Turning a corner – Overcoming a bad biking habit


One of my abiding memories of learning to ride a motorbike is the sound of my instructor’s voice in my radio earpiece, telling me calmly (but with increasing frustration): “Cancel your indicator”, whenever I rode away from a junction.

As a car driver, I am used to the car taking care of this as I straighten the steering wheel.  I rarely give it a thought.  The idea of having to remember to manually cancel the turn signal on the bike when exiting a junction, especially with so much else to think about, was completely alien to me.  It did not come naturally, to say the least.

So I was fairly smug about the fact that, having passed my test, I bought a bike equipped with… self-cancelling indicators.  (Take that, instructor Marvin!)

Still not especially common on motorbikes, even this seemingly small feature is an area of some technological development.  A patent granted to Harley Davidson in 1990 describes a system in which a microprocessor reviews the speed of the motorcycle when a turn signal is activated, and references a lookup table to determine the proper distance at which to automatically turn off the signal, based on the speed of travel.  A later Harley Davidson patent, granted in 2001, describes a more sophisticated system in which an accelerometer senses lateral forces acting on the motorcycle so that a processor can determine the beginning and end of a turn manoeuvre, and cancel the indicator a predetermined time after the turn is completed and the bike is travelling in a straight line.

There are many more patents in this area too, including further developments by companies like Yamaha, Honda and Robert Bosch.  And it’s a feature I still appreciate whenever I’m on the bike.


Category: Publications | Author: Nick South | Published: | Read more

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