Are elec­tron­ics re­ally chang­ing the way we ride on track? We head to a Don­ing­ton Park track­day to find out

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week in MCN - By Michael Neeves SE­NIOR ROAD TESTER

Most mod­ern mo­tor­cy­cles come bristling with top-notch elec­tron­ics. Launch con­trol, trac­tion con­trol, anti-wheelie, ABS, cor­ner­ing ABS, ride-by-wire and auto-blip­pers are all rea­son­ably com­mon on to­day’s lat­est and great­est., But do they re­ally make us safer or faster? MCN in­ves­ti­gates...

The sil­i­con-en­hanced BMW S1000RR rocked our ana­logue world in 2010. It her­alded the start of the electronic rider aids rev­o­lu­tion.

Here was a Euro­pean ma­chine that stuck two fin­gers up at the Ja­panese. Not only did it come with a Gsx-r1000/blade/r1/zx-10r-crush­ing 190bhp, it also boasted a plethora of ride-by-wire-en­abled elec­tron­ics never seen any­where out­side of rac- ing: trac­tion con­trol, rider modes, racing ABS, wheelie con­trol and a quick­shifter.

The Beemer quickly be­came a track­day favourite. Just throw some sticky tyres on and it would turn in lap times a racer would be proud of.

Blade and GSX-R1000 ex­cepted (for now), ev­ery new big-ca­pac­ity sports­bike worth its salt now has big power and ad­vanced rider aids. But elec­tron­ics have evolved at a rapid rate and the lat­est, cut­ting-edge sports­bikes have so­phis­ti­cated in­ter­nal gy­ros that al­low such re­fined trac­tion con­trol they’ll hold you in a finely con­trolled power slide. They also have auto-blip­pers, launch con­trol, elec­tron­i­cally ad­justable sus­pen­sion damp­ing and en­gine brak­ing con­trol.

But with these in­cred­i­ble electronic rider aids comes the in­evitable de­bate. Do they ac­tu­ally work? Should bikes even be fit­ted with them? Some in­sist that bike con­trol should all come from your right hand, us­ing skills de­vel­oped over years in the school of hard knocks.

Oth­ers feel more con­fi­dent rid­ing with their sil­i­con safety nets. Up and down the coun­try there are rid­ers happy to lean on their electronic crutches at track­days, pin­ning their throt­tles out of cor­ners, rain or shine – happy in the knowl­edge they’ll be go­ing home in one piece. There’s no deny­ing that rid­ing with elec­tron­ics is safer, eas­ier and less tir­ing, and be­cause of the con­fi­dence they in­stil they can help rid­ers lap faster. But do they take the skill away from rid­ing a fast bike around a cir­cuit?

To find out how elec­tron­ics have changed the way we at­tack our cir­cuit rid­ing, we head to a track­day at Don­ing­ton Park to speak to rid­ers with and with­out elec­tron­i­cally en­abled sports­bikes. We also catch up with race le­gend Ron Haslam to get his ver­dict on the electronic rev­o­lu­tion.

‘Ev­ery new big sports­bike now has ad­vanced elec­tron­ics’

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