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Three electronic aids adventure riders (should) love | NEWS

Once deemed a nuisance on dirt, electronics are becoming more and more relevant in off-road conditions.

1: The third dimension

Until very recently, electronic rider aids were two dimensional. Like Newton’s third law of motion, if ‘that’ happened then ‘this’ occurred. For example, if the ABS sensed either of the wheels locking under braking pressure, then it would react and do what it needed to ensure the wheel resumed turning. Likewise, if the traction control system sensed a loss of r traction then, with little regard as to what the rider’s intentions were, it would simply cut the ignition and bring everything back in line as surely nature, or the manufacturer, intended.

That all changed rather dramatically with the introduction of the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU). Using an inbuilt gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer, the IMU calculates orientation, movement and g-forces. It can measure angular acceleration and the force in which pitch, yaw and roll are all occurring, it’s doing this up to 10 times per second and it’s adjusting those once quite rudimentary electronic systems to work with you, your environment and your riding conditions.

2: Active suspension

Active and semi-active suspension makes very good sense on adventure bikes. It’s not uncommon to find yourself scratching up a mountain pass one minute and hopping over small logs and creek beds the next. With both styles of riding demanding very different suspensions settings to get the most enjoyment, and success, out of both scenarios, the suspension technology means the days of finding an ideal setting somewhere in the middle are over.

With both active and semi-active systems, the bike can go from a stiff set-up suited to fast, sporty riding to a softer, more forgiving set-up in, literally, the blink of an eye and the rider doesn’t have to do or know anything about the hows or whys. Unsurprising, the systems use a combination of inputs from the aforementioned Inertial Measurement Unit as well as inputs from the bike’s ABS and Traction Control systems and, in around 10 milliseconds, has adjusted your suspension to a setting best suited to your riding. Who wouldn’t love that?

3: Here, let me

“Hey mister adventure-bike rider, you’ve got better things to think about than changing gears. Let me do that for you,” is what Honda’s top-spec Africa Twin is saying these days. And while it’s yet to be seen if adventure riders actually will end up falling for the technology, its potential to have people doing things and riding places they otherwise wouldn’t go certainly earns it a mention in the lovable electronics list.

But the latest generation of Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission is far more than the seamless shift automatic gearbox the firm debuted on the VFR1200 in 2009. These days, using that all-important IMU, as well as the RPM and throttle position inputs, the smarts are detecting whether the bike’s heading up or down a hill, it knows the degree of inclination and it’s adjusting the shift rate accordingly. At very low RPM, it’s assuming you’re traversing a rugged section and, using all of those new dimensional inputs, it’s feathering the clutch and looking after all the tricky stuff for you.