A rain-slicked track isn't...
A rain-slicked track isn't the most ideal place to test a sportbike, but it was perfect for getting a grip on the new abs braking system.
If there's one thing that causes more of a nuisance to motorcyclists across the globe than cell phoning drivers or pot holes on a dark road, it's a simple act of precipitation-rain. Not only does the wet stuff make a mess of bike and rider collectively, but it more importantly adds yet another element of danger. It brings oil and other slippery fluids to the surface, and washes plenty of other slick particles in our path as well. Try as we might, meticulous throttle control and careful braking only go so far in these conditions, and any bit of help we can find to alleviate some of the stress (and danger) is obviously welcome in our world of windshield wiperless transportation.
Honda's all new combined anti-lock braking system has helped dampen the uncertainty of questionable conditions, be it wet weather, slippery surfaces, cold tires or a panic braking situation. Though positioned as a valuable tool for newer riders, the ABS system was able to provoke numerous expressions of astonishment from experienced riders at the recent test ride at Honda's private test facility.
We were given carte blanche for two hours on a skid pad and road course to push the limits of the braking system, yet this seems to be nearly impossible. Regardless of what was under the rubber, the front and rear tires refused to relinquish traction and instead brought the bike to a controlled stop time after time.
But ABS has been around forever right? So what's the big deal? This ain't the ABS from your daddy's BMW, and Honda is proud for a reason.
The system works-flawlessly.
Despite my best efforts to "trick" the ABS, the bike stopped like clockwork time after time. The only factor that changed braking distances was my own fatigue.
But how would the CBR600RR ABS function in a real world scenario instead of the test track? Picture yourself entering a favorite corner after a truck five minutes ahead of you dropped a fine layer of grit and gravel. Even moderate braking would likely send you sprawling on your keister, but Honda's ABS will push braking just to the fine line before slippage, then apply the most pressure possible without losing grip-regardless how hard you squeeze (or stand on) the lever. Pretty impressive.
Of course, some riders will feel that their skill level is beyond what an ABS system has to offer, but those of such sentiment might find it interesting that the ABS bike will be raced in the AMA this year. After all, it's already got the perfect setup for wet conditions. Now that's saying something about its performance abilities.
Street tires and rain don't...
Street tires and rain don't usually allow for high grip levels, but the abs seems to take care of braking business just fine.
2009 Honda CBR600RR ABS
Engine: Liquid-cooled, inline-four cylinder, 599cc
Front: 41mm fork, fully adj.
Rear: Single shock, fully adj.
Brakes: Combined ABS system
Front: Dual 310mm discs
Rear: Single 220mm disc
Wheelbase: 53.9 inches
Curb Weight: 434 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 4.8 gallons
How It Works
Conventional CBS/ABS designs utilize a pressure control valve, a delay valve, three-piston calipers, parallel brake lines and a front fork mounted secondary master cylinder. The new electronically controlled Combined ABS, in contrast, eliminates the pressure control and delay valves and secondary master cylinder, and uses a standard caliper design resulting in less unsprung weight.
For each wheel, Combined ABS incorporates a hydroelectronic valve unit containing a stroke simulator, which is a rider feedback system producing a traditional feeling of resistance at the brake lever/pedal. The system also incorporates two Electric Power Units (EPU). Within the front and rear valve units, two electronic sensors detect rider input pressure on the brake lever/pedal and feed the data to the ECM. The ECM interprets the signals and sends activation commands to the front and rear EPUs. Within each EPU, a motorized gear-driven ball screw applies pressure against a piston to produce hydraulic braking pressure that is transferred to the respective brake caliper.
In ABS mode, the ECM reacts to changes in wheel speed to rapidly decrease/increase braking pressure at the threshold of wheel lockup. Operation is seamless because the ECM is capable of hundreds of calculations and commands every second, and it continuously adjusts the magnitude and distribution of hydraulic pressure to each wheel.