MotoAmerica Twins, What bike to get?

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Dreams do come true. If you’re like me, you love the racing of the lightweight class. The speed of these bikes makes the racing near perfect. You can spend as little or as much as you want on these machines. It’s a riders class, a kid on a stock bike can whoop up on a older known fast guy riding a superbike build or even vice versa. The bikes are fun to build and even more fun to ride. I’ve noticed the class has been on a slight decline on entries and racers are getting a bit bored with it. There has been some resurgence thanks to Yamaha’s release of the FZ07 but Suzuki’s SV650 still dominates grid attendance. Because the class has been nearly a single machine field for 20 years, passion has been put into other classes, mainly the recent surge of the ultra-light machines (ninja 300, r3, ktm 390, cbr300). But every lightweight twins rider’s dream just came true……….

United State’s pro road racing series, MotoAmerica, announced they will be adding a new class for the 2018 race season. A pro twins class based around the 600-800cc machines. The little guy finally gets to show their card. But on what bikes? (here is a direct link to MA homologated bike list)

Here is what you get to build and race.

  • 2017+ Ducati Monster 797 / 797+
  • 2014+ Harley Davidson Street 750
  • 2017+ Harley Davidson Street Rod
  • 2012-end Kawasaki Ninja 650
  • 2014+ Kawasaki Ninja 650r
  • 2018+ KTM Duke 790
  • 2008-end Suzuki SV650 S/A
  • 2017+ Suzuki SV650
  • 2013+ Yamaha FZ07

What do we see in that list? Let’s break each of them down.

Ducati Monster 797
The 2017 model was brand new for Ducati. All new chassis and I haven’t seen the Monster on a grid. Priced at just over $9,000, it won’t be the most expensive starting point in the class. The power output in stock trim, 75hp and 50ft, is nothing to brag about, in fact, it gives you no reason to purchase over the other bikes. Many racers and builders know these 2 valve air cooled Ducati motors can pump out the power with some good head work and a good camshaft. 100hp is doable and will definitely be nice at the tracks where these bikes want to stretch their legs. The bike is 425lbs wet from the factory. Not a bad number at all. This allows the builder to drop 100lbs off this machine and still make the minimum weight limit set at 319lbs. I hope see a few Italian grenades out there.

Harley Davidson Street 750
I know absolutely nothing about these machines. I don’t expect to see any out there, maybe one die hard fan from the AMA Vance & Hines class. At 68hp/47ftlb and wet weight closing in at 500lbs, the HD just doesn’t seem as a viable option. Maybe someone can prove me wrong?

Kawasaki Ninja 650
The 650 went on a diet recently which does boost it’s desire. 420lbs wet in stock trim with a power plant that is capable of 90hp. The 650R’s good chassis is what has kept racers using these parallel twins but even then except for the UK playgrounds, the Kawasaki gets almost no love at the club racing level. The characteristics of the power plant leaves much to be desired. Priced at just over $7,000, it’s not a good enough price to give you that extra incentive over the Yamaha or Suzuki.

KTM Duke 790
We may not see any of these at the start of the season, or at all in 2018. But in time, this could easily be the “class killer”. KTM claims 105hp and 63ft stock. That’s deadly over all the other bikes. Let someone get their hands on that motor and you’ll see some impressive stats. Wet weight of 418lbs, it’s already one of the lightest bike in the class. Not to my knowledge has a MSRP price been released, but I suspect the bike to be price around the $12,000 mark. Which is well above anything else in the class. If you want any of the other bikes in this class to touch the KTM’s stock horsepower, you’ll need to take out a second mortgage. KTM is a steal and unless the chassis is complete garbage, should be every twins class racers dream bike. In my opinion, allowing this bike into the class is a huge mistake by MotoAmerica. It does not belong, all the other machines are very close in performance except for this one.

Suzuki SV650
The rock of the lightweight twins class for 20 years. Racers can go with two different options. They can run a 2008-2009 (2nd generation) or try out the new 2017-2018.

The 2008-2009 is going to be a popular choice as there are so many 2003-2009 race bikes out there. Parts are easy to get. Chassis is well tested and some select tuners have the hot set up numbers. (those may change due to the tire options). I suspect most engine builds to be 85-90hp and 50-55ft lb of torque. These bikes can easily drop weight and get down to 330lbs. The main downside to building one of these year bikes is the limited number of years it will be legal for the class and not legal for any contingency from Suzuki. That’s if MA keeps the class around for more then 2 years.

The 2017-2018 is a more risky option. The chassis isn’t near as tried and true, in fact, almost no one has raced them. The frame is the same as the 2009-2015 SFV Gladius, but even that had very little race time. The new frame is steel vs the traditional SV’s aluminum frame, this also goes for the swing arm. The new SV’s swing arm is not light, it’s nearly 8lbs heavier than the 08-09 arm. The subframe is also welded to the main frame and can not be replaced with a lighter unit like builders can accomplish with the older model. They aren’t that light but 345lbs ready to rock is a very achievable number in race trim.

Someone could make their build as simple as the oem cam swap, bored throttle bodies, full exhaust, and a tune for the spec Sunoco fuel. Call it a day at that, let your riding do the talking.

Yamaha FZ07
Everyone’s new favorite girl. Andy Palmer started the revolution and is keeping it going with his FZ07R builds and parts. The bikes look great and are said to handle beautifully (i’ve yet to swing my leg over one). In stock trim the bikes are not the best. They have a very restrictive airbox which holds back the horsepower limiting that pull up top. Where the bike is magical is the mid range helping the exit of corners. In superbike trim, which the MA rules allow, the airbox can be removed and the ports can be opened up giving the FZ07 the fresh air it needs. 90-100hp motor builds and 330-340lb wet weight in race trim is what these bikes are about. Fun stuff.

Almost none of these bikes come with fairings stock. This is awesome as we will get to see what builders come up with to make their bikes look unique. We will see a lot of cool bikes. Being superbike rules, the chassis can ditch the stock front ends and run a front end off any of the other bikes that are on the AMA/MotoAmerica homologated bikes list. Is this the right move for every bike and rider? Probably not. This class will be fun in all aspects and most likely a huge thorn in the side of MotoAmerica. If you are someone looking to race or build a bike for this class. Make sure you read the rule book, in fact, memorize the rule book. Many are going to get caught off guard by the way things are done in the pro ranks. Make sure your components are approve parts by MotoAmerica. Not every shock and not every fork or fork internals will be allowed. Do your homework first and don’t complain when your fox shock isn’t legal. It won’t be cheap and it won’t be easy. Bring your best.

Stay tuned for more on the class, teams, riders, results, and media. It is’s goal to report as much as possible on this 2018 MotoAmerica twins class.

We would like to put together a page listing those who are going to be racing in the Twins class. Please email me at with a list of sponsors, stats, bio, and what bike you’ll be racing. A profile type photo would be nice as well. We can update this info as we get closer to the season or even during the season. If there are multi-rider teams, you can also provide that info.

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