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Common Tread

Continental optimized curve braking

Dec 30, 2014

One of the first things most of us learn when we're taught to ride a motorcycle is to get our braking done before we enter a turn.

Now, obviously many advanced riders use trail braking in the turn, and some advanced track riding schools actively encourage trail braking. Other instructors still stick to teaching riders to finish braking before leaning.

Combining braking and turning forces is not just a challenge for riders, but also for designers of anti-lock braking systems. Motorcycle ABS has to deal with a variable (lean angle) that car systems don't have to consider. If you've ever experienced trail braking gone bad, you know that asking your front tire for a combination of braking and leaning traction that exceeds the amount available is sure disaster. A crash occurs long before the tire locks up.

Illustration by Continental.

Last year, KTM started to utilize the Bosch MSC (Motorcycle Stability Control) system, which works to prevent the wheels from slipping by adding lean angle into the ABS equation.

This year, German company Continental is entering the arena with its Optimized Curve Braking system, which will make its debut in the upcoming BMW S 1000 XR. Like the Bosch system, it's designed to prevent loss of traction while braking in a turn.

To do this, the Continental system uses sensors to measure lean angle, roll, pitch, and lateral acceleration about 100 times per second. It then uses that data so that, as the rider leans over, the brake pressure is limited accordingly.

The 2016 BMW S 1000 XR will be the first to get Continental's Optimized Curve Braking. BMW photo.

It's exciting to see more companies enter this space. Any improvement in braking and braking stability is welcome, but braking in a corner has probably the most room and need for improvement. Personally, I know my riding speed is often dictated by my sight distance and the constant fear of coming around a corner on some twisty road, leaned over, only to find debris and needing to slow down fast. In those situations, being able to brake in a turn is not just a matter of the finer points of racetrack handling, but is also a safety issue.

We hope to see more companies enter this arena and to see this technology find its way onto more motorcycles. With the EU set to require that every new motorcycle above 125 cc have ABS starting in 2017, it's only a matter of time before this technology finds its way onto more accessible bikes.