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Honda’s new self-balancing tech defies gravity



…and by not using gyroscopes prove that bikes are more stable than people think.

We’re all familiar with Segways by now. No, not those ridiculous footboards that kids all nagged at their mums and dads about a couple of years ago before they all started exploding, but the self-balancing, ‘future of transport’ that promised an entirely new world but somehow just ushered in a slightly more quirky set of ‘experience days’.

The Segway was revolutionary because it used a series of gyroscopes that kept their unit upright at all times, and other companies have investigated using similar technology in vehicles to varying degrees of success.

Not Honda though.

For their new Riding Assist technology announced at CES this week, Honda eschewed the familiar gyroscopic path citing that they are too heavy and cumbersome for inclusion into a regular, two-wheeled form factor. Instead the tech used comes out of their robotics division – the people responsible for Uni-Cub and Asimo – and have a combination of software and a third motor applied to the front forks doing all of the tricky work.

Steering at low speeds can now be controlled electronically, with the software and sensors picking up and relaying the adjustments required to a small motor making the minute, steering adjustments to the front forks, enabling the whole bike to stay balanced.

So in fact, our headline is entirely misleading – clickbait! – because rather than defy gravity, Honda are using science and algorithmic cleverness to work with it.

There’s also another, extra motor fitted within the front wheel hub that can power the bike if needs be… Something that is rather niftily demonstrated in the demo video when it shows the Honda worker requesting the bike to automatically follow them across the building floor.

Kind of like Tesla’s summon technology, only far more impressive because, motorcycles!

There’s no word at all from Honda on production timelines or even if it’s a technology that could ultimately transfer to the ‘real world’ in its current form, but with Yamaha talking up their Motobot, Kawasaki blindly calling everything that involves a computer ‘A.I’ and Suzuki finally giving us riding aids on our GSXR’s, there’s no doubting that this kind of tech is coming.

Are you ready for your new, robot overlords?

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Custom of the Week: Yamaha SR500 ‘Scrambler’ by Daniel Peter




SCRAMBLERS ARE A HOT TOPIC. Build one, and you’re sure to be judged solely by how well equipped it is for hardcore off-piste use.

But that’s not all that scramblers are about. Daniel Peter compares his latest build to his childhood BMX—and it’s pretty much how we feel about modern-day scramblers too.

“When I was four years old, my BMX bike became my life,” he explains. “It was so simple, yet so fun. Just wheels, pedals and brakes. I’d ride it to the beach, jump a few curbs along the way, race my friends. Those were the good days.”

“30 years later, I set out to build a motorcycle based on the same principles. There’s nothing on this bike that doesn’t need to be there. It has wheels, a punchy engine and great brakes. I didn’t even put a speedo on it, because I never looked at the one on my last bike.”

Daniel works as a photographer in Chicago, but wrenches during the winter to keep his passion for riding alive. He keeps a workshop in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, outfitted with a tool cabinet, a welder, and a 1940s South Bend lathe.

This 1978-model Yamaha SR500 is the fourth Yamaha 500 he’s built to date. “It’s the most simple, yet the most thorough, of the bunch,” he says.

The motor’s been bumped to 540 cc, with a grocery list of go-fast bits that includes a lighter XT500 crank, a new piston from JE and a Megacycle cam for better torque down low.

R&D valve springs with titanium caps, a Powerdynamo ignition and a high-flow oil pump from Kedo round out the package.

Hoos Racing refreshed the crank and cut new valve seats for Daniel, but he tackled the rest of the rebuild himself. Every single bearing and seal was replaced along the way too. As for the carb, it’s been swapped out for a 39 mm Keihin FCR flatslide number, fed by a fat K&N filter.

The exhaust system is a combination of a custom made stainless steel header, and a Cone Engineering muffler.

The SR rolls on 17” supermoto wheels, borrowed from a KTM (front) and a Honda CRF450 (rear). They’re wrapped in Pirelli MT60 Corsa tread; a 120 up front, and a chunky 160 on the 5” rear rim. (“It juuust fits,” says Daniel.)

The brakes have been upgraded with a mix of Brembo and Beringer parts, with an RCS 14 radial master cylinder up front.

On top is an aluminum Yamaha XT500 fuel tank, wrapped in a paint scheme “inspired by an unforgettable riding trip through Baja.” Just behind it is a new saddle from MotoLanna, with a new kicked-up subframe loop.

It’s just about spring in Chicago, so Daniel must be itching to rack up the miles on his SR500. And we’re betting it’s going to be impossible to get him off it.

A version of this article first appeared on Bike Exif. It’s republished here with permission.

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Icon claim back the streets in their latest, epic video



Street’s Not Dead.

Regular readers will know that we eagerly await anything released from the US streetwear firm Icon Motorsports. So the moment that a video drops from the Portland firm we’re bound to pay attention.

That’s an interest piqued double when they post it alongside what is essentially a call to arms…

“Street’s not dead. If you think it went away, you’d be wrong. Street’s still here undermining pompous authority, rejecting standards, and bucking the status quo..”

And they’re not kidding either. With the Icon clad rider thrashing their Kawasaki ZX-10R through city streets, car parks and even a public fountain at one point, there’s a lot to take in.

Couple that with their usual loud, Icon style and you’ve certainly got a statement of intent.

(Don’t try this at home kids).



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