4 Breakthrough Technologies for the Motorcyclist
Good news for motorcycle enthusiasts - the latest technological advancements still maintain the thrill of the ride while reducing the risk of injury. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Jonathan Welsh gives motorcyclists a glimpse of the latest and greatest safety innovations.
The same air bags that we've become accustomed to in cars are now being incorporated into motorcycle clothing. In this "Gear and Gadgets" section, Welsh reviews the new leather suits, vests, and jackets now available for pro racers. One such option is the Tech-Air vest (alpinestars.com ) currently available in Europe (and soon in the states):
Created to be layered snugly under the company’s specially designed motorcycle jackets, the vest inflates automatically when its accelerometers detect an impending collision. Alpinestars says the Tech-Air’s algorithms can differentiate between a panic stop, a harrowing near-miss and an unavoidable crash, deploying only for the latter.
Racing-suit maker Dainese takes a slightly different approach with its Misano series of jackets. In addition to relying on accelerometers and gyroscope sensors, Misano taps GPS data to gauge a rider’s position to determine when to inflate the bags. It's unclear how these technologies will affect your motorcycle insurance.
The new headlamps can adapt with the ride - adjusting for leans, curves, and (some) blind spots. These Adaptive Motorcycle Headlights by J.W. Speaker take a savvier approach. Its headlight incorporates an array of disparately (individually or separately) focused LEDs. "A sensor inside the headlamp detects the angle of your lean and triggers the appropriately aimed light to turn on, making it appear as though the beam is transitioning seamlessly as you corner," Welsh explains. They offer an interesting, short You Tube video to show you how it works.
Helmets with Heads-up Displays and Wider Fields of View
Now riders can keep their eyes on the road at all times while simultaneously checking their gauges. The latest helmets have rear-view cameras with displays that are projected inside the visor! One of these new helmets, the Intelligent Cranium, includes "...visual and vibration warnings to alert you when other vehicles are close behind you. The company says the helmet will also display trip data from connected devices, including your smartphone running a navigation app," according to Welsh.
New Technology for Keeping You Upright
Other cutting-edge advancements can actually help prevent crashes by sensing different variables electronically, and then adjusting the bike incrementally to keep the bike stable on difficult road conditions. These advances are currently only available on high-end bikes like the BMW, Ducati, and KTM, but can provide a "roadmap" for future models.
The maker of automotive electronics, Bosch, calls this technology an inertial measurement unit: "This stability system tracks a number of factors—wheel speed, throttle position, brake pressure and, critically, the bike’s position—to instantly adjust the brakes and throttle, preventing the tires from losing their grip. It can be tuned for riding on wet roads, racetracks and even dirt and gravel trails."