The Harley-Davidson Livewire brings about a revolutionary transition in the manufacturer’s history, up until Livewire’s release Harley-Davidson was not known for being the most innovative motorcycle manufacturer on the block. But that has all changed with their first introduction into the electric motorcycle offerings. Knowing full well the expectations of their customers and new customers alike Harley took on the task of creating a motorcycle that would be well-rounded, technologically advanced, and suited to the masses. Something one could argue Harley-Davidson has failed to do in the past. We are here to tell you, enthusiastically, that Harley-Davidson has gone above and beyond any of the industry’s expectations of them. This bike is an entirely different realm for the company and they knocked it out of the park.
The Livewire’s performance figures are staggering, with 0-60mph times of 3.5 seconds or less and a top speed of over 110 mph, it’s safe to say this may be one of the fastest Harley’s to date. Not only does the bike perform more closely to a sportbike than a Harley it also has better efficiency, which for all you millennial riders this will really tickle your fancy. Harley-Davidson claims a full charge will get you over 110 miles. Considering the competition at the moment these figures put Harley and their Livewire at the top of the segment.
Harley-Davidson did not stop there, they have a fully capable onboard electronic system with the ability to monitor the bike’s and your performance. Along with security monitoring and the ability to send notifications to the owner’s mobile device, this system will have you stepping away from your motorcycle with a level of comfort that few manufacturers are currently able to offer.
Despite Harley-Davidson pricing the Livewire at a sizzling MSRP of $30,000 we at Hardtail believe innovation often comes at a cost especially in the beginning. Very similar to how we saw Tesla first introduce their cars at what some would consider an inconceivable price point. Fast forward 10 years after this innovation has become mainstream, now the end consumer is lucky enough to enjoy competitive pricing and all the features of the electric segment. Despite the hefty price tag now, one can only assume as time moves forward we will see drastic price drops in the electric motorcycle sector, and equally as impressive performance improvements. Electric manufacturers have merely chipped the tip of the ice burg with battery and motor technologies. Large manufacturers like Harley-Davidson are exactly what the electric motorcycle sector needs to push forwards, and gain the traction and momentum it so desperately needs.
Harley-Davidson and their Livewire team did not stop there, under the 2020 “rewire” restructuring plan they have outlined plans to grow their electrification support alongside the growth of the Livewire brand. With plans to introduce installation across America, it is only a matter of time before we see this segment become as readily available as the current electric car industry.
With the looming electrification of just about everything under the sun, we see Livewire as being one of Harley-Davidson’s smartest moves in the companies recent history. For too long the company has held onto the coattails of a passing generation expecting them to be carried into the future despite their customer base dropping like flies. If Livewire is a sign of what is to come for Harley-Davidson and the Livewire team then the future can not come fast enough.
Aprilia’s Aerodynamic Advantage ?
As the 2023 MotoGP season gets underway, Aprilia RS-GP is again pushing the envelope in aerodynamic technologies with even more winglets and ground-effect surfaces in the quest for extra performance.
After honing the bike to be as efficient as possible, Aprilia has turned its attention to the awkwardly shaped component sitting on top of the rider. Aprilia has proven to be a leader in aerodynamic efficiency with its RS-GP MotoGP racers making not just the motorcycle but also the rider more aero-efficient as well.
Patents from Aprilia revealed some of the secrets to the surprising speed of the RS-GP, which has gone from back marker to race winner throughout a few seasons. This aggressive approach to aerodynamics is a valuable element of the company, explaining why the RS-GP looks unlike any other bike on the grid, and the 2023 version expands on the same ideas. The company is trying to make the shape cut through the air more cleanly.
It was 35 years ago that Dainese introduced the hump to the back of its racing leathers, with Pier Francesco Chili being the first to use it on his 500cc Honda. Initially intended to be a safety aid, not an aerodynamic one, but Dainese credits Jean-Philippe Ruggia, riding in the 250cc class at the time, with noticing that the hump improved stability and reduced neck strain, encouraging the development of more aerodynamically focused versions. Although there have been attempts to make leathers even more aerodynamic since then—notably for land-speed record riders on semi-streamliners—and modern helmets shaped with aero benefits in mind. Aprilia now fully believes road racing leathers should become more efficient.
In their new patent application, Aprilia mentions an earlier application, filed by Yamaha in 2005, for aero leathers with sections added to the sides, upper arms, thighs, and calves of protective suits. The idea was to create a smooth shape when the rider tucked in on straights, but the new document points out that the concept stumbled once the rider moved during braking or in corners, when the additional sections became cumbersome and compromising. The idea involves figuring out how to make the airflow smoother over the rider, especially the lower section where the leathers tend to bunch up.
Aprilia’s new concept intends to smooth airflow over the rider when tucked in, cutting drag to improve top speed on the straights, However not to hamper the mobility when needed to move around on the bike. Of course, it is also vital that the suit can not compromise safety in the event of a crash.
Shells on the arms are intended to smooth airflow around the forearms. Other pieces get added to the upper arms and shoulders. The idea is to add shell elements to key parts of the suit, giving a smooth surface that makes for a more aerodynamic shape and work in unison better with the motorcycle’s aero. These shells are separate parts, attached to a conventional set of leathers with Velcro, although the patent also says that leathers can be made with the aero elements built-in. There are ten components, five on each side of the rider. There’s a shell on each of the forearms that smooths the airflow running back from the handlebars. Shells added to the upper arms and shoulders are exposed to the oncoming air. The largest components of the aero suit are added to each side of the rider. When a rider tucks in on a straight, leather gets bunched up in this section, creating wrinkles that hinder airflow. The new design creates a smooth surface here.
The largest and perhaps most critical area is the rider’s waist area where the leathers tend to bunch up. Shells there would smooth the air and contribute the most to the bike’s aero. The legs also gain shell sections, one on each thigh and another on the lower leg. The lower leg portion doubles as the knee slider. Since the front of the thighs and lower legs expose themselves to airflow, the smoother shapes promise to make the bike and rider cut through the air more efficiently.
Another key area is the lower legs in the “dirty” air. Shells on the lower leg would double as knee sliders. From a safety perspective, the Aprilia patent suggests that the outer skins of these removable aero segments are made of plastic or similar, smooth material, they can also be filled with foam, gel, or air to give an additional layer of crash protection. Aprilia’s patent also suggests that the reduced buffeting and turbulence on the ride will reduce the workload and make it easier to move around on the bike. Safety improvements could be vital in persuading race organizers to permit the leathers, as there are growing concerns that the battle for aerodynamic superiority in MotoGP is getting out of hand. Banning the idea will be much more difficult if shown to improve safety.
Will we see Aprilia’s riders—Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaró on the works bikes and Raúl Fernández and Miguel Oliveira in the RNF satellite squad in 2023?
Given the extent of the aero seen elsewhere on the bikes, and the fact that MotoGP limits the number of in-season updates on fairing aerodynamics, it is yet to be determined.
Top 5 Motorcycle Safety Innovations
Top 5 Motorcycle Safety Innovation’s
Let’s dive into what we consider to be the Top 5 most important motorcycle safety innovations. As we all know by now, no amount of technology exists to completely overcome the downfall of being human. Some variables we are currently capable of overcoming, some we are not. For variables we are not able to overcome, it’s necessary that we have a very effective solution in the untimely event of a motorcycle accident. This brings us to the #1 and #2 of The Top 5 Motorcycle Safety Innovations.
#1 of Top 5 Motorcycle Safety Innovation’s- Air Bag Protective Gear
Airbag motorcycle riding gear made its first mainstream public appearance in 2007. Worn by many professional MotoGP motorcycle racers as adapted technologies. It was not made mandatory until 2018 when MotoGP unanimously decided all racers needed to wear level 2 airbag-equipped racing suits.
Airbag riding gear was introduced in 2009 in horseback racing. The rider’s vest had a tether mounted to the saddle of the horse which would initiate the co2 cartridge resulting in the airbag vest deploying in roughly 100-250 milliseconds. Initial studies showed a 69% reduction of injuries in dismounted riders. Solidifying the technology’s place in open-cockpit sports.
Airbag systems are available in tethered and sensor-activated versions as well as vests and built-in airbag systems. With different options and variations available from all of the major motorcycle safety gear manufacturers. This in part is the reason airbag systems are a Top 5 Safety Innovation.
#2 of Top 5 Motorcycle Safety Innovation’s – Smart Helmet Technologies
Motorcycle helmets are a well-rounded technology by now, no pun intended. But what if we told you that the innovations have never stopped despite the simplicity of the idea not varying very much. Sometimes the devil is in the details, in helmet cases, the details are not so devilish.
Smart helmets are becoming available more regularly now. Giving way to hope that we see the day AI and augmented reality are integrated. These technologies have stirred many industries, and caused a lot of chatter as to whether or not implementing them is beneficial to humanity. I would argue that in the case of motorcycle helmets it will prove to be the most beneficial safety measure since the helmet itself, placing smart helmets #2 of the Top 5 Safety Innovations.
Another technology motorcycle helmets will stand to benefit from in the future is the implementation of emergency response system’s similar to OnStar. These systems would allow the helmet to notify emergency services without the consent of the rider in the case of a serious accident. Equipped with sensors capable of measuring the impact, better determining whether or not emergency services are necessary. In the case of loss of consciousness this technology will prove to be vital.
#3 of Top 5 Motorcycle Safety Innovation’s – ABS and Stability Management
ABS and Stability management are not the new kids on the Motorcycle block for safety technologies. However, we consider them to still be in the top 5 with constant advancements resulting from endless refinements. Introduced in mass-produced motorcycles, BMW first made its appearance in 1988 on their K100 model motorcycle followed by Honda in 1992 on their ST1100.
ABS and traction control had been developed to help aid in low traction situations and emergency braking situations. From weather-related scenarios to performance-oriented goals. The longer the case study continues the better these technologies can be refined and implemented into today’s motorcycles. Benefiting more and more riders by way of less and less unforeseen circumstances resulting in untimely accidents.
As these technologies have progressed Traction control would later be referred to as stability management, but not limited to. Implemented as a traction control system and a performance control device. Modern motorcycles now have systems with varying levels of effectiveness. The rider can choose the amount of “interference” the system is allowed to apply in the decision-making process. These systems have proven to be well worth their weight in gold over time helping prevent accidents from happening in a wide range of scenarios.
#4 of Top 5 Motorcycle Safety Innovation’s – Vehicle to Vehicle Communication
Bosch, a leading manufacturer in electronic vehicle interface technologies, has begun producing a technology referred to as Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications. This system between vehicles and motorcycles alike can exchange information with each other via direct communications. It works on a 5.9 GHz frequency band with a special configuration of wireless LAN standard. This information includes the type of vehicle, speed, position, and direction of travel. A vehicle can transmit this data up to ten times per second to the nearby environment. When the system detects a hazard from surrounding vehicles, it alerts the operator and in real-time either on the display or audible alerts. This helps to reduce the risk of potential accidents.
Stationary vehicles on the sides of the road will continue to emit their data. The other moving vehicles from both sides of the road exchange their data with a stationary vehicle. Acting as triggers only when the system detects the possibility of collision. Stationary and nonstationary vehicles are aware well in advance so that they have sufficient time to react accordingly.
These communications between vehicles and motorcycles stand to make driving on roads substantially safer. These technologies stand to make some major waves in our industry by way of increased accident reduction standards, Along with simple forms of integration into current management programming. Soon we will see motorcycles with features like this built right into the dash similar to the stability management systems we see today.
#5 of Top 5 Motorcycle Safety Innovations – Adaptive Headlights
Many companies have tried their hand at solutions for this pesky disappearing headlight issue. But none have done it better than BMW, trying their hand at this issue as early as 1980. BMW would later implement their first full production model in 2010 on the k1600gt. Early on BMW was toying with mirrors to no avail and would later try their hand at selectable led lighting.
Fast forward to 2020 and BMW has taken another stab at the issue with their latest rendition of Adaptive lighting. This time around BMW has designed the light to simultaneously use selectable led patterns as well as a motorized headlight assembly. This allows the computer to control the angle of the light beam based on the angle of lean the motorcycle is at.
BMW is not the only manufacturer producing adaptive lighting. There are manufacturers producing retrofit lights available aftermarket for a wide variety of motorcycles. These adapted technologies lack in comparison to BMW’s current headlight technology. All current aftermarket adaptive lighting only utilizes selectable led’s to help aid in the direction of the beam rather than having the ability to move the entire headlight assembly and adjust LED beam.
2021 Team Classic Suzuki Katana
Following a hiatus lasting over one year as a result of covid, Team Classic Suzuki has unveiled what they are deeming their “lockdown project” to which we at The Hardtail Feel cheers are in order. They have successfully brought current technologies and mated them with the styling we all love of the classic superbike era. Not only that but they did so with one of the era’s most iconic motorcycles produced, The Katana. Though this might not be the first time the Team Classic Suzuki has tackled the Katana, one would argue that this is the best rendition to date.
The focus of this motorcycle is the drivetrain the team decided to use, straight out of the current Suzuki superbike right down to the same headers, the Team Classic Suzuki is nothing short of a superbike, quite literally. With more than 200bhp, this motorcycle is as stout as any current top superbikes available on the market today with figures competing against the likes of the current greats. The team has fitted an array of excellent aftermarket parts to the bike from Alstare superbike headers and factory team radiators and oil cooler to a full Yoshimura electronics management package.
They did not stop there; the bike is rolling on Dymag’s new CH3 magnesium wheels which fit the classic look incredibly well. All that being stopped by Brembo’s latest discs and calipers. The rear wheel is mounted to the chassis via a hand fabricated boxed aluminum swingarm. Nothing short of art. Along with a full superbike spec Ohlin’s suspension, this bike promises to impress all.
Along with the incredible array of high-end parts, Team Classic Suzuki focused heavily on the body utilizing carbon fiber throughout and implementing a factory world superbike fuel tank. Basically, Team Classic Suzuki has built a superbike that is inspired by the looks of a generation nearly 3 decades old.
This bike exuberates style equally as much as it does performance and we at The Hardtail feel our readers will appreciate this as greatly as we do.
- Motorcycle Reviews2 years ago
Kawasaki’s Timeless Zrx1200
- Classic Rides2 years ago
2021 Team Classic Suzuki Katana
- Motorcycle News2 years ago
Damon Motorcycles Electric Hypersport
- Technology2 years ago
LiquidPiston’s Combustion Engine
- Motorcycle race news2 years ago
MotoGP eSports Battle Of The Greats
- Motorcycle Destinations2 years ago
SUZUKI HAYABUSA Rocks!
- Motorcycle Destinations2 years ago
Having a Blast in Nevada
- Classic Rides2 years ago