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Motorcycle IMU: What Does It Really Do?

Motorcycle IMU: What Does It Really Do?

Motorcycles have not remained simple machines anymore. The first motorcycles were only a bicycle with an engine/motor clipped on the frame to power the rear wheel. When the rider felt tired after paddling the bicycle, he could also use the engine power to drive the rear wheel. However, as time progressed, technology has become unimaginably advanced and the modern motorcycles now incorporate computers and controller chips to take care of the external factors and riding conditions. Most modern bikes are built with standard ABS and traction control systems to take care of the difference in traction of both the front and rear wheels.

Meanwhile, well-equipped high-end motorbikes come with exclusive features that make your rides much safer in multiple riding conditions. One such system installed in modern motorbikes is the IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit). Continue reading this article to learn what the motorcycle IMU is and how it improves safety on the road.

1. ABS and Traction Control

Before you want to learn what IMU is, why it is installed in your motorcycle, and what it really does to keep you safe while riding your motorcycle, it is important to know what ABS and traction control are. Both the ABS and traction control operate simultaneously or independently to keep track of the traction and control of the motorcycle to some extent. ABS on a motorcycle prevents the wheel from locking when brakes are applied to stop the motorcycle, averting unsafe nose dives. ABS stops the wheel in a distracted manner to make sure the difference in the traction of both wheels does not become too significant to make you lose control of your motorcycle.

The traction control performs the same way in a motorcycle, ensuring synchronization between the front and rear wheels’ traction to prevent loss of control while riding. The ABS and traction control incorporate wheels’ sensors to keep track of their rotational motion. Emergency braking is one of the major causes of motorcycle accidents; to tackle this, a motorcycle's ABS and traction control systems are installed.

2. Where Do the ABS and Traction Control Lack?

Regardless of all the benefits of an ABS and traction control system on a motorcycle, there are a few shortcomings that necessitate the use of IMU, especially if you ride a sports bike on race tracks. The ABS and traction control systems fail to read the wheel movement and traction during motorcycle lean, pitch, or yaw. For example, when you are doing a wheelie, the front wheel will be up in the air and the ABS and traction control will abruptly detect the loss of traction as the rear wheel will be moving with the same speed and the front wheel will slow down. Also, when you are leaning on a motorcycle to take a sharp turn, the simple ABS will probably not work in such a situation to avoid skidding and losing control of a motorcycle. This is where IMU, cornering ABS, and cornering traction control come into play.

3. Motorcycle IMU: What Does It Really Do?

A motorcycle IMU is a next-generation vehicle equipment, also found on most premium motorbikes. Also referred to as Inertial Measure Unit, IMU measures and uses motorcycle data while riding and is active in every dimension of motorcycle movement.

In total, there are 6-dimensional motions, including forward and backward, side-to-side, and up and down motion. This makes the simple movements along the three axes, called the x-axis, y-axis, and z-axis. Along with these simple motions, three more specialized motions involve rotations, including:

  • Pitching: The rotation motion of a vehicle/motorcycle along the x-axis (side-to-side) is termed pitching motion.
  • Rolling: The rotation motion of a vehicle/motorcycle along the y-axis (forward and back) is termed rolling motion.
  • Yawing: The rotation motion of a vehicle/motorcycle along the z-axis (up and down) is termed yawing motion.

The IMU keeps track of all these motions, ensuring the bike stays stable in different riding conditions and in the events of traction loss and loss of control. The IMU is linked with most of your motorcycle equipment and electronics.

When the IMU is installed in your motorcycle, it collaborates with the ABS and traction control system to make it work even when the motorcycle is leaning, pitching, or yawing. This is why certain motorcycles are equipped with cornering ABS and traction control. So, when your motorcycle has an IMU, it effectively resists slipping and loss of traction while leaning.

Motorcycle IMU: What Does It Really Do
Photo credit: @Motofomo

Besides leaning, spinning out of the motorcycle's rear wheel is another common situation where traction loss can occur when the motorcycle’s rear wheel starts to spin out. and can be dangerous for you. In this dangerous situation, the IMU can also help you avoid falling from your motorcycle and regain control.

4. Can IMU Alone Make Your Rides Safe?

The IMU is a good tech feature to have in your motorcycle that can help you avoid various dangerous situations while riding. However, the rider’s input and decisions are also of paramount importance as they determine how much interference is required, depending on the type of riding situation. For various riding conditions, modern motorcycles also come equipped with multiple riding modes, including rain, sports, street, and even a customized one. There are certain riding situations when the rider intentionally has to spin out the rear wheel to keep going on a race track or while off-roading. Therefore, the technology intervention and riders’ input go hand in hand to ensure maximum safety while riding.

5. Takeaway

The IMU, along with the ABS, traction control, cornering ABS, and different riding modes not only provide you with an ultimate versatile riding experience and more fun, but they also make sure you ride safely. These tech features remain active, sense the movement of your motorcycle during the ride, and come into play when something goes wrong, like the ride condition, obstacle, change in traction, or a sudden change. After sensing these problems, these tech features, including the IMU, attempt to mitigate the impact of these changes to help you keep yourself and the motorbike stable and regain control. However, a rider must make the right decisions while riding a motorcycle to stay safe.

Heavier motorcycles like cruisers and touring bikes are also susceptible to losing traction while leaning and experiencing rear wheel spin-outs. Loss of control in the case of these bikes can lead to costly damage repairs and replacements. To avoid this, you can buy a modern motorbike with the IMU and a full security system. Highway/crash bars, engine guards, frame guards, and frame sliders can also help you keep your motorcycle safe from damage. Viking Bags offers you a good range of aftermarket parts to enhance your bike’s touring capability. At Viking Bags’ online store, you can find sissy bars, fairings, backrests, saddle bags, tank bags, trunk bags, and much more.

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