Kymco Focused on Two-Wheel Connectivity

Connectivity is beginning to make inroads into the motor cycle market with several manufacturers boasting comprehensive infotainment packages on their range-topping cruiser tourers and large capacity adventure models.

Yet, it’s the commuter scooter market that could be at the vanguard of driving connected services for two-wheelers especially with manufacturers like Taiwan’s Kymco brand. The bike maker is the first to bring built-in satellite navigation to the UK roads on its Noodoe connectivity system available on it 125i and maxi scooter AK 550.

Not unlike the systems most motorists have become familiar with in automobiles, the Noodoe is a Bluetooth smartphone app-run system boasting an in-built colour screen in the dashboard controlled by three switches next to the rider’s right thumb.  Various screens can show a weather forecast, a digital speedometer, a trip computer and a “Smart Compass’ navigation system.

However, with rider safety in mind, the Smart Compass does not show a traditional map or street, so as not to distract the rider but, instead, only shows the distance and relative direction of the destination that was chosen through the app. It also displays points of interest, such a fuel stations, and also helps the user to find their scooter using a compass indicator on the app to the last place they parked. The system will also show the full range of social media, phone and email notifications but, crucially, only when the bike has been stopped again to avoid the possibility of distraction.

There is also a social function to the system currently being used in Asia as explained by Gareth Hughes Kymco UK’s area sales manager. Speaking to TU-Automotive at Motor Cycle Live 2018, he said: “I can see that because Noodoe in the Far East at the moment has a system where if your friend has the Noodoe app and he says he’s at the coffee shop, you just push a button and the sat-nav will direct you to where your friend is.”

Connectivity also brings over-the-air (OTA) potential to two wheelers, said Hughes. He added: “We’ve found numerous benefits including when the AK 550 first came out there was a problem where the ignition key wouldn’t always click in the right place but, once it was connected to a smartphone, the update was downloaded and the problem solved. So, there’s no more need to go back to the dealer and sitting there for an hour while they diagnose the issue. I sat in a Ford dealer the other day waiting for an update on my van’s system and, yet, I have a bike at home that will do that in 10 minutes.”

The system also boasts a degree of personalization where users can customize the look of each display screen changing the color and design of the screens, employing your own photographs if desired, through their smartphone app and then and uploading it to their scooter. There is also an online library that enables users to share designs.

Hughes thinks the increased use of connected services will serve as a marketing tool for future products. He said: “We believe this facility will be a big marketing benefit and we will be rolling this system out through all the bikes very soon. This would especially be true with the electric bikes used for a commercial business. When you have the likes of Deliveroo, Just Eat and so on, the delivery driver doesn’t have to have the sat-nav perched on the handlebars anymore and has an inbuilt dashboard telling him where to go, it’s a lot safer for everyone.”

Away from the practical city scooters, Kymco has also unveiled its SuperNEX full EV race replica model as yet without a market launch date. It claims superbike matching performance of 0-62mph in 2.9secs, 0-124mph in 7.5secs and 0-155mph in 10.9secs. Sports bike features include a six-speed gearbox and slipper clutch but also a programmable acoustic generator to drown out the soulless whine of an electric motor.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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