When you’re moving at high speeds, balancing a bike doesn’t usually pose much of a problem. Unfortunately, when you slow down and lose momentum, gravity tends to become a little more insistent, particularly when you’re riding a heavy motorcycle.
Perhaps it’s that wobble while crawling around a corner. Or that moment of instability pulling up to or away from a red light. If you’re a rider—especially if you’re a novice or if your motorcycle is just a bit too tall or heavy for you—you’ve had those unnerving flashes of instability at low speed that can tip you over, bruising your body and your ego, not to mention your ride.
At CES 2017, Honda is trying to defy our cruel mistress gravity with its new Ride Assist technology which will keep your bike upright even when it’s stationary.
In fact, Honda’s new technology will keep your stationary bike upright even when you’re not on it.
Rather than use gyroscopes for balance, which can add unwanted weight to a vehicle, Honda’s Ride Assist is based on and adapted from technology the company is already using in its ASIMO robot and UNI-MO self-balancing scooter.
So, when the Honda motorcycle is moving less than three miles per hour, or is standing completely still, it’s able to enter ‘balance mode’ which sees the bike’s metal forks extend the front wheel away from the main body of the vehicle to provide greater stability.
To an experienced rider, it may seem unnecessary to have something like this on a bike. But inexperienced riders crash so often, it’s easy to see the value of a technology like this. And who knows? If you ever find yourself trying to get a 900-lb Goldwing back on its wheels, you might be wishing for Honda Ride Assist.
“This would be for those who want to relax a little bit and not stress out about falling over, if they’re older or a little shorter in stature or the bike is heavier,” explained Honda’s Lee Edmunds during a demonstration. “This takes away that anxiety.”
Although the motorbike is still in the prototype stage, Honda says it has the potential to cut road deaths and improve riding experience.
There’s no word yet on when, or even if, we’ll see this Ride Assist technology rolled out to Honda’s motorcycles en-masse. But it’s certainly a useful development and an interesting example of how the company’s research and development projects can be applied across its products.