Technology can save us, but it can also numb the riding experience.

I freely admit that when it comes to motorcycles, I'm a curmudgeon. Until I got my Honda PC800 seven years ago, all I ever rode was UJMs from the early 1980s. Even though my Kawasaki KLR 650 is 2005 model, its basic design is stuck in the 80s. I've never owned a bike with ABS or even fuel injection, two features that are extremely common on newer bikes. You might say I like my bikes basic. While there is some amazing technology available in modern motorcycles, I get concerned about technology ruining the riding experience.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a fan of technology, up to a point. Fuel injection means never having to fiddle with a choke or clean or rebuild your carburetors. Since even a minor wheel lock-up can cause you to crash on a motorcycle, ABS is extremely useful. I discovered this on Kate's Suzuki SV650 when I found myself on loose dirt in a construction zone without warning. Different ride modes let you turn up the wick when you're feeling frisky, but keep your power in check when it's raining. On-board navigation has completely changed the way I ride and plan trips. I am definitely not against having technology on board.

When I start reading about some tech, however, I begin to twitch. This happened to me when reading about Damon's CoPilot system. I don't really want my bike to read the corners and calculate my line through them for me. Carving corners well is one of the most rewarding parts of road riding for me. I don't want a computer second-guessing me. I may not always choose my line as well, but since I'm not racing, I should be riding slowly enough to absorb those small errors myself and learn from them.

Even blind-spot monitors spook me a little bit. They're great for some extra peace of mind, but I'm afraid I'll become too reliant on them. If I hop on a bike that doesn't have them, or if the sensors fail, I might pull a bonehead lane change into a car. A simple glance to the side would've prevented this with or without the sensors. It's a bad habit to get out of.

Damon Motorcycles, to their credit, recognizes that there are riders like me. They've designed CoPilot so that it can be completely switched off. Kudos to them for doing that. In today's increasingly bubble-wrapped society, not all manufacturers would be as willing to let you disable their safety systems. That's actually something I'm afraid of happening if other manufacturers license or replicate CoPilot for themselves. If that happens, I guess I'll just have to keep riding older bikes that don't have it.

I wouldn't go back to my 1980s UJMs, though. Most modern bikes toe the technology line at just the right point, with all the features I want and none that I don't. Some bikes are less equipped than others, which is great for when I want something a bit more analog feeling. Top-end bikes will save you from yourself, but won't kill the fun, either. As more and more potentially invasive safety systems find their way into bikes, I hope manufacturers keep balancing fun versus safety the way they do today. If I wanted total protection, I'd drive a car.

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