The most basic safety feature a motorcycle must have is ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) which prevents wheels from locking in panic or hard braking situations. Each year hundreds of riders die on the road just because they lack safety like a helmet, riding gears, or proper control of their motorcycle, although there are many other factors, still, we simply cannot neglect our faults.
Today we will discuss what is Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), how it works in motorcycles, and its importance in your safety. Skip risking your life!
How ABS works?
The working mechanism of an ABS system is easily understandable by its name, whenever rider applies brake it prevents the wheel from locking but the question is how?
An ABS electronic controller monitors the wheel rotation (rpm) and how much brake pressure (through brake fluid) applied continuously so that it can automatically reduce brake pressure when it is about to lock the wheel then immediately re-apply again and continue to do so until the wheels stop.
This happens so instantaneously that, from the rider perspective, he noticed nothing extra is happening behind the scene rather than simply engaging the brake and the motorcycle stopped.
You can watch a small video clip explaining how ABS work and its benefit from the class leader Bosch.
Note: Most of the motorcycle ABS works at the speed 0f 30-40 Kmph or above.
Why ABS is a must-have Safety Feature?
For a very experienced rider who probably learned motorcycle riding in drum brakes may feel ABS is overrated but trust me it is not and here is why? Controlling a motorcycle during hard braking is always a difficult task because
- Handling drastically reduces otherwise rider may lose control and skid.
- Due to a wheel-locking, a motorcycle may become unstable in unpredictable patches like mud, sand, ice, rocky & slippery terrains.
- Immediate stop for any reason from a good speed (more than 60 Kmph) could create more pressure on your legs, hands, neck, or even spine.
Now, I am 5.5 ft and own a Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 (2015) without ABS obviously, on many occasions like in Ladakh, Nainital, Sikkim, I felt out of control due to panic braking. To overcome this, I had to engine braking or pump the brakes although this worked well, still having an extra set of safety features which will get your back, is quite justified.
Lastly, most of today’s newbies lack patience & will to control the motorcycle power despite the fact, current motorcycles are getting more power and torque figures day by day even applicable for smaller displacement (cc) motorcycles. That is why ABS became a must-have safety feature.
- ABS ensures great handling & maneuverability during hard braking, even braking distance becomes shorter.
- Boosts confidence to ride and control a motorcycle better.
- ABS might enhance fuel-economy due to controlled braking.
- As ABS needs extra components like sensors, controllers, etc. the cost of a motorcycle increases.
- Many riders become reckless cause they think nothing wrong could happen to them.
- The same version of ABS-equipped motorcycle weighs more than its non-ABS version.
- Replacing a faulty ABS may cost you more but remember, life is more important than money.
Single-channel and Dual-channel ABS
ABS can be either a single-channel or dual-channel system, to simplify things if a motorcycle has disc brakes in both the wheels it might have dual-channel otherwise single channel is only applicable for front disc brake.
Generally, front-wheel locking considered to be more dangerous than rear-wheel as we steer through it. So, single-channel is the minimum you must have. But if a motorcycle has punchy brakes in its rear-wheel too then dual-channel ABS is always recommended.
Installing ABS on a non-ABS motorcycle?
The only pre-requisite to have an ABS system is Disc brake because it measures the brake oil pressure to work. Although aftermarket so-called mechanical ABS is available, those are of no use, literally NO USE. Hence, OEM fitted ABS is the only way, also please never try to convert your non-ABS motorcycle with ABS systems. They often lack integrity and fails, the last thing you may want is to risk your life.
Latest ABS related rules in India
Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had issued a mandatory rule starting all two-wheeler having more than or equal to 125cc displacement and below must have ABS (Anti Brake Locking System) and CBS (Combi Braking System) respectively, in effect from April 2019.
ABS is really a life-saver especially for two-wheeler but it can also pamper your riding habits, although it is quite dependable still you need to be more cautious with your braking patterns, in case it fails middle of nowhere, you might not want to meet with an accident.
Finally, We would always recommend purchasing a motorcycle with dual-channel ABS and if it comes with ABS on/off functionality, do practice occasionally in ABS off mode so you don’t do wrong in case of ABS failure or riding a motorcycle without ABS.
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