Technology of the Year Winner: BMW Hill Start Control
Introduced on the new 2014 R1200RT and K1600GTL Exclusive is BMW’s latest electronic rider aid, Hill Start Control. HSC is a technology any touring rider who’s struggled with a weighted motorcycle at a graded stop will immediately recognize as beneficial.
To actuate, a rider applies a firm pull on the front brake lever to engage the rear brake, after which the rear brake’s caliper maintains pressure on the disc, holding the bike in place. With the rear brake engaged, a rider can maintain a stable, two-footed stance while manipulating throttle and clutch operation, easing the transition from standstill to forward motion – what BMW refers to as “launch anxiety.” Rear brake pressure automatically releases when power is fed through the clutch.
HSC provides appreciated security during a precarious maneuver on a loaded-up touring bike. The process demands slightly more throttle input than a normal launch requires, but HSC is an innovation that will be difficult to live without after experiencing it.
Honorable Mention: Bluetooth Communication
According to the Bluetooth website, the company shipped its first Bluetooth enabled headset in 2000. A quick search of Motorcycle.com reveals a review of Cardo’s Scala Rider Q2 Bluetooth communicator in 2009. Earlier this year we reviewed Beartek’s Bluetooth enabled riding gloves that provides fingertip control of your Bluetooth devices such as headsets, GoPro cameras, etc. Recently, Sena introduced its Audio Pack for GoPro cameras that connects via Bluetooth to a Sena communicator, allowing you to record audio in conjunction with your video.
It goes without saying that any modern bike with stereo capabilities is Bluetooth enabled. And, as far as helmets are concerned, they’re coming predesigned to accept Bluetooth communication devices. Some helmet manufacturers, such as Schuberth and Shoei, have teamed with a specific Bluetooth communication device manufacturer to offer integrated Bluetooth communication into certain model helmets.
The technology is not just great for communicating with your passenger and other riders in your group, but also for the superior audio quality delivered directly to your ears instead of from onboard audio systems trying to fight through highway-speed wind noise. Syncing a BT device to your smartphone allows easy access to listening to your own music and hearing directional voice commands from a map app or GPS device, as well as sending and receiving phone calls (not highly recommended). Bluetooth technology has changed the landscape of motorcycle communication from pointing to your gas tank to illustrate a need for refueling to whispering the need of a fuel stop directly into your riding buddy’s ear who’s 20 feet away and travelling 80 mph.
Technological failures are inevitable. In which case there’s always this handy (get it) fallback: Motorcycle Hand Signals Graphic Eases Bike-To-Bike Communication.