Harley-Davidson Just Patented Fake Brakes For Electric Motorcycles

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Brakes, they’re all the rage these days. The Youths love brakes, as they help you stop, not hit things, for things not to hit you, and generally keep you alive. They’re great. We love brakes.

But do you know what brakes also do? Cost companies a lot of money. And the complexity of a hydraulic braking system adds further issues. At least, that’s the argument Harley-Davidson’s definitely-not-a-Harley-Davidson LiveWire brand makes in this extremely wild patent for “Virtual Brakes.”

Who knew brakes were such a hassle?

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According to the patent description, “Mechanical, frictional brakes, such as hydraulic brakes, add cost and weight, which can impact the performance of a vehicle, especially electric vehicles, such as electric motorcycles. Furthermore, mechanical, frictional brakes dissipate kinetic energy, which otherwise could be used to charge an electric power store included in the vehicle, which may otherwise limit the range and operation of an electric vehicle.”

The description then adds, “Accordingly, embodiments described herein provide methods and systems for regeneratively braking at least one wheel of a vehicle, such as, for example, an electric motorcycle. In some embodiments, regenerative braking is used as the sole mechanism to brake a wheel of the vehicle, such as the rear wheel of a motorcycle. Replacing a rear hydraulic brake with regenerative braking reduces the cost, weight, and complexity of the vehicle, which, as noted above, impacts the performance of the vehicle.”

Emphasis mine.

But yeah, it really seems as if LiveWire wants to do away with the company’s rear brake setups for a fully “virtual” regenerative setup. 

Now, before we get all alarmist in the comments, one-pedal driving has been around for a while now. BMW is famous for advertising that its EVs have such strong regen capabilities that drivers don’t need to use the brake pedal. But what I haven’t seen are EVs that offer such capability actually removing said brake setups as LiveWire is indicating it wants to do. They’re there for safety, you know, if something goes wrong. 

And for what it’s worth, it doesn’t sound like LiveWire wants to do away with the front brake. But that’s one fewer braking system that I’ve come to rely on in my motorcycling career. 

There is a bright side to the patent, though, as it also describes a “virtual clutch” that would offer riders more control over the electric motorcycle. Woo? I mean, that’s cool and all, but I’m still stuck on “virtual brakes.”

I tend to be in the brakes are good category and that mechanical redundancy is also, as you’d expect, good. So I’m not too sure about this, LiveWire…

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