When is a Convenience also a Distraction?

One of my favourite Moto mags was plopped down on my desk the other day, the UK-published Adventure Bike Rider and, buried in their glowing review of the new KTM 1290 Super Adventure S, was a short mention that covered the latest trickle-down automotive technology that’s entering our motorcycle universe—Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). 

Truth be told, I’m not a Luddite (and actually know what a Luddite is), or a stranger to technology on motorcycles—my primary bike is a 2016 BMW R1200RT. That machine has more bells and whistles than a Mexican footy match, and I love the technology the Beemer provides, and dig Mexican football matches, too.

What struck me the most about the ABR article was how the reviewer, Julian Challis was, and I mean no disrespect, as giddy as a schoolgirl with the revamped KTM, but more of a sullen teenage boy when it came to ACC. My point of view is in total agreement with Julian’s thinly veiled hesitancy regarding ACC when he writes, and I quote “feels all kinds of wrong at first…” 

Based on the inadequacies of current automotive ACC technologies—like over enthusiastic compression braking caused by entering a rolling-coal exhaust plume—there’s reason to be skeptical of this virgin motorcycle technology.

Again, not to sound like an anti-techie, but when I set my bike to the OEM cruise control, there’s always a feeling of trepidation when the machine takes over. Apparently throttle-control is even more surrendered on the new KTM if “overtake assist” is engaged. Overtake assist is activated when you turn on your indicators and move out to pass, your speed increases, and hopefully makes sure that you don’t rear-end whatever’s in front of you… or run a red light. To quote Julian “This is very clever but feels a little unnerving. ACC is a game changer for sure, but there’s a time and a place for everything.”

Personally speaking, I opted to add an ATLAS to my RT. Cruise and Throttle Lock—two different tools for two different jobs. The cruise comes in handy when slabbing across the Great Plains, pulling 800+ mile days to a frosty IPA at the next Applebee’s; and the ATLAS when my wrist needs a break from more spirited riding. The ATLAS’ easy-to-reach thumb activation on/off is intuitive, providing relief to the throttle-wrist without having to faff with the two cruise buttons on the RT’s left switchgear. I prefer the more natural rider input and feedback from the ATLAS.

I’m sure you’ll agree, the multi-dimensional experience of motorcycle riding is completely different from the less-fluid aspects of driving a car. So yes, motorcycle ACC is all kinds of wrong, and am I the only one that’s waiting to see the first YouTube vid that has someone taking a nap while riding to work?

Seeing that automotive ACC systems haven’t been fully debugged, I’m not quite ready to be a two-wheeled test pilot. Not yet anyway.

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