Science and art of making your motorcycle featherweight

 Science and art of making your motorcycle featherweight

It is common practice for racers to worry about the weight and performance of their motorcycles.

Motorcycle enthusiasts always do their best to play with these two and make sure they get the best fit because it’s the weight that plays the spoilsport.

It also comes along with safety issues should control in the best way they can.

Generally, the idea is when the bike’s weight is reduced, there is a more significant acceleration achieved from every horsepower the engine delivers.

In addition, you can also get a better suspension reaction and handling too if the weight gets removed from the places where the bike’s suspension doesn’t carry.

 There are three classes of weight in motorcycles or, better still, three types of mass, to be more specific. 


There is the 

  • Sprung mass, 
  • Upsrung mass and the 
  • Rotating mass. 

The one we are going to be a focus on is the unsprung mass. It’s the weight of the bike’s components comes between the suspension and the road.

Generally, this includes tires, rims, wheel bearings, axles, swing arm, the lower half of the forks and shock, brake rotors and callipers, rear sprocket, and part of the weight the chain. 

What makes this mass different is that it is so close to the ground that it barely affects the motorcycle’s centre of gravity. 

The bike’s suspension instead moves the mass up and down quickly to maintain contact between the tyre and road.

So, the less the unsprung mass is, the less the suspensions have to control. As such, it is more ready to react to road conditions.

Gyroscopic effect

So if you envisage working on the tires to reduce the mass, you should know that in as much as the bike turns easier with lighter wheels due to the reduced gyroscopic effect they produce. 

Now, this, in turn, can make a bike unstable with quick steering as it goes over rough surfaces.

So if you want to go for lighter carbon tires, upgrade your suspension to provide a broader range of adjustment.

Another area where most riders look to having some mass reduction is with the chain and sprockets. 

Faster acceleration

For instance, if you are to change the chain and make use of a 415 series chain and sprocket, it drops the mass by 2.5 lbs, and the downside of it is a reduction in the life expectancy of the bike. 

This change is equivalent to about 67% of the horsepower transferred to the rear wheel for those who like specifics, much faster acceleration and improved corner and handling speed.

In a nutshell, the components that make the unsprung mass can modify with keen attention paid to the bike performance to get the most efficient bike with a lesser weight. Here are some key points to keep in mind.

Points to remember

  • When choosing the parts for the lesser weight, go for components that will give an additional overall benefit. For instance, if you are going for lighter aluminium sprockets, they also adjust the motorcycle’s gears.
  • It would be best if you aimed at being cost-effective. So it is advisable, to begin with, the components having significant influence but the least cost price.
  • Light Titanium or Aluminum fasteners can replace the conventional fasteners used in the motorcycle. You save straight 1.5 kgs when the fasteners get replaced.
  • If you go for a six-piston calliper for the braking system, you are sure your discs have a narrower swept braking area. And as such, they will be lighter.

Other less conventional methods to reduce the weight of the motorcycle are

  • Using a shorter exhaust pipe made of quality material
  • You may also want to go for lighter aftermarket rims.
  • If you are the type who doesn’t carry a pillion, however, your motorcycle has a seat for a pillion, you could either swap or shorten the seat and remove the footpegs.
  • If you ride with a toolkit, you may want to lose it too.
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Akash Dolas

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