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Digital Subscriptions > Fast Bikes > 345 > TECH(NO)!


There are more rider aids out there than ever before – with more on the way. But which are the good aids and which are the bad aids, as it were? Let’s find out…



When I was a lad, the only ‘rider aids’ you had on your bike were the speedo, throttle, brakes and clutch. And, if you were lucky, a reserve fuel tap, which you could switch to ‘reserve’ when you ran low, then forget to turn it back, and run out next time anyway. We were dead ‘appy though, weren’t we?

Now though? Modern riders can do almost everything except make a skinny soya latte with the high-tech gizmos on their bikes. And we’re expecting the Nespresso edition Ducati Scrambler anytime now. Electronic suspension, traction control, anti-lock brakes, colour dashboards, cruise control, power modes, quickshifters, wheelie control, anti-rear-wheel-lift control, launch control slide control – where will it all end? Setting up your bike for a Sunday blast can now seem as big a faffas programming your mum’s Betamax video recorder to tape Brookside back in the day.

Plus, if you want to do a wheelie on some bikes now, you need to fax the factory a week in advance so they can wifithe permission to your ECU. The result? You end up turning it all offand plough into a ditch at high speed on your way to your favourite wheelie lane. Boo. The things turn themselves back on as soon as your back is turned anyway (KTM, we’re looking at you here). So, here’s our run-down on the tech aids that we love and the ones to which we say NO!


Boothy doesn’t know his own strength.


It’s fair to say that anti-lock brakes have come a long way since their early days on BMW’s K100 back in the 1980s. That system was borrowed from cars so it was big, heavy and slow to operate. A bit like me these days.

The principle remains the same as that first system – a small computer measures the speed of the front and rear wheels as you hit the brakes. If it sees one wheel slowing down too much, it reduces the brake pressure, so the wheel won’t lock up. Early systems were pretty lame, often turning the brakes offand on completely in what felt like five-second cycles, leading to that horrible ‘I’m hauling on the brakes for a corner and this stupid bike has turned them off’ feeling. Things like small bumps on the road would confuse the system, and the slow response rate and fairly simple algorithms could be caught out. And they had little ability to control braking while leant over in a corner.

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