Discuss: Electronic rider aids are good for everyone

Visordown's discussions aim to question assumptions about motorcycling. This week, Simon Hargreaves challenges critics of electronic rider aids

SOME people don’t want electronic rider aids. I think they’re wrong.

So far, in most cases, they can disable it anyway. All they have to do is work out which button does the disabling. Given these people are clearly uncomfortable with the remorseless march of technology, it may take some time. Read the manual.

Other people only don’t like some electronic aids. They’re perfectly happy not to dislike the ones they don’t know about, like retarding ignition advance in the lower gears to tame engine performance, or the extremely subtle form of traction control on the 2008+ model FireBlades which no-one ever told you about. Or the engine management that governs secondary throttle response and which rarely gives you the throttle position you ask for at the twistgrip. Come to think of it, neither do CV carbs and I don’t remember anyone complaining about them. Apart from when they buggered up the fuelling, in the early days. I dunno, these new-fangled CV carbs and their fancy ways. What’s wrong wi’ a set o’ flatslides?

Anyway, some people also don’t like the overt stuff: the traction control, the ABS, the digital clock. Nasty, interfering rubbish. “If you can’t ride a bike, you shouldn’t ride a bike,” they cry, as they try to use the remote control to change channels on the TV by smashing it repeatedly against the screen.

What on earth does that actually mean, anyway? “If you can’t ride a bike, you shouldn’t ride a bike.” Obviously it doesn’t mean that if you can’t physically balance on a bike then you shouldn’t ride a bike, because even I’d agree with that, although you’re welcome to try. Might prove frustrating.

So it must mean that if you can’t ride a bike without sufficient skill to have to rely on electronic aids, you shouldn’t ride a bike. Which is true, but does anyone seriously think people are out there riding around "relying" on traction control and ABS to allow them to make progress without crashing? It just doesn’t happen. It’s one of those pithy epithets people with keyboards who aren’t writers come up with because they sound great, like – hey! – a soundbite! But actually they’re just meaningless words arranged in an order that seem to make sense when you glance at them, but on closer inspection are just words arranged in a meaningless order, like that crater on Mars that looked fleetingly like a face until you realised it was just a crater that looked like a face.

So here’s the thing: ABS saves lives. KTM/Bosch’s new cornering ABS (ABS plus lean angle data to modulate) will save even more. None of them interfere with normal road riding. All of them can be disabled. As for traction control, if you’re not an aggressive/fast rider, and you go really steady in the wet, you may well never come across it. If you’re a racer, it’ll probably get in the way but hey, by then you’ll know how to get round that, right? And for the rest of us – well, me – it’s brilliant. You can get away with sweet murder you never could on a non-TC bike, and you know what? It feels awesome. Power-sliding without the high-side? Yes please, I’ll have some of that. Make me faster? Don’t care. Make me safer? Certainly. 

Electronic rider aids are here and they ain’t going away, so indulge in a spot of Zen soup and learn to love the things you hate. 

HAS Hargreaves got it wrong? Tell us what you think.

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Discuss: Technology can go too far

First Ride: 2014 KTM Duke 1190 Adventure with Bosch Motorcycle Stability Control