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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
so I was wondering if the 900's came with front brake abs? I ask cause when I apply the front brake at speed I hear kind of an electrical pulsing. since I'm still relatively green in the saddle(took the brc1 2 years ago and fair weather ride as much as possible), I've been trying to get myself used to trail braking with the front, or even just using the front more often and get away from the old way of thinking of not using the front cause you'll die and what not. and I tell you what, I've gotten a lot better in riding since I started incorporating the front more, at least with coming to a full stop. I still need to work on using it for trail braking. I use the rear for that right now. anyway, since I hear what sounds like a pulsing sound, I've been wondering if it may have come with front abs, or if abs was even an option on these back in 2007
 

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There's no ABS on the VN900.

ABS has visible hardware on the disk and a sensor near the caliper. There's no invisible ABS design. Bikes with ABS have it clearly marked and noted as a safety feature.

Anything more than mild trail braking on the street is not advised because of unpredictable road conditions. It's a good way to lock the front wheel when leaned over, and low side.

The way to turn without trouble is to get the braking done first and not go into the turn too hot. Any time I have to carry even a little brake into the bank to make the turn's radius I consider it a failure of technique.

If you feel pulsing in the front brake it's a brake issue, tire issue, fork issue, something else.

My 9 is willing to lock the rear wheel with little provocation. I do almost all braking with the front, and not when leaned over. The rear brake is supplementary. It will stop you just fine under mild braking conditions, but if that becomes a habit, you will lock the rear wheel and go down in a panic stop situation.

I'm sure there is a great deal more wisdom and experience than mine on this board, but that's my two cents.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I don't trail brake in town. And it's not a felt pulsing, it's a sound i hear that sounds like the brake would be pulsing electrically from abs, which is why i ask. Otherwise there's no indication that the disks are warped.
 

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Agree with Sonny's observations about braking technique and experiences given previously, except that the rear brake on my 900 so far doesn't lock up very easily. No mention of ABS on Kawasaki's web site description of the VN900 model line, and mine certainly does not have it.
 

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Maybe you are hearing the switch for the brake light?

I have not heard of trail braking?
Riding the brake/Brake for ___ chicks/give me a brake. But trail braking?
 

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I have not heard of trail braking?
Fifty, trail braking is carrying brake (mainly front, but could be both) into the turn, smoothly bleeding it off by full bank or apex of the turn, then getting on the throttle from there.

It's a controversial racing technique, the idea being to load the front wheel for stronger contact early in the turn and let the front brake pull the bike down into the turn (which it will).

The idea is to consume 100% of the available traction and to start braking later before entering the turn, giving a speed advantage.

On a known groomed track and known good tires it may give some advantage. But the street and highway are less predictable. And the consequences of misjudging the traction available before breaking loose either tire are bad.

It is not a part of the Keith Code Twist of the wrist school of thought. He says get your braking done standing up straight before entering the turn, then roll on the throttle in the bank to plant the bike and raise it on the suspension, giving you more cornering clearance.

That's how I do it, and like I said, if I still need some brake after entering the turn I consider it bad technique. I went in too fast. Which is always potentially deadly...

But trail braking works with the Keith Code thing of having X amount of traction available, and in a turn most of it is countering the side load on the tires. Trail braking is about messing around with what little traction you have left before breaking the tires loose.

You can experiment with it without going all the way out to the edge of the envelope. But to me it is dicey at best, and a crash if the road ain't smooth and dry and perfect.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
It's something that i've been working on since i've been using the rear a lot. After i move to Spokane next year, i plan on trying to get into some track days. My gs650g and kz1000 are both set up more sport like, and tbh, i enjoy it which is why i've been working on trail braking. On unknown roads or curves i can't see around, i don't try to go all out. One thing i definitely can't stand is the chicken stripes mentality.
 

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Just remember this: at 5mph or 100, with the bike leaned over, front brake pulls the bike down into the turn, rear brake stands it up. Coming off the throttle stands it up, too, if you do the conventional brake first, then turn. If you're too hot into the turn you don't want to straighten it up.

Don't ask me how I know. I should be dead... :(
 

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Thanks "Sonny"

Never to old to learn something new.

I guess I have been doing that for a long time. Mainly with the rear brake to tuck the rear end down.
 

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I need to go through the Twist of the Wrist material again... it's been years for me too.

You can counter steer against braking effects in a turn, but again you are eating into your available amount of traction in the situation.
 

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Thanks Sonny for clearing up the "trail braking" comment, and you described it right. A lot of people assume trail braking is dragging a brake (usually assume it is the rear) into a turn. But like you said, it is a much more intricate/skilled level technique used mostly to make a motorcycle turn in quicker, and to minimize front to rear tire loading variations in a traction/stability mode. Another way to consider trail braking, is using BOTH brakes in a manner to keep the front and rear suspension compression even, deep into a turn right to the apex, and then from the apex out to blend in the throttle while blending off the brakes so the front and rear tire loading remains nearly stable from entry to exit of the turn.

An advanced braking throttle skill for sure. I have been teaching MSF classes for over 23 years, and have had students tell me, "watch me how I trail brake into corners". Really? At 15mph on a parking lot range? Ok, tell me how you do that, and every time they describe nothing that is anything to do with trail braking.

Dead on accurate also on the physics you describe for braking on a motorcycle leaned over. I have proved time an again that when leaned over into a turn, a steady throttle and even an increasing throttle, does a lot more for leaning than people realize. I learned a lot of that by hustling through the twisites on late 70's BMWs which were notoriously not well suited to any throttle changes in turns, unless you were ON the throttle through the turn.
 

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Oh, and in regards to ABS. If your bike is equipped with ABS, it is only "along for the ride" doing nothing but monitoring wheel speeds in comparison against a calculated vehicle speed value in the ABS controller. ABS only becomes active, on any wheel, only when the brake is applied on that wheel, and ONLY when the ABS system has determined the wheel is "slipping" at about 10% to 20% slower than the calculated speed. If the brake is not applied and if the braked wheel speed is not slipping slower than the calculated speed, ABS is not actively involved in taking over brake control.
 

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My rear locks at about 20% - Asked the dealer at my first service, they showed me how there was so little to adjust the with the brake. Factory stnadard is like that i guess.

The front brake is quite smooth though, i like to use it to compensate for turns i failed to ... "judge".
 

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Ok, but 20% of what? 20% of your applied effort? If the rear brake is locking/skidding that easily I suspect it is more your technique or brake setup than it is a fault of the bike. I have ridden my buddies VN900 and I have no issues with the rear brake, but I only use the rear brake enough to be a stability assist to minimize front end dive during braking. Comments about the rear disc brake on the VN, and cruisers in general:
1. the only adjustment available on the rear brake on the VN is the rear brake pedal and the floor board position/angle
2. the pedal position and floorboard angle should be set so you can apply the brake with the ball/toe of your shoe/boot. NEVER apply the rear brake by lifting your foot off the floorboard, Keep your shoe/boot heel on the floorboard when applying the brake, so it keeps you from overpowering the brake,
3. you may have the rear brake pads changed to a less aggressive material to minimize the sensitivity, although Kawasaki has already chosen a mild brake pad material,
4. practice your braking skills, both for general braking and high effort braking, to get more effective on the front brake, get practiced and comfortable with the dive on the front end during braking. Use the rear brake only enough to help bike stability and keep the rear tire rotating. A locked rear brake skids and you loose bike stability.

A lot of riders use the rear brake much more heavily than they realize or care to admit. I have seen a lot of, especially, cruiser riders that rely a lot on the rear brake and are not effective with the front brake. Your comment about using the front brake to compensate for turns you failed to judge leads me to think you use the rear brake primarily. The right technique is to use both brakes for almost ALL braking at any speeds faster than a slow walking pace. Practice, practice, practice will do far more than anything else your dealer can do with the brakes on your VN900. Before spending/wasting money on parts/service at your dealer, spend the money on you, taking a BRC2 class at a local MSF approved site.
 

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This is a good thread going here, on a real safety issue.

When I got my VN900 Classic (used) the brake pedal was in what I believe to be the stock position, about 6 in. above the floorboard. I had to lift my foot off the board and put it on the pedal to use the brake. I couldn't control it finely doing that, and lost the stability of being able to put my feet down on the boards in a hard stop where bike weight and body weight are shifting forward under the braking.

Heck, even in my car I keep the right heel on the floor and pivot the toe between accelerator and brake. Otherwise, no sensitive control.

So, on day one with the bike, I pulled the pedal off the splined shaft and rotated it forward a spline or two, putting the pedal 2 or 3 inches above the board where I could reach it same as in a car, and keep my heel on the board. Works great and I can easily lock up the rear from that position -- there is little slack in the pedal. If you have slop in the rear brake, bleed the system and get it out of there.

This also helps greatly with slow parking lot work where you want to lightly drag the rear brake for control in tight 180's, figure 8's and so forth, where a little rear brake will help hold the bike up when you are right on the edge of scraping the board / crash bar and milking the friction zone on the clutch. Doing this takes sensitive control of the brake, much harder to do with the weight of your whole foot and leg on the pedal.

I have the Jerry Palladino Ride Like a Pro DVDs where he hammers on staying off the front brake in low speed maneuvering because it immediately pulls the bike down.

But Palladino also emphasizes always using both brakes and favoring the front in all but low speed maneuvers and making it a solid habit so that in a panic stop your instinct causes you to hit the front hard and the rear less to always get full stopping power.

If you don't make that a habit you will use the rear in a panic situation, probably because we have used the foot brake our whole lives in cars and that is our instinct. Do that and you will lock the rear brake, skid, risk having the rear wheel come around and greatly extend your stopping distance.

There is a youtube of a CHP motor officer showing MC accident scenes where the rear wheel skid mark goes right to the point of collision and then of course ends on impact. Check it out. This is what you get when your habit is relying on back brake.

70% or more of your stopping power is in the front brake because the bike's weight is moved forward increasing pressure on the front tire's contact patch and removing it from the rear. The harder you are stopping the less weight on the rear and the faster it will break traction and skid.

It's a seductive bad habit to rely on rear brake. It may work fine in calm, ordinary riding, but in a panic stop it is going to bite you hard.
 

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Yes, this is a critical discussion really, as a lot of cruiser riders never really practice good braking skills, especially high effort braking skills.

For example, years ago I taught a MSF ERC (experienced rider course), and a husband/wife team was in class, he on a FLHTC and she riding her own Road King. He claimed he was riding for 30 years. When he came in on the quick stop, he tromped on the rear brake with his boot completely on the brake pedal like he was driving an old 67 Chevy. Rear tire locked up and slid/slewed all over from just a 25 mph stop. He looked over at me with that "How'd I do look?" I told him "keep your heel on the floorboard and modulate the rear brake with the toe of your boot, and then use a lot more front brake." His next stop was MUCH shorter, but his eyes were HUGE when he felt what the bike could really do. After a few more stops he was hauling that big Harley down as well as the BMWs in class that had ABS too yet.

Not long after that, a local charity ride went bad. A rider dumped her bike on a straight stretch of local road (55 mph limit) that gets deep puddles due to a lot of farm equipment and truck traffic. These large charity rides rarely get to the posted speed limit. She lost control and dumped her bike when it hydroplaned in the deep puddle. The couple on their FLHTC behind her lost control, I measured the skid marks at nearly 70 feet, except for a gap, where they rolled over her, AND the skid marks continued for another 20+ feet after rolling over her. So even at less than 55 mph, riding two up, the rider on the FLHTC was VERY ineffective on his brakes and simply locked up the rear brake, hit the rider down, and then managed to dump his bike after going over the other rider.

Yet, a cruiser, because of the low center of gravity/long wheelbase/fat wide tire contact patch, should be very effectively braked in the hands of skilled riders. You will NOT "go over the handlebar" under heavy braking if you are looking well ahead and up (NEVER look down when braking). People that claim they went over the handlebar don't realize they have very poor braking technique, probably looked down, got the handlebar skewed slightly, and the front end folded in and dumped the bike. But the momentum of the rider continues straight forward even if the bike dumps sideways and the rider falls forward. But none of this is the cause of the front brake, it is all the cause of rider error and poor braking skills.

Like you said, effective use of the rear brake aids stability and balance. Watch the motor cop videos on Youtube; none of them use the front brake for the tight skills, most of them hold the throttle steady, and use the clutch and REAR brake to balance the bike. Correct, effective use of the rear brake actually does cause the bike to want to stand up in tight maneuvers which makes it easy to lean the bike in for tight slow turns. Learning this skill also helps at higher speeds to use the rear brake for better stability. The rear brake is mostly for stability and balance and far less to rely on for effective total braking distance control. Also, "hadda lay it down" is THE biggest lie made by any rider. I will challenge any rider who claimed he/she hadda lay the bike down. The rider simply screwed up and dumped the bike.
 
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