Cornering ABS: Not coming soon

Tabloid red-herring. For now.

ON OUR recent trip to the Bosch test facility in Germany, their boffins teased us with news that they're developing an ABS system that works when the bike is leaning and turning. 

Their very neat and compact SU-MM5.10 lean angle sensor is capable of measuring yaw, roll and acceleration in three planes and samples at more than 100 times per second. It's processors like this that enable anti-wheelie and launch control systems to operate. 

When pressed on the actual feasibility of perfecting cornering ABS their answers sounded like they'll never actually crack it because to remove that level of control from a rider is a hot bed of legal responsibility. Recent reports in another motorcycle publication claiming that this system is 'coming soon', appear to be misleading. It's not coming soon and if it is, it'll be a very rudimentary system that 'assists' the rider rather than doing the job of full ABS at full lean. That, after all, would be nigh-on impossible.

Here's just one instance why. There are times when carrying a lot of front brake - trail braking - into a turn helps the bike actually turn by compressing the forks and therefore reducing the trail and effectively steepening the head angle by pitching the whole bike forward through its steering axis. For the skilled rider, it can be a particularly useful technique to deal with a tightening radius corner. Cornering ABS will not allow you to do this, either. As the front tyre begins to reach its limits of grip the ABS will switch braking force to the rear. Can you imagine how horrible that would be? The whole attitude of the bike would change almost instantly, forcing the machine to change line and run wide. Not great on a left-hander.  Also, how would the system differentiate between individual riding skills? Answer: it can't. 

And while it's relatively easy to measure and calculate lean angle, there's no way that technology can determine grip levels which often have to 'felt' by the rider. In a corner - far more than in a straight line - weight distribution and braking force are a crucial part of what makes riding a motorcycle so hard - yet so enjoyable.

Despite some very clever and super-fast processing speeds and sensors, building an ABS system for bikes that works in corners is not happening anytime soon. Claim culture will put paid to that. Bosch, however are continuing their R&D in association with an un-named manufacturer.

Don't hold your breath.

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