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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been practicing emergency braking quite a bit recently and, as part of that, I intentionally try to brake to the point that ABS engages. Speeds prior to engaging the brakes are up to about 45 mph. I can tell that the front ABS is engaging, but it seems like the rear ABS is not activating and that the rear tire is locking-up/skidding. When looking at the skid marks on the pavement, I see an uninterrupted straight mark. I'm wondering if the rear ABS is working. Does anyone know a way to check to confirm that the rear ABS is functioning? Is it more likely that is its functioning and that I just can't feel it?
 

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There should be a dash light that tells you if the ABS is functioning. At least if it passes the self test. On my 1700 I've never locked up either wheel. But I've never felt that hop, skip and jump my car does when I mash the peddle down so I can't say that I've ever activated the system. The rain and snow just moved back in so I can't go out and test it, but I'll give it shot if spring ever actually gets here :(
 

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2020 Kawasaki Vulcan S 650 Cafe ABS
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The ABS light should come on when you turn the ignition on and after it starts. If it is not lit, you might have a burnt bulb. It will go off after you travel a few feet.
 

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Are you using both brakes every time? If so, you could try a panic stop test using only the rear brake. Fair warning though, if there is a problem with the ABS and it locks up, you could be in for a low side. Use caution.
 

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There should be a dash light that tells you if the ABS is functioning. At least if it passes the self test. On my 1700 I've never locked up either wheel. But I've never felt that hop, skip and jump my car does when I mash the peddle down so I can't say that I've ever activated the system. The rain and snow just moved back in so I can't go out and test it, but I'll give it shot if spring ever actually gets here :(
Did you get a false spring with 80 degree temps, only to drop back down and have ice today too?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Are you using both brakes every time? If so, you could try a panic stop test using only the rear brake. Fair warning though, if there is a problem with the ABS and it locks up, you could be in for a low side. Use caution.
I think I am using both brakes every time, but you make a good suggestion. I will try it with rear brake only (in a controlled environment) and see what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
As a follow-up: I tried oramac's suggestion of testing a panic stop using only the rear brake. I can say the rear ABS is working, but it is not what I expected. There was a lot less pulsing than in the front brakes, but it did not skid to either side. IT as also a good practical demonstration of how much braking power is in the front wheel versus the rear. Thanks again for the suggestion.
 

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I have done many years of advanced rider training, and getting very proficient at braking is one the best and most critical skills to master. On my bikes, both with and without ABS I can almost get the front brake lever to the grip in high effort braking stops. I prefer to practice HE (High Effort) braking stops than just panic stops. ABS is great, but its also very good practice to get good on the brakes without engaging the ABS. Keep in mind, ABS is a STABILITY control, not a braking control. Stability means the bike maintains the intended track, does not swing wide, and stays upright. Also, do not assume your ABS allows you to engage an ABS type stop while leaned over. Very few high end bikes have lean angle compensated ABS systems. So for HE braking skills development:
1. Use a clean, straight, flat section of road or pavement, preferably with minimal side slope.
2. Get to a steady speed, like 35 to 45 mph, at least up into 3rd gear
3. Pick a visual focus, WELL ahead of your stopping area, like 200 to 500 feet ahead, DONT look down. Head and eyes up all the way to the end of every stop.
4. Apply both brakes, front with firm, progressive, increasing effort (front) rear with initial action and then decreasing effort (rear) right to the end of the stop.
5. After repeated stops to develop the feedback feeling from the front lever and brake pedal, do more stops with increasing front effort right up to the end of the stop.
6. As the front tire loads more during braking, the rear tire unloads more, so decrease rear brake effort by 50% and more. You want the keep the rear tire rolling all the way to the end of the stop. That is a big part of stopping stability and control.
7. As you develop front and rear braking feel, do more stops and apply front and rear effort quicker, but again squeezing the brakes on with increasing effort right to the end of the stop. Head and eyes up looking well ahead for stability and control.

Do all that a number of times and you'll decrease your braking distance significantly and in more control. HE braking should be a no drama event, and should prepare you to avoid a panic braking event. Some other tips: squeeze the fuel tank with your knees, tighten your stomach/core muscles to support your upper body, this allows your arms to stay more relaxed and your hands/feet relaxed to maintain better effort control. If your bike has floorboards, never apply the rear brake with your foot off the floorboard. Always keep your heel on the floorboard and apply the rear brake with the ball of your boot sole. It takes repeated practice but is SO worth it.

Some riders claim "I never use the rear brake, front brake only." Well, why give up the added braking effort of the rear brake but two things are more critical: 1. Think of the rear brake for stability/tracking as it pulls the rear of the bike in alignment with the front and your visual path of travel. 2. Effective use of the rear brake PULLS the rear of the bike down and reduces front end dive, reduces that pitching forward feeling. Done right, both brakes, the bike should just squat down almost level into the entire stop, no drama.

I have seen many many riders, riders of many years "experience" that never practice braking and never fully apply the front brake in control right to the end of the stop. Most riders pull the front brake lever back maybe half way and that's it. Why give up even more braking capability. Strive to use all of the front brake lever travel, practice it, get used to it, feel it. Also many riders, and those with "experience" OVER brake the rear WAY too much. What ever rear brake you use, reduce the effort by 50%. Once you feel it you'll gain confidence in it to apply the front brake nearly to the grip at the very end of the stop, and use the stability control of the rear brake right to the end of the stop. AND, doing so means you don't have to "suddenly pop out both feet" to support the bike at the end of the stop. Riders who always pop out both feet to come to stops do not have control and confidence in their braking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
practice it, get used to it, feel it.
Thank you Andy, for that advice and free instruction. I can tell you put a lot of time into that reply and I appreciate it. It all makes sense to me and I will incorporate those 7 steps into my regular practice. Is it safe to assume that I should be downshifting all the way through the High Effort stop? What are your thoughts on that? Clutch in the whole time and just try to get to first gear?
 

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Thank you Andy, for that advice and free instruction. I can tell you put a lot of time into that reply and I appreciate it. It all makes sense to me and I will incorporate those 7 steps into my regular practice. Is it safe to assume that I should be downshifting all the way through the High Effort stop? What are your thoughts on that? Clutch in the whole time and just try to get to first gear?
Focus first on your braking technique. So for now just pull in the clutch and focus on the braking. Downshift to 1st after coming to a stop. Then after you've developed the braking skills, then work on downshifting the gears as you complete the braking. Doing it this way allows you to focus on the braking and technique.

The eventual goal is to be consistent and proficient at braking while at the same time shifting down through the gears. But 1st develop your braking technique.
 
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