Ducati is just toying with me now. I recently completed the first 2,500 mile half of a 5,000 mile round-trip on a Ducati with regular old dumb cruise control, and the company wait until now to unveil adaptive cruise and blind spot monitoring integration on its motorcycles? I guess they’re pretty much hoping I get killed by cruise controlling right into the Mansfield bar of a semi truck loaded down with a cross-country potato chip delivery.
Ducati has been teasing the new Multistrada with its venerable hi-po V4 engine, currently found in the Streetfighter and Panigale sport bikes, for a few weeks now. The production-ready version of the motorcycle is expected to launch in about a month on November 4th. If there was one thing I didn’t particularly like about the Multistrada 1260S it was the chunky-feeling V-twin engine, so the smooth and revvy V4 should be an awesome combo with that tall and sporty chassis.
In all seriousness, though, this is some pretty cool automotive technology trickling down to motorcycles and I’m here for it. I didn’t really like the idea of adaptive cruise control in cars when it was first announced, but we have it in our newest ride and could hardly live without it. I’m perhaps a bit trepidatious at the idea of a computer doing my braking for me. What if I happen to be standing to stretch out my legs on a long haul and a car jumps out in front of me, or even more unexpected, an animal? I won’t have time to react and I’ll be flung headlong ass-over-teakettle in front of the bike only to have it run me over!
The rear blindspot monitoring, however, is a fucking godsend and cannot come soon enough. I constantly have my head on a swivel when riding, especially on the highway with inattentive drivers on all sides, but having that extra level of security would be great. With a full-face helmet, you can only see so much of what’s to the back corner of you with a head turn action anyway. Having that radar on my six to keep a digital eye out for incoming bogies, yeah, give me that.
While I have great confidence in Ducati’s ability to engineer a system that won’t buck a rider from the seat when the auto braking system engages, but I’ll still be incredibly cautious the first time I ride with it switched on. Obviously any rider assistance systems are meant to be just that, and should never be used as a crutch. Always be attentive and alert while riding, and hopefully this system won’t need to intervene in the first place. But humans are fallible, so maybe it’ll help save some lives. And we can all go for that, right?