The past decade of motorcycle racing has seen a return to the great days of the 1960s and 1970s, a period when bike racers became serious stars on a par with their car-racing counterparts. Indeed, it could be argued that Valentino Rossi – and his rivals of the recent era – has, with thrilling wheel to wheel battles, revived the interest in motorcycling to a great degree.
The fact that manufacturers are returning to the sport – Suzuki will return with a works team in 2015, thus boosting a field that already includes Ducati, Honda and Yamaha – is further proof that motorcycle racing is undergoing a renaissance. Promising young riders such as Marc Marquez – the current darling of the grid – and Andrea Dovizioso add to the appeal of an increasingly popular series. But what does all this mean for motorcyclists on the road?
Win on Sunday, sell on Monday
Part of the appeal of MotoGP, where the manufacturers are concerned, lies in promotion: the ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ quote may be attributed to the legendary Enzo Ferrari, but it applies equally to bike manufacturers in the current era. With MotoGP drawing increasingly healthy viewing figures and the motorcycle industry and relevant associations running promotional campaigns in recent years, it’s no surprise that the once beleaguered motorcycle industry is undergoing something of a revival.
In the UK the rising success of Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith, both of whom campaign Yamaha’s in the premier Moto GP category, has raised interest in the sport, and such a high profile series is bound to bring worthwhile returns to the bike manufacturers. Television coverage is comprehensive and impressive, yet the benefits go further than simply mere exposure. Technological advances that are used in racing make their way to road bikes in a surprisingly short time, just as those used on Formula One cars aid the development in performance and safety features in road cars.
It’s no secret that many riders – Rossi notably to the fore – have complained about the rapid development in electronic driver aids: traction control, the riders say, takes a lot away from the sport as it limits the input of the rider. However, the application of traction control to road bikes is already making things safer for riders, and while it is currently not a standard fitment on many machines, it will surely become so in the future. Developments in tyre technology have also led to safer riding on the roads, as the MotoGP Prototype class is used as a test-bed for new ideas across the board.
Increased safety on the road is always a key factor to bike manufacturers, riders and the insurance companies that have to put their business on the line. Indeed, Bennetts Insurance – rated number one by bikers in the UK – is one such company that will welcome improvements in safety on road bikes as they strive to drive down the cost of riding a bike. Click here for more information on Bennetts Insurance and the products and services they provide.
For many, the golden age of motorcycling – and racing – came and went some years ago, but the future is bright as a new generation of sports fans are turned on to the thrills of riding on two wheels.