The South African Council for Automation and Control will be hosting an evening talk on the modelling and optimal control of motorcycles in closed-circuit racing.

The lecture will start with a brief review of the history of bicycle and motorcycle modelling. This will include such things as design evolutions, modelling developments and methodologies, and the importance of tyre and frame dynamics (especially for motorcycles). Some of the interesting control features of two-wheeled vehicles will also be discussed.

The subtleties relating to the ability of bicycles to “stay up” or self-stabilise has given rise to several bar-room myths. Many people think this ability to “balance” is due to gyroscopic influences. Another theory is that selfbalancing is due to “trail”. Both are untrue. One also hears talk of “shimmy”, “tank-slappers”, “fish-tailing”, and “death wobble”; all are used to describe vehicular oscillations of some kind. Some interesting video will be used to cover these aspects of the lecture.

The last part of the lecture will deal with closed-circuit motorcycle racing and the solution of the associated optimal control problems. To validate modelling assumptions relating to the minimum-time optimal control problem, a comparison will be made between simulation results and track telemetry data. The vehicle used in the experimental work is representative of a 1000 cc, 4stroke, production motorcycle (World Superbike class). The tests were conducted in a private test session with a professional test rider. The minimum-lap-time handling properties of the vehicle will be analysed.

More information on this event

The Speaker

David Limebeer received his BSc (Eng) (cum laude) from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1974, the MSc (Eng) (cum laude) and PhD degrees from the University of Natal in 1977 and 1980, respectively, the DSc (Eng) degree from the University of London in 1992, and an MA degree

from Oxford University in 2009 (conferred by resolution).

He was a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the University of Cambridge, from 1980 to 1984. He then joined the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department, Imperial College London, as a Lecturer. He was promoted to Reader in 1989, Professor in 1993, Head of the Control Group in 1996, and then Head of Department 1999–2009. From 2009 until his retirement, he was a Statutory Professor of control engineering at the University of Oxford, and a Professorial Fellow with the New College, Oxford.

He is currently a Distinguished Professor with the University of Johannesburg, and an Extraordinary Professor with the University of Pretoria. He is also an Emeritus Professor with the University of Oxford, an Emeritus Fellow with New College, Oxford.

His current research interests include applied and theoretical problems in control systems and engineering dynamics. Prof. Limebeer was elected a Fellow of the IEEE in 1992, and then Life Fellow in 2018, Fellow of the IET in 1994, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1997, and Fellow of the City and Guilds of London Institute in 2002.

He received two South African Institute of Electrical Engineers Prizes and award certificates in 1980 and 1983, and the O. Hugo Schuck best paper award at the American Control Conference (with K. Glover) in 1983. He was awarded the 2015 IET Tustin Lecture, and the 2019 Honeywell International Medal from the Institute of Measurement and Control.

Who Should Attend

This event is ideal for those interested in the dynamics and optimal control of motorcycles

Date and Time

Thursday 1 August 2019
Start: 18:30 for 19:00
End: 20:15


Engineering Building 3 Lecture hall 5 on Floor 5. University of Pretoria Hillcrest

Parking is available in the basement of Engineering Building 3. Entry is via University Road.

Once in the parking lot, take the lift to the fifth floor.

Enquiries & Registration

Keri Caitlin Soldo – Secretariat South African Council for Automation and Control

Tel: (011) 021 8196 Email: Website:


Keri Caitlin Soldo – Secretariat South African Council for Automation and Control

Tel: (011) 021 8196 Email: Website:


Tickets are no longer available.

© 2016 South African Council for Automatic Control