Tour Reports

Here is my slightly angry biker rant for this week!

How many of you are likely to sign up for this highly questionable BMW safety option? I’m having a real hard time to see the value in it but first let me tell you what this is all about before I tell you why I’m confused.

BMW are to launch the emergency eCall system for their 2017 motorcycles which will send an emergency call to alert the rescue services and also help locate the accident.

BMW ECall set for 2017 motorcycles.


How ECall System Works


The system is either automatically or manually triggered, sends out the location using satellite location data and then calls the central BMW call centre who will coordinate the emergency services. There is no price on the ECall system itself yet but the annual subscription is likely to be around €200 a year before tax with the “tax” probably set at the sickening luxury tax bracket along with helmets, armour and other safety gear that’s likely to save a bikers life.

SOS, please help, fire brigade needed, I can’t pick up my 1200RT!

Oh, there is also one other detail to take into account, in order for the system to work the vehicle’s ignition needs to be turned on which is mechanically unlikely or dangerous (fire risk) in a crash and this is where I have my first problem. I was always told if I had a crash, or even just dropped my bike the basic sequence of what to do is as follows:

  1. The first thing to do, if possible is flip the big red engine cut off switch and turn off the ignition reducing the risk of fire or further damage to the bike.
  2. Assess the damage to firstly myself and then, if on a public road secure the crash site and warn oncoming traffic of obstruction or debris, then decide to either call the emergency services on 112, or simply pick up the bike, make a close inspection for damage and decide if I can continue my journey unaided.

In the case of a non serious crash or drop in a populated area I can’t see the point of a BMW Call Center getting involved, if you need an emergency service it’s better, and quicker to call 112 directly rather than going through a 3rd party. If I’m riding alone in a remote or very rural area and have an off I’d have to say it’s a very different matter, I know this as I’m usually riding alone in the remotest areas I can find in Ireland, France, Spain etc. So in theory the BMW ECall system might be a good thing.

However, for the ECall system to work a GPS and underlying wireless services must also be plugged into the bike and functioning (again unlikely in a crash) and due to wireless carrier coverage services may be limited in certain geographic areas like mountains or rural areas. Ideally in a crash one should turn off the ignition stopping the ECall from working, and in a proper crash it’s highly likely the bike is so badly damaged little, if anything will work. Any adventure rider is well aware of this and is prepared for this eventuality with a SatNav phone or the simple and affordable SPOT Trace or SPOT 3Gen system which has it’s own power supply and relies on satellites for location and help request signals if you are unable to call 112 for any reason.

Rule number one for anyone traveling in a remote or rural area is that you should not rely on a mobile phone signal. Some form of standalone satellite system is your only sure form of signaling an emergency and help. A system that relies on both a phone signal and a SatNav that does not take kindly to crashing seems questionable at best. I will go as far as calling shenanigans on this idea.

Needs approx. €200pa subscription + BMW SatNav + SatNav Integration System + Mobile signal to work.

Having an off in a remote area does not really worry me that much simply because I’m prepared for it anyway, and besides, I’m far more likely to find trouble in a built up area with a distracted car driver on his/her phone or in car Infotainment system. And this is what really pisses me off!

I’m reminded that it would cost only €1.50 per vehicle for BMW and other manufacturers to install a local area mobile phone signal blocker wired to the ignition in cars which would undoubtedly save countless lives from phone distracted arsehole car drivers. This will never happen as the €1.50 signal blocker would also stop profitable Infotainment systems from working. Instead we are offered a motorcycle “safety” device at a massive cost that’s unlikely to even work when a biker gets hit by a texting tit in a car! It’s a clear case of profit over safety and most people are falling for it hook, line and sinker!

How fecking stupid is the human race getting? It’s free to make an emergency call (112) from any mobile and landlines on almost all networks?


Lets add up the approx cost of this “safety aid”


  • The Ecall system itself, let’s say a very conservative €200
  • Subscription: €200 per year
  • BMW SatNav Prep: €230
  • BMW SatNav: €550
  • Total 1st Year Cost = €1180
  • Total 5 Year Cost = €1980 not incl. tax on subscription


Cost vs. Road Safety


From what I’m reading the system might work well for cars in a fender bender, but a bike in a road crash? Seems to me this system will likely only work well if you drop your 1200RT in a car park and need the fire brigade to help you pick it up ;)

Advertisement images like this give people the impression it’s ok to take your hand off the wheel and eyes off the road to use an Infotainment system while taking a corner. It’s not, it’s dangerous and illegal. Spain’s new TrafficEye system can actually spot you doing this and issue you a fine automatically.

What I’m really annoyed about has nothing to do with the cost and everything to do with road safety! Here’s a vid of a mind numbing BMW sales rep teaching a potential customer how to distract himself from the obvious boredom of driving a car.

What are car manufacturers playing at? I’m fecken speachless at the stupidity of this “safety aid”. The same system in BMW cars (BMW Infotainment Services) allows drivers to surf the internet, check emails and even turn on the heating at home – from the car. Are drivers not distracted and dangerous enough?

Sorry officer, I didn’t see the motorcyclist ‘cos there were 27 apps blocking my view ;)

On the one hand BMW and every other manufacturer are actively trying to make car drivers more idiotically dangerous to all road users with driver distractions which are helping to kill motorcyclists and anyone else on or near a road.

If driving a car is so boring you need FaceBook to survive the journey you should seriously consider getting a motorcycle.

Then they try selling us the same overpriced, questionable, subscription based and unnecessary ECall systems for bikers for when we get hit by a moronic twat in a car pissing around checking their fucking twitter account with their BMW/VW/Toyota Infotainment Service.


Think I’m wrong?


Here is a statement from the BMW ConnectDrive site

With the ConnectedDrive Services special equipment option, you not only obtain numerous services but above all the innovative A4A (Apps for Automotive) technology by BMW. This enables you to use many smartphone applications in your vehicle and in comfort via the operating concept of your BMW. This way you can experience new features every day: embark on a voyage of discovery, obtain tips on your journey, take your office into your vehicle with you or enjoy entertainment in your BMW. All of the equipment options listed here are part of ConnectedDrive Services and are available to you. Immerse yourself in the diverse world of BMW ConnectedDrive.

Boy’s will be boy’s, and you wonder why your teenage son ended up wrapped around a tree while driving daddys car..

What I’m reading here is BMW, and most other car manufacturers on one hand actively help car drivers kill road users by making more distractions than ever, then have the outrageous bull sized balls to “maybe” help us bikers get to hospital quicker when we get hit by a driver checking his email or FaceBook page!


Look at car infotainment systems this way, good vs bad


ECall System App – Speed Limit/No Overtaking POTENTIALLY LIFESAVING GOOD
ECall System App – Entertainment/Spotify etc DRIVER DISTRACTION POTENTIAL KILLER
ECall System App – iDrive Touch Controller DRIVER DISTRACTION POTENTIAL KILLER

The Infotainment systems offer more options, but you get the idea. Obviously, like mobile phones none of these are dangerous if the driver has stopped on the side of the road to operate any of these functions. But if mobile phone habits are anything to go by many will think they can operate a phone or BMW’s Infotainment Services while navigating rush hour traffic and avoid killing a motorcyclist or anyone else all at the same time. The ECall system is in reality one small aspect of BMW’s gadget lineup to help a driver get to hospital after causing an accident while possibly being distracted by their BMW cars in the first place.

Don’t worry about watching that cyclist, or those kids playing football, you’ve got mail. This is not just for car drivers, Samsung have teamed up with Yamaha so now bike/scoot rider’s can read their email/texts on a Smart Screen while riding too! Pure genius or a one way ride to the grave?

Again, how f-ing stupid is the human race getting? And yes, I am pointing my self righteous finger directly at BMW and all other car manufacturers with similar systems for helping to make our roads more dangerous.

Here is a brainless ad from Toyota. Don’t worry about little Sally not wearing a seatbelt, or the fact we’re hurtling down the motorway in the rain, at night, lets all watch TV. FFS!

I’ll be saying no thanks to this rider aid, the SPOT Trace or SPOT Gen3 still seems a far better and cheaper option. The Spot Gen3 is not perfect either, but it is a stand alone device and can be used away from your bike. It’s also half the price as is the subscription service and you can share your trip progress through tracking on an online map. There is even an affordable SPOT Satellite Phone so you can call the wife, or emergency services from the Road of bones if you want.


How about this next invention for the most moronic stupidity award


Now it may seem that I might be unfairly criticizing just the car drivers and manufacturers. And that is why I’ve left the biggest stupidity of all for last. In a magnificent stroke of moronic insanity Samsung and Yamaha Italia have teamed up to create a Smart Windshield for motorbikes and scooters. The Smart Windshield will connect with the rider’s smartphone or iPad to allow the rider to read emails and texts while riding. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this will end in a one way trip to the cemetery for many. And to make it worse the geniuses behind this plan to firstly target this at young Italian riders using their scoots in busy city traffic with the advertising actually trying to pitch it as a safety aid. In Italy, smartphone use in cars already contributes to 25 percent of accidents among young motorists. So I can’t help but wonder how making it easier for bike/scoot riders to read their emails/texts while riding will help lower accident rates.

I can see a kind of sick sense in this from a marketing point of view as to a large degree it’s motorcycle riders who make the most noise complaining about drivers using their mobiles, or Infotainment Systems while driving. So if they convert the next generation of motorcyclists by getting them addicted to their phones while riding there might be less people shouting about the danger and give in to the dark side.

If this happens motorcycling will have never been so dangerous as it will be in the near future because we will not only have to watch for texting tits in cars, but also fellow motorcyclists. It does not take a genius to figure out that the next generation of GS’s, RT’s Multistradas and KTM’s will have Smart Windshields to seamlessly integrate us into the Matrix instead of the road. Maybe it’s just as well we’ll also have an eCall system to call a surgeon to extract us from the bus we didn’t notice while reading a text at 120kmh.

Now you might read this with only a vague sense of interest as you may not use a phone while riding anyway so this does it really affect you. But you’d be wrong, with more accidents being caused by distracted drivers insurance premiums climb right along with it. The longer the trend continues the more you will pay for insurance on whatever vehicle you choose to drive.


TrafficEye System in Spain


Maybe it’s time to start telling the manufacturers to stop making distractions and yelling at our politicians to make vehicle Infotainment and phone integration systems illegal. Of course that is very unlikely to happen if not just wishful thinking. What is far more likely to happen is what has already started happening in Spain.

TrafficEye in Spain and soon other countries can spot you using a SatNav while riding or driving and automatically issue a fine or the fuzz to have a chat with you..

From June 2016 the Spanish authorities are installing a network of new roadside smart cameras called TrafficEye which can automatically spot car drivers and motorcyclists operating phones, Infotainment systems and SatNavs while on the move. Once spotted the Spanish will automatically have a fine issued to their bank account and points put on their license. Not that this will make a bit of difference to making Spanish roads safer. The Spanish seem quite happy to pay out €130 million a year in fines for the privilege to driving dangerously, and the rest of the human race are no different.

We are currently being taught by marketing companies that these systems are ok, and even safety aids. It’s bullshit, they are not, and they are getting people killed with young drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists doing most of the hospital time. Most will find it hard to argue that physically using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous. But so are hands free kits, or bluetooth phone-car and phone-helmet connection systems. If having a hands free phone conversation while driving/riding your reaction time is a proven 1 second slower. One second at 80km/h = 22 meters. Unlike having a conversation with a passenger who will usually shut up to let you concentrate as they see the same hazard as you do, phone conversations cause the driver to visually imagine what they’re talking about. This visual imagery competes for processing resources with what the driver sees in front of them on the road and therefore slows reaction time.

The system we now live in is designed to sell us driving distractions in the luxury tax bracket pitched as “safety aids” that cause accidents and increase our insurance premiums. They are also a fine-able offense when used, i.e. another income for our governments who are happy to rob, sorry, tax us then watch us kill each other on the roads before we become of pensionable age and a liability to the state. Motorists are systematically being trained as tax cows, we are being taught to do dangerous and stupid shit so the governments can milk us for tax at every conceivable angle with tax on the increasing insurance premiums, claims, compensations and fines issued by automated systems like TrafficEye. Then we go and buy more new tech driver/rider distractions like SmartScreens and eCall disguised as safety aids which perpetuates the cycle and increases tax collection for governments pretending to fight for road safety through fines.

Instead of evolution of the species maybe Darwin should have studied the evolution of stupidity?

But wait, nothing lasts forever and in my opinion at least there may be a brighter future on the roads for motorcyclists and new tech is the answer. According to many experts autonomous cars is the future.

Can a computer be idiot proof, not just yet, but it will and very soon.


Brighter Future and Self-Driving Cars


By 2018 the first self-driving cars will appear for the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted and you won’t need to own a car anymore soon after. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, nor insure it and you will only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving.

Well I’m sure some people will be productive while the car drives itself ;)

Our kids will never get a driver’s license and will never own a car, car schools will go out of business as will car insurance companies. It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% fewer cars for that. We can transform former parking space into parks. 1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. Currently we have, on average one accident every 100,000 km, with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 10 million km, so no more bikers hitting Volvos pulling out without looking. Insurance Companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear.

The Navia self-driving shuttle bus is on sale and in use already.

Most car companies may become bankrupt. Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels. Traditional car companies are completely terrified of Tesla. Car Infotainment systems will only get better so we won’t get bored as the computer drives us to work. And if this happens, and the rules of technological evolution suggest it inevitably will then motorcyclists will be far better off well within the next 10 years. For the moment anyway no one is interested in making self-riding motorbikes so we will be surrounded by safe, utterly predictable drivers (robots). Oh, and one more benefit, with self-drive cars Traffic Police will be obsolete and speed cams will not be cost effective just to catch motorcyclists. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out.

Stay safe, stay attentive, and avoid getting close to new looking cars and Yamaha scooters with Samsung Screens, their drivers are not just texting, they are twittering, taking conference calls, dictating letters, Facebook-ing, reading/sending emails as well as eating breakfast, drinking lattes and putting on make-up.


Now for some shameless advertising ;)

If you liked this article please help me pay the website costs and my motorcycle addiction by buying aRoadTrooper – Wanderlust Motorcycle Therapy T-Shirt

Stay safe,

RoadTrooper – Wanderlust Motorcycle Therapy branded t-shirt

RoadTrooper – Wanderlust Motorcycle Therapy branded t-shirt with the stylized compass logo.

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