Thursday, April 14, 2016

Motorcycle Electronics

Every Wednesday at noon (AKDT), there is a Twitter discussion with moto-topics with the hashtag of #MotoChat. The topic of the day was electronic controls on a motorcycle. Such thing as ABS, traction control, fuel injection, electronically adjustable suspension, etc. And, as you might guess, I don't have any such things on either of my bikes though they do have electronic ignition.

One of the questions was the suitability of such electronic additions. My opinion is that while such things are fine and could make the bike safer, it would be a good idea to not learn to rely on them. Such as, know how to modulate the front and rear brakes in a panic stop. I keep hearing tales of riders who have never ridden anything without traction control, linked brakes and ABS being in over their head when having to ride something that doesn't have those features. So my conclusion was that such electronic assists are not good for an beginner and not good for the experienced rider wanting to push all the way to the edge.

I also commented that I thought that there was a lot of value in being able to fix things along the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Pulling out your cell phone and calling a tow truck isn't always an option. I think that is the attraction to bikes such as the KLR and BMW airheads. Easy to fix and plenty of spare parts.

Image from the Internet
This humorous comment from the moderator was after I mentioned that a gas gauge was a nice feature as long as you didn't rely on it exclusively. I.e. know what your range is and when you will need to fill up based on your riding style and experience with the bike. This followed along with all of my other anti-technology comments (opinions). My reply was that the sidecar on the Ural was for sufficient coal and water capacity for the boiler.

Image from


redlegsrides said...

you know, Jack Riepe likes to joke that Airheads are coal-fired motorcycles right?

RichardM said...

Yep, but I'll take repairability anytime over the electronic complexity of even the K75 let alone anything more recent than that. The bikes with all of the "bells and whistles" may be preferred by some but not me...

redlegsrides said...

yeah, I hear the newer BMWs needed a LAN installed so all the computers could talk to each other as they "helped" the rider with riding conditions and variables.

Dar said...

I heartily agree, some people definitely have every gizmo & gadget. I have very little in the line of gizmos. My other bikes didn't have fuel gauges so I was always cognizant about my range. My new bike has a gauge and gets roughly twice as much range, that being said I still keep an eye on the mileage.

Its just like these new hi-tech helmets with digital display & 'rearview' mirror, frankly there is just too much going on in the riding environment and I think gimmicky stuff just adds to distraction. So I like to keep it simple.

RichardM said...

Well stated! Your absolutely right about there being enough going on without adding more distractions.