Traction Control Smaction Control
So I'm checking out some FIM superbike action, and the announcers are stumbling all over themselves talking about the traction control all the bikes now have. Fly by wire, traction control this.. anti-lock this.. Bloody Hell.
I'm sorry, but I grew up in the days of (King) Kenny and (Fast) Freddie. Back in those days, the straight pull carb was king. I remember the big stink that CV (Constant Velocity) carbs raised when they first showed up on the scene. They were an early version of "traction control". Whack a CV open mid corner, and you were rewarded with very mild acceleration till the engine came on to the pipe. Back in the day, I recall Freddie didn't like the CV carbs at all. He wanted to be able to whack it open and grease up the rear end any time he wanted.
Now traction control has trickled down to supersport races. For those who don't know, supersport currently contains 750cc production inline 4s and larger v-twins and triples. HP for supersport is now pushing 170hp.
Moto GP is basically the open class and all bikes participating use full on traction control. GP bikes are pushing 200+ HP and lean angles are insane. At the insane lean angles they attain, yes, traction control may be necessary. At the edge, the least upset to the delicate balance of forces at work trying to tear the tires apart is a considerable adversary to contend with. But, going so far to take the rider out of the equation is a travesty.
Motorcycling has always been a sport that involved bravery. It's been a sport that pits rider against rider, and machine against machine. But, the balance has been tipped greatly towards the machine lately. How much bravery does it take to twist a throttle wide open or nail the brakes till your hands turn white from lack of blood flow knowing that the electronics will keep you from locking up.. or sliding out of control?
The rider is no longer in charge. It's only natural, as huge corporations invest in racing, more and more control will be taken from the rider and returned to the "team".
Sure, the racers still play a big part, but not nearly as big as they were back in the days of pre-traction control.
As for me, I prefer to watch racing sans traction control. Let the racers show their skills... not just how much trust they have in the electronics.
In my opinion, this year of moto GP has been the most boring ever. Give me the days of the yowling two stroke monsters where you can actually see some sliding. If I want to watch boring racing, I'll watch the Tour De France or the Kentucky derby or NASCAR.