Once considered an expensive, fancy technology meant only for premium cars, ABS, or Anti-Lock Braking System has become increasingly important to ensure road safety for not just cars, but two-wheelers as well. The efficacy of ABS systems in preventing locking of wheels and offering more control to the rider has been proven beyond doubt. A two-wheeler equipped with ABS will always be safer to operate, not just in slippery, treacherous road conditions, or in case of an emergency, but also in everyday riding scenarios. The importance of having an ABS system in ensuring rider safety has been acknowledged by the Indian government as well, and all newly sold two-wheelers above 125cc of cubic capacity will have to compulsorily come equipped with ABS by April 2019. TVS has been a pioneer in two-wheeler ABS technology for India, and was the first Indian bike maker to offer the feature on the Apache RTR 180. Here in this article, we explain in detail, as to how this technology works and why it’s so important to ensure your safety while riding.
What is ABS?
An Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) comprises, among other things, sensors which constantly monitor the rotation speed of wheels to figure when a wheel is about to lock up. Upon sensing a possible lock-up, a set of hydraulic valves adjust the braking pressure, preventing the wheels from locking up, allowing the wheels to roll, applying and releasing brakes at high frequency. This thwarts a loss of traction and steering control, offering more control to the rider.
Is motorcycle ABS different from car ABS?
ABS in both cars and two-wheelers work on the same basic principle. However, as you would imagine, for a car, a wheel locking up would mean the vehicle skidding and losing steering control to an extent, but still being balanced on its four wheels. However, for a two-wheeler, a lock-up of wheels, especially the front unit, would mean a complete loss of steering control and would make the machine fall, which is a very dangerous scenario from a road safety perspective.
Most modern cars with ABS have the system installed on all four wheels. However, ABS in two-wheelers, especially in cost-conscious markets such as India, is offered with options of a single, or dual channel system, wherein the former means an ABS system only for the front wheel, while the latter gets and ABS for the rear wheel too.
If an ABS system releases braking pressure, does it also increase the braking distance as a result?
No. On the contrary, scientific experiments have shown the correct use of ABS systems to reduce the braking distance, as the tyres are constantly getting traction, leading to a more effective scrubbing off of the speed, unlike in the case of skidding, where the tyres are grappling for grip. However, the more important advantage of having an ABS system is the control it gives the rider in emergency braking scenarios, especially where traction is scarce. A bike with an ABS system is way more likely to stop in a straight line and shed speed controllably, keeping the rider in control. A two-wheeler without the system, however, would lose traction and rid the rider of any steering control, and may lead to the two-wheeler taking a tumble.
What are the other advantages of having an ABS system?
Under emergency braking in dry conditions, ABS works very well to prevent the rear wheel from lifting up, preventing an inadvertent stoppie and putting the rider in better control. Even in wet, slippery conditions, a bike with ABS would offer way more traction and control than one without the system. ABS braking also feels very linear and isn’t abrupt. You can feel mild pulsations on the brake lever as the hydraulic system controls brake pressure – this works as a warning of sorts if you’re pushing the braking limits of the motorcycle.
Are there any disadvantages of ABS in two-wheelers?
There are none for the Average Joe. However, if you are a professional dirt rider who wants to deliberately skid the rear wheel for fun, a motorcycle without an ABS system at the rear would serve you better. Quite a few motorcycles these days come with a switchable ABS though, where you can turn the ABS system off if you wish to take your machine out off the tar for an adrenaline rush.
Have you ever ridden a motorcycle with an ABS system installed? How has your experience been? Do share your experiences with us through the comments section below, or give us a shout-out on one of the social networks. You can also ask us any questions you have about ABS systems on two-wheelers. Whatever it is, just say it – we’re listening very keenly. You can also read our blog on Sync Brake System here.