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Vo Knows

2009 Honda CBR600RR C-ABS - First Ride!

Saturday, January 24, 2009
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I’ve been converted. I feel as if I just watched an evangelical TV program and was personally healed by the righteous hand of the Lord.
Hard on the brakes in the wet with total control.
Hard on the brakes in standing water and Honda's C-ABS equipped CBR600RR is rock solid and totally controlled.

I was, without a doubt, the biggest hater of ABS (Anti-Lock Brake System) that I know of. I don’t like them on any car I’ve ever owned or drove and even more so, I despised them on anything with two wheels. Why? Well, even though I may sound pompous for saying this, I believe I’m one of the one-percent of people able to exploit a vehicle’s braking-performance far beyond that of any advanced ABS system, thus I considered them as a hindrance to my personal fun-factor. And until yesterday, they were. In a way they still are, but after what I sampled yesterday I saw the light. I'm a believer.

I had my epiphany while riding Honda’s all-new C-ABS linked braking system, which is now an option on both the CBR600RR and CBR1000RR for ’09. We sampled it on a 600RR at Honda’s top-secret HPCC proving grounds in the middle of the Mojave Desert in Southern California and I think Honda ordered some divine-intervention, because it rained the entire time, something that happens about once every three years in those parts. But it provided a perfect environment in which to test the new system. And for the sake of all things holy, it really works!

For a complete breakdown of the system stay tuned for the full review and video here on Wednesday, but I was so amped on it I had to throw up a blog and shed some light on the topic. I’m born again, people. Well, not totally. In the dry, on a racetrack, I would still prefer a non-ABS unit, as I tend to like to have fun backing it in and trying the occasional stoppie, which this system eliminates. But for the street I would take the ABS unit in a heartbeat, as would I in the rain at the racetrack. It’s no coincidence that Honda is homologating both bikes for competition in the AMA/DMG Series next season. Watch out when it rains people – anyone on this thing is going to have a huge advantage.
Honda s C-ABS control unit.
C-ABS control unit.


Real quickly let me tell you why. Where the one percentile of top-level riders will always be better at stopping in the dry, as they are in tune with levels of adhesion and the ability to slide the bike some becomes an advantage, in the rain, unless you are literally Valentino Rossi (remember that amazing Suzuka win in the rain?), riding to that absolute limit under braking is damn near impossible. The levels of grip are so low and bike is so quick to lock up that it’s almost impossible to brake perfectly in the rain. On the new Honda system it is very possible – every time!

This same thing can be applied in the dry, so for those street riders and occasional trackday riders who aren’t able to exploit every last ounce of braking without getting in trouble, this bike will do wonders for your riding. The roads and racetracks will be a much safer place for it. One can literally slam on the binders - front, rear or both - with every last ounce of your might, and the machine stops with the precision of a doctor’s scalpel every time. All the rider needs to do it steer the bike in the correct direction; no pulsing is detectable through the lever, only a slight shudder just before the bike comes to a stop. The system is totally electronically controlled and weights only 20 pounds, so performance penalties are very small as well.
Honda releases ABS linked braking on a sportbike for the first time and we put it to the test.
The only visible difference between the C-ABS bike and non-C-ABS bike are bronze calipers and wheel-speed sensors.

When that car makes a left turn into the lane of a new sportbike rider (Honda’s research says 30-pecent of all CBR600RR buyers are new riders) and said rider panics, grabbing a handful of both brakes, the end result is usually quite ugly. This is a typical reaction, and until now no true sportbike has had a defense against this. The new CBR’s with C-ABS do and in my opinion it’s going to save lives. It really is amazing, so be sure to come back here in a couple days as a complete technical breakdown and video will be up to explain how it all works, plus more of our impressions. Until then, I simply refer back to what I have said many times before: Amen to technology – embrace it.
Post Tags: 2009 honda cbr600rr c-abs, suspersport 600, honda anti-locck brake system, honda abs, '09 cbr1000rr c-abs
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Comments
fast2win -steves an idoit February 4, 2010 06:31 PM
Steve unless your last name is Crevier, you need to shut up. 1% of riders according to our editor at large (who apparently he thinks he falls into) but aint won SH t that I can see racing bikes falls into a catagory that can beat abs in dry. Now Blackprince I test rode abs and non abs in wet and can tell you it will improve your riding skills. do you now why? It actually shows you without abs you are or should be very reluctant to get on the brakes heavily. But with abs I found that I was not near the adheasion leval of the tires yet. In other words I had a lot of breaking leval left but was reluctant to brake harder in fear of lock up. On the older system I tested it would pulsate when engaged and it took more brake lever pressure than I expected before lock up or intervention from the system. getting you bike side ways as Steve implies will only get you into a high side. Even in dry all but the best of the best will beat abs consistantly even racing time after time abs will perform more consistantly than you will, thats a point the editor won't admit.He can prove me wron when he goes to a track and run lap times on and off over a full race. not to mention on the street even he gets no practice stops just a SURPRISE my dumb ass just pulled out in front of you. If you think your better than abs your name had better be Rossi etc.
WussBoy -Deep Blue February 8, 2009 07:23 PM
Ever hear of John Henry, or Gary Kasparov? A brake control system can analyze data from a multitude of sensors, thousands of times a second, and vary braking forces accordingly. It can do this time after time after time, with the exact same results. The only limit at the moment is the programming. Do you think it will take a programming guru to test the best brakers in the world, and figure our that a bit of slip might actually produces a better brake distance?
goodguy -Convergence of several new technologies February 3, 2009 05:01 PM
Honda's C-ABS is great news for the average rider - and points to safer more exploitable machines. Certainly a professional will be better than a standard system in the dry - which the data supports. But my question is; would this hold true if the ABS intervention could be tuned (much like the DTC on the 1098R/1198S)? The example from other motorsport would suggest the tunable computer wins, and hence why ABS is banned from top level motorsport. But much more important than arguing man vs machine, I can't wait for the first (attainable) litre bike with BPF's, ABS, traction control and a firing order like the new R1. Now that will be a real epiphany.
Desmolicios -I'd get it. January 26, 2009 03:15 PM
Definitely I'd get the ABS option. Out on the streets stuff happens unexpectedly and you may have to panic stop on an oily surface. I wish I got it when I bought my Duc. It would only have been $500 more but I completely forgot that it was available!
Steve Atlas -RE: BlackPrince... January 25, 2009 03:24 PM
Honestly, it will both be a good and a bad thing. For the less talented/newer riders it will help save lives, but it will also add a crutch and make learning the limits of the motorcycle tougher. It will be interesting to see how this pans out. I think it will save more lives than it hurts, but you do point out a potential downside.
Steve Atlas -RE: Ben Berry and mr. ABS January 25, 2009 03:15 PM
As much as I'm sure it pains you, in dry testing I was able to beat the ABS system by several feet every time. Why? Because with skill one can slide the motorcycle and use it to get stopped faster than any ABS system, which will not allow ANY sliding. We've done the tests, as has Honda. They will tell you the same thing. A professional-level rider tested against the ABS system and was several feet shorter every time. The benefit is for the AVERAGE rider, such as yourselves. This is where my professional racing background comes into play. I do believe it will save lives for all of you average people both in the dry and wet, but will never be better than a trained professional.
mr -ABS saving crappier riders... January 25, 2009 01:47 PM
Glad to see ABS making its way into motorcycles (of any type), and positive press for quality execution like Honda has apparently achieved. We all like to think we are a member of the exceptional 1%, but that's just pompous ignorance. The reality is, the majority of motorists (cars, motorcycles...) would be challenged to corner or brake near a vehicle's limits under ideal conditions. Lets not forget that the vast majority of motorcycling is done on the street, and panic stops happen by complete surprise on less than a less than ideal surface. Too often we sport bike riders get caught up in a boyish racer fantasy. The bottom line is, we should be glad that ABS is making its way into the motorcycle world. You should feel thankful for an ABS activation, not indignant, it may have just saved your ass!
Ben Berry -ABS is awesome, you are not January 25, 2009 10:10 AM
you're a moron if you think that you're in the 1% of drivers who think they're better off WITHOUT ABS. The ABS system reacts faster and with more reliability than any driver - including you. But I'm sure glad you have realized your faults and now a believer in ABS. Every once in a while, a blind squirrel finds a nut.
BlackPrince -ABS making crappier riders out of us all? January 25, 2009 07:28 AM
Hello Steve, enjoyed the read. I've been riding for about 3 years now, and will do a trackday this spring. I currently ride a Ducati Multistrada, which I love, but will likely sell in the next year or so if my trackday goals demand it. My question is this, for novice or learning riders (I'll still consider myself a learner 10 yrs from now, likely) who are just developing proper brake technique (such as myself), do you think that ABS would be a good or bad thing? From the point of ignorance at which I now stand, I'd say it'd perhaps be a bad thing. Certainly for a brand new riders, it will save lives, but a rider thats gotten through a few seasons of street riding probably has developed enough skill to survive, if not ride well, and I wonder if ABS will hinder his future development of better braking technique?
Dr. Sprocket -Two small corrections January 25, 2009 07:22 AM
1) Scapula = shoulder blade bone; scalpel = surgical knife 2) Shutter = window covering, to close; shudder = to shake Otherwise, interesting read. Based on your write-up, Honda's gonna make converts with this system.