KTM announced Tuesday that it will be introducing adaptive cruise control (ACC) to its bikes. The feature, which has been available in cars for a number of years, will be of huge help to riders covering long distances in relatively congested countries like the United Kingdom.
If you’re unfamiliar with ACC, it’s effectively a “set it and forget it” cruise control system that will adjust a vehicle’s speed when something gets in the way. Using a number of sensors, the system can detect a vehicle in front then maintain a safe following distance of two seconds via automatic throttle control and – if needed – gentle application of the front brake.
It’s a system that overcomes one of the challenges of using cruise control in a relatively crowded European country, where traffic may be moving briskly but not so consistently that cruise control can be set for more than a few minutes at a time.
No doubt you’ve encountered the scenario of zipping along happily when suddenly someone’s grandmother swings out in front of you. With standard cruise control, you have to roll off the throttle or tap the brake to disengage the system, try desperately not to lose your patience as your forward progress goes from 80 mph to to 60 mph because Ford KA Grandma didn’t anticipate her 59hp car would run out of puff when attempting to pass a truck going uphill. Whereas with ACC, the bike slows down automatically, keeps a safe distance while you rage silently, and accelerates again once Ford KA Grandma is out of the way.
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Do we need such tech on our bikes? No, but it’s kind of cool and I can’t wait. I’ve driven cars with ACC and I think it’s a fantastic feature. Long hauls up to Scotland are about to get much easier.
However, I’m less certain about the blind spot detection (BSD) system KTM says it will also be bringing to future models. In Britain, instructors will stress the importance of shoulder checks before changing lanes; BSD serves as a back-up. KTM says it uses a short-distance radar to alert the rider to the potential of an undetected rear collision “by way of a visual warning on the TFT display as well as with illuminating superbright LEDs integrated within the rearview mirror glass, also boosted by audible signal.”
If I’m reading that right, your bike will be going into blinking and blooping disco mode every time you’re filtering through traffic. It sounds like all kinds of annoying. The only way to deal with it will be to teach yourself to ignore it, at which point it will become useless.
But there’s still time to work out the kinks. KTM stresses that both technologies are still in the development process and not expected to be available until the 2021 model year (so, we know what KTM will be showing off at EICMA 2020).
“We have a lot more development and many thousands of kilometers to test these systems in the real world before we can implement them on series production bikes,” explained KTM’s vice president for research and development, Gerald Matschl. “But they are coming in the near future and we are sure they will make a difference.”
KTM has a history of being the first to equip its bikes with top-notch tech. Case in point, it was the first brand to start using cornering ABS.
“Improving safety for motorcyclists is part of our responsibility as a manufacturer,” said PR Manager Luke Brackenbury. “With ACC and BSD we hope to make motorcycling safer still.”