The complaint of car drivers being distracted is common, yet with new technology being introduced to motorbikes, it raises the question of whether riders could become distracted as well. Recent examples include the Kymco AK550 maxi-scooter, which features a screen that can display Facebook updates. Another example is the Honda Gold Wing being the first motorbike to have Apple’s CarPlay feature.
Developers have added this technology with safety in mind. Kymco owners can select and deselect functions in order to lower the chances of being distracted. The Gold Wing’s CarPlay function is designed to make it safer and easier to use an iPhone with a vehicle. The built-in display allows you to listen to music and send and receive messages. Apple made sure the Gold Wing had safeguards, such as a rider needing to plug their iPhone into a USB port in the tank storage space. In addition, the Gold Wing’s LCD screen doesn’t have touch functionality. Riders are required to use controls on a panel on the tank console, or a four-way control on the left handlebar.
Apple are confident this system is safer than messing around with a phone. However, it could be argued that any kind of entertainment technology is a distraction. There’s a risk of someone paying more attention to a display screen than what’s on the road. The increase of new technology is likely to attract younger riders and this may lead to them being less safety conscious.
BMW have also taken steps to creating safety-conscious technology. Their new concept Motorrad Vision Next 100 incorporates a self-balancing system that’s meant to protect riders from any accident. The system keeps the machine upright by automatically adjusting banking angles, while a set of ‘smart glasses’ scan for oncoming hazards. When riders use the handlebars, the entire frame will be moved and the stablisation system ensures it won’t fall over.
The Vision Next 100 is only a concept at this stage, but it represents BMW’s prediction for the future of motorbikes. While the idea of a self-balancing motorcycle is exciting, only time will tell if it can make a difference in rider safety.
Motorcyclists pride themselves on being highly aware of road conditions and adapting to different situations. Many riders take steps to ‘upskill’ and protect themselves from injury. But with new technology outpacing legislation, it’s possible the industry will have to rely on its own safety restraints.
Ultimately, a rider makes their own choice on whether they want to include new technology with their motorbike.
Do you think new technology can increase rider safety or will it lead to distraction?