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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
MO pretty much answered your question. If you want to be able to grab a handful and stop and not have to learn the nuances of non-abs motorcycle braking (and have your arse saved in a panic situation when all training and visions of being Rossi on the brakes goes out the door), go for it. If you plan on developing more sport oriented riding skills then manual braking is the answer. IMO, ABS is a good option for the average rider. For the rider who has the time and desire to practice the more intricate details of braking then ABS isn’t as desirable. As with most motorcycle debates, first make an accurate assessment of your riding style and needs and then make your decision.



And uh...first post you MOFO's.

 

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In straight line braking, ABS on dry pavement loses to a good rider by ~2%. On crappy conditions, ABS beats expert riders by 50%+. There have been plenty of tests of this.



ABS can easily save your ass in a panic situation: traffic goes to hell, deer comes jumping out, whatever... Having once locked the front end (and saved it: released the brake and squeezed to a halt, this was during braking practice), feeling the bars go dead, the black streak on the pavement, and the brown streak in my undies.



True, it can't save your ass in a turn, but for straight line braking, it can't be beat. I took a test ride on a R1200Gs today, I did a quick test of 30 MPH braking. The road was wet, and cruddy. But those brakes, fully applied, can have you singing castrati even in cruddy conditions, without hastle or fuss, just a bit of chirping gitters as the bike retro rockets.
 

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What will you be doing with the bike? Most of my riding is commuting in traffic at moderate to high speed. Being able to stop rapidly in crappy conditions, or changed conditions due to construction, makes ABS my choice. YMMV, etc.

 

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While it is true that ABS will stop you quicker in conditions where traction is marginal, it is also true that ABS may give you a false sense of security, and you may find yourself going faster than the poor conditions might otherwise dictate. I have owned many motorcycles, none of which had ABS, and have managed to survive. My advice to you would be to get a dirt bike, and practice as much as possible in low traction conditions. You will not only learn how to instinctively control your bike during those unexpected times when your tires suddenly lose their grip, but you will also learn to SLOW DOWN when experience tells you that traction conditions have deteriorated. VWW
 

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Unless your on a track with predictable pavement then ABS is the way to go. ABS only "lets go" of the brakes when the tires are starting to skid and ABS brakes systems are approx 95% efficient. One thing you have to consider is that when these people report stopping distance numbers, they do it on a specific section of track. The surface is very predictable and they take practice runs to achieve the excellent stopping distance numbers. No need to practice for the ABS stops. They are also very good test riders and test bikes for a living. I don't think you have the luxury of practice stops and advanced knowledge of the surface conditions on the street. No practice runs on an unfamiliar surface, ABS will win everytime. In fact, I would challenge any rider to beat ABS on an unfamiliar road, one stop, no practice. ABS may not be good for the track, but its great for the street.
 

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I'd like to complement you on an intelligent and balanced response. But why did you leave your First Post claim till the end? Get your priorities right.



"... make an accurate assessment of your riding style ..." as if! No new rider ever thinks he'll strive to be a conservative "average" rider (for whom ABS would be excellent)



I'm old enough to know I'm conservative, but that's after 30 years of constant riding in Australian conditions and still being alive. ABS would have saved one or two frank and intimate rendezvous with the bitumen but it was common sense and experience that saved me all the other times.



A bike with ABS is better than a bike without. A rider with maturity, training and a strong sense of self-preservation is better still.
 

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The shortest stopping distances are executed when the brakes are braking just short of locking up. Expert riders on dry pavement with a non-ABS bike "may" be able to better the stopping distances of an ABS equipped bike. However, once the pavement is at less than ideal conditions, it's no contest, ABS wins every time.



That being said, you should still practice your braking skills so that you can make maximum stops without engaging the ABS (it shouldn't become a crutch to good braking skills). Learn to feel your brakes. And the better your front tire, the shorter you'll be able to stop regardless of whether you have ABS or not.



One of the real advantages of ABS comes when you have been riding for some distance in the rain without using your brakes. The brake pucks absorb some water and the first time you have to use them, they've lost their feel. If you have ABS, you can just "grab a handful" (if you need to) and the ABS will take care of you. The brakes will burn the water off the pucks and then grab, but the ABS will kick in and your stop will be controlled.



I personally don't understand why Peter Egan decided to opt out of buying his Ducati ST4 without ABS although he did mention that he was saving $800 and that seemed to be the goal. Get the lowest price, regardless.



If you aren't planning to roadrace your bike and can afford the ABS premium, I'd say go for it. You won't be sorry.
 

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O.K. Glad to see most of the responses so far seem to be well thought out. After having owned bikes with out abs, and owning one with, I say get the abs for street use. Bottom line is that unless you are a racer and know how to be ON the brakes (and even then it is debatable) abs will save your ass in a panic situation. Modern bikes with abs still have wonderful brake feel, and although you won't feel the abs engagement in the same way you do in your car, you will feel it kick in, and you can still react in the same way you might ifn' you didn't have them.



By the way, for those of you that have more experience than I.... If you never come to the point of losing traction, the abs will not engage right??? So if optimal braking occurs *just* before lock up, aren't we really splitting hairs about the best riders being able to outbrake in predictable situations since "in theory" if you don't lock it up, it won't engage????



I can imagine (and have felt to some extent)that there is some point that is not a total "lock up". Are the anti-lock brakes reacting to this, while the human that knows the feel in the same situation would act differently????
 

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I think a non-linked, non-power assisted ABS would be great on a bike. My only experiance with M/C ABS was on an '02 R1150RT and I didn't care for it at all. It seemed to me that I couldn't modulate or trail brake like I usually do. I did try a couple of practice panic stops in the wet and dry and in those situations the ABS was a definate plus with good controllable straight line stops everytime. However the other 99% of the time I felt the set-up was intrusive and didn't really fit my riding style. That coupled with the surging and overall top heavy feel of the bike made it not much fun.



I realise that's specific to that particular bike and make, and I think the concept is good I just didn't like the execution. From an automotive standpoint I wouldn't have a car without it.

 

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Hi GerardG,



I just spent a half hour trying to find Yossef's report on an Italian bike with ABS, that he said was better than the test riders. I thought it was the ABS ST4, but could only find the US ride report.



Obviously not all ABS are created equal, and newer ones are more refined. I commute 15,000 miles a year on an R6, and there have been a few times I wished I had ABS. It is a priority for my next commuter bike.



peter83
 

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Re: SWITCHABLE ABS

I would like to have ABS with an ON/OFF option.

The only time I would want the ABS on would be when riding in the rain, when it would be an advantage in a sudden emergency.
 

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Re: SWITCHABLE ABS

Surely you would want to have it turned on by default, so that only if you had time to assess the quality of the road surface and make an informed decision to brake without the ABS would you want to turn it off. "I could have stopped a yard and a half quicker without ABS" will always trump "If I'd had ABS I wouldn't have crashed when the front wheel locked and slid out". ABS is good in the wet, but also if there's an unexpected gravel-wash or slick patch of tar in your path when the emergency unexpectedly occurs in front of you....
 

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This is a little complicated to explain but I'll try my best. The first thing you have to understand that tires experience "slip" every time you brake or acclerate (or turn for that matter). During braking, the presence of slip means that the tire is going a little slower the an unbraked tire. The level of slip depends on how hard you are braking. 100% slip the tire is locked and skidding, 0% slip the tire is "free rolling". For low slip values, the tire tread is actually being stretched at the tire-road contact. At higher slip values the rubber starts to skid across the road. Peak traction on concrete/asphalt occurs somewhere around 12% slip. So maximum braking occurs when both tires are at around 12% slip and stay there for the whole stop. The problem is that the tire is very unstable and non-linear at this peak slip value. Brake any harder and the traction will start to drop off and the tire will quickly go to lock. You have to be very good to maintain slip at this value. ABS will actually operate around this peak value most of the time and will actually cycle around the peak. Its about 95% efficient in doing this thus a perfect non-abs stop can still beat it. Its EXTREMELY hard to make this perfect stop!!! So in conclusion, ABS want's to operate at the same slip values as the expert, practiced, rider. So if you on a track and can hit the 12% every time on both tire simultaneously. ABS will not help. Any other situation, is a lifesaver.
 

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Looks like we have some really well thought out responses by some experienced folks. Instead of get involved in a technical debate, I would ask you what kind of riding that you plan on doing and what kind of climate you live in. If you plan on commuting and live in a rainy climate then by all means get ABS. If you are only going to ride your bike on the weekends and canyon carve (like me) then I would say you don't need it. If you plan on track riding then don't get it. The question becomes becomes more critical when you talk about LBS (Linked Brake System) which links the back and front together like a car.....Linked ABS is probably the thing you want in a commuting bike in a rainy climate. It's probably the last thing you want in a track oriented sport bike.
 

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I'd wager that 95% of the sport bike sold never see the track. Assuming that this is true, then why not recommend ABS? Yes, in a controlled, predictable situation you may beat ABS if your an expert. For us mere mortals logging mile on the street, I think its extremely useful. Even if someone never rides in the rain they still may see gravel, oil, tar, rain grooves, broken pavement, bumps..... ABS will provide 95% maximum braking under all conditions. ABS makes you an expert every time, no matter the situation.
 

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It's obviously a personal choice, at least at this point. Hopefully it will not be the only choice any time soon. Will traction control be next?



No thanks for me. I prefer less complexity, weight and expense, and I like being able to service my own bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I was so caught up in the moment of my self-indulgent commentary I misaligned my priorities. I will give the first post its due respect in the future.
 
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