Daily Management Review

Motorcycles Are Getting Touchscreens and by More than one Maker


Motorcycles Are Getting Touchscreens and by More than one Maker
Another set of bikes would soon be fitted with a computer that would assist driving.
Very soon, turn-by-turn directions, sync to smartphones, and flag the nearest gas station when the tank is low are some of the riding assistance that bike riders would be able to get after Polaris Industries, the company behind Indian and Victory motorcycles, unveiled a new 7-inch touchscreen system dubbed Ride Command. Indian’s new Chieftain and Roadmaster bikes, which account for about half the brand’s sales would carry the handlebar computer as a standard addition to the bike.
“We’re really pumped up about this. We’re opening up a huge part of the market for ourselves,” said Steve Menneto, president of motorcycles at Polaris.
However this is not the first bike that would be fitted with a computer like assistive device. In 2013, the Navigator V device was released by BMW, in concert with Garmin. A year later Harley-Davidson followed suit and released its Boom! Box system. According to Harley's chief executive officer, Matt Levatich, this system comes standard on about half the bikes the company sells in the U.S.
While for anyone who has ever bumped into a stranger while texting, they all seem like spectacularly bad ideas even as these companies are bickering about which unit is best. Those against such innovations claim that motorcycle riders need as much of gigantic potholes as they need more potential distraction on the road.
According to the most recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the U.S., someone on a motorcycle is already 26 times more likely to die in a crash than someone in a car. While 4,700 motorcyclists were killed, 88,000 of them were injured in 2013.
However there has been an improvement in accident data in the U.S. in recent years. Albeit slightly, but crash rates have fallen. However the decline dovetails remarkably with the introduction of touchscreens while some of that can be attributed to better brakes and improved rider education.
These computers help a driver stay focused is used correctly, is the argument that’s being given. GPS units can route a rider around traffic, bad roads, and inclement weather and there’s no paper map to fold and flutter are some of the advantages. Important mechanical alerts are also given.

Development of the Boom! Box and to design intuitive handlebar controls and fast-loading software had taken great pains from the team, said Harley's Matt Levatich. Making sure that riders never have to look down or touch the screen was the aim.
“It’s not about technology for technology’s sake. When I'm riding, I do everything I need to do with my thumbs, or when I have my helmet on, with my voice," he said.
Other arguments claim that one can become a better rider by the use of infotainment systems. Riders are helped in enhancing their techniques as the systems record data on acceleration, braking, and lean angles in addition to making phone calls and blasting Steppenwolf. Eight screens of such mechanical metrics are being offered by Indian's new system.
 “When you have these discussions, you always think of rider safety. But it's in such demand from customers. And once you get your new toy home, and you’re settled in with how it works, it just gives you a lot more confidence,” Mennetto said.