The motorcycle industry is booming, and more and more bikers are taking to the roads as spring approaches. New technology is helping to make motorcycling not only safer and more comfortable, but also boosting the fun factor. Continental’s new Emergency Brake Assist is a case in point.
Green shoots are out in the fields of rapeseed, and soon the countryside will be ablaze with bright yellow flowers. The last snow of a long winter is thawing on the high ground, and herds of cattle are returning to lush green pastures. Tables and chairs are being placed in the sunshine outside country inns. In other words, spring is here with all its joys – which include eager anticipation of the first outing of the new biking year. An entire industry is waiting for the start of what promises to be a record season. In Germany alone – one of Europe’s most important motorcycle markets – there are more motorbikes registered than ever before. According to official figures from the Federal Motor Transport Authority KBA, some 4.44 million motorcycles were registered as of January 1, 2019 – and that does not include mopeds and other motorized two-wheelers. This is an increase of more than half a million on 2010. And one of the reasons for the rising popu-larity of motorcycles is that they are getting safer all the time.
The growing impact of digitalization, a major mobility trend, is making itself felt on the motorcycle market too. Increasingly bikes are being fit-ted with assistance systems to make them even safer. At the same time, better and better tires for every conceivable type of use are delivering a marked increase in safety. But one of the key factors is connectivity, which is pointing the way forward for the industry. “Communication between motorcycles or between motorcycles and other road users” is, according to Reiner Brendicke, CEO of the Association of German Motorcycle Manufacturers (IVM), essential to ensure traffic safety. “This is particularly relevant for us as motorcyclists, as many accidents hap-pen because motorists fail to spot approaching motorcycles.” This will become increasingly critical as more driverless cars take to the roads. “There won’t be any scenarios in which conventional or electric motorcycles drive autonomously,” says Brendicke. “But we bikers will be sharing the road with highly automated, self-driving cars and trucks. So for our own safety, our bikes will need to be able to communicate with other vehicles.”
Continental is also following this trend. The technology company is aiming to be the first supplier to market an Emergency Brake As-sist for motorcycles. The radar-based system forms part of a wide range of Advanced Rider Assistance Systems (ARAS) from Continental. The new fifth generation of radar sensors from Continental, characterized by – among other things – an enhanced object recogniti-on capability, clears the way for a particularly high-performance Emergency Brake Assist. And while the development of the system for motorcycles benefitted from Continental’s long experience in the design and construc-tion of safety systems for cars and trucks, there are still some differences: Where the car’s Emergency Brake Assist autonomously triggers an emergency stop with full braking power when a collision is imminent, the motor-bike system brakes much more gradually. It is designed to help the rider rather than taking complete control. Continental’s accident research reveals that an Emer-gency Brake Assist system can prevent most rear-end collisions – and in the near future, even side-on or head-on collisions, too.
“Unlike car drivers, motorcyclists have virtually no protection against environmental factors such as wind, weather and vibration – factors that can make for a very challenging ride. As a result, bikers often find themselves in situations where it is hard for them to judge the speed of other vehicles on the road. So motorcycle Emergency Brake Assist is mainly indicative: It alerts the rider to critical situations and makes them easier to grasp more quickly,” says Christian Pfeiffer, ARAS project leader for the 2-Wheeler & Powersports segment at Continental. “Like in a car, this system too will reduce the speed, but the aim is to trigger a process which is then controlled by the rider. Response times are redu-ced and the overall stopping distance can be significantly shorter.”
Continental has also developed numerous other Advanced Rider Assis-tance Systems. These include Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control, which adapts the speed of the motorcycle to that of the vehicle in front. Also in the development pipeline are Blind Spot Detection & Lane Change Assist and Traffic Sign Assist, as well as Intelligent Headlight Assist, which ensures that high beam is automatically selected whenever possible and necessary. All systems are modular, so Continental can provide customized solutions that meet the special requirements of individual markets. In Asian countries in particular, where motorized two-wheelers are often the preferred everyday mode of transportation, these systems have the potential to deliver a significant increase in safety.
Tires also have a vital part to play in accident prevention, and a range of innovative tire technology is providing bikers with additional safety. By way of example, to coincide with the start of the new season, Conti- nental is launching its ContiTrailAttack 3 – the ideal tire for both long- distance touring and urban riding. Riders of a variety of machines will benefit: The new tire covers a very wide range of applications, from the classic Enduro to the likes of the BMW R 80 Basic, or from high-per-formance tourers such as Honda’s Africa Twin to the thoroughbred Kawasaki Z 900 superbike. The tire reaches its operating tempera-ture after only 1,500 meters and, thanks to Continental’s innovative “TractionSkin” technology, requires a minimum of running-in time. The selected compound and modified tread pattern deliver even better wet-weather grip, along with high reliability throughout the service life of the tire.