Braking systems market leader Brembo has given us a peek at the future of stoppies and other velocity-shedding tech by announcing their development of new braking systems they call “Sensify.”
The big “brakethrough” (sorry) is that future systems will likely work on electricity rather than use any hydraulic fluid, and there’s good reasons for the change. Truth be told, hydraulic brake technology is 100 years old. Literally, it’s over 100 years old. Malcolm Loughead, who went on to change his name to “Lockheed” and start some sort of airplane company, first patented “hydraulic brakes” in 1917. At first, they worked with drum brake systems, but just a few years later another guy invented disc brakes and it was a marriage made in hydraulic heaven. Duesenberg had them on a car in 1921.
Since that time, through constant refinement, we now have the reliable, high performance brakes from Brembo and others on our cars and motorcycles, often paired with ABS systems that help keep us upright when we drop anchor to avoid a collision or are coming in hot towards a corner on the racetrack. But at the base of it all is the same old tech: Fluid pushing on pucks that push on pads that push on rotors. Heaven help you if a brake line goes south, there’s air in the system or you let garage rot corrode those pistons into stationary mummification. What would be better? Brake systems that modulate far faster, are far less complex and include actuation via electrical motors. Trust us, it’s the future, and Brembo knows it.
An electrical braking system can modulate a brake pad against a rotor far faster and far more accurately than a fluid can move a heavy brake piston. That said, it’s frankly amazing how good hydraulic ABS systems are today. I own and ride a 1994 BMW R1100RS with one of the first Brembo motorcycle ABS systems and while it works (most of the time), it’s complex, heavy, noisy, and somewhat clunky. The ABS on my 2020 Royal Enfield INT650 is far superior, smaller, lighter, works almost invisibly, and is certainly less costly. An electrical system with no fluid, valves, pistons or the delay in moving that liquid back and forth should result in much higher performance, a high degree of user adjustability, and probably weighs a lot less as well.
Take a look at Brembo’s Sensify concept video below, which is centered on cars and such at this point, but be assured they will port this tech over to bikes just as soon as they can get a DOT stamp of approval. While they show a hybrid hydraulic/electrical system in the video, the real magic is at the 2:35 mark where they propose an all-electric system.
Of course, we expect riders will have questions and concerns. What about that all-important brake lever feedback? What if the power goes out? Is there a backup braking system besides the bottom of your boots? All good questions, and we’ll let you debate the merits or drawbacks of Brembo’s Sensify systems.