Saturday, 12 July 2008

Help Make Motorcycling Better

Being a motorcycle rider usually goes hand-in-hand with having a rather subdued voice when it comes to policy making and how we are treated. But now here is your chance to have your say.

First we have the annual Rider Power survey carried out by Ride magazine and the results should be available in their November issue of the magazine. If you have some time then please fill it out be CLICKING HERE, it should only take 15-20mins.

Second we have the Saferider survey. This may be more important as the results may help inform policy on what aids may become mandatory and/or optional on motorcycles in the future. Basically they want to take the technology that is now appearing in cars (hazard warning, speed warnings, active lights and so on) and apply the technology to motorcycles. OK at the moment that is not very practical, with all the sensors and equipment every motorcycle would end up looking very substantial in size. Yet this is your chance to have your say so CLICK HERE.

Personally, aspects like the hazard warning do not sound practical...imagine trying to filter through traffic? Yet aspects like the warning light for your speed I believe would be useful. You often see signs turned round in the wind...or have just been removed, maybe you are just out touring? Having a little light that lets you know if you are below/on/above the speed limit would be useful. The active lights? Well, my lights already are, they turn with the handlebars. A simple way around this would be small spotlights mounted to the fork legs. Not high-tech, but would make you more visible to oncoming traffic and let you see through bends. The lights would be aimed down at he road so could stay on all the time.

I love technology and enjoy being at the cutting edge when I can afford to do so. But I also enjoy being able to keep my own motorcycle on the road with the help of a service manual. With all the technology that they are proposing to put into motorcycles then the economics of owning a bike start becoming similar to car, with the owner only being able to give the outside a clean. Aids are great for assisting the rider, but at no stage should they be intrusive or take control away from the rider. Motorcycles will always need the rider! Even just to stay upright, to go around bends, to look ahead and know what speed to go into a corner. Cars may be able to react more aggressively thanks to the extra wheels but that is not an option for motorcycles, the technology will have to be much more refined.

Honda plans to have ABS available as an option on each motorcycle over 250cc in their range by 2010. ABS has used for decades in cars (and bikes) but it has taken that much time to refine it to such a degree that it is viable for sportsbikes from next year. To believe that more intrusive technology could be introduced quickly would be a waste of money and would cost lives.

Once again, get to have your say with the Rider Power 2008 & Saferider surveys.

As always, keep the rubber side down.