Following yesterday's post on American Flat Track's new rules affecting SuperTwins and Production Twins classes, we contacted a couple of insiders within the paddock who gave us expert views on the rules, but asked for their opinions to be 'off the record'.
First the Production Twins rules. One insider said, 'Could you ask for a better series than in 2021? Multiple winners on multiple brands! Now they [AFT] raise the cc limit and allow ride-by-wire and wheel sensors, only if your engine of choice originally came with those bits but you can’t add those items to engines that did not originally come with them?'
We, Sideburn, guess the thinking is that the increased cc and tech allowances encourages new manufacturers, KTM seems obvious. Not allowing teams to add them to add them to their older tech bikes is harder to understand. Hooligan bikes, like Andy DiBrino's KTM 790 (featured in Sideburn 43) actually have better tech than AFT's Production Twin bikes, simply because the road bike it is based on does. It's the way most middleweight and bigger street and sportsbike specifications are going. Ride-by-wire and electronic rider aids are not the realm of the flagship hyperbikes any more. They're run of the mill for the kind of bikes many Production Twins could be built from.
This rule change is one that only history will judge. If KTM come in and do an Indian, then it will be deemed a mistake. If KTM come in, as a new manufacturer and win some, but not all the races, then it will be a success. The rule change has a brought a high-profile manufacturer into the class. What about Triumph too? Who else? Ducati? Also, this 900 rule might be paving the way for an FTR900 production-based engine - a smaller sibling to the FTR1200 road bike. This is pure speculation, but if that happens, and the FTR750 is retired, then everyone is happy, right? Making that Scout road bike engine work as a front running race bike will not be easy, but they, and their partners, could do it.
Now onto the subject of the race-only engine rules that will affect the FTR750. The 11,500rpm rev limit is going to make no appreciable difference, but Indian specialists tell us the 32mm intake restrictor plates are going to affect performance, especially on the miles. The tuners have three months to find cam timing, porting, anything, that will help them. Yamaha rider JD Beach was fifth at Sacramento Mile 2, with an identical best lap time to second place Jarod Vanderkooi (on an Indian), and was less than 0.4s off finishing second to Mees, who was a further 4.6s in the lead.
Outside the Indian camp there is scepticism about the efficacy of the restrictor plates, pointing to the FTR750's ace card, its big 7.5in diameter crank flywheels, and the moment of inertia related to them giving them the kind of advantage that makes it difficult for anyone to compete. Beach's SacMile performance disagrees. One thing's for sure, 2022 is going to be interesting.
Photo: Scott Hunter/ American Flat Track