I'm not cocky enough to think I'm smarter/faster/better than my ABS and ASC systems. I know from my personal experiences that it's quite easy to loose rear traction under acceleration when conditions are marginal. I'm quite happy to have these systems on my bike, and so is my insurance company, which gives me a lower rate on my insurance because I have these safety systems. Insurance companies never do anything unless it's supported by data and actuarial tables, so it's safe to assume that the insurance company is in possession of data that says these systems result in less accidents, and thus fewer and less expensive claims.
I'm particularly interested in reading any data that supports the following claims:
What is it about the ABS and ASC systems on 2012/2013 BMW motorcycles that indicates to you that these systems are "10-15 years" behind the technology being used on 2012/2013 cars?But what's on BMW bikes (with the possible exception of an S1000RR), ASC and ABS, is downright primitive- about the equivalent of stuff on high end cages of 10-15 years ago and no where close to what current cage technology does (and its way too expensive to repair but that's a different topic). I've had far too many experiences in cages and BMW bikes where these well meant simple systems interfere with control in an unhelpful way so until they get a bunch better, I'm just as happy without them. They have limited and unimpressive capability now.
Many back roads here are tar and chip, the tar comes up in large areas making whole stretches of road very slick for both front and rear tires when wet. RR tracks and early AM winter ice are also part of the daily commute. I special ordered the RT with the ASC, leave it on all the time and highly recommend it to all.
'09 RT, '93 K75, '69 R60US and others long gone....
To answer your question about what's missing from bike electronics
The best stuff on cages (and only a very few use it) is race track calibrated to do 2 things.
a) Not unecessarily interfere with driver intent
b) Extend the performance interval by allowing limits not reachable without electronic aid
There are, of course, many such aids in some race series, for both bikes and cars, and many others are banned in part or totally in some series for reasons of cost, not because they don't work- they workk extremely well at what they're intended to do.
A couple specifics for some street cars
1) Current Corvette - 2WD system with systems well developed enough that only the most skilled owner can get a vette around a track faster with them switched off rather than switched on.
2) Nissan GTR - this 4WD coupe can independently modulate either power or brake at any corner in response to attitude, traction, etc. The least expensive cage I can think of that has this level of sophistication, tuned on the 'ring by guys who knew what they were doing. The only way you'll ever understand what these can really do is to experience it at full bore on a track -I've got many many track hours yet was astonished at what this heavy street car could do the first time I played with one. The system is actually good enough to automatically correct a whole lot of badly done triple digit speed manuevers while keeping the vehicle on a stable path in a corner at speed and can make the unskilled actually believe they possess some. It really is amazing- my first thought was along the lines of "this stuff allows novices to defy the laws of physics!!"
Street bikes are finally beginning to acquire sensors that account for lean angles in real time but really need "predictive" capability to deal with traction situations that are anticipated. You will see bike stuff get better, probably in another 3-5 years. Remember the basic bike ABS stuff lagged well behind common use in cages before it began to show up in many bikes. Read up on what the stuff on GP bikes can do and expect it on street stuff eventually..
Compared to the 2 cage examples I gave, Mercedes and BMW street traction control systems are stone age nannies that interfere and do not extend driver capability- instead they needlessly (for the skilled at least) restrict it. A 530i (535i?, I forget)I have to drive sometimes interferes so badly it could get you killed if you tried to shoot a narrow gap in traffic, even on dry pavement because it dials out power to prevent any amount of wheel spin and hugely slows acceleration by doing so. BMW cars remain among the most foul handling of rear drive stuff on ice due to their wide track and tires compared to wheelbase length despite their feeble electronic "aids". Their bikes are no better IMO (but they are comfortable, generally well built and fast enough)
Maybe its the fact that I lived most of my life in snow / ice country including using a bike all year (until I was in my early 30s) for trans because I was too poor to own a car, or maybe its my careful throttle use acquired from lots of track hours, but I just don't feel the current widgies do much for me expect sometimes interfere and add the risk of extra expense. I would love to see the really good stuff start showing up on street bikes- my taste of it in cages shows it can be quite extraordinary when done well though I'd note German makers do not lead at implementation.
Racer7. "A 530i (535i?, I forget)I have to drive sometimes interferes so badly it could get you killed if you tried to shoot a narrow gap in traffic, even on dry pavement because it dials out power to prevent any amount of wheel spin and hugely slows acceleration by doing so. BMW cars remain among the most foul handling of rear drive stuff on ice due to their wide track and tires compared to wheelbase length despite their feeble electronic "aids". Their bikes are no better IMO (but they are comfortable, generally well built and fast enough)."
I have a 2011 BMW 535 XI that can thread through highway traffic and accelerate at very fast speeds without slipping. Your experience sounds like an outlier. I have to be careful about putting my foot to the floor as when the turbo kicks in the car pushes you back in the seat and then takes off like a rocket. My car has a high speed limiter of 155 mph. I am no engineer but I do know my 535 drives like a dream and I have to be careful about accelerating too fast. I have no experience with "hugely slow acceleration" due to electronic aids dialing out wheel spin. What year is the BMW you drive? A 530 is an old car.
John, New Hampshire
2011 BMW 535xi
Your reference frame is apparently very different than mine. I've had the chance to play with much of the worlds fastest and best engineered stuff at speed and it is MY reference (and not all expensive stuff works well, some is pretty crude junk with very foul handling near the limits).
That BMW cage I referred to is about a 3-4 yr old twin turbo 6 making something around low 300s for power- a decent but not huge amount. In general much of its drivetrain is good though it had a huge raft of quality and design issues when new and uses the ergo-junk I drive system with the worst factory gps I've yet used. For example, it delivers truly excellent fuel economy for its power and weight (a real 30 mpg at speed is normal) and accel is good while moving, especially if you spool the turbos. It has very little turbo lag (why the engineers used the chosen turbo design in the first place), unlike, for example, the Saab turbo familiar to many in the NE US.
My objection to its traction control systems are simple and correct. Any drag racer can tell you it takes a controlled amount of wheelspin (NOT smoking, spinning rubber, though) to achieve the fastest 60 ft (off the line) acceleration. And that time is key to minimizing 1/4 mile time and winning. This car allows ZERO wheelspin so it is not possible for a skilled driver to apply the precise amount of power needed for maximum acceleration from a stop. Trying to causes an approx 1- 1 1/2 second bog in power while the car's primitive electronics tries to sort out what it "thinks" is OK but it never allows the right amount of wheelspin. The car limits what a good driver can do rather than enhancing it as would a well designed "launch control" system where a smart vehicle keeps power and wheelspin at optimum levels. In fact, there are both cars and motorcycles with "launch control" designed in as std equipment- bike examples include the new 14 Kwakker... Systems on the 2 cage examples I gave in the previous note do allow some amount of controlled slippage. The BMW car also has a poor, old fashioned slushbox automatic that is very slow shifting though a couple extra gears do contribute to fuel economy- there are modern designs that are far superior for performance. Its the SOs car and she spun it on ice once already, being foolish enough to rely on its inadequate (for her) traction controls- she failed to understand their rather low capability- so guess who gets to drive the thing every time it even looks like snow or ice. Now an M3 is a different story re some its calibrations but as any track instructor can tell you, more M3s end up in the wall than any other street car folks bring to the track to play with- reason is its rather heavy, high mounted motor when coupled with stiff springs and a wide track requires "fast hands" to correct the start of a slide before it gets the driver into trouble- and beginners fail to recognize the start of a slide soon enough and they NEVER have fast hands. Softer sprung vehicles and stuff with lower motor mass and less extreme polar moment suit beginners much better - a vette is way more forgiving of driver error than an M3, for example.
I do appreciate your comment. I think it highlights clearly that what one thinks of BMWs current motorcycle electronics depends a lot on ones frame of reference and experiences. If one never pushes the performance envelope of a machine, there will be little or no reason to criticize or even notice the limits of the electronics. If you do, well, it takes very little to see where most systems come up short compared to the good stuff.
One thing I will be curious to see is whether performance-calibrated systems evolve with electric cars or motorcycles. Right now, e cars have no performance targets, just "economy by not buying gasoline". But e motors make max torque from zero revs so are in many ways excellent candidates for the benefits of sophisticated 4WD performance electronics. Wonder who will build the first one for the public?? And how will it perform when pushed??
ESC/ASC etc were originally invented by Mercedes, followed in a very short time after by BMW with their own system at the time.Compared to the 2 cage examples I gave, Mercedes and BMW street traction control systems are stone age nannies that interfere and do not extend driver capability- instead they needlessly (for the skilled at least) restrict it. A 530i (535i?, I forget)I have to drive sometimes interferes so badly it could get you killed if you tried to shoot a narrow gap in traffic, even on dry pavement because it dials out power to prevent any amount of wheel spin and hugely slows acceleration by doing so. BMW cars remain among the most foul handling of rear drive stuff on ice due to their wide track and tires compared to wheelbase length despite their feeble electronic "aids". Their bikes are no better IMO (but they are comfortable, generally well built and fast enough)
They were invented as a safety device to reduce loss of control for the average driver. today every Insurance company agrees that these prevent accidents by a very large margin. It is so effective that the EU has now made it mandatory that "all" new vehicles produced now have to have it.
It also was BMW that introduced ABS to bikes and I am not sure if they also were the 1st to introduce ASC.
Your above comments show serious prejudice towards those brands for whatever personal reasons you have.
These systems are designed for the average driver and rider and really shouldn't be compared with any systems that are highly tuned to racing condition and optimized for each individual race track by experts at a time.
The street cars and street bikes are tuned for a very wide range of conditions/rider weights abilities..etc, etc.
They are and always will be a compromise. That's why most of us "personalize" our bikes to suit our specific needs.
I have driven a lot of cars in snow and ice in Germany during winter and I can tell you that I will take any BMW and Merc above any other brand (at the time) over a Ford/Toyota/Opel(GMP)......when on snow or ice.
If you don't like BMW or Mercedes, then don't drive them, its that simple.
Mid North Coast
Got no brand prejudice- just don't like stuff with engineering limitations that can be avoided with a little effort and programming. I've ownedl Mercedes including an AMG model and have been an instructor for brand events of most eveything, including all the German brands as well as many others. German cars aren't much fun but they do work as their designers intend- want fun- try a Ferrari.
Not arguing these devices don't help some folks- as you note insurance data is clear- heck drivers here are so distracted some would be helped by an awake chimp sitting next to them and no one in this county gets any useful training except racers and auto hobbyists. In addition to track stuff I've also taught street accident avoidance to folks with a history of many crashes (generally forced to come by parents or spouses trying to keep them alive)- never once have I encountered a student who even knows how to use an ABS system so they couldn't possibly benefit from it- they all initially treat the brake pedal like using it hard will break the car- until you beat it out of them by letting them (simulated) crash a bunch of times. That's why some makers like Mercedes now use computer brake application if the car "senses" the driver intends a full bore stop without waiting for him to actually do it. (I find it annoying and I also don't like their brake pad choices but they do what they're intended to do). But a couple of Mercedes electronic brake systems also were designed without a fail safe for electronic failure, not a truly great idea. Haven't looked at the latest but I'm sure that's been addressed.
The biggest safety event ASC can do for an inept driver is preventing a snap spin induced by hard acceleration at speed on wet pavement. Such things initiate very rapidly and too fast for even modestly skilled folks to catch and correct most times. Preventing all slippage from a stop has no benefit except preserving tires- and there are better ways to do that.
Similarly, the major benefit of ABS is ability to steer a vehicle that would otherwise slide straight ahead as a ballistic object- allowing either avoidance or impact force minimization. But you have to be skilled enough to use what the steering allows for avoidance to get any benefit. Stopping distance with ABS can be reduced in the wet but may actually increase by a little on dry pavement- its not the stopping distance effect that matters most.
A key point we teach re street survival is never give up until the vehicle comes to a stop- there are always choices that will at least minimize the force of an impact but the driver has to make the right one and react fast enough. We have letters on file from former students noting the importance of that- how they avoided a tree and slid into a field instead by applying what they learned.
Thanks everybody for the information on ASC. I am glad I got it as I am an "inept" rider who needs help! I also noticed that the truer a statement is the less words one needs to use. Only experts escape this truth.
John, New Hampshire
2011 BMW 535xi
Well, not to detract from all this arcane stuff but this 68-year old rider was heading east on I-20 from Big Spring, TX toward Fort Worth three weeks ago. By way of background, I had retro-fitted ASC to my 2008 RT last Winter.
In any case, I ran into heavy rain on this trip. Immediate problem was I couldn't see very well, but pretty soon after the rain got really heavy, I could feel the ASC intervening, trying its best to keep me upright. After three such incidents, I got off I-20 and holed up in a motel in Abilene.
Similar to the MasterCard bit: "1) ASC retrofit: $500; 2) Staying upright in the rain in Texas: Priceless..."
FWIW, while I was in the motel in Abilene, 7.25 inches of rain fell in 24 hours.
2008 Kalahari Beige R1200RT