Key European bikemakers Ducati, BMW and KTM are in a race to standardise new intelligent motorcycle tech derived from the car world, like adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring. 

This week, Ducati announced that production of its new Multistrada V4 had started, and that it would be the first in the world to mount radar technology on the front and rear of the motorcycle.

While the Italian company claims to be the first with a front and rear sensor, BMW and KTM have already announced Bosch-developed radar systems for incoming models.

Ducati Multistrada V4 2021
Ducati this week announced production of its V4-powered Multistrada.

The rather bulky, but effective radar system allows a motorcycle to adopt safety assistance systems that monitor traffic and road conditions in real time, and can adjust the motorcycle’s braking and acceleration accordingly.

Adaptive cruise control is one such assistance system, which has been a common feature in middle-to-upper-market cars for some years, allows the rider to match the speed of the vehicle ahead.

With adaptive cruise control, or Active Cruise Control (ACC) in BMW speak, the rider can define a distance in three stages, and let the bike automatically regulate its speed when the distance to the vehicle in front is reduced.

Ducati Multistrada V4 2021
A radar is fitted to the front and rear of the Multistrada V4.

The big benefit here, is that the rider does not have to apply the brakes or manually adjust the cruise control settings every time the car ahead slows down.

BMW’s system also considers lean angle, and so the braking and acceleration dynamics are adjusted to not unsettle the rider with abrupt braking or acceleration in the corners.

Critically, BMW points out that adaptive cruise control is an assistance system, and does not replace the rider.

BMW adaptive cruise control
Adaptive cruise control is coming to new BMW models.

“The BMW Motorrad ACC is a rider assistance system that leaves the responsibility with the rider and allows him to intervene at all times,” said BMW Motorrad in a press release.

“That is also because the new ACC only responds to moving vehicles. Stationary vehicles – like at the end of a traffic jam or at traffic lights – are not considered. In such cases, the rider has to do the braking.”

Ducati offered a similar warning with the reveal of its Multistrada V4 ‘adaptive intelligent system’, saying in a statement: “Ducati reminds that the rider of the motorbike is and remains responsible for riding and must always maintain a prudent behavior that is appropriate to the specific environmental context.”

Ducati Multistrada adaptive cruise control
On the Ducati Multistrada V4, a rider can set the adaptive cruise control in three stages.

KTM’s adaptive systems is expected to materialise on new models next year, which will see a blind spot alert system alongside the adaptive cruise control tech.

Blind spot alert, which is also a common feature in cars, helps to replace the shoulder check by alerting the rider to a potential rear collision when changing lanes. The alerts could be shown via lights on the TFT screen or on the wing mirrors.

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