Does ABS on a Motorcycle really help?

We’ve had this discussion many times, and the answer as always seems to be ‘it depends’.

This blog was in response to Bruce Wilson (Ex-National Superstocks) from Motorcycle Sport and Leisure stating he couldn’t stop the ABS interfering last week on our track training day.

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It was coming on just as he was about to turn and we wondered why, but with a bit of thought decided it must be a ’tilt’ parameter on the latest Suzuki GSXR1000. We know KTM have a tilt, pitch and lean sensor on their ‘cornering ABS’, which has had rave reviews.

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For what is involved have a look at the Bosch website.

Normal ABS may well not work in a corner as the predominate force is radial, and a bit of braking can just exceed the available grip (Mohr’s Circle discussed before) and the tyre could slide sideways whilst still rotating and down you go.

Up to this point we had always said if the ABS comes on you’re not doing it right.

It is proven to work in a straight line to prevent wheels locking, but do you stop quicker? The answer is probably no looking at the bumf from Honda and Suzuki, who both state it does not mean you stop in a shorter distance. The question is why?

We think that simply grabbing the front brake brings the ABS on immediately and probably delays the weight transfer to the front wheel, which lengthens the stopping distance. And we now also appear to have the situation where rear wheel lift will set it off, when you can without it still be braking hard (for a bit longer).

So is it a good idea on a motorcycle? The answer is overall yes, particularly for less experienced riders, but it may lengthen you stopping distances for the skilled – and cornering ABS looks from the reviews simply amazing where a huge amount of skill and experience is needed braking whilst banked.

British Superbike School

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