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ABS is no substitute for good training - two experts say

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by robsalvv, Oct 24, 2011.

  1. #1 robsalvv, Oct 24, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2015

    The Great European Poker Run

    15th October 2011

    The European Commission’s proposal for the Approval and Market Surveillance of two or three-wheel vehicles and quadricycles is moving through the European processes. The next stage sees a vote in the IMCO (Internal Market and Consumer Protection) committee scheduled for November 22nd, before going to the European Parliament.

    Although the proposals were aimed at simplifying legislation, the Commission included so-called safety technology such as the mandatory application of Advanced Braking Systems (ABS).

    The argument that the Commission, the Rapporteur of the IMCO committee Wim van de Camp and the Department for Transport in the UK have used, is that ABS will reduce around 20% of fatalities over the next ten years.
    Until now, we have stayed away from the “safety” debate regarding ABS, because there is a general consensus that overall, they do help in certain conditions to stop the motorcycle and help to stop loss of control.

    To balance the debate, we have asked the views of two highly respected motorcycle trainers: David Hough – U.S. Motorcycle Trainer, writer and journalist and David McGuckin - Northern Ireland Motorcycle Training Instructor.

    Both give us their insight into ABS from their knowledge and experience and both have come to very similar conclusions.

    David Hough, “Rather than attempt to make up for rider lack of braking skill by incorporating “safety” devices into the machine, I suggest training riders to manage the situation, including skilled throttle-to-brake transitions, and independent front-rear braking”.

    David McGuckin, “My firm opinion is that mandatory ABS is going to do very little for accident reduction unless very expensive training is also mandatory. It’s strange that we can force everybody to pay more for expensive technology but not to be able to train people to use what we already have properly!”

    Our experts have indicated that training is a far better option than mandating ABS technology.

    However European Commission has stated that it will maintain its position NOT to include items such as training in the proposal that are irrelevant to technically approve a motorcycle.

    In its opinion on the Commission’s proposals, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) agrees with the proposals in reference to ABS, but it also reiterates the need to properly evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the different systems, depending on the different products and their usage patterns.

    In this respect, the EESC supports a technology-neutral approach in the area of advanced braking systems, in order to provide manufacturers with the necessary flexibility and stimulate innovation, in the interest of the consumer. This is what we have consistently argued.

    However we also believe that the inclusion of ABS in the proposals is not just an issue of cost, but a means by which the Commission and Parliament can state that they have done their part to reduce motorcycle casualties.

    In our opinion, statements that ABS will reduce casualties by 20% over the next 10 years is reckless because it may lead motorcyclists and safety organizations to believe that ABS will reduce casualties in ALL braking situations, rather than stop the motorcycle safely in specific scenarios.

    Along with David Hough and David McGuckin, our opinion is that ABS is not THE panacea to reduce motorcycle casualties that our friends in Brussels would have us believe.

    = = = = = = = = = =

    Well, if you've been paying attention, my opinion on this topic is clear. ABS is not a panacea and it's not a replacement for good technique. Nice to see that I'm not alone.

    And one of my concerns about how ABS could be perceived is actually being used as a marketing ploy by Indian motorcycle manufacturer RTR... which says that ABS allows you late deep braking into corners allowing you to approach at higher speed. The inference is that this can become your basic technique... risk compensation anyone?

    The Apache also comes with anti rear wheel lift... late deep braking might not be advised on tight downhill twisties!


    On a positive not, the ABS is switchable.
  2. Great article, but i cant help but get a feeling of "captain obvious" whilst reading the article. ABS is no substitute for good skills, its complementary.
  3. Agree Matt, but the pollies in Brussels are convinced ABS will fix a multitude of sins so it should be mandated.

    The boffins who are pushing for the legislation counter any anti ABS argument with the technophobic counter argument... one that's been run at depth here on NR by pro ABS riders... "people who are against ABS are just fearing the technology".

    Seriously, give us some credit.
  4. Pollies want to legislate abs because its easy and theyre seen to be doing something even tho they know it wont work.
    Advanced training is hard to get people to do even tho it will work.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. You know my view on this one Rob. I 100% agree with you that having ABS is NOT a substitute for learning correct braking. However, having ABS doesn't mean you are instantly unwilling to learn how to brake correctly.

    If that is true, this it's a ****ing DISGRACE.

    EDIT: Having Pollies decide that including ABS over Training is stupid, lazy, and I believe negligent. I believe it should be: FIRST, Training, SECOND, switchable ABS.
  6. I've been saying that for over 20 years.

    So that would be three experts then.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. It's true. Check out the youtube link when you get a chance.

    Higher speeds uses up more traction, which is the dog in the cornering equation, while braking is the tail... ABS will not manage corner traction for you, no braking skill will.
  9. Talk about a push poll question! Are you deliberately trying to be provocative? Wow, if you said that on netrider you'd be getting torn a new rear end.

    I totally and utterly reject the fundamental premise of your question and shudder to consider what assumptions it belies in your own mind.

    ABS is like protective gear, educate and let the rider choose. The ABS studies are seriously confounded - they do not indicate a causal reduction in fatalities. ABS will stop a bike from capsizing - however MAIDS and HURT do not indicate upwards of 30% of fatalities were due to capsizing. ABS will not fix up braking errors. No re-interpretation of MAIDS and HURT show that ABS would have broadly corrected braking errors that lead to fatality.

    I'll say it again, ABS is like protective gear, it has a place, however educate and let the rider choose.
  10. Just watched it. <shaking head>. I was happy enough with the wet straight line stuff they did (except for that fact that when doing it with the non ABS bike, I noticed that when the front wheel locked, they just kept squeezing instead of releasing and reapplying) but suggesting that it can be used to improve lap times! Taking that on the road simply equates to people pushing harder (as you've been saying). WRONG approach IMO.
  11. I've had two crashes that ABS would probably have saved me from - both were circumstances that involved oil on the road at fairly low speeds. They were circumstances where no amount of braking skill would have saved me.

    However I agree with Rob about mandating it. Teaching people how to brake is far more important and would be a lot cheaper and a lot more useful than mandating ABS - having said that, I would happily option switchable ABS on any new bike I bought.

    Something that doesn't get through to decision makers is that ABS was never intended to be about shortening braking distances. The original concept was to retain enough traction under heavy brakes for a car to swerve around an obstacle. Unfortunately motorcycles don't behave the same way as cars.

  12. Huh, that's the beauty of giving people the choice. You say that ABS doesn't work, well if it doesn't then people can get training to be exempt. Why is training bad?

    We don't give people the choice whether to take training on how to drive a manual car, riding a bike without abs does take more skill than riding one with, just like driving a manual takes more skill than a auto.

    That's a nice stick to get people to do training. Training is available now but not everyone does it. You might say educate people on the value of training to get them to do it but realistically how cost effective is that going to be.

    Not being provocative, well not deliberately at least, its an emotional issue so it is difficult not to be.

    Agree that ABS is not cure for everything that is why we need to get better cures in such as training. Your experts confirm this is what is needed.
  13. Haha certification to be exempt from ABS. Thats a touch ludicrous. Im not for ABS being mandatory, but i wont get my knickers in a knot if they decide to do it, provided its safeguarded sufficiently. The only training certificate should be a motorcycle competenancy......which should be more detailed than it currently is.
  14. I think that is the issue. The fact is that the ABS will only help in SOME circumstances. I think that Rob has been banging on about is that (some) people will get ABS, and think that it will save them, so they don't need training etc. I don't think the argument of Manual v Auto is a relevant one here. If you don't have correct braking technique, ABS will not help you (most of the time).

    EDIT: if you said that "stopping a bike in the wet in a straight line is easier with ABS than without" I would fully agree with you.
  15. I am agreeing with Rob and you that ABS won't save you in all circumstances, I am also agreeing that training is better than abs.

    How many riders do neither because they think that they are too good for either? A lot of these riders will rather have training than ABS, hence a lot, perhaps most, will prefer this and get training. This will get a skilled riding community which is what we are arguing for.

    A few will forget the training and get the ABS, these riders will be no worse off than now. The article in the OP does not say that ABS is worse than nothing, just that training is better.

    So in all we have a safer riding community.

    We can claim that riders could be convinced to obtain the relevant training without government intervention, but that is the situation now and so many don't.
  16. Fair point. Thanks.

    -- Sent from the year 2319 using Tapatalk (if you can read this, I finally got my flux capacitor working)

  17. Those who promote ABS as a panacea, rather than an option worth thinking about, have a fundamentally flawed understanding.

    Motorcycle ABS is sold as a safety feature - a feature which avoids a capsize from locking the wheel/s in dry or wet conditions, thus allowing a rider to brake hard fearlessly. Is this a good basic mental position to have while riding a bike? If you have such fears about capsizing then buy ABS. Does this mean you're a better braker? No. You could however do your riding a bigger service and get some skills. If you're more broadly conservative, you'd do both. Good for you.

    By the way, all those ABS skid pan videos show brilliantly how well ABS works. No two ways about it. They show two bikes hitting the skid pan at the same speed and snapping on the brake. :-k Why would you approach a known low traction environment at an inappropriate speed? ...you can if you have ABS. :woot: Is that really a message you want to give riders in order to promote a "safety" feature?

    The safety message has become distorted... just like in the TVS RTR Apache 180 video linked earlier. In order to drive the technology into biking, riders are being hoodwinked.
  18. I think ABS is a useful tool and my next bike will most probably have ABS

    But here's an interesting thought: The ABS sensor is currently playing up on my car.
    It's engaging the ABS in certain situations when I'm nowhere even close to the limit of traction. Typically when applying maybe 10% brake force at lowish speeds.
    That's a little disconcerting in a car, but no big deal. Just an annoyance I need to have fixed.
    It'd be downright horrible on a bike
  19. Where did I say I was forcing them to spend $1000 on training? You think that being a better rider than ABS is so easy then it shouldn't cost all that much. $1000 is at least 3 days training.

    If they need to spend the $1000 on training then they probably need it.

    You are arguing with semantics. Its one or the other.

    Braking in a wet situation with an upright bike. Are you seriously suggesting it takes more skill to mash a brake in this situation?

    I agreed with you that it doesn't help in some other situations.

    Now you are being provocative.

    Where did you come up with the figure that it would cost $1000 in training? If it is so easy to be better than ABS then it should take very little training at all. Either ABS works and is really good and is very difficult for a rider to exceed or it isn't. If the rider can exceed it with minimal training then it won't cost $1000 but the riders who think that they are good but really aren't will get the training that they need.

    Your position is that some can be educated to take training and the rest can continue to crash (which is the current situation that is failing riders at the moment).

    We need to encourage riders to train, train, train. I can bet you anything given that choice you will take the training, how is that a bad thing.

    Because of the training that they will get because they want to avoid ABS. ABS itself will deliver minimal safety benefit.
  20. Kinda. This is where my argument of ABS being complementary comes in. I re-read what you wrote and get the impression you think ABS is for those who dont have the skills necessary to brake safely and efficiently. ABS isnt for people who have a fear of not being exceptional brakers. Its for people who realise that they might not have the braking skills of professional track riders. Many of us dont have the time nor capabilities to practice emergency braking at a sufficient frequency to keep our skills on par with those riders.

    If you are burning up the track every second week then sure chances are ABS will degenerate your braking performance and you would be better of without it, but in saying that you dont really get red light runners or children jumping out from cars to test your reactional skills on the track. Riding should contain a certain element of fear, enough to keep us sharp and thriving for better skills, but not enough to detract from the riding experience. If you ever ride fearlessly i believe you have bigger problems which wouldnt stem from ABS. ABS doesnt reduce the fear, not add to it, what it does is changes the real world braking capabilities of riders of all skill levels, it complements their current skills.