Motorcycle Simulation Rig Is Off To The Races

a man sits on top of a motorcycle simulation rig

Many arcade machines can be emulated and handily controlled with the standard joystick and button combos. However, a few don’t feel quite right without some extra equipment, motorcycle racing games being one of them. So, no longer content to go to an arcade to get his fix, [The Q] welded his own motorcycle simulation rig for playing racing games at home.

After an initial design was sketched out, rectangular tube steel was cut to size and welded together with a MIG welder. A central shaft linked to some secured bearings made the central pivot point. A few pistons offered the resistance needed for leaning into the curves. To the central shaft, a seat and an old bicycle fork were attached. A clever linkage from the handlebars to the base causes the bike to tilt when turning the handlebars and vice versa.

The bike was ready for prime time after some grinding, orange paint, a license plate, and some lights and grips. [The Q] just needed to get the angle of the bike into the simulation of their choice. While we expected a teensy or other microcontroller emulating a controller, [The Q] went for a somewhat simpler approach, and 3D printed a cradle to hold a PlayStation controller. Little levers pull strings to articulate the joystick, and a cable from the throttle grip pulls back the trigger on the controller. All in all, the experience looks pretty decent, particularly when you’re comparing it to a motocross arcade machine. What it really needs are some fans blowing for the effect of the air stream coming at you.

If you’re thinking about busting out the MIG to make a rig of your own, maybe consider making a homemade car racing rig to complement the bike.

19 thoughts on “Motorcycle Simulation Rig Is Off To The Races

  1. The problem I’ve noticed with all motorbike simulators is that they never feel like riding a motorbike.
    At speed, on a real bike you don’t steer the way you want to go, you actually push the bars the wrong way to push the bike down in to the corner. If you haven’t noticed this, go out and try it on a straight road.

    1. It’s astonishing how quickly the brain corrects for the “backward” steering input without ever understanding what’s actually happening. There is no shortage of long-time riders who simply will not believe they are turning the front wheel to the left in order initiate a turn to the right.

      Of course it’s more complicated than just reversing the steering axis if you want to simulate it.

    2. The problem with the simulation of motorbike racing is that the physics of cornering and balancing a motorbike are different to a car. You actually bring the bike in an unbalanced position to corner the bike, otherwise you can’t compete with the centrifugal forces. This is something which is hard to simulate.

      Nevertheless, the approach of this project is quite nice by decoupling the steering and the lean angle in opposite to arcade game motorbike Sims.

    3. I’ve never ridden a motorcycle, but do I do the same when I ride a bicycle? I know when I’m riding slow and making big turns I turn the handlebars in the direction of the turn, but I’m also making small corrections that I can’t consciously explain.

  2. I have literally zero experience with mechanical design, but I’m curious about the whole process. We see the guy just sketching some design, he builds it, and voila – it works just perfect. I have trouble believing that he would get all the dimensions right, the linkages, the pneumatic pistons to work together just right on the first try.

    Should we just silently assume that he spent some weeks iterating on this, and here he’s just making a second copy of the final iteration? (and the previous steps were just considered to be too boring to include in the video).

    Or maybe with enough experience you can just guess it mostly right on the first attempt?

    1. The end result is interesting and it’s some great engineering and fabrication work, but the video is not really worth watching. I get that there are people out there who just _love_ spending 30 minutes watching someone tighten bolts but it’s not for me. I’d rather hear the creator talk about the design choices, challenges that sprang up during fabrication, what they would do differently next time, etc.

      Now that I’m thinking of it, this reminds me of those confusingly popular cake decorating videos where all you see is a person’s hands decorating a cake. This is like the maker version of that.

  3. Just stand straight up, hold both arms straight out in front of your chest, lean upper body to the right/left watch how the right/left arm(s) move. It is basically a slow motion of what really happens. I always found myself pulling while pushing in high speed corners.

  4. If you want to see the ONLY motorcycle simulator on YouTube check out the channel Sling Town. Using the Nintendo Wii I’m able to do full first person POV races with full simulation. I lean, I accelerate, I brake and I compete hard in full simulated races with the commercially available MotoGP for the Wii. The whole system (everything including the Wii) costs about $100. If you put something stupid like this in your front room you will just continue scaring away women forever. Be nice to your psyche and your pocketbook and buy a Wii.

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