INEVITABLY the history of motorcycling has been littered with ideas – good and bad – over the last 120 years or so. But which have had the greatest impact on our lives?
No doubt we’ll all have ideas about which pieces of technology are the most important, but there’s no question that some ideas have stuck stronger than others.
Whittling more than a century of innovation into just ten ideas is bound to be controversial. Some people might consider their Bluetooth communications to be the greatest motorcycling idea ever. They’re wrong, of course, but each to their own.
10: Disc brakes
Do you remember what it’s like to ride a bike with drum brakes? If you do, you’ll probably agree that discs are among the greatest steps forward in motorcycling history. Yes, we know, a perfectly-adjusted drum brake can be surprisingly effective, but discs are low-maintenance, high-performance and basically leagues better than their predecessors. What’s more, they’re arguably simpler, and there aren’t many technical advancements that can claim to be more straightforward than the ideas that came before.
This might be a bit more controversial, since there’s still a hard-core of riders who seriously believe they can brake better without anti-lock, but ABS has probably prevented more accidents than any other single technical advancement. While ABS on bikes has been available for 30 years, and prototype systems date back to shortly after WW2, it’s really been in the last decade that the technology has come of age. Modern ABS – particularly the latest lean-sensitive systems – are approaching magic in their ability.