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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

        I wonder how looking at a phone while riding aggressively affects lap times... or the ability to finish at all. ;)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          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

          • by deroby ( 568773 )

            Just wondering, but isn't the speedometer a necessity in racing ? As is some indication that you're over-revving the machine for instance ?
            => Sure, your "gut" can guesstimate how hard you're turning into a corner but if you KNOW it can be done at speed x, then why assume that you can 'feel' it better than (or just as good as) a quick glance at the speedometer ? Feels like a lost opportunity if you actively shut it out.... Heck, you probably could have the app tell you if you're above or below the 'requir

            • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:01PM (#41919079) Homepage Journal

              No, racebikes don't have speedos. Anyways a speedo has nothing to do with overrevving, if you're concerned at that you should be looking at the tachometer, not the speedometer.

              Racers (at least motorcycle racers, I donno about cars) don't think in terms of "Ok next corner is a 75mph corner". They think in gears, as in "This is a third-gear corner and I should be at 7000 rpm when I begin my drive out of the corner"

              • Some riders do think in terms of gears, but most of the racers I know don't. Motorcycle transmissions are sequential, so I generally think in terms of how many down-shifts we need to make while entering any particular corner. We use beginning and end of brake markers, as well as multiple reference points through a turn and speed judgement to try to set entry speed, and control our lines.

                Your information is good though. you seem to do some performance driving.

            • 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 fafaforza ( 248976 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @10:30AM (#41918047)

          Right. You aren't looking at the device while riding. You look at it after putting in a few laps to see where you're losing time. You analyze the data, go back out to alter your braking point, acceleration point, etc, put in a few laps, and compare.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Good news for those in need of organs!

      • These people aren't bad drivers because there wasn't an app to show them how to be better. You have to dig deeper.
      • No, it will encourage people to ride more aggressively so they end up in wrecks and dying.

        Then, people like you will blame the "cagers" when, in reality, it was because the rider was weaving in and out of traffic doing 90 in a 45.

        • Those riders are out there and they get no pity from me - hopefully they grow up or thin themselves out of the population before they hurt anybody. However, when a huge percentage of cars simply don't see us when they merge into us or turn left in front of us - we get quite wary of cars on the road. "Sorry, didn't see ya there" is a poor enough excuse for a fender bender with another car, but it can be fatal for a motorcycle.
    • 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.

      This app would make an excellent gift for certain people...

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

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

    • perform techniques that are above their skill level

      Not a rider, so I don't know, but if you perform the "technique" of turning, isn't that "your skill level?" How else do you learn to take a corner well, if not trying to corner well?

      • You start slow and work your way up at your own pace. Racing against another's time is almost as good a way to get out of your comfort zone as racing against another person in realtime, except there's no passing moves to worry about.

      • One risk for riders is to follow someone more skillful than themselves. That can result in getting in over their head and resulting in a crash. I suppose that's the risk the GP alludes to.

        OTOH, the app could simply satisfy someone's curiosity about their riding. I suspect I would discover that I don't lean near as far as I think I do. ;)

      • by Viceice ( 462967 )

        Turning safely, and cutting the fastest line around a corner are two very different things. The faster you go around a corner on a 2 wheeler, the more you need to lean. While leaning, your centre of gravity shifts, the contact area between the bike tyres and the tarmac changes etc.

        Cutting fast corners is relatively safe to do on a track, but on public roads, a puddle of water, a patch of sand or some leaves fallen on the road would be enough to throw you off and kill you.

      • The issue for many novice riders is in their ability to judge entry speed for a corner, and set a line. There are a couple of common issues that come up...

        Entry speed is too fast. The novice rider feels confident approaching the corner, but as they begin to turn-in, they have an 'oh shit' moment, panic, grab the brakes, or turn in too early.

        Turn in point is too soon. This is a common mistake, that comes out of panic. The rider or driver tries to cheat by turning into the corner earlier than they should. Thi

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      The idiots that ride without full armor and helmets? yes. But that's just Darwin. Luckily most tracks will not allow morons on the track without real gear.

      • Only a fool judges and disrespects other people's belief system(s).

        • 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) ?

        • Would you care to elaborate? We should all respect Scientology or the Flat Earth Society?

          • Sure.

            Everyone has some domain where there knowledge is incomplete or idiotic. Judging a person doesn't help them to change.

            IMHO it would be far more constructive asking HOW they got to that belief in the first place instead of criticizing their results. You start with their first assumptions, tracing the validity of the assertions, until you reach where logical error was. Telling them that their conclusion is invalid doesn't help them change, now does it?

            i.e. Instead of pointing out how ignorant the Theis

            • Your response is both incorrect and naive beyond belief. I suggest you start out by reading any of the dozens of psych studies which have shown that any attempt to teach a fool that his beliefs are wrong, or founded upon errors, will completely fail. Next, look up the difference between "judge" and "respect." And finally, understanding why someone rides w/o a helmet does not in any way mean they are "100% justified in their belief." Unless, of course, you insist on that hopelessly foolish premise tha

              • > I suggest you start out by reading any of the dozens of psych studies
                That's your problem right there: You are *reading* _instead_ of interacting with people; However your premise is correct: You can tell the truth to a person all day long, it doesn't mean they will accept it. The point is not to change them, but to _understand_ where they are coming from. BIG difference.

                > And finally, understanding why someone rides w/o a helmet does not in any way mean they are "100% justified in their belief."

                • forgot to add:
                  "Better to say silent and be thought a fool then to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

                • Just goes to show there are outliers in every group. You'll be a lot happier on Yahoo Comments than here.


            • I can completely understand why somebody would ride without a helmet as well. As far as I'm concerned, they should be 100% entitled to do so. However this isn't about beliefs - it's about facts. There are concrete observations that clearly show reduced risk of injury and death when wearing a helmet. If somebody chooses not to wear a helmet and accepts those risks... well fine. If somebody *believes* in not wearing a helmet though... Well, they're a moron.
        • Only a fool judges and disrespects other people's belief system(s).

          Wait a minute... are you calling my belief system foolish?

        • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

          Are you really that uneducated? Let me guess you feel that safety gear is all fake and you are as safe riding naked.. Please feel free to ride naked, Darwin is waiting for you.

    • What sort of "techniques" are you talking about exactly? Do you think this app is designed to let you recreate the Tom Cruise front wheel one handed stoppie while rotating 180 degrees in order to shoot your uzi at the bad guys?

      This is probably nothing more than an advanced lap timer, a data logger, which tells you where you are losing time _on_ _track_. This means, you're braking too early, or you're braking too late, going too deep into a corner resulting in a slow exit speed resulting in a slow top spee

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

      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.

      Worse is that unless the app restricts data collection to known race tracks, some motorcyclists are going to use it on public streets to show the fastest "lap" and greatest lean angle on popular motorcycling routes. And when the motorcyclist exceeds his ability (or exceeds the safe speed limit on the road), he'll not only take out himself, but also an innocent driver or bicyclist on the road.

      A similar app for bicycles that has a "king of the mountain" contest for the fastest time on bicycling routes has bee

    • For sure, there will be people using this app while on their bikes, who come off the bike and die or seriously injure themselves. There will also be a number of people blaming those deaths on the app (or the rider's use of the app). While I personally do not agree - my opinion is that any rider who dies or is injured in an accident while using this app are themselves to blame for the accident (assuming that no-one else is involved).
      The app will not force you to carry extra speed into a corner, lean further,

    • 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.

      There are a lot of toys on the market, that if people use incorrectly to perform techniques outside their skill level, they will die.
      What is your point?

  • by Neil_Brown ( 1568845 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @07:03AM (#41917017) Homepage
    Does the additional weight of a smartphone count as one little thing?
    • by TwentyCharsIsNotEnou ( 1255582 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @08:30AM (#41917337)
      Nope. A racing driver will test in many conditions, with various fuel loads being one of the main considerations. If they were actually to be so picky, they'd just reduce the fuel level by the weight of the phone.
      • Interesting — thank you.
      • But unless the phone is located in a the gas tank and has the same physical properties as gas, then the effect won't be the same. Gas tends to slosh around in the gas tank, especially as it empties, a phone would not slosh around. Ok, really I'm joking. You're The weight of the phone isn't going to make a lick of difference. The weight difference from the phone is peanuts compared to weight lost of burning gas or from sweating during the ride. Not to mention weight lost as the tires wear down. Which in
      • Adding a phone to a race bike does not affect anything in a meaningful way. It's not just a factor of mass, but where it's located and what it's doing. Since such a gadget is relatively light, does not move relative to the bike or suspension, and can be put almost anywhere, it's largely a non-factor. On a bike, where you are on the seat, where you are with your upper body, how you're anchored against the bike, and similar body-english considerations, as well as the fuel load, are much bigger factors than
    • by 6Yankee ( 597075 )

      One more thing, surely...

  • . . . and now they will be augmented with the noise of iPhone fart apps?

    An iPhone on a motorcycle . . . this could be the new Suicide Shift on Harleys!

  • by nloop ( 665733 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @07:31AM (#41917119)

    Really? A plug for a paid app? I feel like you're trolling me slashdot. The only possible reason I can see to post this is as prologue to an American lawsuit the first time a user dies using this app on a highway.

    On a similar note, perhaps a story about the lawsuit against Strava [bicycleretailer.com] would be more appropriate? A free cycling gps app that has the ability to ghost race yourself, your friends, and strangers was sued for negligence when a user broke the laws of the road trying to win a virtual race and was killed in traffic. See what I did there? A piece of free software, most people own a bicycle, tricky legal questions arising from technology, more than just an add.

    But hey, what do I know? I'm no Samzenpus!

    • 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.
      • To make it not-work on the road, you need a database of the coordinates of all the tracks in the world. If this were a few years ago I'd sure as hell expect that from a non-free app.

      • Maybe they should. Except they never do and people die.
        • I'm all for people dying, as long as it's only those whose idiocy and lack of common sense put themselves in those dangerous situations. With any luck, they can be out of the way before they're put in charge of something where their reckless attitude has the potential to ruin the lives of other people, like working heavy machinery, or making financial investments.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's a bullshit lawsuit.

      Fucking idiots.

      The cyclist was the negligent one, not the training app, not the bike manufacturer, not the road surfacing company, not the street light company or anything else that might have factored into this persons decision to ride fast.

      What was the argument? The device didn't tell the user that the laws of physics still apply? That the device didn't try and stop the user from zoning out and thinking they're in a game?

      Fucking. Stupid.

      As a developer who created a ghost running

    • by pev ( 2186 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @09:25AM (#41917589) Homepage

      Some of us quite like reading about interesting technology, especially those that ride motorcycles! It's also interesting to hear about lone developers working on things that were previously only in reach of professionals with large budgets i.e. race teams with money to spend. Oh, and of course theres a good healthy slice of physics involved too. Great stuff.

      On another note, slashdot would be REALLY dull if it never mentioned products that you have to pay for! Of course if you don't like it, you can always filter your feed to only include open source stories and you'll be blissfully ignorant of the other stories...

    • by thoth ( 7907 )

      I think this is kinda cool, the creative/useful apps people make that use the power of the modern smartphone - accelerometers, GPS. Geez, just think that 20+ years ago the idea of having a small computer along to measure/record driving data, and then graph information, would have been a dream, stuff only for F1 racers with huge bucks. But no... most the reactions are legal piling on.

      This country is messed up... most people can legally own guns (and the manufacturer of said guns have no liability for a perso

    • Say what you will about Digg.com, but at least they offered the option to bury shit "stories" like this

    • While this does bear certain similarities with Strava, there's no need to inject false information about the cyclist's death. The cyclist in question did not "break the laws of the road" and was not "killed in traffic". He died in a single-bicycle accident after losing control on a descent. Basically, he fell and got injured pretty badly.
      • The cyclist in question did not "break the laws of the road" and was not "killed in traffic".

        From ABC News: [go.com]

        The speed limit on the road is 30 mph, and Flint was clocked going over 40 mph down the hill. He had to brake suddenly in front of a car, causing his bike to flip over, fatally injuring him.

      • by nloop ( 665733 )

        He exceeded the posted speed limit by 10 mph then braked to avoid an oncoming car when he lost control. So yes, he both "broke the laws of the road" and was "killed in traffic."

        http://bicycling.com/blogs/roadrights/2012/08/13/suing-strava/ [bicycling.com]

    • To make the whole thing completely moronic: it's a plug for an app THAT ISN'T AVAILABLE YET.

      I'm in their target market, and was interested enough to go to the app store to check it out.... and it's not there (that I could find). So now I'm ticked off that they wasted my time, and probably won't buy it if/when it comes out.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    help you find and pick up hot biker chicks in bikinis.

    therefore worthless

    • Just slap a Ducati or Aprilia sticker on your Jap bike. Win/win! :D

      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        Not if you're trying to pick up women. Women want Harleys -- they tell me that a Harley is the world's best vibrator. She'll get her rocks off before she ever gets of the bike.

        • This is true, but you should consider the kind of inked-up rockabilly chick you're more likely to attract with a Harley, whereas a horrendously overpriced Italian bike (or reasonable facsimile) will attract the classy gold-diggers ;)

          Plus why satisfy her before the ride's over with a lumpy V-twin, when a smooth performance engine will tease her halfway there >:)

          • Mod parent up - the women who want Harleys tend to look a bit too much like the men who want Harleys...
  • Do you really want your smartphone collecting information about you when you're fooling around on your bike? more evidence your for future speeding tickets? I can already see court orders waiting in line for the company's data.
    • Actually, I often turn on My Tracks to log my motorcycle rides in the hope that, if I am pulled over, the GPS evidence could conceivably help my case. Something like, "Your honor, the only reason I exceeded the posted speed limit at that time was to pass a car that was driving erratically," and then show your GPS records to offer some evidence in your support.

      Obviously there's no obligation on the part of the judge to take your evidence seriously, but in traffic court I doubt it could hurt. And if it doesn'

    • As long as the data is not being uploaded, you have control over how long it is kept and can edit it to remove personally identifying information.

  • ...Crash Faster (freeing up the road for non-adrenaline addicts that aren't emotional twelve-year olds)
  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @09:33AM (#41917627)

    All you have to do is hit a patch of gravel in the middle of a corner, or wet lane markings or something spilled on the road...Even small animals can be a problem

    Theres only a small patch of rubber that is keeping you from hitting the road at high speed

    Been there done that have the scars...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The one thing about good race-car drivers is that they know when and for how long they can exceed the cornering limits in their vehicle. For some corners, sliding a little through the corner is faster than staying within traction limits. Google recently time-trialed a drive-by-computer vehicle against a human-driven one; the human driver was able to out-perform the automated one.

    This software at best will identify when the bike is not being taken to the limits of traction, the best racers know when the l

  • From TFS: "With sponsorship's so hard to find and I need another way to survive."

    If I were you, I wouldn't consider teaching English.
    • If I were you, I'd make sure my nose hair was trimmed properly. Don't want to have people seeing directly into your upturned nostrils being disgusted by the sight.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )
      But there are some openings for Slashdot editors.
    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      If I were you, I wouldn't consider teaching English.

      You have to realize that 96% of people are aliterate, 1% illiterate, and only 3% actually read. When someone says "With sponsorship's so hard to find" you can be pretty sure they never graduated high school and can be certain they never went to college.

  • These apps pop up every once in a while. Unless your phone GPS is really accurate, you run into: - Accuracy problems on your raceline using inaccucate GPS. These require an external GPS unit - I don't give a damn about my "lean angle" - I do care about accurate tracking of throttle and brake sensors which this app lacks The last point is really what the expensive units like GPX Pro deliver: you can overlay your brake/throttle zones on the GPS data of the track, and replay your laps, looking for places to i
  • ... I have bull bars on the front of my truck. They keep the crazy bikers/cyclists from damaging my radiator or flipping up into my windshield.

    • ... I have bull bars on the front of my truck. They keep the crazy bikers/cyclists from damaging my radiator ..

      Let me guess: you tried lasers and got sued?

    • Wait a second, if you're hitting them with the /front/ of your car, how do you then justify that it's the biker who's crazy, or do you look for the crazies so you can run them down.

      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        Motorcycle riders usually dump their bikes in a curve, which results in the sliding across the centerline and getting hit head-on.

        With bicycles, its the Idaho Stop.

  • developing it with an Italian guy who also likes to ride himself

    When I can overcome the topological inconveniences, I ride myself quite often myself.

  • 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.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor