The motorbike tradition of the USA is alive and well. Traditionally seen as gas-guzzling vehicles, motorbikes are more popular than ever, despite new green trends, with Jalopnik reporting that 10 million households owned a bike of some variety. One of the reasons that the popularity of motorbikes continues to rise is the new technology helping them to become sustainable. Encouragingly for enthusiasts, this includes classic bikes, which are being brought into the future with smart tech, both in terms of functionality and modern safety features.
An excellent example of this trend is the work being done by Harley Davidson, arguably the biggest name in American motorcycles and the poster boy for the image of big, powerful bikes. This year, Harley Davidson released their prototype for an all-electric motorcycle, with a release planned soon. According to Phys.org, this is the start of an innovation drive to put out 200 new motorcycle models over 10 years, retaining the classic bodywork and feel of a Harley while making it emissions-friendly is a great first step.
For improving older bikes, mechanics are increasingly turning to small but powerful new updates. A great example of this is the recent trend towards fuel injection. According to Revzilla, a motoring website, vastly improved fuel injection technology has allowed the removal of outdated carburetors from motorcycles and improved the fuel efficiency and overall ability of older bikes to keep moving.
Motorcycles can be dangerous vehicles. They have a disproportionately higher rate of fatality and injury on the road and require ultra vigilance – both concerning your own actions and that of other drivers. The best way to improve this safety would, arguably, be to take the driver off the road. This is the plan of BMW who, according to Forbes, has developed a driverless motorbike. The idea here is that the vehicle will be able to conduct deliveries, courier services, and so on, without risking a human on the back, increasing safety on a congested road. This will allow classic models, with less stringent safety, to find their way back onto the road.
Motorcycles are an indelible part of American culture and are as popular as ever. However, for classic designs to remain relevant, they need to find a place in the modern world. As always, technologists are finding ingenious ways every year to enhance and improve these classic designs.