Electronics: ruining motorcycling's simple formula?

Electronics are everywhere in our lives and modern motorcycles rely on them completely. Is this a good thing?

Posted: 28 February 2013
by Ben Cope
The original R1 came with good old carbs, no traction control, no ABS, no power modes, no electronic suspension and a cable throttle, no keyless ignition. Are modern bikes really any better?
Stuck in the desert or on the hard shoulder of the A3, you won't be fixing that yourself
Does improvement now lie somewhere in a folder on your desktop?

The digital revolution promises an easier life; cameras that only take a picture when everyone's smiling, microwaves that promise to precisely defrost your dinner but did anyone actually ask for any of this? When it comes to motorcycling, have electronics really helped or has the cost of the technology put people off this formerly 'cheap and cheerful' way of getting from A to B?

First came fuel injection, but does it actually offer anything anyone really values? Would the majorty of bikers know or care how fuel gets into the engine? It's more expensive, it can't be fixed in your own garage or by the side of the road and it can't be adjusted without complicated and expensive equipment. With clever ECU tricks, it helps pass EU emissions tests and can also improve a motorcycle's MPG figures, but is that such a big deal? If you've ever ridden a bike on flatslide carbs, you'll know what a raw engine feels like. If you've only ever ridden fuel-injected motorcycles, you're getting the digitally sanitised and safe for consumption version.

ABS and traction control have obvious safety benefits but - as manufacturers are always keen to point out - they can be switched off. However a rising number of motorcycles are only sold with ABS or traction control and while you can switch it off, you can't switch off the price it adds to the bike. More expensive bikes arguably means less people getting into, or carrying on with, motorcycling.

Then along came power modes, which in most cases are about as useful as the myriad settings on a dishwasher. Do you really need three different power modes on a GSX-R600? Just press a magic button and then you’re left to recalibrate how much you need to open the throttle. Surely that's just a gimmick.

Ride by Wire introduces the ability to have different throttle maps and an adjusted sensitivity, when 20 years ago, no-one really struggled to ride a motorcycle home in the rain, they just adjusted their right hand accordingly.

Some motorcycles now have electronically adjustable suspension and Ducati's Skyhook Multistrada reads the road and makes minute adjustments as you travel. It's not cheap either and spells the beginning of the end for the simple oil and spring method that worked so well for Henri Fournier back in 1902.

Keyless ignition means you can keep your 'key' in your pocket which is great until you forget which jacket you left your key in. Or was it in your jeans? Is a physical key such a big problem it had to be fixed?

On some motorcycles, electronics account for 40% of the production cost.  As electronics make motorcycles safer, do the people riding them not learn the skills they need to stay safe? Therefore does the addition of electronics result in a loss of skill and therefore everything stays roughly the same? Are electronics complicating a once simple equation, adding cost but no real value? Are we seeing an influx of technology for technology's sake?

Electronics: are they ruining it for you?



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Discuss this story

Disc brakes? what was wrong with good old TLS (twin leading shoe drum brakes)
Electronic ignition? adjusting points was so much fun.
Decent front lights? as long as the paraffin lasted they were ok?
etc

Posted: 28/02/2013 at 14:57

I like tuning carbed-singles, but that'll soon become a thing of the past as they get harder to find second-hand. Power Commanders and fuelling maps just seem so dull by comparison. The same goes for setting suspension - maybe I can get an app for the electronic settings and do it through Bluetooth... oohh, what fun. Electronics may end up killing the diy aspect of bikes, especially if European laws start to mandate them more and more. But nevermind, riding will still be fun.

Posted: 28/02/2013 at 16:11

Don't know if you can step backwards but BSB improved after dropping their rider aids

Posted: 28/02/2013 at 16:34

The manufacturers are in the first over enthusiastic phase that follows the introduction of almost every new technology. Hopefully they'll realize that just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. Take a brief look through the postings of Bikeexif to see the growth of stripped down, raw, simplified machines being created recently. There is a reaction against complexity which is drawing riders towards the custom aftermarket that the manufacturers should take not of. I'm sure there is a market for one of the major brands to create a line of "honest" where form follows function, not farckle. Technology should be used to beautify through simplicity, I think that was Steve Jobs? What a shame he wasn't a rider.

Posted: 28/02/2013 at 17:16

Oh, i miss those days when everyone rode their horses to work...

Posted: 28/02/2013 at 18:04


TH
^ Steve Jobs did ride http://www.visordown.com/snippets/steve-jobs-rest-in-peace/19198.html

Posted: 28/02/2013 at 18:09

They said the same thing when electronics went from tubes to printed circuits, diy will find a way.
Progress will continue, poor/ expensive ideas will evaporate, elegant solutions will persist and feed a new generation of innovations.
I ride a carbed thumper, i love it, but i dont delude myself into thinking its the ultimate 2 wheeled solution.

Posted: 28/02/2013 at 19:41

The original R1 !! What a fantastic looking bike !! Still a head turner all these years on.

Regarding electronics on bikes, one comment made earlier sums it up well, just because it can be done, doesn't mean it should be !

Posted: 28/02/2013 at 20:19

Yeah, in zero degree temperatures, I would rather "cold-start" a carbed engine with no electric start by kicking the kickstart lever for a couple of hours before I can go anywhere. Yeah, I would rather end up at the back of a truck by using tiny drum brakes at 100mph. Yeah, I would rather get some kicks by sliding around on an highway using brakes without ABS in the rain even when I am forced to ride at 40 when I could be doing 70 with a correct riding mode. Yeah, I would rather spend 10 minutes trying to set the suspension instead of enjoying my ride. Yeah, I would rather fix my bike all the time than ride it.

Come on- some technological advancements are useful and helpful and make riding a more pleasurable (and prolonged) experience. Some, like the keyless ignition, may be silly but overall, we shouldn't be afraid of tech. Overall, even with these electronics, I think the prices of motorcycles haven't gone up terribly either- it allows more people to take up riding. The ones with the skills will always have them- while these will help those who don't. We are all romantics here but doesn't mean we cannot add spice to the romance!

Posted: 28/02/2013 at 23:07

Bike design is becoming more and more linked to cars anyway so don't be surprised that the rest of the kit is following suit. As no doubt you all know, the new Honda/Magimix/Hotpoint 700 engine is one part of the Honda Jazz lump. As with cars there is less and less the home mechanic can do without access to electronic diagnostic equipment, and as everything is packed in so tight you'd be hard pressed to see what does what any more. You can still pump up the tyres and change the fluids if you want, but to change the spark plugs on a BMW I once owned, you were basically looking at a major task requiring special tools. Don't have it anymore. I recently had the disgrace of having to get a garage to adjust a fan belt on a car simply because I couldn't get at it without using a ramp. Until then I'd worked on every single bike and car I'd ever owned. Sorry, but this is the way of the world now, and if you want more than just sliced white bread convenience you'll just have to build that bike for yourself. Does anyone else see a parallel between this and the horse meat row?


Kick starting a bike is easy as long as it is in tune. See, back to basics; plus you get a great calf muscle for free! Disc and anti lock brakes. Great ideas, but you could alway try to develop the skill to brake and ride properly according to the prevailing conditions rather than just ripping into it like a demented tit. How many riders have the ability to set up their suspension properly? Maybe that's why manufacturers limit the amount of twiddling available so you just make yourself feel sick and don't actually get killed!

Posted: 01/03/2013 at 02:09

shame but true... bundled electronics are the future.
And once you remove a single part, the rest will not function properly.

Posted: 01/03/2013 at 05:51

"If you've only ever ridden fuel-injected motorcycles, you're getting the digitally sanitised and safe for consumption version."

Anyone who has owned a MK1 Aprilia Tuono will struggle to recognise this statement.

Posted: 01/03/2013 at 10:38

"Are modern bikes really any better?"

I can't afford a new technobike so i don't know. Why don't you journos do a full test of the best analogue bike ever made (maybe the R1 pictured above, assume digital ignition allowed)) vrs the best the geeks have come up with so far (HP4?)
and see how quickly the laptop-on-wheels fucks off over the horizon.

Posted: 01/03/2013 at 13:54

WHAAAAAAAAAAAT!!!

Progress!!!! We'll have none of that here!!!!! How DARE you try to move things along!!!

Posted: 01/03/2013 at 15:48

Nothing will ever replace well educated training or seat of the pants learning riding motorbikes,however that is no reason to dismiss sophisticated electronics.I see them as a way to improve our safety with minor intrusion,the current new ABS & traction control systems are barely perceptible,combined with good rider training will definitely save more of our lives when some tin-top does a SMIDSY!

Posted: 01/03/2013 at 21:14

I've had a lot more issues with carbs than fuel injection. Just my experience, but my last two bikes have been F/I Hondas and have been absolutely flawless as far as fuel delivery is concerned.

Then again, the only incident (other than a tyre puncture) that ever left me stranded on the side of the road was a starter relay dying.

Posted: 01/03/2013 at 22:46

Rose tinted Glasses? I might be alone here but I do not miss messing about with unreliable bikes that made a lot of noise with a little performance to go with it. Most of these electronics only work in extreme conditions and normally intervene only once you have reached the point at which you would have lost it. They are a safeguard. I have been ridng for 30 years now and not many bikes went over the 120BHP a short while ago. Now every second bike that comes out has to have ten million horsepower to satisfy egos more than need. Does anybody remember the TL AKA widowmaker? A 135bhp horsepower that accounted for a lot of death figures of the late 90' and the same engine in countless sports bikes from various companies. I challenge anybody to enjoy riding anything over 120BHP on the road without any form of electronic to at least smooth the power curve. Could not realx one second on those old beasts. Don't like electronics? There are plenty of bikes out there with no frills. Who can knock down a Z800? Embrace it. If it helps get more people on bikes I am all for it.

Posted: 02/03/2013 at 07:37

If you like the old days buy old bikes plenty of them and plenty people still playing with them which is good. IF YOU WANT NEW EXPECT NEW TECH!!! OLD WAS NEW ONCE Tecnological Evolution is inevitable especially in such a competitive industry and the way we think about staying "GREEN" for the environment as for reliability well that depends on what you buy do your homework and bide your time to look for what you want think real world though as I cant see the point in 180 mph on tap unless on a track as uk roads are SH*T

Posted: 02/03/2013 at 10:13

Yeah we have to change with the times. I wouldn't swap modern discs for the old drums, or hanker after a set of points to adjust when I can have electronic ignition which never needs touching.
But if you're someone who loves to tinker then the modern direction of development will leave you with no choice but to get an older bike to satisfy your cravings, as EU directives notwithstanding there won't be much to play with in 10 years time unless you've got a fully equipped garage with all the latest diagnostic equipment.

Posted: 02/03/2013 at 11:58

i think biking reach its ultimate a decade ago ,first fireblade and then no one needs any more because you just cant use it ,when i buy a new bike now its not because its faster its just cos i like it

Posted: 02/03/2013 at 18:12

I used to work for a car manufacturer. And the change from everyoner being mechanical engineers & mechaincs to electrical & electronic boffins was marked and quite sad to see, visible skills swapped for invisible ones.
As for bikes, does it depend on what you are using the bike for. Commuter bikes with ABS, good idea. Adventure bikes with engine maps you can change depending on where you are, like the Multistrada, great idea. If you want to be the fastest twat round the track then add all the electronics & then let them do all the work.
But like all these things they de skill the function of riding for pleasure. One of the great things about track riding is to use the throttle and brakes well enough not to fall off but ride as quickly as possible. if you now can open the throttle and the bike works out what to do, there is nothing else to take up the slack of the skill passed to the electronics.
Maintenance, as with cars becomes a thing of the past.
But now electronics are small enough, they are here to stay.
I am amazed noone provides any electronic AFO (anti fall over) gizmo's for hogs to protect the riders chaps from getting scuffed. When lean angle is over 10degrees stabilized wheels are deployed. Now that would be useful.

Posted: 04/03/2013 at 08:08

I'm all for these Electronic aids but they will not be on my bike (ABS aside) as i can't aford them.It seems safety is only for the better off, and anyway are they going to spot the gravel ahead,the damp patch mid-way around the bend,the ice on the shady spot.I wonder if you will become too relient on these Aids and not look at the road as you should.
Are they more a Gimmick makeing you pay and getting you hooked,and who is going to buy these trade in's with the added worry of thousands of pounds for any breakdowns and repairs.
I'll stick with my aged Triumphs and enjoy motorcycling for what it is,wind in your face,out in the elements,involving with me and the machine watching the road,the traffic and no other thoughts in my mind

Posted: 04/03/2013 at 21:40

When F1 was getting too complex, with active suspension, paddles shift gear boxes, traction control, launch control etc, people used to say that a monkey could drive these cars.

My reply back then still stands: the winner will still be the fastest monkey.

In other words, our skills adapt to the machinery, and those who understand it best will get the most out of it.

In racing we want to see the rider do the work, to display their skills. We want to see the wheelies and power slides, the riders getting their elbows down.

But let's not forget that they are using technology too. They have very expensive and complex engine technology and fuel management that the average biker can only dream of, and let's not forget the slick racing tyres which give levels of grip that defy belief. Tyres are high tech too.

The frames cost gazillions, and can make the difference between winning and losing (what's that you say, Valentino?), and sometimes it goes to show that even the fastest monkey doesn't always win, but then it's hardly an electronic aid either.

To put things in perspective, I once met a Harley owner in a layby and got chatting about things. He said the most high tech thing about riding a Harley was his mobile phone, which he used for calling the breakdown services.

Posted: 05/03/2013 at 09:08

My TL and lc will be my last bikes.

All I need .
I can do everything my self.
End off story. .They will last me a very long time.

Posted: 05/03/2013 at 18:54

Not interested in the latest electronic crap that is thrown on bikes today.
The nearest i have got to it all is adjustable electronic ignition in conjunction with my flat slide carbs on my gsxr1216 which kills ten trees every time i start it and breaks windows.

Come the day when i eventually will have to own a bike drowning under all this electronic crap. I will remove it all and fit flat slide carbs.Nothing is tamper proof
The end

Posted: 05/03/2013 at 20:38

The bike manufacturers are not adding these features for our safety, they are adding them to sell more, newer bikes.

Although some of them are useful eg. fuel injection for a Winter morning start, a lot of them are just there to differentiate them from last year's model, you know - the machine that was perfect 12 months ago.

Personally, I like to know how my bike works and how I can control it better. I think this is one of the things that differentiates us from other motorists - the learning experience. Take learning out of riding / owning bikes and I am no longer interested.

Posted: 05/03/2013 at 22:05

Trying to compare the merits of disc brakes vs. drum is irrelevant here since the article is clearly about electronics on bikes, not just basic mechanical progress. Truth is of course, NO-ONE would actually want to revert to drum brakes as they were chronic. Also, no-one would really want to have to go back to kickstarting - at least no-one who's ever had a twisted ankle (or painful in some other way) due to having to kickstart a large engine.

Someone commented above how it was basically impossible to ride a modern high performance sports bike without electronic intervention. This is of course utter bollox. A current FireBlade has no such rider aids and it's an eminently rideable bike.

My opinion is that electronics must ADD to the riding experience and not take anything away from it. Motorcycles are FUN due to the raw visceral thrill you get from riding. But eliminate that thrill by having electronics do it for you and what's the point of riding any more.

Electronic ignition eliminated a tiresome servicing chore of setting points etc and FI likewise eliminates problems that would otherwise crop up with fuelling, particularly when having the store a bike for any length of time. Carbs have to be drained or the bike is hard to start, sometimes impossible until said draining and flushing of the carbs. With FI you can simply turn the bike off and years later it'll start on the first push of the button. I know this to be true. It's not just theory.

But, that's pretty much where I draw the line. I have NO interest in ABS, I abhor the idea of traction control and I cannot even comprehend why anyone thinks 'launch control' is even remotely desirable on a street bike.

I realise there are those who insist that those first 2 are safety aids but I'm not so sure. Let's consider that.

First of all, statistics actually indicate that all the safety features that have been foisted on us in cars have made no difference to their actual safety record. Drivers simply increase the risk factor in other ways, e.g. by driving closer to other cars in the belief that the ABS will sort it all out. Everyone drives/rides at their own level of comfortable risk. Eliminate some of that risk in one area and they will simply add to it elsewhere. This is just human nature. So why bother with all the expense in the first place.

Secondly, electronics like FI make it obvious when there's a problem. You can rely on the FI to keep the bike working as it should, without danger. If one day it doesn't work, the bike won't start. Even if it fails while riding, you simply slow down and stop. Not so with ABS. You might have NO idea it had failed. The bike appears normal, but then when you need it (and are relying on its assistance) it simply doesn't work and that could mean a serious and painful result. You just do not know when it may not actually work.

I am not trying to be a scare monger when it comes to electronic reliability. So far electronics are proving reliable on bikes, but to what ultimate age? How about in another 20 or 30 years when the cost of replacing a single black box (that maybe you don't even know has failed) will far exceed the value of the bike. What then?

Ultimately I believe one should learn to ride a bike with all the requisite subtle nuances. I don't want ABS interfering with that. I've spent many years riding and learning how to correctly use the brakes and I take great pleasure in doing so. Traction control on a bike is pure nonsense. That's exactly what the throttle is for. If you can't stop the rear wheel from skidding/slipping/sliding on the road just by not opening the throttle so far, sorry, but you've no right to be riding that bike. Maybe you should consider getting a less powerful one until you've learnt how to ride properly.

Ther

Posted: 06/03/2013 at 08:45

To continue...

There is one electronic aid however that potentially breaks my rule. I do like a good quickshifter. Not so I can go faster, but a well set up quickshifter can make riding an even greater pleasure with smooth and seamless upshifts without having to bother with the clutch. BUT, the clutch is still there and can be used if required (like when slowing to, or starting from a standstill). So it doesn't detract from the riding. It adds to it and so I see it as a positive thing.

Carl Fogerty's never been my favourite, but in this instance, he's spot on In his words (or slightly paraphrased) "anyone who needs traction control on the roads is a complete fucking twat".

I'm with you on that one Carl.

Posted: 06/03/2013 at 08:45

BiKenG, I agree in part with the traction control, but I think you are looking at ABS the wrong way.

ABS will stop the wheels locking under panic braking - when someone just grabs a handful of brake instictively when someone pulls out in front of them. Sure, experienced riders generally don't do this, but for a new rider, or someone taking their bike out of the garage after a winter/injury break, this could easily happen. So why shouldn't ABS be put on bikes for this very reason? ABS is meant to guard against this instinctive panic, if someone then adds risk of their own by driving too close, then they're making a conscious decision to do so, and I imagine natural selection will run its course.

I've owned bikes with and without ABS, and long story short, the only time it will intervene is when there is a significant difference in the wheel speed, i.e your wheels are locking up, or you're doing a stoppie.

In any event, whether its ABS, traction control, or power modes - if you're as good as you think you are, then you'll never know its there; If you're not as good as you think you are, then you'll probably be glad of it. All the electronics do is make biking more accessible to people who don't want to spend years and years perfecting riding technique, who just want to get out on a bike for a quick ride and enjoy it. For people such as yourself, I'm sure you will never 'suffer' the intervention of rider aids, so why do you care?

Cheer up, dismount the high horse, and embrace some new technology. Such as the computer which you are typing this on, which I'll wager you didn't have when you were a young 'un.

Posted: 06/03/2013 at 14:19

While I don't doubt that many modern driver aids make it safer and allow you to push harder and get more performance out of your bike.. I can't help but feel some of it goes a bit too far sometimes. Perhaps there should be some manufacturers out there willing to still produce bikes without all the mod cons.

I really enjoy riding a bike where the main control comes from me and me only. Sure it may ultimately mean I cannot ride as fast as someone with Traction control, wheelie control, launch control, ABS, rider maps for every situation etc etc.. But I will be getting a lot out of my riding experience, because all of it will be me. I will actually be honing my skills rather than getting used to what the bike can do by itself.

Sure the extremes of performance are thrilling but I cant help but feel it is a cop out if the bike I am riding does all the hard work for me, and turns it into more of a video game.

Posted: 07/03/2013 at 10:19

Amen - Glad to see someone with my ethos out there.
It used to be that a god on two wheels was just that. Now any tom dick an harry can get on a monster of a bike and just pin the throttle around corners and the bike will drift the rear wheel perfectly for them and when they want to stop they can just squeeze the brakes to the bars and it will neatly bring them to a halt in quicktime.

Now while I don't doubt this can be fun and totally amazing as an experience... I want to be able to do these things with my skills alone, and the risk of overdoing it is what actually makes motorcycling thrilling. Hence why learning these things takes time and dedication.

I'd love to have a go on the latest something which can let me experience heady performance limits in relative safety but that's it. I just want a go on it, and I'd want to do it on a track so I don't lose my license.

For the road I am quite capable of moderating myself according to the conditions using my brain and reflexes alone, complete with unexpected wheelies, the occasional slip of the rear wheels, et al. For me it is part of motorcycling and has been for over 15 years, from the days when it was my only transport and I dared venture out on snow and ice, to now when I often leave it for better weather for the enjoyment factor.

Posted: 07/03/2013 at 11:03

Jim, ABS and traction control in normal riding are passive; They constantly monitor and compare front and rear wheel speed, but under normal braking and acceleration they do nothing other than monitor.. the control is still entirely the riders.

The point a lot of the technophobes seem to be missing is that the ABS or traction control will only step in if there is a significant difference in wheel speeds, i.e one is locking up and spinning slower than the other, or the rear is spinning up faster than the front is rotating. So the ABS or TC will only ever take control if the rider has lost control!

The rider can thus make the choice to ride like a normal person, and never have the aids intervene - in which case, they will never notice their presence, and the experience is unchanged. The electronic aids will just mean that people who wants to ride like a knob will probably last a little longer than they would without all the gizmos.

Posted: 07/03/2013 at 11:03

The fact that this discussion is occuring at all serves to highlight how conservative bikers are - many yearning for a good old days vibe which is more linked to the energy and carefree attitudes during youth rather than the fact the older, less technological bikes were better, or more fun. If I'd had a bike with today's technology 'when I were a lad' it would blown my mind - even something supposedly mundane like an XJ6. In practice, when we get a new bike with electronic aids we tend to appreciate it. Perhaps, some who say they prefer older stuff just can't afford newer bikes - not meant as any form of aspersion I might add.

Interestingly, there seems to be less of a conservative attitude when it comes to cars.

Posted: 07/03/2013 at 12:49

Don't know what did it for anyone else but bikes appealed to me because they were basically simple. I could see what did what and if it broke perhaps even be able to fix it with a few decent tools. As it was a basic machine I could even try to optimise the performance of its various components, like actually getting the much maligned drum brakes to work as intended. This was all part of the fun of motorcycling and pride of ownership for me. I didn't get that from most of the modern machines I owned later simply because they were too much like my cars, very reliable, a bit remote but imperfect so that even the most trivial faults really began to annoy me. I now own a bike that is not faultless, new but a bit old school and great fun to ride. It has disc brakes but no ABS, basic suspension which I have fiddled a bit with, and that is about it. In all the chat about electronics one thing has been forgotten. When I came back to bikes the greatest improvement I noticed was in tyre performance, and apart from a remarkable increase in seat heights, nothing else really significant.

Posted: 07/03/2013 at 13:54

None of these electronic laden bikes will be on the road in 20 30 years time, there will be no classic scene for these bikes. When the british weather has done its worst and all the electronics have developed intermittent faults and riders are getting highsided to the moon they will be considered too ferocious to be anything but museum pieces. If you want to restore an 30 year old BMW S1000RR you will be seeking out a software developer not a mechanic and the electronics will be so obsolete by then you'll struggle to find kit to sort it out.

Right now electronics are about performance but from a manufacturers point of view it is also about planned obsolescence, a new electronic laden bike probably has about a 10 year life span if that. Who has a 10 year old laptop that they still think is adequate...??

Posted: 08/03/2013 at 09:23

@Michael Ambler, that's a good point - electronic stuff breaks pretty quickly and restoring anything that's coated in obsolete (and likely broken) electronic gear in a couple of decades is going to be highly problematic, expensive and time consuming to say the least, if not impossible. Who the hell is going to (re)develop an ECU for an old bike, as the chips on the original will eventually break and also eventually prove impossible to source. It would take hundreds of hours and would be very expensive to do. The only possible solution I can see to this one, is some sort of standard programmable ECU that would work with a predefined set of sensors, which could then be setup, configured and calibrated for a range of machines but this wouldn't be easy, and, at the end of the day, how many are you going to sell? Could be 5, could be 50,000 but it's not at all an easy problem to crack and the hardware would therefore be horribly expensive. And that would eventually break too... Perhaps someone has already done something along these lines? Don't know, myself.
None of which is going to stop the manufacturers continuing down the path they're on. Let's face it, as soon as one manufacturer introduces a new toy, the rest will (mostly) feel duty bound to follow for fear of being left behind in the trinket wars, if nothing else. I can't help thinking that some of the kit that's now de facto is only there because it CAN be done, not because it needs to/should be done, or adds any particularly notable practical value.
Power modes. Really? I know 190 bhp at the wheel is a LOT of power but as they say, twist the throttle open less and more slowly if the weather is duff. Quite a few of these things seem to soften the power delivery and limit the power to say, 100 bhp in 'Rain' mode (or whatever), which is still enough power to easily spin a wheel on a wet road in the first couple of gears, so kind of, why bother?
Traction control. I can see more justification for this, but surely if you have this, you don't need power modes? I don't know to be honest as I don't have a bike with all this stuff on it - too skint for that.
Launch control. On the road? Really? Even on the track, unless you're Lorenzo? On a drag strip maybe? Dunno, has anybody ever used launch control for anything useful ever, on the road?
Nearly forgot anti-wheelie. What a load of balls. Wheelies are great.
I know we need injection for emissions regs etc, so that's going to stay and I just think that some of the bells and whistles I just mentioned are included, just because they can be, not because they're particularly beneficial - traction control, notwithstanding. Also on the flip side, I think ABS is a notable exception; it seems to specifically add a real-world benefit.

Posted: 12/03/2013 at 17:58

Electronics on bikes are going a bit too far these days, fine if all you can do is adjust the chain, tyre pressures and check fluids but a real ball ache if you enjoy a bit of fettling. Anyway all this bollocks about increasing mpg on bikes by using fuel injection is just a sales pitch to cover the production costs, injectors are cheaper to make than carbs as well as the service light which can only be re set by a dealer. OK for the top sport RRRRR but for a general workhorse/everyday bike it can be a damned nuisance. If it's so good then why does my shiver struggle to give me 45 mpg when my diesel volvo does 50 mpg+ with ease? If it burns less fuel then the emissions will be less? so why doesn't EFI on bikes deliver the goods?

Posted: 13/03/2013 at 18:17

Part of the fun of riding a bike is knowing that it can spit you off in the ditch if you're lacking in skill. Traction control , ABS, linked brakes ruin that.
How about this scenario: Guy learns to ride one of these Traction controlled, linked ABS brake wonders, even pretty well. Then he hops on the above 99 R1 thinking hes quite proficient and immediately crashes the shit out of himself and the bike by using techniques learned on the computer controlled job.

Posted: 14/03/2013 at 00:40

Electronics are going to be included no matter what folk say. But if, in 30 years time, people want to restore the new breed of electronic classic, then there will be resources and companies who are able to assist, and provide aftermarket parts - in the same way that now there are companies who can supply pattern parts for older bikes. Its a simple case of supply and demand; The former will follow if the latter exists.

This isn't to say I think all electronics are good - Some, such as EFI and ABS, I think are great ideas. Others, such as traction control, power modes, launch control, and anti-wheelie, I feel are absolutely pointless. But I doubt there is anything that can be done to avoid many of them being standard fit to bikes in the future.

@Sparkyboz, the car homologation emissions test stipulates a limit for CO2 emissions, which means that car engines have to burn very clean, which lends itself to good fuel economy. The motorcycle emissions tests have no CO2 limit, so manufacturers arn't compelled to run as clean a burn, so worse fuel economy.

And which is more fun, your Shiver or your Volvo?

Posted: 15/03/2013 at 12:23

Motorcycles used to be cheap to maintain & run form of transport for the common man. we seem to have lost this ethos & motorcycles have become a status symbol.I think we would all agree eleci start & ignition are common advantages.But we are becomeing to obsessed with electornic gadgets i for one dont want to go to moto dealers when sparkplugs or oil needs a change.

Posted: 21/03/2013 at 12:52

Talkback: Electronics: ruining motorcycling's simple formula?


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