Telematics is making motorcycles easier and safer to ride
Even more than automobiles, motorcycles command great brand loyalty and preferences: from Japanese bikes to American classics to German technology, from minimalist enduro and cross-country bikes to the full, sleek fairings of tourism bikes and speed-longing racing motorcycles. Every rider swears by the stability, speed and safety of his favourite motorcycle brand.
And although, even more than cars, motorcycles seem to have changed little over the decades, makers are eagerly adapting new technology to further improve their vehicles – from electronic throttles and adaptive headlights toelectronic stability systems and augmented reality– and skilfully integrating cutting-edge innovation into traditional-looking motorcycles.
Electronic Throttle Control
Electronic throttle control, also referred to as ride-by-wire technology, allows motorcyclists to control the fuel fed to the engine via an electronic device rather than the age-old mechanical throttle controlled by a wire cable.
One of the main advantages of electronic throttle is that it avoids stalls and loss of control via an electronic control unit that monitors requested engine power and increases fuel injection based on engine RPMs, bike speed and current gear. Naturally, this allows more efficient use of the engine, prevents damage and wear, and accounts for a far smoother control of the motorcycle. Moreover, the electronic control unit also allows producers to provide useful extras such as the driving modes (Sports, Eco, etc.) that have become popular on modern cars.
Near-sighted people often hate driving in the dark, others have an issue with the reverberating low light of dusk. Moreover, night-time riding calls for greater reflexes, the ability not to be bothered by oncoming headlights, and a keen vision to notice animals scurrying across the road or other objects that may have been fallen onto the road surface.
Adaptive headlight systems calculate the angle at which a motorcyclist attacks a curve and dynamically illuminate the portions of the road that would normally remain shrouded in darkness.
The American Automobile Association claims that adaptive headlights will revolutionise safety for bikers and reduce night-time crashes by as much as 90%.
Touchscreens are ubiquitous these days. They are everywhere: not only smartphones and tablets, but in our homes, vehicles and even on our toys. They are used to control a wide range of functions. In fact, they have replaced many manual controls in our cars and other vehicles. However, touchscreens require hands-on activity and visual contact that is extremely dangerous whilst riding a motorcycle.
Now, however, as cutting-edge augmented technology trickles down from fighter jet visors to the consumer, augmented reality and voice recognition systems are set to provide a significant advantage to motorcyclists.
Visors can be integrated into motorcycle helmets that allow riders not only to listen to music and receive/place calls, but also to exploit GPS Navigators and a wide range of other digital controls.
Stability is a key vital skill, often a sixth sense, for motorcyclists, and while steering dampers, shock absorbers, fairings and tires all contribute to motorcycle stability, it is ultimately based on the skills of the individual driver.
New digital stability control systems promise to make even driving on wet asphalt and stony/sandy/potholed stretches safer and easier. The system is controlled by sensors that constantly monitor tire traction. If a loss of traction is detected, the system takes over control of the disc and engine breaks, ignoring the driver’s controls, until traction is re-established.