Over the last several years, motorcycles have increased in their popularity. However, riding one is an undeniably dangerous activity, with the Alabama Department of Transportation linking it to more than 13,300 accidents and 850 deaths on state roadways between 2004 – 2013. With riders across multiple age groups at risk of death following a motorcycle crash (though those between the ages of 20 and 24 face the highest level of risk), motorcycle manufacturers are exploring new design ideas they hope will one day help reduce these numbers.
Among those leading the charge, per CNN Money, is luxury auto and motorcycle-maker BMW, which recently revealed a self-balancing concept motorcycle intended to reduce crashes caused by bikes leaning too far in one direction or the other. The new design lacks some common motorcycle characteristics, but it introduces some new ones. For starters, the motorcycle does not run on gasoline, but rather, electric power. It also comes equipped with self-balancing wheels, eliminating any need for traditional shock absorbers, and it does not require joints like traditional models because it boasts a flexible, bendable frame.
While BMW’s new concept motorcycle differs dramatically from today’s common designs, its riders, too, must break old habits, should the self-balancing model hit the market. Gone would be the days of steadying oneself at a stop sign or stop light by placing one’s feet on the ground, for example, because the bike gets the job done on its own. Additionally, the concept bike is designed to further help riders avoid collisions by featuring a high-tech, virtual safety cage that collects data about any hazards on the roadway.
If, and when, BMW’s self-balancing concept bike will hit stores is unclear, but BMW engineers are hopeful that production of the bike will not only move forward, but also considerably reduce motorcycle-associated crashes, injuries and fatalities.