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What Is An Odometer?
- May 27, 2022
- Views : 4970
- 2 min read
We’ve all heard this word in relation to our motorcycles. But what exactly does an odometer measure?
To understand what an odometer is, one need only look at the origin of the word. ‘Odometer’ is derived from two Greek words - ‘odos’ which means ‘street’ or ‘path’, and ‘meter’ which means ‘to measure’. So simply put, an odometer measures the path (or rather distance) a bike has traveled. You’ll find odometers as a smaller five or six digit readout (either digital or mechanical) as part of the instrument cluster.
Generally, an odometer measures the distance has traveled over the bike’s entire lifespan - from the time it rolls off the assembly line to the current date. Of course, depending on the number of digits the odometer can display, the odometer will roll back to zero once it crosses 99,999km/miles (if it has five digits) or 999,999km/miles (if it has six digits). If you want to measure shorter distances, such as a single ride, bikes will come with another one or two odometers which can be reset to zero manually by the rider. These odometers are referred to as ‘tripmeters’.
Odometers work by measuring the number of rotations that (usually) the front wheel completes, and multiplying that with the circumference of said wheel. Mechanical odometers have a physical linkage using gears and cables that physically connect the front wheel’s hub to a rotary counter in the instrument cluster. Digital odometers on the other hand use a magnetic or optical sensor at the bike’s front wheel to generate an electrical pulse every time the wheel completes a rotation. This information is collated by a microchip in the instrument cluster and displayed on a digital readout. This information is also stored in an electronic memory unit so that it isn’t lost each time the ignition is switched off and back on again.
Odometers and tripmeters are extremely essential parts of any motorcycle’s information display and help riders with tasks such as calculating fuel efficiency, understanding when to get the bike serviced as well as just giving an overall understanding of the bike’s age.
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