No brakes, no gear, no fear
As we mentioned in the article about Speedway in general, the motorcycles used for this extremely fast-paced and unpredictable sport are very different from the ones you usually see in the street. Not only that, they are completely different from the ones used in other forms of motorcycle competitions. The FIM (governing body of motorcycle racing) has several rules in regards to the motorcycles used in Speedway, and it is crucial that each team follow these rules carefully. The slogan for Motorcycle speedway is “No breaks, No gear, No fear”, and this perfectly sums up the intention behind the guidelines regarding the bikes. Now, of course, the motorcycles used in Speedway have changed a lot through the course of time, and evolved into quite the monsters – nevertheless, they are still bound to follow rules, which eliminates most of the differences between them. Compared to Formula 1, you will never see one motorcycle being much faster than the competitors when it comes to Motorcycle speedway. Here is a quick list of the main rules regarding the motorcycles:
- They must have a total weight of at least 77 kilograms, not counting the fuel
- They must use methanol as fuel (no diesel, no petrol)
- They must have a silencer fitted, in order to not ruin the experience for spectators with high noises
- They must have a dirt deflector fitted onto them, as to not throw dirt on other drivers
- They must have a maximum capacity of 500cc (this is exactly what keeps producers from creating way too powerful engines)
- They cannot have any breaks, and must only use one gear. The clutch is the release mechanism.
There are other rules as well – for example, motorcycles used for Speedway racing must not use any turbos or superchargers, as well as electrical components for engine-control. Producers cannot avoid the 77 kilo minimum by using Titanium parts or ceramics, and they should be using shatter resistant plastics where that is reasonable.
Evolution of the motorcycles
As with most vehicles used for racing, the evolution of Speedway motorcycles has been immense in the last century. From old-fashioned, slow bikes that would often fall apart if the driver did not use them correctly, the motorcycles have evolved into beautiful, fast, efficient and powerful machines. In the very beginning of Speedway history, most bikes had a so-called “upright” engine, whereas these days the bikes have a laydown engine instead. This gives better control of the bike, and makes drifting into the curves of the Speedway tracks a tad easier.
Among the most famous producers of Speedway motorcycles, you will find JAWA – a Czech manufacturer that has focused on the action packed sport since its early days. JAWA bikes have been in use at Motorcycle speedway for decades, and won several trophies with the help of legendary drivers like Ivan Mauger og Ole Olsen. The first of these two, Mauger, is considered one of the greatest Speedway racers of all time, with an unbelievable record of six World Championship titles during the 1960s and 70s.