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Traction Control - The Future

The future of Traction Control is about to take another turn for the better. Or worse, if you're a fan of bike racing.

Take a look at the car world first: If you've already mastered fast-processing ABS hardware then applying the same rationale to TC is a no-brainer. Mercedes Benz developed the first Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system for cars which uses individual brake calipers to arrest the appropriate wheel to stabilise the car and applying that to a bike is logical.

ESC has made a massive contribution to road safety in that it has effectively banished the spin. Cars are designed to crash into things head first - that's how the seat belts work, that's how the airbags work and that's where all the crumple zones are located. 

Hit something side-on (which is what you'll do if you spin) and you'll very quickly realise that the side of a car (with its door openings and head-height steel pillars) is not the strongest or most progressively deformable aspect.

Watch this video for a very graphic and very scary demonstration of how the super-skilled driver can replicate an ESC technique manually. But I think you'll agree it is a technique that only a few possess. Higgins uses the brake when the car's straight and full gas when it's sliding to pull it straight. Interspersed with masses of steering-wheel input and, presumably very high-pitched, squeaky farting.

Applying the same brake-application methodology to a bike, there's the scope to make an even more sophisticated TC system. Why not use the rear caliper to arrest a spinning wheel? 

By applying a touch of back brake to slow the spinning wheel down before then governing the throttle butterfly and then retarding the ignition the effect on the drive train would be far smoother. The levels of control would be faster, more progressive and put less unwanted force through either the transmission, suspension or tyre. Conventional TC systems - as fitted to the S1000RR BMW, ZX-10 and Aprilia Tuono only work by first governing the throttle butterflies and then retarding the ignition. No system as yet, uses the brake caliper to initialize the TC.

Bosch, however, are well advanced with this latest brake-controlled TC system.

Can't wait to try it...

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