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massman

ABS or no?

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massman
Gotta love an MSF instructor calling safety features like ABS "technical googads".
I was simply making the point that ABS is a helpful technology but that I deal with a disturbingly large number of people who think it'll save their bacon each and every time. Mastering non-assisted technique is vastly more important and you'll know what to do when the computer isn't there or is misbehaving. ABS is a crutch. A nice, and useful crutch, don't get me wrong, but it is no replacement for a properly trained rider who practices. 
Most Americans barely put 3000 miles/yr on their bikes. Aside from General Aviation pilots, nobody in their right mind would consider this sufficient to maintain competency. 
An argument could be made for the exact opposite. That the general low mileage of bikers makes ABS even more important. You can't really practice NOT panicking while in a safe environment at a MSF. It's not a real emergency when the environment is safe. It's similar to a Mythbusters episode where they tested torture myths, which was pointless since it was voluntary torture in a safe environment, compared to torture forced upon you that you cannot escape. 
You can see the "emergency" coming a mile away at a MSF. You can even skip the "emergency" completely and just try again. You cannot try again in a real world emergency. ABS literally saves lives.
 
Honestly I hate that weird elitist mentality, that "proper" breaking without ABS is superior. There's literally nothing supporting that claim. The fact that all new bikes have ABS by law (at least in the developed countries) makes the whole argument moot.
 
Nevertheless, I agree wholly that too many bikers don't know how to handle a bike that gets out of shape. And I simply cannot fathom why MSF isn't mandatory everywhere.

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pattonme
> That the general low mileage of bikers makes ABS even more important.
 
I guess I wasn't being clear. I have no objection in the abstract to every bike being equipped with ABS. Nor was I trying to imply that non-assisted braking was superior or more "pure" to ABS-assisted. What I object to is for that safety net to be the excuse that allows people to not develop, nor practice proper braking technique. We see it at the ERC (experienced rider class) all the time. People who have ABS rely on it and just mash the levers like drivers do on cars because ABS will bail them out.
 
Till it doesn't. And then we hear "but I have ABS...a crash was un-possible" "why, yes you do. and yet you don't know how to stop worth a damn".
 
 
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yamahappy74
The fact that all new bikes have ABS by law (at least in the developed countries) makes the whole argument moot. 

Huh? I don't know what you're talking about because my brand new 2015 FZ-07 doesn't have ABS. Pretty sure the U.S. is still considered a developed country. 
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pattonme
All Euro-zone countries have mandated ABS on 2016+ forward.

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phicurious86
MSF course first and foremost. Worry about what kind of bike after she decides whether she wants to ride at all. Fairly significant chance she'll decide she doesn't want to ride, and then you'll have saved yourself some time and money by avoiding a resale of a bike.
 

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massman
Huh? I don't know what you're talking about because my brand new 2015 FZ-07 doesn't have ABS. Pretty sure the U.S. is still considered a developed country.
I actually thought the US was ahead of EU in regards to safety, but I wiki'ed ABS a bit. ABS is mandatory in EU from next year. I'm assuming that the US will follow suit and make ABS mandatory for bikes, like they did for cars in 2011 (EU 2007). 
It's actually pretty insane not to require ABS for an inherently unstable 2 wheel bike that easily becomes unrecoverable when wheels lock up. All the while requiring ABS for cars, that remain relatively stable while wheels are locked. The lawmakers should have required ABS for bikes first. 
 
--
 
Ah ok, pattonme. I mistook you for an anti-abs crusader, my apologies :)
In my opinion every street rider should learn how to handle a dirt bike. A dirt bike is out of shape 50% of the time and those skills can sort of be transferred to street bike emergencies when the wheels start sliding. Out of curiosity do the riders in your courses learn how to handle loose gravel on tarmac? Because that seems to be the main cause of solo accidents around where I live.
 
There are also tonnes of old guys on BMW 1200 GS "Adventure" bikes that have never been offroad on adventures, so odd.
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norcal616
I dunno why ppl get so hung up on ABS...the more one relies on technology to ride the more skills they lose... I have never owned or rode a bike with ABS or " connected" braking... The best way to learn is to ride a TTR 230 off road thru the trails, get used to tires sliding and how a bike behaves....
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massman
I dunno why ppl get so hung up on ABS...the more one relies on technology to ride the more skills they lose... I have never owned or rode a bike with ABS or " connected" braking... The best way to learn is to ride a TTR 230 off road thru the trails, get used to tires sliding and how a bike behaves....
While I agree that it's preferable to learn how to handle a bike that's out of shape (and offroading is extremely fun), a large part of motorcycle riders do not share that view. You cannot force "casual" riders to acquire a desire to hone their bike skills. The vast majority of riders just want to ride a bike, and they'll never push themselves or their bike in the twisties or the track.  
Fact of the matter is that 99.9% of the time, ABS brakes behave identical to oldschool brakes. Unless you're constantly riding at the limits of you and your bike's abilities, ABS shouldn't get activated more than a few times a year. In emergencies.
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yamahappy74
Nevermind the extra weight ABS adds to the bike and the added expense of brake work. I really don't see the point of ABS beyond helping people who haven't developed the skills necessary to brake properly in an emergency. It's not like a seat belt. It's a crutch.

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pattonme
mandating ABS on cars makes perfect sense actually. They are 99.8% of the vehicles on the road. The USA hands out drivers licenses if you can fog a mirror. They require no professional instruction (unlike say Japan, which costs THOUSANDS and months to get your license - not that Japanese drivers are any good, mind). Since untrained people just panic and mash the gas^H^H^H brake pedal to the floor as hard as they can, ABS is the way to "protect the public" from the state's deliberate failure to actually enforce standards.
 
At the risk of taking this even more off topic, no, the MSF curricula makes no accommodation for any surface that isn't tarmac, though we do run in the rain and sometimes blowing snow.
 
@norcal616 I've never owned an ABS bike either and don't plan to any time soon. It's one more damn computer and electronic gizmos to go wrong. As much as I harp on practice maximum braking, I know that human nature being what it is, I'd likely get sloppy over time and mentally 'relax' that extra bit and do something unwise and expect the computer to bail me out.
 
Riding an inherently unstable vehicle is dangerous. If you're not committed, then you should reap the consequences of your cavalier mindset. That goes in spades in the GA community and why there are so many fatalities (per air mile or trip) compared to other high-risk endeavors.
 
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phicurious86
Nevermind the extra weight ABS adds to the bike and the added expense of brake work. I really don't see the point of ABS beyond helping people who haven't developed the skills necessary to brake properly in an emergency. It's not like a seat belt. It's a crutch.
May as well get the popcorn ready for debates about the usefulness of ABS. However, there is a substantial amount of data that supports the conclusion that ABS is more than just a crutch. It can't replace actually braking in an emergency, but as the data clearly shows, it does help basically all riders stop more quickly and in a more controlled fashion when faced with an emergency braking situation. So while you don't have to have it, it's not going to hurt (at least not more than locking up a tire is going to hurt) and almost always going to help. I'd have gotten it on the FZ-07, if it was an option, even with the extra cost.
 
Some data - http://www.iihs.org/frontend/iihs/documents/masterfiledocs.ashx?id=2042 and some more recent data that looks like it supports the data in the iihs study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24884403
 

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phicurious86
@norcal616 I've never owned an ABS bike either and don't plan to any time soon. It's one more damn computer and electronic gizmos to go wrong. As much as I harp on practice maximum braking, I know that human nature being what it is, I'd likely get sloppy over time and mentally 'relax' that extra bit and do something unwise and expect the computer to bail me out.
 
Riding an inherently unstable vehicle is dangerous. If you're not committed, then you should reap the consequences of your cavalier mindset. That goes in spades in the GA community and why there are so many fatalities (per air mile or trip) compared to other high-risk endeavors.

I've never understood this line of reasoning about slacking off because I know there's a little safety net waiting for me. I don't drive a car like care-free doofus because I know there are airbags and seat-belts, and ABS waiting in the wings. Instead I view those safety features as things I hope never to have to rely and do everything I can to avoid activating. I've never had to fully activate those features (though I would have activated the ABS on a bike more than once), and hopefully never will, but I'm sure that I'll appreciate them looking back on the probabilistically unavoidable accident that I will have in the future.
 
I look at ABS and think "That would definitely come in handy in an emergency situation." but I don't immediately think "Oh, and since it would be so handy, that means I can be a less attentive rider and not worry so much about doing everything I can to avoid emergency situations."
 
Do some drivers and/or riders really actively think that they can be sloppy because of safety tech?
 

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pattonme
> Do some drivers and/or riders really actively think that they can be sloppy because of safety tech?
 
Of course they do. If there was a 4" metal spike in the middle of the steering wheel instead of an air-bag would people text, phone while driving, oblivious to the world around them and their task at hand? If you know there was a good chance of you dying or getting royally hurt would you ride without AGATT? Or speed +30mph or tail gate, or dive between vehicles weaving in and out, or do any of a long list of other stupid and/or unsafe actions?
 
A multi-year motorcycle cop crashed and died right near my house a couple years back. No I don't think his HoG police bike had ABS but I doubt it would have saved him anyway. He got complacent. And he paid the price.
 
 
Every time one puts on a bike helmet it ought to be required of the rider to face a picture of their loved ones and say "I whom am about to die, salute you." Ok, I jest but seriously, riding a motorcycle is not a safe activity. That said, I've had only 3 crashes (there are no such things as accidents - you crashed either from poor judgement or failure to pay attention to your environment) in 250K of riding. 2 were completely my fault because of very poor judgement (completely exhausted, and speeding on a deserted 6-lane interstate) and the 3rd could have been rather worse had I not used intelligent lane positioning.
 
 
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phicurious86
> Do some drivers and/or riders really actively think that they can be sloppy because of safety tech? 
Of course they do. If there was a 4" metal spike in the middle of the steering wheel instead of an air-bag would people text, phone while driving, oblivious to the world around them and their task at hand? If you know there was a good chance of you dying or getting royally hurt would you ride without AGATT? Or speed +30mph or tail gate, or dive between vehicles weaving in and out, or do any of a long list of other stupid and/or unsafe actions?
 
A multi-year motorcycle cop crashed and died right near my house a couple years back. No I don't think his HoG police bike had ABS but I doubt it would have saved him anyway. He got complacent. And he paid the price.
 
 
Every time one puts on a bike helmet it ought to be required of the rider to face a picture of their loved ones and say "I whom am about to die, salute you." Ok, I jest but seriously, riding a motorcycle is not a safe activity. That said, I've had only 3 crashes in 250K of riding. 2 were completely my fault because of very poor judgement (completely exhausted, and speeding on a deserted 6-lane interstate) and the 3rd could have been rather worse had I not used intelligent lane positioning.
 

I think the spike on the wheel example is a good one for showing that human behavior is generally sensitive to clear risk of harm (motorcycle riding being a clear exception). If there were such a spike on the wheel, I imagine we'd see quite a few less people texting while driving. But what I question is whether the bad habits of careless drivers are really coming from the kind of reasoning you originally mentioned. "I've got safety tech that will help me survive in a bad situation, so I can be careless." I don't know if there's any data on the reasons people give for texting while driving, or otherwise being careless, but I'm skeptical that many would list tech safety net as a reason for the unsafe behavior. Admittedly it could just be a subconscious thing that no one actively thinks about, but uses in some sort of subconscious reasoning. And again I agree that if you took those nets away and replaced them with something clearly harmful (like the wheel spike or over-brake bombs) we'd no doubt see a change in driver behavior.  
But suppose we just took away airbags. What kind of reduction do you think we'd see in texting while driving? I'm not sure, but I suspect not much. Why? Because airbag deployment really isn't all that common when we look at the total driver pool for one, and for two I suspect that people text while driving not primarily because they've reasoned about safety nets, but because driving a car is often boring, and staying up-to-date with friends and social media is perceived as fun, convenient and easily within the scope of the driver's abilities (which to me seems like a judgment often independent of safety tech features). Were we to give this imagined non-airbag world airbags, I'm imagining we wouldn't then see a significant increase in accidents as a result of increased driver carelessness.  I could absolutely be wrong about this though. I'll need to hunt for some data on accidents pre and post airbags. I'm also assuming we can compare airbags to ABS, but that analogy might not hold for some reason(s) I've overlooked (potentially frequency of safety tech activation).
 
Also, apologies to the thread OP. This is getting way off topic.
 

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massman
There are plenty of studies that show ABS improves safety. Your counter-argument is philosophy, not facts.

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yamahappy74
It's personal preference, actually. I've no beef with it, practically speaking. I just prefer to rely on my own actions and reflexes rather than assisted braking. It's fine for a car. On the bike, I'm fine without it.

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hobbs
My non ABS bike kept my head on my shoulders when a tow truck pulled out of a gas station across a line of backed up cars, pulling in front of me about 2 car lengths away.
 
ABS probably would have done the job quicker, but the brakes were still a ways from threshold limits.
 
Not even an apologetic wave, instead he rides my arse for the next 10 miles. This is why I don't carry firearms.
 
Anyway, back to the OP - if you're not cool with potentially being part of the reason for her expiration, keep the bikes for your own reckless enjoyment. Just my opine.
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pattonme
> There are plenty of studies that show ABS improves safety.
 
I reckon the studies actually show that ABS reduces the incidence of or at least the kinetic energy of crashes. If everyone were properly paying attention, properly trained and skillful, and took care of their equipment (properly inflated and grooved tires) and knew how to handle non-optimal conditions then the crash rate would be ~same as with ABS. But we all know that something as simple as checking tire pressure is almost never done and drivers might as well be acorns for all their skill and mental acuity, such that yes ABS is a fantastic technology that "pulls incompetent operator's ass out of the fire and spares nearby persons of bodily harm". On that basis I totally agree.
 
A 3000-5000lb missile has the energy to lay waste anything in front of it and cause extensive injury and property damage. A 500lb bike, rather less so. But we give the deadlier vehicle the least skilled operators. So yes, ABS to compensate for grotesque lack of operator skill, by all means.
 
ABS on a motorcycle can be absolutely useful and I'm sure was worth every penny to those who have needed it's services. I can't think of more than a handful of times that I've been in a situation that would have benefitted from that last measure of 'control' or 'margin of safety' an ABS system provides.
 
When you mandate something, you don't necessarily get something good. You get something that passed the lowest-acceptable standard (or worse, is self-certified). teh EU regs say everything over 125cc must have ABS. I think that's insane. Anything over 600cc, or over 60HP and/or over 500lbs, sure. Yamaha's new R3 now has to have ABS. Just how good of a system do you think is going to get installed on it? Or even the FZ07. The goal was cheap, fun. Yam has to tack on $1000 so something has to give. Either something else gets cut or the price increase is passed on. How does that effect unit sales?
 
 

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so1102
Discuss your preferences here.  Ready?  fight!

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pattonme
is kicking the head of a downed opponent legal? Or unified MMA rules? *grin*
 
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yamahappy74
Meh, let's just roll with it and see what happens. Hey, what's that over there?! *BOOM!*

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thomascrown
I would like the "safety blanket" of abs in the wet specifically. I just can't read the tires; I don't know where the traction is on a wet surface. I don't need it in the dry.
 
That being said, I still wouldn't want whatever kind of budget abs they'd come up with for a 7k bike.  Give me the latest, greatest lean angle abs/linked brakes/rear wheel lift mitigation, or give me nothing.  I don't need a Nintendo Gameboy doing my rudimentary, budget abs braking, when I've got a human brain at my disposal.  

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shadowcat
As a new rider (16k miles on my fz) I've had to make at least 4 emergency stops due to my inexperience as a rider. Of those 4 stops how many times do I think abs would have helped? None I never locked the front and only the rear one time which was fun. Maybe in the future it could save me, but there's no proof it will there are many MANY more factors that need to be taken into account than whether or not John doe had abs or not. I don't deny abs will help other new riders but I think knowing how to properly brake in the first place is far more important. If you crash and die then abs is useless, because your dead, if you don't crash then cool but can you prove he would have crashed without abs? Maybe, maybe not. Every incident needs to be examined individualy.

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hobbs
ABS stops a bike quicker than non ABS, when approaching threshold limits. That's pretty well proven, the sources and experiments are out there.
 
When ABS fails, do the brakes fail? Well, no... it just reverts back to regular old hydraulic brakes.
 
ABS only modulates the hydraulic pressure when traction is lost. The same thing a skilled pilot will attempt by pumping the brakes.
 
What's to hate? There's no additional maintenance.
 
All engines propel mass forward, but we keep adding more horsepower and torque. Makes sense to improve the brakes at least in some respect. Hydraulic systems have been around nearly 100 years or more.
 
It's like making a better assault rifle. In the hands of an insurgent, a cheap ol' Kalashnikov is plenty fine. They don't have the training or battle experience to fully utilize a $6,000 battle rifle. A well trained Marine, that's another story.
 
Same thing with ABS, except it benefits everyone, so not really the same but I liked the metaphor.
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phicurious86
As a new rider (16k miles on my fz) I've had to make at least 4 emergency stops due to my inexperience as a rider. Of those 4 stops how many times do I think abs would have helped? None I never locked the front and only the rear one time which was fun. Maybe in the future it could save me, but there's no proof it will there are many MANY more factors that need to be taken into account than whether or not John doe had abs or not. I don't deny abs will help other new riders but I think knowing how to properly brake in the first place is far more important. If you crash and die then abs is useless, because your dead, if you don't crash then cool but can you prove he would have crashed without abs? Maybe, maybe not. Every incident needs to be examined individualy.
I'm fairly certain no one debates the priority of learning how to properly brake as a safety measure. ABS isn't going to save you if you drive like a reckless idiot, but then neither will knowing how to brake properly. Given the option of having ABS, or having proper braking technique, then proper braking technique should always be chosen, but that's not a dichotomy we have to face. You can have both, and arguably you should have both, especially new riders who may be less aware of all the new stuff they need to pay attention to in order to avoid serious injury riding a motorcycle.
 
I don't think we need to prove that a specific someone in a specific instance would have avoided a bad outcome if only that specific someone had ABS, in order to have a sufficient reason for adopting ABS generally. We need data showing that any rider, regardless of skill level, will be able to come to a controlled stop in a shorter distance on average in a variety of rode and weather conditions while using ABS as compared to riding without ABS. We also need data on whether increased stopping power and control are generally correlated with accident avoidance. I think we have both types of data.
 
I am sensitive to the worry about the quality of the ABS system vs. the cost of the system. Is it too naive to think that if ABS were required by law that simple market functions would drive down the cost while simultaneously upping the quality to acceptable levels?
 

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