A little over a week ago, BMW introduced ABS Pro, a new retrofitted system within the HP4’s electronics which alters ABS braking while cornering. Built by Bosch, it isn’t exactly revolutionary, but it is the first it’s been offered on a sportbike. We called BMW to get more info on how exactly it works.
The KTM 1190 Adventure uses a similar system to the BMW, called the Motorcycle Stability Control (MSC). Introduced as a retrofitted upgrade last year, it’s also built by Bosch and uses a lean-angle ABS system. We assumed BMW’s version would be similar in form and function, but according to BMW, that’s not true.
“For example, it uses information from the lean angle sensor which is unique to BMW,” said BMW Product Manager Sergio Carvajal. BMW engineers specifically programmed the BMW ABS Pro to work with the HP4, and fine tuned the ABS Pro for the HP4’s weight, wheelbase and power.
ABS Pro uses input from the HP4 - roll rate, yaw rate and wheel speed - that’s already collected by the Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) and the Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), units. All three are produced by Bosch which means adding ABS Pro is only a programming installation with no need to turn a single bolt. Ah, the future.
Currently the system is a Germany-only, retrofitted dealer-install and limited to just the HP4 model. It remains a mystery to us if it’ll be on any 2015 US models and BMW isn’t spilling the beans just yet.
How it Works.
So, how does ABS Pro keep your bike leaned over in a corner? Normal ABS systems on a motorcycle or car, pulsates brake pressure. Maximum brake pressure is applied and released and then reapplied, multiple times within fractions of a second.
Grabbing the brakes hard causes the bike to stand up straight (or wipe out from underneath you). Pulsating pressure, from normal ABS, can cause a tire to lock up and slide for an instant, then regain traction. This will also cause the bike to snap up straight--like when you were 16 and your girlfriends’ mom walked in on you two were making out. No good.
Rather than pulsating one or two wheels, ABS Pro doesn’t modulate the brakes nearly as aggressive, while simultaneously limiting braking pressure and dispersing it evenly between front and rear. It does this even if only one brake lever is applied.
“The new ABS Pro still operates like any other ABS, by limiting brake pressure to avoid brake lock-up,” said Sergio. “ABS Pro further fine tunes the ABS response for a leaned over motorcycle, limiting initial pressure build up and smoothing out any abruptness in the braking maneuver.”
This quickly slows you down without standing the bike up. It’ll also limit wheel hop and sliding. There’s no hard, pulsating feeling , which is often found on other ABS brake systems. According to BMW, with ABS Pro, the braking pressure modulation is applied more evenly. All this technology keeps you in the corner and in your lane when you brake hard.
Why You Should Care
We can hear the whining already, “ABS is for noobs,” or “I’d never want that.” You know what’s awesome? Not flipping off your bike. You know what’s really cool? Safety, that’s what!
That said, those nice engineers from Munich gave you a solid - if you don’t want the ABS on, BMW makes it easy to switch off, simply enter Race Mode and traditional brakes are back.
ABS Pro wasn’t built for racing; however, it was built for saving lives just like when Bosch introduced the system for cars way back in 1978.
“ABS Pro was not developed to enhance individual braking performance when braking in bends - especially not on race tracks,” said Sergio. This system doesn't take away from the experience or control of riding, it just adds more safety, allowing us to push the bike faster into a corner, without being scared of the stalled camper van on the other side. All good things.
BMW has no word on when the new system will be available to us Americans. “It is an improvement in the operation of our ABS achieved by expanding the number of parameters evaluated and improving the programming to respond accordingly. Like any new technology, it takes some time to roll into the model line,” said Sergio.
BMW also won’t say how much it’ll cost, and if and when it’ll come to the US. The ABS Pro system is currently available at BMW’s German dealerships for € 380.
So will it be on the 2015 HP4? Probably, but BMW won’t answer that question yet either. “...I am not withholding any information! Only that it is available as a retrofit for the HP4,” said Sergio.
There’s no doubt this will be implemented on the full BMW line globally, we just want to know how much longer we’ll have to wait on our end.
Do you think all production motorcycles will have this type of ABS system within the next couple of years? Do you think ABS takes control away from the rider? Would you install it on your bike? As always, comment below.