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Tuesday 10 October 2023


Honda Working On Self-Balancing Gold Wing By Ben Purvis

Like Yamaha, Honda has been working on steering-assist systems for bikes for several years as it pursues a goal of zero motorcycle fatalities by 2050 - but a new patent suggests the same technology could also be used to help prevent much less severe crashes, and specifically the sort of embarrassing 'drops' that can happen when you're pushing a bike around to park it.

Illustrated on a Gold Wing - surely the most likely candidate to get this system thanks to its huge weight - the system is essentially a steering-assistance servo that's connected to tilt sensors on the bike. 

When in parking mode, something that the semi-automatic DCT version of the Gold Wing already has, allowing it to move forwards and backwards at walking speed to take the effort out of maneuvering, the system is intended to prevent the bike from adopting a lean angle that makes it hard to hold upright.

'Steering-assist could prevent parking embarrassment' 

We're all familiar with the physics that means an upright bike can be balanced with minimal effort when you're pushing it, but when it starts to lean over, the weight appears to multiply rapidly. The Honda system, shown in the new patent application, is designed to stop that from happening by automatically steering the bike into the angle of lean, bringing it back to an upright state. 

Specifically, the system is intended to be used when you're standing alongside the bike and pushing it. It will allow a certain amount of lean angle towards the side that you're standing on, but not so much as to make the weight unmanageable. It doesn't let the bike lean in the other direction at all, because it's much harder to hang on to a bike that's started to topple away from you.

It might not have the life-and-death importance of other rider-assist systems, but a system designed to take the strain and stress out of parking is arguably more useful on a day-to-day basis. The steering servo itself, illustrated in the patent, is identical to one that's previously been seen in several other Honda patent applications that relate to much more serious rider-assist systems, including lane-assist and accident-avoidance designs, so the self-balancing parking tech is likely to be just one facet of a much larger suite of safety-oriented gadgets.