Nowadays it seems like cars are one step away from being full blown robots. With self-driving vehicles on the horizon and projector headlights making a creative stamp on the automotive blueprint, it’s hard to keep up with the innovation around us.
There was once a time when cruise control was considered the most revolutionary function in a car. This year, it’s making its official debut for the first time in motorcycles, after decades of use in the majority of vehicles on the market.
Thanks to Ducati and BMW, by spring of next year riders will have the opportunity to purchase a bike with smart cruise control. Here is a sneak peek of how this capability functions:
Why did it take 25 years to come to fruition? It’s almost impossible to believe that something as standardized as cruise control hasn’t become a regular feature on every motorized vehicle. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at what to expect from the Ducati and BMW’s adaptive cruise control release, including the reasons why this innovation took longer than planned to arrive.
Starting the trend for smart cruise control
Last summer, BMW Motorrad announced its decision to introduce Active Cruise Control (ACC) on future motorbikes. Although a bit different from traditional cruise control, this adaptive feature will adjust cruising speed when another vehicle is detected in front of your bike. With the intention of giving riders less stress while on the open road, it is a feature that BMW hopes all riders will enjoy. The first bike to hit the market will be R1250RT, with more releases to follow in the future.
Ducati announced in October that its 2021 V4 S model will incorporate adaptive cruise control for riders. This Audi-owned company sees this new technology as a part of their progressive safety strategy. While the innovation is impressive, it might take some time for riders to get used to, especially if they cherish the feeling of being in control at all times.
Is smart cruise control for motorcycles worth the wait?
Smart cruise control technology hasn’t come easy for a number of factors. For one, the narrow handlebars didn’t make it adaptable for extra hardware. Part of the magnetism behind motorcycle riding is the streamlined feel, just you and the ride embracing the great outdoors. With the added hardware for cruise control, it brought on a set of challenges for engineers and motorcycle designers who tried to maintain the balance and aesthetic of a true chopper.
Safety played a factor too. Unlike vehicles, a motorcycle openly exposes its riders to the road without the security of a seatbelt. The quick cruise control switches could ultimately put the rider off balance and increase the risk of accident when the bike speeds up or slows down as it adjusts to adjoining traffic.
The core of riding a motorcycle comes down to being in control. While active cruise control might seem amazing to some riders, it could be a major turn-off for old school motorheads who expect full control of their machine. Favoring riding a motorcycle to being behind the wheel of a car takes precedence for a good portion of club riders. The motorcycle gives riders the freedom, so why give up the control?
Not the answer for safety but a step in the right direction
Smart cruise control is just the first step in what’s to come for motorcycle innovation. While drivers already enjoy the ease of automatic braking, this new technology is nowhere close to that level of advancement and safety. This should remind riders that adaptive control systems are merely an enhancement to the riders’ experience, not the answer to motorcyclist safety.
Motorcycles are more vulnerable to accidents and the III’s statistics on motorcycle crashes will frighten any rider into wearing a helmet more often. In due time, I’m sure we’ll see more motorcycle companies taking the leap towards adaptive cruise control and similar automotive novelties with the ultimate intention of improving the safety of motorcyclists worldwide.
Come spring time, motorcycles will be testing out smart cruise control
Ducati and BMW are introducing us to a new way to ride. Will every rider embrace it? Probably not. But I think most American motorcyclists can agree that adding these adaptive technologies will open the door for better safety. Come spring, we will start to see how motorheads react to this technological advancement. But until then, we’ll look at the upcoming switch in gears as an introduction to a more stress free way of riding.