Technology of the Year Winner: Motorcycle Tuning Apps
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.
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.
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
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.
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.