- Original Paper
- Open Access
Objective and subjective evaluation of an advanced motorcycle riding simulator
© The Author(s) 2010
- Received: 27 April 2010
- Accepted: 2 November 2010
- Published: 26 November 2010
This paper outlines the characteristics of a top-of-the range motorcycle simulator designed and built at the University of Padua over a period of several years last years; it consists of a motorcycle mock-up with functional throttle, brakes, clutch and gearlever mounted on a five ‘degrees of freedom’ platform, a real-time multibody model of the motorcycle and an audio and visual systems. The applications of the simulator are to test devices such as ABS, traction control and other ARAS in a controlled, safe environment, to study riders’ behaviour and to train them. The aim is to find a procedure to validate the behaviour of a Motorcycle Riding Simulator with a real PTWs.
An innovative procedure for the objective and subjective validation of motorcycle simulators has been developed and implemented, in order to be able to apply the results obtained on the simulator to the real world.
The evaluation of objective and subjective data collected shows that the proposed simulator is adequate for handling tests. The proposed method is suitable to be extended to vehicle simulator in general.
The development work done by University of Padova provides an innovative and reliable tool for the validation of a motorcycle riding simulator.
- Powered two wheelers (PTWs)
Nowadays, powered two-wheeler vehicles (PTW) are widely used not only for pleasure, but also for increasing mobility in the crowded urban and sub-urban roads of many European towns. For several reasons, PTW dynamics and safety have not been investigated as much as with four-wheeled vehicles, despite the fact that riders are among the most vulnerable road users. Therefore the development of devices aimed at improving the comfort and safety of PTWs, as well as investigating the behavioural factors that contribute to crashes, are important areas for research. Moreover, the roll degree of freedom which makes PTWs quick and prompt on urban roads and diverting on the rural track has some safety implications which require new riders to receive proper training. Unfortunately it is not easy to train new riders in dangerous situations, such as riding on a slippery road or emergency braking. From this point of view riding simulators may help both as a training tool and in the development of innovative devices aimed at improving rider safety.
It is worth noting that motorcycle riding simulators are not as widespread as aircraft and car driving simulators, and therefore the current selection is not very rich. Honda started to develop a series of motorcycle simulators in 1988; its first prototype consisted of a 5 DOF mock-up (lateral, yaw, roll, pitch and steer motions on a swinging system for the longitudinal acceleration restitution) and was based on a linear 4 DOF motorcycle dynamics model. In 1996, as a consequence of the change of the Japanese Road Traffic Act which required the use of simulators in riding schools lessons, Honda put a mass-produced model on the market. This second prototype had a simplified 3 DOF mock-up (roll, pitch and steer motions) and it was based on a properly tuned empirical motorcycle model. In 2002, Honda developed a third prototype which consisted of a 6 DOF plan manipulator for the mock-up motion, a head mounted display for visual projection, a 4 DOF model for the lateral motorcycle dynamics and a 1 DOF model for the longitudinal dynamics [1, 2]. The Department of Innovation in Mechanics and Management (DIMEG) of Padua University began the development of a riding simulator in 2000 and presented the first prototype in 2003 . In 2003, PERCRO laboratory also presented its riding simulator with a real scooter mock-up mounted on a steward platform , and in 2007 INRETS presented a riding simulator based on a 5 DOF platform and a linear 5 DOF motorcycle mathematical model .
The DIMEG motorcycle simulator has been developed to test devices such as ABS, traction control and other ARAS in a controlled, safe environment, to study riders’ behaviour and to train them. It is possible to reproduce and consequently analyse the most critical and risky situations that a normal rider will find every day on all roads. However, in order to apply the results obtained by the studies on the riding simulator to a real motorcycle it is necessary that the behaviour of both simulator and motorcycle are the same. Since there are very few studies focussing on motorcycle simulators and in particular on their validation, this paper proposes an innovative procedure for both objective and subjective validation and reports the results of its application to the DIMEG simulator. Fine tuning and validation activities were performed inside the 2BeSafe project in the Seventh European Framework Programme (theme 7—sustainable surface transport), and commenced in January 2009. 2BeSafe is a collaborative research project and its objective is to conduct behavioural and ergonomic research in order to develop countermeasures for enhancing powered two-wheeler (PTW) riders’ safety, including research into crash causes and human errors and the world’s first naturalistic riding study involving instrumented PTWs.
This paper first describes the DIMEG simulator, then explains the proposed validation methodology and illustrates the data collected during objective and subjective evaluation.
The rider’s control actions are transferred to the real-time multibody model of the motorcycle which has a 14 ‘degrees of freedom’ model, includes a realistic model of the suspension, clutch, engine, tires and a 3-D road, and has been optimised for real-time performance. The simulated dynamics are then filtered by the washout and converted into references for the motion and visual cues. Motion cues are generated by the servomotors that drive 5 axes of the mock motorcycle; the roll, pitch, yaw and steer rotations plus the lateral displacement. The different subsystems are described in detail below.
2.1 Motorcycle mock-up
The rider rides a motorcycle mock-up equipped with all of the commands available on a real bike. In particular, the rider’s actions are monitored by measuring the steering torque, leaning of the body, throttle position, front brake lever and rear brake pedal pressures, clutch position and gearshift lever position.
The simulator includes an audio-visual system; in particular, the scenario is projected onto three widescreens measuring 1.5 × 2 m2 placed in front of the rider. The 5.1 surround sound system reproduces engine sound previously recorded on a real motorcycle for a range of engine rpm.
2.2 Real-time multibody model
The mathematical model is non linear and has 14 DOF (see Fig. 3), corresponding to the position and orientation of the chassis, the steering angle, the front and rear suspension travels, the front and rear wheel rotations, the engine spin rate, the front fork bending deflection and the sprocket absorber deflection. There are 7 motorcycle inputs: steering torque, throttle position, rear and front brake torques, gears selected, clutch position and the foot pegs effort (as an indirect measure of the rider’s torso motion). Suspensions and tires are modelled in detail, as well as the clutch, the gearbox and the engine. More details are given in references [9, 10].
2.3 Washout filter
It has been found that moving the simulator like a real motorcycle to the greatest possible extent does not give the best riding feeling, so gains and other adjustable parameters of the washout filter have been tuned using a trial-and-error procedure based on the subjective evaluation of feelings. Appropriate tuning leaded to a different washout for the visual and motion screens; as an example, while cornering, the roll angle is divided into two parts: the biggest one is used to tilt the virtual horizon on the screen, while a smaller part is used to give a motion cue by rolling the mock-up motorcycle. This solution is particularly useful while using the new visual system composed of three widescreens and a large field of view (FOV).
Motorcycle riding simulators are more recent than car and truck simulators, so they still need to be tuned to make them suitable for use in studies into rider behaviour. The challenge is to find an optimal compromise in the rendering of the simulator which allows the riders to feel as if they are riding an actual PTW and at the same time allows them to succeed in mastering the PTW as easily as they can master an actual one (at least for normal riding situations). To attain this goal, the following procedure has been iteratively applied: the first step is the fine-tuning of the motion, sound and visual rendering devices, which has been done experimentally using a small group of highly skilled riders; the second step is the simulator validation, conducted by comparing the behaviours, performances and self-reported impressions of a wider group of riders of different ages, experience and skill. The validation, which of course is the most important aspect, is based on two complementary concepts: the objective validation, where some objective, carefully selected parameters are compared between motorcycle and simulator test sessions and the subjective validation, where the riding feeling is evaluated by means of the subjective rating of test subjects.
the perception of the speed;
the braking feeling and the feeling while riding on bumpy roads;
the feeling during transient cornering;
the vehicle responsiveness during lane changes, overtaking and obstacle avoidance manoeuvres;
the riding experience at low speed.
Besides the identification of the most suitable washout filter parameters, the tuning phase demonstrated that foot pegs control is very important for the improvement of rider feeling in transient motion and that the projection system using 3 widescreens greatly improved speed perception, even if it did increase simulator sickness.
After the completion of tuning, a final validation was conducted using a sample group of riders of different ages and levels of experience and skill. This was done by considering both objective and subjective data, as explained in detail in the next sections.
3.2 Objective evaluation
Slalom (three different cone distances);
Lane change (two different lane geometries);
Steady turning (three radii);
The above manoeuvres are also part of the set of manoeuvres commonly used by motorcycle manufacturers to develop their own vehicles. Tests were carried out by two skilled riders. The motorcycle used for the tests was equipped with a special handlebar with steering torque and steering angle sensor, foot pegs with load cells, GPS and an inertial measurement unit with accelerometers and gyrometers.
The slalom test was performed with three different distances between the cones on a straight line at established speeds.
Slalom indices: comparison between motorcycle and simulator
Aprilia Mana 850
Aprilia Mana 850
Aprilia Mana 850
Av. speed [m/s]
Steer Torque [Nm]
Steer angle [°]
Lane change indices: comparison between motorcycle and simulator
3 × 14
3 × 21
Aprilia Mana 850
Aprilia Mana 850
Steady state circular test indices: comparison between motorcycle and simulator
Aprilia Mana 850
Aprilia Mana 850
Aprilia Mana 850
3.3 Subjective evaluation
The aim of subjective evaluation is the enhancement of riding sensations in terms of visuals, acoustics and motion cues. It is worth highlighting that each different kind of cue has different physical and technological limitations; in particular, for visual cues there are limitations due to the need to stay true to the scenario being represented, as well as technological limitations in terms of resolution and the brightness capabilities of the visual devices. For acoustic cues there are technological limitations in the reproduction of the sound and noises of the environment; for motion cues there are both technological and (more problematic) physical limitations; indeed, the reproduction of acceleration is partial in amplitude and duration since the travel of the motorcycle mock-up is limited. Further limitations on the acceleration frequency bandwidth depend on the power of the simulator motor.
The riding sensations of the test riders have been collected by means of a questionnaire, which includes both technical questions and questions about perception and cognitive processes. The questionnaire was developed with the aid of two skilled riders who are also experts in motorcycle dynamics. The questionnaire (shown in Appendix 1) focuses on different aspects and situations including speed perception, the feeling accompanying braking and acceleration, the feelings of cornering and overtaking and obstacle avoidance. Moreover, for each situation is rated the fidelity of the simulator response to the rider input, the motion cues (in particular roll motion feeling and longitudinal acceleration feeling), and the audio/visual cues. The final validation was conducted on a wider user group of 20 subjects, aged between 20 and 60 years old, with different levels of riding experience but a minimum of 2,000 km per year. They had all held a valid riding license for at least 2 years, and were accompanied by a highly experienced rider (to avoid special biases induced by inexperience, problems with learning and becoming familiar with the equipment etc.). The test protocol is reported in Appendix 2.
The paper has presented the main features of the motorcycle riding simulator developed by the University of Padova, proposed a method for the objective and subjective evaluation of simulator riding feeling and presented the results of the validation of the DIMEG simulator conducted using a group of 20 riders of different levels of experience. The tests outlined have been done inside the 2BeSafe project in the Seventh European Framework Programme (theme 7—sustainable surface transport), and commenced in January 2009. 2BeSafe is a collaborative research project and its objective is to conduct behavioural and ergonomic research in order to develop countermeasures for enhancing the safety of powered two wheeler (PTW) riders. This has included research into crash causes and human errors, and the world’s first naturalistic riding study involving instrumented PTWs.
Objective validation demonstrated that the DIMEG motorcycle simulator reproduces with good approximation the physics of a real motorcycle. Subjective validation showed that, at the end of a trial and error tuning procedure, the audio visual experience and feelings of movement perceived by the rider had been remarkable increased. In particular, the riding experience has been improved by the installation of the visual system using three widescreens and the introduction of foot peg control.
This project has been partially supported by 2BeSafe, grant agreement number 218703.
- Chiyoda S, Yoshimoto K, Kawasaki D, Murakami Y, Sugimoto T (2000) Development of a motorcycle simulator using parallel manipulator and head mounted display. Driving Simulator Conference, DSC 2000, Paris, France, September 6–7Google Scholar
- Miyamaru Y, Yamasaky G, Aoky K (2002) Development of motorcycle riding simulator. JSAE Rev 23:121–126View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Cossalter V, Lot R, Doria A (2003) Sviluppo di un simulatore di guida motociclistico. Proc. of the 16th AIMETA Congress of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Ferrara, Italy, September 9–12 2003Google Scholar
- Ferrazzin D, Barbagli F, Avizzano C, Pietro G, Bergamasco M (2003) Designing new commercial motorcycles through a highly reconfigurable virtual reality-based simulator. J Adv Robot 17(4):293–318View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Nehaoua L, Hima S, Arioui H, Seguy N, Éspié S (2007) Design and modelling of a new motorcycle riding simulator. Proc. of the American Control Conference, New York City, USA, July 11–13 2007Google Scholar
- Cossalter V, Lot R, Sartori R, Massaro R. A motorcycle riding simulator for the improvement of the rider safety. FISITA F 2008-11-015Google Scholar
- Cossalter V, Lot R, Doria A, Maso M (2006) A motorcycle riding simulator for assessing the riding ability and for testing rider assistance systems. 9th Driving Simulation Conference, Paris, France, October 4–6 2006Google Scholar
- Cossalter V, Doria A, Lot R (2004) Development and validation of a motorcycle riding simulator. FISITA, BarcelonaGoogle Scholar
- Cossalter V, Lot R (2002) A motorcycle multi-body model for real time simulations based on the natural coordinates approach. Veh Syst Dyn 37(6):423–448Google Scholar
- Cossalter V, Lot R, Maggio F (2003) A multibody code for motorcycle handling and stability analysis with validation and examples of application. Small Engine Technology Conference & Exhibition, Madison, WI, USA, September 2003, SAE 2003-32-0035/20034335Google Scholar
- Koch J (1978) Experimentelle und analytische untersuchungen des motorrad-fahrer systems. Dissertation, BerlinGoogle Scholar
- Zellner J, Weir D (1978) Development of handling test procedures for motorcycles. Warrendale, PA, SAE 780313Google Scholar
- Weir DH, Zellner JW (1979) Motorcycle handling - volume I: summary report. U.S. Department of Transportation, 001-05, DOT HS-804 190 MISCGoogle Scholar
- Weir DH, Zellner JW, Teper GL (1978) Motorcycle handling - volume II: technical report, U.S. Department of Transportation, No. 1086-1Google Scholar
- Rice RS (1978) Rider skill influences on motorcycle manoeuvring. Warrendale, PA, SAE 780312Google Scholar
- Kuroiwa O, Baba M, Nakata N (1995) Study of motorcycle handling characteristics and rider feeling during lane change. Warrendale, PA, SAE 950200Google Scholar
- Bunz D, Klasen M, Schaffler A (2004) Determination of parameters for objective evaluation of motorcycles driving dynamics behaviour. 5th International Motorcycle Conference, Munich, Germany, Sept 2004Google Scholar
- Varat M, Husher S, Shuman K, Kerkhoff J (2004) Rider inputs and powered two wheeler response for pre-crash manoeuvres. Proceedings of the 2004 International Motorcycle Safety Conference (Institut Fur Zweiradsicherheit e.v., Munich, Germany)Google Scholar
- Cossalter V (2002) Motorcycle dynamics. Race Dynamics, GreendaleGoogle Scholar
- Sharp R (1997) Design for good motorcycle handling qualities. Warrendale, PA, SAE972124Google Scholar
- Cossalter V, Da Lio M, Lot R, Fabbri L (1999) A general method for the evaluation of vehicle manoeuvrability with special emphasis on motorcycles. Veh Syst Dyn 31(2):113–135View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Roe GE, Thorpe TE (1980) Improvements to the stability, handling, and braking of high-performance motorcycles. Motorcycle Safety Foundation Int. Conference, Washington Proceedings, 565–597Google Scholar
- Schweers TF, Remde D (1993) Objective assessment of motorcycle manoeuvrability. Warrendale, PA, SAE 950200Google Scholar
- Cossalter V, Lot R, Doria A, Maso M (2006) A motorcycle riding simulator for assessing the riding ability and for testing rider assistance systems. 9th Driving Simulation Conference, Paris, France, October 4-6 2006Google Scholar
- Sadauckas J, Cossalter V (2006) Elaboration and quantitative assessment of manoeuvrability for motorcycle lane change. Vehicle System Dynamics: International Journal of Vehicle Mechanics and Mobility 44(12):903–920 ISSN 0042-3114Google Scholar
- Cossalter V, Lot R, Peretto M (2007) Motorcycles steady turning. Journal of Automobile Engineering 221(Part D):1343–1356Google Scholar
- Cossalter V, Doria A, Lot R (1999) Steady turning of two wheeled vehicles. Veh Syst Dyn 31(3):157–181View ArticleGoogle Scholar
This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.