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ABS (& Other Electronic Aids)

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by Man Hands, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. Let me start out by saying I am a massive believer in personal choice and it is up to everyone to make their own decisions about their safety on a bike. I do not for one second believe that ABS should be compulsory.

    Last October on my regular commute home I was approaching the intersection of Lonsdale & King Street in Melbourne. Traffic was moderately heavy. As I approached the intersection I spotted a mercedes waiting to right across Lonsdale. I recognise the potential danger and I look directly at the driver to see if he is paying attention - he is starting directly at me - I know he has seen me. I continue to scan for other danger. As I enter the intersection the mercedes suddenly takes off - 'fcuk!'. My brain ignores all logical thought and survival reactions take over, my right hand mashes the front lever of my Dorsoduro, the front locks and I go down just as collide with the side of the mercedes. The next few seconds are a blur, but I remember sliding down the road watching my bike sliding in front of me, pieces flying off in all directions. As soon as I stop sliding the pain starts - serious pain. I once had the end of my finger crushed off in a surf boat rowing accident....that was a 1/10 compared to this pain. Apparently I ended up going under the car and while I was geared up well, there's only so much gear can do when a car runs over your knees. 3 operations and 3 months in hospital later, and my knees will never be the same again. No running, jumping, squatting, footy, tennis, etc. ever again.

    The point of that sob story was to explain why I am now a firm believer in ABS on bikes. You see, I have been riding for 7 years, commuting every day for 2 years and regularly practiced emergency braking. But you know what.....no amount of E-Braking practice can ever replicate a real, ass puckering, life on the line emergency stop. I don't care what you think....unless you have experienced it you just have no concept of how quickly shit happens when things go wrong.

    I'm sure a lot of us have read the magazine articles where they put some gun rider on a non-ABS bike and he outbrakes the ABS equipped bike. But that misses the point entirely. To paraphrase Terminator....ABS is a machine, it does not get cold, it does not get tired, it does not get distracted by the hottie in a low cut dress, it just does its job - every. single. time. (ok 99.99% of the time). Some riders can outbrake ABS some of the time. Some riders can overcome survival reactions some of the time. But the fact is, most riders who think they can do better than ABS are fcukING KIDDING THEMSELVES.

    The point of this post is not to say that everyone with a non-ABS bike is going to spontaneously combust into a ball of flaming death, or that they should go and trade in their bikes on one with ABS. But, I do want to get people who are looking at buying a new bike to seriously think about opting for the ABS option if you have the choice. Likewise for traction control. Most of the systems on new bikes are now switchable. Certainly all the supersport & superbike systems are, so if you want to hit the track or want less intervention you can adjust the levels at which the electronics kick in. The extra grand or so is money well spent in my book.

    Now, I'm sure some people will reply that ABS is a passive safety device and that good roadcraft is always better, etc. Let me say, I completely, 1000% agree - prevention is always better than the cure. But the fact is, humans are well...human. Cagers make mistakes. Riders make mistakes. Stress and panic increases the likelihood of making a mistake. There is no way to explain how quickly things happen in a car accident - there is no thinking time, your brain just acts. ABS is nothing more than an excellent backup plan when your brain makes the wrong decision. My reactions failed and it cost me dearly. It costs some other people much more. Give it some thought. Good riding.

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  2. Good post - if ABS can save a panic lockup/low-side, it's gotta be a good thing eh? Sorry to hear about your accident and the now permanently depleted knee(s).
  3. Sorry to hear about the accident. Sounds like good advise, which is more pertinent because it is first hand (unfortunately).
  4. Very nice to hear the opinion and the first hand experience. Sorry to hear about the accident.

    When it's time for me to upgrade, it will be something that I seriously consider.

    What happened to the driver of the Merc?
  5. Ohhhh here we go....

    FWIW I agree with you 100%. ABS should not be compulsory, but out and about in the real world it can be of huge assistance.
  6. I couldn't agree more. ABS is another line of defence along with skills (bike handling skills and roadcraft), protective clothing and keeping your bike in good nick.
    I had an incident last winter that shows just how quickly things can unwind in unpredictable ways.
    Morning commute in the wet. Four lanes with traffic island on the approach to a lights controlled intersection. Speed limit 70.
    There is a bus going around 40 in the left lane. I am following an old ute in the right lane. I am in the RH wheel track. The light is green. We are approaching the bus.
    What none of us can see (apart from the bus driver) is a pair of cyclists riding abreast at the entrance to the intersection.
    The cyclists lock handlebars and fall in front of the bus.
    The bus driver slams on brakes an swerves right, blocking most of the right lane.
    Ute driver slams on brakes and locks up rears his back end slides to the right and hits the kerb of the traffic island.
    Now, my choices were to stop in a straight line with the strong possibility of being collected from behind, aim for the small gap between the bus and the ute which are in front of me in an inverted V or a bit of both involving braking across the wet oil slick in the centre of the lane.
    That's what I did. I didn't have long to think about it. Brake strongly, angle left release brakes across the oil, reapply.
    I was just about down to walking pace as I approached the gap (which thankfully showed no sign of disappearing) and the ABS engaged.
    Now, I thought I had it under control. The ABS disagreed with me. I'm glad it was there. I don't feel slighted by technology or cheated in any way.
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  7. I recall reading about the parents of a dead rider in the USA taking BMW to court because the his brakes failed going down a particularly twisty set of hills in SeppoLand somewhere. They argued their son was an expert rider and the ABS system had failed to keep him alive. BMW presented data logs from the ECU that showed the ABS had been almost constantly active for almost 10 minutes prior to the accident. The bike had effectively kept him alive 10 minutes longer than his skill levels should have, the brakes failed due to overheating. While you could make the argument that without ABS, he wouldn't have pushed as hard, chances are he would have just died further up the hill, instead of at the bottom.

    My present and previous bike had/have ABS. I now wouldn't own a motorcycle without it. 95% it makes no difference. That 5% is the difference between before and under the Mercedes. Tough break, but at least your using your experience to a positive.

    My current bike also has traction control. While its needed a torque monster like the K16GT, not sure about it on lighter bikes. Personally I think as mandatory ABS equipped bikes trickle through from the European markets, if it keeps a few more over zealous twits up right, it can only be a good thing.
  8. To bad you accident and I agree with your ABS comments

    Unlike a car there are limitations of it's use on bikes.

    My bike which I've had for seven years has a non switchable ABS system, TCS and CBS.

    The traction control is a no brainer but it can be switched on or off.

    Combined brakes need an understanding in how they work and the braking effects between hand, foot and both together.
  9. sorry to hear about your accident. im only new to riding but have driven cars for 15 years and i agree with you when you say accidents can happen with no time to react. i almost had a head on with a truck who crossed my path and if i didnt have abs then i would have skidded straight into him. abs is a last line of defence and you should drive/ride asif you dont have it. that way if ever needed its there.
  10. Man hands, sorry to hear about your prang and the injury.

    What made you think that the driver had seen you and was factoring you into his decisions?
  11. #11 slideways, Mar 27, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2013
    I don't like electronic aids, bikes, cars, whatever.

    Lets look at cars that can park themselves. If a driver has one of these, and uses it features regularly how well do you think that driver knows the boundaries of their vehicle, and how much driving skill have they given over to mr computer to take care of for them.

    to me, electronic aids on a bike are useful only for extracting milli seconds on a track, they should not be put on bikes to make them 'easier to ride' otherwise in 20 years time, you're going to have a bunch of un-coordinated idiots riding bikes, thinking that because they have traction control and ABS they are safe.

    None of that will save you if you enter a corner too hot, or even brake incorrectly, i.e. mid corner, next thing you know, bikes are becoming more expensive because of mandatory features, and insurance premiums sky rocket because of all the idiots (who wouldn't normally have given riding a go) stacking bikes constantly pushing up the price for the rest of us.

    I'm really sorry for your injuries, it really sucks. My advice to new riders, would be DO TRACK DAYS, you can safely push your brakes to the limit and get to know your machine a whole lot better.

    I've commuted for nearly 10 years everyday on my bike. I've had many an 'ass-pucker'. but you WILL NOT lock your brakes if you brake correctly (you might do something similar to a stoppie though)

    I'd also say, 9/10 of my 'moments' were avoided not by braking, but by swerving.
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  12. Did you read his post? The driver was staring right at him. FWIW, I have had exactly t the same thing happen to me, except it was at a roundabout. Eye contact with the driver, I know this because his head turned as he pulled out while he was still looking a at me. I nearly missed him due to swerving and breaking at the same time, but just clipped my front wheel enough to cause a low side. Busted up foot, 2 operations, 3 months off work, and 10 years or so later, still pain from time to time. Enough to limp anyway.

    I have no opposition to ABS, but i don't think it would have saved you, judging by how far you ended up under the car, in such a short distance. Wouldn't have saved me either. But it certainly wouldn't have made the situation worse. When KTM, the biggest hoon bike maker on the planet start fitting it to their bikes, I reckon it can't be a bad thing
  13. Thanks for the obvious and incorrect answer mate.

    That very fact of staring is one of the biggest clues that you've NOT BEEN SEEN. Apart from the blindspot every eye has, if there's no relative sideways movement between you and the driver, then you are a single point reference that does not change size until the last moment, so you look FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES as if you are stationary.

    Even if the driver sees you, if you don't look to be moving, then that's what input goes into their decision making.

    So I ask again, Manhands, what made you think you were actually seen and recognised by the driver? It's an important question, not one asked to kick you in the guts, but one asked to get to the nub of a potential learning issue.

    The driver made a bad decision potentially based on visual cue errors.

    That's a good point to raise - if manhands had ABS, would the collision have been vertical?

    KTM being bought out by BMW were required to fit ABS to their bikes, but this finally opened up BMW's eyes to one of the biggest complaints dirt riders had about ABS, that in poor traction circumstances, especially going down bumpy hills, ABS that you can't dial out is an attrocious feature. KTM not that long ago introduced their first bike with ABS and it had no ABS on the rear wheel. Fancy that.

    At about the same time, BMW introduced "slick" mode on its 1000RR which virtually dials out all rear wheel ABS for those that like to still maintain full braking control over the rear wheel.
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  14. As for not being seen, this is where I think you are wrong. I think you have been seen, but not been perceived as a threat, or risk, so no real thought is put into the decision of pulling out in front of you. I can only conclude this due to the number of times it's happened to me. I've looked drivers dead in the eyes, know that they've seen me, and yet theystill pull out in front of me. Stats and studies will not convince me otherwise.
    This is where I think the smidsy campaign fails. It tries to place all the blame on the driver. Which is correct. But doesn't stop me getting hurt. Far better to modify my behaviour, even if

    technically, I shouldn't have to, nor am I required to do so by traffic law.
  15. PS when did BMW squire a financial stake in KTM?
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  16. im a very new rider and i must say i appreciate your response. i would never have thought of this. all i hear is 'ride like your invisable' but this gives a whole new perspective to that statement.
  17. #17 robsalvv, Mar 27, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2013
    Well mate, this is a complex issue. There are a bunch of reasons why drivers don't see bikes, apparently don't see bikes and apparently don't respect bikes. Not perceiving them as a risk is but one small factor. Logically it's not one you can hang your hat on since drivers ARE sensitive to damage to their cars so I think you're off base about drivers making a decision to move forward into a certain collision with a motorcycle they have seen and acknowledged.

    That's why a discussion with you on these topics is often fruitless. You know what you know, a statistical data sample population of one and that's that. So be it.

    It's well understood that if someone is aware of something, they tend to notice it more often. e.g., you are buying a certain model/colour of car, all of a sudden you see that model/colour on the road. Nothing about the quantity has changed, only awareness.

    Another example is a family member takes up a pursuit - all of a sudden that person's circle start seeing more of or hearing more of that pursuit in their regular activities - even though there's not more of that pursuit occuring.

    The first step in improving the danger represented by other road users is getting those other road users aware of bikes. Whether they factor bikes into their decisions correctly is a whole other kettle of fish which is why your safety is primarily in your hands.

    Even in the absolute ideal world drivers will still mess up. You can never put your safety in their hands, and that is NOT what the SMIDSY campaign is about. To suggest so is disingenuous and misleading.

    Ahh sorry my mistake, it was Husky that they took over. Thanks for the heads up.
  18. Thanks mate.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg.

    If you want to know a bit more, google the invisible gorilla.

    Google Prof Dan Simons and his TED talks. You will learn much about perception of what we see versus reality.

    Also Google the "time of arrival" illusion.

    ...and you'll have just chipped away at the tip.
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  19. i'd love to know where you got this info. because the only thing that ktm have to do with bmw is that Stefan Pierer bought Husqvarna off BMW about a month ago.

    i rode a ktm 990 adventure the other day with ABS, yes it works on the rear wheel also. allows a little bit of skidding but does kick in. it was underwhelming like any electronic system will be to take the skill and fun out of riding.

    and i didnt even take it off the road and i already hated it. for an average goon riding around they'd probably love it.
  20. I corrected myself earlier.

    Husqy were the first dirt bike firm to put ABS on dirt bikes, as a result of being part of the BMW stable which has a corporate philosophy of ABS on all it's bikes. But to do so, they left the rear wheel without ABS.

    I hadn't caught up with Husqy being rebought. Thanks for that.