Motorcycle ABS Misunderstanding- Stopping Distance
The 2013 IIHS (International Institute of Highway Safety) “Effects of Antilock Braking Systems on Motorcycle Fatal Crash Rates: An Update” found a number of interesting results. The study reviewed fatalities occurring from 2003 to 2011 on thirteen different models of motorcycles, some equipped with antilock brakes and some without. One of the results was that the bikes with antilock motorcycle brakes had a 31 percent lower incidence of fatalities than the same models equipped with stock brakes.
Without going into potential issues with the IIHS’s methodology and/or without agreeing or disagreeing, the study gives us the opportunity to revisit some common misconceptions about ABS. One relatively frequent misunderstanding is that a motorcycle stops faster when the brakes are skidding. Some riders believe that if they can keep from laying their bike down with their wheels locked up, they will stop faster than if their motorcycle was equipped with ABS.
Unfortunately, this is not true. When the tire(s) is skidding there is less traction and subsequently it takes a longer distance to stop.
To keep the brakes from locking for long periods of time, ABS uses electronic sensors to measure the speed of rotation of your motorcycle wheels. When the sensors feel the wheels locking, the system briefly releases the brakes allowing the tire to regain traction. So, in a panic situation where a rider applies a lot of pressure to the brake levers this is where they feel the “pulsating” of the brakes.
In addition to motorcycle ABS helping the wheels from locking, there is another product called the TCB Brake System that does something similar. There are a number of advantages of the TCB over antilock brakes. First, it helps prevent the wheels from locking up in the first place. This can help the rider avoid laying down their bike on imperfect road conditions as can happen with ABS because it temporarily does lock.
Next, because the TCB keeps the brakes closer to the threshold of locking as compared to ABS, a rider is getting maximum braking power. Finally, unlike ABS that costs $1,000 plus and is only available on newer bikes, the TCB that costs $79 per caliper retrofits onto 95% of new and existing motorcycles.
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