Michelin is known primarily for three things: its tires, its restaurant guides and its iconic Michelin Man mascot, an anthropomorphic tire stack known initially as “Bibendum” in France. But as Motorcycle.com has discovered, the company has a new patent that could revolutionize the world of motorcycling — and make them far more comfortable to live with.
Many motorcycles don’t have a reverse gear. It’s not a huge problem for smaller, lightweight bikes, but for heavier ones, walking the bike around for low-speed maneuvers (like backing up to a gas pump or parking space, or loading a motorcycle onto a trailer) can be a pain.
Michelin’s solution, simply enough, calls for a roller powered by a tiny electric motor. The roller would press against the wheel with the flick of a handlebar-mounted switch, delivering up to three lb-ft of torque, moving the bike at about 0.6 mph. It’s not a lot of oomph, but enough to make it much easier to walk the bike around.
The roller would use a rechargeable 3.6-volt lithium-ion battery pack, fit under the fender or mudguard on the rear wheel and mount to the swingarm. The entire unit would easily attach and be self-contained and designed to fit several different bikes, making it a compelling third-party accessory.
Of course, a patent does not mean the idea will go into production — automotive engineers come up with a whole bunch of wacky ideas that are interesting but never make it into vehicles. This one, though, feels simple, practical and very easily attainable.