Getting Lost in Electronic Riding Aids

I remember testing one of the first Traction Control systems coming out, and it was horrible. Back then, a TC prevented any rear wheel spin immediately. Not in a smooth way, but almost like a light-switch type shut off. That might have helped a less experienced rider, but for those who operating the throttle on turn exits at a level where the rear wheel purposely spins faster than the front- might works against them. It takes smoothness to powerslide and a committed and steady throttle control. An interruption just like a TC causes at that time got me in trouble. That clearly has changed a lot over the years and electronic rider aids have improved immensely. That benefits especially street bikes/riders, and the development ‘department’ is motorsports.

More stuff is coming from there, like: Backing-In control, Wheelie control, Launch control, and even Powerslide control. Other rider aids like ABS have not been developed there because they are not using any ABS. Why not?… because they extent braking travel- ergo- you’d have to brake earlier- ergo- slower lap times. That should ring the bell already, shouldn’t it?!

In motorsports… doesn’t all the electronics take away the advantage the top racers have in terms of riding skill actually?! Where did the ‘surprise effect’ go when the red light turns off and all bikes/cars coming off the start literally equally? How to judge a performance when a TC replaces pure determination and drawing fat black lines on the exits of turns? When mastering a throttle turns to a ‘just hold it wide open’ wheelie control. Does it really give the race more quality this way? Personal preference I guess…

Significance had the computers entering the motorcycle sport. Tons of sensors reading data into the software which truly helps to get closer to the ‘perfect’ setup. Just imagine what kind of advantage this took away from those racers who had the ‘butt-meter’ and the smartness to communicate it to the team engineers. Sure, the top guys are still able to do this, but what does this make the others?

Examples out of Formula One are easier to pick because the influence of electronics is way more obvious as in MotoGP? In the area when Formula One cars had a few driver aids, there was Canadian racer Jacques Villeneuve the only one who took the Eau Rouge chicane at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, flat out. Needless to mention that this didn’t work out all the time but you can say the man was flying and on height of his career. Electronics makes the famous Eau Rouge chicane to a video game everyone can play, well almost. There is barley smoke coming off those fat tires when they start. Launch control took it away from those who could control a almost 900 hp beast, and not to mention traction control which replaces a sharp feel to max out tire grip.

Lot’s of it has been banned meanwhile… luckily, but the technology went over to street cars. Power-steering and stabilization, auto-downforce wings, electronic stabilization- just to name a few- and also to see in motorcycles such as active suspensions, traction control, power brakes, backing-In control, cornering ABS, quick shifters, auto blib and whatnot. Don’t understand me wrong here, because I don’t undergo today’s MotoGP or Formula One racers at all. They are on the highest level of Motorsports for a darn good reason, and to max out these new elements have to be mastered as well.

Sure, the aspect of rider aids in regard rider level quality has no relevance for street legal bikes. Mainly these e-gizmos are helping riders in regard safety, but… is all of it really such a great thing?!!!

ABS for example. Good thing to cover the panic grab, but other than that it actually extends braking travel (which is why it’s not in racing btw). It takes braking power away. So I coached a upcoming CHP Motorcycle Officer ones and when I told him this, he actually choked. He mentioned that the CHP ran statistics to find out why their Officers got more hurt since they swapped from Harley’s to BMW’s, which supposed to be safer rides. They found that Officers ride beyond the pace they use to and that all those electronic aids kicked off a confidence boost and a false feel of safety. Hmmmm…!

My theory also goes into Traction Controls, which are making young riders more likely buying a 230 hp motorcycle. In the end, Joe might rides over his capabilities. Oh and there is a Slid Control now too, which controls a powerslide when exiting turns in lean. You gotta be freaking fast already to even get there and to make that work… but Joe might thing that this is no big deal anymore:

Headcoach Can Akkaya, Superbike-Coach Corp


4 replies
  1. Dean Lonskey
    Dean Lonskey says:

    I for one miss the days when “REAL MEN” raced those wicked light-switch 500cc 2-strokes. I understand the reason since today’s MotoGP bikes are in upwards of 220+hp but to me it takes a bit away. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we have them…my FZ-10 is the FIRST bike I’ve owned that has TC…but still. I’d be willing to bet if you out Marques, Lorenzo, or Rossi on s 500cc 2 stroke (ok maybe NOT Rossi… he’s been there before) and race against KR SR, Lawson, Doohan, Gardner, ECT and they’d get smoked. Heck, just put Rossi, Lorenzo, and Marques on those 500s and let’s see WHO is THE MAN…my bet would be on Rossi…

    • PageAdmin
      PageAdmin says:

      Valentino grew up on them, of course he would :)
      One of the reasons for Casey Stoner to retire was, when electronics took more and more away.

  2. Max
    Max says:

    At least here in my little corner of the world I see far too many young riders on the latest Japanese missile doing things they shouldn’t. They even lack basic skills when it comes to approaching another rider going in the same direction. Those that I have had an opportunity to query about their riding skills ALL come back with the same answer. They have ABS and TC and this and that and the other thing. Thus they don’t “need to worry about it.” Yet they lack any real experience or skill to handle all that horsepower if it did not have these electronic aids. I am not saying that I’m Mr. Know-it-all. But I’ve been riding a long time, I even club raced on the west coast in the 80’s. Put it this way, I am confident in my skills. But these young riders are confident in their bike’s Electronic Aids. In my opinion, not a good situation. A rider needs to be confident on their bike, not simply rely on whiz-bang gizmos.

    • PageAdmin
      PageAdmin says:

      That’s right Max. Exactly where my concerns are. I appreciate you sharing yours.
      Send me a pic of you racing, and we’ll add it to your comment.
      Thanks for sharing with me the feel with this problem Max.


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