Evolve or die, that is the idea that drives business, produce something new so that you can sell it to those people who already have the old version. Call it an upgrade, call it a revolution, call it whatever you want but just make sure it sells, and the bike industry is no different. Forget the publicity blurb trying to make us think that they are bikers like us and producing these vehicles out of the goodness of their hearts, the bods at the top are in it for the money, pure and simple.
Once upon a time brakes looked like this.
Back when I was a lad, a very long time ago, our bikes used carburettors, cable driven brakes and throttles, ignition controlled mechanically using points and we had a petrol tap on the tank that had a position that would connect us to a reserve tank so we knew when we were running out of fuel. Some of those things were not what you would call good. For instance, dragging your feet on the ground was probably more effective than using the brakes, and the points ignition was guaranteed to close up on a cold, wet night, miles away from home. When the manufacturers replaced those cables with hydraulic discs and the points with electronic ignition the whole motorcycling world celebrated. I was happy to spend my money on something that actually made my life better.
Then they brought along fuel injection. Personally I remember it on the GPz1100’s first and I remember it because I was working in a bike shop and the tuning guru there spent a lot of time taking the fuel injection off and replacing it with carbs. You see the fuel injection worked just fine but if you wanted to do any sort of tuning to the bike it was a nightmare. On top of that, if the “electronic box of tricks” under the seat went wrong then you had to sell your or somebody else’s better half to afford a new one.
So much simpler than fuel injection !!!!
Of course, now just about all bikes have fuel injection, even Enfields, and with the appearance of the home computer it is possible to link up to the “box of tricks” and really muck up the tuning of your bike, just like in the old days with carbs.
In the end fuel injection on bikes has been a good thing, it has even made life easier by making it possible to download tuning maps that work for different combinations of pipes and air filters.
Of course things didn’t stop there, ABS is now a fairly common option on bikes and fly by wire throttles have eliminated that horrible problem of cables snapping ( and having to lube them as well). Different maps to alter the power characteristics for different riding styles are available at the press of a few buttons and now blue tooth connectivity to your phone, built in GPS, side view rider aids, traction control, stability control....the list goes on and on and on and I hate it.
I can just about live with ABS....no I can’t I learned the hard way not to brake too hard and have your tyre tuck under, I learned from it and now I am a better rider because of it. I am more aware of road conditions; I don’t live in a sanitized bubble with extra cotton wool padding. I don’t want all these gizmos, when I am riding my bike I want to concentrate, not answer the phone from an irate wife who expected you back an hour ago, or a boss who really needs that report. The bike is my moment away from the world, and because I ride like a twat I need to concentrate on riding, not on what engine mode or what colour I want my dash screen. Side view rider aid, really ? I don’t need it I have mirrors and I can look behind and if you can’t remember to do that you have no right to be riding a bike.
Or you could use your eyes.
I like technology, I am a gadget geek, but I want useful tech, not tech for the sake of it. I don’t want it because the manufacturers need to make something look special to sell us a new model and keep the money coming in. I want it because they have used the new tech to make the new model better to ride than the old one, more of a sensation, ride able but not sanitized. The safety lobby will argue that some of it is for our own good, well I would counter that argument by saying bikes are inherently dangerous and the best way to stay safe is to be part of that ride, not removed from it by layers of cotton wool crap. Honestly, if safety is your main concern when riding a bike, buy a car!
Glad I got that off my chest