This week Ducati and Lenovo spoke about their unique partnership, including a blend of brand sharing and technology sharing targeting Laptops and Racing. With cars increasingly becoming rolling computers, it is fascinating to see a technology partnership involving motorcycles because bikes arguably need this tech infusion more than cars do.
Let’s talk about that infusion this week.
The Need For Technology Advancement In Motorcycles
Motorcycles have several advantages over automobiles. They tend to be more efficient from the standpoint of energy use because they are far lighter when used by a single driver, and they can move through traffic where lane splitting is allowed. During the Pandemic, they are less likely to transfer the virus because, even with a passenger, they prevent face to face conversations, and without they are naturally socially distant. And, finally, they are far easier to park.
But they have several disadvantages. That low weight results in them being far more deadly in vehicle-to-vehicle accidents; they are very susceptible to any lack of road traction. If they tip over, both the bike and rider become ballistic resulting in crippling or deadly consequences. They require unique skills and practice to ride as steering them at speed is counter-intuitive (you start a turn by steering in the opposite direction), resulting in high-risk driver error. Safety gear standards in cars like airbags and safety belts aren’t widely available or don’t work on a bike. Finally, they have an extremely high power to weight ratio that often exceeds the driver’s skill.
There are little-known new companies like Damon Motorcycles out of Canada doing impressive work blending technology to create far safer high-performance bikes, but what about traditional vendors? This lack of tech with traditional vendors is what makes the relationship between Ducati and Lenovo so impressive.
Ducati is not only a storied motorcycle brand but one that exists in the premium performance space. They uniquely have deployed a radar-based system that enhances their anti-lock and traction control systems resulting in one of the most advanced premium motorcycle lines in the industry. Like every vehicle maker, they are starting to dip their toes into electrical power but, smartly, initially focusing on bicycles where the greatest opportunity currently exists. They have been showcasing some stunning electric motorcycles as well that will take the company into the future.
As they move to electric motorcycles having an innovative technology partner that is open to learning about vehicles and that will provide what a vehicle vendor wants is critical to their success.
Lenovo represents one of the most innovative personal technology vendors in the world. They have stepped out in digital assistants, collaboration platforms, virtual reality, foldable displays (on both Smartphones under the Motorola brand and Laptops under their brand), and head-mounted displays. While their partnership with Ducati initially focuses on competition support (wind tunnel, design, and race analysis) and a co-branded laptop, the potential to expand this relationship to create dedicated market-leading advanced consumer-focused motorcycles is unprecedented.
There is an opportunity to create a bike that sets the standard for safety. Electrical power proficiency would be significant to any vehicle maker, particularly now, with the world increasingly focusing on both aspects. But with Motorcycles, which are generally viewed as unsafe today, it could be a game-changer for parents and spouses that don’t want their loved ones put at high risk of a crippling or deadly accident.
Given Lenovo’s broad interest and existing technology, the possibility of a bike meeting Toyota’s Guardian Angel concept (where the vehicle actively prevents accidents) or providing safe features like heads up GPS navigation or safe communication are potential natural extensions of a partnership between Ducati and Lenovo.
Wrapping Up: The Perfect Partnership
Most of the past partnerships between transportation brands and tech companies are more about marketing than substantive help. Support for the racing team, co-branded PCs like the Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Hummer notebooks have previously existed. But the real opportunity is to partner to help create the vehicles of tomorrow. Both Ducati and Lenovo appear willing to cooperate in efforts that could result in the safest and most advanced electrical and partially autonomous motorcycle of the future. Now that’s something this old bike rider is looking forward to seeing, and maybe even riding one day.