Think traction control, Lean Sensitive ABS, DCT, different ride modes, hill holder clutches and airbags are the height of motorcycle technology? Think again because BMW has built a self riding R1200GS. No there won’t be self riding motorcycles any time soon. BMW is just stretching its technology legs. But their end goal is to reduce risk associated with inattentive or distracted riders. BMW believes that through the use of this technology, that it is close to equipping its machines with automatic emergency braking and active lane keep assist systems.
The joy of riding a motorcycle is truly a life experience. To ride, you must be able to manage several tasks at once. Balance, clutch, throttle, braking etc. are all part of the experience. Some people have difficulty in managing these tasks and that is where BMW believes it can reduce risk and increase rider safety. It will be interesting to see how BMW can improve the big GS’s abilities when it is in the environment it was designed for; off road.
It can be said that any assistance a rider can get in controlling a motorcycle is a good thing. But I am more than a bit concerned about how this technology will make its way into the ADV world. Sometimes, control inputs that may be unsafe on pavement are very important off road. Perhaps BMW thinks that the big GSs are ridden more on pavement than off and therefore all these rider aids are necessary? Or perhaps they needed the big GS as a platform to hold all the equipment necessary for this technology. I don’t know the answer, but it’s an interesting question.
At the end of the day, the reduced risk that technological advances can bring are a good thing. But BMW, please don’t make these systems mandatory use. At a minimum, please make sure that they can be switched off so riders enjoy the experience of managing your machines themselves.