According to Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner, MotoGP chassis probably don't feel the way that the layman might expect them to. Stoner said that the aluminum chassis that he's ridden on with Honda and the carbon fiber used by Ducati all have had their own distinct feel.
"I don't feel that it's that much different," Stoner said one night at Indianapolis. "You set the bike up for the way that the bike rides, every bike you ride is different. Each chassis is going to feel and react in a different way. Carbon fiber doesn't feel the way that people expect it to feelit's not a stiff and rigid bike. The bike still moves and bucks and weaves. You saw it, we never really fixed it, just reduced it."
Stoner went from occasional flash of brilliance on an LCR Honda 990 to the very first 800cc world champion in 2007. His years at Ducati saw the Italian chassis morph from steel trellis to carbon fiber. He talks his way through the changes: "(With) the steel trellis frame I personally had no advantages. I didn't like the way that it felt, didn't like the way it went over bumps. I found that steel wanted to react and return instead of being sort of a mellow sort of flex. When it did flex, it just wanted to return so you'd be in the middle of the corner and it always wanted to move. It wasn't very precise. I found that the steel trellis frame had no positives."
"With each step with the carbon frame we found big steps forwardand the other manufacturers were making big steps forward, so we had to go with it."
As one might expect, Stoner is unsympathetic when the subject of the 2011 Ducati MotoGP bike is brought up--he won races on the 2010 version. "That bike has every chance of being competitive," he says curtly."
"It was a just a little too finicky," he concedes. "You had to be really precise on the set up, which is the way the Ducati has been since the first day I was on it. If it wasn't perfectly right then it was hard to ride. But when it was right it was great. But, when it wasn't great ... that was one big thing ..." he says, his voice trailing off.
"Each manufacturer has their own style of making chassis and they're all going to feel completely different. You're not going to feel 'Okay, that's an alloy chassis, that's a carbon chassis'. You could have all of the chassis covered and ride them not knowing what you're riding and you'd not be able to tell the difference. There's not a big difference you can feel. We could make that carbon chassis flex a lot, we could make it very stiff. Same with an alloy."