Not that long ago IMU was a meaningless acronym. Now it’s fast becoming the key tech of 2017. Standing for Inertial Measurement Unit, IMUs are small electronic gizmos that hold the key to a host of next-generation technologies. The first appeared on top-end superbikes but for 2017 the technology is filtering down to much more mainstream models.
Combining accelerometers and gyros, IMUs can measure lean angles and acceleration in various directions – you’ll see them referred to as five-axis, six-axis or even nine-axis IMUs depending on the number of sensors they contain.
Since they know a motorcycle’s angle – both in terms of cornering lean and front-to-rear pitch – and can measure acceleration and cornering forces, IMUs are key to the latest traction control, cornering ABS, Launch Control/Assist Start and wheelie or stoppie-mitigation electronics.
Their sudden spread is largely down to the fact that one company, Bosch, supplies electronics to Traction-Control and ABS to virtually every motorcycle and scooter manufacturer. As ABS is becoming mandatory in the European two-wheel market from 2017 it’s no surprise that companies who turn to Bosch for their anti-lock systems (ABS) are opting to upgrade to the latest cornering ABS set-ups featuring IMUs.