ABS can NOT stop your bike better than the best rider rant!

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by rickypanecatyl, Apr 4, 2019.

  1. rickypanecatyl

    rickypanecatyl SE Asia adventure tours

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,802
    Location:
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    Warning: Potentially offensive random rant!

    I'm sick of all the times I read magazine reporters etc talk about traction control/ABS and say something like, "... but the truth is, it does a better job stopping the bike than the best riders can."

    I was thinking about that after a minor bump last week in Bangkok on my ABS equipped bike. I was on a main thoroughfare with multiple lanes and packed with tons of other bikes and cars. We were doing about 40mph, had the right away and there were lots of small streets on the left (left side drive here) with cars waiting to merge onto our road.
    I had 2 motorcycles tight on either side of me (no, I don't like that but what to do in this city of 16 million) and a white SUV was waiting to pull out. She looked like she was going to go but then stopped and last minute she gunned it but it was too late then.
    The bike on my right just made it past her front bumper, the bike on my left hit her rear wheels and put it down. As soon as she gunned it my brakes were maxed. Her wheel was turned and I came to a stop lightly hitting her behind the front wheel inside the wheel well.

    From lots of experience I know I wouldn't have hit her on my KTM 690/KLX250 which don't have ABS. But with ABS I've had so many bad situations like that. I was trying to think what the difference was and realized despite it being on the road with either the KTM or KLX I would have dropped into an intentional rear wheel slide and turned whichever way was safer but with the nanny controls I can't do that.

    I'm a bottom line guy. The BS that ABS stops you faster is as stupid as when HID and LED lights first came out and 90% of the advertising including plugging the benefits of lifetime bulbs or 50,000 hour life time emitters vs halogen that constantly burn out. But of course when the rubber meets the road:
    • LED emitters/HID do NOT last 50,000 hours. (I love Baja Designs spin - lifetime of 49,950 hours as they realize smart consumers won't easily believe the claim of 50,000 hours.)
    • They are very fragile and break more often and are harder to fix when something happens. BUT their proponents then argue - well it wasn't the emitter... it was the driver, the ballast, the board or some other reason you are in the dark.
    #1
    marbee40, Railrocker and Lewilewi like this.
  2. Lewilewi

    Lewilewi Ride it like you stole it......

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,556
    Location:
    Europe
    Crikey buddy, that was some rant, do you get out much..

    With your ranting skills Tyre and oil threads would be great fun...

    Anyway,

    It's horses for courses, I'll have abs on road all day long, it's saved my bacon defiantly once andive never found it in Trusive, but thats on rd

    on super bike on a race track it would be near impossible to win a race

    On dirt I've never felt I need it...
    #2
    kavallerist, BobcatSig and BamaDirt like this.
  3. Norty01

    Norty01 RIDERCOACH (RETIRED!)

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2014
    Oddometer:
    1,668
    Location:
    CARLSBAD, CA, USA
    A competent rider can outperform the very best "ABS" system made, bar none. Sure wish riders didn't use ABS as a crutch for "< good braking skills..."
    #3
  4. Lewilewi

    Lewilewi Ride it like you stole it......

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,556
    Location:
    Europe
    Road bikes are made to be safe for all, regardless of a hugely varying skill set
    #4
  5. Lewilewi

    Lewilewi Ride it like you stole it......

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2017
    Oddometer:
    1,556
    Location:
    Europe
    One things for sure, I've got far more experience than most, spread over most riding disciplines, i laughed at ktms electronics package on my 1290 s.a.r,

    I'll happily trail brake a superbike deep in to a apex on a race track ( no abs)

    Any way in the pissing hard rain on the 1290 last winter, near freezing, I though fuck it, took it outta sport mode, put it in rain, I could not provoke that bike in to any thing remotely out of control, I was impressed....

    So impressed I had the Mrs on the back touring up in the french mountains last spring, I was happy to ride in the wet and ice in rain mode... Brilliant electronics package, so good and desperate, you barely notice it...

    Horses for courses mate
    #5
    Milosh and BobcatSig like this.
  6. Blakduk

    Blakduk Don’t be too practical.

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,536
    Location:
    Cooroy
    I think this is the main point and it is hard to argue with it.
    Having said that, I'm glad I've got ABS on my roadbike.
    And I'm glad I don't have ABS on my Adv bike, even though my mate with ABS on his 690 is consistently braking later than me on forestry roads...
    #6
    rickypanecatyl likes this.
  7. seancampbell

    seancampbell Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 28, 2006
    Oddometer:
    884
    Location:
    Gosford, NSW. Australia
    Have you ever been taught or practiced doing emergency braking in a car or bike with ABS?

    ABS is a failsafe system to make morons that just MASH the brake pedal safe.

    If you are taught or practice "threshold braking" in emergency situations you will be able to pull the car or bike up sooner.

    I have some experience teaching emergency services how to drive at speed safely and this is what we teach. We get them to do it my just mashing the brake pedal and initiating ABS... put a traffic cone where they stopped and then teach them threshold braking. When they redo the experiment they always pull up quicker without activating ABS.

    I do the same on dirt with my bike.

    I recommend everyone reading this to practice emergency braking in a safe environment and get your family to practice it too. Relying on ABS is false security .
    #7
    kojack06, Motor7, SeanF and 5 others like this.
  8. appliance57

    appliance57 Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2014
    Oddometer:
    2,277
    Location:
    Boston
    Not while they're shitting their pants.

    Oh, and LED lights are the bomb!
    #8
    opmike, scfrank and Turkeycreek like this.
  9. Honda_Power

    Honda_Power I'd rather be riding

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2018
    Oddometer:
    252
    Location:
    San Diego
    OP, I would agree with you, but, I've seen ABS save a rider from crashing first hand.

    It was actually just last Sunday, in the canyons east of San Diego. A daring rider on a Zx-10r was trying to keep up with a faster rider on a bmw s1000rr. Going into a down hill left hand corner the Kawasaki rider came in way too hot for his skill level, blew the corner, and was just able to bleed off enough speed to turn and slightly rub the gaurdrail without going down.

    I saw the whole thing, and thought for sure he was going down. He told me ABS Was pulsing the whole time, as he was braking while leaned over trying to avoid the rail.

    I've never wanted ABS before witnessing that, but now I think it's a good safety net to have. Sure having the skill to not need it is great, but even the best riders in the world benefit from electronics that help them ride safer and faster. I'm really not an electronics sort of guy, but if it has the potential to keep me out of the hospital, then I'd say it's an overall good thing for most riders.

    For street bikes anyway. Dirt/dual sport, no thanks.
    #9
  10. chasbmw

    chasbmw Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,530
    Location:
    Bath Uk
    Love to have $50 for every person who has crashed their bike by locking the brakes pre ABS.......

    No system works for 100% of events (take note Boeing) but I reckon that ABS has saved more broken bones and lives than it has cost.

    Ride safe

    Charles
    #10
  11. flei

    flei cycletherapist

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2013
    Oddometer:
    8,881
    Location:
    Western Mass.
    Sounds like you were riding faster than traffic conditions allowed. If not, you would have had adequate time to stop. :augie

    But of course you're right; ABS can not, and does not stop your bike. Only you do. :jjen
    #11
  12. whysub

    whysub Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2003
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Essex, England
    Doesn't ABS allow you to brake at the maximum it allows AND steer?

    Nothing makes up for raising you field of vision (ie don't ride with your vision fixed 10 yards ahead) and observation. Doing so will save you more than ABS.
    #12
  13. AwDang

    AwDang Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2014
    Oddometer:
    1,414
    Location:
    121 miles from Tellico Plains
    Sort of....ABS just releases pressure on the caliper momentarily to allow the wheel to roll again. That’s all it does. Yes this is a very intentionally rudimentary description. But the basis is the same. When the ECU reads a wheel speed signal it determins is below a safe threshold, the pump RELEASES the clamping force on the pads.

    As always this is a compramise to help the majority in a panic or low grip situation. In a dry road, skilled rider situation the non ABS bike can slow quicker. ABS is there for the not normal / good weather / good road situations.
    #13
    BrianInPA likes this.
  14. memopad

    memopad Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2017
    Oddometer:
    235
    Location:
    UP Michigan
    No, it's designed to keep you upright/steer. Just like in a car, it's not designed for maximum braking, only to keep you in control. It's been demonstrated time and again that you can stop a car quicker without ABS.
    #14
  15. mikes'gs

    mikes'gs what R U looking at Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    2,729
    Location:
    far from you
    bikes bitches and brakes are all dangerous
    #15
    nk14zp likes this.
  16. ncj01

    ncj01 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    771
    Location:
    NW Arkansas
    There’s a diff between fastest and funnest.

    I find ABS in off position is much more FUN.
    Same with traction control.

    But ABS/TC in the on position is also faster when riding at the limits.

    Every riders personal preference is valid and is how they should ride - as this is recreation and it should be fun.

    //

    But it’s academic fact that modern ABS systems allow a bike to be stopped quicker and more safely than non-ABS equivalent.

    That still doesn’t mean it’s more fun.
    #16
    BobcatSig likes this.
  17. flei

    flei cycletherapist

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2013
    Oddometer:
    8,881
    Location:
    Western Mass.
    Since you're a self-proclaimed expert rider, I'm sure you are much safer without ABS. Why take the risk and buy a modern bike with ABS? You should only be riding bikes without it.

    For the rest of us lousy riders, ABS saves lives.

    "The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted a study on the effectiveness of ABS for motorcycles and came to the conclusion that motorcycles above 250cc without ABS are 37 percent more likely to be involved in fatal crashes and a study of the Swedish Road Administration came to the conclusion that 48 percent of all severe and fatal motorcycle accidents above 125cc could be avoided due to motorcycle ABS."

    Let's hear it for the "nanny state"!
    #17
  18. Piggdekk

    Piggdekk love speed, hate rush

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2015
    Oddometer:
    595
    Location:
    Barcelona
    I just got my first bike with ABS, in fact conrnering ABS. Is it just my impression or when the front ABS kicks in the fork feels like it has bottomed? It's a very strange feeling and the fork obviously has not bottomed, but I noticed it on 2 ABS equipped bikes (a 950 hypermotard I test rode and the 690 SMC-R I own), and feels a bit odd, a bit like when you hit a curb while braking. I wonder it is due to the ABS sending high frequency pulses into the fork hydraulic. If I set ABS in supermoto mode I can do stoppies and I don't get the "bottoming" feeling.

    Beside this strange feeling I'm convinced it can save asses over and over...
    #18
    BrianInPA likes this.
  19. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    16,097
    Location:
    Delaware Ohio
    Funny... Seems when Motorcyclist and Cycle World did a side by side with the first 2009 Honda ABS CBR600RR and non-ABS600RR they couldn't stop as well if conditions were not near perfect. They were better on dry good pavement, but the ABS did better in wet and on dirty surfaces. Just wanted you to know whoever said what you say, unfortunately, is wrong. I'm thinking the media riders who were also competent expert riders, could outperform the ABS by as much as 20 feet or so when everything was perfect, but it took practice in a known situation, and could not out perform it in wet and rough conditions. That was on the first version ABS back several years ago. I'm guessing the 10 year newer version is far better.

    To quote Motorcyclist:

    But the big question is, would we buy the C-ABS version over the standard model? We figure that would depend on where you intend to ride most of the time, and your riding skill level (and you'd better be honest with yourself). If you do a lot of track days and are an intermediate to expert-level rider, you'd probably prefer the standard CBR. But for everyone else, there's no doubt in our minds that the extra $1000 would be money well spent.

    "Even a pro-level rider wouldn't be able to reach the first-time stopping distance or deceleration rate of the C-ABS bike."


    So I guess if you are in perfect conditions, anticipating what is coming, not having ABS might help - if you are top expert level, not just a competent rider, but expert.

    #19
  20. SRTie4k

    SRTie4k Northeast Explorer

    Joined:
    May 11, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,892
    Location:
    Nude Hampster
    Nobody seems to have mentioned this yet, but...ABS takes over when your braking friction overcomes tire friction. That means the stickier the tire, the later the ABS intrudes.

    If you want a bike with ABS to perform at superbike levels of stopping, get better tires.
    #20
    FTL900, branthopolis, Toto and 4 others like this.