4. Ride Modes/ Electronic Suspension


It happened so all-at-once, I don’t remember which bike was first to let you stiffen or soften its suspension with the selection of a Sport, Touring, or Rain mode on its display. Ducati’s first Multistrada with Skyhook suspension? A BMW GS? Anyway, the BMW S1000RR that won our Six-Way Superbike Shootout last year was good enough in Race mode to get Doug Chandler’s #1 pick, and it was sweet enough in Road mode for me to ride back and forth to Laguna Seca in blissful semi-comfort (with cruise control engaged). Simply selecting a mode with a button adjusts spring preload and damping settings instantly. The “dynamic” systems all now use their IMUs to even trim the damping according to how aggressively you’re riding the bike.

The motorcycles that benefit most from this are the ones that are ridden on the most varied terrain, ie, Adventure bikes. The new Triumph Explorer XCa we rode last week is the latest to benefit. On a fire road in Road mode it is treacherous; switching to Off-Road – which adjusts its suspension, power delivery, traction control and ABS settings all at once – renders it the world’s biggest dirtbike. Where we’re going from here is camel-squat technology (JB®): When you come to a stop, the bike squats down to the bottom of its travel so short people can get on and off without toppling over.

  • mickedard

    He had about 2 seconds to do something, the driver didn’t turn on her turning signal, don’t know how much that would have helped, she turned really fast! A biker’s nightmare!

  • Evans Brasfield

    A lot of luck and proper riding gear.

  • Reid

    I feel really bad for the rider involved, but if he was only going 30ish mph, one would think he would have been able to bring the bike to a stop.

    • Scott Jones

      Drivers turning in front of motorcyclists is the leading cause of crashes. Despite how good we all think we are, there’s only a fraction of a second to avoid that cash scenario and you can’t defy the laws of physics. If he would have been going faster the crash damage would be exponentially higher to the bike and the car, and the rider would have flown much further. you can’t fight inertia.

      • Reid

        I suppose you’re right. I had a similar situation happen to me about a month ago, and I was going about 40 when a car turned in front of me (a cop talking on his cell phone no less – never even saw me) and I nearly pulled a stoppy but I slowed down enough for him to get past me. It was easily the scariest thing that ever happened to me since my first day of riding when I dropped my dirt bike on the pavement with no jacket lol

      • SneakyJimmy

        Actually, cornering too fast is the leading cause of motorcycle accidents. You are probably correct if you examine multiple vehicle accidents involving motorcycles.

        source: CHP

        • Scott Jones

          I based my statement from the Hurt report, I forgot about the 2010 study.

    • Ian Holton

      Really don’t think he had time to react. Even if he did impact was going to happen.

  • Mark Vizcarra

    With the sun blaring at the other direction, there is a slight chance, and I mean slight, that she probably didnt see them.

    If you look at the car, it had no intention of slowing down before the turn. For me I slow down before I make a turn.

    From the riders perspective he had maybe a few seconds like mickedard said to make a move. He probably locked up his bike right before the crash. Luckily he had his helmet cam

  • motorock

    Didnt look like he was speeding- it’s not easy to react that fast. Definitely the driver’s fault- a lot of drivers I know have said that they “don’t see bikers”- so yeah, it is the case of the “invisible biker”

    • Republicans_Sux

      This isn’t a case of invisible biker… This is a case of driver’s failure to pay attention

      • talonz51

        That’s the point….ride like you are invisible, because to some drivers out there, you might as well be.

      • motorock

        Like Talon said, and I meant, a invisible biker is invisible only to the driver because the driver is not paying attention. Ride like you are invisible!

  • Zenmon

    Clear cut case of driver fault on so many levels. For one: There is a double full line.

  • Rob Twitch Brett

    this has happened to me twice before, he was lucky, I had 2 stays in hospital with broken bones. did nobody else see the driver of the car crossed double white lines?? he should be banned for that.

  • octodad

    what do you mean “seriously injured”? do not think the rider got up and walked away unhurt. wait 24 hours and tell me how you feel. who got the ticket and how much is the insurance claim? I would come back later and kick that fool’s ass…

  • John B.

    I am loathe to call any collision a “freak circumstance,” because that phrase implies neither party could have prevented the incident. Clearly, the car driver was (at a minimum) inattentive, which is a common occurrence as opposed to a “freakish” one. I did not see the motorcycle’s brake lights illuminate. If the rider had deployed the brakes, he would have at a minimum reduced the force of the impact, which can make a big difference. Also, it did not appear the motorcycle rider tried to swerve around the car. To swerve, however, might have precipitated a head on collision with a second vehicle if the cycle rider crossed the center line. Finally, when riding on roads that have many side streets and/or driveways, it makes sense to cover the front brake with two fingers while working the throttle with the rest of the hand. The video does not show whether the rider covered the front brake. In sum, the rider did not have much time to react and had limited options.

    • Sj Lowe

      I didnt even see the car turn so personally I wouldnt have hit the brake, took me about 7 watches to catch it turn !

  • erlwinds

    Same thing happened to me. I hit an SUV though, so I landed square in the car, didn’t fly over it. Female Asian driver (I’m all against stereotypes, but these are just facts). Full-face helmet, full gear – still broke my jaw in two places, as the impact was akin to hitting a wall at 40 mph. Two weeks in the hospital, $120K bill.

  • Jaydee103

    This was clearly the driver’s fault. He crossed a double line, there wasn’t even an intersection where he turned!

  • Starmag

    That Polaris two smoke may be the future, and I’d love to hear one on the street again, but aesthetically it’s no H2 triple.

  • John B.

    Recently, I checked on William Crum. He’s been rotting in jail since October and his cases don’t have a court setting. So much for the right to a speedy trial. Crum has a court appointed attorney, but didn’t want one. IMO, Crum may need a mental illness evaluation.

    • Starmag

      A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client

      • John B.


      • DickRuble

        I fired two (paid) lawyers in the past two years and I won by myself against one in court. Court appointed lawyers may be your ticket to the electric chair.

  • john phyyt

    May be wrong time frame. BUT . Tires are now , so much better as to be the Number 1. in my Book. as far as technical improvements go. Hit a raised, cover, leaving a corner on a rainy commute as sane speeds in the urban environment , and you know what ! Nothing: just traction. Brilliant.

  • JMDonald

    We live in the best of times for motorcycling. I like the idea of the DCT if you are in a lot of stop and go traffic but like a good sports car a good motorcycle should have a manual shift transmission and clutch. It is part of the experience for me.

  • Seriously. I have a mouse and I know how to use it. One page please. Don’t make me click through 10 times. Ugh.

    • spiff

      Clickie clickie pays the rent.

      • Yea, I know. But not from me. I just close the window and move on.
        And think – a page 10 times as long has room for 10x as many ads…

        • john burns

          yeah, beats me, the people who direct deposit me like 10 clicks? Sorry.

  • spiff

    They may be on the cusp of 30 years old, but USD forks should be here.

  • spiff

    The camel squat thing could be the ticket for some. Kidding aside, they should do that.

  • allworld

    Well the race is on; will flying bikes come before flying cars, or will drones be the way to go?

  • Mahatma


  • ryde4ever

    Why are tires not listed? They are like a different animal now. I see others noticed this ommission too. The only 2 on your list that I agree with is the fuel injection and good helmets. A lot of us ride for the pure fun and simplicity. I don’t need a technological thing that resembles a motorcycle. That’s is why an FZ-07 is in my garage. No ride modes, no traction control or ABS. Just a good motorcycle, not a technocycle.

    • Tinwoods

      Many of us used to think like you (“No, thanks, to the tech”), but as a daily rider in Los Angeles for decades now, and someone who owns two street bikes and no longer drives car or trucks, I’m evolving and now can appreciate the potentially life-saving benefits of ABS.

      • ryde4ever

        Cool for you Tim Woods. I am glad that you can benefit from and enjoy the technology. All I am expressing is that there is still a significant number of potential customers that appreciate the basics and simplicity of riding a bike with less bells and whistles. I am that way with my cars too. I don’t like it and won’t use it. Please continue to provide a choice.

  • fzrider

    The camel squat feature would make me very happy. I’ve tip toed my bikes for many years because the ones I like are all tall and I’m short.

    I do remember carburetors and think fuel injection should be closer to # 1, but at least it’s on the list.

    If the list was the top 15, I would add tubeless tires, disc brakes, upside down forks, perimeter frames, single rear shocks.

  • Ian Parkes

    I think helmets mfrs are missing a trick. Decades ago you would buy a car and then install audio of your choice. Now with 10 speaker set-ups it’s virtually impossible for after market people to to get in, except and the very loud and stupid money end. Yet with helmets, except for a couple of cases we have to bolt on audio. As helmets have been keeping heads bouncing for years, it’s long past time they addressed the other big issue. We still have to fit earplugs. How last century is that? Noise-cancelling technology has been around for more than a decade. What about a decent sound system, intercom and noise cancelling as standard?

    • Hot Stuff

      Sure, but you’d be looking at $1000 for a helmet.

  • Steve C

    ” Yamaha GT380″ GT380 was a Suzuki, my first bike.

    • Mr_DAA

      Yup. I got to ride one and loved it.

  • Ozzy Mick

    Helmets: This little comment is virtually useless cos I can’t remember any details but some years ago, an inventor in Australia announced a design for the internal lining of helmets that resembled cones made of soem kinda foam. The theory was, and tests had demonstrated, that this design provided a far superior dissipation of energy in the event of a trauma suffered by the helmet (presumably with a head in it). This was given a great deal of publicity and announcements of pending manufacture but, alas!, nothing became of it, as far as I’m aware.
    Weather protection: I ride everywhere every day. Obviously, we all enjoy the sense of freedom, closeness to nature, etc that comes from riding a bike. However, I’ve had my share of either biting the bullet and riding through showers, or pulling over and pulling on my wet weather gear. How about a screen or fairing that folds out in seconds and that can be secured to the bike?

  • Ozzy Mick

    I found the info on the cone head helmet at http://www.helmets.org/liners.htm

  • Jay Stevens

    I am a little surprised that they did not mention ride-by-wire. RBW plus EFI gives you an easily implemented cruise control. EFI plus ABS (sensors) gives you traction control.

    • Hot Stuff

      Really it’s the on-board computer that’s managing all these systems where the magic really happens.

  • wolzybk

    I think these may be the top-10-moto-innovations-of-the-last-10-years-and-next-10-years.

    The top 10 innovations of the last *30* years would include tubeless tires at or near the top, along with radial tires, dual compound tires, and improvements in the rubber itself. Also some more basic core things like vast improvements in braking — near-universal dual front disks, near universal rear disks, radial-mount monobloc brake calipers and radial master cylinders — stuff like that. Also suspension improvements — inverted cartridge forks, monoshock rear, etc. Gas gauges and other instrumentation improvements. Synthetic oil designed specifically for motorcycles. There are a LOT of really important changes that have happened in that time frame that aren’t all about the electronics.

    Also, I think a good “next thing for helmets” might include helmets with “scalps”, to help reduce rotational injuries. A couple of different designs have been prototyped that have external or internal features to allow some movement of the helmet surface rotationally without wrenching your neck. One was literally a scalp — a surface cover that allowed some movement of the surface itself. Another was more complicated, with two layers of the EPS and some little gadgets in between the layers to allow movement between them.

    • Tinwoods

      As I recall, tubeless tires have been around since the 1970s with the advent of cast alloy rims for bikes. If this is true, that would put the introduction of tubeless motorcyle tires well beyond thirty years.

  • Tango Alpha

    Shouldn’t our bikes be hovering by now? Seriously!! Where’s my damn hover-bike?