I’ve been lucky over many years of motorcycling not to lose the front end on a loose or slippery surface – other than during an off-road training course and that was at a slow speed. I’ve had the back get away on mud and ended up on my arse however nothing too serious.
When these accidents occur, they can can happen very quickly and depending on the length of the changed surface, the situation can be saved – especially if the rider has a lot of dirt riding experience. They key is in where the weight of the rider is, which is the opposite of riding on a sealed road.
Bosch, the German electronics company, has come up with an interesting idea – compressed air. They have fitted a high pressure jet to the sides of a motorcycle and a sensor detects when the front wheel has lost traction and the angle of the bike. The jet is activated to counter the slippage.
It’s a one-off, in that the jet can only work once from the air canister, however it would make sense to carry spares in a pack. As the technology is still a prototype, there has been no discussion about refills and that would depend on the size of the compressed air canister.
I’ve watched the video several times to see what is happening. The patch of gravel used is very small and I would suspect that an experienced rider would be through the gravel so quickly that they would be able to manage the front end. I’ve seen riders get through a small patch of gravel and I’ve seen others not get through unmarked road works where the gravel was more than the length of the bike and the speed was legal for that piece of road.
This is a piece of physics that I’m sure one of my engineering readers will understand more than me. It is the velocity of the air jet that fascinates me – it needs to provide enough counter force for the slide, so it would presumably need to be configured to the weight of the bike with rider/passenger/luggage.
I wonder if we will see this head into production – other safety technology is slowly transferring from cars to motorcycles.