Harley-Davidson has recently filed patents that show a type of emergency braking system that could be integrated into future models.
Unlike other manufacturers, Harley’s technology patent is more in line with accident prevention and crash avoidance – instead of adaptive cruise control.
The system is comprised of many sensors situated similarly to those found on bikes with adaptive cruise control. These sensors are responsible for monitoring the bike’s surroundings along with the status of the rider via grip and seat sensors. Harley-Davidson’s system also includes a camera that is pointed at the rider to provide information about the status of the rider.
Harley-Davidson’s patent also mentions the use of Vision Tracking via a helmet-mounted camera pointed at the rider’s eye. This cool technology can sense where the rider is looking in addition to their eyes being open.
The new technology will collectively work together to provide visual and audible alerts in the case of an emergency – giving the rider the opportunity to react. If the rider does not respond, the system will begin to slow the bike down, come to a stop, gingerly topple the bike, and the incapacitated rider over.
Every rider can relate to seeing vehicles on the road sometimes braking slowly at first but then almost immediately come to a halt – leaving the rider to estimate the braking distance. Another neat feature found in HD’s new patent is it can assist the rider in applying the brakes should the rider misjudge how quickly they need to stop.
Carbon fibre construction has come a long way since it was first used in a motorcycle in 1994 in Cagiva’s C194 500cc two-stroke.
It featured a chassis made of carbon-fibre and alloy, but was short-lived.
The other famous early use of carbon fibre was in chassis of the Britten V1000, designed and hand-built by Kiwi John Britten.
John, a brilliant, but dyslexic mechanical engineer, died of skin cancer in 1995 having hand-built only 10 V1000s.
Carbon fibre is today used extensively in motorsport and expensive automobiles and motorcycles such as the Ducati Desmosedici.
Carbon swingarm project
Carbon fibre is expensive because it is difficult to mass-produce.
However, manufacturing processes are improving, resulting in better quality finishes and cheaper products.
Joachim Starke, who is in charge of BMW’s lightweight composite fibres, says the HP4 RACE combined optimum technical qualities, uniform manufacturing quality and cost efficiency for the first time.
The HP4 RAE swingarm was made of carbon fibre reinforced plastic with CFP tape reinforcements using thermoplastic material.
BMW believes it will be possible to establish a cost-efficient manufacturing process suitable for the large-scale production of such injection-mould components.
He says they developed a technology that allows precise configuration of component properties by using a variety of composite and metal inserts.
“This scalability means that a single tool can be used to produce a wide range of different components at cycle times of less than a minute,” he says.
“The maximum strength can be adjusted by means of additional CFP panels which can be thermoplastically joined.”
BMW also used welding robots in the process to reduce costs.
The HP4 RACE carbon fibre project forms the basis for the use of carbon fibre in serial production of BMW motorcycles and automobiles.
Carbon technology explained
BMW project manager Elmar Jäger explains the technology:
We opted for chassis components under continuous load since the requirements involved are especially demanding. While car chassis parts are concealed, the visible motorcycle rear swinging arm was ideal for our project since the forces at work are immediately evident. Our production technique uses CFP in the form of high-strength endless fibres where this is required by the stress pattern, while an injection mould part with short CFP recycling fibres is used where the stress levels are not as high. In this way, we developed a cost-efficient design that can be scaled according to requirements by inserting endless fibres with varying levels of strength in the same tool.
“I have some investor interest which is at their lawyers now for an agreement, so fingers crossed,” says Basil, a former South African motorsport engineer.
“My guesstimate for agreements to be all checked, amended and signed by their lawyers then ours, is two to four weeks.
“However, with the world as it is there are more reasons than ever to be let down.
“The investor group are in Melbourne and the new border closure will dash the present plans — once the contracts are signed — for one of them to drive up and collect all the bits for re-testing in Melbourne before Mk 2 V-twin is produced.”
Basil says he is confident the investor group will build the engine, although he would prefer a motorcycle or automotive company bought the company for a “pittance” with a royalty paid to CITS shareholders for each engine produced.
Basil says his CITS engine is more powerful, lighter, smaller, cheaper, more economical and with lower emissions than any four-stroke engine.
CITS uses direct injection, but has a by-pass valve that replaces the throttle and provides progressive cylinder deactivation ensuring minimised pumping losses.
It also uses a typical four-stroke’s oil sump and does not mix the oil with the fuel in the combustion chamber like normal two-stroke engines. CITS therefore eliminates total-loss lubrication of a typical two-stroke.
“CITS technology is applicable to any engine application from V-twins of 25 to 125kW up to V12s of over 1000kW for hospital generators etc,” he says.
The prototype was built on an 800cc V-twin Suzuki Boulevard crankcase with adapted Rotax 800 E-TEC parallel twin-cylinder jackets and heads.
Basil says the CITS engine would be most suitable in motorcycles because it is compact, economical, lightweight, powerful and cheap to build.
Tough pollution laws have forced two-stroke motorcycles out of the market in recent years in favour of four-strokes.
However, two-stroke technology is not totally dead.
KTM has a raft of direct-injection two-strokers for enduro and motocross.
Kawasaki is seeking sensory overload with load, blinker, and position sensors complementing ABS and traction control to sense for “upcoming scenarios”, according to a filing with the Japanese Patent Office.
The company is not the only motorcycle manufacturer adding more and more electronic riders aids in an effort to make riding safer.
Harley-Davidson has filed a patent for a self-balancing system that might help attract more customers to their big and heavy touring motorcycles.
Their bikes already have a large flywheel and low centre of gravity that makes them stable at slow speeds, but their mass is daunting for many riders. That’s why they are often dropped while stationary.
That issue could be resolved by this system that uses a gyroscope for balance when stopped and at walking speeds.
The patent drawings show the gyro unit is stored in the top box and includes another heavy flywheeland an electric motor which would make the bike even heavier.
The weight is also stored up high, so it effectively makes it even more difficult to hold upright at slow speeds and when stopped … except for the effect of the gyroscope!
It is a traditional gyro system with a flywheel that spins at up to 20,000rpm thanks to the electric motor. The system also has sensors that detect whether it is about to tip over so it engages the spinning flywheel.
Harley’s gyroscope patent
While the system would take up luggage space, because it is self-contained, it could be retrofitted.
This could be a major attraction for ageing riders as well as reaching out to other riders who never though they could handle a heavy touring motorcycle.
Harley is not the only company working on self-balancing systems to attract more riders daunted by motorcycles.