Bosch Announces Side View Assist for Motorcyles

German technology giant Bosch who are pioneers of motorcycle ABS and stability control systems has announced another new device to help improve the safety of riders, side view assist. Dubbed the world’s first assistance system for motorcycles, the device uses four ultrasonic sensors that monitor their surroundings to help riders change lanes safely. The sensors cover a distance of up to five meters in areas that are difficult or impossible to see using just the mirrors.

Whenever there is a vehicle in the rider’s blind spot, the technology warns them by way of an optical signal close to the mirror, so they can for example avoid a collision when changing lanes. “We want to make motorcycling safer without sacrificing riding enjoyment,” says Bosch board member Dr. Dirk Hoheisel. This is obviously very similar to blind spot warning systems that have been available in cars for a number of years. It’s probably even more warranted on bikes, which only have two side mirrors, no direct rear view mirror and helmets which can tend to block peripheral version somewhat.

The rear sensors monitor the blind spot in the neighboring lanes to the left and right. The two front sensors provide a plausibility check. If the front left sensor detects an object before the rear left sensor does, then the control unit knows that this is an oncoming vehicle on the other side of the road – and issues no warning. Vehicles that are in the process of parking are similarly recognized and do not lead to a warning. Only if one of the rear ultrasonic sensors registers an object before the front sensors do will the system issue a warning to the rider; it does not intervene in their riding maneuvers.

Perhaps the only negative to the system is that it’s only effective at speeds from 25 to 80 kilometres per hour. Given freeway speeds often hit or exceed 100 kilometres an hour, that’s an unfortunate limitation on an otherwise interesting piece of technology.

Bosch and Honda Working on new Motorcycle Airbag Systems

We’ve seen recently that both Dainese and Alpinestars are getting serious about promoting airbag jackets for riders. But they no doubt have their limitations. They have to be charged and in the case of Dainese’s offering needs to be integrated with the bike itself. Hence why its good to see that two recent patents point the way to the potential for more motorcycles with built in airbags.

Such devices wouldn’t be the first – Honda released their Gold Wing almost a decade ago with an optional airbag and still sells it with that option today. It’s no surprise then that Honda is looking to further the technology with a system that may have potential in other styles of bikes

The new airbag is designed to extend vertically from its compartment which sits roughly at the front where the fuel tank normally is. It’s positioning is helped given that the patent uses Honda’s NC750S as the basis for the airbag which is a motorcycle whose fuel tank sits beneath the riders seat instead of in front of the rider as normal.
Bosch and Honda Working on new Motorcycle Airbag Systems

Upon deploying, the airbag is designed to extend up high enough to ensure the riders’ head is protected, even if he or she is thrown forward up the tank – something that can obviously happen in an accident where massive deceleration occurs. The airbag also extends towards the riders stomach and lower chest, providing more cushioning to internal organs in those locations.

The second patent that has recently been filed comes from Bosch, technological leaders in much of the cutting edge technology we see on bikes today, including cornering ABS and high end traction control systems. Bosch’s system is designed to be more universal in nature meaning it can be adopted and utilised on a variety of motorcycle types, including sportsbikes and even scooters.

Bosch’s system even includes the possibility of two airbags – one at the front of the bike near the headlights to act as a cushion to slow the bikes impact, and a second airbag extending from near the handlebars or top of the triple tree to protect the riders chest and head.

Neither solution is obviously perfect and airbags built into motorcycles will only work in certain types of crashes. They won’t for example provide any protection when a rider is hit from the side or when they come off the bike. But these new inventions from Honda and Bosch, alongside airbag clothing from Alpinestars and Dainese are ways to cover different risks and hopefully minimise rider injuries and fatalities.

Bosch and Honda Working on new Motorcycle Airbag Systems

Bosch To Focus Increasingly on Motorcycle Technology

Bosch, the automotive component designer and manufacturer is looking to further consolidate its position within the motorcycle industry and has created a new business unit – Two-wheeler and Powersports – to develop further high end motorcycle technology but also to take advantage of the huge growth in countries like India, China and regions such as South East Asia.

Bosch is one of the big suppliers for motorcycle ABS and other stability systems. In fact, they were the sole provider of Cornering ABS systems until Continental’s system was announced in the new BMW S 1000 XR. Part of their search for growth will for these technologies to become mainstream in western markets. But much of their expansion will take place in developing economies.

One of the most important components for Bosch will be engine management systems. While such systems are standard in all western motorcycles, there’s still a huge amount of bikes sold in India and China that use carburetors rather than fuel injection. With motorcycle sales worldwide expected to grow to 160 million by 2021 (a third more than today), there’s huge potential for growth (and big benefits for fuel consumption and emissions).

For those of us in the west, Bosch will also further develop interfaces for connecting motorcycles with smartphones or tablets as well as connected cloud services. “Our systems put even more safety, efficiency, and fun to ride into the motorcycle,” says Geoff Liersch, head of the new Bosch business unit. In conjunction with a smartphone app, owners will be able to activate the immobilizer, or read out fault memory. Bosch also offers the Bluetooth interface or connectivity control unit needed for these applications.

The full press release from Bosch is below:

Bosch Engine Management Systems


Bosch intends to reposition itself in the rapidly expanding global motorcycle market. The technology and services company is about to pool its motorcycle activities from the areas of riding safety systems, powertrain technology, and display instruments into one business unit, the newly formed “Two-Wheeler and Powersports.” The objective is to address the individual requirements of motorcycle manufacturers worldwide even more effectively. What’s more, Bosch is looking to expand its product portfolio and strengthen its expertise in two-wheeler system solutions. “Bosch technology for more efficiency and safety should be part of any car, and in the future, the same will go for motorcycles,” says Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, member of the board of management at Robert Bosch GmbH. “We are aiming to become a leading supplier in the motorcycle market, too.”

Two-Wheeler and Powersports is part of the Bosch Mobility Solutions business sector. With its headquarters in Yokohama, Japan – the very heart of the international motorcycle industry – and branches in the United States, Europe, India, and China, Bosch has a global reach here. In addition to powered two-wheelers, it is planned that the new business unit will serve the market for special-purpose vehicles such as quads, personal watercraft, and snowmobiles.

The unit, which is starting off with about 40 associates, can draw upon a worldwide network of several thousand colleagues plus the manufacturing capacity of the Mobility Solutions business sector.

Market expected to double within five years
Globally, the need for affordable mobility is on the increase, and this is pushing demand for powered two-wheelers. Studies indicate that by 2021, more than 160 million two-wheelers will be produced annually – a third more than today. “The portion of the market relevant for Bosch, which covers driving safety systems, powertrain technology, and displays and infotainment systems, will double over the next five years,” Hoheisel says. Most of that growth will take place in Asia, studies suggest, predicting that in 2021, nearly 90 percent of all powered two-wheelers will be made in China, India and South East Asia. That group consists mainly of small motorcycles with engine displacement up to 250 cubic centimeters, one of the most common modes of transport throughout large parts of Asia.

The future of the motorcycle is safe, clean, and connected
Bosch components service the entire two-wheeler spectrum: from those in Asia’s lower price segment to powerful machines with over 1,000cc displacement, for which demand is strongest in Europe, Japan, and North America. The new business unit offers safety solutions such as ABS and Motorcycle Stability Control (MSC), a type of ESP for motorcycles. Bosch is the market leader for motorcycle safety systems. The portfolio also includes electronically controlled injection systems, powertrain components for electric two-wheelers and interfaces for connecting motorcycles with smartphones or tablets as well as connected cloud services. “Our systems put even more safety, efficiency, and fun to ride into the motorcycle,” says Geoff Liersch, head of the new Bosch business unit.

With all of these features Bosch provides solutions for the most pressing challenges of the global motorcycle market: many countries are passing stricter emissions legislation, and more and more two-wheeler riders are involved in fatal accidents. In 2010 alone, more than 285,000 people died in accidents around the world. Yet according to GIDAS, the German accident database, using ABS, can prevent one-quarter of all motorcycle accidents resulting in injuries or fatalities. Additionally MSC can have a positive effect on the outcome of two-thirds of all motorcycle accidents on curves that occur due to rider error.

Modern Bosch technology reduces fuel consumption
Along with safety, the desire for fun, fuel economy, and connectivity are key drivers of Bosch’s motorcycle business. In Asia, many two-wheelers with internal-combustion engines are still fitted with a simple carburetor, whereas Bosch employs its electronically controlled injection system. By comparison, this system can cut fuel consumption by up to 16 percent, depending on conditions and environment. “This is how we are helping to reduce emissions in countries such as China and India,” Liersch says. At the same time, Bosch is giving two-wheelers digital intelligence with its engine control solutions. In conjunction with a smartphone app, these make it possible to activate the immobilizer, or read out fault memory. Bosch also offers the Bluetooth interface or connectivity control unit needed for these applications.

ABS Motorcycles vs Non ABS Motorcycles – Do You Need Motorcycle ABS?

The ongoing ABS motorcycle vs non-ABS motorcycle is a strange thing. I would wager that it is impossible today to buy a new car in the western world without ABS. It’s a standard feature on the most high end of sports cars down to family sedans and small hatchbacks. It’s only not used in motor sports like Formula 1 because it took away from the required skills of the driver and made braking too easy. Despite all of this, there is still a large percentage of brand new motorcycles that either don’t have ABS at all or as an option. So if ABS on four wheels is good, why do some consider it on two wheels to be bad?

It’s especially baffling because braking on a motorcycle is much more difficult than for a car. First of all, you have separate controls for both the front and rear brakes on a bike with a requirement to apply differing amounts of force to each – one with the right hand and one with the right foot. On a car, if you lock the front brake it’s easy to release the brake pedal and reapply pressure. On a bike, a front wheel lock like will almost always result in a crash. Ironically, a study by the Association of European Motorcycle Manufacturers (2004) showed that many riders, fearing a front brake lock didn’t apply anywhere near maximum braking force which resulted in longer stopping distances and therefore avoidable accidents.

Bosch ABS

So is it necessary to have ABS on a motorcycle? Can a skillful rider brake faster on a bike without ABS then with it? We’ve combed through a variety of published journal articles as well as motorcycle magazine testing to find out just that. And we’re also going to refute some common claims around ABS that Joe Squid likes to trot out as to why he doesn’t have ABS on his bike.

Firstly a quick summary on how ABS works from BMW who were the pioneers of making ABS standard on motorcycles:

Wheel sensors measure the rotational speed of the front and rear wheels and identify when the wheel begins to lock. The sensors pass on a measured impulse to a processor, which activates a pressure modulator in the hydraulic brake circuit of the front or rear wheel. The activated pressure modulator reduces brake pressure in a fraction of a second and then increases it once more. This means that the ABS applies just the right amount of brake pressure within the ABS range to the appropriate wheel as required to keep the wheel just short of locking point.

Want to know how many times those wheel sensors measure for a wheel lock per second? On the latest ABS systems, it numbers in the hundreds of measurements per second.  And when it kicks in, brake pressure can be adjusted up to 10 times per second. A human being cannot replicate such performance.

But I’ve seen tests where a rider is able to brake faster without ABS than with ABS?

Yes, that’s very true but think about why. If a bike engages the ABS system, it’s because a situation is detected where the front wheel could otherwise lock. But ABS on a bike will only engage when needed, it’s not as if ABS engages when you casually slow at a traffic light. Older ABS systems on motorcycles (especially those that were pretty much a copy of car ABS systems) may engage too quickly and unnecessarily, but we’re a long way down the road from those today.

Therefore a bike with ABS will brake just as quickly as the same bike without ABS if the ABS isn’t activated. It is only when ABS is activated that it may result in longer braking distances and that is because the sensors are adjusting brake pressure on and off (or to put it better, more and less pressure is applied) to prevent a lock up.. If you were to lock a wheel when on a bike without ABS (and not crash), your stopping distance will also increase and will itself will be further than that of an ABS assisted stop. What you’ll find in the tests we go through further in is that ABS is intentionally engaged (in other words, a wheel lockup is induced) to measure the stopping distance, whereas for the non-ABS bikes, the rider is instructed to brake as best as possible without a lock up.

Just remember these two things:

An ABS equipped bike will stop just as quickly as a non-ABS bike if ABS isn’t engaged.

A non-ABS equipped bike will take longer to stop if a wheel locks than an ABS equipped bike when ABS is engaged.

Bosch ABS

I’ve locked my front wheel before and not crashed. It just takes good reflexes

Here’s a breakdown of how a human reacts to something:

  1. Mental Processing Time: This is the time it takes for a person to actually realize something. In our case, to realize that the front wheel has locked.
  2. Movement Time: Once the brain has registered a situation, a person must physically react. For us, that means releasing the front brake lever with your right hand.
  3. Device Response Time: The time it takes for the mechanical device to respond to the human input. Here that means the  calipers releasing the disc.

So that’s what is required to unlock a front brake. The average human reaction time to audio stimulus (the sound of a locked front wheel) is 0.17 of a second. The time to then fully release the front brake is around 0.11 seconds. And the time for the bike to respond would be close to 0.02 seconds. That’s a total time of 0.30 seconds to unlock a brake – best case scenario.

But guess what? It only takes between 0.2 and 0.7 seconds to cause a crash from a front brake lock up. Once the gyrostatic forces of the bike reduce and the motorcycle starts to oscillate around its axis (those are fancy sounding words for how a motorcycle stays upright at speed), the bike becomes unstable and falls over.

So, at best you can unlock a front wheel in just under a third of a second. But even that might not be enough to prevent a crash when it only takes as little as a fifth of a second for a crash to occur.

Bosch ABS

Learners shouldn’t have ABS because it means they don’t properly learn how to brake.

This is another classic phrase you often read or hear. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation, because if a new rider doesn’t have ABS, they may not build up the desired skill necessary to brake properly when they first need it, resulting in a crash that may put them off bikes prematurely.  Whereas if they had ABS that same situation might be forgotten as just a ‘moment’ and they’ll continue to gradually gain the required skills.

I suppose there’s a touch of logic to the idea it in that a new rider may not bother learning how to brake properly if they have ABS, whereas a non-ABS bike would force them to learn.  Again, this misses the point that ABS is only ever activated if the onboard sensors detect a locking wheel. Practicing to learn on a bike with ABS is the same as one without – it’s just that the ABS is a backup. I would argue that the same people who don’t bother to properly learn or practice braking would do so whether their bike had ABS or not. Here’s a great summary from Bosch, one of the largest suppliers of motorcycle ABS systems on how one should brake on a bike with ABS:

The first rule of braking with ABS: brake as though you did not have ABS.

  • Begin braking using the foot brake as far as possible.
  • Pull the brake lever quickly, but not abruptly. Once the brake pads have fully engaged, increase the braking pressure quickly, and in significant amounts.
  • When performing a full braking maneuver, brake on straight course within the ABS control range. Depending on the model, you can tell that the ABS has kicked in through a gentle pulsing on the hand and foot brake levers, as well as a tacking noise.
  • When performing a full braking maneuver, always disengage the clutch at the same time.
  • When braking in bends, increase the braking pressure gently to prevent the front wheel from slipping to the side.
  • Always pay attention to the rear of the motorcycle when performing a full braking maneuver. If the rear wheel lifts up, you should reduce the braking pressure on the front wheel as quickly as possible.

All those above points are the exact same way you brake, ABS or no ABS. There is not a differing skill set.

Bosch ABS