Friday, November 07, 2008

News from Honda.

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. The boss has been down. That always keeps me busy. Evening times are tied up with client dinners. Since the boss is out of town, he's got nothing to occupy him in an empty hotel room. So we take people to dinner. The good news is that it means a great meal at company expense. The bad news is that dinners go to 7:30 or 8 PM. Since the restaurants are in Portland, that means an hour and 15 minutes to get home afterwards.

I'm ashamed to say it, but I only rode two days this week. For one thing, the boss flies down. Which means I drive. He's pretty good about my riding a bike for work. Unfortunately, as of yet, I haven't been able to convince him to ride pillion! Oh well. The other thing is that I can enjoy a beer or two with the meal. If I'm riding, it's a self-imposed rule written in stone. No alcohol. Period.

Today I'm sitting in front of the laptop catching up on reports. I needed a break so it was a perfect time to slip in a post. In another few minutes I have to attend a webinar that will last two hours. More computer screen time.

I rode on Monday to the Big City. As much as I'd like to take back roads, it works out better for time and distance to travel the freeway. Yeah, it's boring, but it's seat time. Other commuters are bored, too, it seems. I passed a guy in a small Subaru sedan. He had a small, round, head. Not much chin to speak of. Sticking out the back of his head was a ponytail. I wonder if the act of pulling his hair back into the ponytail shortened his jawbone? One thing for sure is that the ponytail must have been putting undue pressure on his brain. This guy was doing a crossword puzzle while driving. Propped onto the steering wheel was a book of puzzles. A pen was in his hand.

I'm pretty sure he didn't actually have the multi-tasking skills for this. Watching in my mirrors, I'd see the car twitch like he'd drifted and corrected quickly. One time he went over two lanes. The car twitched again and went back right one lane. I was tempted to turn him in but let it go. None of the news stations I listen to reported a wreck so I hope all turned out well.

Last week or so I did a post on motorcycle ABS. I'd heard a rumor that Honda was going to install ABS on all its bikes in the next couple of years. So I hunted it down and found the source. Honda had a report issued in May of this year. The rumor is true. The photo above is of Honda's CEO as he's delivering the speech. Honda has big plans to become more efficient in producing cars and motorcycles. Secondly, they want to be more "green". Thirdly, there's plans to incorporate more safety features into their vehicles.

Here's the quote from the report on the ABS.

"In the area of safety technology, Honda will install a motorcycle airbag system and ABS (Antilock Brake System) on more products. Honda plans to install ABS in all 250cc or larger class models worldwide, except off-road models, by the end of 2010.

In advanced nations, Honda will introduce its innovative environmental and safety technologies including a Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system for motorcycles which significantly improves fuel efficiency as well as electronically-controlled combined ABS (C-ABS), an advanced brake system which further improves stability while braking. Moreover, Honda will improve the product attractiveness of medium-to-large size models and strengthen those aspects of a product which contribute to the joy of riding .
Motorcycle R&D will also be strengthened with a determination and passion to create the Super Cub of the next generation. "

So it seems this even includes the Rebel!

Interestingly, Honda attributes a lot of its success and strength to motorcycle production.

It's not listed in this report, but Honda is also working on navigational systems that will incorporate safety features. I read about a system that will issue a warning when another vehicle gets within a certain proximity. Kind of like the military's bogie warning systems! When a talented Japanese company like Honda puts its collective mind to something, the results should be impressive! Here's some information from that report.

"Honda has demonstrated motorcycle safety technology for the first time at an automotive technology event in Germany earlier this month.'s Julian Goldsmith reports Honda's motorcycle technology is in line with UK government initiatives launched in July to encourage manufacturers to consider motorcycle safety and put together an assessment program.

According to the government, motorcycles account for one per cent of road traffic, but account for 20 per cent of those killed on the road.

Honda cites an EU funded research project called the Motorcycle In-Depth Study published in 1999, which found of the 88 percent of motorcycle accidents caused by human error, 38 percent were due to the motorcyclist and 50 percent were the fault of the other driver.

Of the latter, the majority of accidents occurred because of perception failures (failing to see the motorcycle) or comprehension failures (not recognizing the approaching object as a motorcycle) or decision failures (failing to assess the speed of the oncoming motorcycle and pulling out).

A significant proportion of motorcycle accidents involve an oncoming vehicle either pulling out of a minor road on a junction into the path of the motorcycle, or crossing into the path of an oncoming motorcycle to turn right from a major road into a minor road.

Honda's main safety feature generates warnings to both vehicles as they are approaching each other by delivering continuous positioning data over the GPS network.

Honda says the Vehicle2Vehicle (V2V) system will work with its vehicles and those of eight other manufacturers and it is participating in projects in Europe, Japan and the US.

The warning indicator display varies in intensity, color and position of the lights to inform the rider of the seriousness and direction of the hazard ahead. A further enhancement of the system is a spoken warning relayed to the rider's helmet via Bluetooth connection.

Other safety initiatives include this riding simulator that can be used for training learner motorcyclists before they get out on the road. The trainer puts the student through a number of safety exercises.

Another safety feature going into the manufacturer's production of Super Sports bikes for the first time this year is electronically controlled Combined ABS, to provide enhanced braking capability in a wide range of road conditions. "

I finally have a weekend off. Katie's been neglected because I've spent so many weekends teaching. Trying desperately to remember to keep things balanced, I'm going to devote some time to worshipping her!

Stay tuned for next week. There are several interesting topics coming up here. In the meantime you can read the entire report from Honda here.

Miles and smiles,



Charlie6 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie6 said...

Hi Irondad

" I read about a system that will issue a warning when another vehicle gets within a certain proximity. Kind of like the military's bogie warning systems!" I like it, now if we can mate it to something on the bike that blows a shaped charge outwards in the direction of said'd have to figure out how to counteract the recoil of course but just think how much distance people would give us motorcyclists at that point!

Balisada said...

Yeah, that announcement caused a stir on the Rebel forums.

There was some liking the idea, and some saying that it's overkill.

I am thinking of the few times I had to stop quickly and was glad that I didn't really need ABS, since I was not going all that fast anyway (just accelerating from a stop), but it would be nice to have it for the time that I am going faster than 20mph.

I have put 19,000 miles on my Rebel and only thought of moving up once (have since abandoned that idea), but now that this ABS thing is in the works, I sure am jealous.


Conchscooter said...

I am falling off the cliff of grumpy old age. I hope my carburetted GPS-less Bluetooth-less Bonneville keeps going long enough that when I'm gumming my grits in a rest home I can bitch endlessly about all those old fangled electrons messing up a perfectly decent motorcycle.

-Tim said...

I will be happy the day I can afford a new bike...with actual fuel injection, and ABS...

Dean W said...

As much as I like having ABS on the FJR...

I am not encouraged by the notion that you make people safer by adding more technology. I fear too much teh law of Unintended Consequences. What's a rider going to do when they're already reacting to something and warning lights start distracting them?

That, and the fact that it's in the face of my notion of personal responsibility and being... alive. Not just a meat puppet, twitching and jerking to do what my safety monitors make me do.

Tinker said...

They gonna retrofit the ABS onto existing bikes? Because thats what it would take to get me on ABS.

No I do not object to ABS, but the $1000 that it usually adds to the price of an already expensive ride, take a lot of the fun from it.

Dean W said...

Refitting ABS onto a bike is technically quite feasible. I don't see it happening en mass, though- manufacturers would be afraid of liability if they get it wrong.

irondad said...

I would love to have some sort of handlebar mounted rocket launcher. With the recoil problem, though, I'd settle for a laser.

Congratulations on the mileage! The solution is simple. Just go out and put on a bunch more miles. Then you'll need a new Rebel, anyway!

Ok, Your Grumpiness. Here's something else to gum on. Today's bikes will be the "simple" bikes to the upcoming generation. Your Bonnie and my ST will be the "dinosuars". We'll be sitting around drooling down our chins and telling stories of how things used to be. Encouraging, isn't it?

Just wait until you get relocated to Portland. Things are magical here in Oregon!

Dean W,
Well said, and I totally agree. On the other hand, you look so entertaining twitching on the ends of those wires!

I agree with Dean about the liability thing. Maybe not on the price, though. Riders who have come through our classes and actually had ABS save them swear it's worth any price. Look on the bright side. More resale value!

Take care,


Jeff In NY said...

On the safety topic... A local paper has reported that NY state fatalities (2006 to 2007) are down 8%. The same article points to an 11% decrease in motorcycle fatalities. What great news! Of course I have yet to see this hyped in a bigger news market like fatality increases are. That is too bad...

Here is a link to the article: