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Mexican Hard Shell Taco
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've finally gave in, just bought a 2014 Versys 650 with ABS. I didn't care a whole lot about ABS for a while, but now my commute will be 40 miles in the city, in heavy traffic, among drivers with their noses stuck in their phones, etc. When my commute was 5 miles or I worked from home, I didn't care...

I used to say "won't buy a bike with ABS unless I can replace all my bikes with ABS versions", and that was quite unrealistic. Thing is, the Versys is my "daily rider", I'll commute on it every day, considering it will be the bike I'll ride the most, it just made sense...

But there is this thought in my mind that I might become reliant on the ABS and lose my braking skills. Then one good day I'll hop on the XJR1300 and wreck because I forgot how to brake properly...

I do know how to brake, my threshold braking abilities are quite good. But I'm human, I make mistakes, I know that in my commute I might get distracted too. That's not to say that I know every inch of the road, I don't, conditions may vary from one day to the other. And truth be told, the ABS computer will notice I'm screwing up faster than I'll do...

I've got a lot of mixed feelings about the ABS:

  • It is safer. The ABS computer doesn't get distracted, it is measuring wheel speed in real time and it knows a wheel is about to lock up before it does. No one can react that fast, end of story. Humans will react AFTER the wheel locks up, that costs precious time in an emergency stop.
  • Skilled riders can stop faster without ABS. This is tricky, depends on the ABS system, some are overly intrusive and will react too soon, increasing braking distance. Keep in mind that ABS is not meant to stop you faster, it is meant to keep you from losing control.
  • Nothing beats proper braking plus ABS. If you go over the threshold, the ABS will save you.

BUT...

  • It is easy to get over confident. I've heard lots of BMW riders say "If you had a BMW with ABS, you could have just pulled the brake lever and it would have prevented the crash". I'm pretty sure none of them know proper braking.
  • You can lose your braking skills. You know, you can be practicing, like I do, and losing traction of the front end on purpose testing the traction limits. How can you do that with ABS?
  • ABS does not substitute braking skills, just grabbing a handful of brake "because you've got ABS" as some people do, will in fact increase your braking distance:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5wqqg97r4E
  • To backup my previous points, I've seen BMW riders that will not turn the ABS on road no matter what because "they'll wreck". They rely on the ABS that much.

I'ts not anti-BMW, it's just that BMW was the only company that offered ABS on their motorcycles for a long time.


I've seen lots of different takes on ABS by riders. Whats yours? I'm all for it, but I'm wary of it at the same time. Once I get back on my feet I'll probably replace the GSX-R with a S1000RR and become dependant on ABS :hdscratch
 

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A guy on a scruffy bike
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I think it is the greatest advance in motorcycle safety since the tubeless tire, and if I was getting a new(ish) bike, it would be high on my list of priorities.

A guy like you with multiple bikes will have a non-ABS bike to practice on. Or, the ABS could be used as a pretty safe way to practice threshold braking -- see how hard you can brake and how close you can come to activating it without quite doing so.

I think I would *more* inclined to practice braking on a bike with ABS, as it makes that practice itself safer.

PhilB
 

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I got my first ABS bike a few months ago, and I was skeptical as well, but I love it. The system on the Triumph really doesn't kick in until the last second before lockup. You can still practice braking, I do. I just use the ABS as my fail-o-meter. If I can brake hard and stop quickly without ABS intervention, I did good, if ABS has to kick in, I failed. The stops without ABS are noticeably shorter than the ones with ABS intervention.

When I first got the bike the ABS came on a lot more with the new tires, but since they've been scrubbed in, I haven't felt the ABS unless I triggered it intentionally.

I also like it on a bike like this because coming from a sportbike with sticky tires and 4 piston Brembos, to an adventure bike with a skinny front tire and crappy brakes, the threshold for braking is a lot lower. So if your sportbike habits kick in the ABS will save you.

The Kawasaki ABS is supposed to be really good, do I don't think you'll have a problem with it. And if it's like the Triumph system, press a few buttons and you can easily turn it off.

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I'm a mixed opinion on this

I've always had non-ABS I grew up with that but two bikes ago I did have abs and probably saved me once or twice

that said I probably would not get ABS again I prefer little firmer feel and the ability to control it all myself

And an occasional stoppie is fun


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I have ABS on both cars and hate it to death. I would NOT get it on a bike unless I had no other choice, and I would sooner restore the antique bike I'm riding than get a new on with ABS. I want no electronic gizmos getting between me and my ride. Damn bike doesn't need an autopilot.
 

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Silent pipes take lives
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No amount of practice is going to tell you what the exact friction coefficient of that patch of sand/oil/water/ice/blood is going to be, and unless you're practicing right up to the edge of a deadly drop off you don't have the actual threat of death which causes real-life adrenaline and panic. That's not to say practice is bad because it isn't. That's just to say that ABS can take care of what practice can't.
 
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Mexican Hard Shell Taco
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That's just to say that ABS can take care of what practice can't.
I think that describes it the best.

I practice every day, doing stoppies as I get to stop lights and sometimes there is not enough traction and the front wheel will slide. But that is deliberate, at a low speed, and I'm prepared for the rear wheel to lift or the front to slide.

I went and got the ABS bike because on my commute I know I can get distracted at the same time as a driver decides it's a perfect moment to change lanes. In that situation I don't have space, as I do when I'm getting to a stoplight, my body position will be relaxed unlike when I'm preparing for a stoppie, I'm not looking for that clear nice looking piece of pavement, I could hit one of the lane markers a painted line or oil...

For example, last week I was riding on this 3 lane highway, I was on the rightmost lane behind a white pickup. Suddenly, the white pickup steers hard to the right, he missed an exit, and crossed three lanes at about 65mph. There was a Suzuki Reno (Chervolet Optra) in the leftmost lane, I saw him lock up the wheels and I was expecting him to hit the truck...

I really don't know, if I could have avoided the truck if I had been in the position the Suzuki Reno was. I don't know how I'd have reacted, probably I'd have got on the brakes and steered into the exit, dunno...
 

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I would have to say it wouldn't be a deal breaker either way. Heck, I just bought a new bike and it doesn't have ABS. Could have bought a newer model with ABS, but then I'd have to pay even more than I wanted to. I've only had 1 ABS bike and it saved my bacon twice for pretty much the same reasons you stated.... driving in traffic, get distracted for a sec for whatever reason, and someone else decides that they would rather brake right in front of you for no apparent reason. WTH??? Thank you ABS. My next bike will probably have ABS since it'll probably be installed on EVERYTHING!!!! even a Ruckus. :lol
 

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Well, this is my first bike with ABS. Though, I've only had it since October and there wasn't much of the riding season left, and short of some small putzing around town and to the mechanic I haven't ridden much, but I'm glad to have it.

Granted they started this model VFR in 2002, so this is, essentially, 2002 tech ABS. Probably not as sophisticated as the shit on current bikes, but I'm glad to have it all the same. I would have bought this bike if it didn't have ABS, with it's ABS (which was a $1000 option from the factory) it was a complete steal. So I jumped at it. I hope it never kicks in, and I don't do much city/suburban riding at all, but every little bit helps.

That said, I will still be doing braking threshold tests and my ARC class is in May more testing.
 

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My 2011 s1k was the 1st bike I had with ABS. And to be honest, I had to go on the s1000rr forums to ask if they were working (was expecting a flashing light or something). It was several months before ABS definitely kicked in. And when it did, it was due to pure rider error.

Basically, I think it's a good safety feature. One that rarely ever kicks in for me. I learned to brake on my CBR F3 and F4i so I'm fairly confident in my braking ability. But some days, we're just not on our game. The day the ABS definitely kicked in I prolly wouldn't have slid. But I can't say that definitively.
 
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