From the seat of eight-time Champion Giacomo Agostini’s pants, through Kenny Roberts and the introduction of computers into the paddock with Wayne Rainey, data acquisition has come a long way. This four-minute vid from MotoGP takes us on a quick spin through history up to the present day, featuring a cast of illustrious racers, tuners, and hoary old computers.

  • Gruf Rude

    How much longer before we reach the point where everything is too complicated for us to maintain it and civilization collapses?

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Everything is modular. Whatever doesn’t work or goes bad, you replace. Technology is making life simpler and more rewarding. If your smartphone doesn’t work, you get another one. You don’t worry about how complicated it is. Cars and motorcycles run better because of technology. No one wants to go back to the days of finicky carburettors, nozzles, floats and points. Electronic ignition and EFI are the way to go. The ability to maintain will go along with the technology. As people grow older, they feel more comfortable with the things they are used to and lose the ability to adapt or learn new things.

      • Johnny Blue

        What a limited and narrow point of view Sayyed. Gruf was, most likely, talking in a broader sense. Obviously he knows that failing smartphones and EFI systems don’t cause the collapse of a civilization. And even these rather not very complex things we don’t make them perfect.
        Also, technology is far from making life simpler and more rewarding.

        • Andy Whitten

          Then why participate in an online forum instead of reading a paper magazine and then taking pen to paper to snail-mail a letter-to-the-editor extolling the virtues of avoiding overly complex and unrewarding technology? That sounds much more rewarding.

          • Johnny Blue

            Unfortunately I don’t know John’s mailing address…:P
            You didn’t get the meaning of what I said. Maybe I wasn’t too clear. The idea is that the state of happiness does not depend on the amount of technology we develop. Life is not simple, or complicated, rewarding, or not, because of the technology. If that were true then we would see an increase in happiness in people as the technology advances, which in reality is not true.

            Had I been born 200 years ago I would have been as happy then riding horses as I am today riding EFI equipped motorcycles. I hope this makes it clear.

          • therr850

            I prefer that. This is one of only two sites I follow regularly. I have four paper magazine subscriptions, none are available for this site, and I don’t visit the e-site for any of the paper subscriptions. I also write occasionally, on paper, with pen and ink, to the paper magazines when I feel the need.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            But this kind of interactive online discussion is not possible in a paper magazine. No one ever sees your letter to the editor unless it gets published. And no one ever replies to you.

          • therr850

            That’s not a bad thing. I am convinced my thoughts are not that important in the grand scheme. If the editor deems my comment not worthy of publication at least he took the time to read and think about it. That is all I ask.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          I think technology has given people freedom from drudgery so they have time to enjoy life. No matter how nostalgic the middle ages may seem but life was literally the pits. Now you have cars, motorcycles, roads, heating and air-conditioning, bathrooms, kitchen appliances, weekends, shopping, television, radio, the internet, smartphones. Try living without any of these things.

    • Starmag

      A bit glass half full, but then again, ask anyone who “can’t live” without their cell phone to tell you exacty how it works and all you’ll get is a blank stare.

  • Starmag

    It’s not hard to imagine a time in the near future when a computerized robot will be able to cut quicker lap times than a human. Will that be “better” than watching Stoner’s or Marquez’s artistry? I vote no, so there’s a nerd limit for me.

    • spiff

      The weakest link in fighter jets is the human body.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        But it is also the most adaptable to unforeseen circumstances. That is why they have humans in space ships and space stations. But if you don’t need a fighter jet, a drone controlled by someone on the other side of the world will do just as well.

        • spiff

          The brain is still important, the body is the limitaion.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            Yes, but it hard to put a human brain in a machine.

          • spiff

            Give them time, they’ll figure it out.

    • spiff

      I remember an episode of “The Jetsons” where they have a football game. The only humans on the field are the two coaches, with robot players. With the world of gaming where it is at I don’t think we are that far off.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        Most drone pilots the air force hires are good video game players.

        • spiff

          As well as the helicopter pilots. They have all the crazy heads up displays to deal with.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            Yes, but helicopter pilots are actually there in person. They can see the blood and gore with their eyes. Drone pilots are 12,000 miles away from the action. It is like a video game to them.

    • Andy Whitten

      You’re too late: https://www.engadget.com/2015/10/28/yamaha-motobot/
      If the computer makes the lap times faster, as it apparently already does, it will only be a matter of time before the rider is mostly just along for the ride. The question then becomes how much is too much? How does one decide?

      This in part may be why the 500 GP class will likely maintain as the most exciting period in motorcycle racing.

      • Starmag

        Actually, that bike is what prompted my comment. It doesn’t come anywhere near to cuttting faster lap times so I’m not “too late” and that’s still in the future.

        “how much is too much?” Ask Dorna, they now have a spec ECU rule, which for my money has somewhat leveled the playing field making Motogp more competitive and therefore, more interesting. How long can stasis last? Not long in my view, humans are easily bored. I’ll stick with them for riders though.

        • Andy Whitten

          Good points. I agree the playing field won’t be level for long. Funds will be diverted to other locations where the big spenders can afford a multitude of mechanical improvements the others cannot. Or, the rules can continue to morph like in NASCAR where they race virtually the same cars with enough paint accents that they can be identified with a given marque. Or superbikes with oem computers outperform lap times of GP. They’re getting closer. I agree it’s not fun watching computers race, but nor is it to watch phony mockup vehicles race. I would like to see an unlimited all-out best of the best race; period. They had/have all of the other classes for class-racing.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            Ideally racing is supposed to help develop technology. If the technology is standardized, there is no further development. The classes can be determined by engine size but the technology should not be restricted. Leveling the playing field only makes it boring.

          • Starmag

            i agree, but remember the Jorge championships. Pole, then run away at the front. zzzzzzzz. No one wants that.

          • Andy Whitten

            Thus, forcing competitors to step up their game, or pack up and go home. Which of course is part of the endless debate on which is worse: limiting technical growth or allowing a tech war.

            I’m not convinced that limiting tech substantially lowers costs; wealthier teams just spend more $ for incrementally smaller advantages.

            Short of becoming king, I suspect we will just continue watching whatever they shovel to us, although less excitement means viewers may move to other events.

            It will be interesting to see what happens with AFT since Indian’s entry and the obvious shake-up. Will others up their game, be satisfied to sweep up at the rear, or pack-up and go home?

          • Andy Whitten

            Thus, forcing competitors to step up their game, or pack up and go home. Which of course is part of the endless debate on which is worse: limiting technical growth or allowing a tech war.

            I’m not convinced that limiting tech substantially lowers costs; wealthier teams just spend more $ for incrementally smaller advantages.

            Short of becoming king, I suspect we will just continue watching whatever they shovel to us, although less excitement means viewers may move to other events.

            It will be interesting to see what happens with AFT since Indian’s entry and the obvious shake-up. Will others up their game, be satisfied to sweep up at the rear, or pack-up and go home?

          • Starmag

            Too true about AFT and the march of tech. That said, Motogp has a pretty fine balance for me the last two years, offering some of the most interesting racing since I started watching. Even F1 drivers say Motogp is more interesting. Undoubtably due to the ECU rule.

  • gunny 2shoes

    wa wa wa shutup and go fetch another bucket of water

  • Old MOron

    Interestingly, Stoner opines that you can probably still win races without a computer.
    I wonder if his crewchiefs agree.

    • Born to Ride

      Laughable considering that Stoner was known as being one of the most dependent on the early TC systems, willing to whack it open and let it slide until it caught. Granted he was probably referring to Phillip island, which is a race he could probably win on a Huffy if he really tried.

    • Gruf Rude

      My understanding of the state of engine tune of MotoGP bikes is that it takes a highly-sophisticated ECU just to allow reasonably smooth throttle response. That is without any of the other traction control, anti-wheelie, anti-lift, superABS, variable suspension, GPS corner-by-corner adjustments, etc. Point being, I don’t think the bikes would be ridable at all without the computerized throttle-by-wire to bring the power on predictably.
      As to the other stuff like traction control, guys like Rossi and Rainey and Roberts used to do pretty well with educated wrists but I don’t think even Rossi could compete against the fully-computerized rider just with his wrist.

  • Shlomi

    At some point they will all get back to their senses, drop the computers from racing and let the riders do their job. I admire the NASCAR drivers who drive +200 MPH without any computer assistance.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      There is no going back.

      • Shlomi

        Well it’s going to be boaring once Rossi retires.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          MotoGP will never be boring. Wait till KTM gets to the top next year. Will have four KTM riders in 2019.

  • dbwindhorst

    Sincere question: are there fewer highsides now?

    I see that cited affirmative often, but watching the races, there still seem to be a fair number of riders getting pitched off.

    • Gruf Rude

      My impression is that there are fewer high-sides in MotoGP. Still plenty of crashes, but the vast majority appear to be front wheel washouts with the rider falling to the inside and following the bike into the kitty litter. At least in MotoGP, the ‘snap sideways, launch the rider forward’ crash is a rarity anymore.

      • Shlomi

        Remember that the current engines are 4 stroke, and have much friendlier power curve compared with the 500cc two strokes. I’m sure the TC makes wonders in the wet races, but not sure about the dry