Motorcycle electronic packages seem to make an evolutionary leap every other year. Even if we’re not focusing on newfangled doodads like adaptive cruise control and blind spot detection systems, many motorcycles adhere to today’s technological baseline. That commonly includes ABS and some form of traction control. Step up to the flagship models and that gold standard expands to wheelie control and engine braking management systems.
Piaggio is one brand that continues pushing the electronic envelope with every model year. As the parent company of Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, and Vespa, the Italian manufacturer can distribute its innovations across a wide variety of segments and machines. However, the firm didn’t exactly find the perfect technological recipe when it first introduced ride by wire on the 2007 Aprilia Shiver 750.
Piaggio Group Head of Project Management and Advanced Engineering Alessio Sisi told Italian outlet Motociclismo as much in a recent interview.
“We started with a system derived from cars, but then we realized that the bikes had to have specially designed components, from the control unit, from the sensors to the throttle bodies,” admitted Sisi.
Piaggio hasn’t squandered the last 15 years, though, developing cutting-edge technologies that improve not just safety but also performance. The firm isn’t afraid to trickle those innovations down to middleweight and economy models either.
“Today, electronic engine management is no longer the real added value but is part of a certain type of motorcycle and the Aprilia customer expects it,” Sisi noted. “It is in the 660s [RS 660 and Tuono 660], including the Tuareg , and the Piaggio Group is expanding. We have it in the V85 Moto Guzzi, in the MP3 530. In the coming years, also due to the arrival of the Euro 5 plus, it will also be extended to small engines.”
Even as more intermediate and beginner models adopt advanced rider aids, Piaggio is finding cost-effective ways to employ them on commuter-friendly options such as the MP3 three-wheeled scooter range.
“It does not have an inertial platform,” Sisi confessed, “but some logics have been introduced that consider longitudinal acceleration, and by reading the micro slippage of the wheels, they are able to predict the loss of grip of the rear wheel and apply a soft intervention thanks to the ride by wire that closes the butterfly and gently reduce the torque.”
On the other hand, Sisi believes Piaggio’s ride electronics suite is fast approaching its most mature state. For that reason, he thinks the industry will soon shift focus to vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication as the next technological frontier.
“A concrete development that I see in the coming years is that relating to the communication between the vehicle and the environment in which it moves,” concluded Sisi. “In this field, there is enormous room for maneuver and the real possibility of offering something that gives added value to the customer.”