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Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.
MSC Cradle CFD Helps Yamaha Motor be Competitive in MotoGP
Design Improvements of 0.01 Second Sought

[Vol.1] Yamaha Motors is one of the major motorcycle companies in the world. They have a long history of domestic and international racing. They have been using SC/Tetra from Software Cradle for the premier motorcycle racing class, MotoGP. This CFD tool has been effective in both complying with design regulations and securing aerodynamic competitive advantages. Its powerful visualization capabilities and robustness, plus its user-friendly operation matches the requirements for rapid motorbike design developments in a racing environment.

Picture 1: YZR-M1, MotoGP machine of 2019, and riders
Valentino Rossi (right) and Maverick Viñales (left)

History of Participating in Unbroken Line of International Races

Yamaha Motor Co., Limited is a world leading motorcycle and motorized product manufacturer, who generates 60% of sales from motorcycles. Their products also include outboard motors, ATVs (4 wheel buggies), snowmobiles, vehicle engines, chip mounters, industry robots, and even unmanned helicopters. Their business operations are international and 90% of their sales is generated from outside Japan.


The roots of the company's participating date back to 1955, where their YA-1 won the 3rd Race at Mt.Fuji. Since then, they have continually participated in MotoGP races and grown their presence in the field beyond Japan.


Above all, MotoGP, and the FIM Grand Prix World Championship is very significant for Yamaha, which retains consistent popularity in Europe and worldwide because of it. The races are held 19 times a year from every March to November across four continents including Japan, and they are broadcast in 207 countries around the world.


The factory team of Yamaha Motor, Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP won the ‘Triple Crown’ for motorbike rider champion, team and constructor champion in 2015. In 2019, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales ride MotoGP machine YZR-M1 (picture 1) for the team.

Picture 2: Shotaro Kawakatsu
Moto GP Group, Motor Sports Development Division,
Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.

Picture 3: Kiyoshi Shimada
Senior Supervisor, Engineering Infrastructure Enhancement Group, Digital Engineering Division,
Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.

Mr. Shotaro Kawakatsu who belongs to Motor Sports Development Division (picture 2), is a member of the development team for the machine for MotoGP races. He joined Yamaha Motor in 2016 and since then he belongs to MotoGP Group after working on the aerodynamic analysis of the race bikes. He is now working on a wide range of design developments for the team.


Mr. Kiyoshi Shimada (picture 3), who belongs to the Yamaha Digital Engineering Division, oversees utilizing and educating CAE analysis tools in Yamaha Motor. Mr. Shimada joined the company in 1987, has worked on bike body design and has 10 years of experience with structural analysis using MSC Nastran. He started to work on fluid analysis using SC/Tetra. Since 2000, and is now working on the development and introduction of various tools related to fluids analysis, education of the analysis technique, and the maintenance of race bike manuals for fluid analysis.


MotoGP design has taken its current form in Yamaha since 2002. From this time Yamaha Motor has used SC/Tetra for the development of their machines. “We use SC/Tetra to enhance the total driving performance, comfortability and reliability” says Mr. Kawakatsu (figure 1).

Verification of Aerodynamics and Thermal Flows on MotoGP Machine's Design

It is important to note bike stability when running on a rectilinear line when analyzing aerodynamics. In MotoGP, the motorcycle displaces 1000cc and 240 horsepower, and reaches 350km/h at maximum speed, which exceeds the speed of a bullet train! Keeping the body stable in high speed is important not only for fast times but also for the safety of the rider.

Figure 1: Changes of the model and analysis result 2002 – 2018 (Click to enlarge)

Another point is controllability for cornering. Cornering speeds reach 200km/h and the the bike’s lean extends to 60 degrees. Getting the race line and the level of exhaustion of the rider depends on the force from the air.


Moreover, as air flow affects other issues, improvements need to be made on the engine’s horsepower by air going into the nose intake, as well as taking into account performance of radiator, oil and brakes; and coolability of electrical components. Not only it takes so much time to verify everything in wind tunnel experiments, but it is also difficult to test with someone riding in the first place. That is the way, Yamaha Motor uses SC/Tetra CFD for prior verifications.

*All product and service names mentioned are registered trademarks or trademarks of their respective companies.
*Contents and specifications of products are as of September 28, 2018 and subject to change without notice. We shall not be held liable for any errors in figures and pictures, or any typographical errors in this brochure.

Company Details


Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.
Founded 1955
Business Manufacturing of
  • Two wheeled vehicles
  • Marine business
  • Power Products
  • Industrial machinery and robots
Representative Yoshihiro Hidaka (President)
Head Office Location Iwata-shi, Shizuoka, Japan



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