Honda plans self-balancing motorbike

Honda's self-balancing motorcycle - short

It seems self-balancing motorcycles that can’t fall over are coming with Honda now the third company to unveil a working prototype.

BMW Motorrad unveiled its self-balancing Vision 100 Next “crashproof” bike at the Cologne Intermot show in October. They did not reveal how it works, but this video shows it in action.

It was shortly followed by Thrustcycle’s electric-powered GyroCycle employing a full-time gyroscope. Here it is in action.

Honda’s self-balancing bike doesn’t use gyroscopes like the Thrustcycle or a Segway.

Instead, they use their own 2012 Uni-Cub technology employed in their personal mobility devices.

Honda Honda's self-balancing uni-cub
Uni-cub

When the Honda transforms from regular riding mode to balance mode, the forks extend the front tyre away from the rest of the bike.

They call it Riding Assist technology and it not only balances the bike, but like the Yamaha Motobot, it will also drive itself without a rider.

Yamaha Motobot, a robot that rides a motorcycle tests self balancing
Yamaha Motobot, a robot that rides a motorcycle

None of these prototypes is yet scheduled for production, but it is looking increasingly likely that they eventually will.

Many riders have questioned why you need a self-balancing bike or a robot bike that rides itself.

It certainly seems to take  much of the fun and talent out of riding.

However, the technology will open up riding to a lot of people who wouldn’t normally try it for fear of crashing.

And with the big swing on to automated self-driving cars and trucks, there may be a market for two-wheeled self-riding taxis and courier services.

Meanwhile, we’ll stick with balancing and riding our own bikes, thank you Mr Honda.

UPDATE: The Honda Riding Assist motorcycle won three awards at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas: Best Innovation, Best Automotive Technology and Popular Mechanics’ Editors’ Choice Award.

11 Comments

  1. The thought of this specific motor cycle is quite special and I also realize there are lots of motorcyclists which can be looking forward to some sort of the best online motor cycle like this.

  2. With self driving autonomous vehicles (cars) very likely to become commercially viable within the next couple of years the future of motorcycling was looking dim indeed, however with self balancing crash proof motorcycles we will perhaps be allowed to continue enjoying our sport & freedom into the future – though unfortunately not as we currently experience it?

  3. Look at the Hondas doing their balancing. Ok, we see the front wheel move but look at the handlebars, they are not moving. There is a bit more going on than meets the eye.

  4. The Honda adjustable rake could be interesting with self-levelling headlights. Rake it out for the highway, steepen it up for the twisty bits.

  5. I admit I don’t get it either but the simple fact that two of the giants of the motorcycling world are investing (probably) billions between them in research means they must have a commercially viable product(s) in view. It could well be though that product doesn’t look like a motorbike and the bikes are just the test-beds for the research.

    I think whatever they are working towards could look like a Nissan Land Glider – a narrow, covered and 4 wheeled leaning vehicle rather than a traditional motorbike.

  6. If you wouldn’t normally ride a motorcycle, because you have a fear of crashing, you shouldn’t be riding. Self balancing bike or not. I don’t need a gyroscope to keep me upright, my brain and balance do that. If you’re balance is that affected. Don’t ride. This just seems a way to dull the sensations of riding a bike.

    1. My 65 year old mother would love to ride again. For the feeling and exhilaration of riding on two wheels, leaning over into a corner, being closer to the elements – the stuff you can’t get as a cager (motorist in a steel box). She has admitted that she suffered lapses of concentration when she used to ride, and dropped her last bike several times at traffic lights. That’s why she gave up riding.
      A self balancing and rider-assist motorcycle sounds perfect for her, don’t you think?

      1. Nope. Most certainly not. “lapses of concentration” = danger to others, not just herself. “dropped several times at traffic lights” – if you can’t even balance and hold it up with 2 feet on the ground. Stop. I wouldn’t even recommend one of those spyders, she shouldn’t be on anything like a motorcycle or scooter that requires concentration and the ability to physically man handle the full weight of her machine. She should be glad for the experiences, but now, in her current condition it sounds like her riding days are over. I’d strongly suggest a driving test review too, if only for the “lapses in concentration”.

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