Hi-tech Iron Man style head-up display motorcycle helmets and aftermarket HUD units will be the next big thing in coming years.
But some riders are not convinced about the technology. Some claim it could be distracting, others say it takes away the simplistic Zen mystique of riding and some fear it may even be illegal.
The makers of the world’s first aftermarket HUD unit, BikeHUD Adventure, have rejected all these criticisms.
Marketing manager Michelle Coupe says HUD will make riders safer, more in touch with their motorcycle and compliant with current laws.
BikeHUD will launch their second version at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan next week and they are currently looking for an Australian distributor.
Ahead of that launch and the impending arrival in Australia, we have reprinted Michelle’s response to criticisms in full:
For those who might find it distracting, clearly each rider needs to make his own mind up. For those who take a view by simply reading an article and passing judgement is a bit like your kids saying they don’t like something without even tasting it! Sorry if that sounds harsh but it is a fact.
You’d be amazed at the number of people who pass this judgement and change their minds when they try it for real. It’s just one of a number of reasons why we’ve changed our business model away from selling on-line to a retailer model. Riders need to try it for themselves.
We have an open guarantee policy – which means basically try the product and if you don’t like it return it for a full money refund. To date we have only ever had one return under this policy – A 26-year-old riding a Suzuki GSX-R600 from Northwich in the UK.
Ultimately the rider needs to ask this question, Which is the most distracting? Taking my eyes off the road ahead to read my GPS? Or speed or read it instantly from the display right by your eye line?
Just to throw some science into this (and you can pull this all off the internet), taking your eye off the road ahead to refocus on information on your dash then back to the road ahead is called “accommodation”. As with all aspects of your vision – accommodation degrades over time. The reference ages are 21 and 60. At 21 accommodation is typically 1 second – at 60 it is 4 seconds. Those are scientific benchmarks.
Now if we do the maths, at 50km/h a bike moves just under 14 metres. At 120km/h it’s 33m.
Simply checking your speed against your speedo is a distraction. Reading a GPS is a damn-sight worse. Why do you think the authorities banned drivers using handheld cell phones in every country in the world? And just what do we all think of the numpties that drive while texting?
Accommodation is based on looking for a single piece of data where you automatically know where to find it. What if you only ride a few hundred klicks a year? Riding a new bike? Or trying to read that GPS? The situation gets a whole lot worse as you not only have to re-focus but you also have to find the data you are looking for!
The whole point of BikeHUD Adventure is that it centralises the data and presents it in a method that limits the data to keep things clear and simple, and displays it with a focus that’s the same point where the rider should be looking – i.e. hundreds of metres in front of the front wheel. All of this, so the rider does not have to look away from the road or break his concentration.
With respect to guys who hate the thought of technology – yup we get that too. Question is, are they riding a pre-2000 bike and read a map instead of a GPS? If they are, and they never break the speed limit or they ride way out in the boonies away from police speed traps then we really do see their point.
How many riders can really tick those boxes though?
The fact is BikeHUD Adventure is designed to dumb down the tech. LCD screens and digital dashes can be difficult to see in bright sunlight and difficult to read with 40+-year-old eyesight.
On top of, that globally our legislation is changing. As you know in Australia – the police will book you if you are 5km/h over the speed limit – same in NZ on a holiday.
Just today, Bedfordshire Police, here in the UK have announced that they intend to increase use of speeding cameras to raise revenue with rumours of just 1mph over the speed limit.
How many GSX-R1000, Hayabusa or BMW R 1200 GS riders can honestly – I mean honestly — say they can judge their speed to be within those limits? I know I cannot!
With regards to the legality of the technology, there are no rules or regulations controlling HUD technology in the world, anywhere! The tech is too new to have any rules or guidelines created for it.
Specific to Australia, there is a law that limits protrusions greater than 5cm from your helmet surface. The CPU to BikeHUD fixes to the outside similar to the controls of your Bluetooth headset. It’s no bigger and potentially smaller than some of those. If your BikeHUD is illegal, then your headset is, too.
Just like your sound system, BikeHUD is an accessory so does not have any homologation rules to adhere to. If you question BikeHUD’s legality in fitting of an accessory to your helmet then you must also question the use of Bluetooth headsets, mikes, pin locks, camera’s that are not fitted to the helmet when purchased.
Every country has rules (statutes) regarding the design and use of vehicles on the highway. Australia has them. So does NZ, The EU, US Canada and so on. These rules cover things like the use of radios cell phones etc.
The BikeHUD display is specifically limited to information about the bike’s condition such as engine revs, gear, indicators and the bike’s environment: temperature, rear vision, proximity of adjacent vehicles and the bike’s position, direction and GPS location.
It complies with the same kind of legislation that governs the use of TVs and monitors inside cars and trucks.
The other potential issue is visibility. In this case BikeHUD must be worn correctly – greater than 7 degrees below your line of sight. Worn this way BikeHUD does not break the law.