If your occupation is testing motorcycles there’s a certain measure of accepted risk that comes with the job. When cornering ABS (C-ABS) arrived a couple years ago, the general consensus among the motojournos was, Hey that’s awesome, we’ll take your word for it working as described, because no matter how professional we try to be, grabbing a fistful of front brake mid-corner to evaluate this new technology is a line few were willing to cross. Just thinking of the action conjures images of impacting asphalt at a rate approaching lightspeed.
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Attending the International Driver & Rider Training Symposium provided Kevin Duke and I the opportunity to safely explore C-ABS and all the mid-corner braking performance the technology promises to deliver. The result? Confirmation that we were not being lied to, and an elevated respect for the engineers and test riders who perfect this technology prior to making it available to OEMs for inclusion on the latest and greatest two-wheelers.
With a KTM 1190 Adventure outfitted with Cedergrens’ Skidbike contraption, Duke and I set to the task of crashing. Repeatedly, we failed. Grabbing a fistful of brakes while leaned over with the C-ABS functioning resulted with a rapidly decelerating motorcycle, and – once the initial I-shouldn’t-be-doing-this gag reflex was muted – no drama. Switching off C-ABS and replicating the act resulted as you’d expect, with the front wheel washing away, but minus the crash due to Skidbike’s outriggers catching our falls.
“I could throw the KTM into a corner and and roughly hammer the brakes without the front tire losing its grip and without blatantly obvious pulsing from the brake system – the bike simply scrubbed off speed at a rapid pace,” says Duke. “The only drama was gathering the nerve to brusquely apply the brakes, not the physics-defying electronic execution.”
As we experimented with stabbing the front brakes, as well as applying continually more brake pressure in a series of front braking threshold tests, C-ABS kept the front wheel from locking, allowing for controllable deceleration when a motorcycle might otherwise tend to stand up and go straight instead of maintaining lean angle and continuing its cornering arc. We were riding in a controlled area, but the advantages are obvious for any street rider who might, for example, get too hot into a decreasing-radius turn, or encounters an object mid-corner that demands avoidance. Knowing that you can, if required, apply a substantial amount of cornering braking force without fear of crashing is a huge mental benefit.Read More...