How Do Self-Balancing Motorcycles Work?

If you have ever ridden a motorcycle, then you know that balancing it when coming to or sitting at a stop is important. In fact, some have said around 99% of all new riders will end up dropping their bike at some point. And while that may or may not be true, there are manufacturers that have developed self-balancing motorcycles to assist with the issue. But how do self-balancing motorcycles work?

Honda can show you how

Self-balancing motorcycles have been around for the past few years and they work well for both new and older riders alike. One of the better known self-balancing bikes is the Honda Riding Assist concept, which was unveiled back in 2017 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. According to a story published by Nikkei Asia, the secret to the bike self-balancing system lies mainly in its front fork, which connects the handlebars to the front wheel.

When the bike slows down to a stop, or when it’s traveling slower than 4 kph, the angle of the fork changes and brings the front wheel forward. This action activates the self-balancing system that makes small left and right adjustments to the wheel in order to balance the bike. In contrast, any bike without a self-balancing system would lean in the direction that the front wheel is pointed, however, with Honda’s Riding Assist system, the bike leans in the opposite direction and is kept balanced by the automatic handlebar adjustments.

What’s the point of a self-balancing motorcycle?

A self-balancing motorcycle is beneficial to have if you are a brand-new rider and have difficulty holding up a motorcycle when stopped at a light or when slowing down. Also, for any older riders out there, having to hold up a 400-pound motorcycle might not be ideal, so a self-balancing one can do wonders. According to Atsuo Ota, a senior researcher at Honda R&D, self-balancing is just one component of the future of motorcycles as “driving-assistance systems similar to those used in four-wheel vehicles” could become the norm as well.

BMW Vision Next 100
BMW Vision Next 100 | Bike Sales

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There are other self-balancing bikes as well

Honda isn’t the only automaker that’s been busy drumming up a self-balancing motorcycle concept as other brands like BMW, Ryno Motors, and Lit Motors have all had a hand in making their own bikes as well. The BMW Vision Next 100 model, for example, uses a different type of system to balance itself. Instead of elongated the front-wheel geometry, the bike using gyroscope technology to keep itself upright.

The Ryno Motors RYNO bike, on the other hand, is more of a unicycle than a bike as it’s a one-wheeled mobility machine that uses the same type of technology as a Segway. It stays balanced thanks to a gyroscope and you can make it move forward and backward with a simple lean. To top things off, it’s also electric-powered, however, it doesn’t look like it caught on too well with the masses. In either case, it’s refreshing to see automakers working on the issues that we wouldn’t think about, even if it’s as simple as balancing a bike.