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.
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.
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.
more information on speedway bikes look at the Mechanics
page or try these links:
to Kevin Meynell for some of this text.