Electronics and classic motorcycles over 25 years

It was just too late
ER Classics Desktop 2022

In the past, motorcycling was something for people without money for a car. Now it's a high tech lifestyle thing. In the past, technology was mechanical and the capabilities were still human understanding. We are classic enthusiasts. And we started talking about the motorcycles of today, about the classics of the future. And we remained confused ...

Motorcycling 2.0

In the mid-50s, Honda came up with the advertising slogan: “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”. With that, the brand took motorcycling out of the social corner. In the early 75s, Europeans and North Americans were given free time and money. Japanese motorcycles were modern and reliable. Motorcycling became fun! The beginning of the fun motorcycling started with the 5 hp BMW R750 / 750 and the 67 cc Honda CB50 four-cylinder with 200 hp. The BMW could easily have had more power, but the serious looking Germans with square foreheads had decided after thorough research that XNUMX hp was the maximum safe power for the open road. In the meantime - if you have the money for it - you can buy a motorcycle with a power of XNUMX hp. Just for the public road.

It's all because of the electronics

All that capacity grew and grew because mechanical engineering developed very quickly with the aid of computer-assisted designs. And because the electronics had not only replaced the old-fashioned drawing tables, but had also come aboard those modern engines, things went fast in all respects. Very hard. The Kawasaki Ninja H2 Turbo in sport / tour version does not weigh 260 kilos yet and has a capacity of 200 hp. The competition has less power. But the ratio between weight and power makes these motorcycles more suitable for a gun license than for a driver's license. The current top motorcycles are electronically adjusted at a highest speed of 299 km / h. Because in particular the Germans thought that Suzuki's Hayabusa (peregrine falcon) with 300 km / h for a motorcycle on the public road was on the fast side.

Excess harms

Such an enormous amount of power is actually nonsensical and unusable. But the marketers saw it as trade and the engineers proved that it was possible. The circuit version of the Kawasaki also has 310 hp. But then there remains the basis of motorcycling: Motorcycles function best when they are balanced and when both tires hit the ground. The forward speed and the gyroscopic effect of the wheels provide a good balance. The control of the motorcycle is noticeably better if both wheels hit the ground and there is a sensible transfer of forces between the tires and the force play between the tires and the road surface. And then we come back to: "Such an enormous amount of power is actually nonsensical and useless."

In Den Beginne there was the ABS

BMW pioneered with anti-lock systems on motorcycle front wheels. For motorcycles, the front brakes are the most important. In the event of an emergency stop, it may happen that the front wheel is blocked. It comes to a standstill in relation to the road surface. A stationary front wheel no longer controls. It shifts. The rider falls. Does 'soil investigation', gets 'asphalt eczema'.

The ABS senses with sensors whether the wheel is turning or standing still. If the front wheel blocks, the ABS controls the wheel to roll again. This super-fast 'stuttering' braking ensures that the motorcycle slows down to the maximum without the wheel blocking. Fine! An ABS is the most sensible member of the army of electronic line cousins ​​who has meanwhile been pushed up as an answer to the question “How do I turn a firecracker with a short fuse into a manageable means of transport? "

The electronics take over the power

The enormous power of horsepower (the kilo Watts do not want to get a foothold in motor land) is meaningless and dangerous. But customers love it. If you unleashed such an engine block, the driver m / f usually removes himself quickly from the gene pool. In the event of a sudden throttle, the rear tire will spin over the asphalt like a madman because he finds too little grip. If he finds a grip, that "the engine climbs into his chain". The front wheel is pulled off the ground and the engine runs on its rear wheel. This is then called a 'wheelie' and considerably reduces controllability.

Switching back too fast will block the rear wheel because the engine cannot handle the sudden difference in speed immediately. This causes the rear wheel to bounce. If - as usual - this happens just before a turn, the rider enters that turn fairly uncontrollably. Or out. Of course, the technicians have already made that infallible violence more user-friendly. Because such a top motorcycle would otherwise only be useful for a highly talented rider under ideal circuit conditions. What did they come up with?

We have listed the most common on-board electronics:

*ABS, Anti-lock Braking System, Anti Blocking System. Electronic control system that prevents wheel locking during hard braking. Also: 'Always Stop Stopping'. A very sensible system that has saved quite a few lives.

*ABS with UBS, Anti blocking system with slope detection. The 'curves ABS'. The system therefore also works optimally in turns.

*ASC Automatic Stability Control, an electronic management system for stability control.

*CCU, Communication Control Unit, user-friendly interface for data logger. Transfers engine and lap data wirelessly to tablet or smartphone. So that you can read out exactly where things went wrong.

*CPU, Central Processing Unit, The brain of a modern engine. With considerably more computing power than that of the lunar lander. (1969).

*CVTconstant variable transmission. An electronically supported stepless transmission. As in: “DAF's ancient Variomaat. But smarter. For a smoother driving experience.

*Data Logger: digital data storage concerning the journey, the technology. Readable with tablet or smartphone.

*DTC, Dynamic Traction Control. Electronic control unit, allows more wheel slip up to defined limits and supports sporty and dynamic driving.

*EBS, Engine Brake Control Electronic system that 'together with the slipper clutch / anti-hopping clutch' ensures that the rear wheel does not block or bounce when the gas suddenly closes or abruptly switches back.

*ECU, Electronic Control Unit. The digital brain of the on-board electronics.

*ECU / ECM Engine Control Unit / Electronic Control Module. Another 'brain'. Combines (many) measurement and control functions.

*EDS, Electronic Damping System. Electronic system with which the spring preload can be adjusted / optimally adjusted depending on the load in front and rear in stairs.

*ESA, Electronic Suspension Adjustment, Electronic system with which the damping (and suspension) can be controlled / controlled.

*IMU, Internal Measurement Unit (Bosch). That is a smart multi-tasker. The Inertial Measurement Unit, developed in the space industry, continuously measures the position of the motor in different dimensions ('axes') and processes data that it receives from various sensors. This is how the Bosch MM5.10 UMI 5D measures the inertial data: roll (ΩX), yaw (vultures, waving, ship's term) (ΩZ), longitudinal acceleration (aX), transverse acceleration (aY) and vertical acceleration (aZ), the angle of inclination and pitch (The tendency of the front and rear of the motor to move up and down regardless of each other, due to changes in road surface) can also be calculated by a microcontroller. With this data, a laundry list of functions can be controlled.

* LCD Liquid Crystal Display, display that works with liquid crystals.

*FEAM, Fuel Economy Assitance Mode, software that promotes fuel-efficient driving.

*LCS: Launch Control System, electronic control system that ensures acceleration is controlled. Also: "Anti Wheelie Control."

*LIFT control, Electronic control system that ensures that no uncontrolled wheelies are made.

*OBD / OBDII On-Board Diagnostics, fault diagnosis system on board the motorcycle itself.

*PWR: Power modes. Electronics that control the motor characteristic according to your current situation. Also: driving modes. Think of 'rain', 'tours' and 'highway'.

*RBW, Ride by Wire. No more control cables, but electrically controlled components.

*TFT LCD display, Thin Film Transistor, a fast-responding display.

*TPMS Tire Pressure Monitoring System, tire pressure monitoring system.

*QSS: Quickshift System. Electronic control system that briefly interrupts the ignition during switching without clutch.

*DRC, Reifendruck check, (BMW) tire pressure monitoring system. Mocking: Rarely Displays Correctly.

*SC: Slide Control. Electronic control system that prevents breaking of the rear wheel under load in curves.

*TC Traction Control, system that prevents the rear wheel from turning under power.

*TCS, Traction Control System. Prevents the rear tire from turning under acceleration.

*UBS, Unified Brake System. Yamaha's version of the coupled front / rear braking system

*USB, Universal Serial Bus, general software connection. Also for GPS etc.

*YCC-T Chip Controlled Throttle, Yamaha's ride-by-wire / electronically controlled throttle control.

And then of course we also have cruise control for safe journeys on routes with route speed measurement and the various variants that brands bring to market under their own names.

You get texts like: "The IMU (Internal Measurement Unit) is the soul of the concept, where the rider can choose from different levels of" electronic strategies ", such as DWC, DTC and Cornering ABS. The IMU measures, among other things, 'swinging out' of the rear of the engine in turns, the angle of inclination and speed to allow maximum braking force during cornering, and it manages the DWC to wheelie the power of the bike (the from the front wheel). The IMU also controls the LED cornering lighting. The DTC and DWC each have eight sensitivity levels that can be reprogrammed from the factory settings. The IMU also interacts with the semi-active spring system

Spoiler alert

And in the meantime Honda has already come up with a self-stabilizing motorcycle that can run behind its owner on two wheels at a strolling pace. The next step might be the self-driving motorcycle for people who prefer to sit on the couch at home.

The conclusion

'Just because it's possible' has pushed the limits of motorcycling very much. In the meantime, it is still possible to crash on such a high-tech engine. And the enthusiastic owner of something so beautiful that gave up on all the possibilities of his motorcycle was told by a cynical, old school motorcyclist: "Why don't you just learn to ride a motorbike?" on the empty sweeping of a Viagra package and then quietly sorting out your stamp collection.

But that after our meditations we immediately wanted to buy a few recent motorcycles to cherish them as merciless classics in 25 years? No, we didn't want to get that greedy warm feeling. Motorcycles threaten to develop as an integral part of the communication platform that every smart phone is today. And all that electronics? Will there be a replacement for it in 25 years if something breaks?

Fortunately, there is a 'back to then' trend. Whether the motorcycles from that corner will become legendary classics? We do not know that. But in any case they are recognizable, deployable and fun motorcycles. So, as classic enthusiasts, we look to the future in a sunny way.


That changed the world



Give a reaction
  1. Dear Pascal.

    An 41 sidevalve? So an 74 CID, or a .45 WLA or WLC Libby?

    And a primary drivechain broken? How come

    The fact that m, n 1947 EL 61 CID, 1000 cc, totally overhauled Knucklehead chopper with an 12 cm extended rigid / rigid, (1936 / 1947) frame and a fairly unique Triumph 1954 Mark Two Sprung Hub (unique invention between a “rigid” frame and a Featherbed frame of the Limey, s in) with then rear shocks, constructed, like HD only last…. introduced in 1958 with the successor of the Hydra Glide to the Duo Guild for the much needed rear suspension, and for this bike the rear sprocket of the English motorcycles on the right, to HD. left secondary rear wheel chain drive had to convert with very custom made curved short spokes to make it fit on a 500/16 inch rim, achieving this speed does not mean that I have this in my “Old School” background still these high speeds for me go drive. No way Jose !! Still, Joe Petrali set the world speed record with the very first OHV HD Knucklehead on the salt flats in the USA as early as 1936. For me personally I think the “Knuck” is the most beautiful V-Twin HD design ever. Pure, almost post Art Deco. I already love cruising with 50/70 MPH. That's all Pascal. Kind regards, Fred Chopper.

    • A 41WLA Fred, and how the chain broke, Joost knows… shit happens.
      In the meantime another endless chain and sprocket have been mounted .. we can again.
      The cruise speeds that you quote suit my 45's just fine, and although the Knuck may be seen as the rescue angel for the MoCo, I prefer a side-valve… everyone's thing.

  2. Beautiful, humorous and again, a very well-founded article. Thanks and Chapeau!

    In almost 47 years of motorcycling I have gained a “little” motorcycle experience.

    Started in 1972 with a BMW R / 51/3 with plunger rear suspension AND telescopic front fork, which I immediately converted into one of the first Choppers in the Netherlands. The front frame tubes extended (so the headset is again at such an angle, 12 inch rake, for extended front forks, which also extended 12 inches so that the frame remains low and the chopper does not produce an idiot kind of triangle appearance) a la Peter Fonda, s 1968, still for me the most beautiful “Captain America” HD 1200 cc. 74 CID 1957 Hydra Glide HD Panhead ever built. I almost exactly recreated this chopper myself.

    But also drove dozens of other brands. OA Just a Yamaha V-MAX that was initially banned in Japan.

    And even a Benelli 6 and Honda 6 cylinder. BMW R / 50, R / 69 S, R / 75-5, K / 75 RS, K-90 R / S…. Honda 500 4 cyl. Honda CB 750 4 cyl. Beyond all those Norton Dominators / Commandos, Triumphs, BSA, s, AJS, s, Royal Enfield, s etc and you name it.

    Hoppeta, yes that Yammie V = MAX 1200 cc, V / 4 4 cylinder water cooled with Turbo. To the 100 km / h within seconds. And with far above the 140 in the third gear can still make wheelies. And that with m, n cut off
    MC jacket and T-shirt.

    No more for me: Dragging / speeding and full throttle wide open.

    42 has been driving an 1947 HD Knucklehead chopper for 170 years, which also runs 180 / XNUMX km / h.
    And only 41 year m, n also as indestructible (as loyal and reliable as an Opel Kadett and / or VW Beetle) 1974 Shovelhead chopper.

    Easy Riding for me. The intention is that this remains a pleasure, and not a speedy Ratrace ..

    Bikers don't grow old, they just mature.

    Best regards,



    Fred Chopper.

    • My old '41 side valve left me with a snapped primary chain yesterday on a KTR ride.
      These are of course also things that you have to factor in when you are on the road with old stuff ...
      Undoubtedly there will also be enough aftermarket in the future for newfashioned electronic bicycles, as is now also the case for old English and American.
      The future will teach us.
      170-180 on a '47 EL Knuck ... rather you than me Alfredo ... don't want to know what the (original old?) Technique thinks about it ..
      The only electronics on my lib is the cut-out relay, purely because the old coil-with-contact points is too sensitive to interference.
      Everyone their own thing, live and let live; if we all had the same taste we were in bed with the same woman and we all drove VAG ...

    • I think I now own that Captain America from Alfredo!
      Beautiful chopper, almost exactly recreated, except for the small front fender and a disc brake on the front wheel… ..

  3. Are the ok and kg values ​​not confused?
    Didn't the gtr1000 also have such a front suspension as the engine on the 1e photo? Farther back, say a pitiful thing. (The engine)?. Looks like a moving sewer pipe

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