The phrase “Houston, we have a problem” may not be a normal part of your motorcycling verbal repertoire. A space-age fix to bail you out of a potential disaster, though, may soon be a very real part of the safety gear that keeps you upright and on the road.
One prominent original equipment manufacturer is testing a jet thruster – yep, a thruster – you know, those things that fire in microbursts to keep a space vehicle on its proper trajectory and out of trouble. This thruster will fire when your bike is about to go into a skid. Its purpose is to help you avoid a very serious case of road rash – or worse.
When you’re heading into a skid, your motorcycle is leaned far enough over that you lose lateral tire friction and the bike begins to slide. Maybe you hit a patch of gravel or sand in a curve and the loss of traction tips your bike much further than you intended.
The answer, according to the physics geniuses, is to apply what they call repulsion force intervention which counteracts the slide path and stabilizes the motorcycle enough that the skid actually stops.
So is the bike going to have a couple of mini-jet engines bolted to the frame? Not likely. This thruster is more like an air bag. Instead of inflating to cushion you from impact, this kind of air bag expels the air it contains in a concentrated burst that provides sufficient force to counter the skid. There’s enough air to save your bacon just one time. Then, it has to be replaced.
If this is starting to sound like an expensive extra, just think of it this way – if you can afford one of these bikes, a replacement air thruster isn’t going to ruffle your bank account. Not to mention the issue of how much it’ll save you in co-pays for medical care following a bad skid with the wrong side down.
True, it may not be a lunar lander and it won’t exactly put you into orbit. On the other hand, it’s enough space technology to keep you from experiencing a very hard landing.
Reprinted from the Summer 2018 issue of the Foremost Insurance Group magazine.