Harley-Davidson has a lot of work to do if it is to successfully transition from its current trajectory of best-selling but declining cruiser-style motorcycles to segments that are attracting younger customers, including sport bikes and electric vehicles. . One direction we didn’t expect the manufacturer to venture into was in self-balancing technology. And yet HD is investigating exactly that, as can be seen in a recent patent application which describes a gyroscopic device mounted inside the upper luggage compartment of a touring bicycle.
According to Bike world, the Harley patent describes a heavy flywheel rotated at 10,000 or 20,000 rpm by an electric motor. The assembly would be mounted on a gimbal, which would allow it to move with the bike while the rider is moving at high speed and the balancing aid is not needed. At about 3 miles an hour, the gimbal locks into place and a clutch engages that turns the flywheel. A computer would control the tilt of the flywheel to keep the bike stable with little rider intervention.
Honda has also invested in technology for self-balancing motorcycles, although the Japanese marque’s design uses tiny steering corrections to help with stability instead of a large gyroscope. There is no certainty that these self-balancing aids will ever go into production, but the idea has merit. Check out the image gallery above for a few designs that help explain how Harley’s gyroscope would work.