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What's the best way to practice using your Strom's ABS brakes?

When people are taught to drive cars with ABS for the first time, instructors make sure they understand that they can and should stomp on the brake pedal in an emergency. You don't need to pump them like in the old days.

I've been riding for 4 decades and got really good at modulating my brakes in a panic stop. I did regular braking practice, usually locking up one wheel at a time to get used to the feel of it and know when to release pressure and for how long. It must have helped. I never went down as a result of braking.

Now I have ABS and want to learn how to get the most out of this new kind of braking.

Is there a particular braking exercise that professional instructors recommend? Or something that works for you?

Take Care,

Mike Brown
Vancouver, WA
 

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Likely to generate a lot of input! (not a bad thing - gots to love technique topics)

Short layman's version the way I've always understood it: Brake just as you normally do up to the point of lockup, but when lockup occurs or you sense that it is about to occur, you let ABS do the job to modulate the brakes and do not pump. And then....

What you do immediately after that point is likely to vary from condition to condition and your judgment of the specific scenario; but I gradually back off the brakes to find the sweet spot which provides max braking while almost but not quite, just barely engaging ABS. The theory being that a fully braking and stable, but not pulsating, tread has better energy absorption than one that is constantly or frequently in transition. Which goes to why some riders feel they can outperform ABS themselves. 'Nother topic though.

My two centavos only and I certainly don't mind being corrected or educated.
 

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No expert here but when I practice my braking on my abs equipped wee I just hammer them both. I thought the abs was supposed to take the thinking out of it, besides that's what I'd do if a moose stepped out of the bush into my path.

Enjoy your new machine.
 

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ABS

I grew up in France and many of my bikes had ABS but we never train to use it , it is good to know the theoric side and that if you experience it what will happen ( and make some funny noise ...clac ...clac...)but it is only in case of emergency , the thing to remember is when you are off road you need to disconnect it as you may be in serious trouble if not.
 

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You'll probably engage the rear wheel ABS without even trying.
 

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No expert here but when I practice my braking on my abs equipped wee I just hammer them both. I thought the abs was supposed to take the thinking out of it, besides that's what I'd do if a moose stepped out of the bush into my path.
Yes and no.
Many people including you apparently misunderstand ABS. The whole point of ABS is that the brakes will not lock the wheels which allows you to manoeuvre the vehicle to avoid obstacles that are in your path.
Simply grabbing a handful of brake and hurtling headlong towards the Moose may result in a crash and may not but that is dependent on the distance between you and the Moose and your speed at the time you react and start braking. ABS may shorten stopping distances by a small amount in many instances but it cannot make the Moose move.
What people need to practice with ABS systems is manoeuvring during braking. Find a quiet place and slam the brakes on a couple of times to get the feel of how the ABS operates then start turning to avoid an obstacle (a piece of paint on the road or a small mark of some sort that isn't going to cause a problem if you hit it) whilst braking hard and as you gain confidence make your manoeuvres more pronounced until you are comfortable with the concept of braking and turning simultaneously. Once you can do this you will be using the ABS to it's full potential.
 

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Probably best not to over think it, just act in the same manner you would during a real emergency stop- slamming them on.


Go somewhere deserted and slam on the brakes while riding in a straight line, start out slow and gradually try it at different speeds. I would think once you got comfortable with the straight line stops you could try other things if you feel it's necessary.
 

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Interesting K1W1. MSF training emphasizes you can either brake or swerve not both at the same time. I've often wondered -why not? And you seem to indicate you do it regularly. I just watched a local video of a guy on a BMW with ABS go straight into a car that pulled out in front of him and stopped (typical) blocking his path. He made no attempt to swerve. Is the oft mentioned bromide brake or swerve not both, a wives tale of sorts, like don't let up on a locked rear brake?
 

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You can't brake and swerve with a traditional braking system on a bike because as soon at you turn the wheels you loose grip and lock the wheels up and go into a slide. That's why things like the MSF courses teach braking the way they do because they are teaching based on the premise that bikes do not have ABS which up until now has been correct.
I think that you will find that in two or three years time when ABS is mandated on all street bikes (the question is when not if) I'm sure that courses like MSF will change to reflect new techniques.
Grabbing a handful of brakes on a bike with ABS will generally result in shorter stopping distances for most people but as I said simply pointing straight ahead and hoping is not always going to work because of the laws of physics but practising avoidance at the same time as braking will allow a rider to get maximum benefit from ABS in situations where it's needed.
Lets replace the Moose with a child running onto the road. Would you prefer to slam the brakes on and hope you stop before you hit the child or slam the ABS equipped brakes on and try to avoid the child?
 

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I just watched a local video of a guy on a BMW with ABS go straight into a car that pulled out in front of him and stopped (typical) blocking his path. He made no attempt to swerve.
That is probably panic on the riders part and has no relationship to whether the bike had ABS or not.
 

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manoeuvring during braking..
Dont forget though there's only 100% of traction for the tyres. If you are alreay using 80% for braking, you only have 20% left for manoeuvring. In theory if you start to agressively steer (say using 70% of available traction), the ABS computer should then register there's less traction for braking and release the brake even further. - I wonder if a front wash-out can still occur, because it will still take the computer a few centimetres to react - i am fairly certain the stroms ABS is a reactive one and not a predicative one (thank god).

The other thing about front ABS activating is that it does introduce load transfer to the front - this is more pronouced if it's over bumps. the bike rocking front back while you introduce lean to it, is not good either.

The rear ABS activation doesnt not introduce load transfer- as while you braking a lot of load has been transfer to the front and the rear would hardly has load on it - the reason your rear will lock up or has abs activated a lot easier. I normally just keep the brake on the rear - my foot is really not sensitive enough to know where the rear's max traction is - just let the computer does its thing.

Personally, i brake as hard as i could before the obstacle, knowing that if i lock up, the ABS will keep me pointing straight and steady, release some brake just before i need to steer away from the obstacle. How much one can still hold on the brake and not introduce a wash out while steering is more dependant on the rider's skill.

+1 unfortunately ABS doesnt really take that much thinking out of braking - all the things you should do up to the point of activation is still hold true (progressively squeeze the brake rather than just jamming it, etc....) - and being able to continue braking just before the point lockup is always a bit better than braking, lock-up, then release and re-brake (either by rider or computer).

As others said, when the ABS starts - dont pump the brake yourself- its the ABS' job - u can release the brake a little to reduce the brake force - but it's hard to know how much - if in doubt just keep squeezing it the let the ABS do the thing.

do a few practice run - get used to the feel when ABS is activated, before practicing your obstacle avaoidance technique.

cheers and have fun
 

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Just an opinion...however, this Spring, April 1, I was the second rider in a group of 4. A car waiting to turn left was rear ended by a pickup truck,and launched into our path. The lead rider,on a R1200r didnt have a chance to react. He contacted the front of the car with enough force to shear off the front facia of the car. He sustained massive injuries, serious enough to warrant a medivac flight to a major hospital 120 miles away. All of this was at low speed, 35mph. He is out of hospital now,after 3 1/2 months and several surgeries. Suffice to say, serious as a heart attack.
I was on my DL650ABS. I was about 30 feet behind and to the left. I contacted the rear door of the car, and was unhurt.I remember feeling the ABS cycling as I braked.. You will relive one of these things many times, and what I most remember was there was certainly a reaction time delay on my part where I really didnt believe what was about to happen, and here is my observation.
I think it is not a question of learning a technique, but unlearning modulation technque. ABS is designed as a help in a panic situation. There may be riders who can feather the brake to the point of lockup while hurtling toward an unexpected impending collision, I'm not one of them. I stopped probably 3 feet late of avoiding contact entirely.
Here's how Ive modified my riding.
I routinely practice hard braking, and particularly do so on loose surfaces.I am trying to "burn in" that maximum lever pull equals maximum braking. I also am made much more aware of how little stopping and turning capabilities we have on such surfaces....without falling down...ABS allows me to "sample" these variations, and hopefully retain them somewhere in my database. And I think this makes me more a pro active rider,and its kinda fun.
All of my street bikes are ABS equipped.
On the vstrom, which was totalled in the wreck,and susequently bought back from the Ins. co, and rebuilt myself, I did the popular 4 piston upgrade.
While it is true the stock brakes will bring the bike to ABS actuation, I am of the opinion the 4 pots would have given me those 3 feet in this situation because of the responsiveness and decreased lever effort once I "got with the program".
Again, just my observations. Hope they are helpful.
 

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I think you make some good points, but I also have to differ in a few important areas, in red.

Dont forget though there's only 100% of traction for the tyres. If you are alreay using 80% for braking, you only have 20% left for manoeuvring. In theory if you start to agressively steer (say using 70% of available traction), the ABS computer should then register there's less traction for braking and release the brake even further. - I wonder if a front wash-out can still occur, because it will still take the computer a few centimetres to react - i am fairly certain the stroms ABS is a reactive one and not a predicative one (thank god). This is pretty important, and the reason why I would want to be very careful while swerving during ABS activation on a motorcycle.



The rear ABS activation doesnt not introduce load transfer- as while you braking a lot of load has been transfer to the front and the rear would hardly has load on it - the reason your rear will lock up or has abs activated a lot easier. I normally just keep the brake on the rear - my foot is really not sensitive enough to know where the rear's max traction is - just let the computer does its thing.

Personally, i brake as hard as i could before the obstacle, knowing that if i lock up, the ABS will keep me pointing straight and steady, release some brake just before i need to steer away from the obstacle. How much one can still hold on the brake and not introduce a wash out while steering is more dependant on the rider's skill.

+1 unfortunately ABS doesnt really take that much thinking out of braking - all the things you should do up to the point of activation is still hold true (progressively squeeze the brake rather than just jamming it, etc....) - and being able to continue braking just before the point lockup is always a bit better than braking, lock-up, then release and re-brake (either by rider or computer). I don't agree with this. During normal braking, of course nobody is going to suddenly jam their brakes on to the max, much more comfortable to be smooth. BUT, the beauty of having ABS on your bike is that you can't lock up the wheels, so you have the luxury to get right to max braking ASAP and there is no need to apply the brakes gradually if an obstacle is looming just ahead and you need hard braking right NOW! Applying the brakes gradually eats up time and distance as is undesirable on an ABS bike in a panic stop situation. It's also not desirable to brake just below ABS activation if you want to stop in min distance. Instead, you want get right into ABS cycling and keep it there until you know you will miss the obstacle or come to a stop.

As others said, when the ABS starts - dont pump the brake yourself- its the ABS' job - u can release the brake a little to reduce the brake force - but it's hard to know how much - if in doubt just keep squeezing it the let the ABS do the thing.

do a few practice run - get used to the feel when ABS is activated, before practicing your obstacle avaoidance technique.

cheers and have fun
 

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No expert here but when I practice my braking on my abs equipped wee I just hammer them both. I thought the abs was supposed to take the thinking out of it, besides that's what I'd do if a moose stepped out of the bush into my path.

Enjoy your new machine.
i'd do this also, but with the additional "fill my shorts" feature that comes with the instant moose scenario. :green_lol:
 

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Not having any experience with ABS on bikes this is just a theory, but here goes. I think that with ABS you should be able to do minor turning while braking hard but not swerving. If you keep the bike relatively upright the ABS should be able to cycle and not wipe out. But, if you lean to far the bike could easily low side even with ABS. The further you are leaned over the quicker the bike will fall if you lose traction. This doesn't allow the ABS time to cycle and keep the bike from falling. Also, static friction is higher than dynamic. That means you have more traction if your tires aren't sliding. So, if you are using most of your traction in a turn and you lock the tire even for an instant you could low side.

Bottom line, I believe the ABS would make it more forgiving to turn while braking. But, it is still dangerous and should be done with care. Like I said, that's just me thinking it through and is not based on experience.
 

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Although my bike does not have abs and I've not owned a bike with it, I have ridden many thousands of miles alongside a rider who's bike is abs equiped, and do have firsthand comparison experience with differences in how mine and his bike reacted under identical braking situations when his abs activated. We've also spent a good bit of time discussing the results.

I pretty much agree with Stoopy and AceRiders' replies. There's some other replies that imply how abs works, how it reacts, and stopping distance comparisons to non abs that I disagree with, but that's not what the OP asked.
 

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Yes and no.
Many people including you apparently misunderstand ABS. The whole point of ABS is that the brakes will not lock the wheels which allows you to manoeuvre the vehicle to avoid obstacles that are in your path.[...]
Many people, including you, apparently misunderstand ABS as applied to a bike; cars stay upright with locked wheels, bikes don't. ABS is a great safety benefit, but you don't want to corner too hard with it engaged, and you definitely don't want to engage it while cornering.

I've done quite a bit of experimenting with the ABS on my wee; this includes hammering on the brakes at 160 km/h, swerving with the ABS engaged at around 70 km/h, and hammering the brakes while going around a curve at 120 km/h (not leaned over hard, it was an easy longish highway curve).

Yes, ABS works the same on a bike as on a car.

NO, it does not necessarily allow you to steer a bike and safely manoeuvre around obstacles. Cars don't lean, bikes do.

Here's what I've noticed:

- If steering with ABS engaged, the bike will have a tendancy to have the rear step out of line and fishtail a bit.

- The brakes take about 1/2 a second before initially releasing a lockup; this has the following consequence: Engaging ABS while cornering hard at high speed without first straightening the bike will cause almost everyone to wipe out, or at least have a lot of fun with their handlebars, especially if you only use your rear brake; make sure you practice this with plenty of space around you and wear waterproof pants. When I tried it in the curve at 120 km/h, I was not leaned very far over, less than halfway, and my bike stepped to the outside of the curve by half a lane (I had hammered on both brakes simultaneously). This is normal, as the bike is sliding for 1/2 a second while the ABS reacts; once this happens, things are still a bit squirrely. I think the bike was trying to simultaneously low-and-high-side me, or tankslap me, or something; I was too busy to take notes at the time.

My advice is if you're going to jam on the brakes, do it while the bike is upright, and if you're going to practice it with the bike leaned over, practice at slow speeds first, and invest in some protection.

I've had to swerve around an obstacle that I couldn't stop for in time (my own stupididty), and while I was able to steer the front of the bike with the ABS engaged, the rear did not want to follow and slid one way and then the other; luck, reflexes, and lots of riding experience kept me up.

In conclusion: practice practice, practice.
- ABS in a straight-line is a no-brainer.
- For the curves, I think it's better to engage the ABS on both wheels before giving the bike any steering inputs. Once the ABS is engaged, practice steering (start at slow speeds in a wet parking lot); it's easier to handle a weird slidey bike, than to have a nicely planted bike turn weird and slidey mid-corner.
- Once you're ok with that, practice having it get slidey mid-corner; I don't have the balls to ever try that on purpose again.
 

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I think you make some good points, but I also have to differ in a few important areas, in red.
Hi, I'm a traffic safety researcher, amateur physicist, a driving instructor, and used to race as a hobby; and feel I need to correct your misconceptions in a few VERY important areas.

Abrupt ABS engagement takes about 4x longer to stop the cars I tested than proper braking technique; I assume it would also cause bikes to stop longer than the proper technique. Maximum brake pedal/lever application does not mean maximum vehicle deceleration.

Proper braking technique for maximum deceleration and shortest stopping time/distance is the following (and requires sh!tloads of practice to do right, with or without ABS; ABS just saves you when you screw this technique up or panic-grab the brakes):

- Start by gently applying the brakes to transfer weight onto the front wheel (not much slowdown happens here)
- As the weight transfers forward, brake pressure can be increased at the same rate as the weight transfers.
- Don't worry if the rear wheel comes up.
- Warning: This heats the brakes up quite a bit, and they will boil your brake fluid after 4 or 5 attempts. Allow your brakes to cool between runs.

Using this technique, I can bring my front brake lever to touch the handlebar and not have the wheel lock or the ABS engage; I should run a stopping-distance comparo this summer (ABS vs proper braking technique). Anyone want to bring a non-abs wee to the party?
 

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Dont forget though there's only 100% of traction for the tyres. If you are alreay using 80% for braking, you only have 20% left for manoeuvring. In theory if you start to agressively steer (say using 70% of available traction), the ABS computer should then register there's less traction for braking and release the brake even further. - I wonder if a front wash-out can still occur, because it will still take the computer a few centimetres to react - i am fairly certain the stroms ABS is a reactive one and not a predicative one (thank god).[..]
Yes, the ABS system on the wee is reactive.

Centimetres? lol, you fool ;) at 100 km/h, my bike leaves 2.5 metre long skidmarks before the ABS kicks in.
I guarantee that front wheel washout can and will occur if you apply the brake during a steering maneuvre.

What you describe above though is not going to happen, the computer cannot calculate traction, it only engages the ABS once the wheel locks up (it's reactive, remember).
In your scenario, the bike would start sliding sideways whether the wheels are still rotating or not; there's nothing the ABS can do with that.
 
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