What you are looking at is the Honda Riding Assist-e, a motorcycle concept that Big Red will be debuting at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, which starts next month.
Honda isn’t saying too much about the Riding Assist-e, but the main purpose seems to be showing off the company’s self-balancing control technology, which keeps the motorcycle upright by moving the front wheel.
This isn’t that different from the Honda Riding Assist concept from earlier this year, with an added “e” of course in the name. That designation of course is for the electric drivetrain that the concept is sporting.
The Honda Riding Assist-e concept is interesting as a motorcycle, but more intriguing is the technology and what motorcycles it could land on, in Honda’s lineup.
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is underway in Las Vegas right now, and while usually the event doesn’t have much overlap with the motorcycle industry, Honda has decided to use CES to unveil its “Riding Assist” technology. Honda Riding Assist is basically a creative technology package that allows a motorcycle to self-balance, without the use of gyroscopes. Honda achieves this by raking out the motorcycle’s front forks, and then balances the motorcycle by moving the front wheel back and forth – like you’ve probably seen skilled cyclists do at traffic lights. Big Red says that its work with making the Honda UNI-CUB helped create the balancing technology for two-wheelers, the Japanese brand has some clever implementations of its tech, including a mode where the motorcycle can follow you.
I had to check the A&R archives to see if we have even mentioned Lit Motors before, mostly because the the San Francisco startup has been slow to develop its self-balancing motorcycle, and I’m not terribly bullish on the project. That doesn’t mean the concept is without merit though, and its apparently caught the interest of Apple. If that sounds strange to you, then you need to understand that Apple, along with a bevy of other tech giants, is working on an autonomous car for the masses. This “Project Titan” as it’s called, has already seen Apple poach a couple of Lit Motors’ personnel, and now the most valuable company in the world is looking at acquiring Lit Motors, and/or other automotive entities, according to the New York Times.
One of my daily stops in the blogsphere is a little tech blog called TechCrunch, which is known for its pretty firm grasp on the pulse of Silicon Valley, and balances its coverage of this fantasy ecosystem we have here in the San Francisco Bay Area with the appropriate amount of irreverence. As much as I like the site, the two-wheeled coverage of TechCrunch is fairly abysmal in its analysis and superficial in its depth, but that is probably a good thing, since it keeps me gainfully employed.
That being said, we should all be thankful for any coverage outside of motorcycling’s very small footprint, as when a tech blog behemoth like TechCrunch covers motorcycles, it exposes our little industry to a new audience of potential future motorcyclists. Such is the case with Lit Motors, which before this week was an obscure EV startup with a novel idea, but now after being named the first runner-up of the TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco conference, the Lit Motors C-1 has significantly more buzz about it.