You read a lot about new-fangled motorcycle safety technology these days: wheelie control, traction control, leaning ABS, blah blah blah. And that’s not even considering the stuff that’s just around the corner, innovations like real-time crash prediction and onboard radar systems. That’s what makes this just-discovered BMW patent seem so … old-school.
This set of drawings, filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization (according to Free Patents Online, anyway), is nothing more than a V-shaped assembly that fits behind the front wheel, mounted to the front of the chassis. No complicated electro-wizardry, no airbag, just a chunk of metal (no doubt it’d be carbon-fibre in the special race edition …). The idea according to the patent (read it here, translated from German into English via Google) is to provide a motorized two-wheeler with more stability in a crash. Instead of the wheel pushing to the side, it’s more-or-less held in place as it pushes back. As per Google Translate:
The mount ensures that the front wheel maintains its straight-ahead position in the event of an impact, i.e. it does not twist with respect to the vertical or around the steering axis during the impact. The guide sections prevent lateral deflection and twisting of the front wheel. This ensures »that the distance that can be achieved by the front wheel is maintained in the event of a frontal impact.
Would that keep a rider more safe in a crash? Maybe, maybe not. There’s a lot of high-energy physics at play, and when a two-wheeler comes to an abrupt stop, there are few guarantees as to what happens, especially if there’s another vehicle involved.