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Old July 8th, 2024, 02:22 PM   #1
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[] - Seatbelts for Motorcycles?!

CFMoto wants to enable automated braking, but how do you keep the rider on the bike in the event of sudden braking? It thinks seatbelts may be the answer.

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CFMoto is exploring the concept of utilizing seatbelts to keep riders in place in the event of certain accidents. (CFMoto/)Seatbelts and motorcycles aren’t generally compatible. In the event of a crash, you probably want to get as far away as possible from a few hundred pounds of tumbling metal and plastic rather than being tethered to it. Apart from BMW’s short-lived C1 scooter—which also had a roof and a safety cell around the rider—there haven’t been many attempts to strap riders to their motorcycles in the name of safety.

The last time we saw a seatbelt on a two-wheeled vehicle was BMW’s C1 scooter. (BMW/)CFMoto has other ideas though, and thanks to technological improvements the idea of seatbelts on bikes is one that might be worth revisiting. The Chinese company has filed a patent application for a system that holds the rider onto a bike only in specific circumstances, allowing the bike to absorb the energy of frontal impacts against hard objects and stopping riders being thrown off by bumps or hard braking events, but releasing the rider in situations where the motorcycle is falling over or there’s a sideways force during the accident.

This top view shows how the safety bars would pivot in front of the rider and wrap around them. (CFMoto/)The patent shows several variations on the same idea. The first uses a pair of rigid bars, one on each side of the rider, spanning the gap between the fuel tank and the back of the rider’s seat. The bars are hinged at the fuel tank and use a simple mechanism to latch in place with a spring acting on a ball bearing that falls into a slot when the side bars are in either their “open” or “closed” positions. Even a small sideways force will open them, but vertical forces experienced when there’s a sudden braking event or crash that tries to push the rider up out of the seat are resisted.

It’s more like the safety bars on an amusement park ride than a conventional seatbelt, but the idea is the same: to keep you in place. Like a roller coaster, the safety bars aren’t just there in case of a crash but to stop you from being thrown off the bike over bumps or, vitally, in the event of sudden unexpected braking. The latter is an issue that motorcycle companies are wrestling with now because technology like front-facing radar sensors mean that automatic emergency braking systems are viable from a technical standpoint but not from a practical one because a bike that slams its own brakes on is just as likely to throw you off as whatever it’s trying to avoid.

Another version would use a cloth belt that would attach behind the rider. (CFMoto/)The second version of the design also uses side bars, but this time they pivot behind the rider and come together in front rather than meeting at the tank. A second joint midway along the bars allows them to open wider to get on and off the bike. A third variation is a more traditional lap belt made of a clothlike material with a latch at the front. Instead of releasing the latch when there’s a sideways force, the back of the soft belt is mounted on a short post inserted into a slot between the rider and pillion seats, again using a spring mechanism to keep it in place during frontal crashes but allowing it to release when a sideways force is applied, so the rider—with the belt still attached around his or her waist—can come off the bike.

Another view of the bar version of the concept, which resembles amusement park lap bars. (CFMoto/)CFMoto’s patent illustrates its system on the company’s big, V-twin-powered 1250TR-G tourer, which is currently sold only in China and uses a 140 hp version of KTM’s LC8 V-twin engine. It’s already CFMoto’s technology showcase, with an array of high-tech devices as standard, and would be the obvious choice for a radar-assisted auto-braking system. The seatbelt or bars, combined with a front radar, would allow a crash-mitigation braking system that could automatically use the full extent of the bike’s braking ability if it senses an impending impact with a solid object—most likely a car pulling into the bike’s path—and keep the rider on board throughout. Even if the system can’t entirely prevent the crash, the seatbelt would stop the rider being thrown forward into the solid object in front, allowing the bike’s own structure to absorb the crash forces.

While this system might not be something we’ll see on production bikes in the immediate future, it illustrates the sort of peripheral complications that emerge from efforts to create safer motorcycles. In this case, automatic braking, which is a known technology that could be used right now but requires additional innovations to let it work as intended.
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