Honda unveiled a new self-balancing motorcycle concept at the Consumer Electronics Show. The Honda Riding Assist can keep a motorcycle upright at slow speeds.

Instead of using gyroscopes to keep balance, Riding Assist uses Honda’s robotics technology which helps to keep the weight down compared to heavy gyros. The technology is actually an evolution of the system used in Honda’s UNI-CUB robot penguins self-balancing personal mobility device. Steering at low speeds is controlled electronically, with a small motor making steering adjustments to keep the motorcycle in balance. A mechanism under the headlight with a separate motor extends the rake angle at low speed, giving the front end negative trail and making it easier to balance at slow speeds or even at a stand-still.

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A demo video shows the technology at work, including a self-driving mode that can make a motorcycle move on its own via a third electric motor in the front wheel hub.

The concept is based on a Honda NC model, but the Riding Assist technology is contained entirely in the front end, so Honda claims the system can theoretically be adapted to fit any existing model.

“They’re showing application for rider assistance, especially new riders to help with low-speed balancing or without having to put input in the bars to keep the bike upright,” says Tony Defranze, American Honda’s media rep. “We’re also thinking about if we could use this technology on big bikes like a Gold Wing.”

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  • Jason M.

    From the people that brought you the awesome Africa Twin, comes the laziest piece of 2 wheeled technology to balance the Earth.

  • Dootin

    best looking Honda NC ever.

  • Staunch_Republican

    Wow that is creepy. Maybe I have gotten too old to accept all these advancements. A motorcycle that can follow you around.

    • denchung

      Glad I’m not the only one. Especially because it’s moving slowly (though that’s obviously out of necessity). Oddly, it’d probably be less creepy if it was moving fast.

  • World_rider

    If that really works as advertised, I’d say Honda is getting their engineering mojo back.
    I’d buy it just for the party trick.

    And, eventually, the human race will likely grow too lazy to want to deal with a kickstand…

    • E-Nonymouse A

      This engineering mojo most likely uses battery power so I doubt anyone will be saying bye bye to a stand any time soon.

  • it only needs to talk and it would be perfect!

    • E-Nonymouse A

      The honda version of nightrider? 😀

    • Campisi

      Droid whistles.

  • E-Nonymouse A

    That NC is a nice looking bike

  • Old MOron

    I haven’t watched the vid, but I notice something interesting in the GIF at the bottom of the article. While the front end is moving back and forth, the handlebar does not move.

    • DickRuble

      The handlebar does not move by necessity; otherwise it would conflict with rider input.. Here the bike is in control. Your holding the bars is just to make you feel in charge. Next step: a system that compensates for the wrong input from the handlebar..

      • denchung

        Yes. This does use steering-by-wire, so physically moving the handlebars isn’t really necessary, at least for the application of self balancing. The motor makes small, quick adjustments to keep the center of gravity in balance. If the handlebars moved along with the front end, it’d be twitching the whole time. Honda hasn’t explained much in detail, but I wonder if moving the handlebars would interrupt the automatic balancing function.

        • Old MOron

          Yes, that’s what I figured, and it’s also what I don’t like about the system. I don’t mind ABS telling my I’m braking too hard for conditions, or even TC telling me I’m asking for too much power. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to have the bike ignore my steering inputs.

          • denchung

            Well, this system is only designed to work at slow speeds; and by slow, I mean walking speeds.

          • Old MOron

            Ha ha, there are all sorts of rider aids in Moto GP and WSBK. Now we’ll have rider aids in Trials competition.

          • denchung

            Toni Bou’s secret revealed!

    • Andre Capitao Melo

      The bike they showed at the show had the handlebar moving with the wheel.

  • Starmag

    That 2″ of front suspension travel doesn’t look too inviting. Maybe it’s a engineering compromise.

  • Bananapants Ficklefart

    Fascinating.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Honda should spend more effort designing and selling bikes that I actually want to buy in the here and now, not dreaming up invisible training wheels.

  • JMDonald

    They seem to be trying to turn motorcycle riding into a Disney adventure ride. It will eventually give you the illusion of riding. No need to change gears operate a throttle feel the brakes fear a tip over spin a wheel pop a wheelie experience a little wheel hop or lose traction. Where’s the fun in that?

  • elgar

    Call me a curmudgeon – I think the entire concept of ‘rider aids’ is counter productive for both aspiring motorcyclists and motorcycling in general.
    To me, part of the thrill, fun and lifelong satisfaction with riding motorcycles is the fact that it does require practice, patience, skill building, learning, application of leaned theories etc. and proficiency, ‘real’ proficiency is a lifelong, continuously acquired skill.
    Having these aids eliminates much of the above – what a shame!
    Motorcycles are not for everyone as it is not an easy activity: it requires love, enthusiasm, commitment, lifelong learning – this brings real joy when one becomes proficient.
    Imagine having a ‘guitar’ playing aid where the guitar masks your playing errors…this is how I view these motorcycle aids.
    If you need rider aides, what you really need is more practice….or perhaps you’re on too much bike. Learning is best when it’s progressive.
    BTW….I’m cool with ABS!

    • bb49

      Kind of like when they brought in electric start. They’re crap. Don’t take my kick starter away.

  • I made a video with some info on the tech. Also my thoughts. https://youtu.be/TR5LOtQxqQU

  • Alfred Newman

    Honda’s riding assist and DCT transmission. Now everybody rides.