Virtual Reality: The Next Motorcycle Frontier

It’s been almost four years since Victory Motorcycle teamed up with Oculus Rift to produce a virtual motorcycle ride. Participants sat on a Victory bike and wore the Oculus Rift apparatus. The ride began when they were dropped off the back of a trailer (while sitting on a static Victory bike) ready to ride the Needles Highway through the Badlands to Sturgis.

The Rift gave “riders” three-dimensional, 360-degree images with throttle control, sound effects, and the vibrations of a speeding motorcycle via a “tactile transducer.”

Victory Motorcycle introduced the mashup in March, 2015, at the Chicago International Motorcycle Show and almost three hundred people tried it; three-fourths of them had never ridden a Victory bike. Since then, other companies, such as Cruden, have continued to develop this particular technology.

An Oculus device is like half-helmet, half-3D glasses. It immerses you in sound and visuals while you use mouse and keyboard to control your experience. The Oculus Go is less expensive and doesn’t require a power-packed PC to enjoy the free experiences—and you can buy more apps and games. It runs on a lithium battery. It responds to your head’s rotation using what’s called “inside-out tracking” and is ideal for seated games and apps. The Oculus Rift, on the other hand, runs through your PC. This more-powerful device adjusts what you see depending on where you are in space using external sensors and outside-in tracking that gives you six degrees of freedom of movement. This means you can manipulate objects in VR with your hands as though you are actually touching them. Coming this year, is the Oculus Quest that will combine features of both existing headsets.

You know those arcade games that have a mock bike and a giant TV screen to sort of make it seem you’re riding as you lean into turns, accelerate, and brake? Well, a guy named Luis Sobral has been working to replace the TV screen with an Oculus Rift to add a motion-tracking visual and audio system.

But you don’t have to wait for Sobral’s invention to hit the arcades. You can find several apps for the Oculus Rift online with a simple Google search.

It’s fun to imagine what might be yet to come. Done right, the Rift could be a wonderful thing for older folks who can’t ride anymore, or for training kids to do things right, or for… well, use your imagination!

And, of course, there are lots of motorcycle race games for your standard games controller. But sometimes it’s fun to look at what’s coming down the pike.

Let us know what you think about VR motorcycling on the Eagle Leather Facebook page.