Technology of the Year Winner: Motorcycle Tuning Apps

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It used to be commonplace to expect to see technology seen in Grand Prix racing bikes and/or World Superbikes trickle down to road-going production models within a decade’s time. Now, with OEMs like Yamaha, Aprilia, BMW and Ducati all having some way to view or alter bike parameters from a cell phone or tablet app, we’re seeing racing tech fast-track its way onto the bikes mere mortals like us can purchase, in less than half that time. Maybe the coolest part of this technological tour-de-force is the capabilities the manufacturers place in our hands, allowing changes to be made almost instantly, all from a few button or touchscreen presses.

2015 Yamaha YZF-R1/YZF-R1M First Ride Review + Video

We won’t get into all the technical details the different manufacturers offer in their apps, but instead we’ll highlight two features we think are changing the game: Aprilia’s traction control and Yamaha’s Y-TRAC app. What makes Aprilia’s traction control so unique, even among the advanced field of modern day sportbikes, is the user’s ability to adjust TC and wheelie control settings depending on where you are on a racetrack. The app uses your phone’s GPS to pinpoint where you are, and what turn is coming next. Then, it can dial more or less TC and/or WC based on your input. That’s just one of the many capabilities of Aprilia’s V4-MP.

2016 Aprilia RSV4 First Ride Review + Video

On the Yamaha side, its R1M also features a GPS unit, which tracks where you are and where you’ve been on track. The rider then has the ability to download their ride data through the Y-TRAC app, which overlays this info on top of a track map, allowing the rider to see which of the many rider aids they activated, the duration of activation and where it occurred, among many other things. From there, the rider has the ability to press some buttons on the app, change any number of parameters, and those changes can then be uploaded back to the bike, ready to try during your next session. It almost signals an end to finding the right wrench and dealing with the potential for bloody knuckles. Almost.

Honorable Mention: Auto-Blipping Downshifters

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When you’re trying to hustle as quickly as you can around a racetrack, the last thing you want is to botch a downshift and ruin your lap time. It’s easily done, too, considering the fine balancing act required to pull the clutch, bang a downshift (or two… or three), throttle blip and release the clutch again while disrupting the rear tire as little as possible. That’s why we’re thrilled Ducati and BMW have introduced auto-blipping downshifters to their flagship sportbikes, eliminating the need to use the clutch or time a perfectly matched twist of the right grip.

2015 Ducati 1299 Panigale First Ride Review + Video

Now all one has to do when slowing for a corner is simply push (or pull, depending on your shift pattern) the shift lever for a downshift and the 1299 Panigale or S1000RR will do the rest, including execute a perfect rev match, every time. By now we’re used to bikes with quickshifters for rowing up through the gears without using the clutch (or momentary rolling off the throttle), and we’re glad to see that gear changes in the other direction are becoming equally as simple as well.

Motorcycle.com Best of 2015 Categories

  • JMDGT

    Who says new technologies ruin motorcycles. Not me. These innovations are great. It will only get better.

    • Ziggy

      Yep.
      I’ve been riding for 45 years & have just changed to a bike with Bosch ESC. Absolutely sensational.
      It doesn’t remove the need for judgment. It does help you get the most out of a road.

  • michael jackson

    What happened when you just put on the choke and did the kick start and the only music was the engine rumble and the wind. The you oiled the chain. Well old school is me. The only blue tooth was from blue berry pie,

  • Danny DiNardo

    The Y-TRAC app is an excellent tool and available for the iPad now. It’s very easy to setup and use. I predict the technology will soon become something you can’t live without on the track.

    It does present a dilemma for street riding. I can see where the logs might easily be used against you in court. You might want to consider leaving the datalogging off for street riding 😉

  • EdinMiami

    My vote would be for lean-sensitive ABS. This innovation is a potential life-saver.

    • Kevin Duke

      We love the concept, too, which was considered for this award. However, we have yet to adequately evaluate the systems – we haven’t had the gumption to grab a mittful of brakes mid-corner, so the benefit is thus far believable but hypothetical.

      • Walter

        Well, once you grow a pair and try lean sensitive ABS & TC you can change your choice lol

      • Stuki

        I did, on an 1190 Adv, and it works. Dry pavement with good runoff and full leathers, though, so not entirely indicative of what the tech promises. Still a bit like pulling the trigger in Russian Roulette. Glad it’s over and I’m OK…..

        Even non gyroed abs systems have gotten so fast at responding now, that they do a decent impersonation of lean sensitive. THAT I tested a bit more realistically, on a ride back down The Snake, on account of some leaves in the road and a tight bunch of blond lycra coming the other way…..

    • halfnelson_73

      That was my first thought also when I read the category.

  • John B.

    Technological innovation is everywhere in motorcycling. I am sure this was a difficult decision. Anyone have thoughts about the best non-technical innovation in motorcycling for 2015? Have we reached the point where all innovation is technical innovation?

    • Ducati Kid

      JB,

      GREAT Question!

      Answer?

      An entry level, lightweight motorcycle that includes AM (Automatic-Manual) Clutch-Gearbox operation, C-ABS, Day and Night Illumination with Multiple Terrain ESC.

      Recall, CONTROL permits Motorcycle SAFETY no matter conditions or talent.

      This for ALL Global motorcycling aspirants – at an affordable price!

  • DickRuble

    They should combine the aprilia app with the downshifting technology and some automatic shifting based on position on the racetrack and all you’ll have to do would be to climb aboard and hang on tight while the motorcycle does the rest.