BMW riders like to believe themselves as the hardest core long-distance two-wheelers in the universe. Not satisfied to burn a tank of dino juice on a Saturday afternoon, they will jump into the saddle in the Pacific Northwest and set their sights on Miami, or so they say. BMW knows that their riders like to log miles, so they’re working on bringing automotive tech to two-wheelers to make long distance riding a little more comfortable and ostensibly safer. I’m not yet convinced active cruise control is how you do that.
As I’ve said before, and have heard from many other riders, I’d truly hate to ride anything in a situation where I wasn’t in full control of the throttle. Unlike in a naturally balanced car, weight transfer is a major issue on a motorcycle, and a mis-timed braking event could really upset the apple cart here. Imagine you’re stretching your legs standing on the pegs on the highway and the bike senses a car ahead. An abrupt braking action could send your ass straight over the windshield, especially on a tall bike like a BMW GS, only to get run over by your own bike. That’s a self-own, those are rare.
And that’s to say nothing of mid-corner speed adjustments.
BMW says it has all of that under control with its software. Developed in partnership with Bosch, this ACC system takes lean angle as one of its inputs and can soften braking and acceleration to avoid unsettling a rider. Interestingly, unlike many ACC systems, the BMW system only works with moving cars, and completely ignores stopped cars. When you’re coming up to a stop with the system on, you’ll have to perform full stop actions just as you would with a traditional cruise control setup.
Obviously, riding requires even more concentration on the road ahead to stay safe than in a car. Riding defensively and keeping your eyes up to watch the traffic ahead (and far behind in your mirrors) is imperative. ACC is no replacement for an attentive rider, which is especially important at highway speeds. But maybe it would make for a more comfortable cross-country solo ride?
Here’s how BMW says it works:
The new ACC provides maximum comfort for the demanding touring motorcyclist by automatically regulating the speed set by the rider and the distance to the vehicle driving in front. The system automatically regulates the vehicle speed when the distance to the vehicle in front is reduced and keeps the distance defined by the rider. This distance can be varied in three stages. Both the riding speed as well as the distance to the vehicle in front can be set conveniently using a button. The individual settings are displayed on the TFT instrument cluster. The new BMW Motorrad ACC has two selectable control characteristics: comfortable or dynamic, in which the acceleration and deceleration behaviour is changed accordingly. The distance control can also be deactivated in order to be able to use the Dynamic Cruise Control (DCC).
Distance riding on a motorcycle almost requires cruise control if only to give your throttle hand an occasional break. Adding an active component could reduce the need to have a finger on the brake lever at all times.
I’ve had a handful of long-distance trips in cars with ACC. A good one can be alright, but a bad one can be downright dangerous. And on top of that you rely on the person in front of you to maintain speed well, which Americans seem to not have an ability to do. Every manufacturer’s system is different, and I’m inclined to believe that BMW/Bosch has developed a decent system here. I’ll wait to pass judgement until I try it out, but currently you can call me a skeptic.
Would you give it a shot?