Car Tech Makes Riding Safer

The people at Nationwide Insurance are celebrating some cool new tech thingies that not only make the roads safer for cars, but for bikers as well.

Blind Spot Warning Systems. The system identifies vehicles in blind spots. A warning light, sound, or vibration is activated if a lane change is attempted when a vehicle is present in a driver’s blind spot. The system is valuable to riders, who are often “hidden” in the blind spots of other vehicles, particularly large SUVs or trucks.

Lane Departure Warning Systems. The lane departure warning system activates if a vehicle has inadvertently drifted out of its lane. As with blind spot warning systems, a light, sound, or vibration is employed to warn drivers and prevent them from wandering over the lane line. The lane departure warning system protects riders from inattentive drivers, particularly those who drift lanes while talking on cell phones.

Forward Collision Warning Systems. The system monitors the distance between vehicles. If a driver is too closely following another vehicle, the system activates and, with a light or sound, warns the driver of a potential collision. The forward collision warning system helps prevent rear-end collisions, protecting riders from motorists who have turned their attention from the road to a distraction, like texting.

Adaptive Headlights/Night-Vision Assist. A variety of night-vision technologies are available, including infrared headlamps and thermal-imaging cameras. Each allows the driver greater recognition of objects, such as animals, people – even motorcycles and scooters – that are obscured by darkness. Adaptive headlights bend the light around corners, compensate for ambient light, and may also be speed sensitive. Each of these developments makes it easier for drivers to spot riders in the dark.

Notice what all these technologies have in common?  They are high-tech ways of telling morons that they’re being morons.  “Hey, Moron, you’re changing lanes!”  “Look in your blind spot, Dillweed!”  “Are you gonna crawl up the ass of the car in front of you, or what?”  I’m not sure that bells and lights are enough, though.  Maybe they should have some sort of deal embedded in the headrest that gives you a nasty rabbit punch to grab the moron’s attention.

I guess a lot of the danger arises from where you happen to live.  As it turns out, here in San Diego, even the inattentive drivers aren’t all that bad.  Now, I didn’t used to think that.  In fact, when Chris got on the back of the bike for the first time, she was swearing like a sailor at the driving habits of cagers by the time we were finished.

But, I spent this Thanksgiving holiday up in Los Angeles, at her folks’ place.  We were in her Vibe–not on a bike–and even then, the sheer amount of stupidity and blatant assholery on display from other drivers was simply astounding.

If I had to ride up there on a daily basis, I think it’d take about a week before I went the full  Michael Douglas Falling Down route, and just started chasing cagers to their destination so I could gun them down in the street like dogs.

Of course, a lot of the stuff I saw was intentional assholery, so no amount of gadgetry will help that.  But, for the marginal driver, I guess  anything that helps them, however gently, to realize they’re being stupid is a help.

Aprilia Auto-Pilot

Well, OK, not really auto-pilot, but Aprilia is putting out a bike with an automatic transmission–or, rather, a Continuously-Variable Transmission (CVT).

Aprilia Mana 850

The Aprilia Mana 850 does have a manual setting so you can shift with either the foot, or with hand controls, a la the FJR AE model.  This model now joins the Honda DN-01 as a CVT-trannied bike.

Honda DN-01

Compared to the clean, naked-bike look of the Aprilia, the Honda’s Shark nosed look is an epic fail in my view.

What probably isn’t a fail is the use of the CVT in these new bikes.  I never really liked the idea of an old-style automatic transmission in a motorcycle.  It’s been possible to have an automatic transmission in a motorcycle for years.  A couple of manufacturers have even done it.  Nobody else liked it much either though, because there’s alway that fear that something awful will happen, like the tran ny deciding to downshift as you roll on the throttle in a curve, causing the back wheel to loose traction, spin you out, and leave your bike, and you, crumpled into an unsightly mess.

The CVT avoinds that, because there is no “shifting”.  The transmission just smoothly changed ratios without any noticeable gear changes.  It’s just smooth power delivery at all speeds.

This is good for some people.  My chick really can’t ride a standard motorcycle any more, because she doesn’t have the hand strength to clutch a standard bike.  And for newer riders, coupling a CVT with a lower-powered bike might make for decent commuter sales, which I think is what the manufacturers are shooting for.

Stop Riding Immediately?

Hmmm. I find this troubling:

A new study revealed that men who ride motorcycles are at risk of impotence and urinary problems, possibly because the vibration of the engine damages nerves in their penises.

The study by doctors in Japan was published in the International Journal of Impotence Research.

It found that out of 234 motorcyclists who rode about three hours every weekend, 69 percent reported mild to severe erectile dysfunction.

I’m not gonna say these scientists are full of it, but, well, if this was the case–I mean, seven out of ten motorcyclists with limp noodles–you’d’ve thought there’d be more, you know, talk about it.

I’m not going to go into any detail about the state of my rod, but I haven’t seen any…changes.

I dunno.  Something doesn’t sound right about this.

The New K1300GT

The Boys of Bayern have upgraded their premier sport-tourer.  The New K1300GT is on the way.

2009 BMW K1300GT

When you absolutely, positively have to spend $21,000 on a motorcycle  BMW has just the bike for you.

Of course, it has every conceivable farkle, and the new 1293cc powerplant puts out 160HP. At the crank, of course.

It makes me wish I had money to burn.

Harley-Davidson XR1200 Coming Soon

Today, I got a nice email from Kelly Yahr at Harley-Davidson.  Wanting me to talk about the upcoming US debut of the Sportster XR1200 in December.

HD 1200R
HD XR1200 - Static

It looks like Harley is going back to the Sportster’s flat-track roots with this one.  The Europeans have had a chance to play around with this model for about 8 months now, but no one on this side of the pond has gotten a chance to see it yet.

I also notice that the promo material for the bike looks a bit different.  No…uh…older gentlemen tooling around at cruising speed, perhaps with a girl, both of them wearing half-helmets.  Instead, they seem to be going for a sense of speed and motion.

HD 1200R In Motion
HD XR1200 In Motion

And with a full-face helmet, yet.

Maybe this will help the MoCo “youthen” their image a little bit.  God knows they need to.  The average HD guy is, what, 55 or something now?  If the MoCo wants to stay in this game, they are gonna need to branch out a little bit, and capture some younger riders.

They make the most beautiful cruisers in the world, but they need something more to attract a new generation of riders, who are used to a bit more in the performance and handling categories than Harley is giving them.

Maybe this new Sporty is a step in that direction.  They’ve cranked up the V-Twin EVO to 90HP–a big increase from the 70HP on my Sporty.  Dropped in Nissin dual disks on the front end of that sucker, too.  Heck, it’ll probably do stoppies now, if you want to.

The MoCo got Scott Parker and Rich King, along with Euro GP racer Adrien Morillas in to help them design the thing, so presumably it’s got a bit of the ol’ flat-track spirit in her. As it is, this is the closest thing to a Sportbike that HArley has made in a long while.

I did get a bit of a start when I saw the static pic, and noticed the big square thing forward of the engine.  Surely, I though, that isn’t a…radiator!  And, so I had to go to a European bike web site, just to reassure myself that it is, indeed, still an air-cooled engine.

But, dang me if that don’t look like a radiator.

Motorcycle.Com had a pretty good review of the XR several months ago.  They seemed to like it pretty well.  But in looking over the European sites for more info on the bike, I ran across this review, which stated:

Basically, perhaps rattling basically, the Harley-Davidson XR1200R is a beatific bike. Dynamically the XR1200R performs and handles meliorate than some Harley before. It’s speed (if not just fast), recreation to intercommunicate around and looks good, too.

Well.  I don’t think I can really add anything to that.

I’m Not Dead

I’m still here.  Still loving motorcycles.  Still wanting to write about them.

My problem, however, has been time.  Since May, I’ve been crammming to finish my Master’s degree, and keep my web development business going.  The master’s degree was the tough one.  Since May, I’ve had to take the CMBA exam, and complete my master’s thesis/project, and do the oral defense for it.

It was pretty hairy, and I had to put in a lot of hours.

And finally, in preparation to begin again, I had to switch over from a Blogger account and put the blog on my own web site, where I have more control over the look and feel.  I think this blog is a LOT better-looking.

But, I’m done!  And that means I can go back to writing about motorcycles.

And there’s a lot to write about…