Like everything in life, technology makes motorcycling better. Some purists balk at what’s new, but that's only because they've yet to sip the Kool-Aid. So grab a cup and fill 'er up – below are 11 tech innovations that sweeten 2-wheeled road life.
The dual-clutch transmissions (DCT) found on Honda models like the NC700X and CTX700 are truly next-level. I’m talking Formula 1 technology on the street. This new type of transmission automates the clutch and shift operations while retaining the direct connection (read: serious acceleration) of a manual gearbox. As the name suggests, the Dual Clutch automatic transmission sports a pair of clutches for fast shifts along with flawless and smooth clutch engagement. Since clutch operation is handled by the DCT, the rider can pay more attention to the throttle, brakes, and the road ahead without having to worry about which gear he or she's in. That means an easier ride for beginners looking to get into the sport. For those looking for increased shift control, a Sport mode lets riders paddle shift with ease — the best of both worlds.
If Arthur "A picture is worth a thousand words" Brisbane were alive today, he'd certainly be sporting a GoPro HERO3. No single piece of equipment has allowed a rider to capture his life on two wheels quite like GoPro. The new HERO3 snaps quality photos and video, and can be controlled by remote or even your phone — handy features when you’re on the fly. Even if you're not capturing your epic ride through the Grand Canyon on a regular basis, it's always good to record your daily commute in the event that you need the footage for a dreaded insurance claim. Just sayin'.
Forget hand signals, over-exaggerated head movements, and shouting from the top of your lungs to communicate with fellow riders. Thanks to Bluetooth technology, communicating with other riders has never been easier. The Scala Rider G9 also streams music from most devices and has a built-in FM radio, so you won't miss the morning news on the ride to work.
Warm paws are happy ones. Unlike wimps in cars who use heaters and butt-warmers, motorcyclists have to brave the elements. Keeping one's hands warm goes a long way in the cold, and a heated grip kit from Honda converts plain ol' handles into a source of inspiration. If that's not warm enough, heated vests and suits are available from various companies that can toast riders in sub-zero temps.
Critters like deer, raccoons and opossums have a knack for playing Frogger on public roads under the veil of darkness. Thankfully, LED technology has reached new levels where small but powerful driving lights from PIAA can turn night into day. This kind of light was once reserved for high school football games, but now it comes in a package that fits in the palm of your hand.
Much like stepping in an unexpected ankle-high puddle, arriving at a destination after a long, wet ride only to find your change of clothes is soaked prompts similar fits of rage. Save yourself from four-letter words with Kriega Dry Bags. They're 100% waterproof and have enough storage capacity for the longest of trips.
Achieving race-bike power levels was once reserved for only the most experienced mechanics, but thanks to the marvels of technology, riders can tune their motorcycles without any previous know-how. The Bazzaz Z-Fi fueling computer unlocks the algorithms in your motorcycle's computer to adjust power levels. From there, the equipment will tune your bike automatically —no expertise needed.
Diets high in fiber are good for the body and for the bike. Adding BST lightweight aerospace quality carbon fiber wheels does wonders for performance and pose, thanks to weights that are half of the original wheel and style so fresh it's right off the race bike paddock.
Speeding past large radar-operated speed signs in hopes of seeing “99 MPH” flash across its screen is cool at first, but it gets old fast. When accuracy matters, GPS timing equipment like a P-Box is the best way to monitor your performance to the nth degree. Nothing silences a group of bantering bench racers like hard-hitting proof of your accomplishments.
Counting the number of apps for smartphones is like keeping track of the grains of sand on a beach, but a few shining examples are true winners. Greatest Road Motorcycle Rider GPS Road Finder helps riders find adventure, MotoMinder tracks maintenance schedules, Pocket First Aid & CPR keeps a rider's vitals handy in the event of an accident, and MotoGP Live allows fans to keep track of lap times and race results in real time.
What's the common bond between all of this technology? Electricity! And a dead battery puts a stop to all things great. A Battery Tender can keep the juice flowing when a motorcycle sits for weeks or even months at a time.
Justin Fivella was raised in a house of hot rods and motorcycles, and later discovered his love of writing and photography.