Honda will present its second self-balancing motorcycle concept at next month’s Tokyo Motor Show, this time applying the technology to a new electric motorcycle. The Honda Riding Assist-e uses the same robotics technology that allowed the original Riding Assist concept to keep itself balanced at low speeds without rider input.

The original Riding Assist concept used a Honda NC700 as its base, with the self-balancing technology housed in the front end. Instead of using gyroscopes, the technology uses robotics developed from Honda’s UNI-CUB personal mobility device to stay upright at low speeds or at a standstill, making micro adjustments to maintain balance.

The NC700’s frame returns once again, but instead of the forward-tilted parallel-Twin engine, the chassis holds an electric motor, mounted high, just under the seat. Power is delivered to the rear wheel via a drive shaft housed in the single-sided swingarm.

The battery is likely housed low in chassis to keep a low center of gravity. There are gaps in the side panels which suggest they may open up to access the battery. The charging port is located on the left side of the bike, beside the electric motor. Behind the motor, Honda has mounted a rear-facing radiator.

What’s particularly interesting is that the electric power train and self-balancing systems are completely separate, so we’ll see how Honda further develops both technologies going forward.

We’ll have to wait until the Tokyo Motor Show on Oct. 25 for more details about the Riding Assist-e. The Tokyo Show will also feature a new Super Cub C125 concept, a Monkey 125 concept, and a Super Cub 110 commemorating the 100 millionth Cub to be produced.

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  • Old MOron

    Self-driving cars, self-balancing motorbikes, I weep for posterity.

    • Lynchenstein

      We need self sleeping beds and self chewing food next.

    • Bryan Spears

      I want induction howl from my motorcycle, and self-balancing is an insult. As for the car, though…. I don’t ride in that for fun, and it only gets used when there’s snow on the road. When I’m in it, I’m a little bummed before I even leave the driveway. Traffic makes me angrier when I’m caged, so I welcome the day of the safe, reliable, self-driving car, if it should even still be called a car instead of a transportation appliance. I’d rather ignore the idiots and read my Kindle. My blood pressure will thank me.

      • spiff

        There will be no place, except closed courses, for motorcycle once the self driving thing arrives in force.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          Self-driving motorcycles will be part of the traffic stream.

          • spiff

            I hope your right, but at what capacity? As a way to relieve urban traffic congestion? If I’m not doing anything sitting in a car reading a book or sleeping sounds better than just holding on.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            If you want to go ride off-road, you have to go through the self-driving traffic. Same thing if you are going to a track day or race. Or to Ushuaia. There will be no self-driving cars in third world countries.

          • spiff

            As the technology progresses they say only the computers will drive. Intersection will be well choreographed operations with one car slowing down to let the other through. It isn’t something I’m looking forward to, and have to admit I’ll probably be dead before it happens. So I’ve got that going for me.

          • RanchRedneck

            Just wait till someone hacks the system and makes everything pile into each other at the junctions

          • Jason

            Today someone could hack the utility box at an intersection and turn the light green for everyone. How many times has that happened?

          • Jason

            I really doubt it. A self-driving motorcycle is a much bigger challenge than a car. The rider can cause the bike to crash by shifting weight and the bike could toss an inattentive rider if it takes sudden evasive action. That is just the technical challenge.

            The real challenge is marketing. Who is going to buy a self driving motorcycle? The majority of current riders aren’t even interested in automatic transmissions, now they are just going to sit on a motorcycle and do nothing? What is the point?

            I agree with spiff. Motorcycles will be relegated to off-road and closed course only once insurance companies price driving out of existence. (At least in developed countries)

  • Starmag

    If you have a hard time balancing, maybe, just maybe, motorcycling isn’t for you.

    Does it come with a Balancing Participation Trophy? I wonder what Soichiro would say.

    I love the Japanese commitment to quality, but their styling was so much better when it was riffs off of British styling.

    Old MOron • 2 hours ago

    “Self-driving cars, self-balancing motorbikes, I weep for posterity.”

    A little closer to the folks in Wall-E every day.

    • john phyyt

      I too wonder at what Soichiro san would have thought.? He was from a different post war environment and from the only country to have had to rebuild after nuclear destruction. Let us all hope lil Kim does nothing to change that.
      I think Mr Honda would encourage the engineers to push the boundaries. In the Japanese way. So he would probably be thoughtful enthusiastic and helpful. But you may think his spirit is encapsulated in 1959. Who is to say anyone is wrong?

  • Campisi

    Honda teases a production-viable electric motorcycle with a shaft drive and (mostly) handsome looks, and everyone gets pissy because it can’t fall over in their driveway.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Why does everything from Honda have to have a quirk?

      • Campisi

        Honda, when they’re on top of their engineering game, like to think about things on a deeper level than is really necessary for present market success. Single-track vehicles have possessed instability at low speeds as an obvious design fault for so long now that fans of the design now consider that instability to be a defining feature rather than something we’ve been working around for over a hundred years now. So, when Honda comes along and figures out a solution to this fault that doesn’t otherwise compromise the design, purists see this solution as an assault on what, to them, defines what a motorcycle *is* in the first place.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          As long as the “self-balancing” is only at very low speeds (below 5 mph) and doesn’t add significantly to the weight (for example DCT adds 30 lbs), it may be OK. Normally we just use our feet instead of balancing the bike (unless it is a slow riding or hot dog eating contest).

          • Stuki Moi

            They need to combine the self balancing with reverse….

            Put that on the Goldwing, and I’d be worried if I was a trike maker…..

            It also makes practical sense in tight maneuvering situations, whether in traffic, or in overcrowded parking lots that aren’t entirely flat. Self balancing is also a prerequisite for self driving/self parking, as far as bikes go. “Drop me off and go park yourself, then pick me up when I’m done” is definitely a boon.

            For regular riding, unless you are either really, really short (or weak) of leg, or insist on riding in shoes too fancy to want to put them on dirty city streets, I have a hard time seeing the purpose.

          • Campisi

            My understanding is that the self-balancing system isn’t necessary at any appreciable speed, as once you’re moving fast enough physics takes over. Honda likely prioritised weight savings throughout the system, knowing that it’d be positioned far from the bike’s centre of mass, and judging from the “Mode” portion of the display you’d likely be able to turn it off.

      • Jason

        To show off Honda’s technical capabilities.
        Why does ASIMO exist?

        • Sayyed Bashir

          ASIMO is a very useful robot. The World’s Most Advanced Humanoid Robot. My comment was more about quirks. They came out with a good electric bike but had to add self-balancing which people may not like. More of their bikes are coming with DCT which people don’t like (even though you can buy them without DCT). The weird NM4 scooter-like motorcycle. The Rune. No one else is doing these things. Honda comes up with solutions to non-problems.

          • Jason

            ASIMO is a completely useless robot. It dances, walks, runs, and climbs stairs. It does no useful work. On the other hand it is great as a marketing tool and as a tool for Honda R&D engineers to work on robotic and balance issues.

            The same with this concept. It is a marketing tool (Hey look we can balance a bike!) and a useful tool to work on how to create an autonomous motorcycle. Balancing at a stop is about the easiest task for such a vehicle. I don’t expect to see a Honda self-balancing bike sold anymore than I them to sell ASIMO commercially.

            I’m not privy to Honda sales numbers but considering they are expanding the number of models with DCT someone must like them enough to buy one. DCT is an attempt to bring more people into the sport of motorcycling because Honda sees the writing on the wall. Without new blood the industry dies along with the Baby Boomers.

            The NM4, CTX700 and CTX1300 are Honda’s take on a modern cruiser. They are not intended to be attractive to current cruiser owners that want their bikes to look like something from 20th century (and who have an average age in the high 50’s). These bikes are intended to look good to people in their 20’s and 30’s. Personally I like the look but I suspect I’m a couple decades younger than you.

            Honda is innovating and looking outside the current motorcycle box. The fact that they have the resources and willingness to do such experiments shows the strength of their company.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            I think these “innovations” alienate people instead of bringing them into the fold when all they are looking for is a simple motorcycle that looks and performs like a motorcycle. So they buy Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki or the European brands instead. Look at the popularity of Ducati and Triumph which do not have these “innovations”. No one else is trying to come up with automatic transmissions for motorcycles. If it was that popular, everyone would be jumping on the bandwagon.

          • Jason

            So offering the option of an automatic transmission in addition to a standard manual transmission “alienates” people? No doubt you know better than the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world.

          • Rick Papa-san Shaw

            I have to disagree. These “innovations” do not alienate NEW riders, they just annoy older riders. How do I know? Because I am a rider with less than two years experience.

            When I went to buy my bike, I sat on a lot of them. The first time I rode my Honda NC700X with DCT, I was in love. It was easier to ride than the motorcycles I rode on in class. I didn’t have to look for N at a stop. It didn’t cut off in the middle of traffic because I didn’t give it enough clutch when trying to take off. I could concentrate on getting a feel for the bike and work on my turning and stops. About a third of my riding class gave up/failed because they couldn’t get their coordination together for clutch control. On a DCT bike you don’t have to worry about it. And they all would have probably passed had they been riding one.

            I don’t have the sales numbers but when I was looking I met several people who were interested in buying Honda because the “innovative” DCT bikes are easier to ride than a “normal” bike. And I get weird looks and questions from people who ride when I just twist and go. Die-hards call it a “scooter” because it doesn’t have a clutch lever or shift foot peg but I can still shift gears with my hand and have left a few of those Die-hards in the dust.

          • Sayyed Bashir

            I guess it is the difference between advanced motorcycle riders and newbie riders. Newbie riders are happy to be on a motorcycle and going from point A to B. Advanced motorcycle riders use the technology to the limit, whether it is on the street or in the dirt. For them, automatic technologies like DCT get in the way of what they are trying to do. That’s why there is no DCT in MotoGP or Dakar.

  • HazardtoMyself

    I wouldn’t want one, however I see some appeal if it is for low speed only for certain riders.

    Some people who are shorter and lightweight want to ride full size sport bikes or ADVs.

    Have a friend who is 5′ and only ways 95lbs. She loves to ride, but doesn’t want to be stuck on super low cruisers or other bikes that have been lowered so much the rear fender is 1/4″ from the rear wheel.

    She has good balance and decent riding skills, but with one foot down the bigger bikes are so far over she is just not physically strong enough to hold the bike up. Add in slick pavement or off road and there is just no way. And no, she doesn’t want to be the person jumping off and on at every stop.

    Something like this could very well be a solution. Only thing is, how many people are really in that spot? Would it be an option or become standard because I know I would not want it forced on us.

    • bvail
      • HazardtoMyself

        Nice, was expecting that really short guy who gets on and off at every stop.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Also for people who forget to put their feet down when they come to a stop.

  • mikstr

    Honda sure is becoming proficient at answering the questions no one is asking…. wonder what’s next. Lol

    • Stuki Moi

      They wouldn’t be number one, if they waited for every Tom, Dick and Shovelhead riding Harry to catch up, before they dared ask question.

      Self balancing is really, really cool for a lot of applications. As long as it can be turned into something reliably production ready, instead of remaining just an endless stream of stage exhibitions. Out of all the makes out there, Honda is likely the one with the best shot at pulling that off.

      • mikstr

        please remind us the last time built a bike you actually wanted to own….

  • Larry Kahn

    Will be a good thing for observed trials?

    • spiff

      Just like t-ball.

  • symun buuntw

    Self rising flour have this tech for decade s..

  • Bmwclay

    Nothing new here, my Harley trike has been self-balancing for years.