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Harley-Davidson has a lot of work to do if it’s going to successfully transition from its current path of best-selling but waning heavyweight cruiser-style motorcycles into segments that attract a younger customer base, including sporty bikes and electric vehicles. One direction we didn’t expect the manufacturer to venture was into self-balancing technology. And yet H-D is indeed looking into exactly that, as can be seen in a recent patent application that describes a gyroscopic device mounted inside a touring bike’s top luggage case.
According to Cycle World, Harley’s patent describes a heavy flywheel spun to 10,000 or 20,000 rpm by an electric motor. The entire assembly would be mounted on a gimbal, allowing it to move with the bike while the rider is traveling at speed and the balancing assist isn’t needed. At around 3 miles per hour, the gimbal would lock into place and a clutch would engage that spins the flywheel. A computer would control the tilt of the flywheel to keep the bike stable with little intervention from the rider.
Honda has also invested into self-balancing motorcycle technology, though Japanese brand’s design uses minute steering corrections to assist in stability instead of a large gyroscope. There’s no certainty either of these self-balancing aids will ever go into production, but the idea has merit. Check out the image gallery above for some drawings that help explain how Harley’s gyroscope would work.