Drive-by-wire, or better still “x-by-wire” or what others will call “by-wire,” is a phrase used to make reference to the electronic systems in vehicles (both two wheels and four wheels and even aeroplanes) that have replaced the conventional mechanical systems that once existed before and were very cumbersome. What makes the particularity of these systems and the reason for their name is the use of hydraulic pressure and cables/wires to provide the rider with a hands -on control of direction as well as the speed of the speed of the vehicle; this is generally the case of four wheeled vehicles. In bikes, rather than having these we get sensors and actuators that get to do most of the work. This technology was founded by YAMAHA YZF-R6 way back in the year 2006.
With these drive-by–wire systems, practically everything that has to do with the riding of the bike is controlled via electronic; from the activation of the brake to the control of the steering, are all electronically controlled.
As earlier mentioned, the systems that are usually replaced with these electronic controls are the steering, brakes and throttle. Having replaced them with the drive by wire systems, their appellations also get to change too. The throttle becomes the Electronic Throttle Control, the brakes are now called Brake-By-Wire and finally the steering gets the appellation Steer-By-Wire.
Reasons behind ride by wire technology
Though originally this technology was meant for the motorcycles used for racing, we now get to find this ride-by-wire technology incorporated even in smaller bikes that are used in normal day to day activities and the reason simply being with these systems being automated, the driving experience becomes more of a comfortable one and emissions are also taken care of. We all know how the emission standards have changed over the years and even become stricter. Actually, on the one hand we have the races which are becoming more competitive and to meet up with the competition, there is the need to produce heavy duty bikes with engines of high capacity that come with a greater emission and on the other hand, there are emission constraints to be respected. So in order to bridge this gap in the comfortable and efficient manner possible, there is the need to introduce this ride-by-wire technology.
How does the ride-by-wire technology work?
With the old systems, the valve, the carburettor and the accelerator had a direct connection. Way the systems worked involved the rider turning the throttle which in turn affected the direct supply of the mixture of fuel and air to engine due to the cable connections. With the ride-by-wire technology, the rider still twists the throttle but this now rather affects the sensors which detect to what level the throttle was twisted throttle and then emits a signal to the ECM. Depending on the strength of the signal received, the ECM now evaluates the amount of fuel that will be needed specifically for that purpose and it is injected.
Benefits of the ride-by-wire technology.
With this technology being quite frequent in bikes unlike what it was before, there is more doubt to the fact that it is more beneficial to bike riders and the whole motorcycle community as a whole.
To begin with, given the fact that the calculations are automated, there is a guarantee that just the precise amount of fuel-air mixture reaches the engine. This definitely increases its efficiency and as result, emissions are reduced which is beneficial to the environment.
With the ride by wire technology, there is more freedom when riding as the bike rider can set whatever riding mode he/she desires due to the predictability of the throttle response.
Coupled with the fact the ride-by-wire systems come with other automated systems such as the Anti-lock Brake Systems and traction control, the ability to better control the bike in most riding modes is enhanced.
One of the sole disadvantages that this system presents is the fact that it is expensive but one is to weigh the pros and cons of the ride-by-wire systems then I will say they are worth the price. The benefits far outweigh disadvantages.
Pic Courtesy – Sewell Direct