Once a world dominated by rumbling choppers and bedazzled leather jackets, motorcycle culture is taking a strong lean toward modern technology and increased safety. Although there will always be the risk and adrenaline of switching to two wheels, several key innovations in recent years have shifted the gears of motorcycling to being less "Sons of Anarchy" and more "Tron."
After decades of road rash and flipped bikes, motorcycling got a bad rap as the dangerous and ignorant alternative to driving on four wheels. Many claimed that the motorcycle industry was failing. In response, according to USA Today's Kellie Ell, bike brands have been creating more modern bikes, making safer equipment and appealing to more female riders. Leading industry innovators and motorcycle gear experts expound on some of the technology that is changing the world of motorcycling.
Kraig Becker, a contributor to the technology website Digital Trends, stated recently that smart helmets are one of the biggest innovations in motorcycle history. These helmets often include Bluetooth connectivity, allowing riders to listen to music, receive GPS instructions and communicate with other riders. Additionally, some high-end helmets -- such as the iC-R, by Intelligent Cranium Helmets -- have built-in cameras and rider notifications. By providing a 210-degree view and heads-up display warnings for nearby vehicles, the iC-R nearly eliminates blind spots and allows riders to keep their eyes on the road. Both independent companies and crowdfunding platforms alike are going wild with cutting-edge smart helmet designs. Set to release next year are the CrossHelmet X1, featuring 360-degree road views and noise cancellation, and an augmented reality (street names, compass, speed, GPS instructions) display in the LiveMap.
Looking beyond futuristic headwear, contributors for HuffPost contacted the insurance company Allstate for a recent article on motorcycle technology that is redefining the industry. Key bike developments include electronic throttles (eliminating the direct rider-to-cable-to-engine connection, which can often cause engine stalls) and adaptive headlights that calculate the rider's lean angle to provide ample light on curves and switchbacks. One of the predominant causes of motorcycle fatalities is crashing on a curve at night, and AAA claims that this technology will help drastically.
Additionally, according to Pete Hitzeman, contributor for RideApart, innovations in body armor are one of the most influential realms of rider protection. What used to be a world dominated by Power Ranger-style segmented chest, arm and back pads is evolving into a sleek line of full-body shells that save countless riders' lives. In addition to keeping your whole body impact-proof, new inventions in fabric material are allowing more breathability for riders in hot weather. Although many are tempted to expose skin on long summer trips, riders are encouraged to purchase such products as Fox Racing Flexair breathable motorcycle clothes. These allow maximum protection from the road and sun without compromising temperature control.
Motorcyclists are being presented with new technology all the time to make their rides safer and more comfortable. Although the price tags may be steep, innovations in motorcycle gear are saving lives every day.