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This paper addresses the analysis and design of a safety-oriented traction control system for ride-by-wire sport motorcycles based on the second-order sliding mode methodology. The controller design is based on a nonlinear dynamical model of the rear wheel slip, and the modeling phase is validated against experimental data measured on an instrumented vehicle. To comply with practical applicability constraints, the position of the electronic throttle body is used as control variable and the effect of the actuator dynamics is thoroughly analyzed. After a discussion on the interplay between the controller parameters and the tracking performance, the final design effectiveness is assessed via mechanical simulation corporation BikeSim, a full-fledged commercial multibody motorcycle model.