Understand your ABS system - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-11-2018, 08:05 AM Thread Starter
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Understand your ABS system

especially as it pertains to what your ABS system CANNOT do during an ABS assisted stopping event.

I have been riding ABS equipped bikes since 94 on a BMW R1100RS, and now on my 07 BMW R1200RT. Though, not all of my bikes are ABS equipped. This coming season I'm adding a Kawasaki VN1600 cruiser to the herd, and it does not have ABS. In the MSF and Road America cycle classes I teach we always discuss ABS systems, especially for what ABS can and CANNOT do.

I just viewed the Harley ABS video, which I bought on Ebay (I don't own a Harley). Via email last week I discussed ABS with Jerry Paladino of Ride Like a Pro. He suggested the video, but he also said he has not met a Harley owner with an ABS equipped bike that has viewed the ABS video. This video is provided to every Harley owner that buys a bike equipped with ABS. the video is very good at showing what ABS can do, and it emphasizes what motorcycle ABS cannot do. Interesting too, that over and over in the video it emphasizes control as the primary function of ABS. It is a very good video for any rider to watch to better understand ABS function, design and application. It does a good job of explaining the basic function and control of the ABS system to the point of detailing the components. What is really good is how Harley showed that a motorcycle with ABS cannot be steered like a car with ABS while engaged into an ABS assisted braking event.

Harley ABS systems on their newer models are unique in that Harley designed the tone wheel function into the wheel bearings so that an obvious added stamped or machined tone wheel is not visible. Harley strove to not have the tone wheels detract from the looks of the wheels as compared to a Harley without ABS. Neat idea, but it is a compromise because the limited pulse reading capability of a much smaller diameter tone generator limits how well the ABS system can read wheel speed, and consequently how quickly it can respond. The video details that the ABS system can pulse the brakes far faster than any rider can achieve, up to seven pulses per second. That pulse rate emphasizes the limitation of using a small diameter tone wheel system like the wheel bearings, in that most ABS systems pulse the applied brakes at ten per second which gives better overall control results.

This video is good enough to add to classroom discussion of motorcycle control assisted with ABS systems. I bought it for $8 on Ebay, it is titled "Harley Davidson ANTI-LOCK BRAKING SYSTEM" copyrighted 2007.

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-11-2018, 09:27 AM
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Interesting! I am a fan of ABS and really think it ought to be a standard feature on most motorcycles. However, I know it is not a magic wand that solves all problems. I would like to learn more about the affect ABS has on steering during an "ABS assisted braking event". I know ABS systems can differ, and right now my interest is specific to learning more about the Kawasaki K-ACT system (on my Concours) and the ABS system on the Versys and Vulcan.

I'm not a Harley hater, nor am I a fan. To me the tone wheels really make such an impact on styling, and it's nice if browsing on Craigslist to be able to see those to know for sure if a bike has ABS. Is there any externally visible indication of the Harley ABS system?

2015 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS, 2014 Kawasaki Versys ABS, 2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 500 (sold)

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-11-2018, 12:24 PM Thread Starter
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The only clue of ABS on the front end of the would be for the speed sensor wire coming somewhere from the wheel hub and up the fork leg.

On non Harleys the tone wheel is usually very obvious and easy to see. The HD video is very good in showing a visual of a rider on a full dresser, applying the brakes hard in a straight line, getting the ABS to engage, and then trying to steer in a manner like swerving to avoid an obstacle. The video clearly shows the bike reacting to a near front wheel slide even with the ABS active to the point that the outrigger touches down, because it cannot adequately respond to the added loss of traction due to the rider steering the bike during the ABS event.

When I emailed with Jerry Paladino (Ride Like a Pro) even he said he was surprised by the number of Harley riders who think they can haul into a corner on an ABS braked Harley, and that the ABS system will save their ass. The physics of cornering and proper leaning technique still apply. On the video it makes it very obvious that the proper technique to engage ABS in a corner when leaned over is to quickly and assertively straighten the bike up and then make a quick stop. This is another technique I'd bet VERY few Harley and cruiser riders ever attempt and certainly probably never practice.

Not to get into another whole discussion about countersteering, but the technique to getting any bike to very quickly stop in a curve is:
1. FIRST and foremost look up/straight ahead where you want/need the bike to go,'
2. SECOND push assertively on the "outside" handlegrip, or the high grip. In practice, going to the right/leaned to the right, push quickly on the LEFT grip. Going to the left/leaned to the left, push quickly on the RIGHT grip. This is opposite of normal countersteering.
3. THIRD, after the bike is straight up perform a straight line quick stop.

This technique could also be used to very quickly scrub off a lot of speed in a corner and then get off the brakes to change your line and complete the turn. Example; you are into a big right hand sweeper and as you get through the turn you see a big sand wash out onto the turn exit. But you don't want to run way wide going out of the turn. Straighten up the bike quickly, brake hard to scrub off the speed, then off the brakes and quickly again countersteer into your new line to avoid the sand wash and complete the turn. Now, that is a LOT to accomplish quicklt and accurately. But it is a good mid-turn line adjustment maneuver we teach on the Street Skills 2 class at Road America in Elkhart Lake WI.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-12-2018, 07:56 AM
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Good information, thanks Andy!

2015 Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS, 2014 Kawasaki Versys ABS, 2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 500 (sold)

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 01-12-2018, 08:24 AM
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Glad to see your post mentioning that HD had an ABS video. This is my first ABS scooter( all my Beemers were preABS) . I youtubed the video and found it informative. Funny that you should mention Jerry Paladino and Ride Like a Pro. I have taken the course 4 times so far from Joey Redmon in Greensboro NC , on my Nomad. I highly recommend it to anyone regardless of experience level. keep the shiney side up.
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