Motorcycles have been around in some shape or another since all the way back in the mid-1800s, but the first vehicle which bore the name “motorcycle” was the Hildebrand & Wolfmüller model produced in 1894, closely followed by the first US motorcycle in 1898, which was built by inventor and innovator Charles Metz at his Massachusetts factory.
While these early machines have some basic features in common with modern motorcycles, the fact is that two-wheelers have continued to evolve and develop over the decades, and many 21st century machines are more powerful and faster than popular four-wheeled vehicles.
Over the years, new features have been added to motorcycles, some of which have become popular with bikers; although just as many have proven to be a waste of time and money for the motorcycle manufacturers who came up with the idea, and who probably invested millions to add the new feature to their bikes.
The list below features some of the motorcycle features developed over the years which simply don’t make sense. Some are new technological innovations, while others have been around for decades, despite their obvious flaws. Many of these features do have some benefits, but their shortcomings outweigh any possible positive impact for the rider of the bike.
Which of the motorcycle features listed below do you think is the most pointless and nonsensical?
15 Colored Instrument Panels
A colored instrument panel is a phenomenon which started in street racing cars, and which has now become quite a common modification in four-wheeled vehicles. Bikers are less likely to embrace such cosmetic changes, not least because they don’t have the same culture when it comes to their machines; a good bike is one that performs well, not necessarily one that looks pretty.
Having a color-coordinated instrument panel on your motorcycle adds nothing to its performance, and just marks the owner out as someone who doesn’t really understand biker culture, as well as being a potential distraction when riding at night.
14 Keyless Ignition
Keyless ignition systems are another example of what happens when features that have been designed for cars are simply transplanted into motorcycles. These hi-tech systems allow drivers to start their car engines simply by having their keys in their pockets when they get into the driving seat, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this could be a problem with motorcycles, which are less secure than cars anyway.
It has been shown that the technology used in keyless ignition systems can be hacked, and can make motorcycles much easier to steal than those which require a physical key to get them started.
13 Self-canceling Turn Signals
Drivers and bikers who forget to switch off their turn signals are one of the biggest pet hates for other road users. However, motor manufacturers have started to develop turn signals which can actually detect when a vehicle has completed its turn, and which then turn off automatically.
Unfortunately, for those who are riding motorcycles, this technology doesn’t work very well, as it seems as though the system finds it harder to detect when a bike has made its turn in comparison to a car. Bikers can become too reliant on technology whereas in this case, they need to still rely on their own riding skills.
12 Built-In GPS Screens
Motorcycle riders can get lost in the same way as any other motorist, so it might seem that a built-in GPS screen, like those that you can find on the dashboard of most modern cars, would be a good idea.
While it might help keep bikers on the right road, it isn’t as though they can hear the directions over the noise of the engine, and it could prove dangerous to have to keep glancing down at the instrument panel, when anyone who rides a motorcycle knows that they need to keep their eyes on the road as much as possible.
11 Flip Stands
Having a secure stand for your very expensive motorcycle is a must-have, so it is hardly surprising flip stands are almost universally unpopular among bikers. These flip stands are spring loaded, which is supposed to make it easier for you to ride off, as the stand simply springs back into position when you take the weight off it.
However, sometimes a strong gust of wind can trick the flip stand into thinking that the rider has taken the weight of the bike, when they are actually nowhere near, leading to very expensive bikes taking a damaging tumble to the ground.
10 Three-Button Turn Signals
Automotive giant BMW has been one of the biggest names in the motorcycle business for decades, and they have created some of the most stunning sports bikes ever made. Anyone who owned a pre-2008 BMW bike will be familiar with a rather unusual and very annoying feature of these motorcycles.
Unlike every other motorbike of that same era, BMW motorbikes had three separate switches for its turn signals; one for the right turn, one for the left turn, and a different switch to turn off the signals altogether. Every other bike, by that stage, had one switch which could be flicked left or right, depending on which turn signal was needed.
9 Seat Locks Under Mudguard
Seat locks on motorcycles need to be somewhere the rider can easily access, otherwise even the most minor adjustment suddenly becomes a major operation. And, to be fair, most motorbike manufacturers understand why this is important, and place their seat locks accordingly.
Yamaha are old hands when it comes to designing and building motorcycles, so it is something of a surprise that Yamaha have made such a basic error with their MT-10 bike, which for some bizarre reason has its seat lock tucked right away under the rear mudguard – making it a real challenge for owners to gain access to the electronics within the seat unit.
8 Sports Bike Gas Tanks
Non-bikers tend to think that all motorcycles are created equal. But for biking aficionados, there are some huge differences between the various makes and models available. From the choppers and cruisers which have been big sellers in the US to the stripped, back-to-basics motorcycles which were the domain of English manufacturers, all bikers have their favorites.
Sports bikes may have a shorter history than some motorcycles, but they remain a popular option – despite their massive, bulbous gas tanks which can often seem to get in the way when you are actually trying to take your bike out for a ride.
7 Heated Grips
You can now buy motorcycles which come with heated grips as extras, or buy heated grips to fit into your old bike – but while these may seem like a nice touch of luxury for rides on a cold winter’s morning, it could easily become a waste of money for many bikers.
After all, not everyone who rides a motorcycle even lives somewhere where the weather gets cold enough to need heated grips, and besides, responsible bikers should really be wearing thick leather gloves when they are out on the road. Can you really feel expensively heated grips through good quality leather?
6 Leg Guards
The leg guards or shields which are more usually seen in scooters used to be a standard piece of kit on motorcycles too, but this is one feature which has died out over the decades. Initially, they were part of a bike’s safety features, providing an extra layer of protection for riders and passengers, but as the way we ride motorbikes has changed throughout the years, leg guards just started to get in the way!
Fans of vintage motorcycles may well have a few two-wheelers in their collection which still have leg guards in place, but you’d be hard pushed to find a modern motorcycle which has them installed.
5 Mud Flaps
The only reason to have mud flaps on any vehicle is if you are planning on taking it off-roading on some seriously muddy and rocky terrain. While some bikers have been known to take their two-wheelers off the beaten track, mud flaps are a much more common sight on rough and ready SUVs and jeeps.
For road motorbikes, mud flaps are only ever going to be a cosmetic addition, which doesn’t really serve any purpose and certainly don’t improve the bike’s performance in any way. There simply isn’t enough dirt and debris on the highway to make mud flaps on motorcycles a worthwhile investment.
4 Motorbike Alarms
Security is important to motorcycle owners; after all, bikes are inevitably going to be easier to steal than cars! Luckily, there are plenty of security features which you can buy to try and keep your pride and joy safe from crooks. However, while alarm systems can act as a deterrent to would-be thieves, and can even help to reduce your insurance premium, they aren’t actually much use when it comes to preventing someone from making off with your motorcycle.
The best way to protect your bike is with security chains and disc locks, which can make it almost impossible to move the vehicle.
3 Safety Features
Safety, like security, is a key concern for anyone who has ever owned or ridden a motorcycle. As time has passed, safety features have not only become more effective but have increasingly become legal requirements where they were once only recommended added extras.
Safety features like anti-lock brakes and special reflective lights now come as standard, which in turn increases the cost of buying a brand new motorcycle or modifying an old two-wheeler for modern roads. In addition, there are new safety innovations being developed all the time, including inventions such as airbags for motorbikes.
2 Plastic Fixtures And Fittings
While hi-tech safety features may lead to bigger price tags for bike fans looking to buy a new motorcycle, there are some manufacturers who look to cut costs for their consumers – but who just end up cutting corners. It might seem like a good idea to buy a motorcycle at the lower end of the price scale, but the chances are that in these bikes, many of the fixtures and fittings have been made from cheap plastic, rather than tougher but more expensive materials.
And given the exposure that motorbikes have to the open air, materials can be all-important.
1 Sound System
Believe it or not, some bikers spend a small fortune installing a top-of-the-range sound system onto their motorcycles, despite the rather obvious issue that they won’t be able to hear any music over the noise of their engine. Some riders use Bluetooth systems to connect to headphones, but that can even pose a danger to the rider, who might not be able to hear other road users, including emergency vehicles.
Besides, one of the best bits about being a biker is getting to hear the roar of your motorcycle’s engine as you hit the throttle while riding along the highway!
Sources - Ride Apart, Hupy, Motorcycle News, Motolegends, Bennetts