The 2017 North West 200 was the start of the end for Honda’s Road Racing Season this year.
Things hadn’t got off to a great start anyway even after the announcement of what has to be described as a dream team of John MCGuinness and Guy Martin. Guy crashed out of Tandragee and had a mediocre Cookstown event, however whether Honda wanted to admit it or not there was clearly an issue come the North West.
Every road racing fan knows John McGuinness just doesn’t fall off and it didn’t take long until the rumours started flowing that there was an issue with the bike and something to do with the throttle and that is what had thrown John off the bike.
Now two and a half months later, those rumours have been confirmed.
Honda Racing Team Boss Jonny Twelvetrees has said,
“Having extracted and reviewed the data from the ECU on John’s bike, we now know that a setting on the ECU race kit software resulted in the throttle blipping unexpectedly.”
“Although at the time there was a long delay in getting the data from John’s bike due to the ECU being damaged – the ECU had to be sent all the way to the supplier in China to extract the data from it – we put in a countermeasure of a new spec of ECU for the TT to ensure the problem wouldn’t happen again.
“Separately, now that we know what happened the race kit software has been updated and is now performing perfectly – no repeat of issue in over 5000Ks of both testing and racing since, including at the Slovakia Ring Endurance World Championship race where we put the Fireblade up on the podium.”
So taking from that, hopefully the ECU issue is fixed, but what about the ‘box of neutrals?’
It’s right here on video, that’s not right. Has this been addressed?
A matter of hours after Guy Martin walks away from Honda Road Racing this statement is released. I don’t know whether this is very good PR from Honda or very bad. Is it just a case of get all the bad news there as quickly as possible and start focusing on the road ahead or is it a case of the wheels are off and no one knows what to do?
Personally, I want Honda to suceed. I hope they can put 2017 behind them and get tore into 2018 with a fresh mind, a bike at 100% and a team that gets the results. I think John McGuinness will be back with them as soon as he is able to get back on a bike and I wish him a fast and full recovery, the man is a legend and deserves a legendary bike underneath him, so Honda it is over to you, tighten up!
One final thought though… Has technology come to far? That sounds crazy right? Technology can never go to far, and as a tech-head, and a gadget freak I agree that technology should always advance. Well at least 99% of the time. Here’s my thinking on that other 1%.
Sometimes we can just be too far ahead. We almost feel pressured to take what is really a prototype and make it standard. Take fly by wire throttle systems. We are effectively making a bluetooth throttle. Twist her 72% and the electronics tell the engine she is being opened up 72%, so that’s what she does. Sounds perfect right? But you have no feeling. You should feel the throttle, feel the engine open and know when, how and why it is doing it. A cable does that, a correctly adjusted cable does it effectively instantly. Electronics may do it fractionally quicker and may be lighter in weight. So the benefits are obvious. But can you feel it and what do you do when it fails? When it fails you fall off.
Of course a cable can fail, but one can also be maintained. They can be machined and made with ever improving materials. They can be serviced, monitored and replaced, hopefully long before they fail, and cheaply too.
Electronics and electronic signals can fail, at any time, without warning. Servicing is far less accurate and wear and tear is much much harder to guage. I understand there is a backup and failsafe in there should one system fail then the backup will take over. But what if it doesn’t. If it doesn’t you fall off!
What about interference, environmental issues, sabotage? Who knows – but if that signal doesn’t make it from your wrist to the engine things are about to get painful.
Personally I want a throttle cable.
What’s the next step? Let’s move from two wheels to four. This scenario is reasonably irrelevant to motorcycles due to fact they steer with weight transfer, but let’s put ourselves in a car. Now let’s detach the steering wheel from the steering column and remove it and replace it with a bluetooth module and an touch screen. Now you can steer just like you can in any racing game on your iPad, by touching the left or right side of the screen or by tilting the screen as if it was a wheel. We could even use forced feedback to give you the impression of being connected to the road.
Would you want it? If not why not?
Fly by wire throttle systems are already very common in cars – in bikes it is reasonably new, and still needs work. I’m not saying never, I’m just saying a road isn’t the place for prototypes, trials and tests. Let’s make sure the technology is well past the prototype stage before we put it on a road.