racer to exert less physical effort than a heavy motorcycle. That is a fact. Just as important as weight reduction, is the location of the weight reduction. For example, weight saved from the top of the motorcycle (seat, gas tank, handlebars, etc...) is going to be much more noticeable to the rider than weight saved in the middle to bottom (titanium bolts, aluminum fasteners, skid plates, etc...). It's simple physics.

A lighter weight racer will allow the motorcycle to be more responsive power wise when compared to a heavier racer. That too is a fact. And weight savings with the racer can come from two different areas, the racer's physical body weight and the racer's protective gear (helmet, goggles, jersey, pants, gloves, knee/wrist/neck braces). However, more consideration needs to be taken when trying to achieve a lighter weight racer. Such as health. You don't want to get your body weight so low that you sacrifice strength and go backwards. Or, if you wear a neck brace, you may not want to remove that if it provides you with a sense confidence. So, when reducing racer weight more consideration needs to be taken than with the motorcycle. But do know that there are plenty of things that can be done to reduce the racer's weight outside of his/her own physical body weight.

That's it for this week. Next time we will discuss in detail the various ways of saving weight on the motorcycle. Please come back to check it out and feel free to comment as you like. This blog is open to all interested in discussing the old, current and new technologies of racing. So, please don't be shy.