One day, as I sat in a plastic chair at the department of motor vehicles, the stillness of my seemingly interminable wait was interrupted when a young man with metal pins and rods attached to one of his arms hobbled stiffly into the room. He was on crutches, the skin on his face and arms covered with the dark red crust of recent abrasions.
He sat down a few seats from me, clutching a pile of black and white rags. My curiosity got the best of me.
“Man, what happened to you?” I asked him. He told me.
He had been riding his motorcycle home from his job at a catering gig the next town over. He was wearing a tuxedo and a nylon backpack. It was after midnight and the highway was clear. He was going about 70 mph.
Just as he crested a slight ridge, the front wheel of his bike hit a pothole. The violence of the impact wrenched the handlebars from his hands. A few seconds later, the bike went down, smashing his wrist and lower leg. As he slid across several hundred feet of pavement, he pivoted onto his back, letting the backpack wear away on the rough surface instead of his skin.
When I saw him in the DMV, the rags he was holding were all that was left of his tux. I asked him if he’d ever ride again, and he assured me that he’d climb back on as soon as he could. He was one of those lifelong fanatics who couldn’t imagine not riding a motorcycle while still physically able.
“I’ll never stop riding,” he said. “I’ve been riding a long time, and I’ve learned that every single time you get on a motorcycle, you have to be prepared to get in the gnarliest wreck you’ve ever been in.”
High-tech Jarvish Helmet Debuted at CES
He was right, of course. Even the best rider can suffer the consequences of road conditions or another motorist’s inattention. That’s why a rider must always be as alert as possible. Like they told us when I took a motorcycle safety course, you always have to look forward, making a note of your peripheral vision as you scan the road ahead for potential hazards.
That can be challenging when you have to check gauges or GPS directions, or simply take a gander at the time. That’s why the Jarvish smart helmet could be the most clever motorcycle safety innovation since the fully enclosed helmet itself came onto the scene. It encloses hands-free electronics into a carbon-fiber shell, including a microphone and speakers that allow the rider to use Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri to control music, access weather reports, and get step-by-step navigational guidance.
There are two models: the Jarvish X and the more feature-laden Jarvish X-AR. The X model, which retails at $699, includes a front-facing 2K camera for recording rides. The X-AR sells for $1,599 and adds a rear-facing camera feeding a rearview mirror-like screen, as well as a retractable head-up display that shows the rider speed, directions, weather info, and other parameters.
The X-AR was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2019. Although a crowdfunding campaign has already kicked off and pre-orders are being taken, the high-tech helmets are not yet available.
Of course, none of this would likely have kept the DMV rider from his close encounter with a rogue pothole. But having the ability to keep eyes planted on the road ahead can help any rider avoid a potential catastrophe.