Where is the motorcycle going?

Automobiles are clearly entering a new phase in a history that goes back more than 100 years. Motorcycles have been a key part of the automobile growth in the century, but they have played catch-up with the cars for most of these 100 years. Due to the limitations in the design, motorcycles have not really caught up with cars in terms of comfort and technology.

This has been slowly changing as demonstrated by the motorcycle concepts displayed at the likes of EICMA and other motorcycle events across the world.

Evolution of motorcycles

There have been vast changes to the car industry with technologies helping them to ride on various kinds of powertrains ranging from electric to fossil fuels. Yet, the motorcycle industry has not witnessed the same kind of evolution with petrol still being the predominant choice for buyers.

Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-in-gray-suit-riding-red-bmw-motorcycle-173484/ (Free Image)

This, however, is slowly changing with a growing awareness of pollution and the environment. Just before the recession that occurred a decade ago, motorcycles were booming and were probably enjoying their best period. However, the recession brought the focus back to small cars that were much more economical than gas-guzzling SUVs. This led to a boom in small-car sales and a subsequent downturn in the motorcycle industry.

One of the hardest hit has been Harley-Davidson. The legendary motorcycle manufacturer has witnessed a downtrend in interest, as more and more millennials move towards small cars as a safe and easy way of commuting.

Keeping in with the trends

Motorcycles have now started trying to meet the requirements of almost every segment. This has led to the availability of motorcycles split into various categories such as sports, commuter, adventure, tourer, and cruiser, among many others. These various categories of motorcycles, though, are designed from the same principles that have been in place for several years. The biggest changes have been coming up in terms of the powertrain and technology that goes into the motorcycle. The trends may first start appearing in various motorsports and there are several motorsport betting tips and predictions expecting these changes.

Technology

Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/attraction-auto-automobile-automotive-207555/ (Free Image)

Some of the basic technology additions in motorcycles have made the machines much more efficient and powerful compared with a few years ago. Elements like all-LED headlamps have even enhanced the safety of riding a motorcycle at night. Yet, these are merely evolutionary technologies and are not in line with the kind of improvements being made by cars. At least, this has been the opinion until now.

Honda has come out with a revolutionary technology that will attempt to make riding safer than ever before. The company recently unveiled a concept motorcycle with self-stabilising technology. It is a feature that would allow the bike to balance itself if the speed goes below 3mph (5km/h).

Once advanced computers sense that the bike is on the verge of losing stability and leaning on either side, the handlebars are separated from the forks and the wheels are swung in the opposite direction. The action takes place rather quickly and it lowers the centre of gravity until the bike is stabilised.

The self-stabilising technology is perhaps the best answer to the autopilot or autonomous driving mechanisms being employed by luxury cars today.

Powertrains

Growth of Hybrid Technology

There has been awareness of the need for alternative powertrains in the motorcycle industry, but their application has not been as profound as in the car industry. Yet, it is possible that hybrid/electric motorcycles will be available in the near future. Giants such as BMW, Honda and KTM have already started focusing on the hybrid segment. Expect this technology to grow immensely in the next few years, as motorcycles start to become even more fuel-efficient.

KTM is seen as the manufacturer who has made significant leaps and bounds in this regard, as the Austrian bike manufacturer is close to producing electric powered off-road motorcycles. BMW Concept Link scooter and Honda’s “E-Rex” are also seen as candidates to kick-start a motorcycle revolution.

Power Delivery

Source: https://www.press.bmwgroup.com/global/article/detail/T0269445EN/bmw-motorrad-launches-the-r-1200-gs-xdrive-hybrid-world-premiere-of-the-first-travel-enduro-featuring-hybrid-all-wheel-drive?language=en
BMW R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid test bike

All-wheel drive is a common concept in the car industry, while motorcycles have always been rear driven. However, this concept is on the verge of making a major shift, as bike manufacturers are increasingly looking at the possibility of all-wheel drive motorcycles taking up a huge chunk of the market share.

BMW R1200GS xDrive Hybrid is one of the examples of motorcycles that have all-wheel drive. Motorcycles are likely to use a small electric motor to power the front wheels while the rear wheels will be continue to be driven as before. Some of the advantages include better grip and drivability in various conditions.

Final Thoughts

The motorcycle industry is certainly on the verge of a revolution and riders may witness changes in almost every facet. However, there’s still some time before we see major changes.

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2 Comments

  1. I’m fine with motorcycles not having electric gadgets on, that just adds unnecessary complication, increase reliability issues, lower it’s life span due to planned obsolescence, and higher costs of ownership, just like new cars.

  2. Those cars are very advanced with their climate control air conditioning. But motorcycles have natural ventilation!
    Those cars are not very advanced with their terribly inefficient use of space and 1.5 tonnes of mass. Motorcycles would never do such a thing!

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