Control Your Motorcycle’s Throttle | Electronic design

What you will learn:

  • The global motorcycle market is expected to grow from USD 298.58 billion in 2021 to USD 485.67 billion in 2028 with a CAGR of 7.2.
  • As motorcycle technology continues to integrate more safety, comfort and luxury systems, switch manufacturers will adapt and combine traditional electro-technical products with new technologies to simplify integration and provide customized solutions.
  • The importance of the electromechanical switch now that today’s motorcycles have more than 15 buttons/switches per motorcycle.

The pandemic has changed the way people use transport. Local buses, trains and other public transport are prone to contamination, as they are often crowded. As a result, many people have opted for private mobility options, with motorcycles and scooters being a preferred choice due to their affordability and convenience.

The motorcycle industry is also shifting from the traditional combustion engine to electric motorcycles. Some governments have even worked to accelerate this change with tax incentives for electric vehicles.

Motorcycles are becoming more and more complex. In addition to electric versions, motorcycle and scooter manufacturers are focusing on improving driver safety. Other features such as multi-function modules and handlebar controllers increase safety, comfort and luxury. The throttle grip control has also been improved, with more features integrated and adopted such as cruise control, automatic lights, heated grips and seat. (Fig.1).

Along with other settings changes, SOS buttons and start buttons, riders can find more than 15 buttons/switches per motorcycle. As such, the electromechanical switch is essential in motorcycle applications to ensure tight product tolerances, custom haptics and acoustic adaptation.

Global trend

A motorcycle is equipped with an engine and multiple electronic and mechanical components. Motorcycle design varies widely to meet country specifications, as well as to suit a variety of different purposes, including daily commuting, cruising, long-distance travel, sporting activities, racing, and off-road riding . It is increasingly seen as the ideal means of transport in emerging cities (Fig.2).

According Fortune Business Insights, the global motorcycle market was worth US$278.07 billion in 2020. The global impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and staggering, with motorcycles experiencing a positive demand shock across all regions amid the pandemic. The global market is expected to grow from USD 298.58 billion in 2021 to USD 485.67 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 7.2% during the forecast period 2021-2028. The increase in CAGR is attributable to the demand and growth of this market, returning to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic is over.1

Innovative technology

Motorcycle connectivity has been implemented and improved, including hands-free and Bluetooth options in helmets to improve communication with other riders and avoid answering calls or browsing with smartphones. The throttle grip control tries to look intuitive, but still forces the technology to adapt.

The technology started with the CAN bus network. The story begins in the early 1980s when Bosch developed the protocol for the CAN bus network. Ten years later, the automotive industry began to adopt it as the standard for future vehicles. Fast forward again to the early 2000s, BMW would be the first manufacturer to integrate this technology into two wheels.

The term Controller Area Network (CAN) bus generally refers to a network protocol in which a central computer, separate from the electronic control unit (ECU) of the motorcycle, acts as a central communication hub between all other sub-systems. systems. For each subsystem, we’ll talk about everything from headlights and turn signals to engine management systems and ABS.2

The CAN bus network operates with a nominal signal, which means a few milliamps and low power consumption. Manufacturers of electromechanical switches, such as C&K, offer products that meet OEM requirements for performance and integration.

Personalized haptics

The interface’s look, feel, and method of interaction is one of the ways motorcycle manufacturers set themselves apart from competing OEMs. Known in the industry as haptics, electromechanical switches play an important role in defining the touch, feel and sound of interface actuation. (Fig.3).

Haptic features, which are customized for specific vehicles and manufacturers, are often achieved through advanced switch configurations. The haptics of a switch define the end-user experience and the intrinsic value that a switch with superior haptic characteristics enriches the brand image of a motorcycle manufacturer. With the evolution of motorcycle technology, the modern bike features custom electromechanical switches that maximize functionality and optimize comfort, safety, and more.

Key switches

An example of such a switch is the electromechanical key switch, which is used under the throttle grip control buttons. Switches, like the K12S key switch, can be customized to provide a precise tactile (haptic) feel to the user when activated (Fig.4).

In addition to the precise haptics, the key switches can be marked via illuminated emblems. Keyswitches come in a range of lighting options including custom graphics, logos, textures and finishes that can define the operational purpose of the switch for the rider.

The key switches offer exactly what the cyclist needs. A custom key switch can combine long stroke and high force – this combination is totally suitable for riding the motorcycle with gloves. The key switches also feature water proofing, surface mount technology (SMT) and low power consumption, and they are designed to operate in harsh environments.

Customizable key switches like the K12S are available in over 300 configurations to meet most motorcycle application requirements. With a unique design, the key switch features gold-plated self-cleaning contacts with low contact resistance and 100N overload resistance.

Tactile switches

Tactile switches are a common solution for motorcycle gear lever and speedometer applications, as they can be tailored for specific haptic feedback and sound. In motorcycle applications, a tactile switch with a flat cage provides positive tactile feedback with a smooth sound.

Available in illuminated, side- or top-operated, sealed or unsealed, silver or gold, SMT and through-hole versions, tact switches can be set for any application requirement. To achieve custom haptics, actuators, domes and housings can be mixed and matched to achieve the right look, feel and performance.

As an example, the TLS series tact switch comes in an 8.6×8.4×3.95mm package with a wide range of different actuation forces including 4N, 7N to 10N (Fig.5). Tactile switches can have a soft or hard actuator depending on the application. A soft actuation design provides easier tolerance handling with possible preload, which is typically designed in motorcycle applications as well as automotive consoles, panels, steering, etc.

Tactile switches designed for harsh conditions often feature J terminations to ensure high reliability and long life performance up to 1 million cycles. Additionally, a high level of waterproofing rated IP54 provides solid protection against dust and water ingress.

Lateral actuation

Side-actuated touchscreen solutions offer high quality and performance to meet the needs of motorcycle helmet Bluetooth accessory or helmet-integrated airbag applications (Fig.6). Side operated touch switch versions offer design flexibility and are typically requested when miniaturized solutions are required.

Side-actuated tact switches are available for standard SMT PCB assembly processes, with multiple actuation forces from 80 to 160 to 250 gf, in a small 3.6×3.5 form factor mm and a reduced height of 1.25 mm for the PTS841, or a size of 4.5 x 3.4 x 3.3 mm. Available options of small form factor, different actuation forces and high quality and performance meet most motorcycle helmet accessory requirements.


The motorcycle market is diverse and sophisticated. Each manufacturer has its own tactile feel, acoustics and standard integration. Switch feedback, whether haptic or acoustic, can improve the rider’s user experience. Features such as tight tolerances, on-demand haptics, acoustic adaptation, environmental and process tightness and the integration of mechanical or electrical interfaces are the core values ​​of motorcycle switching.

As motorcycle technology continues to integrate more safety, comfort and luxury systems, switch manufacturers will adapt and combine traditional electro-technical products with new technologies to simplify integration and provide customized solutions that meet the needs of new generation motorcycles.



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