Self-Balancing Motorcycles Cruising Our Way In 2017

It appears the technology revolution has turned its attention to the very physics behind travelling on two-wheels with the announcement of a gravity-defying electric motorcycle riding out next year.

A peek at Thrustcycle Enterprises’ new prototype, a revolutionary self-balancing electric motorcycle called the GyroCycle, as well a promise of production of its first street model in 2017 could have self-stabilizing gyroscopic motorcycles cruising America’s streets next year.

This would be a welcomed advancement to a variety of people interested in living life from the saddle of a motorcycle. The most obvious would be older riders growing uncomfortable with their ability to continuously balance a motorcycle. Quite a few of these riders have moved onto three-wheeled motorcycles, commonly referred to as trikes while others have turned to the Slingshot, a roadster from Polaris, also with three wheels.

Another group are those who are nervous about their balance when considering taking on the task of learning to ride a motorcycle.

Interestingly enough, the science behind self-balancing vehicles isn’t a new one. Although they moved along on two-wheels, the technology was seen in what were called ‘gyrocars’ as early as 1914. As with all such stories, this technology begins with large characters behind even bigger ideas. In this case it was a member of the Russian royal family, Count Pyotr Shilovsky, who commissioned the first prototype Gyrocar. Unsurprisingly called the Shilovski Gyrocar, it was demonstrated in London in 1914.

Shilovsky's gyrocar in 1914, London

The self-stabilizing motorcycle from Thrustcycle uses similar technology, with internal flywheels creating a gyroscopic effect ensuring the bike will remain upright and stable both during the ride and at standstill when powered up. This effect is currently felt by riders at higher speeds, the revolutionary piece is to enjoy the stabilization while sitting still.

Because Thrustcycle’s system maintains a fixed plane in space, the vehicle will be less likely to slide under and lose traction when going into turns because the gyroscope will maintain lateral integrity. The self-balancing function gives the rider more control and greatly increases safety.

"The GyroCycle is an energy efficient vehicle with rock solid stability," said company President Clyde Igarashi who notes the core technology behind the GyroCycle has broad implications for safety and sustainability.

Although Thrustcycle aims be the first to bring a gyroscopic motorcycle to market, other major players are emerging. BMW recently debuted the Motorrad Vision Next 100 concept motorcycle, which features a self-balancing system said to provide stability while at a standstill as well as when in motion. According to BMW, beginners will benefit because their cycle cannot fall over, while more experienced riders will enjoy the benefits that come with the improved agility that their self-balancing system provides.

"These are the concepts that Thrustcycle has been promoting for a while now," said Igarashi, "and we are eager to demonstrate them with our GyroCycle. We're further encouraged by the announcement that Lingyun Intelligent Technology, based in Beijing, is also entering the gyroscopic vehicle technology race. We see the entrance of large competitors as vindication of the potential in technologies that we've developed for years."

It appears to have been a long road for Thrustcycle. The promotion video and previous articles in well-known magazines had the company on the verge of releasing models in recent years. Co-founder Clyde Igarashi first met co-founder David Ryker nine years ago while working on an energy storage project.

"When David started telling me about this enclosed two-wheeled motorcycle he made in the 90's (which he called Gyro Hawk), I was intrigued by the idea of not only making transportation more efficient, but also making motorcycles safer", Igarashi said. "We decided that the idea was worth revisiting and formed Thrustcycle Enterprises."

Thrustcycle Enterprises is based in Honolulu, Hawaii and its prototypes are manufactured in Wilsonville, Oregon.

How much the self-stabilizing gyroscopic motorcycle will cost and what kind of power it will deliver hasn’t been released yet. Previously publicized models utilized regenerative braking, storing that energy in its flywheel kinetic energy recovery system (KERS). Using rear-wheeled steering, the previous model could reach 70 mph with a passenger.

Thrustcycle have said they feel the initial price will be under $20K with it falling as production increases.

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