June 11, 2008 Motorcycle 'driver aid' technology is becoming more and more prevalent; the 2008 Kawasaki ZX-10R, for example, features a primitive traction/stability control system, and the latest Yamaha R1 and R6 engines feature 'fly by wire' throttles, in which an ECU interprets and moderates throttle inputs before they reach the engine. Anti-lock braking is beginning to feature on almost all touring-style motorcycles, and Honda's Combined Braking system, or CBS, is fitted to several of the company's less sports-focused models, where it distributes braking force between front and rear wheels even if only one brake lever is pressed. Honda's latest advancement in rider aid technology is to combine ABS and CBS into one electronically-managed system that prevents braking lock-ups and also manages weight transfer under heavy braking to help stop the rear wheel from lifting in an emergency stop.
Honda's top-flight sportsbikes already deliver completely ludicrous braking power and stability - now it seems they're going to get a computerized braking system that prevents lock-ups, corrects overuse of the rear brake, and manages the forward pitch that is common on razor-sharp handling bikes with short wheelbases.
The Japanese manufacturer recently announced its Combined ABS system, which adds anti-lock braking to a computer-controlled upgrade of the Honda Combined Braking System we have already seen on recent VFR800 and CBR1100XX models, among others.
Where the old CBS was a simple hydraulic system, sending a percentage of the front brake lever's force to the rear caliper and vice versa, the new system is more sophisticated. Lever inputs at both ends of the bike are input, analyzed by a braking ECU, and then braking force is distributed optimally between the wheels, with the goal of preventing the bike from pitching forward into a 'stoppie' under hard or emergency braking, as this forward roll often unsettles riders and prevents them from applying maximum braking force where required. In essence this is the first full 'brake by wire' system.
The system has been kept to a minimum size and weight, given its intended use on supersports bikes - but it will certainly complicate the braking system and make brake bleeding a much tougher job.
Honda's Combined ABS system is pitched directly at the supersport segment - so it's reasonable to expect we'll see the system in action on future CBR1000RR and CBR600RR models - however, no release date has been given.