The Tyranny of the Status Quo

George_Tranos_Outside_Edge

By George Tranos

As we get older, it becomes easier to fall into a comfortable routine and be satisfied with the status quo. Why change if everything seems okay? However, as with everything in life, change is constant. Those who stubbornly cling to the conventional are doomed to be overcome by progress. And so it is the same for motorcyclists and their bikes.

 

Major changes are happening now in motorcycling. An electronic revolution is occurring and it is overreaching all aspects of riding. Motorcycles continue to become more sophisticated, technologically advanced and mechanically denser. Technology previously limited to high end automobiles is appearing in many powered two wheel segments. Things like traction control, multiple ride modes, anti-wheelie prevention devices, electronic suspension adjustment, antilock braking systems compensated by cornering lean angle sensors and adjustable ergonomics have trickled down from automobiles and from motorcycle racing.

At the same time, our riding population is getting older and, in the USA at least, less fit. This translates to vision and comfort issues for motorcycle manufacturers. This affects riders in many ways. Simply being able to read your instruments becomes difficult. It becomes harder to see far ahead because of vision issues and reaction time is increased. Riding for long periods of time is more difficult and even mounting and dismounting the motorcycle can be a chore. Adjustable ergonomics have helped in this regard as the seat / peg / handlebar relationships on some bikes can be altered by the riders themselves. This can custom fit a motorcycle to its rider and helps alleviate the discomfort of adapting to a bike that is not right straight from the factory.

Automotive style driving aides will eventually find their way to motorcycles. Safety items there include lane departure warning, blind spot detection, adaptive cruise control, automated braking if an object is detected with the driver slowing, etc. These and other devices may become more common on motorcycles. In addition, so-called vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) technology will allow the dynamic wireless exchange of data between nearby vehicles that offers the opportunity for significant safety improvements.  By exchanging anonymous, vehicle-based data regarding position, speed, and location (at a minimum), V2V communications enables a vehicle to: sense threats and hazards with a 360 degree awareness of the position of other vehicles and the threat or hazard they present; calculate risk; issue driver advisories or warnings; or take pre-emptive actions to avoid and mitigate crashes. How motorcycles fit into this V2V system remains to be seen.

Riding gear is another item that has been changing rapidly. New, high tech materials and innovative companies have created personal protective gear that is comfortable, versatile and offers higher levels of protection in a crash. The old stereotype of the rider with leather jacket and blue jeans may finally be out of vogue. Breathable, waterproof fabrics have transformed riding apparel. “CE” rated armor provides better impact and slide protection and is light weight and ventilated. Some jackets can be worn over a wide temperature range because of strategically placed closeable vents. Temperature sensing fabrics can close themselves up when it’s cold or open their membranes to allow comfort when it’s warm. Wearing the same old stuff for years on end can produce discomfort and take the fun out of riding.

To keep things the way they presently are seems anachronistic in our society. While those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, those who live in the past are doomed to not enjoy the fruits of today’s inventions. Ask yourself, “Am I taking advantage of the technology and innovations of today?” Or are you suffering the tyranny of the status quo; doomed to let the future pass you by?

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