Motorcycles Can’t be Automated

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What happens to motorcycles in a world of automated – not autonomous – cars?

Don’t you hate that slippery shuck and jive? “Autonomy” means independent; free from external control. We are talking about cars that will be utterly controlled – and not by you.

They have to resort to dishonest language (other examples include the Department of Defense, which is concerned with aggressively offensive actions) in order to sell what otherwise reeks.

Anyhow.

Bikes could probably be automated – as a purely technical matter. As a purely technical matter, almost anything can be done. But why bother? Who would want that? Unlike driving a car, riding a motorcycle is almost entirely about the riding. Not the getting wherever – but the trip itself.

About not being a passive lump transported from A to B – which is the whole ball of wax behind the idea of the automated car.

To not drive. To be driven.  To get the trip over with as expeditiously as possible – and to be free to do other things while being transported. Sleep, eat, text. Have sex. Anything except have to deal with the driving part of it.

With bikes, getting there is a letdown because the trip is over. It is not uncommon for riders to purposely dally; to explore side roads – or take the long way. Or tear back up the series of S curves you just tore down. 

While it’s true that people ride bikes because they are inexpensive relative to cars and use very little gas relative to cars, these are merely the excuses people give for the real reasons they ride bikes. They ride them because it is fun and because it is a challenge to ride well.

Not just anyone can do it – which they can do as far as driving a car. Which even without automated technology has become both boring and something that doesn’t require much in the way of skill, at least insofar as being able to push the “start” button and move the gear selector lever from Park to Drive.

Anyone – just about – can do that.

But a bike?

Almost all motorcycles have manual transmissions, first of all. Very much unlike most cars, nine out of ten of which come with automatics. And the way one shifts a bike is different than the way one shifts a manual-transmission car. On a bike, you operate the clutch with your left hand – and shift gears with your left foot. That same left hand is also responsible – at the same time – for imparting directional control via the handlebars. Which is only part of the way a bike’s direction is changed.

On a bike, one leans to steer. This involves shifting one’s weight while at the same time maintaining balance and keeping track of gears and shifting as well as throttle and braking.

On a bike, you roll on the throttle by rotating the right grip – which means using your right hand, which also (at the same time) is partly responsible for directional inputs.

And braking inputs.

There is a lever adjacent to the right grip that is squeezed to apply the front brake. That is to say, one brake. The rear brake is controlled separately, via a pedal, via pressure applied by the right foot. Some bikes have “linked” brakes – as all cars do – but most bikes still don’t. This means learning the art of applying exactly the right amount of pressure to the front brakes without over-squeezing and risking going “endo” – the front brake locking up, the rear of the bike continuing to move except now in a vertical arc.

And, conversely, of developing the necessary intuituve feel to not lock up the rear brake – and send the bike into a fatal skid.

On a bike, brake application is also used to steer the machine. This is the art of trail braking, practiced by high masters who are respectfully referred to as being “fast” by people who appreciate the art. On a bike, “fast” does not mean quick in a straight line. Any squid can do that. “Fast” means someone who can negotiate curves as if they were straight.

The point being, riding isn’t just about getting from A to B. If it were, most people who ride would drive instead. It’s easier and much more convenient and you never have to worry about getting wet or being cold or getting sunburned.

It is about being autonomous – independent of control, free. Even if bikes could be automated, bikers would want no part.

Because what, after all, would be the point?

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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39 COMMENTS

  1. The USA is a bankrupt warmongering police state.

    The default American response to the US collapse is to ignore the decay, excuse government abuse, attack the messengers who warn of the dangers of tyranny, and to blame everyone else except themselves for the decline.

    Americans are ignoring the obvious collapse of the US by sticking their heads in the sand and focusing instead on bread and circuses, celebrities, sports, movies, music, alcohol, drugs, and sex.

    Americans don’t care about government corruption and scandals.

    Americans will vehemently attack anyone who dares criticize their beloved government overlords by shouting “fake news!” or calling patriots spammers, trolls, shills, bots, racists, or nutjobs and demanding that the truth-tellers be censored, banned, get IRS audits, be arrested, or be killed.

    Americans quickly blame China, Russia, libtards, homosexuals, Communists, Nazis, blacks, Jews, Muslims, feminists, or illegal immigrants for the fall of the USA, but if Americans really want to know who is responsible, they just need to look in the mirror.

    The collapse of the US is shocking and disgusting.

    How can Americans sleep at night now?

    Every country has the government it deserves.

  2. Unfortunately… all the progressives have to do is ban motorcycles. Sounds crazy but think how the current path of our lost liberties; control healthcare, propaganda in public schools, access to energy and they control the population. In the not too distant future when the Hells Angels are peeing in their colostomy bags and our children have been given propaganda in school to hate *those machines that pollute and do not serve society* then: progressives will claim motorcycles are more dangerous than cars therefore your *health insurance* will not cover your accidents. Then they will mandate an all electric vehicles for safety and energy conservation to be controlled by computer. Can’t have those pesky machines running around their programming; tooooo dangerous.

      • Brian, this is from the comments section of that article:

        “And of course, it is a cyclist who complained. I understand not everyone who considers themselves a cyclist is a smug, Progressive, obnoxious asshole. But, my God, as group cyclist may be the biggest collection of obnoxious assholes associated with any sort of activity or hobby. They always seem to live up to the worst stereotype of them.”

        Ain’t it the truth? Granted, there are cyclists with common sense, but many are insufferable greenie pricks. One of them, according to the article, is giving Deblasio the excuse to push for his crackdown on mopeds.

        • Hi Ed,

          With you on this.

          I travel on the Blue Ridge Parkway almost every day; the road is narrow – designed back in the ’30s – and not meant for bicycles and cars to coexist due to that fact plus the often very steep grades that not even Lance Armstrong can ascend at more than a crawl relative to the speed of cars.

          The occasional cyclist is no problem – assuming he’s courteous and assuming a competent driver. But packs of cyclists, all apparently convinced they are competing in the Tour de France and accoutered accordingly, become the equivalent of plaque in an artery. These packs will typically just take over the road by not yielding to the cars stacking up behind them, even when the pack is barely able to manage 15-20 MPH on a road with a 45 MPH speed limit. They are not supposed to ride multiples abreast but often do. If you honk, they throw a hissy fit.

          I put them – these “types” – in the same class as the steroid-jacked wanna-be Lou Ferrignos I see at the gym sometime, who make a big show of themselves and practically demand that everyone behold and admire while they grunt and fart and flex and take up all the machines and weights on the floor.

          • In the Richmond ‘burbs, there’s a side road that rural drivers use to escape back to the sticks. It’s a winding 2 lane without any passing zones and with deep ditches that start at the edges of the pavement.

            From about 3pm to sundown, these suburban asshats in spandex get on that road when traffic is heavy for their workouts. I’ve never seen any of them with a mirror on their handlebars and they ride as if they’re on a closed course, suddenly swerving out to the centerline without even thinking that maybe a car is trying to ease past their oblivious asses.

            Someday, one or more of them is going to get run over because they don’t even consider the fact that they are riding in motor vehicle traffic during rush hour. Their virtue will save them they think.

            Assholes.

            • There’s really no need for a mirror on a bicycle. I’ve been bicycling vehicularly for over two decades without one. The reason being is that my hearing works. Not even Elon Musk’s wundercar can sneak up on me. Now I admit I’ve had false alarms and thought something was coming up on me when nothing is there but I hear what’s coming up on me.

              • Trust me, brent, these assholes around here need to use mirrors. They’ll be pumping along on the sideline and will swerve out to the centerline just as a car starts going around them.

                It doesn’t help them to have good hearing when they’re oblivious to what they hear.

                • Unless they are riding with headphones on they hear your motor vehicle just fine. I would have to see video of it to tell what they are aiming to accomplish if anything.

                  POBs (persons on bicycles) do move from side to side at random but that’s because they are the sort who have absolutely no clue about road (or path) riding. They are also the type to bike with headphones on.

                  I am sure many a motorist has considered me an asshole for riding as I do but I do know (from passing those who ride like me) that my sort of riding is easy to pass in most traffic situations. There are some exceptions like one road I used to live on. Of course the biggest problem I ever had on that road was when I was waiting in a long queue at a red signal and the motorist behind me didn’t like being behind me at a dead stop.

                  • Yeah, well that’s what I wrote:

                    “It doesn’t help them to have good hearing when they’re oblivious to what they hear.”

                    The fuckers don’t seem to care that they are obstructing rush hour traffic. They don’t ride like you do. That’s what is going to get one or more of them hurt sooner or later.

                    Seems like common sense would dictate to them that rush hour traffic on a narrow two lane, winding road isn’t the time or place to ride their bikes.

          • Organized rides are horrible for me because people block my progress by riding side by side. I have stayed away from group rides because I figure it’s much the same.

            As to honking. When I am at my nominal road position (right brake lever over the white line) on a four lane road and someone honks I move left. Why? Because they see me but are telling me they are incompetent so I need more run out room to my right. When I have moved to the right these morons have brush passed me, even forcing me off the road. I have been injured as a result of it. Thus I do not put myself in a situation where my only escape is to crash off the road.

        • Motorized bicycles are too slow. I’m faster peddling. I’ve caught up to and passed all of the one’s I’ve encountered while biking thus far.

          Keep in mind the politically active “cyclists” are an anti-motoring bunch. To them bicycling is virtue signalling. Once they get rid of the motor vehicles bicycles will be next. Bicycles in their politics are like solar and wind energy. Just something to use to get people back under the control of the nobility and eliminate, ration, or control once they have done so.

  3. So far they’ve gotten away with divide and conquer, but throughout history a critical mass of pissed off outsiders is always reached. I might already exercise my right to drive faster than the numbers some control freak put on a sign, I may exercise my right to drive every damned day without a suicide strap on, I might even exercise my right to have militarily useful hardware while doing so.
    I know I’m far from alone. And when that critical mass is reached, the control freaks will pray for deliverance from what they’ve caused. And their prayers will be in vain since they broke every real commandment long ago.
    I just want to be left alone, but the control and enforcement types never learn.
    Peace brothers. And keep the faith.

  4. I’m actually surprised there hasn’t been a more organized attempt to ban motorcycles for being “unsafe”.

    But in a world of controlled cars, there won’t be a place for motorcycles at all. When they are banned on the open road, maybe they will hang on for a few decades at tracks, but I imagine that limited use would make it unprofitable to make any more new ones.

  5. The real question is what happens to motorcycles if they succeed in convincing all car drivers to use only automated self driving cars which communicate with each other and are controlled from a central authority? Do motorcycles become illegal? And if motorcycles are the ONLY vehicle that an individual can control then perhaps motorcycles will become much much more popular. Everyone with any desire for freedom will be getting on a bike. But how will motorcycles interact with automated cars on the roads? Will automated cars be able to avoid turning left in front of a speeding motorcycle?

      • All expensive items over say $100 bucks are all going to be in constant contact 24/7 soon.

        (I’m sorry Dave your bowels are highly irregular. But your wife has made it so you can’t take your handpad or portable miniXbox into the self evacuating shit closet because ewwww gross as she told Siri from day 1) Stahp Dave Stahp.
        http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/001/279/090/e97.png

        That ELD crap voice and video activated Alexa AuthorityBot foderol is going to roll out world wide, it’ll just be one app that will come with every device, and you can never shut the thing off. All capital worth $100 bucks or more will have IP and GPS pingers built into them.
        http://www.ccjdigital.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2014/11/ELD-in-use_D3S4177-300×240.jpg

        if they keep on their roll, that is, which I’m not sure they will. i’m here because I still believe we can win at least a few minor battles if not the war.

        Your fridge, TV, Bike, Self Driving Car, Sail Fawn, Food Printer and Nuclear Wave Prep Machine will all have the nanny tech from the factory till it dies.

    • Hi Krista,

      I am certain that, eventually, motorcycles will be banned for exactly this reason. Carpe diem.

      At this point, one can almost see the pincers closing…

      • eric, that’s when I get into offroad for real. We’ll have an offroad war, camo heat shield clothing and military drones looking for us. After all, defying “authoritah” is no longer acceptable no matter how minor an infraction it might “seem” to be.

        But I gave those people permission to pass on my land. No, you can’t give permission. That’s interstate commerce and that’s in the big Con…..yeah we use the Constitution we it suits us. No, you can’t…..civilian….

      • Eric, notice that all the discussion of pending mandates and regulations on cars and trucks for safety, fuel economy, and automated braking and the like don’t mention motorcycles at all. No discussion in any mainstream media of any effects of these rules on future new motorcycles, in other words. I find this ominous.

        For this reason I suspect you and RichB are right, and one day we will see the end of allowing motorcycles to use the roads.

        It would be interesting to see if bikers and manufacturers have waken up to this issue. My fear is that none will until it’s too late.

      • While it certainly seems like the inevitable endgame is banning motorcycles, I don’t actually think that will happen. Perhaps I am too optimistic. But the authoritarians know that people who ride won’t go quietly.

        • Hi Krista,

          I never thought America would have “checkpoints” – and it would have been literally ridiculous, in my youth, to suggest that air travelers in America would be forced to let government goons feel their crotches as a condition of boarding an airplane.

          That not “buckling up for safety” would become a pretext for an armed government worker to assault you.

          Anything can happen, unfortunately.

  6. That’s funny, Tor, I’ve been saying that for about 30 years now. I also have advocated tying drunk drivers who have killed or maimed others, to the front bumper of their cars. Apparently neither will fly, because solutions don’t generate revenue for the State, only band-aids, Sate administered, of course.
    I do, however, expect 2-wheelers to be assaulted by the govt. before long. There is always some untalented, unskilled troll in power dying to ruin the joy of anyone, and everyone, else exercising what little freedom is still left, especially if there is coercive profit to be made. The waters have already been test with the H.D. factory re-jetting kits and subsequent “fines” levied for “noncompliance”. Once these pricks see even a hint of deference, they will go for broke, literally.

    • Yeah Gamma Tau Chi that going the distance song is playing in my head all the time these days.

      Not a good version of it either.

      Frakking Fraternal order of heroes, the frat we all have to perpetually pledge to join. And do deadly humiliating pledge tricks for their runaway American dream.

      Cake~ Going the Distance video
      Racing footage from different movies, cut to the song
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zStIm0gNnUw

    • Tor,
      Yes, drunk drivers are horrible, but lets not forget the 26,000 killed yearly by ‘sober’ drivers.
      IMO, 85 or more % of deaths on the highways are completely avoidable, no one is going
      to admit they were following way too close, or they were driving too fast, or they were
      trying to ‘show’ or teach the other ‘driver’ how poor their driving is,
      as well as failing to drive to accommodate current conditions, and in general driving like ‘idiots’ .
      Sober drivers are almost always given a pass when they kill others on the highways.

      • I’ve learned the hard way that it is socially unacceptable to point out the fact that modern DUI laws are severely punishing people who’s driving is within the normal range of sober drivers.

        It is perfectly acceptable in this society to drive poorly so long as one is completely sober. But if one has some arbitrary BAC but still drives better than the accepted minimum he’s a monster. Even if he didn’t harm anyone or anything and the sober driver did.

  7. If they really meant it about forcing us militarily to go green? Why not get motorcycle use up to 100%.

    They could make it mandatory to ride a motorcycle for anyone who is capable. So long as conditions and circumstance allow.

    Or jack up tolls 1000% for anything but motorcycles, that would work great here in Houston where there’s so many nearly unavoidable tollways.

    Who’s afraid of Fukushima
    http://www.viewzone.com/afraid-of-Fukushima.html

    Galen Winsor – A FREE NUCLEAR ENERGY ECONOMY
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKOTKdhBm_4

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