Traction Control - Here and Now

Leap of faith (in gradual stages)

Posted: 22 July 2011
by mark forsyth

'I won't crash, I won't crash, I won'... etc, etc

After we'd finished frightening ourselves panic braking on ice, gravel, wet cobblestones and sand it was time to test the latest Bosch traction control (TC) as fitted to Aprilia's delicious new V4 Tuono. This is an eight-stage TC system with eight being the most obtrusive and 1 being no guarantee that you wont flip yourself like a cheese omelette.

We were told to accelerate from rest, shift up to second and pitch the bike into a tight left hand turn that opened out progressively. The aim was to crack the throttle open as wide and as soon as possible. It takes quite a leap of faith to do this on an unfamiliar bike.

But after three or four passes it was fun. The Tuono responds to this cack-handed treatment by not opening its throttle butterflies until it detects that wheelspin is not a risk, despite the fact you've got the cables stretched like piano strings. There's no gurgling, no miss-firing, no popping and banging, it just feels like the hand of God nursing you through the corner opening the taps for you when it's safe to do so.

That was on settings eight, seven and six. Below six things get a bit more conventional in that the rear will pitch and yaw as it slips and grips - this sensation gets more pronounced as you work your way down the TC settings until you get the impression that if you ask too much it will highside you. Still, it's entirely up to you - just pick the setting and choose what you want. Impressive. Particularly when you consider how useful this technology is is on constantly changing surface grip levels - like any normal road.

Previous article
Is MotoGP about to get even more boring to watch?
Next article
I've tested ABS to the max...

Best start on setting eight, Traction, Control, recalibrate your brain, Bosch

Discuss this story

So on an unobtrusive setting does the system allow the rear wheel to spin slightly then?
I guess what I'm asking is, does it teach you to power slide out of turns?

Posted: 01/08/2011 at 13:54

The system on my ZX-10R will let the rear wheel spin up without intervention when you're upright. So for example, wet road = lots of wheelspin if you pin it form the lights.

When you're cranked over, you can pin the throttle and instead of the system delivering the power, then saying "hang on that's not good" and cutting it, it lets you have the power with much more finesse, so the rear does spin, but not so much as to abruptly break traction and upset the bike. Its constantly being monitored (not by me, thank god) but by the ECU.

In this vid the rear is spinning out of almost every corner, but you don't hear the drive being cut, nor do you actually see a lurid slide (even though it does feel like it's moving, a lot!).

Michelin Pilot Road 3 on track video

Posted: 01/08/2011 at 14:33

Ah. So I guess you get to find out where the limit is so thats instructive, but its not going to allow you to get it all sideways with the tyre smoking like on the Tuono promo video that Aprilia released a few months back. Or does it?

Posted: 02/08/2011 at 10:24

It won't turn you into Garry McCoy.

Posted: 02/08/2011 at 10:58

You wouldn't wish that on anyone, would you?

Posted: 04/08/2011 at 10:12

Talkback: Traction Control - Here and Now

Busiest motorcycle review conversations