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MotoGP Bans Ride Height Devices, Restricts Aero for 2027

Gold and Goose

2026 marks the end of the current cycle of the contracts the MotoGP teams have with Dorna to ensure their participation in the series, and therefore the end of the current technical regulations, with the new set just announced.

From 2027, MotoGP will reduce engine capacity from 1,000cc to 850cc, and reduce the size of the fairing in an attempt to limit the aerodynamic downforce effect the bikes produce. In addition, the fuel tank size is reduced from 22 litres to 20 litres (11 litres will be the maximum amount of fuel allowed for Sprints), the number of engines per season per rider is reduced from seven to six, and ride height devices are outlawed.

Francesco Bagnaia, 2024 MotoGP Spanish Grand Prix. Credit: Gold and Goose

MotoGP last last reduced engine capacity in 2007 when it went from its original four-stroke formula of 990cc to the 800cc formula that took the series through 2011. The 800s were unpopular because it was perceived that the high corner speed riding styles they promoted made for poor racing. 


The new 850cc engines will limit the bore size to 75mm (currently 81mm under 1,000cc regulations), which means the stroke of the engines can stay the same as it is now in the current 1,000cc formula, and this is anticipated to help save costs for the existing manufacturers - Ducati, KTM, Aprilia, Yamaha, and Honda - which should be able to derive their respective 850cc engines from their existing 1,000cc units.

The fundamental reason for the reduction in capacity is to try to control speeds, with MotoGP’s current speed record set at 366kph (227mph). The reduction in capacity should limit engine performance and therefore speed.

Enea Bastianini, 2023 MotoGP Malaysian Grand Prix. Credit: Gold and Goose

Since 2015, downforce aerodynamics have transformed MotoGP and have become a fundamental part of motorcycle design in the championship. This has positive effects in terms of performance for the manufacturers, who benefit from improvements in grip generated by sophisticated and effective aerodynamics. Downforce aerodynamics at the front also help to reduce wheelie and keep more load on the front tyre during acceleration, helping to improve stability at high speeds, which is beneficial from a safety standpoint.

However, as a motorcycle becomes more dependent on aerodynamics to generate the maximum loads, and therefore grip, it is capable of, it becomes increasingly hampered by reductions in the amount of air flowing over its aerodynamic surfaces, which can be caused by following closely to a motorcycle ahead. It means that performance is reduced for one bike when it is following another, and this makes overtaking more difficult.

Francesco Bagnaia, 2024 MotoGP Spanish Grand Prix. Credit: Gold and Goose

Since it is impossible to ban aerodynamic devices, or downforce-generating aerodynamic devices, because any surface which touches the air can be described as an aerodynamic device, MotoGP has restricted the size of the top part of the front fairing in its 2027 rules. From the current 600mm, 2027’s MotoGP front fairings will  be limited to 550mm, and the nose of the fairing will also be moved 50mm further back towards the headstock. This will not eradicate wings from MotoGP, but it could reduce the effect they have and therefore reduce the performance differential between running in clean air and running behind another bike.

An additional aerodynamic rule change for 2027 is that the rear of the bike will be included in what’s known as the “aero body”. This term first came up in 2017 when MotoGP first tried to reduce aerodynamics, and basically referred to the fairing. MotoGP regulated then that only one update per manufacturer per season was allowed to the “aero body”, but it left everything outside that open for unlimited in-season development. The inclusion of the rear seat in the aerodynamic homologation removes that free in-season development for that part of the bike. The same is not true of the fork legs and swingarm, for example, which remain open.

Fabio Quartararo, MotoGP, Tissot sprint race, Spanish MotoGP, 27 April 2024

Perhaps the biggest change included in the 2027 regulations is the ban on ride height devices. 

These began to be used by Ducati in 2019 as a ‘holeshot device’ like those found in motocross. The idea is simple: by lowering the ride height, the centre of gravity is lower, and therefore the bike is less inclined to wheelie, and the bike therefore requires less power-restricting intervention to keep the front wheel on the ground. By the end of 2019, Ducati was running its holeshot device also around the lap on corner exits, and at this point they became known as ‘ride height devices’, helping to reduce wheelie on corner exits.

There are several issues with ride height devices, and only one of them is that, if one fails, the bike becomes unrideable and the rider has to retire. Other problems are that they increase top speeds by improving acceleration, they decrease braking distances by increasing front load during braking, they overload the front tyre which adds to the negative effect of following another rider caused by the aerodynamics, they reduce the importance of rider skill on corner exit, and they increase danger by reducing manoeuvrability which is dangerous when riding among other riders (especially at the start).

Maverick Vinales, Tissot sprint race, Grand Prix of the Americas, 13 April 2024

Unlike aerodynamics, ride height devices are completely banned from 2027, including at the start.

Additional changes in 2027 include that all teams will have access to the GPS data of all riders at the end of every session, and that all manufacturers will start the 2027 season in the ‘B’ tier of the concessions system that was introduced this year.

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