New cars long ago passed the point of tech necessity with so many interrelated systems on board, it’s becoming impossible to work on them yourself or, for that matter, to operate everything when desired or needed.
What was that feature and how do you turn it on?
If you’ve bought a new car recently, you are familiar with the delivery procedure where the sale rep sits inside the car with you and explains how everything works. For many of us who have grown up working on motor vehicles of all kinds for many decades, it’s maddening, not because he’s telling us what we already know, those things aren’t covered, it’s that most of what is explained is how to access all of the tech features in the dash, on the steering wheel, in the smart multi-function levers on either side of the steering column plus whatever switches and buttons are arrayed on the center console, door panels and overhead. If you have more than one vehicle in the family with similar levels of complexity, but different arrangements of controls, well, good luck. There are capabilities in my wife’s car, I’ll never turn on because they’re securely buried under layers of menus I have no desire to explore and traverse. I know they’re there, I saw the sales rep demo them, but they might as well not be.
Motorcycles are simpler, right?
Motorcycles haven’t gone that far, yet, but they’re moving in that direction. There was quite a debate when ABS began to appear, then linked braking where front and rear were applied even if you didn’t do it yourself. Yes, safety increased, but so did complexity. The new digital displays with multiple screens just make me shake my head, on a motorcycle? Seriously? Android Auto is beginning to appear in the dash and Ducati has introduced radar with adaptive cruise control and blind spot indicators. Several companies now let you choose the riding mode, like sport or off road adjusting engine performance and suspension and there’s traction control and more. You can get Heads Up Displays in helmets, it’s likely to appear on bikes soon, if it hasn’t already. Just enter your intended target in the GPS, file a flight plan and you’re off.
See those guys in the photo above? Low tech, but able to ride anywhere. Remember heading out on a Sunday, with no particular place to go? You flip open the filler cap to check your gas, start your bike, glance at the gauges and it’s you and the highway. Nothing else necessary, no connection to the cloud and if something didn’t work, you could figure it out. I really hope the rush to more tech doesn’t take that away.
UPDATE: On a related note, we previously covered: connected motorcycles