A motorcycles is one of the most efficient transportation devices available, especially in the world’s increasingly crowded cities. Although it uses a gasoline engines, it tends to spew out fewer emissions per mile than any automobile. But beginning motorcycle riders have a problem keeping their machines upright when stopped or at very low speeds.
Once the wheels get turning, they act as gyroscopes to keep the motorcycle upright, thanks to a phenomenon known as precession. It’s the force that keeps tops spinning, enables inertial navigation, and makes it possible for 600 pound Harley Davidsons to motor serenely along while on the superslab, unfazed by frost heaves, wind, or the occasional armadillo carcass.
Motorcycles are attracting lots of first time riders, many of whom are not yet adept at the art of keeping the machine upright at stop lights or moving slowly in traffic. Honda thinks it has the answer for such newcomers — Ride Assist-e. It’s not an electric motorcycle; it’s a motorcycle with an electric assist feature.
The company hasn’t released many details as of yet. A full introduction is scheduled for the Tokyo motor show that kicks off on October 27. This latest offering from Honda features an unusually low ride height for a low center of gravity. The low seat also makes it easier for riders to reach the ground.
The self-balancing mechanism — whatever it is — seems to be packaged at the front of the bike, although the extra heft built in to the single sided swing arm suggests some technological wizardry in that area as well.
A motorcycle needs to lean in order to negotiate turns and curves in the road. Riding a bike that refused to lean would be a very weird and unnerving experience. Not to worry, says Honda. Its Ride Assist-e system only operates at “very low speeds,” which makes sense. Once road speed increases, the rotation of the wheels themselves do all the stabilizing necessary.
The photo of the electronic dashboard shows the bike in “Mode 4.” By lightning like calculation, that suggests the Ride Assist-e system has at least four levels available. Presumably, the rider can select the level of assistance that is most comfortable for his or her riding style and degree of experience. A lean angle indicator also hints at the ability to program the system to the riders tastes.
Will the new Honda with Ride Assist-e be able to stay upright at a dead stop with no rider aboard as long as the engine is running, like Luke Skywalker’s land speeder? We should know more in about a month.
Source: New Atlas