While writing my last column on the revamped Gadget Show, it got me thinking about available tech and how it could improve motoring.
Obviously, I want to avoid invasive tech, such as external speed control (all Transport Planners, please note: If you cut the speed on a motorcycle when it is in a corner, it WILL run wide. And running wide could well send the bike into the other lane. On a single-lane carriageway, that could be tantamount to murder).
I like the idea of tech that monitors the traffic around you and takes action to maintain a sensible distance, but again this raises the issue of cutting speed and the knock on effects mentioned above.
But how about something that highlights the emotional state of the driver in front of you? This must be possible. Into the steering wheel of the vehicle (and maybe even the twistgrip on a motorcycle), insert diagnostic kit that monitors heart rate, perspiration levels, that sort of thing? The results of the information gathered could be displayed on a panel, rather lke the "P" plates that newly-qualified drivers often feature. To make it easy to read, it could be a simple colour-code. So blue=calm, pink=agitated, red=angry. Pick up on the colour displayed and give the angry driver a wide berth. That bit of space might give them the chance to calm down and get home safely!
Of course, eventually we will go to meet our maker. At this point, we will probably require a hearse. Recently, the BBC got very carried away in an aricle about a German undertaker, who ha s built a motorcycle sidecar hearse, powered by a Harley-Davidson (hence the attention, no doubt). But they appeared to miss the fact that Britain has not only had sidecar hearses before the Germans, but that we have the two fastest sidecar hearses in the world!
The Reverend Paul Sinclair, 46, of Heather in Leicestershire, set a new record of 117.6mph on his Suzuki Hayabusa powered sidecar hearse at Elvington Airfield.The previous record of 114.1mph was held by the Reverend Ray Bidiss, on his Triumph Rocket powered sidecar hearse. Wonderfully, the Rev Sinclair feels he can go faster, as next time he will wear his leathers rather than the ceremonial garb he wore during his record-breaking ride! He said "I was a bit apprehensive about the reception I'd get from the other riders as I've arranged funerals services for many of their late friends. That's why I turned up in the same smart, black clothes I'd wear for a service. Next time I'm going to wear my leathers, which are a lot more streamlined, next time. I'm confident I can top 120mph, no problem."
Good luck with the next attempt, Rev Sinclair.
As we've mentioned hearses, time for an obituary, this time for a motorcycle. Honda has consigned the CBF600N to the scrapyard. The CBF series was forced in our faces by Honda, as this appeared to be the way Honda wanted us to go motorcycling. And being forced in someone else's direction isn't something that sits well with bikers; it is fair to say that we want to be different, hence our choice of machine. And us bike press are people too. So we don't like being dictated to either. Which might explain some of the negative press aimed at the CBF range - and the 600s in particular.
Now I like challenging preconceptions, so the CBF600N (there is a faired 'S' version as well) is an ideal bike for me to try out. Is the CBF600 a dull, commuter bike? Or is it a no-frills, back-to-basics bike?
To me, the CBF needs to be judged on it's own merits, with the preconceptions and bias put to one side. Try one out - if you like it, they can be had for bargain-basement prices as dealers want to clear their stock.
Honda are replacing the CBF600 with the NC700X. This is a bike that could transform motorcyling. Working closely in conjunction with Honda's car division, the engine that is being used is essentially half of a Honda Jazz car engine. And it is frugal. 78mpg has been reported. I'm hoping to get to test ride one in the next month - watch this space if I can get the ride organised in time.
And fuel economy is the theme of next month's article. I will be putting in the miles to test some fuel economy figures. Not going into too much detail, but I and my bike will be test-monkeys for the next few weeks, providing the base settings for an examination of what goes into the bike and what effect, if any, this has on the price of riding.
Come back here for the results in about 4 or 5 weeks time.