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Ducati carbon fibre fork tubes | NEWS

It’s no secret Ducati’s GP17 MotoGP machine is a handful. It’s a bike that suffers from a lack of front-end feel and it requires both experience and conviction to get the thing to turn.

It’s also well known that Jorge Lorenzo needs an intuitive and quick-turning motorcycle in order to be fast – and when he clicks with a bike he’s blisteringly fast. And word has been out for a while that Lorenzo is being paid an unprecedented amount of money to win races.

What has transpired – and what isn’t a surprise to anyone – is that the 2015 world champion hasn’t clicked with the notoriously corner-phobic machine and, as a result, the factory has been forced to think outside the square to find solutions.

One of the many experiments Ducati has developed is carbon fibre fork tubes. Not to reduce unsprung weight, which is so often the case when the black, woven and oh-so-strong material is adopted in racing, but to introduce flex and also provide more scope for weight distribution. Let me explain… 


Carbon fibre has come a long way since it made headlines for being the lightest, strongest (and best looking) material we’d find on mudguards, helmets and rear-wheel huggers. The technology around different weaves, processes and construction techniques has significantly improved to the point where flex, movement and ultimately feedback can be specifically and very precisely engineered into it. And the basic vertical operation of a fork leg, where the inner tube moves up and down within the outer tube, works really well when a bike is upright. But when a fork leg reaches the sort of lean angles a MotoGP bike is capable of, the up-and-down action becomes redundant. Feel needs to come from the fork legs themselves, which have now been engineered to flex.


Another very useful by-product of carbon fibre fork leg outer tubes is lower weight. But while most racebike manufacturers are always looking to reduce the weight of their machines, the simple truth is the GP17 would have already met the imposed minimum weight mandated by the rulebook well before Ducati thought about the advantages of lightweight carbon fibre fork legs. Nevertheless, by removing weight from one place on the bike, it allows the team to play around with weight distribution elsewhere to chase that elusive front-end feel. And when the difference between first and 10th in MotoGP lap times can be a mere fraction of a second, then every little gram counts.

By Kel Buckley