Monday, 18 August 2008

Honda ABS

With many 'safety' improvements on vehicles (see some of my earlier technology posts), there's a possible 'down' side. Even ABS has been shown in some studies to increase vehicle crash rate, possibly due to risk compensation (a simple explanation of risk compensation is to think about how differently you'd ride if you had full racing leathers against how you would ride if stark naked).

When Ford starting fitting 'affordable' ABS to the Escort several years ago, they ran a series of three TV ads. showing how ABS could be used to steer while braking, and avoid a likely collision. In two of the scenarios, it was driver error that had created the danger in the first place . . .

The first 'real' use of ABS on bikes (apart from some experimental set-ups such as the TRL's ESM) was by BMW on the K series bikes. Their first system was fairly 'abrupt' in operation, but as salesman explained to me: "Those Crunch! Crunch! Crunch! noises . . . " (from the whole bike shuddering as the ABS operates) . . . "Is far better than the Crash-Smash! noises."

BMW's ABS2 set-up was significantly smoother in operation, but it was still to be some time before other manufacturers started to build ABS systems on to their bikes - but even then usually only on the 'tourer' models.

But now Honda have introduced a system which will be fitted, initially, to the CBR600. Magazine reports suggest it's good, to. Compared to the original BMW systems it's quite incredible in complexity - I'm not even going to try and explain it!

The secret of owning a bike with ABS is to ignore that it's fitted - just brake smoothly using good braking practices. The ABS will work if it's needed. hat's the time when your braking technique needs to alter: the temptation will be to release and reapply - as taught as part of 'good braking'. Instead, you need to maintain the pressure and let the ABS do what it can.

It will be interesting to see how owners react to the new bike, and whether it is accepted by the 'sports' riders.

'Interesting' fact: ABS doesn't stand for 'Anti-lock Braking System', it's actually for 'Anti Blockier System'. I don't know what that means, though.


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