05 December 2014
Traction Control: A pro racer’s best friend
It wasn’t so long ago that superbikes were just very, very fast. Huge power and animal brakes, but no way to contain the bike except for sticky tires and the rider’s own skill and good sense.
Now, nearly all the top sportbikes from major manufactures, including Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki, have not only ABS, but traction control too.
When a bike is leaned right over, it has very little grip available to dedicate to power before the demands fall outside the Kamm Circle. But, as the bike stands up, the rider can feed in the throttle. Getting as much power to the ground as possible is essential for going fast on track but overstepping the bounds can lead to a high side or a low side.
Professional riders feed in a lot of power very early, but even they can see a benefit from traction control–it will let them do this over and over again, all the while remaining at the ready to keep the bike in check should the rider make a mistake.
In the wet, the benefits of traction control are even clearer. Top riders dial it right up at the beginning of a session in order to get a feel for the available traction. If the traction control doesn’t kick in, they know that they can push a little bit harder. Then they progressively turn it down until it isn’t intervening often, but does remain as a safety net in case they use too much throttle on corner exit.
Street riders can benefit enormously from the electronic safety systems. ABS is the most obvious one, followed by wheelie and traction control, but motorcyclists have recently enjoyed the benefits of stability control systems as well, thanks to Bosch’s advanced MSC systems, which allow riders to brake hard mid-corner without altering their line. It’s magic stuff.