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Transportation Technology

Motorcycle App Helps You Ride Faster, Turn Sharper, Brake Harder 148

Hugh Pickens writes "Alexander George writes about a new app that takes the data from a smartphone's accelerometers, GPS, and inclinometer to plot information for braking force, lean angles, speed, and on-track location onto Google Maps to shave precious milliseconds off each lap time in motorcycle races. Race Sense is designed to be a useful tool for someone who races for a living and a very fun toy for those who just like to brag about what lean angle they got at their ride day, and what top speed they reached down the main straight. Australian Grand Prix motorcycle road racer Anthony West provided much of the R&D that went into tweaking the app. 'With sponsorship's so hard to find and I need another way to survive. I spent some of my own money developing it with an Italian guy who also likes to ride himself, and who writes programs,' says West who designed Race Sense to fulfill the needs of a genuine MotoGP racer. 'Sometimes it's one second [separating] 20 people. If you adjust one little thing thinking about something in one corner you can lose four places.'"
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Motorcycle App Helps You Ride Faster, Turn Sharper, Brake Harder

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @06:40AM (#41916935)

    I have the feeling that people are going to try using this to perform techniques that are above their skill level. They will probably die. Its awesome for racers who are trying to shave time off their laps, and who are in a controlled setting. For most riders, I think this will lead to a slight increase in fatalities.

  • by Random Data ( 538955 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @06:54AM (#41916983)
    Or it could save people by letting them realise just how awful their riding skills are, with some pointers to improve them. Watching people try to drive or ride on a twisty road shows you just how poor most of them are at picking lines, making corrections if required, and judging entry/exit speeds. This is supposed to be used on racetracks, which means the local fun roads will be tracked/mapped about 3 seconds later.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @07:47AM (#41917171)

    Hopefully, the people using this will either mount the phone on the tank or on the tail so it is out of view.

    This won't stop irresponsible people from being irresponsible, but at the track we tape over things that could be distracting to the eyes (speedometers, lap timers, etc) that way we don't try to check them instead of watching the turns/other riders/turtles that may be trying to hitch hike.

    And no, you don't need to see the speedometer at the track. Your gut/butthole provide much more feedback in much less time than it would take for your brain to process looking at the speedometer. Although, again, a lot of these things are actually out of view of the rider because of the posture you're in.

  • by 2fuf ( 993808 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @07:53AM (#41917189)

    Smart phone apps don't kill people, reckless drivers kill people.

  • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @08:22AM (#41917291)
    While I agree with your overall objection of this being neither newsworthy or anything more than an advertisement, the stub says that this is a track day app. I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't function on normal roads, just like the Nissan GTR disables a speed limiter only when you're on a track (by GPS location).

    If it does work on the road, then maybe people should take some responsibility for their own actions and not race on the fucking road.
  • by fche ( 36607 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:28AM (#41918025)

    ... including that belief system wherein one may judge and disrespect other people's belief system(s) ?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @01:07PM (#41920083)

    You can't look at your gauge cluster. It's too far out of view (racers don't sit on top of their bikes, they hang off the sides). Honestly, I don't know anyone that even looks at their tach. We have shift lights, but you can tell where you're at in the rev range based on sound and power delivery. And in the event you forget then your rev limiter will remind you. :-)

    What some people don't know, or don't realize, is that at the track there's only one thing you are focusing on and that's the next turn. So you're fully aware of your velocity, where you need to brake, where you need your body, and where you need the bike. 99% of the time the only place you're looking is where you want to go, which is way out in front of your bike. And your bike is capable of a lot more than you are, so almost always your limiting factor is what you /think/ is the limit, so your gut gets tight and your butthole closes shut when you start to test your limits. Your brain will recognize if you're going into a turn 1mph faster than you have in the past and it will let you know in every way it knows how (more adrenaline, an "OH SHIT" feeling, total panic, whatever you're set up to do).

    Whereas when you're driving on the road you're worried about paying a bill when you get home, or who let the DJ play that crappy song, or what a road sign up ahead says. You get lost in thought, you realize you don't remember the last kilometer of driving, or whatever. Not because you're bad drivers, just because the different circumstances give you a luxury of time.

  • by Burning1 ( 204959 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @01:53PM (#41920883) Homepage

    I am actually a motorcycle racer. First thing: Apps like this have been around for years, and hardware to accomplish the same thing has been around for even longer. This appears to be more or less a slashvertisment.

    To address a couple of points above: I don't really see apps like this being a safety issue. Very few street riders use data-loggers or lap timers. While lap timers may encourage risk taking, data loggers almost certainly wont. The use to us for data-loggers is to establish strategy, and analyze riding technique. It's useful as a teaching tool to identify bad riding habits (mid-line corrections, over-braking, etc.) It's great for comparing two different approaches to a corner to identify which is faster. Data loggers are very useful on a closed circuit where you can easily take the same corner a dozen times over a two hour period. Few street riders will pay that much attention to a single corner*, and the data is rarely useful because of changing road conditions.

    The additional weight of a smart-phone or full data logging system is pretty much irrelevant at most levels of racing. The value of the data obtained far exceeds the cost of the weight. Many of us also mount cameras (Go Pro, Countour, etc.) which also add aerodynamic drag and weight.

    Using a datalogger in traffic is pointless. The traffic it's self adds too many variables to make the data meaningful.

    Finally, no one uses a data logger to 'turn sharper.' On a motorcycle, turning radius is usually limited by rider confidence first, and cornering clearance second. It can be increased with training and proper technique. If there was an app that said "you could probably lean further" then yes, such an app would be dangerous. Modern bikes however, already come with such a feature (peg feelers.)

    * On a given weekend, you'll find me walking around any track I ride, looking at surface irregularities, camber angle, analyzing lines, etc. We pay huge attention to each corner.

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