Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Motorbike technology: Pretty much anything can be bolted on.

Technology in motorbikes is not so much going ahead in leaps and bounds as completely running amok. It took ages for fuel injection to find its way onto two wheels, helped by the fact that it's insanely difficult to get injection to work on a two-stroke, and it took ABS even longer. But all of a sudden you can get ABS on budget bikes (Suzuki even lifted the ABS system on the Bandit from a fucking scooter, ferchrissakes) and now racing is working the kinks out of traction control.

And the cool part, the really cool part is that so much is available aftermarket, so that even if you can't afford a new BMW you can still slowly add the rest of it (not linkage forks, that would take some serious modding) as the budget allows. Including all sorts of luggage at way lower prices than Genuine and heated hand grips.

And now you can plug in traction control (story courtesy Hell For Leather Magazine). Now, I am of the opinion that if you need ABS you need to learn to a.) brake properly and b.) ride with more awareness and paranoia, and if you need traction control on the road you need to a.) learn to ride properly and b.) trade in for a more useful bike. But, to give them their due, Bazzazz Performance (I don't want to know where that name came from, I really don't) are selling this as race-track only. Yeah, right. This one works on limiting rev increases in each gear, avoiding the need for wheel sensors, so it's a pretty cool example of lateral thinking as well.

My absolute all-time favourite add-on, however, is a set of replacement tyre valves that not only have a right-angle bend in them (so that you can actually get at them with service station air hoses) but which are wireless temperature and pressure sensors. The unit which bolts onto your handlebars will tell you data for both tyres, flash warning lights at you if either one drops below preset limits, flash warning lights at you if the temperature drops below 3 degrees (very European thing this - warns you of potential ice on the road) and, because they're temperature sensors as well, tell sportsbike riders when their tyres are actually working properly! All this for less than $400, the batteries in the valves last for 3 years and I'd give you the website of particular brand I prefer if they had a decent presence on Google.

Question: At what point does adding on aftermarket extras leave you with a.) not enough space around the engine for proper cooling and b.) start to weigh so much that it slows you down?

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