Ride-by-wire technology - Explained

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Motorcycles are evolving rapidly, with more and more rider focussed technology making its way into modern bikes. Notable rider aids like Cruise control system, Traction control system and ride mode selectors have made riding safer and enjoyable. These systems are made possible by Ride-by-Wire technology. Ride-by-wire tech is generally found in all high-end bikes that offer all these rider aids.

Why is Ride-by-wire needed?

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In a conventional setup, the butterfly throttle valve is directly controlled by the throttle control on the handlebar. As the rider twists the throttle for hard acceleration, the abrupt, large flow of air in the combustion chamber causes the bike to momentarily stall. This results in poor combustion and harsh ride. The ride-by-wire technology eliminates this problem.

How does Ride-by-wire work?

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The ride-by-wire technology helps to deliver smoother acceleration and improved fuel economy. The name is often misleading as wires are not the driving force behind the technology. It is actually quite the opposite. The twisting of throttle by the rider causes the throttle cable to actuate a transponder connected to it. This transponder converts the throttle movement into electrical signals which are sent to the ECU. Based on the throttle input signal, the ECU actuates the fuel injector to deliver optimum fuel input to the cylinder. The use of ride-by-wire technology opens the possibility of more sophisticated features such as cruise control, traction control and ride mode selector.

What are the Advantages of Ride-by-wire?

To sum it up ride-by-wire offers the following advantages

  • Smooth acceleration
  • Improved fuel economy
  • Enables rider aids like Cruise Control, Traction Control
  • Enables ride mode control

Are there any limitations?

Just like any new technology, ride-by-wire is not perfect. It has its own limitations. Since the throttle twist is not directly proportional to the opening of the throttle valve, there is reduced feedback for the rider which makes it difficult to get used to the responsiveness of the bike. As the technology involves sophisticated instruments, it is impossible to troubleshoot without the aid of skilled professionals. The cost of repair is also high.

That being said, the benefits of ride-by-wire outweigh the limitations. Many major manufacturers of motorcycles like KTM, Yamaha, Suzuki etc. have realized this and are now offering ride-by-wire tech in their low capacity products.