There’s a common misconception in motor sport that the use of speed sensors and data logging will always be prohibitively expensive. This view seems to widely held, particularly amongst bike racers. Actually this is a bit of a myth and isn’t necessarily true. A basic system can cost as little as £1,900: even if you were to add 2 suspension pots onto the system, you’re probably still only looking at a cost of £2,500 complete. When you consider that teams have very limited track time to finely tune their racing set-up, and that it can cost bike racing teams tens of thousands of pounds just to be in a championship for a year, the cost of a data logging system is comparatively minor. But do motorcycle racers really need the sophistication of a full data logging system? Couldn’t the information be provided equally well by using speed sensors and an ECU with internal logging?
What sort of information will a basic 2data logging system give a bike racer?
A basic data logger with 2 suspension pots will tell the rider the GPS track position and speed, the suspension movement and suspension acceleration, the RPM, and therefore the gearing, the throttle response, the wheel speed using the supplied speed sensor and the lap times supplied on a mini-dash. In essence that’s pretty much all of the information any motorcycle racer would ever need, delivered at a reasonable price.
Why do racing teams use data loggers?
So, why not just use an ECU with internal logging?
In theory racers could do just this, but there are limitations. An ECU’s primary task is to monitor and look after the engine, not deliver vital information about speed and location. Therefore the ECU will be compromised for logging purposes and will not be able to deliver the depth and quality of information a rider might need. You can, of course, buy a very expensive ECU, but the costs are prohibitive and they are generally too large for bike use. Even these, however, would not be capable of delivering the same depth of detail as speed sensors and data loggers. Most ECU loggers, in fact, have only a small recording capacity, few spare channels, low sample rates and generally low resolution analogue inputs.