BMW Active Cruise Control First Look: Motorcycle Safety Technology

We have seen some highly sophisticated cruise control functions on automobiles in recent years. However, motorcycle cruise controls have pretty much stuck with keeping a constant speed, and not much else. Taking technology from the automobile world, the new BMW Active Cruise Control is far more than just set-and-forget.

Working with Bosch, BMW’s Active Cruise Control (ACC)  uses radar to prevent the motorcycle from getting too close to the moving vehicle in front of it. ACC continuously monitors approximately 300 feet ahead to do its work.

BMW Active Cruise Control - motorcycle safety

Rather than a one-size-fits-all system, ACC allows the rider to select one of three levels of how close the motorcycle will follow the leading vehicle. The setting is made using a button on the left handlebar cluster, and confirmed by the TFT dash screen.

BMW Active Cruise Control - Control cluster

Additionally, ACC allows the rider to select between Comfortable and Dynamic settings in the Dynamic Cruise Control (DCC) mode, which is also controlled by a button on the left handlebar. The DCC level determines how aggressively the cruise control system accelerates and decelerates. When using DCC, the rider can turn off the distance control, should that be the preference.

ACC is also corner-aware. As ACC detects lean-angle, the speed of the motorcycle is appropriately adjusted. The system is designed to adjust the speed smoothly, so the ride is not disrupted, either when slowing down for the corner or with speeding up as the motorcycle returns to the upright position. The use of DCC disables the curve speed control function.

BMW Active Cruise Control - TFT Screen

To turn off ACC and DCC, the rider can either use the brakes, or twist the throttle forward past the rest position. If the clutch is used, there is a 1.5-second delay before ACC and DCC switch off.

You can shift between gears on the motorcycle while using the ACC and DCC. While it will work with a fully manual transmission, BMW recommends upgrading to its Gear Shift Assistant for clutchless shifting.

For normal riding, BMW suggests using the center of the lane so the radar can best detect the vehicle ahead. When passing, move into the clear passing lane before accelerating, so the ACC does not intervene.

BMW Active Cruise Control - Passing

BMW says the ACC and DCC functions are intuitive to operate. Here is BMW’s description: “Pressing the Set/Res button applies the current riding speed as the set speed in the ACC/DCC control. By pressing the button again forwards (plus direction), the set speed can be increased. A short press increases the set speed by 1 mph. A long press of the button increases the set speed by 5 mph. If the rider keeps the button pressed, the set speed is increased in steps of 5 mph until the button is released. Pressing the Set/Res button to the rear (minus direction) reduces the set speed in the same way.”

There is also a two-level warning system to alert riders to potentially dangerous situations. The initial warning comes on when ACC is off and a vehicle ahead to too close, the light comes on. It will also alert the rider if the motorcycle’s speed drops below 11 mph when in the ACC mode. This is to prevent stalling.

BMW Active Cruise Control - Warning

The higher-level warning is when the vehicle ahead is too close for the ACC to adequately protect the rider. When this happens, to avoid a collision, the rider will have to apply more braking than ACC provides.

BMW and Bosch have not designed ACC to slow the motorcycle down for stationary vehicles, such as when approaching a controlled intersection or traffic. BMW Active Cruise Control only tracks moving vehicles, leaving it to the rider to slow the motorcycle for vehicles that are stopped. This is a reminder that the rider is always responsible for the motorcycle—not the safety systems.

BMW has not specified which motorcycles will be equipped with BMW Active Cruise Control, though the K touring models will likely be the first recipients of this safety technology.

BMW Active Cruise Control Photo Gallery