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Crash.net’s Top 10 MotoGP bikes

4 January 2011

Crash.net has compiled its list of the top ten MotoGP bikes of the four-stroke era (since 2002).

Deciding the criteria to judge each bike was no easy task, but we finally settled on a simple 'back of an iPhone' formula, combining podiums with the number of different riders the bike was successful for.

The first part of our formula therefore awarded 'Podium Points' for each 1st (3 points), 2nd (2 points) and 3rd (3 points) place achieved by each bike during a racing season.

We chose podiums because race wins alone would probably measure individual rider talent instead of overall bike strength/dominance, while the more finishing positions that are included (top six, top ten etc), the greater the bias towards manufacturers with the most bikes on the grid.

Then, in order to show the range of riding styles each machine could accommodate, the second part of the scoring system awarded 3 'Bonus Points' for each different rider that finished on the podium.

The total score for each bike (Podium and Bonus) was then divided by the number of races held in that season, in order to compare bikes from different years.

So our quick formula was as follows:

Final Score = (Podium Points + Bonus Points)/Number of Races

Here is our top ten...


1. 2003 Honda RC211V
Podium Points: 82
Bonus Points: 15 (5 riders x 3 points)
Races: 16
Final Score: 6.06

The 2003 Honda RC211V emerged as the clear winner of our 'Best MotoGP bike' list - and it's not difficult to see why.

The 2003 RCV won 15 of the 16 races it entered and swept all three titles with Valentino Rossi (Riders'), Repsol Honda (Teams') and Honda (Constructors').

Looking specifically at our points system, the 2003 RCV came out on top over earlier and later RCV models - plus machines from Yamaha and Ducati - because of its unrivalled domination of the podium, combined with rostrum success for five different riders.

RCV competitors filled all three podium places at six events during 2003 - a figure not approached by any other bike during the four-stroke era - and, of the 48 podiums places on offer that year, 38 went to Honda riders.

The majority of those podiums were claimed by Rossi (16, every race), Sete Gibernau (10) and Max Biaggi (9), who finished first, second and third in the championship.

2003 was the only MotoGP year that those three riders all raced for Honda, which clearly influenced the bike's success, but like all forms of motorsport it is impossible to separate man and machine entirely.

The 2003 RCV's score was further magnified by a dismal year for traditional main rival Yamaha (which managed just one podium with its least successful version of the M1) although new challenger Ducati (which won the other race) did an impressive job in its first MotoGP season.


2. 2002 Honda RC211V
Podium Points: 65
Bonus Points: 12 (4x3)
Races: 16
Final Score: 4.81

Honda's first MotoGP four-stroke was head-and-shoulders above the competition for much of the year, although Max Biaggi and Yamaha were able to win two races later in the season.

Because it was the first year of 990cc four-stroke racing, only the Repsol Honda Team had RCVs for the full season - the satellite teams spent most, if not all, the season with 500cc two-strokes - hurting the 2002 RCV's potential score relative to later models.

Nevertheless, Daijiro Kato (Gresini) and Alex Barros (Pons) joined Rossi and Ukawa in taking the RCV to podium finishes that year and the '02 bike was second only to the '03 model for total podium points under our system.


3. 2004 Honda RC211V
Podium Points: 57
Bonus Points: 18 (6x3)
Races: 16
Final Score: 4.69

Although not an overall winner, the 2004 and 2005 RCVs (number 8 on our list) put six different riders on the podium - more than any other MotoGP bikes.

On the other hand, the arrival of Valentino Rossi at Yamaha in 2004 meant that on seven occasions a YZR-M1 was first across the finish line, which is why the '04 Honda's Podium Points suffered.

Yamaha's M1 scored just four points under our system in 2003, but claimed 45 points in 2004 as Rossi, Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri all stood on the rostrum. That increased competition hurt the RCV's total.


4. 2009 Yamaha YZR-M1
Podium Points: 57
Bonus Points: 9 (3x3)
Races: 17
Final Score: 3.88

Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo finished one-two in the 2009 MotoGP World Championship, helping that year's Yamaha M1 to fourth on our list and the highest placed 800cc motorcycle.

In terms of podiums the 2009 M1 scored as many points as the '04 RCV above (although over one extra race), but suffered most in terms of different riders to take a podium. In fairness, it would have been impossible for Yamaha to match Honda's six different riders since Yamaha only ran four riders.

It's perfectly reasonable to criticise our system for not taking into account how many motorcycles each factory entered, but we ultimately felt it was the correct result to reward Honda (or anyone else) for being able to supply so many motorcycles of podium standard, while others decided to concentrate on a smaller number of entries.


5. 2006 Honda RC211V
Podium Points: 50
Bonus Points: 15 (5x3)
Races: 17
Final Score: 3.82

The most recent Honda motorcycle to win the MotoGP World Championship was prevented from a higher listing due to the evenness of the three main brands during 2006.

An impressive five different '06 RCV riders took a podium, handing it good Bonus Points, but the Podium Points score was down due to close competition from Yamaha and Ducati.


6. 2010 Yamaha YZR-M1
Podium Points: 58
Bonus Points: 9 (3x3)
Races: 18
Final Score: 3.72

The bike that took Jorge Lorenzo to his first MotoGP title in 2010 features sixth on our list, partly because high-scorer Valentino Rossi missed the middle part of the season due to a broken leg.

Lorenzo, Rossi and rookie Ben Spies all made podiums appearances on last year's YZR-M1 - although, unlike the 2009 and 2008 M1s - the '10 couldn't manage a rostrum at every round, missing out at Aragon.


7. 2008 Yamaha YZR-M1
Podium Points: 55
Bonus Points: 9 (3x3)
Races: 18
Final Score: 3.56

Another world championship winning Yamaha, this time in the hands of Valentino Rossi, whose efforts were ably backed up by rookie team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, while new Tech 3 signing Colin Edwards made it three M1s to grace the podium during the year.


8. 2005 Honda RC211V
Podium Points: 42
Bonus Points: 18 (6x3)
Races: 17
Final Score: 3.53

This bike only narrowly beat that year's title-winning Yamaha in our list - the Honda scoring three less Podium Points, but then edging back ahead thanks to a superb six different riders on the podium compared to just two for the M1.

Ducati wasn't a factor early in the season, but its new partnership with Bridgestone gathered strength as the year went on.


=9. 2007 Ducati Desmosedici
Podium Points: 45
Bonus Points: 9 (3x3)
Races: 18
Final Score: 3.00

Ducati's only MotoGP championship winning motorcycle to date was restricted to just joint ninth on our list due to the often lone efforts of champion Casey Stoner.

The Australian took 14 of the GP7's 19 podiums and all but one of its 11 race wins.

Only twice in the 18-race season did two Ducatis finish on the podium at the same race, leaving the door open for Yamaha and Honda bikes to collect the Podium Points.


=9. 2005 Yamaha YZR-M1
Podium Points: 45
Bonus Points: 6 (2x3)
Races: 17
Final Score: 3.00

Valentino Rossi's second season at Yamaha may have brought even greater personal success than the first, but the situation was similar to Stoner in 2007 in that fellow riders were unable to enjoy anything like the same glory.

Only one other M1 rider - new team-mate Colin Edwards - joined Rossi in taking a podium, meaning the best bike of that year, under our scoring system, went to Honda instead (see number eight, above).

Of note is that 2005 was the only season that two different motorcycles - the M1 and RCV - both scored highly. All other seasons had one clearly dominant motorcycle under our scoring system.


The top 10 in brief:

1. 2003 Honda RC211V
2. 2002 Honda RC211V
3. 2004 Honda RC211V
4. 2009 Yamaha YZR-M1
5. 2006 Honda RC211V
6. 2010 Yamaha YZR-M1
7. 2008 Yamaha YZR-M1
8. 2005 Honda RC211V
=9. 2007 Ducati Desmosedici
=9. 2005 Yamaha YZR-M1

Best bike by year:

2010: Yamaha YZR-M1
2009: Yamaha YZR-M1
2008: Yamaha YZR-M1
2007: Ducati Desmosedici
2006: Honda RC211V
2005: Honda RC211V
2004: Honda RC211V
2003: Honda RC211V
2002: Honda RC211V

For reference:
Highest scoring Suzuki:
2007 GSV-R (eight podiums, two riders) 1.06
Highest scoring Kawasaki:
2005/2006/2009 ZX-RR (one second-place) 0.29


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