Open Source Motorcycle

May 06, 2013 View Comments by

Open Source MotorcycleOpen source (definition): a program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design free of charge, i.e., open. Open source code is typically created as a collaborative effort in which programmers improve upon the code and share the changes within the community. Open source sprouted in the technological community as a response to proprietary software owned by corporations. (from webopedia)

Computers are everywhere and they run practically everything. Even the smartphones that many of us have semi-permanently attached to our hands have more computing power than was available to NASA when they landed on the moon. If your motorcycle was built in the last decade or so, it’s probably similarly blessed in the number crunching department. All computers, from the one sitting on your desk to the one telling your spark plugs when to fire, run on software. And that software had to be written by someone. In the case of the computer on your desk, the software (or operating system) was written by a team of programmers, most likely at Microsoft or Apple, and neither company has much interest in letting Joe Schmo user fiddle with it much. The same is true of the ECU on your motorcycle.

There are, however, some tech savvy motorcyclists who have taken matters into their own hands. One of them is Yuval Naveh, inventor of the Stromputer. What is the Stromputer you ask? It’s an add on, open source computer for 2004-2011 V-Stroms that connects to a secondary display mounted to the handlebars. The display reports the bike’s current selected gear, ambient air temperature, and voltage output, information that is otherwise unavailable on a V-Strom. The project is ongoing, and as any open source system should be, constantly evolving. Perhaps the best part is that the goal of the Stromputer isn’t dollar signs, but simply the betterment of the motorcycle and of the motorcycling experience. But, as Naveh is quick to point out, the Stromputer is just the beginning. He envisions a future with open source ECUs, where engine management software is continuously changing and improving as enthusiasts around the world modify, and share, the code that runs their machines.

And it’s not just software that can be changed and developed by enterprising and talented individuals. Hardware and motorcycle accessories are also on the table. Cases in point, after an extremely close call on his motorcycle, Peter Olt invented the Screaming Banshee horn and Jonathan Ostojic, unable to find turn signals that suited his taste, created MuzaMoto. With the aid of many fellow motorcyclists and crowd sourced funding, there’s no longer a need to rely on big companies for innovative new ideas and products. In the future, maybe we’ll all have a say in the hardware and software that makes up our bikes. Perhaps customization will no longer mean simply a one-off paint job and a few farkles, but a completely unique motorcycle designed by and for its user.

If you’re interested in the Stromputer, check out its Google Code Site here.

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