David goes on to say: “I’m not so concerned about complex systems when they are brand new. I’m more concerned about maintainability. What happens to the high-zoot electronic system five years down the road, or longer?…The owner who has all of his maintenance and repair[s] done at the dealer’s shop will buy a brand that has a nearby dealer, and be clever enough to trade it in as the warrantee expires. But for owners such as myself, who…do our own servicing and repair, there is a practical limit to how complex a machine can be.”
As David points out, what happens to drivability of the motorcycle when a totally integrated throttle/traction control/braking system experiences failures or components wear out? The increasingly higher levels of technology may start to yield diminishing returns when the engineering that goes into them gets so complex that a machine can no longer be reasonably maintained by an owner, and very high expense is necessary for maintenance and repair. Have you had your motorcycle in the shop for repairs lately? Even the simplest procedures performed in a motorcycle-repair shop often yield an expensive bill. Try to imagine the bill when electronic engine management components begin to fail and problems have to be diagnosed and repaired at a dealership. Having to trade-in a bike before the warranty period expires is an option that most in this day and age typically cannot afford to or want to make.
Will there be high-mileage TBW motorcycles still around and usable in 20 years?
Perhaps a “simpler” TBW system that is not part of an overall engine management system may not be significantly more complicated in principal than throttle cables, but there are some notable differences: finding the source of a cable problem will usually only require visual inspection, maybe getting the bike back to your garage and removing the fuel tank or body panels to locate a cable restriction, or to lubricate a cable or to replace a broken one. Repairing an electronically controlled throttle system would typically require troubleshooting knowledge that exceeds that of a typical DIY mechanic, and the use of diagnostic equipment that most will not own or even know how to use.
So how much more will the costs be to repair the higher level of complexity of systems that incorporate motorcycle TBW, traction control, and braking into an engine management system? How much of an effect on the ability to continue to operate the bike and even the safety of the rider if a failure of even one of the systems occur? As these systems are still relatively new, the jury will be out for some time.
Of course, it is understood that a tremendous amount of R&D goes into getting these systems to be useable, functional, reliable, and safe, and that in the vast majority of riding circumstances, riders will find the increased options for choice of ride type, handling, and braking capability will take motorcycle riding to new levels of comfort and convenience. While in the majority of situations the computer will choose the best combination of handling characteristics in a given riding situation, some of the reviews and reports indicate that this may not always be the case. David Hough’s experience with his Spyder going into limp-home mode due to a simple mechanical problem is one example; John Acton’s description of the behavior of the BMW is another.