Mechanical steering compensators for high-performance motorcycles

Simos Evangelou, David J.N. Limebeer, Robin S. Sharp, Malcolm C. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Citations (Scopus)


This paper introduces the idea of using mechanical steering compensators to improve the dynamic behavior of high-performance motorcycles. These compensators are seen as possible replacements for a conventional steering damper and comprise networks of springs, dampers, and a less familiar component called the inerter. The inerter was recently introduced to allow the synthesis of arbitrary passive mechanical impedances, and finds a potential application in the present work. The design and synthesis of these compensation systems make use of the analogy between passive electrical and mechanical networks. This analogy is reviewed alongside the links between passivity, positive reality, and network synthesis. Compensator design methods that are based on classical Bode-Nyquist frequency-response ideas are presented. Initial designs are subsequently optimized using a sequential quadratic programing algorithm. This optimization process ensures improved performance over the machine's entire operating regime. The investigation is developed from an analysis of specific mechanical networks to the class of all biquadratic positive real functions. This aspect of the research is directed to answering the question: "What is the best possible system performance achievable using any simple passive mechanical network compensator?" The study makes use of computer simulations, which exploit a state-of-the-art motorcycle model whose parameter set is based on a Suzuki GSX-R1000 sports machine. The results show that, compared to a conventional steering damper, it is possible to obtain significant improvements in the dynamic properties of the primary oscillatory modes, known as "wobble" and "weave."

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-346
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Mechanics, Transactions ASME
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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