Model Year 2020 Asset Capture Photography.

There is one big problem with motorcycles, at very low speed bikes refuse to stay upright. Harley-Davidson (H-D) thinks it might have a solution for its heavy weight cruisers in the form of a self-balancing gyroscope located in the motorcycle’s top box.

Self balancing systems for motorcycles are not new, with technology demonstrators from mainstream makers like Honda and BMW, and other systems such a Lit. But H-D is facing a rather unique problem in the motorcycle world.

Its range of motorcycles in the cruiser market, many of which weigh upwards of 300 kg, are a handful to manage at parking lot speeds despite the low centre of gravity inherent in H-D’s designs. Coupled with a ridership in its domestic market that is aging well into the stage of bus passes, H-D feels there is a demand for a system that helps the rider keep the bike upright.

H-D’s system uses a spinning flywheel mounted in a gimbal and connected to the bike via a clutch to help prevent tip-overs below five km/h. Driven by an electric motor, the balancer is mounted inside the top box, in theory allowing it to be fitted to any H-D motorcycle thus equipped, reports Cycle World.

The system is not fool-proof, of course, as movements exceeding the limits of the gyroscope will result in a fall. But for riders who may not have the leg strength or the riding experience to hold up a motorcycle weighing not far short of a boat anchor upright, H-D’s self balancer might be a valuable riding aid.