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Table of Contents

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Introduction .................................................................................................................................... 2 Research .......................................................................................................................................... 2 Trail, Rake angle and offset. ........................................................................................................ 2 Centre of Gravity ......................................................................................................................... 4 Squat and anti-Squat................................................................................................................... 5 Top Speed calculations ................................................................................................................... 7 Analysis of the results ..................................................................................................................... 8 Evaluation ....................................................................................................................................... 9 Geometry investigation ................................................................................................................ 10

REFERENCES .......................................................................................................................................... 12

1. Introduction
The aim of this assignment is to explain important motorcycle geometry features needed to be considered for construction of a bike or attempt to performance dynamics of existing bike. Trail, rake angle, importance of location the centre of gravity of the bike, squat, anti-squat meaning and the importance of the right set up. It will also explain the meaning of driving force and give values for two bikes a Honda VFR 400 NC 30 and Honda CRF 450. Calculations of torque and power of the engine have been calculated from a rolling tester sheet data and top speed will be calculated and analysed in order to find out if the bike is able to reach top speed overcoming aero drag force and rolling resistance. The assignment will compare different geometries of two real bikes and give some output on dynamics performance and analyse of the data recorded. It will also compare geometries of two bikes analysed in paper.

2. Research
Trail, Rake angle and offset.
To understand dynamics of any motorcycle there are many variables we should take into consideration. Firstly, the castor effect will be explained. The castor effect in a wheel is a self-centring effect given by advancing the steering axis line in front of the contact patch of the wheel, this way the wheel follows the imaginary line drawn for the steering axis, and it keeps both of the wheels in line, giving stability to the bike. This effect allows the rider to keep the bike in a straight line with no much input (effort) from him. This is given in any motorcycle steering wheel to ensure a safe upright travel in a straight line and it is made in such a way for constructing reasons. It is obtained by tilting the steering column to the back of the bike, creating an angle called Rake angle. This angle is measured from the perpendicular axis of the plane at the top of the tyre to the steering axis. Rake angle creates an imaginary line in front of the wheel which determines the amount of castor effect in the wheel, it is called Trail in this case ground trail. Trail can be modified in many different ways, such as; offset of steering axis and wheel spindle, rake angle and radius of the wheel.
25 Rake angle Steering axis 25 Rake angle Steering axis 15 Rake angle Steering axis


Real trail

Real trail

Real trail




Offset (whether it is in the top yoke or in the wheel spindle)

It can be appreciated that in figures f.2.2 and f.2.3 the amount of trail has been reduce by an offset of the wheel spindle and a steeper rake angle. However, trail can be gained easily by increasing the radius of the wheel.

Real trail

Real trail



It can be appreciate it from the figures above that the amount of trail has increased substantially by increasing the radius of the wheel. There is not such a magical figure for Trail but most of the books I read and lectures I have assisted suggested different figures, this will depend on the intended uses of the bike. However, most common figures are in between 60 to 100 millimetres. The longer the trail the pronounced the castor effect will be, what makes the bike more stable in straight lines but slower when turning. As Tony Foales (2002, p. 3-2) suggested Real trail is measured at right angles to the steering axis and it is reduced by the cosine of the rake angle. Which makes real trail smaller than ground trail. Real Trail is not as popular as ground trail but it is the most important since it is the one that create the leaver effect on the wheel bringing it back to the centre of the steering axis when an outer force is applied to the wheel destabilising the bike. Rake angle is a well-known feature that is use in all motorcycles mainly for construction processes, since it makes simpler to develop a bike in construction wise (Frame designs, short handlebars, steering response) However, geometrically wise it can be say that it also have a great influence in the self-centric force that the real trail applies to the tyre. By the fact that having a steeper rake angle decrease the leaver of the real trial as it can be appreciated from figures 2.1 and 2.3. Having little self-centric force applied to the front tyre of a motorcycle make it fast in changing directions response, it makes the bike easier to handle at low speed but a bit twitchy in high speeds and I would also add that the skills of the rider must be high in order to ride a bike with those characteristics. Figures vary from 23 degrees to 30 degrees. Nevertheless, it can go as low as 20 degrees for racing bikes or above 40 degrees for custom built choppers. Rake angle has been physically measured in both bikes with an angle measuring tool, but in order to find the trail a formula has been used. It involved; rake angle, radius of the wheel and offset figures to obtain trail.

(Harrison 2013) In addition rear trail must be mentioned. Rear trail figures are greater than front trail figures (60100mm front to 1300-1500mmrear), but the self-centring effect is smaller due to smaller angle created at the rear wheel when turning than the angle created in the front wheel when the steering 3

is turned. For example, if the steering is turned 10 degrees the angle created at the rear wheel will not exceed more than 1 degree. Wheelbase would have an influence in real trail too, the smaller the wheelbase the grater the action of angle of the real trail will be. Therefore, short wheelbase will increase the self-centric effect in the real wheel giving a nimble feeling to the bike as a quicker response at the steering. In the other hand a long wheel base will make a bike more stable in straight lines due to the separation of the wheels.

Centre of Gravity
Centre of gravity is called to be the part of the bike where the total mass of the bike tend to react to the movements of the vehicle, such as; acceleration, braking and side movements. The location of the centre of gravity is crucial when a new bike is being designed or when doing modifications in an existing bike. In a motorcycle there are two cg measurement the horizontal and the vertical measurement. When we talk about the horizontal distance, it is measured from the front wheel spindle to the back of the bike and it is represented as x, as John Bradley (1996, p. 126) suggested The horizontal location of the overall cg will determine the static weight distribution of the bike, how much weight is carried by the front and rear wheel. For example, a cg close to the front tyre will tend to make the rear tyre spin when accelerating and lift it of the ground when braking. In an opposite way it will tent to lift the front tyre when accelerating and skid the front tyre when braking, if the cg is far back from the front wheel. This is has to be with the load transfer of the weight of the bike, in order to provide road holding the right amount of weight needs to be transferred to the right wheel in a determine moment, to the front when braking and to the rear when accelerating. There are to values to be measured without rider and with rider, we are interested more in the figures of a laden bike, since it is the way the bike will be used. It is noticeable that the rider tends to move the cg backwards. To measure the cg horizontally it is needed to place the bike in two scales one under the front tyre and the other under the rear tyre, record both weights. The length of the wheelbase is also needed.

(This formula can be used for laden bike and bike in its own) (Harrison, 2013) It is reasonable to think that the ideal cg location is in the middle of the wheelbase, to split weights 50/50 in between both wheels. This arrangement would be perfect when cornering at steady speed to provide equal road holding to both wheels. However, when braking and accelerating is taking into consideration there are other needs to comply. Nowadays, bikes are extremely powerful, which require bringing the cg closer to the front tyre to avoid lift of it. It is also important considering braking, it is needed a weight load transfer to the front tyre to avoid skidding. Tyres components due to its exceptional grip allow it. Therefore, it is more recommendable to look for about 54/46 weights percentage to cope with these forces. The centre of gravity is located above the ground. Therefore, the vertical cg is measured from the ground plane to the top of the bike, being through the horizontal X cg measurement and it is 4

represented as y cg. The height of the cg does not have any influence in the static weight, but it makes big difference when accelerating and braking forces are applied. When the bike is accelerated or braking, forces are applied to the centre of gravity. This forces try to rotate the cg around the wheel which is applying the force, this effect creates a sudden movement of the mass of the bike, transferring loads onto the wheel which is applying the force load transfer. An increase of weight on the wheel which is applying the force is always helpful, because it provides more grip to the tyre. This effect occurs because the cg is above the road plane where the forces have their origin. Acceleration brings the cg back and try to flip the bike backwards, as braking try to flip the bike forward. This effect is increased as soon as either wheel loose contact with the ground, since the cg rises. This pronounces the load transfer effect. It is important to mention that finding the right height of the cg is always compromised, because the load transfer works 50% in our favour and 50% against our purposes. The grip gained in one tyre by the weight transfer would be lost in the other tyre, having the opposite effect loosing grip. To find the cg height the bike will have to be placed onto two scales, weight the bike and record the data of both scales. Then bike must be placed onto the scales in an angle, placing a block underneath of the rear wheel, record both weights off the scale, total weight of the bike, wheelbase, weight of the block (which must be subtracted from the overall weight of the rear wheel), height of the block, angle of the lifted bike (sin-1(height of the block/wheelbase), and wheel radius. The operation should be carried without the rider and with the rider on, in order to compare results and analyse possible points of improvement, such as; engine position, rider position, swinging arm length, etc..

(Harrison, 2013)

Squat and anti-Squat

Due to acceleration there is a horizontal force applied to the centre of gravity, which is proportional to the mass, acceleration of the machine and location of the cog. Especially the height of the cog which it should not be over a line drawn of 45 degrees from the contact patch of the rear wheel, which is the limit line of 1G acceleration. With a 50/50% weight distribution, it will make the bike very easy to rotate around the rear wheel generating a front wheel lift easily. To avoid lifting the front tyre off the ground and ensure grip, the cog must be in the front or below the mentioned line. The term squat in a motorcycle jargon means that the driving forces of the bike will compress the rear suspension of the bike and the front wheel rises due to the acceleration and the way transfer of the bike. There is a mechanism to tackle the squat problem and separate acceleration forces from suspension movement, called anti-squat. Chain forces, swinging arm and geometry of the bike play an important role in the anti-squat effect. Depending on the design of our bike suspension will tend to extend or compress bikes suspension. The vertical component of the chain force is downwards
and acts as a pro-squat tendency, the vertical component of the swinging arm force is greater and acts upwards thus giving an overall anti-squat effect


(Foales 2002, p. 9-13)

Anti-Squat or Pro-Squat is measured by drawing a line from the rear tyre contact patch to the front wheel spindle axis of the bike. This line is set passing through a point, which is located where two straight lines meet. One of them is drawn with the same angle of the swinging arm and the second one with the same angle of the drive chain. The setting point is located where these two lines converge. As it has been said through the assignment the cog location is very important in handling terms, to measure the anti-squat effect cog is also an important feature. It will give to the bike a reference point, where the cog meets with the front wheel spindle axis is a 100% anti-squat effect. This means that the driving forces acting on the rear wheel will have no effect in the rear suspension separating driving forces from suspension movements, helping with the load transfer and helping to keep the front tyre on the ground providing grip when turning in the exit of a turn. This can be seen in the included excel sheet provided.

3. Top Speed calculations

In order to calculate top speed of the selected bikes, gear ratios of both of them have been taken from the service manual as well as primary drive, however final drive have been taken off the bikes since it had been modified (final drive for The Honda CRF 450 has been taken off Gio Piras bike since dynosheet used for driving force calculations are from his bike). A simple formula has been used to find top speed. ( )

Engine speed has been divided by the overall ratio to find the revolutions of the tyre. Then the result has been multiply by the perimeter of the wheel to find the distance covered, multiply by sixty the amount of seconds and finally divided by 1000 to obtain the final result in Kilometres per hour. Speed has also been calculated in every gear to find driving forces in each gear. To calculate if top speed of the bike can be reached power and torque have to be calculated as the resistant to motion for each bike. Torque is the ability of the engine to do work (Graham 1982, p. 200) Torque is the product of a force and a radius which acts as a leaver. The units can be modify as the user wish. In this assignment a figure given by John Bradley has been used 5252 which multiply by the horse power produced at the rear wheel and divided by the engine speed would give you a Torque figure in lbf.ft. Converted into Newton Meters for convenience purposes. 5252 figure comes from a series of calculations: horsepower, which is 550 foot-pounds per second, using torque (pound-feet) and engine speed (RPM). If we divide the 550 foot-pounds by the 0.10472 radians per second (engine speed), we get 550/0.10472, which equals 5,252. (Howstuffworks 2013) To find torque a formula from John Bradleys book has been rearranged:

(Bradley 1996, p.30) Hence: ( )

As it can be seen, engine speed is needed to calculate Torque. Unfortunately, Honda CRF 450 is not equipped with an engine speed meter. Therefore, a simple equation has been used to find it:

Power is the rate at which work is done, that two motors producing 100 lbf.ft torque could have different power outputs (Graham 1982, p. 200). This would depend on the time the work is done if one engine is capable of doing the same amount of work in half a time than the other, it is easy to see that this engine would produce double of horse power.

(Graham 1982, p. 200) Knowing power at the rear wheel in horse power made it easier to calculate driving forces. Horse power was converted into Kilowatts by a simple equation.

(Bradley 1996, p.31) Having known the Power at the rear wheel in (watts) allowed us to calculate the driving force at any speed of the rear tyre. Which, would make possible to prove that top speed can be achieved, overcoming rolling resistance and aero drag forces.

(Bradley 1996, p. 70)

Density of air = (1.167 kg/m^3 @ 20c and 987 mbar) (Harrison 2013) Drag coefficient gives the ratio of the drag force on the object to that will be produced if the same air flow could be brought to rest on a flat plate of equal area (Bradley 1996, p. 194) To determine the frontal area of the bike a picture of the bike has been taken. The frontal area of the bike has been measured in paper and then, by a known real measurement of the picture (width of the front tyre) frontal area was able to be calculated.

4. Analysis of the results

Both of the bikes measured have a similar geometry characteristics. They have a sport dynamic geometry that facility quick movements of the steering due to small ground and real trail, which have been gained in both bikes by a step rake angle Within 22 to 23 degrees and a small radius of the front wheel in the Honda CRF case in addition to great offset of the front wheel axis respect the steering axis. The VFR has also short wheel base, which gives to the bike a small rear trail increasing the agile feeling of the bike. Whereas, The CRF has a long wheelbase which will make it more stable in straight lines due the separation of the wheels that actuate as gyroscopes. In resume the steering geometry of both bikes are set to behave rapidly in changing direction. The height of the cog also helps when changing direction, it actuates as a pendulum and also make the weight transfer to actuate dramatically when braking and accelerating forces are applied to it. It is also remarkable that 8

the height of the laden cog is behind of the 1G line in both bikes what makes them extremely easy to wheelie and lift the rear wheel when braking, due to the high load transfer. The static weight in both bikes are well compensate but weight distribution goes far off when the riders are on the bikes. Anti-squat in the CRF is greater than in the VFR by 42%. This means that the CRF has got a good percentage of anti-squat which will separate the driving forces from suspension movement. It is important to mention that the CRF has got a long suspension travel. Therefore, anti-squat figure will vary more than it varies in the VFR. For that reason, I contemplate that an extra 30% of anti-squat is recommendable in this case. In the case of the VFR it is noticeable that with a fully extended suspension there is a small 88% of anti-squat, which it will be decreased when the bike is loaded. This will have a negative effect when accelerating, the driving force of the bike will tend to reduce the suspension travel as increase the load transfer in the rear wheel, removing an important load off the front wheel. It is important to take this into consideration, because it will make more difficult to steer the bike when getting out of a corner, due to loss of grip due to lift in the front tyre. This will also compromise the amount of power that can be used at the exit of a corner, because the more power we put in the rear wheel the greater the load transfer will be, lifting the front tyre off the ground making the bike over steer. A contra producing effect, which will not let the rider use all the power available from the bike when it is needed most at the exit of the corner.

5. Evaluation
In order to suggest alterations of the bikes to improve handling makes me think primordially in the weight transfer. I would suggest a more forward cog in both of the bikes, when loaded. Considering rider position and weight of the bikes distribution. A lighter exhaust system to reduce weight at the back, lowering the front end of the bikes will help too. Considering to place battery and accessories of the VFR in a lower place, as the fuel tank could be placed further front or removing weight from parts of the engine that are not essential such as electric motor and starter clutch. A more laborious solution would be tilting or moving the engine forward. There is the possibility of giving a longer wheelbase to the VFR to split the weight further to the front. Another important point to take into consideration that affect load transfer is the amount of anti/squat in the VFR. It would be a great improvement achieving a higher rate of anti/squat, by changing the final drive arraignment a smaller rear sprocket and grater front sprocket will increase the amount of anti/squat. Lowering the front end would also improve it. There are other many ways to do it, but more laborious. Changing the height of the pivot point of the swinging arm. However, the easier way I can think of is by lowering the cog height.

6. Geometry investigation

f. 6.1 Travertson V Rex

f. 6. 2 Rake angle of Travertson V Rex


f. 6. 3 Kawasaki Z800 2013 From the motorcycle pictures above it can be appreciated that a very different geometry construction has been applied to each of them. Firstly, it is noticeably a step rake angle in the Travertson V Rex (f. 6. 1; f. 6. 2) with a long ground trail and extraordinary amount of real trail. The wheelbase of it is extremely long, which provide the bike a great rear trail too. It can also be appreciated that the centre of gravity is quite close to the ground which will give to the bike a great stability, but a low load transfer, making the bike not suitable for heavy braking or hard acceleration. This geometry arrangement gives the bike an outstanding stability in straight lines, compromising quick reactions. It is an ideal geometry for cruising. However, this arrangement does not offer a great feeling of the bike. Handling of the bike is difficult when cornering due to the large wheelbase and low centre of gravity, it is difficult to predict reactions of the bike In the other hand there is the Kawasaki Z800 (f. 6. 3) with a short ground and real trail. It is provided with adequate wheelbase length to give to the bike a more response steering. The cog is higher to offer a load transfer to ensure grip on the right tyre when accelerating and braking forces are applied. The handling of the bike is smoother due to a shorter wheelbase and smaller front, real and rear trail. The cog being higher in space gives to the rider a more accurate reactions from the machine as more road holding from load transfer.


-Bradley, J 1996, The racing motorcycle, a technical guide for constructors, volume 1, Broadland Leisure Publications, England. -Foale, T 2002, Motorcycle Handling and Chassis Design, The art and science, ISBN. -Harrison, A 2013, Topic 1, Rake and Trail, Moodle Swansea Metropolitan University, viewed 16th December 2013, <> -Harrison, A 2013, Topic 4, Resistance to motion, Moodle Swansea Metropolitan University, viewed 16 December 2013, <> -Harrison, A 2013, Topic 2, Centre of gravity, Moodle Swansea Metropolitan University, viewed 16 December 2013, <> -Graham, A 1981, Performance tuning in theory and practice, four strokes, Hayne publishing group, England. -Howstuffworks 2013, How do you convert engine torque into horsepower, viewed 10 of December 2013, <>