Makers hit brakes on ABS push
Bosch wants anti-lock systems made compulsory
MOTORBIKE makers are bemused by a call from electronics company Bosch for anti-lock brakes to be compulsory in Australia.
Bosch Australia has boldly stated too many motorcyclists are dying or being hurt because not enough is done to ensure bikes sold here keep up with international braking standards. But there are no international standards, at least not legislated ones. The European Union will make ABS mandatory on road bikes of more than 125cc from 2016 and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is lobbying the US administration to adopt similar laws.
Bosch regional president for chassis systems control, Mark Jackman, cites Victorian government research that motorcycles with anti-lock brakes are 37 per cent less likely to be involved in fatal crashes than those without ABS.
The research, regularly cited by Australian road safety bodies and relating to a 2010 US study by Eric Teoh, is out of date.
In a revised study with a bigger data set, released earlier this year, the percentage fell to 31 per cent. And the baseline figures behind the original percentage aren’t eye-catching: 6.4 deaths/10,000 ‘‘ registered vehicle years’’ for non-ABS bikes against 4.1 for ABSequipped machines. Teoh’s study notes that ‘‘ ABS has not significantly reduced crash risk for passenger vehicles . . . but there is reason to expect ABS will be more helpful to motorcycles because of the instability that occurs when either wheel locks (which crash reconstructions show is a common occurrence)’’.
He also says that buyers who spend extra for ABS may be more safety conscious generally, ‘‘ thus leading to lower fatal crash rates due to safer riding practices’’.
Bike makers agree that ABS is a valuable safety technology but are not impressed that Bosch is now calling on the Federal government to
‘‘ convene a meeting of motorcycle manufacturers, importers and retailers as well as concerned motorcycle groups and road safety authorities to agree on minimum standards for motorcycle braking systems and a time frame for their introduction’’.
Triumph marketing manager Mark Berger says ABS models are being introduced as they become available. ‘‘ It’s a bit like airbags — consumer interest drove their introduction and the legislators then had to scramble to catch up,’’ Berger says.
‘‘ We expect the same thing to happen here and by 2016 when ABS is mandatory in Europe the system will already be the norm in Australia, not the exception.’’
Honda Australia says ABS is already fitted to most of its road bikes but adds there are occasions where it’s better not to have the software.
‘‘ ABS is not suitable or desirable in some riding conditions such as off-road riding where the rider needs to occasionally lock the front or back wheel,’’ Honda says.
For similar reasons BMW— which fits ABS to all its bikes— enables riders of its dualpurpose machines switch the software off.
Honda adds that the antilock technology is just one measure to improve rider safety and cites training standards and licensing laws as areas that will also save lives. Honda’s HART facilities train 20,000 new riders a year and the company has been a vocal proponent of more rigorous rider training.
Testing times: Bosch puts its motorcycle ABS systems through their paces