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San Francisco, CA
United States was created to share my continuing adventure and love addiction to all things involving motorcycles. 

Motorcycle News

Yamaha's AI Motorcycle MOTOROiD

Bryan Burnett

Getting the obvious joke of, "I've had with Motoroids before! Just made sure to apply some cream... Those long rides can be hell." out of the way. Yamaha continues to push the envelope of the line between man and machine. MOTOROiD is Yamaha prototype using AI to interpret human gestures and develop ways to "enhance" what a motorcycle is capable of. Before completely dismissing MOTOROiD as another silicon valley buzzword i.e. "AR, VR, AI, Machine Learning"  for the motorcycle industry. Take a moment to appreciate the simplicity of motorcycle design. 

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The concept is capable of self-balancing actuation, has an electric drivetrain and haptic feedback system. The self-balancing is interesting as Yamaha decided to use Active Mass Center Control System (AMCES) that uses the rear wheel in conjunction with the chassis to keep stable. Which differs from Honda's motorcycle that moves the front wheel back and forth to remain upright. Another bit of trick design is using the lithium-ion battery packs as a counterweight, even if they look like a six-pack hanging from the bottom of the bike. 

As for the silly part of the development, the AI "seeing" human hand gestures is really not something I believe most people would ever be interested in. Where AI could be most handy is; imagine you pull up to your favorite cafe, hop off the bike, walk into the building and the motorcycle then departs to find itself a nice place to park. Or say you have a difficult time backing your motorcycle out of a tight space in a garage. It would be nice to walk out to your front yard, hit a button and the motorcycle wheels itself in front of you. 


Aesthetically I think it's really a beautiful concept, very streamlined and has a nice flow, with a touch of Ghost in the Shell. The hand controls look like they'd be difficult to use, seeing how little leverage there is on the brake levers, but maybe it would be the job of the AI to apply the brakes? The tail of the bike looks neat, but definitely not a practical choice. The most intriguing part of design is when the gas tank and internal combustion engine are removed, the simplicity of a motorcycle reveals itself even more.

It's still early days for AI and the melding of it into our everyday lives, but it does peak my curiosity and I applaud Yamaha for giving it a go. If we don't try we'll never know the true potential of man and machine. I am conflicted with the "overengineered" aspect of tech in motorcycle development. As the great Jeff Goldblum's "Malcolm" quote in the movie Jurassic Park always comes to my mind.


Part of my enjoyment for 2 wheeled thrill rides is the simplicity, raw input, and being one with the machine. On the other hand, I'm all for enhancements that make riding safer, ABS, traction control, IMU's, etc. Lastly, we can only hope they'll employ a Tamagachi like UI and give us more of a reason to give our motorcycles a pet name.

Electric KTM Freeride E-XC

Bryan Burnett

KTM Freeride E-XC

KTM Freeride E-XC

Electric motorcycles are still in the early stages of public adoption, but one of the major manufacturers that have been making a push into the electrically powered market is KTM. With 2018 around the corner, buyers will be happy to know that the Freeride E-XC will be landing on US soil, albeit in limited quantities. 

This next evolution of the Austrian motorcycle boasts a more robust electric package, with a more powerful motor and larger capacity battery pack. The system is liquid cooled, keeping the motor happy when running at peak power of 24hp and an impressive 31 lbs-ft of torque, putting it on par with 250cc ICE powered machines. Expected run time is around 80 minutes and reaches 80% charge in 50 minutes. You'll be able to charge up at least 700 times and maintain 80% of its initial capacity, which isn't shabby considering the wear on a normal two or four-stroke motor would be in need of.  If you'd like to opt for an extra battery pack it'll cost you a steep $3600.  Coming in at 238 pounds the E-XC isn't a featherweight, but keep in mind the more compact center of gravity and the lack of rotating mass. The suspension is kept compliant like most KTM machines with a WP setup but is probably best suited for trail rides rather than big jumps.

For anyone who's ridden an electric motorcycle, the platform of dirtbikes is an excellent showcase for the potential of electrically powered machines in general. Where low down grunt is key to getting out of a corner or sliding on an uphill climb through sand, getting torque down to the ground can be tricky while trying to feather a clutch and maintain balance. 

The main question from KTM's press launch is what about the price...  At $8,299 KTM has a track record of selling electric bikes competitively. 

To see the E-XC in action check out the video below.

While visually I find this video very enjoyable, I can't help but feel that it was an opportunity missed with the music. It's kind of a bland beat that is very interchangeable, also a small moment of silence to show the appeal of a quiet motorcycle amongst nature would have made a more impactful statement of where these motorcycles could be ridden, considering the pressure for a cleaner, quieter vehicle romping around in our natural world. 

Human Versus Machine

Bryan Burnett

While movies like Bladerunner may have projected the inevitable escalation of machine sophistication to surpass our pathetic organic bodies in the distant future of 2019, Yamaha has begun to erode at our Motorsport superiority with the project Motobot back in 2015.

In the never-ending quest to make a motorcycle go as fast as possible around a race track, Motobot was pitted against the living legend and Yamaha factory-backed MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi. The battle took place nestled in the hills of northern California at Thunderhill Raceway's 2-mile west course. 

For a 3-year-old Motobot was fairly quick around a track at 117.5 seconds but that was still 32 seconds behind Rossi's 85.74. A gap of that amount won't strike fear in our human hearts just yet but is still impressive that the engineering team behind Motobot have created an autonomous motorcycle capable of spinning up laps in a consistent manner. 

Someday we may have multi manufacture race called "RoboGP", but until then Yamaha has access to the data of the fastest motorcycle riders in the world and no longer asks the question of "if" but "when" will the little blue robot surpass human rider lap times.

The interesting future for this technology goes well beyond just racing. Imagining a world of autonomous vehicles it's not far fetched to believe that a small 2 wheeled vehicle could be used to simply deliver packages, pick up passengers, or even equip a sensor system into motorcycles to help aid humans to avoid crashes. Much like the autopilot system found on in cars like Tesla's electric cars.

Racers around the world can sleep safely at night for now...

MotorCycle News Blip: Episode 1

Bryan Burnett

This weeks Motorcycle Blip is all about the pre-season excitement of MotoGP, Shoei's new X14 helmet, and VR with the GoPro.

Links to articles below

GoPro Suit Integration

Bryan Burnett

Earlier today GoPro released a video of it's new Hero4 Session integrated into the Moto2 suit of rider Loris Baz. In the video you can see the cameras placed into the speed hump of the suit. This is the smallest action camera ever released from GoPro, but that's not really the impressive part. Nor is the the video from the practice session. We've either seen some of these angles before during a race or the angles weren't really that impressive to begin with. But what is exciting is the idea of camera integration into gear. Cameras have up to this point been an "attachment" in one way or another with clunky suction cup mounts or sticky pads. Integration into gear lends itself to a much more intimate view. In a sense that's what the point of these cameras is to begin with, capturing moments that a person can catch a glimpse into someone else's perspective. If these cameras begin to find a way into helmets, gloves, knee sliders, etc. Imagine the amazing shots that can be had with cameras that really put you in the seat of the bike, and in time will only get smaller and better. 

I look forward to that day, along with automated Drones that can follow a single rider as they go around a track giving freedom by detaching itself from it's earthly bond! Ok so maybe I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. But as far as immersion into a high speed, adrenaline fueled roller coast that is MotoGP, or any motorcycle racing in general I look forward to the progress that can be made. Now GoPro get your shit together and make a more compelling video!