Michelin has patented a device that could provide any motorcycle with a reversing system, thanks to a small electric motor attached to the back wheel.
We've all suffered the pain, or at least the inconvenience, of having to push a motorcycle backward in or out of a parking space. Even with a small bike, all it takes is a small uphill slope to give you a workout. Unlike large Gold Wings and Harleys, as well as some electric bikes, most of us don't have a reverse gear to help.
Gallery: Michelin Motorcycle Reverse Patent Drawings
Michelin's solution is quite simple. Rather than adding gears or electric motors to the transmission, it's a completely independent system. It attaches to the rear swingarm the same way as the mudguards and license plate holders of many modern motorcycles. It could even be integrated with these parts from the factory. Small electric motors press two or three rollers against the back tire, which then turns the back wheel. These rollers retract from the tire during normal riding. The system even has its own lithium-ion battery, which eliminates the need for big ugly wiring from the bike's main battery.
Being electric, this device could supply not only a reverse gear but also assistance with forward movement without using the main engine. The patent says the system would move the bike at one kilometer per hour (0.6 miles per hour), and on up to a ten percent slope. That's where the forward option could come in particularly handy.
While not everyone would benefit from this option, it would make bikes so equipped more accessible to smaller or weaker riders. People who can only tip-toe a bike would then be able to safely move it without relying on their own foot power to do it. The only problem I see with this system is that many people remove the hardware that sticks out behind the back wheel because it looks ugly. That would remove the reverse system as well. I suppose riders who don't need it could still do it if the appearance is that important to them.