Performance is a much-misunderstood word. More often than not, we tend to think that a two-wheeler which has a bigger engine, higher power figures on paper, a quick 0-100 sprint time or a high top speed is a great performer. But is that the whole story? Does performance comprise only output specs, acceleration and top speed? That’s certainly not true, as a well-made two-wheeler has to ‘perform’ on hundreds of other parameters other than power or speed to be called a true performer. And how well a two-wheeler performs on all these parameters taken together is a reflection of how well it’s designed, engineered and produced. In this article, we’ll talk about the parameters beyond acceleration and the top speed that make a two-wheeler a true performer!
You don’t want a two-wheeler that vibrates, especially in today’s modern times. No matter how thrilling your ride is, you want it to go about its job in a composed, refined, drama-free manner. The engine should rev all the way to its redline without a trace of shiver on any of the points where your body connects with the motorcycle. You want your machine to feel as though it’s made to perform at its peak without you worrying about its parts falling off. Engineering a product in a way that it manages all the power at its disposal in a capable manner, and filtering out any unwanted vibes is an extremely important performance parameter for a modern machine. No matter how quick a two-wheeler is if it can’t make you feel that it’s at ease handling it, it’s merely a reflection of its bad engineering.
There are machines that dish out over 200 hp of power, and yet, would perform at their peak all day long in the real world if you so wished. On the other hand, there are some other machines which would give you your shot of adrenaline for a short burst, but keep that throttle pinned, and they’ll first heat up, roast your calves, and spit out all their vital fluids thereafter if you don’t relent. Modern engines produce incredible amounts of power and a ton of heat in the process. All that heat has to be managed well, to keep the motor running optimally and at the right temperatures. And trust us, that feat takes a humongous effort on a manufacturer’s part to be achieved. It is, thus, a very important parameter in ascertaining the performance of your machine.
Nobody likes their possessions breaking on them, especially vehicles, for when other things break, they just cost you money, but with a broken vehicle, you might end up stranded in the middle of nowhere. A fast machine should be able to offer you the thrills that you bought it for, minus the danger of their parts falling apart when pushed to the limit. The best manufacturers in the world lay a lot of emphasis on ensuring that their machines are designed, engineered and produced precisely to make sure they can do what they promise to do for a prolonged period of time, and offer their owners the joy of ownership for years.
Big, lazy, inefficient engines are going out of business faster than landline phones. Fuel prices are soaring, and even when they aren’t, people are consciously trying to reduce the carbon footprint of the automobiles they use. Technology is making it possible to extract more power from small capacity engines, and there are, indeed many replacements for displacement now. Putting together a big lump of iron displacing several litres isn’t how an engine really performs. Motors with great specific output, which offer good power, while still being compact and fuel efficient is what amounts to true performance in today’s demanding times.
You didn’t buy your high-performance two-wheeler solely for a drag race, did you? Sure that 0-100 or quarter mile timing helps, but you’d be relegated in a plume of dust in the real world if your bike couldn’t handle around corners. A capable chassis, lightweight engineering, good weight distribution, a well thought out riding position and rigorous testing around a track – you really need all of that to tame all that power that’s being sent to the rear wheel. The best part about riding a motorcycle is to enjoy the thrill of going really fast around corners. A motorcycle which doesn’t have good dynamic ability is a dud for most of the riding enthusiasts.
It’s not just about the bike’s own weight. Power to weight ratio apart, which obviously adds to the performance of a machine, lighter components in engine and transmission can help the engine rev much higher, and produce way more power for the same displacement. Not just that, it adds enormously to the sporty character of the machine. Not without reason do sports bike manufacturers lay so much emphasis on keeping the weight of critical components like connecting rods and pistons as light as possible, even if it costs them significantly more.
Good ergonomics play a crucial role in making sure that you can harness the performance of your machine for not just short bursts, but even on those long endurance rides. Nobody wants to be uncomfortable while riding their bikes. The right rider triangle, along with the correct position for all the controls, rear view mirrors and the right amount of seat comfort can make a world of difference in the amount of time you are able to spend with your machine. While a super sporty machine may give you the edge around a racetrack for a few laps, on the street, it’s a balanced layout that allows the rider to stay on board for longer. And if it’s about going farther, faster – a bike which is more rider-friendly has the better chance of attaining that goal
Use of modern engine tech
Even if the power output, acceleration and top speed of two engines are exactly the same, a more modern, technologically superior engine would always give its rider the edge. Technologies like electronic fuel injection, liquid-cooling, variable valve timing, ride-by-wire, low-friction coatings can enhance certain performance parameters which aren’t reflected by sprint times or top speed. To elaborate, EFI would allow for better combustion, which means more smoothness and better efficiency. Liquid cooling would allow for better engine cooling, preventing it from heating up in the longer run. Variable valve timing would allow for better performance across the rev spectrum, ride-by-wire would enhance throttle response and low friction coatings would enhance engine life. The more modern engines, thus, would be better at everything, and have a longer life, even if acceleration and top speed remains the same.
An advanced ECU and a comprehensive electronic suite would make a motorcycle way more forgiving than one could ever imagine. Modern electronic aids like traction control, riding modes, wheelie control, cornering ABS, electronically adjustable damping/rebound and rear lift-off control make it possible to ride modern bikes much faster. The electronics on modern bikes work in tandem to allow a rider to push his machine closer to the limit without feeling intimidated. Needless to say, a rider on a motorcycle with all the modern electronics and active safety aids will always be faster than another one with similar power and torque, but without the rest of the goodies.
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