Due to the fact that motorcycles lack the physical protection that most other vehicles have – like windows, doors and roofs – it’s natural to assume that bikes are a little more dangerous than cars. However, a recent analysis by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that there were less deaths caused by motorcycles last year than there were in the previous year – which means that motorcycle fatalities are decreasing. This could be a result of better driving, or perhaps of new safety features that are increasingly being added to bikes. Take a look at some of the latest safety features available in today’s motorcycles.
An Attempt at Airbags
Anyone enrolled in a mechanic college knows that most motorized vehicles – like cars and trucks – are required to have functioning airbags at all times. However, this is not the case with motorcycles – though auto retailer, Honda, did create a bike featuring an airbag system back in 2006 called the Honda Gold Wing. Because a motorcycle driver is almost fully exposed on his or her bike, there is no real way that an airbag can protect against anything other than a head-on collision – and even at that, full protection is a stretch.
Some companies – like Japanese manufacturer RS Taichi – have created jackets and full suits that feature airbags. Those pursuing auto careers understand that there are several methods of use for these types of airbags. The suit (or jacket) can either be physically attached to the bike in some way, or it can be wirelessly connected. When the physical connection between the bike and the suit is broken the airbag will deploy, protecting the driver’s neck. A recent bike to hit the market, the Ducati Multistrada D-Air, uses wireless technology to connect the bike and airbag. This particular bike is equipped with a jacket that wirelessly senses the movements of the bike so that the airbag will deploy in 45 milliseconds once an accident is detected.
Anti-lock Braking Systems
Experts with auto technician training can confirm that anti-lock braking systems (ABS) have long been an effective way of preventing cars and trucks from skidding. So, it should not come as a surprise that this technology was also reinvented, by a company named Bosch, to fit motorcycles. Research has shown that adding ABS to motorcycles can actually reduce the rate of fatal motorcycle accidents by approximately 31 per cent.
The Safe Road King
Harley-Davidson – a major name in the motorcycle industry – launched its Road King model a few years back. The retailer took safety into consideration when this particular bike was being developed and an anti-lock braking system was added in the process. Linked to the ABS is Harley-Davidson’s Reflex Linked Brakes – a system that regulates how much brake power is sent to each wheel.
Light it Up
Motorcycles are able to decelerate at a much quicker pace than any car or truck would, and sometimes a motorcycle driver doesn’t even need to touch his or her brakes to slow down. Anyone with any driving experience at all knows that when the brake lights on a car are illuminated, it means that the car is slowing down – and the same goes for motorcycles (when the brakes are actually used). It does not take an automotive professional to see how this can cause a serious problem for those driving behind motorcycles and it also puts motorcycle drivers in danger.
A start-up company in San Diego is currently trying to get its product, Vololights, on the market. These are lights that will automatically light up when a motorcycle begins to slow down. The best part is that these will illuminate even if the motorcycle driver is not touching the brakes.
Which of these new safety features do you think is most useful for motorcycles?