Mak­ers hit brakes on ABS push

Bosch wants anti-lock sys­tems made com­pul­sory

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Two Wheels - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@cars­

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The re­search, reg­u­larly cited by Aus­tralian road safety bod­ies and re­lat­ing to a 2010 US study by Eric Teoh, is out of date.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

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