There are plenty of people that don’t fancy the idea of electronic this, that and the other on their bikes. I understand. I was... Is it time we embraced the electronic age?

There are plenty of people that don’t fancy the idea of electronic this, that and the other on their bikes. I understand. I was once one of them. In fact in some respects I still am. There are certain things that I’m still not convinced by. Antilocking brake systems, adaptive cruise control and keyless ignitions are amongst my pet hates. And that’s just me. Some still don’t like the idea of quickshifters, Bluetooth connectivity and different rider modes. And they are welcome to their opinions. I’m not going to try and change anyone’s mind. But I have decided that, from now on, I’m going to be more open to the idea of change. More open to the idea of modern electronics. And this is why.

Most new tech, when it first comes out, needs a bit of refinement. Particularly electronic tech. Take fuel injection. When the first fuel injected bikes came out, they weren’t really any better than their carburetted equivalents. Nowadays the bike manufactures wouldn’t dream of putting carbs on any self-respecting superbike. And most of us are thankful for it. The point I’m trying to make is that, when you’re not sure about something, it pays to give it time. Early versions of most modern tech left a lot to be desired. They just need time to mature. So rather than bin the idea of a quickshifter off completely, because you tried one ten years ago and it was crap, give it another try.

Emperor’s new clothes

Because all they’re trying to do with all this modern tech is make bikes better. And safer. Even if it’s only bit by bit. But that’s surely a good thing. I mean, they’re already really good. In fact they were good 20 years ago, but now they’re even better. And in 20 years’ time they could be even more incredible than they are now. Unless Greta What’s-her-name has anything to do with it. Anyway, that’s beside the point. The fact is that on the whole, electronics do improve bikes, year on year.

And let’s be fair, nothing’s going to change any time soon as far as that goes. Even if the electronics on modern bike were all rubbish, they’re too fashionable. Everybody loved the emperor’s new suit, didn’t they? Or pretended to. And lots of people like the idea of electronic aids, and safety nets even if they don’t need them. So if the manufacturers can charge you a few extra quid for the sake of giving them to you, they will.


And one day, everything in our lives will be connected to each other, including our bikes. Whether we like it or not. So we might as well get used to it now. We might as well get used to living in the electronic age. Our bikes will be connected to our phones, our bank accounts and our brains. There’ll be no such thing as cash; instead we’ll just get charged each time our bike fuels itself up, or forgets to program a new speed limit into its autopilot motherboard.

I don’t want to fight it any more. Because I know it’s happening. I know we’re already living in the electronic age, but I don’t think we’ve seen the half of it yet. I think we’ll look back at the relatively analogue lives we lived at the turn of the 21st century and wonder how we managed. Some will rue the day the microchip was invented. Others will rejoice it. Which camp will you be in?


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1 year ago

Abs is very useful in panic situations for those of us who are not seasoned racers like yourself. Especially with all the new lean angle sensative combined braking stuff.
Keyless ignition is so much more practical. No more taking keys in and out of the barrel or your pockets. Just put it in your jacket or back pack and hop on and off at leisure. If you’re worried about theives reeding it just get an old biscuit tin for when you’re not using it. You can probably even buy metal cable mesh bags to stick them in for in your backpack.
Adaptive crusie control you don’t even have to use?

Don’t get me wrong learning how to do it all without these aids is ideal. But after riding for a few years i wish I had the money for a bike with all this nice tech and for my 60 odd father who I’ve convinced to get his licence it makes much more sense to get all that extra safty straight away. He’s convinced it’s a scheme I’ve come up with to try and get my inheritance sooner haha!

1 year ago

Tricky one, my car is loaded with gadgets and the Adaptive Cruise control is a blessing on the A34 to work, but I’m not sure it works fir a bike, I was anti it first in the car but now I’m sold, my issue is this, if I’m going to ride from Hampshire overland to Japan I wouldn’t take an electronics loaded bike incase of breakdown, Id take the new Tenere 700, it simple and gadget free, but that new KTM 1290 Adventure does appeal!!

1 year ago

I was in similar thoughts a lot, I still don’t like ABS, just because, but I am now having to change the way I ride a bike, I have just traded in my Street Triple 675 for this years F750gs with all the bells and whistles, on top of that I like to tinker with my own rides, if we don’t learn, then we are stuffed when something goes wrong on a trip, nothing worse having to wait for a tow truck because you don’t have the knowledge in stripping and fault finding, not me, I have learned along the way, and I am in no means a mechanic, but I am good with understanding diagrams and good with my hands, having said that, I have just had to buy the GS-911 so that I am still able to work on my new bike, without it I would be stumped, because everything is wired in, and the slightest thing you do to the bike, could throw up a fault code, meaning a trip to the dealership to remove it and set things right, costing a small fortune, this device allows me to do all that without relying on other people and wasting my hard earned cash. I am slowly coming around to the idea of electronics on a bike, so long as they can be turned off, unfortunately my rear ABS can’t, so something I will have to live with. EU5 regulations will slowly make all new bikes to conform to the letter, so love it or hate it, marmite is here to stay. Great write up Boothy