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Mechanics Information

The motorbikes used for speedway are not remotely like any machine you will ever see on the roads. They have acceleration on par with a Formula One racing car, but rather surprisingly have no brakes, rear suspension or gears. Going into the corners at 140 kph, four riders abreast, only centimetres apart, would for example generate very big problems if one rider started to use his brakes! Therefore, no brakes whatsoever on a speedway bike.

The skills needed to be a good speedway rider are: Courage, balance, throttle control, self-discipline and the ability to know exactly how to “set the bike up” to the racing conditions for that particular track, weather conditions, etc., and thereby obtain the maximum traction and speed.

For the technically minded, the engines are 500 cc single cylinder four valve, four strokes with air cooling. Methanol is used instead of petrol to enable them to run at very high compression ratios. Drive from the crankshaft is via a countershaft and clutch (hence no gearbox), and final drive ratios are determined by the selection of engine and rear wheel sprockets. These sprockets are changed before and during a meeting to take account of different track surfaces, lengths and changing weather conditions amongst other factors.

For more information on speedway bikes look at the Mechanics page or try these links:

JAWA
http://www.jawa.cz/products.php

GM
http://www.gmspeed.net/

Thanks to Kevin Meynell for some of this text.

Acknowledgements:
Many photographs on this site are copyright/courtesy of John Hipkiss - Wolverhampton Track Photographer.
The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the promotion/management of Wolverhampton Speedway.
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