Do you wake up thinking about the effects of positive and negative trail length and their relation to motorcycle stability? No? Well, we’re going to change that because you’re going to learn a little bit about just that topic today.
Jason Fenske from Engineering Explained is here to walk you through those ideas because they’re critically important to an extremely interesting concept motorcycle created by Honda. This two-wheeler is capable of balancing on its own without the help of a kickstand and it doesn’t use a gyroscope.
The motorcycle is called the Riding Assist Concept, and that name pertains to the technology keeping the bike upright. Through the use of a variable slant angle, a steer-by-wire system, and a steering motor, this motorcycle can remain upright all on its own. How it’s able to do this is related to the adjustability of its trail length.
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When a motorcycle has positive trail length, it turns in toward the direction that the front wheel is pointed. This is great for high-speed maneuvering. Negative trail length does the opposite as the bike leans away from the direction the front wheel is turned. This aids in low-speed stability. A standard motorcycle will be set up for one or the other depending on the nature of the type of bike and sort of riding for which it’s intended.
The Riding Assist Concept is able to adjust the angle of the front forks on the fly, so it can adapt to low- and high-speed riding. Adding the steering motor and steer-by-wire system then allows the front wheel to move back and forth to adjust the balance point of the bike, and thus keep it upright without a kickstand.
Even more interesting? In the video above, you can see that the bike is capable of autonomously following its owner. This could be a great system for parking and retrieving the motorcycle. It’s a fascinating concept and shows off some cool technology crafted by the Honda engineering team.