From the “I’m sure I’ve seen that idea before, somewhere” files, a Hunstville Ala. engineer has devised a prototype stop lamp that lights up with any deceleration.
The idea behind ‘Stoptix’, as it’s currently called, is that bikes often decelerate just by rolling off the throttle, sometimes also going down the gearbox. The engine braking can be all you require to reduce to the correct speed for corner entry, or keep from speeding up down a hill. Of course, when you do, it does not illuminate the brake light because you’re not using the brakes.
This problem is compounded by the fact that bikes are typically light, with relatively powerful high-compression engines. The ‘braking’ provided by the bike’s engine is caused by that compression, and it can slow a bike down quickly compared to other, following vehicles.
In theory, then, giving some warning to following traffic makes sense. But two aspects cause a little disquiet.
The first is that it could result in motorcycle brake lights flashing on and off all the time, bewildering drivers and ultimately being ignored. Though this could be reduced or avoided if the sensitivity can be well calibrated.
The other issue comes from reading some of the inventor’s comments about ‘squeezing the brake lever’ as being ‘unnatural’. Talk to many Ride Forever expert trainers and it’s clear that a lot of road riders are poorly skilled in hard, emergency braking. Not being able to brake as hard as possible with the front can dramatically lengthen braking distances, and over-reliance on the rear can cause skids and a loss of control. Together, the result is shown by the rider of the red bike here:
We have to hope the inventor has better skills than that. And that no-one gets the idea that your rear wheel plays the major role in stopping power. If you want to learn braking technique that will stop you looking like the guy in the video, and that could save your life, check out Ride Forever training.
Stoptix, then. Good idea?