What price, your life?

Long time listener and frequent show feedback contributor Jamie McVey sent us this great open letter regarding riding and gear. Grab a cup of coffee, get comfy and give it a read.

Thanks, Jamie!

Having recently returned to Western Australia after living in the UK for a number of years I have noted a large increase in the the number of local riders riding motorcycles wearing little or no protective riding gear.

I mean I’ve barely seen a jacket let alone gloves,boots or pants! Why is this so i was wondering?
Now the UK has a different riding culture altogether – you see guys in full leathers that match their bike colours and designs in all types of weathers. The adventure crowd dress with the relevant ‘adventure’ type gear – much from the likes of Rukka and companies who make on behalf of BMW etc. Riding gear is marketed in all types of motorcycle publications, stands abound at all types of race meets up and down the country and the online market is forever on the increase. So why are locals here at home willing to put their lives on the line more-so with a lack of protective clothing?
I’m the first to admit that weather conditions here in Perth (capital city of Western Australia) are vastly different to the UK – much warmer and a lot of sunny days compared to weather that varies from thick fog, freezing rain and even snow. Even still is it worth the damage to body and mind let alone wallet for not wearing the right gear? Let’s make no mistake the road does not discriminate as to the type of rider who may come into contact with it! There are plenty of sleeveless tops, singlets, shorts and anything from laced sport shoes to thongs being worn onboard anything from little scooters to much larger and heavy motorcycles.

 

I wondered if ‘lifestyle’ was also a contributing factor? Perth has a rather cruisy way of life and is made for getting out on the bike. It has long straight roads and you don’t need to go too far to get into more technical riding roads if that is what you’re looking for. However, a lot of the people I do see on bikes in my local area inparticular, their journey would be ten kms or less in most cases. I’m not sure if this means that a short journey means protective gear does not need to be worn as ‘suiting’ up may in some cases take longer than the journey? Or do you think that ‘it would not happen to you’? To make matters worse for me I picked up a free publication from one of the local dealers and there was a full page spread for a manufacturer of motorcycles. In all three pictures of the bike models, the rider was wearing NO gloves and either a t-shirt or sleevless top!
I’m sure this may optimise cool but how ‘cool’ would you look sprawled on the road or worse! I know I have people in my life who would not want that scenario at all. Also take into consideration the other aspects of your life ie: work and day to day functioning! The roads are getting harder to negotiate with more vehicles, more aggression, distracted drivers of all types and most importantly, vehicles wanting YOUR SPACE!
I asked some bike friends their opinion and responses varied from it being ‘too hot’ for jackets and gloves to a simple shrug of the shoulders and the line of ‘I should wear my gear but…..’
It does give me the impression that again ‘it’ll never happen’. Maybe some hard hitting education is needed to help both riders and other vehicle users about the fragility of riders in different accident scenarios. I mean the type of injury can vary greatly. Even at a slow speed just the weight of a bike falling on you can cause all sorts of grief.

 

It is hard to change habits but, show you care for yourself and others important to you. There are plenty of options in riding gear out there and not all of it breaks the bank. Do some homework – get gear that fits right and is above all practical for your use. Hopefully you will never need to use riding gear in a way it is designed to be used but, just that extra few moments before your journey could be just the difference between coming up trumps and having scars you will never be allowed to forget.

 

Ride safe and stay the sunny side up.

Aprilia APRC electronics package description

Listener Chris Harr sent us this great description of the various Aprilia APRC electronics components as originally posted online by AF1 Racing; what they do, how they work, and their benefits for the rider and the overall performance of the motorcycle. Thanks, Chris!

 

Aprilia Performance Ride Control Explained
All of the APRC systems work together to produce quicker lap times. Aprilia Launch Control gets you off the line faster; Aprilia Quick Shift lets you get up to top speed faster; Aprilia Wheelie Control lowers the front end under hard acceleration and out of bends; Aprilia Traction Control lets you explore cornering limits with 8 levels of sensitivity.

Components: front and rear wheel speed sensors; ride-by-wire with three switchable maps; joystick control; +/- buttons; instrument display; two gyroscopes (one lean, one attitude), two accelerometers (acceleration and turn); ECU; gear position sensor, throttle position sensor, pressure sensor on shift lever.

Aprilia Traction Control (ATC)
Process: The rider presses the mode button and selects the desired level (1-8, 8 being most intervention) using the + and – buttons. Each level contains a minimum and maximum slip threshold. While riding, the speeds of the front and rear wheel are constantly compared, alongside parameters for the roll angle and longitudinal acceleration. Depending on the TC level selected and upon exceeding the minimum slip threshold for that level, the Traction control system enters a control state. The APRC light flashes rapidly when ATC is limiting torque. The rider is then able to modulate slip up to a maximum threshold, a point which cannot be exceeded. As the bike becomes more upright, a higher degree of longitunal slip is allowed by the system.
The ECU reduces torque accordingly in two different ways – “partializing” throttle valves (gentle) and reducing ignition spark advance at the coils (hard). The ATC system primarily reduces torque through the throttle valves.

Effect: Rather than a severe cut to limit acceleration and reduce rider control, the ATC’s logic allows a significant degree of rider control within specified slip parameters. Even while the system is limiting torque, the rider can effectively work within a range – modulating the throttle for more slide or vice versa. The system is constantly re-evaluating, so if you’re power sliding out of a corner, the more upright the bike becomes the more slip is allowed. Maximum acceleration is achieved with a limited degree of rear tire slip, which enables the rider to more to fully exploit the bike’s performance potential safely.

Aprilia Wheelie Control (AWC)
Process: The Wheelie Control is able to determine when a wheelie begins and ends. Due to the accelerometer, AWC can actually determine when a wheelie is occurring rather than involuntarily reacting to differing wheel speeds. Wheelies are thus controlled much more smoothly. Using the mode button and + /- buttons, the rider selects AWC from one of three levels (3 being the most conservative). Acceleration data from the accelerometer and relative speed between front and rear wheel is compared to determine conditions for a “wheelie.” If a wheelie is detected, traction control is momentarily disabled and the length of the wheelie is controlled by limiting torque via ignition advance and throttle valve aperture, just like ATC. Level 1 allows longer wheelies and level 2 and 3 shorter wheelies. Even with the Wheelie control turned off, the Aprilia traction control is still active as long as the front wheel is in contact with the ground. With the wheelie control turned off, the ATC system allows a wheelie for 30 seconds and inhibits a wheelie if the roll angle exceeds 25 degrees.

Effect: Wheelies become a separate variable from TC in the ECU. This is especially useful while cornering, where front wheel lift could cause the bike to run wide, yet over-harsh correction could limit performance. Instead, the bike holds the front wheel on the ground while permitting maximum possible acceleration.

Aprilia Launch Control (ALC)
Process: Rider selects one of three levels using the mode button and +/- buttons; 1 is the fastest launch level. ATC and AWC are disabled for start, but traction and wheelie control is handled by unique programming when Launch Control is enabled. Rider holds the throttle fully open while the ECU maintains a constant 10,000rpm (levels 1 and 2) or 9,500rpm (level 3).
To launch, rider simply holds throttle open while feeding out clutch. During first phase of launch, wheelies are PREVENTED with ignition advance while a variable rev limit is applied, allowing more revs as speed increases. Once the clutch is fully engaged a limited degree of wheelie is permitted. Once the bike crosses 100mph and a gear higher than 2nd, ALC disengages and AWC and ATC automatically reengage at their previously set level.

Effect: Race starts become accessible to less-experienced riders and predictable for experts. Maximum possible acceleration is achieved thanks to wheelie control in conjunction with the Aprilia Launch Control. The ALC is the only launch control system on a production bike.

Aprilia Quick Shift
Process: Rider holds throttle wide open, doesn’t use clutch. Pressure on the gear selector is detected, triggering the system to evaluate throttle map, throttle position, gear position and acceleration – ultimately determining the speed of the shift. Torque is cut by reducing ignition advance and injection times, enabling the next gear to smoothly engage. Torque is then gradually fed back in to smooth the shift.

Effect: Upshifts are completed without closing the throttle or disengaging the clutch, making them faster and limiting RPM loss. The rider can snap home instantaneous shifts on track or smooth, easy shifts on the road.