MotoGP

What's the difference between MotoGP and the Superbike World Championship?

© Red Bull Content Pool
Ever wondered what the main differences between MotoGP and the FIM Superbike World Championship are? Let us run you through it.
Written by Adam SimpsonPublished on
MotoGP and the FIM Superbike World Championship (WSBK) are both world-class motorcycle championships that have huge followings and entertain fans throughout the year with full-throttle, edge-of-your-seat motorcycle racing.
Both series are governed by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) and both series conform to different sets of technical regulations set by Dorna, the FIM ruling body.
On the surface these two series appear pretty similar; they both see top riders racing motorcycles on the best race circuits around the world in a multi-stop championship. But that’s where the similarities end. Bikes, budgets, teams, race circuits, fans and prize money all differ between the two championships, producing two very different types of racing.
We thought we’d take a closer look at the differences between the world’s top two motorcycle racing championships.

Team Budgets

The team budgets are undoubtedly much higher in MotoGP than they are for teams in the Superbike World Championship. In MotoGP, teams can spend as much as they like on bikes, testing, equipment, staff etc. unlike in the Superbike World Championship, where team spending on bikes, riders and R&D is all limited.

The Bikes

Although the bikes that race in the MotoGP and the Superbike World Championship might look pretty similar, under the hood they are very different machines.
Red Bull Honda World Superbike team bike
Red Bull Honda World Superbike team bike
The bikes that race in the FIM Superbike World Championship are basically race-tuned versions of motorcycles that are available for the public to buy in their local motorbike shop. They are known as production bikes.
By contrast, MotoGP bikes are purpose-built race machines or prototypes, that have far fewer restrictions and are not available to the public. This means MotoGP bikes can be custom made from the ground-up and subsequently are lighter due to the use of high-tech materials such as carbon fibre, titanium and magnesium and faster due to the lack of restrictions on engine tuning.
Red Bull KTM Tech3 Team and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team bikes
Red Bull KTM Tech3 Team and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team bikes
Although the restrictions that are put in place in WSBK might impede bike development, they do make it financially much more accessible for new teams to enter than MotoGP. Some would argue that it makes the racing fairer too, as it can’t become a case of which team can spend the most money.
So, essentially MotoGP can be thought of as the motorcycle world's equivalent of Formula One, whereas Superbike racing is more like sportscar or touring car racing.
Watch the ABC of... MotoGP in the player below
MotoGP · 27 min
ABC... of MotoGP™

ECU & Bike Software

MotoGP bikes are fitted with standardised ECU’s (Engine Control Unit) and software packages to try and keep the competition fair. In the Superbike World Championship, the choice of ECU and software is open for teams to choose from, but is of course restricted by spending limits.

The Teams

Inside the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing garage
Inside the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing garage
The teams differ greatly between MotoGP and WSBK, with some manufacturers entering teams in both series, whereas others will choose one or the other.
Both series have teams from Honda, Ducati, Yamaha, Aprilia and now Suzuki entering, but only the Superbike World Championship sees BMW & Kawasaki in the line-up, whereas only MotoGP sees KTM take to the grid.
The teams in MotoGP have much higher budgets than the teams in the WSBK and are notorious for having all the latest gadgets, tech and parts as well as the top mechanics.

Red Bull KTM MotoGP Team Video:

Kawasaki WSBK Team Video:

Racing Season

The MotoGP season is considerably longer than the WSBK season, with nineteen international rounds that run from early March to late November. The Superbike World Championship calendar on the other hand, only has thirteen international rounds, that run from mid-February to late October.

The Circuits

Andrea Dovizioso, Silverstone 2018
Andrea Dovizioso, Silverstone 2018
Some of the races held by both series take place on the same circuits around the world, and some are held at locations unique to that series. For example, in the UK the MotoGP is held at Silverstone and the Superbike World Championship is held at Donnington.
Over in the USA, the WSBK is held at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, California, and the MotoGP race takes place at the Circuit of the Americas, Texas.
Both series hold a round at Losail in Qatar as well as the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Australia.
Red Bull Honda World Superbike  at Laguna Seca Raceway, USA
Red Bull Honda World Superbike at Laguna Seca Raceway, USA

The Riders

At the end of the day it’s the riders that make the racing and both the Superbike World Championship and the MotoGP have a host of incredibly brave and talented racers that put it all on the line every time they race.
With the most advanced bikes and the biggest pay cheques however, when it comes to the top riders, MotoGP is where you will find the best of the best. The likes of Marc Márquez and Valentino Rossi have proved their places at the pinnacle of motorcycle racing and now hold like God-like status to their legions of fans.
Marc Márquez with fans
Marc Márquez with fans
It has often been the case that Moto-GP riders whose careers are winding down will move over to WSBK when they start to drop off the pace.
Here are some notable names from each series.

MotoGP:

  • Marc Márquez
  • Jorge Lorenzo
  • Valentino Rossi
  • Cal Crutchlow
  • Andrea Dovizioso
Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi, Red Bull Ring 2017.
The greats going head-to-head

SuperBike World Championship:

  • Carl Fogarty
  • Leon Camier
  • Jonathan Rea
  • Alex Lowes
  • Eugine Laverty
  • Marco Melandri
Leon Camier on the grid for the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Leon Camier on the grid for the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team

The Fans

Fans flocking to watch MotoGP
Fans flocking to watch MotoGP
The fans at both world motorcycle series are fantastic. It is well known that motorcycle race fans in general are enthusiastic, knowledgeable and all at the races to have a good time.
With some of the biggest fan clubs in motorsport history however, the fans at MotoGP take it to the next level. Seas of red for Marc Marquez and yellow for Valentino Rossi have been known to take over GP circuits, as armies of fans bring coloured T-shirts, flags and smoke grenades to help cheer on their favourite rider in truly spectacular style.

The Racing

The racing is always nail-biting at both series, but with the top racers, the top teams, the top circuits and quicker bikes, MotoGP seems to produce the most exciting racing out there, time and time again. This is, at the end of the day, why MotoGP draws the bigger crowds and gets higher TV ratings.
It is no secret that the WSBK championship slightly lives in the shadow of MotoGP, but to ultimately answer the question, ‘which series has the best racing?’ you will have to watch the both and decide for yourself.

MotoGP

WSB