/What’s in a Moto2 chassis?
Johann Zarco at Catalunya 2014

What’s in a Moto2 chassis?

When Moto 2 was originally introduced in 2010 a multitude of frame makers stepped forward to fill the 39 rider strong grid. The combination of Moriwaki and Toni Elias were strong throughout most of the season, eventually taking the title. However, other riders, and in particular frames, also had a chance to shine, notably Kenny Noyes’ pole on the Promoharris at Le Mans. The subsequent years have seen number of frames in Moto2 drop down to just five; Kalex, Suter, Tech3, Speed-Up and Motobi.

Since Stefan Bradl took the Moto2 title in 2011, Kalex has emerged as the frame to have. In 2013 it won all but three races and filled the top four spots in the championship. On the eve of the Barcelona Grand Prix a Kalex has won all six races in 2014, and taken all six poles. The Kalex frame is often praised for being rider friendly, suitable to a wider range of riding style and being generally easier to set up.

Very high track temperatures, such as in Austin 2013, have seen the Kalex be much harder on their tyres than that of the Suter. The Kalex’s advantage is also negated in the wet, which has classically been considered a great leveler, placing rider skill above machinery. Despite this the Kalex’s domination look set to continue, especially in the skillful hands of Mika Kallio, Tito Rabat and fast rookies like Jonas Folger and Luis Salom.

Marc Marquez took the Suter to victory in 2012, able to win even from the back of the grid, Marquez has been the only rider to get the Suter to challenge for wins throughout a whole season. Thomas Luthi and Dominique Aegerter are able to achieve solid and consistent results, but rarely challenge for the win. In 2013 Jordi Torres and Nico Terol were the only riders to win a race on the Suter, but both have struggled to even get into the points this year.

Nico Terol’s first win came in Austin where the Kalex bikes struggled with tyre wear. The Suter has been considered very difficult to set up, the bike wanting to be ridden in a particular way. As demonstrated by Marquez and occasionally Agerter, when everything is right it can challenge for the lead. The size of the bike has also caused problems for bigger riders such as Scott Redding, who struggled to fit the narrow bike.

Caterham have entered Moto2 and begun to develop off the Suter base, mostly altering aerodynamics with knowledge gained in F1. They have plans to eventually make their own frame based around what they have learnt. This is not uncommon, as the Speed-Up frame has taken inspiration from FTR .

Andrea Iannone had some success aboard the Speed-Up Moto2 bike in 2012, being one of the few riders to challenge Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro as they fought for the title. The Speed Up effort is headed by Luca Boscoscuro, known for his involvement with Gilera and Derbi, helping Marco Simoncelli win the 2008 250cc title. The Speed Up frame is known to be quite stiff, taking some inspiration from the Aprilia’s of old. Speed Up has returned this year with a factory team running Sam Lowes and QMMF continue to run the frame, but limited riders makes development tough, compared to Kalex and Suter who have 16 and 12 (including Caterham) riders respectively.

The French Tech 3 team continues to run their home built chassis, which has remained much the same for several years. 2013 saw the frame score just 19 points, however the pairing of Marcel Schrotter and Ricky Cardus have been challenging for the top ten on an almost regular basis, scoring 36 points between them. Guy Coulon was originally meant to retire from crew chiefing to focus on the Moto2 project, but this clearly hasn’t happened as he currently works with Bradley Smith. It is a lack of development that is holding back the Tech 3 bike at current.

The Motobi frame is the final one which competes permanently in Moto2. Much like the Tech 3 bike, the JiR run Motobi suffers from a lack of major development, in the hands of Alex De Angelis in 2011 the bike was able to achieve decent results, winning in Australia and gaining a podium in Germany. But with development stagnant and only one rider, Tetsuta Nagashima, the bike struggles significantly.

With the right combination of conditions, rider and set up both the Speed-Up and Suter frames are able to push for the win. The Kalex’s advantage comes from this combination of these three factors being far broader than that of the Suter, Speed-Up and Tech 3 bike. There are other frame makes out there, such as Transfiomers, but are often limited to domestic series such at the CEV. Moto2 was originally thought to be one that would allow innovation but it has emerged a two horse race, both very conventional in design.

Harry Lloyd is the producer and co-host of MotoPod, the internet radio show all about motorcycle road racing. He first started watching MotoGP midway through the 2006 and became fully hooked after watching 'The Doctor, The Tornado and The Kentucky Kid'. Since then he has taken a specific focus in the smaller classes, attracted by the on and off track drama that surrounds them. The young Australian can often be found on Twitter (@HLPhotoGP) talking about racing from all series, domestic and world.