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SMART Rider Program to help you improve your on-road skills within the Gold Coast and Brisbane areas.

11 May , 2017,
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Whether you ride by yourself or with a group of friends, motorcycling should be fun.

But too many riders are being hurt on our roads, and it doesn’t have to be that way.

Many more have close calls and some just don’t feel comfortable or confident enough to enjoy their riding experience.

Good riders constantly work to improve their skills. They’re also able to spot risks on the road before they become a problem.

That’s why Motorcycle Life, together with the Australian Road Safety Foundation, has created the SMART Rider Program to help you improve your on-road skills within the Gold Coast and Brisbane areas.

The SMART Rider Program will help you to identify risks, give you strategies to avoid them and to make better decisions on the road.

Decisions that will make your riding far more enjoyable … and help to keep you safe.

And with improved skills and better decisions, you will also find that your confidence in dealing with situations on the road is better as well.

Whether you’ve been riding for a while, you’re just new or coming back to riding after a long break, the SMART Rider Program will help you to be a better rider.

Check out their website 


Brisbane City Council falls short of delivering promised CBD motorcycle bays

27 Apr , 2017,
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Brisbane City Council’s commitment to replace motorcycle parking bays lost to the Queen’s Wharf development is behind schedule with just over a third of the bays delivered.

On February 7 the council revealed four priority sites across Brisbane CBD to add 94 motorcycle parking space by the end of that month – North Quay (37), Albert Street (10), Kurilpa Park at South Brisbane (24) and William Street, between Elizabeth Street and the Victoria Bridge (23).

But, to date, only 33 of those spaces have been delivered.



The council submitted a development application for the 24 bays at Kurilpa Park on April 24, almost two months after the bays were supposed to be in use.

That application will now go through approval stages, including being opened for community feedback, before the work can commence.

The council’s infrastructure chairwoman Amanda Cooper said the spaces at Kurilpa Park were still planned and the council received ownership approval from the State Government in April.

Further, the spaces proposed for North Quay had increased to 46 spaces between Tank and Turbot streets and were currently in the details design stage, with 15 pending state approval.

“Our on-street parking and footpath spaces have always been highly sought after and therefore council balances the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, buses, taxis, commercial vehicles for allocation of spaces,” Cr Cooper said.

“Council has been advised by the State Government that over half of the of all motorcycle spaces removed during construction will be returned following completion construction of Destination Brisbane, with just 90 permanently removed.

“In preparation for the raft of changes that has come as a consequence of this major CBD State Government project, council has identified an additional 250 potential motorcycle spaces, which in some cases will be located on State Government land and will require owner’s approval,” she said.

Motorcycle Riders Association Queensland president Chris Mearns said the council indicated to them some bays had been replaced, but said it was nowhere near what was lost and had created enormous frustration amongst riders.

“It has an enormous impact, the amount of motorcycle parking bays that are available in and around the CBD basically get taken up by about 7am,” Mr Mearns said.

“Its been an ongoing issue for quite a long time that just gets worse because more people are buying, registering and using motorbikes… but then they are forced to try and find the appropriate parking.

“Most of what you see is an expression of frustration in not being able to find satisfactory or sufficient motorcycle parking.

“If you’re going to park legally you’re then forced into paying carparks, which is certainly not a cheap option even for a motorcycle.”

Mr Mearns said there had been suggestions for Brisbane to follow a motorcycle parking scheme similar to Victoria where motorcyclecan park on the footpath under certain circumstances in the CBD.

“It doesn’t particularly work in Queensland because the amount of footpath width in our [Brisbane] CBD does not match the footpath width in Melbourne CBD,” he said.

“Therefore they can’t really allow it as it doesn’t leave enough footpath width for pedestrians.”

Brisbane resident and motorcycle rider Jaimyn Mayer said the loss of parking bays on William Street resulted in an overflow of the bays on Gardens Point Road.

“This is no where near enough parks to accommodate the large amount of students who ride to uni or work in the surrounding areas,” Mr Mayer said.

“These zoned spaces fill up very quickly and it’s hard to find a park when you need one.”

Mr Mayer said riders had resorted to parking on a clear patch of land near the parking bays and that the council’s decision to fine these bikes for illegally parking instead of providing the desperately needed bays was revenue raising.

‘They’re probably making more money fining the 30-40 people a day a hundred dollars each than they would by putting more parks there,” he said.

There are currently 145 designated free parking bays on Gardens Point Road.

In February the council listed Queensland University of Technology’s Gardens Point campus as an area for future motorcycle parking locations but have not released details as to where, how many or when parking bays would be installed there.

“Council will continue to progress works on identifying locations for other motorcycle parking spaces in the city,” Cr Cooper said.


How To Accelerate Your Motorcycle Skills – To Infinity And Beyond

21 Apr , 2017,
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Hack Your Ride

 How To Accelerate Your Motorcycle Skills – To Infinity And Beyond

What’s the difference between the average Joe rider and VR46?

We all steer, brake, throttle, lean, look …

Everyone has arms, legs, brain …

So why are some riders better than others?

Apart from fitness, riding motorcycles is all in your head and here’s why.

 Does Your Ambition Outweigh Your Talent

The first thing is to be honest with your ability.

Here lies a big problem, because humans are programmed with a cognitive bias.

Unskilled riders can suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability much higher than is true.

This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their incompetence.

In English please …

Many unskilled riders think their skill level is much higher that reality.

Say thanks to Dunning-Kruger for the scientific evidence and be honest with yourself.

You may be significantly more unskilled that you perceive.


Road riders need good skill to ride safely and proficiently, reducing the chance of a panic reaction on the street and racers need high skills to win!

If you are a road rider think about this, nearly half of motorcycle crashes on the road are single vehicle accidents.

This means riders are crashing all by themselves.

A small-unexpected trigger such as gravel, an oncoming car across the white line, riding too hot into a corner … often leads to a panic reaction making a minor problem into a big problem which could have been avoided with higher skills.

The rider often lacks adequate understanding of their own limit and the limit of their bike and tyres.

Its way too easy, to get a motorcycle license and getting your license is only the beginning of your journey.

Plus, having higher skills would almost certainly help you avoid other typical crashes involving cars.

Check out the typical skills gap of licensed riders to proficient riders below.

(Data from motoDNA Riders Academy, QLD, Australia)

 Training Environment

Practice in a controlled environment where you can make mistakes with low risk.

Hint, this is not on public roads.

I’ve been through that and trust me it’s a whole world of pain or worse.

Now, most controlled environments tend to be race-tracks.

This clearly doesn’t mean that all training at these venues is for racing – duh.

I hear a lot of BS about “that’s just for racers” normally from the small minded and training companies that only train on the open road.

The importance of practicing in a controlled environment is even recognized by government these days with Queensland’s new pre-learner course now part of the licensing process.

Think for yourself, benefits of training on a track are plenty.

One way, no furniture, no police, heaps of space and no speed limit in a fun and engaging environment with other like-minded folks.

On the track you can run wide, you can run off line and over shoot corners without too much of a problem and you are learning by making small low risk mistakes.

On the road you cannot afford to make any mistakes.

 Find A Ride Hacker

A coach’s job is to inspire, guide and nurture you safely through your riding journey.

First thing, what’s your coaches safety record?

I’m amazed at the attitude of some trainers that you need to crash to learn?

This is rubbish.

A good coach can spot a rider trending towards a crash and bring you back on track with the correct attitude and techniques for your ability.

But to get good you need a coach that understands flow.

 What is flow?

The Psychologist Csikszentmihalyi describes flow as an exhilarating feeling of transcendence.

You trust your skills and ride intuitively without worry or doubt; resulting in feelings of joy and effortlessness.

Flow is the ultimate performance state where you feel and perform at your best.

To achieve flow a person’s body or mind need to be stretched in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.

Flow appears between boredom and anxiety in what scientists call the flow channel – the spot where the task is hard enough to make us stretch but not too difficult enough to make us snap.

You don’t need to be the best rider in the world to experience flow but you do need to overcome challenges to achieve a sense of mastery in your riding.

The coach’s job is to guide the rider through this flow path, balancing out the challenge to skill ratio.

If the challenge is too low you won’t achieve flow.

You will also not increase your skill and you will stay in your comfort zone.

If the challenge is too high, you will make mistakes, be inconsistent and at a higher risk of crashing.

The trick is to ride slightly outside your comfort zone, increasing your challenge in 5% steps.

Then practice riding at this new level until it becomes intuitive.

This could be increasing your braking performance, leaning the bike over further than you have done before, lifting your eyes to improve vision or increasing your precision and consistency.

Your skill level has now gone up by 5%.

Everyone is different and some riders improve quicker than others, but a good coach can help you find your unique access points into flow which helps play to your strengths also creating more fun with your riding.

So stop spending large on the bling and go faster bits, when the biggest performance gains come from investing in the spacer, you know, the one between the handlebars and seat.

Hack Your Ride


Think you can speed safely? Think again.

23 Mar , 2017,
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Think you can speed safely? Think again.

A new Easter road safety campaign is urging drivers to rethink their speeding habits on Queensland roads.

Main Roads and Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey said the campaign – ‘Let’s change the way we look at speed’ – highlights the dangers of low-level speeding.

“Around half of all speed-related crashes which kill or seriously injure people on our roads happen at just 10km/h or less over the speed limit,” Mr Bailey said.

“Speeding contributed to nearly a quarter of the road toll last year, but many motorists still think they can speed safely.

“The new advertisement shows how everyday people can be adversely affected by speed through one wrong choice on the road.

“It challenges viewers to change the way we look at speed by showing the negative effects of speeding from the different points of view of those involved.”

Mr Bailey said the campaign will run for three weeks throughout the busy Easter school holiday period.

“We know the Easter holidays are a busy time on Queensland roads, with many families driving to their holiday destinations,” he said.

“Unfortunately, when we see an increase in traffic, we often also see an increase in the number of crashes on our roads.

“More than 250 people lost their lives on Queensland roads last year. They aren’t just statistics – they are loved ones.

“I urge all motorists to put safety first every time they get behind the wheel – especially during the Easter holiday period.

“There are no excuses for speeding. It is up to all of us to take responsibility for our driving behaviour if we want to prevent these avoidable tragedies.”

Mr Bailey said the campaign was part of the Queensland Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan, which aimed to drastically reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on state roads, and included 57 initiatives totalling more than $500 million to be implemented over two years.

The ‘Let’s change the way we look at speed’ campaign includes television and radio commercials, online/digital advertising, outdoor billboards, regional press advertising, a strong social media presence, and a comprehensive speed section on the Join the Ride to Save Lives website.

For more information about the campaign, visit

Tips to stay safe on the roads during the Easter period:

– Plan ahead to avoid driving after drinking – organise a lift, catch a cab or public transport, designate a driver or stay at a mate’s place.

– Never use your phone while driving – it is little different to driving drunk.

– Don’t rush – stick to the speed limit and allow extra time for your journey.

– Get a good night’s sleep before you hit the road and make sure you take regular breaks on long trips – fatigue kills.

– Always buckle up.

– Drive to the conditions – increase your following distances and drive slower than the signed speed limit if stuck in bad weather (or delay your trip until the weather clears).

– Download the new QLDTraffic app for the most up-to-date traffic and travel information.


RACQ joins Ride to Work Day

28 Feb , 2017,
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The RACQ is supporting the first annual Ride to Work Day tomorrow (March 1, 2017) organised by the Motorcycle Riders Association of Queensland.

RACQ technical and safety officer Steve Spalding, a Suzuki Bandit owner and frequent motorcycle commuter, says he hopes the ride will alert motorists to the number of riders on the road.

“These Ride to Work days also help raise awareness of motorcycles on the road and remind other road users to think about their safety and give them a safe space in city traffic,” he says.

“It’s also an opportunity to raise awareness of motorcycles as an option for commuting where parking cost savings can be made.”

RACQ spokesman Steve Spalding takes Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey for a ride on his Bandit

RACQ spokesman Steve Spalding takes Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey for a ride on his Bandit

Motorcycle Riders Association of Queensland president Chris Mearns says riders are “often overlooked or ignored” when it comes to seeking solutions to transport issues.

“For every motorcycle or scooter that is used instead of a car there is a space saving on the road and a fuel use reduction of approximately 50% which results in a considerable positive outcome for the issues of congestion and pollution,” he says.

He hopes that message will be delivered to the authorities by establishing Ride to Work Day as a major event in coming years.

Several other states have Ride to Work days and the MRAQ used to organise an event more than a decade ago. Now Chris wants to resurrect the event.

He says this year will be a “soft start”, but he hopes it will be “bigger and better in coming years”.

Chris says now is a good time to kickstart Ride to Work Day as Queensland recently celebrated the second anniversary of the introduction of lane filtering.

He says the the MRAQ was “heavily involved” in having the welcome legislation introduced.

“So there is even more benefit now to making a motorcycle or scooter the means of transport to work due to our ability to move through road congestion more swiftly,” he says.

Ride to Work even if you work from homeRide to work day MRAQ

Motorbike Writer works from home, but will ride into Park Rd tomorrow morning in support of rider/commuters, regardless of the weather conditions.

If you work from home, too, you are invited to join us for coffee and a chat.

Motorbike Writer believes that more riders visible in commuter traffic might encourage motorists to see us and/or leave a gap for filtering.

Who else plans to ride to work tomorrow? Please share this article with your friends and encourage them to join you.


Motorcycle and scooter riders urged to ride to work

23 Feb , 2017,
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Queensland riders are being urged to ride to work next Wednesday (March 1, 2017) in an effort to re-establish the annual Ride to Work Day and raise awareness among motorists of motorcycles and scooters.

Motorcycle Riders Association of Queensland president Chris Mearns says riders are “often overlooked or ignored” when it comes to seeking solutions to transport issues.

“For every motorcycle or scooter that is used instead of a car there is a space saving on the road and a fuel use reduction of approximately 50% which results in a considerable positive outcome for the issues of congestion and pollution,” he says.

He hopes that message will be delivered to the authorities by establishing Ride to Work Day as a major event in coming years.

Several other states have Ride to Work days and the MRAQ used to organise an event more than a decade ago. Now Chris wants to resurrect the event.

“As this is the first year we are attempting this, we are only going with a very soft start with the intention to get it bigger and better in coming years,” he says.

“Accordingly, we are only promoting it through social media with the intention for this year that it be just an awakening.”

Chris says now is a good time to kickstart Ride to Work Day as Queensland recently celebrated the second anniversary of the introduction of lane filtering.

He says the the MRAQ was “heavily involved” in having the welcome legislation introduced.

“So there is even more benefit now to making a motorcycle or scooter the means of transport to work due to our ability to move through road congestion more swiftly,” he says.


Ride to Work challenge to all riders

So, next Wednesday, we want to see as many riders as possible riding into work on their motorcycle or scooter.

We often complain motorists don’t see us or leave a gap for filtering … well now is a chance to make our numbers known.

It might be difficult because of forecasts for rain next week, but Motorbike Writer challenges you all to suit up and ride with pride!

Who plans to ride to work next Wednesday? Please share this article with your friends and encourage them to join you.

Motorcycle and scooter riders urged to ride to work

170301 MRAQ Ride to Work Day


New QLDTraffic technology lets you check, plan, go

21 Feb , 2017,
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A new traffic and travel information system has been launched to help more Queenslanders better plan their journey before hitting the road.

Main Roads and Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey launched QLDTraffic at the Brisbane Traffic Management Centre today, which will replace the old 131940 website.

“Our new system will provide dynamic and real-time travel information through a new website and smartphone app, as well as a phone service and on social media,” Mr Bailey said.

“We’ve listened to Queensland motorists and considered their needs in developing simple, intuitive tools to share vital traffic information.”

On the refreshed QLDTraffic website, users can view all available traffic information on both an interactive map and filterable list.

“Motorists can plan their journey by address or popular location names and select their preferred route based on multiple travel modes, estimated travel times, and live traffic information,” Mr Bailey said.

“Users can also filter traffic information by event type such as crash, flooding, roadworks or hazard, while looking at active and future events.”

Mr Bailey said the updated technology, including the new app, would be helpful during the upcoming Easter holiday period.

“QLDTraffic displays alerts and warning messages about incidents impacting a particular road, area or region, and allows you to view live traffic camera feeds.”

The new smartphone app is a response to continuing growth in smartphone access to the QLDTraffic website and its predecessor,

Mr Bailey said the QLDTraffic app provided users with personalised push notifications for important traffic alerts that affect their favourite routes and places.

“It also lets us reach out to drivers about nearby traffic alerts in a safe way by giving them audio notifications while they’re on the road,” he said.

QLDTraffic data is updated in real-time and around the clock by state traffic management centres and other trusted partners.

“Our information is based on intelligence from members of the public, Queensland Police and our emergency management services, the RACQ and other Government agencies, just to name a few,” Mr Bailey said.

“As soon as we get verified information about traffic incidents, we will share it with motorists via our website and app, the 13 19 40 phone service and our Twitter feeds.”

“We also support the private sector in producing traffic services, having offered our live information as free, open data.

“This is all about delivering great services for Queenslanders and responding to their expectations for a safe and efficient transport network.”

QLDTraffic is the State Government’s official service for accurate and timely traffic information, helping Queensland motorists get to their destination safely.

Visit , download the QLDTraffic app, follow us on Twitter or call 13 19 40 to check and plan before you go.


On-Road Motorcycle Rider Training Program Returns To the Gold Coast

16 Feb , 2017,
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There have been plenty of calls in recent times for an affordable road based rider training program to be re-introduced on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Rising crash rates and increased injuries and fatalities in the region have created concern among both authorities and rider groups.

As fatalities in the region reach numbers not seen in almost 10 years, the Australian Road Safety Foundation and Motorcycle Life have joined forces with the Queensland Government and City of Gold Coast to develop the SMART Rider Program.

The SMART Rider Program will help riders to identify risks, give them strategies to avoid those risks and to make better decisions on the road.

Whether you’ve been riding for a while, you’re just new or coming back to riding after a long break, the SMART Rider Program will help you to be a better rider.

The Program is a full day training course involving theory sessions, demonstrations, facilitated discussions, and a mentored road ride in the environment where riders spend most of their time – public roads.

The program begins in March and riders from the Gold Coast and surrounding areas can now register for the course at

One of the aims in developing the course was to keep it affordable, and the program has been funding has been provided by the Queensland Government Road Safety Grants.

That has allowed the course fees to be kept to just $95 per day.

For more information go to or call 1300 961 335.

MRAQ New Design-3 crop

MEDIA RELEASE Reporting of motorcycle crash statistics

14 Feb , 2017,
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The MRAQ is always in full support of the promotion of safety issues targeted at all road users and more specifically motorcycle riders and pillions and actively encourages all riders to gain addition training and skills plus to always ride with-in the limits of each individual’s ability, however it is far too often the case that inaccurate or misleading data and statistical information is used when referenced in some media and Government output on these items.

Most commonly the raw figure of fatality numbers is used to highlight the need for action to be taken in relation to motorcycle safety and although this information does form part of the necessary statistical data that should be used for the generation of discussion or action it does not tell the whole story of what is happening on the matter and the consideration of other available statistical information should also be included. The most common information that gets ignored either by ignorance of its existence or by wilful exclusion is the relationship between crash rates and the number of vehicles on the road. This relationship cannot be ignored as it obviously will have a great impact on the possibility of being involved in a crash if the number of vehicles greatly alters.

For a considerable period of time motorcycles have represented the highest percentage increase group for registrations of all road users year on year. This increase rate can be best highlighted by comparing the registered amount of motorcycles on Queensland roads for the years June 2005 and June 2016. In this period the number of registered motorcycles increased by almost 100% from approx. 101000 in 2005 to approx. 198000 in 2016 and yet the fatality rate for these two years is almost the same with a number of individual years in between at a lower rate. This represents a decrease of approx. 50% in the fatality rate versus registered vehicle for the period. No other registered vehicle road user group has had such a percentage decrease. When this additional information is considered, and although as previously stated that the MRAQ encourages all riders to increase and accurately consider their own skills levels it can justifiably be claimed that in fact there has never been a safer time to be riding a motorcycle.

The MRAQ calls on parties that may be at any time considering the statistical data associated with motorcycles to use all the available information to its best effect and not ignore any part of the whole picture.


Chris Mearns

MRAQ President

Motorcyclists over 40 more likely to die on Queensland roads than young men

Men aged 40 and over account for 75 per cent of all motorbike deaths in Queensland, with the latest police figures challenging the long-held notion that young men are the biggest risk.

Eight people have already died in motorcycle accidents on state roads this year, with six of them aged 40 or over.

There were 12,028 motorcycles registered in Queensland in 2014-16.

In 2016, motorbike riders made up less then 4 per cent of all road used in Queensland.

Sixty-two riders and pillions died in 2016, accounting for a quarter of all road fatalities.

Queensland police Inspector Peter Flanders said speed, inexperience, and loss of control were the main contributors.

“Disproportionately, people dying on motorcycles are blokes my age,” he said.

“It’s not girls, it’s not the younger people — it’s blokes my age — and if you need to know I’m just over 50.

“We need to understand what switches on in blokes my age on a Saturday morning.

“[They] change from this calm, considered, collective, loving husband during the week, to this total fool on the weekend.

“I’ve been riding bikes for a long time, and I shudder when I see the figures every year.”
Other road users not the problem

Police statistics also debunk another commonly held belief that other road users were the main cause of motorcycle crashes.

Figures for 2016 showed two-thirds of motorbike crashes were caused by the rider.

The year before, 971 people were treated in hospitals after coming off a motorbike.
Loss of friend prompts safety campaign

Richard Wall’s best friend Dave Bailey died when he crashed his bike on the popular weekend route on Mt Nebo, north-west of Brisbane in 2015, just eight weeks after his wedding.

It was Mr Bailey’s 34th birthday and he had done the ride dozens of times before.

“He came off the road on a left-hand turn … hit a tree, and received fatal injuries,” Mr Wall said.

“The level of guilt that you feel when you’re supposed to be there and you feel like you could have done something to prevent it from happening.”

Mr Wall organised a memorial ride this month for his friend and started the RideSafely4Me campaign, aimed at reducing rider impulsiveness.

“RideSafely4Me is effectively about making people think twice when they throw their leg over the bike, and think about the people that would miss them if they were to do something stupid,” he said.

The Queensland Government recently launched a safety campaign featuring five-time world MotoGP champion Mick Doohan.

Doohan said riders had to develop a high level of awareness so they could read the road, the conditions, the potential hazards and stay focused and in control.

Inspector Flanders said buying a sports bike or cruiser was often an emotional decision.

“The majority of trips are for pleasure and not for work, so the challenge is to sell the objectivity — and I don’t know how we actually do that,” he said.


Motorcycles Are Learning to Save You From Your Own Recklessness

11 Feb , 2017,
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We all like to open it up every now and again, and Bosch is outfitting superbikes with the tech to make it safer.

A decade ago, rider skill was the last word in motorcycle performance. Until then, the dream for many riders was that in some far-off future, with enough practice, you might just be able to master your motorcycle. In the dream, you’d slide sideways into corners and spin up the rear tire on the way out, pull big wheelies at will, then haul it up safely in the worst of conditions.

The vast majority of riders never achieved this level of mastery—the job has instead been completed by PhDs around the globe who have been working feverishly to ease the rider’s workload. Their efforts have made the bikes themselves so capable that all riders will forever be playing catch-up—and none will ever succeed.

Even if computers haven’t quite “solved” motorcycling the way they’ve “solved” chess—and, more recently, the ancient Chinese strategy board game Go—the most advanced riding aids can now interpret a rider’s throttle and brake inputs and then dispatch more appropriate outputs with a level of precision and accuracy that even the world’s most skilled riders cannot hope to match.

Bosch Motorcycle Stability Control.

At first glance, it might seem that these technological advances could demoralize a rider—or a board game player—who wants to polish his skills. He’s no longer measuring himself against human, fallible giants like MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi, chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, or Go world champion Lee Sedol. His ultimate match is now against the unbeatable Bosch Motorcycle Stability Control (MSC) and its Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) (or in the case of games, Deep Blue and AlphaGo).

The Bosch MSC system runs behind the scenes of the top Ducatis, BMWs, and KTMs, and it uses a 6-axis accelerometer—the IMU—as well as suspension sensors to infer the instantaneous dynamic state of the motorcycle and send that information to a group of advanced safety systems. Thus informed, the rapid-pulsing ABS can brake at the limit, redistributing braking force between the front and rear wheels to help keep the motorcycle on track, even in mid-corner. Traction control minimizes rear-wheel slippage to ease rider workload and improve acceleration.

Anti-wheelie systems on older bikes worked by comparing front and rear wheel speeds—as soon as the rear wheel went faster than the front, the computer cut power. By interpreting the accelerometer’s data, however, Bosch’s system can deduce the bike’s pitch, and allows the front wheel to rise into the air without cutting power to the engine. The Super Duke GT also have semi-active suspension that can change damping settings thousands of times during a ride.

After a few highway miles aboard KTM’s 180 bhp, IMU-equipped Super Duke GT, it’s easy to wonder what all the fuss is about. It’s blindingly fast, but not faster than many conventional superbikes built in the last twenty years. In fact, during normal riding there’s only one clue that there’s a powerful gyroscopic brain lurking inside: when you lean into a bend at night, a bank of cornering lights turns on to light up the inside of the corner. If you don’t push the bike’s limits, you’ll never get a whiff of the IMU’s brilliance.

Fire the Super Duke GT down a mountain road, however, and prepare to recalibrate your idea of what a motorcycle can be.

The combination of the ABS and IMU systems can so effectively evaluate the interface between the tires and the road that the bike frees up the mental effort you had dedicated to assessing—or rather estimating—available traction. Instead of concentrating on the whole picture—deer, crests, slight changes in camber, etc.—you find yourself riding faster than ever before, and yet you remain mentally fresh when you finally stop.

However, to experience the magic of the IMU, your riding style must change. You must trust the computer. Leave the throttle wide open and the front wheel will lift over every crest, but the anti-wheelie will bring it back down again—sometimes many times on one straight. Your job becomes to avoid sand and diesel spills, and avoid coming into corners way too hot. Do that, and the bike will take care of any lingering worry you had about your ability to perform a mid-corner panic stop if you find yourself faced with an unanticipated obstacle. The IMU and ABS units are always waiting in the wings, waiting to take over and finesse the brakes at a moment’s notice.

At night, in the wet, the systems are even more impressive—and easier to exploit. On a motorcycle, both tire’s contact patches provide a constantly varying amount of grip as they cross over paint stripes and manhole covers, or are weighted and unweighted during acceleration and braking. On a conventional bike, the rider must avoid demanding more from the brakes or throttle than the available grip can provide—otherwise the tires will slide. On the KTM, the systems provide the rider with the option to keep each contact patch at the limit, effectively using the maximum available grip at all points during a maneuver. The effect is to reveal shocking amounts of available grip, even when there are a few slippery portions of road.

There is no longer a need to warm up mentally, or even to warm up the tires. All you have to do is keep the contact patches off zero-grip surfaces. The sketchiest part of my alpine blast was when I crossed a patch of gravel on the inside of a corner that had recently been resurfaced. The wheels slid sideways. Today’s electronics packages, impressive as they are, cannot handle this situation, However, Fevzi Yildirim—head of Bosch’s motorcycle safety group—dreams of a day when gyroscopes or outriggers or air blasts could deal with this type of loss of traction.

The KTM’s various electronic-aid packages can be turned off individually, but after you change the settings, you have to retune yourself. Without ABS, a panic stop demands more finesse at the levers. Do away with traction control and beware opening the throttle while leaned-over. Oh, and traction control and wheelie control are part of the same package—turn them off, and IMU will no longer intervene to help you tame that rising front wheel.

You’re faced with a now-eternal conundrum: are you able to recalibrate yourself well enough to justify the increase in fun against the increased risk of an accident? Reconfigurable electronics lead to second-guessing while riding at the limit—never a good thing.

Pushing one of these bikes to the limit is the thrilling intersection between science and sport. More than 100 years of development in tires, brakes, engines, and now electronics work together to put you in danger and simultaneously protect you from it.

There are instances where the electronics find themselves at odds with the spontaneous nature of motorcycle riders. The machine doesn’t know in advance when I’m going to want to wheelie for a group of kids, slide into a corner, or do a stoppie when I come up alongside one of my friends at a stoplight. At the same time, I can’t know when a deer is going to cross my path mid-corner, or when there will be a bit of sand in a braking zone. Maybe one day, bikes will deduce what electronic aids we want during a given maneuver by interpreting our control inputs. Until then, riders must choose in advance what electronic aids they want.

Recent flagship superbikes without IMUs upset the balance between road and machine. They were too powerful to deploy on unpredictable roads—either you were a poseur or a menace. Now, the electronics have enlarged the margin of safety, particularly at high speeds. The meanest bikes and the world’s most challenging and enjoyable roads once again find themselves in harmony.