Ask most motorcyclists about what role Bosch plays in our sport, and they’ll tell you that Bosch produces ABS technology and has been part of the recent trend towards expanding the technology into safety features like cornering ABS. All of this is true, but Bosch has its hands in so many areas of motorcycle technology that it would be hard to find one that the company is not currently developing. Last year, Bosch invited Kevin Duke and Tom Roderick to learn about how Bosch sees the future of technology-based motorcycle safety strategies and to sample cornering ABS in a controlled environment. Now, more than six months later we had an opportunity to sit down with Geoff Liersch, Head of the Bosch Two-Wheeler and Powersports business unit, to discuss what to expect from Bosch in the next few years.

MO Tested: Cornering ABS

Technological Strategies To Motorcycle Safety

Smartphone Integration

Both BMW and KTM will utilize Bosch instrumentation for 2017. Since the features will require more use of the screen, Bosch updated the manufacturing process for the TFT. Previously, the LCD and the glass of the screen were separate pieces. Now, the LCD is bonded directly to the glass. This has two benefits. First, it improves usability by reducing reflections. Second, the life of the unit is increased. Previously, the slight air gap between the LCD and the glass acted as an insulator, trapping heat similar to how a greenhouse captures the heat of the sun. According to Liersch, there are no functional negatives to this change besides the increase in manufacturing cost.

BMW Announces Intelligent Emergency Call System For Motorcycles

First seen on BMW motorcycles, the Bosch TFT display makes the move to KTM’s 2017 models. Both platforms will utilize Bosch’s mySPIN modular smartphone integration system. After connecting their phone to mySPIN on a motorcycle, the bike’s display can be used to access phone functions. These apps can be accessed by both the touch screen and the handlebar controls. The flexibility of mySPIN allows each manufacturer to specify which apps have access to the motorcycle’s systems through the use of an updatable, expandable whitelist of apps. “mySPIN for two-wheelers enables riders to bring their smartphone content to the motorcycle. It also provides all vehicle manufacturers with an open platform featuring an extensive range of options,” said Liersch.

The mySPIN experience connects the computing and communication power of the smartphone to the motorcycle.

The mySPIN experience connects the computing and communication power of the smartphone to the motorcycle.

As an example of how this would integrate into the riding experience, the mySPIN app would notice, through the bike’s CAN bus connection, that the fuel level is getting low and alert the rider to nearby gas stations. Integration with the rider’s address book would allow the rider to ignore non-essential phone calls and continue to focus on the ride by simply glancing at the name on the touch screen when the phone rings. Bosch has already announced a partnership with both the REVER and Genius Maps apps, both of which offer motorcycle-specific tracking and analytics in their apps.

If having your bike route you to the nearest gas station when you’re low on fuel isn’t cool enough, how about having it warn you about an unmarked low-speed corner just ahead?

If having your bike route you to the nearest gas station when you’re low on fuel isn’t cool enough, how about having it warn you about an unmarked low-speed corner just ahead?

In the future the Connectivity Control Unit (CCU), which BMW is using in its emergency calling system, will allow riders with different brands of Bluetooth communicators to talk using the CCU as an intermediary. Additionally, the system will communicate with other bikes via built-in wifi which has a longer reach than Bluetooth currently has.

ABS Technology

While ABS in various forms has been available in the high-end market for a while, it has gradually been working its way into lower-end machinery. For example, the displacement threshold for ABS is dropping as the technology advances. In the EU, all newly registered motorcycles with a displacement greater than 125cc from 2017 onward must utilize ABS, and the rest of the world isn’t far behind. In 2018, Japan and India will follow with Taiwan joining in 2019. Almost 90% of all motorcycles are produced in Asia and a large percentage of those are small displacement bikes destined for those domestic markets. That kind of production volume will drive the price of the technology down and speed its acceptance in other markets.

ABS’ downward march to a size that can easily be incorporated into small displacement motorcycles.

ABS’ downward march to a size that can easily be incorporated into small displacement motorcycles.

For example, the Bosch ABS 10 unit was announced at EICMA 2015. Last year, at EICMA 2016, the first production motorcycles utilizing the ABS 10 were unveiled. Available in the United States market in Spring 2017, the Kawasaki Versys-X 300 ABS will contain the unit, and in 2018, the Suzuki GSX-S125 ABS will also feature the system. The ABS 10 is 30% lighter and and 45% smaller than the previous generation ABS 9. Additionally, ABS 10 carries a lower cost for this price-sensitive market segment.

2017 Kawasaki Versys-X 300 Preview

Bosch produces the ABS 10 in both single- and dual-channel units that the OEM can choose from for various applications. According to Liersch, riders in different countries use their brakes in different ways. For example, Indian riders use the rear brake almost exclusively because of the poor surface of many roads. Unfortunately, that combination of road surface and braking technique leads to long stopping distances and many accidents. By fitting a single-channel ABS unit to the front brake, riders will be able to gain confidence in its capabilities while still using the rear brake in the way they are accustomed.

ABS is in your new bike future, whether you like it or not. The good news is that the units are getting better, smaller, and cheaper.

ABS is in your new bike future, whether you like it or not. The good news is that the units are getting better, smaller, and cheaper.

Another area in which Bosch has positioned itself in relation to a government requirement is engine management systems. In 2019–2020, the Indian government will require that all motorcycles have an engine management system for emissions control. Said Liersch, “The OEMS themselves, once they come to a stage where they’ve got a 100% fitment rate in one market, it’s actually easier for them to offer it in another market from a cost perspective. In 2020, 2021, 2022, we’ll see a natural flow into other markets.” While the engine management system is required from an emissions perspective, they will actually drive the inclusion of other technologies, like traction control or ride modes, as a means of differentiating between models. If this does happen, the scale of these markets may drop the price of these units to the point that we see these technologies in smaller, more price-point models here in the US.

The Road Ahead

With Bosch units managing both the ABS and engine performance, it should come as no surprise that the company has a semi-active suspension system coming in 2017. The Bosch SDCU will be used to increase both rider safety and comfort over a variety of road surfaces. For example, by tracking engine speed, throttle position, and bike speed the SDCU will be able to adjust the suspension on the fly to deliver maximum control during braking maneuvers. This will help to minimize the tendency for rear wheel lift during hard braking situations. For rider comfort, the semi-active suspension will automatically adjust damping characteristics to suit road surface conditions from billiard table smooth to freeway expansion joints to rough or broken pavement.

Just another magic box: The Bosch SDCU will take information from the ABS controller and the engine management system to fine-tune the suspension settings to suit riding conditions.

Just another magic box: The Bosch SDCU will take information from the ABS controller and the engine management system to fine-tune the suspension settings to suit riding conditions.

Given how quickly all this technology is evolving, we expect to learn more about it later in the year when Bosch – or an OEM – announce the motorcycle the Bosch SDCU will make its consumer debut in. Hold on, this is getting good.

  • JMDGT

    It wasn’t that bad but when riding over the Vincent Thomas Bridge the gap in between the sections always bothered me. It looks like the system of the future will smooth conditions like that out. Sounds good to me.

    • DickRuble

      Read the latest review of the Caponord.. I don’t know it will fix the bump over bridge gaps, but it sounded like it made the rumble strips magically disappear.

      • JMDGT

        It looks like the system is Magic. A Caponord was on my list for a while. I’d like to have one for a week. I really need four or five bikes. Always one more.

        • DickRuble

          For some reason , Caponord are dirt cheap compared to similar sized bikes… !2-13K for the rally version.

  • Old MOron

    I seem to recall an exchange with Trizzle, wherein he indicated that Continental was also developing electronics along these lines. Is that correct? Are Bosch and Continental competing against each other?

    • Kevin Duke

      Yep, Continental system on the new Gixxer Thou.

  • spiff

    I like a lot of these new technologies, but not sure about the ones for suspension. Changing suspension mid corner may turn out to be safer, but I’m not convinced it would be better. A well balanced suspension and a good brake are what I am looking for. All the ABS is good as well, but I like the option to disengage the rear ABS. A linked braking system may be a nice option as long as I can turn it off when I want. I guess the same could be said for the, in my opinion, the over bearing suspension.

    • R_Melaun

      I understand what you’re saying, but from my experience with cars, the systems are pretty invisible. You don’t even know that settings have changed – which is what you want.

      • spiff

        I want these systems on my commute, on a road trip, or something along those lines. What about Sunday after brunch and I have a 35 mile ride home? My mind is in the right space, and I am looking to screw around.

        If I remember correctly (For real, I may be wrong.) Chuck Yeager said the most fun he had flying was in a P-51. The newer jets could out perform the old prop plane, but were not as fun. We hear many talk about riding a slow bike fast. I believe this is true. So is it possible that riding some of the latest and greatest without all the nannies could also be satisfying? Manipulating the bike more intimately. No you may not be faster or more graceful, but it is you doing it.

        I read an interview with Dave Grohl. He was showing disappointment in the evolution of music, and that everyone was becoming dependent on computers and synthesizers. He didn’t dismiss them, or say they didn’t have value, but he was still with apprehension. He said you are supposed to go in the garage with your guitar and suck, and keep working at it. If it were easy everyone would do it. I am not excited about a motorcycle version of Guitar Hero.

        • Old MOron

          Ha ha, I guess the computer music is a good analogy. On a bike you’re supposed to come out of the garage and suck. You keep working at it and get better vision, throttle control, etc.

          • spiff

            Buy a full face helmet.

        • ZoMbiE

          We will lose the soul of motorcycle when technology advances. Riding an engine with carburetor, cable controlled throttle will excite me more and I miss it now a days. There is something special in it. I am working in an IT industry and I love to have technologies in daily life more than any one. But that is a fact if you are a purist when it comes to motorcycle. Of course we save our own souls by sacrificing the soul of a motorcycle. 😉
          On another side, I love the ignition’s reliability than a stone age magneto! My feelings are complicated and illogical. Finally, thats a human all about 😀

          • Donald Silvernail

            KLR’s forever!

        • Bryan Spears

          I ride every day that there’s no snow/ice on the road.. and sometimes,
          when there’s just a little bit of snow/ice, I’ll ride anyway. Lots of
          gravel gets used here, in winter. As break-up advances, street sweepers
          get most of it off the road but they always miss patches. That ABS unit is less than one pound. Now, consider that it is also defeatable, when you want the raw experience. Now, consider that you’re talking about whether or not to have it on the equivalent of a 600-1000hp rear wheel drive compact car that has an improvised seat on the hood, from which you drive. Nearly the exact same argument for TC. Don’t want to use it? Cool, turn it off because that’s a thing it’s capable of.. but why would you not want it as an option? If there’s something I’m missing here, please help me to understand.

          • spiff

            No, I want nannies. They are needed with today’s power, and helpful in not crashing. ABS is good as well. On the other hand I don’t want to loose the experience of manipulating the bike to do what I want. An example of what is sweet is the adjustable TC, what I don’t like is a linked braking system that can’t be turned off. I am in limbo about the advances in the suspension that changes mid corner. The semi active on your GT sounds great, but can it go to far?

  • john phyyt

    Still no flying cars in the near future. Damn!

  • Scott Campbell

    I have a monster 1200s and a 2016 Super Duke GT. I suddenly love semiactive suspension. It is magic and really helps braking. It is also nice that the KTM has your back with the Bosch ESC safety net. If I did not see the lights glashing on the dash, I thought it was me doing the impossible. Lol! I hope they make a retrograde ESC for the Monster like BMW is offering. ESC was mandated in vehicles in 2012 cuz it saves lives. I have a few friends that have disabled the safety devices in their motorcycles and cars and a few have ended up crashing into someone’s house. The bikes/cars are so powerful in the 21st century and believe me why would you want to turn them off. Have participated in 2day BMW driving courses in South Carolina with M3/M5’s and you learn how amazing ESC really is!

    • spiff

      Your not wrong. I did a few fast laps in a Porsche with an instructor in the passenger seat. Long story short I know what it feels/sounds like when all the aids kick in. I asked the instructor if I had a chance with out the electronic aids and he laughed, then sternly said no. Then laughed again.