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Old 08-26-2013, 04:15 PM   #1
Nevada OP
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ABS off road??

Okay, so, I know that the juicy top notch ADV bikes have ABS that can be switched off (with varying degrees of ease) for when one heads out across the unpaved roads.

My question is this:

How important is it to be able to switch off the ABS for a rider that ISN'T imagining himself to be participating in the Dakar?

NOTE TO TROLLS: If you want to go on and on about how real riders don't need ABS, it's just marketing malarky, etc, etc. DON'T. Save it, stuff it, put it where the sun don't shine. I'm not interested in that at the moment, I'm interested in how much real world downside there may be to having ABS while poking around, not racing about, off pavement.
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Old 08-26-2013, 04:20 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nevada View Post
Okay, so, I know that the juicy top notch ADV bikes have ABS that can be switched off (with varying degrees of ease) for when one heads out across the unpaved roads.

My question is this:

How important is it to be able to switch off the ABS for a rider that ISN'T imagining himself to be participating in the Dakar?

NOTE TO TROLLS: If you want to go on and on about how real riders don't need ABS, it's just marketing malarky, etc, etc. DON'T. Save it, stuff it, put it where the sun don't shine. I'm not interested in that at the moment, I'm interested in how much real world downside there may be to having ABS while poking around, not racing about, off pavement.
I don't know about your bike, but on mine (F800GS) in certain rough areas, washboards, etc, when the tire is airborn part of the time, the ABS releases completely, so you have no brakes at all. Zero. This can happen at very slow speeds as well as faster, has nothing to do with Dakar. There is no bigger feeling of acceleration in all of motorsports as the moment you realize you have no brakes at all when you need them. If you are going down a steep hill at the time, you are well and truely fucked. If your buddy stops in front of you, he is well and truely fucked. I'd say go out in a safe place and try it and see what you think.

tkent02 screwed with this post 08-27-2013 at 10:25 AM
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Old 08-26-2013, 04:23 PM   #3
tokyoklahoma
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I could live with full time ABS on the front, IF I could turn the rear completely off. Stopping on a down-hill grade with a bunch of gravel and rock, you have to be able to lock the rear and slide until drag overcomes gravity.
One of my friends has a driveway that is gravel, and steep, and T's into a busy two lane blacktop. I would hate to have ABS there.
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Old 08-26-2013, 04:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tkent02 View Post
I don't know about your bike, but on mine in certain rough areas, washboards, etc, when the tire is airborn part of the time, the ABS releases completely, so you have no brakes at all. Zero. This can happen at very slow speeds as well as faster, has nothing to do with Dakar. There is no bigger feeling of acceleration in all of motorsports as the moment you realize you have no brakes at all when you need them. If you are going down a steep hill at the time, you are well and truely fucked. If your buddy stops in front of you, he is well and truely fucked. I'd say go out in a safe place and try it and see what you think.
Well, since my only ABS bike at the moment is an ST1300A, there is no such thing as a "safe place" to experiment, since once it gets up an unbraked head of steam, it probably won't stop this side of catastrophe. And I KNOW the ST1300's ABS doesn't have an easy means of disabling it.

So basically what happens is if you're braking, catch some wheel/ground separation due to the bumpitedy-bumpitties, the ABS gets all confused and let's the wheel roll free. By the time the ABS catches up to what's really happening at the wheel/ground interface, bad things may have happened. Got it, sounds like something to avoid.

Thanks for the info.
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Old 08-26-2013, 05:00 PM   #5
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"Real riders don't need ABS"

It is only important if you have taken the time to learn how to ride. Outside of that it sucks but don't worry about it because you will be too ignorant to know.

ABS is for the tarmac.
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Old 08-26-2013, 05:05 PM   #6
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Older ABS has a problem there, right. Modern ABS works very well on gravel or even wet gras. Most of the time one won't feel any difference while leisurely riding around. Even under bad circumstances most of the time you can do so much more with the front than with a locked rear... However, it IS nice to be able to lock the rear if you want to. Full time ABS front and deactivatable at the rear is the way to go, but if I had to decide all or nothing I'd take all ABS.
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Old 08-26-2013, 05:13 PM   #7
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Playing Ether's Advocate Here but...

Quote:
Originally Posted by tkent02 View Post
I don't know about your bike, but on mine in certain rough areas, washboards, etc, when the tire is airborn part of the time, the ABS releases completely, so you have no brakes at all. Zero. This can happen at very slow speeds as well as faster, has nothing to do with Dakar. There is no bigger feeling of acceleration in all of motorsports as the moment you realize you have no brakes at all when you need them. If you are going down a steep hill at the time, you are well and truely fucked. If your buddy stops in front of you, he is well and truely fucked. I'd say go out in a safe place and try it and see what you think.
Your point is valid, where dirt riding can mean your tires lose contact with the ground regularly. But the OP seems to be talking about trundling along on a fire road at a relaxed pace, as opposed to woods riding.
I also see your point about not wanting to ride into your buddy if he stops in the middle of a hill descent. However, a sensible protocol on group rides where such a steep hill descent presents itself, would be to take it in turn, each rider beginning the descent after the previous rider has reached and cleared the bottom. Failing that, if multiple riders are descending, the interval should leave enough time and space to recognize a stopped rider and maneuver accordingly to (at least attempt to) avoid bike to bike collision.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tokyoklahoma View Post
I could live with full time ABS on the front, IF I could turn the rear completely off. Stopping on a down-hill grade with a bunch of gravel and rock, you have to be able to lock the rear and slide until drag overcomes gravity.
One of my friends has a driveway that is gravel, and steep, and T's into a busy two lane blacktop. I would hate to have ABS there.
To this, as well as the other quoted post, I would remind that ABS is speed-sensitive. Or, put another way, speed is key data in the ABS computer's calculations to determine when and how hard (or how softly) to allow the brakes to work. In the hill descent scenarios, the speed at the crest of the hill would generally be quite slow.* If the amount of momentum you have when you initiate braking, which relates to how fast you are going, is minimal, the amount of intervention of ABS should be manageable to safely get to the bottom without crashing or getting T-boned by traffic.
* Rider aids like ABS don't compensate for lack of basic skillls like looking ahead and choosing your "line"
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Old 08-26-2013, 05:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nevada View Post
How important is it to be able to switch off the ABS for a rider that ISN'T imagining himself to be participating in the Dakar?
try a hill sometime with the ABS on..... it'll look something like this and terrifying. I've done it by accident and its not something I choose to experience again

FF to 25 seconds.

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Old 08-26-2013, 05:16 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Wraith Rider View Post
Older ABS has a problem there, right. Modern ABS works very well on gravel ...
Nope. The ABS on my 990 Adventure is modern (AFAIK, lol) and I hate it in loose conditions. It has put me in the ditch (no crash, just stopped in the ditch) and also into the weeds (again no crash) on loose gravel roads when I neglected to turn it off in advance.

I have ridden dirt since 1968 and in each case I know damned well I could have stayed on the road and kept going without ABS. I was riding "normally" at the time.
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Old 08-26-2013, 05:16 PM   #10
DAKEZ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eatpasta View Post
try a hill sometime with the ABS on..... it'll look something like this and terrifying. I've done it by accident and its not something I choose to experience again

FF to 25 seconds.


There you have it. The ABS was off... Until he dumped it a re-started it. Then came the FUN...
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Old 08-26-2013, 05:23 PM   #11
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I think I made an assumption

It never occurred to me that people ride in the loose surfaces with bikes wearing tires with >70/30 street/dirt ratio. I assume knobby tires when I think dirt. Happily close-minded like that. Tire choice should be a factor in the decision to leave the ABS on for dirt.
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Old 08-26-2013, 05:28 PM   #12
viverrid
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Originally Posted by tokyoklahoma View Post
I could live with full time ABS on the front, IF I could turn the rear completely off....
Nope, I want the front off too. And if I could only have one turned off, it would be the front. In loose conditions most braking power is still in the front. For best performance I want to be able to go in & out of lock in the front and pile up gravel ahead of the wheel, which is actually where significant stopping power comes from. Yup, in dirt it is routine to briefly lock up the front.

I won't repeat all the details of my ABS-caused excursions but it is the FRONT where the ABS lets me down. The rear, it's almost an afterthought. If the downhill is steep the rear won't have much braking power anyway. On my non-ABS DRZ, I seldom use the rear brake and don't "back it in" as much as I "slide it around" with power. When I had my (2-stroke) non-ABS GasGas it had less "engine braking" and I used the rear brake a lot more.

With my 990 Adventure, it is too heavy for me to want to slide it around much and I don't "back it in". Off pavement I do use the rear brake more than I do on the DRZ but most of the stopping power is still in the front. I want to be able to briefly lock the front on command. When the front ABS comes on in loose conditions, it feels like "no brakes". There is even the psychological illusion of acceleration since the expectation is to slow and the absence of the expectation is perceived as the opposite sensation.

In loose stuff (depending on what tires I was running) I could stop my earlier non-ABS V-Strom 1000 better than I can my ABS 990 (with ABS on) and those bikes are similar weight.
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Old 08-26-2013, 05:53 PM   #13
IgoFar
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There is a video out there that demonstrates stopping on gravel, once with ABS on and once with ABS off. With the ABS off, the rider could lock the rear brake. The dirt piling up in front of the tire helped slow the bike to a relatively quick stop. Then, he tried the same stop with the ABS on. He blew by the camera, brake lights glowing, like he had no brakes at all. That video pretty much put the issue to bed.
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Old 08-26-2013, 07:16 PM   #14
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Really depends on your definition of "off road"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nevada View Post
My question is this:

How important is it to be able to switch off the ABS for a rider that ISN'T imagining himself to be participating in the Dakar?
I've got a couple of bikes with ABS and routinely forget to turn it off on excursions off tarmac. When this is just a gravel road or hard packed surface, its really not that big a deal or even terribly noticeable but I'm also a relatively slow and cautious rider. I've never bothered to turn it off for road construction if that's any help to illustrate what conditions might be or not be appropriate for ABS use. The times that it has gotten my attention were in really nasty cobbles and loose surfaces on steep grades (pointed steeply downwards) or when things get real slick and muddy. The worse the terrain or conditions, the more important it gets to be able to and remember to turn those things off.

The trouble with your question is that its a slippery slope (some pun intended). As you venture "off road", what you consider interesting to ride will likely evolve as you learn stuff and start to look to challenge yourself as you get more and more comfortable and experienced doing so.

I like the ABS feature on my bikes but appreciate that it needs to get switched off in conditions that would render it useless or dangerous (where there is no traction and particularly that condition where the stakes are high). Since most bikes decelerate fairly quickly through easing up on the throttle or judiciously down shifting, there's really not all that many situations for myself where I feel the need to pull over and turn off the ABS system.
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Old 08-26-2013, 07:42 PM   #15
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....With the ABS off, the rider could lock the rear brake. The dirt piling up in front of the tire helped slow the bike to a relatively quick stop.
I like to be able to do that with the front also. But not at the same time! There are a lot of loose descents where the bike won't be able to slow down enough with just the back brake, The steeper it is the less braking power the back has.
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