10 Useless Motorcycle Innovations and Add-Ons Via

When it comes to innovations, motorcycles are more limited than cars. The big problem, of course, is space. Most motorcycles allow for only two occupants. The second issue is the fact that the motorcycle rider and passenger are outside while driving – which means they have to deal with wind, rain and other elements. You can’t really play a DVD movie while operating a motorcycle. Plus, operating a motorcycle requires much more concentration than driving a car. Nevertheless, motorcycle manufacturers have continued to try over the years to develop new innovations for their machines – and not always with a lot of success. While some innovations have proven to be great, others have left motorcycle owners scratching their heads. Here is a list of 10 particularly useless motorcycle innovations.

10. iPod Docking Stations

While a great addition to a car, an iPod docking station on a motorcycle doesn’t make a lot of sense for a number of reasons. First, it’s difficult to hear music on a motorcycle (no matter how good the helmet is) because of the wind blowing by. Second, you would have to keep a playlist on “shuffle” the entire time, because scrolling through songs while driving a motorcycle would be extremely difficult and potentially dangerous. Lastly, the iPod itself would have to be very securely placed on the motorcycle so as not to come flying off and break when hitting the ground, or cause an accident by hitting a passing vehicle. Despite these obvious practical considerations, many motorcycle manufacturers such as Triumph and Harley Davidson sell bikes with optional iPod and iPhone docking stations. And many of these motorcycles employ the old 30 pin iPod connector instead of the newer lightning dock that Apple has switched to. So even the technology used is largely outdated in this instance. Via

9. Under Seat Exhaust Pipes

Why? That’s the question motorcycle enthusiasts ask themselves when they see exhaust pipes mounted directly beneath the seat of a bike. Not only does the rider get his butt overheated, but they also get a much strong whiff of the exhaust fumes coming from the motorcycle. Plus, there is typically more vibration rattling the motorcycle driver and occupant as they endeavour to reach their destination. It just doesn’t make sense, particularly when traditional side mounted or belly mounted exhaust systems work perfectly well. This innovation seems to be for cosmetic purposes only as all that exhaust pipes mounted underneath the motorcycle seats seem to accomplish is a different look and feel for a bike. They really serve no practical purpose. And, placing the exhaust pipes under the seat limits the storage space on a motorcycle too. A bad idea anyway you look at it. Via

8. G-Force Metres

A G-Force metre as seen on motorcycles such as the Yamaha R1 measure the G-forces being generated by a motorcycle at a particular time. It fluctuates as people take corners, accelerate, slow down or change lanes on the highway. Why is this necessary? It is not necessary at all. In fact, knowing the G-forces being exerted on the motorcycle and its driver does not impact the operation of the vehicle in the slightest or have any bearing on the operator of the bike. A G-force metre serves only to distract the driver who will no doubt be tempted to constantly look down at the G-force metre to see it move up and down when he or she should be paying attention to the road ahead of them. A G-force metre basically looks like something you would see on a motorcycle racing video game. It is not needed on a real bike. Via YouTube

7. Electronic Hand Guard Indicators

Hand guards have typically been placed on dirt bikes and off road motorcycles. They are used to protect the driver’s hands from being hit by rocks, dirt, tree branches and other off road hazards. Hand guards are usually made of plastic that can be quickly and easily replaced if broken by a branch or rock. Yet some motorcycle companies have taken to stuffing hand guards with sophisticated electronic indicators – things such as turn signals and temperature gauges. This is completely unnecessary and it just means that when the hand guards inevitably get cracked or broken, they will be both expensive and difficult to replace. This is a case where it would be best to keep the hand guards simple and basic. Let them serve their original purpose. There’s no need to overcomplicate hand guards with this type of innovation. Via

6. Keyless Ignition

Just because people like a feature on a car doesn’t mean you have to offer it on a motorcycle. Such is the case with keyless ignition or remote vehicle starters. Fantastic for a car. Not needed on a motorcycle. First of all, it’s not like a motorcycle needs to heat up like a car in winter or that owners need to start the motorcycle from across a grocery store parking lot and allow the engine to warm up before they get there. Most motorcycles are not even driven in winter. Then there is the issue of lost keys. Truth is that the safest place for a motorcycle key is in the ignition switch. That’s the place it is least likely to get lost or forgotten at home. Using a key to start a motorcycle remains the safest and best way to get a bike going. Starting the bike with a push of a button on a key fob as you walk towards the motorcycle is just silly. Via

5. Colourful Instrument Panels

Sure everyone has a favourite colour. We get it. But does the instrument panel on your motorcycle have to be in your favourite colour? Won’t the usual white or yellow LED light display work just fine? After all, this is a motorcycle we’re talking about not a Crayola box, right? So why are some companies such as Honda giving motorcycle owners a choice of 25 different colours for the instrument panel on their motorcycles? Do you really need to have the colour of the instrument panel in Fuchsia or Burnt Sienna? Also, is it even safe to have the instrument panel lit in certain colours. Is a dark blue colour a safe choice when driving at night? Shouldn’t certain safety considerations trump the need for options and convenience on a motorcycle? So many questions yet so few answers. Via

4. Sidecars

Hear us out on this one. We understand that many people love and cherish motorcycle sidecars. And we know all the arguments why a sidecar is better for passengers than sitting on the back of a bike. It’s more comfortable, easier on the driver, blah, blah, blah. However, statistics show that more accidents are caused with motorcycle sidecars and more people are killed in them then almost any other type of vehicle. In fact, contrary to popular belief, motorcycle sidecars make it more difficult to control a bike and impact its balance negatively. Motorcycles with sidecars are more prone to tip over or flip over, and they can be extremely dangerous when changing lanes or maneuvering around corners. And really, what’s the point. Studies show that, despite the comfort level, people are safer on the back of a motorcycle holding onto the driver. Via

3. Self-Cancelling Turn Signals

This is another instance of an innovation that works well in cars failing to transfer over to motorcycles. While turn signals that automatically shut off work well in cars, they have always been problematic on bikes. For whatever reasons, motorcycles have a more difficult time telling exactly when a turn has been completed. So, despite efforts over the years to get turn signals to shut off automatically, most bike companies still equip their vehicles with buttons that have to be manually pushed to switch off a turn signal. This may seem old school to many riders, but it is the best way to ensure that the annoying turn signal is actually cancelled after a turn is finished. Otherwise, the turn signal continues to flash, and it is not like the driver can hear the irritating “clicking” noise over the wind and traffic on the motorcycle. Via

2. Satellite Navigation Systems

Global positioning systems, or GPS, may be the way of the world today. But they don’t work well everywhere. Case in point: motorcycles. Built-in GPS screens on motorcycles are distracting and clumsy to operate by drivers who must keep their attention on the road and hands focused on safely operating the bike. Taking one hand off the bike to punch in an address or adjust coordinates on a satellite navigation system can be downright dangerous. Besides, using the GPS that is standard on most smart phones today to figure out where you’re headed at periodic rest stops is likely a better way to go. Stand alone GPS, or satellite navigation systems, can accomplish the needed task and get people where they are going much easier and safer than integrated satellite navigation systems on motorcycles. Safety first! Via

1. Third Wheel

It’s become kind of trendy, but we’re with the camp that thinks a motorcycle with three wheels is not a real motorcycle at all. Whether it is the Can-Am Spyder, Polaris Slingshot, or Honda Neowing, the trend towards bikes with three wheels instead of two is not appealing. While many people claim they like a second wheel in the front of the motorcycle for stability, and others say they find a three wheeled bike more comfortable for touring, the fact is that a third wheel on a motorbike is not needed. A motorcycle is supposed to be two wheels. Creating some weird hybrid Frankenbike is not going to change that fact. As with most of the useless innovations on this list, stick to the basics and avoid the unnecessary changes to motorcycles. If you want three wheels, just buy a car already and go up to four wheels. Or why don’t we bring back the unicycle while we’re at it. Sheesh! Via
Jack Sackman

Jack Sackman

Jack Sackman has been writing about movies and TV for Goliath since 2013.