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Basem Wasef

One (Compelling) Case Against Traction Control

By May 1, 2012

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No Traction Control

If you've read my most recent sportbike reviews, you might have grown sick of hearing me tout the benefits of traction control. From my last three superbike track tests, I dug the confidence inspired by the Yamaha R1 and Ducati 1199 Panigale's electronic systems, and critiqued the latest Suzuki GSX-R1000 for its analog setup.

Ex-MotoGP racer Simon Crafar begs to differ. He illustrates his disdain for electronic aids in this Suzuki GSX-R1000 promotional video, a quick but passionate defense of the latest Gixxer that happens to feature a sweet, slo-mo powerslide featuring the famous blue and white superbike.

"Take the power back," he urges. "Take control. Take responsibility. Riding shouldn't be about electronics. The limit is yours, and yours only."

Do you agree?

Source: Superbike Planet; thanks for the tip, Pete!


Photo © YouTube

May 2, 2012 at 10:54 am
(1) bobcatALR says:

I agree in principle – we’re getting very, very soft, and few take responsibility for their own actions. Why should they when their responsibility and accountability are continuously being usurped by legislation?

In any case, I have never been atop a bike with traction control of any sort. Not being a racer, I do believe I would enjoy having it…

May 2, 2012 at 11:09 am
(2) Juan M. Handal says:

Yes, there is enough electronic stuff in the latest cars and all they achieve is, more weight and more distraction from drivers who are already busy thinking about who-knows-what instead of paying attention to what they are doing.

Drivers feel safe with electronic nannies and therefore drive even worse, thinking the nanny will step and and save they ass. That’s probably fine in a two ton cage, in a motorcycle it is not.

May 2, 2012 at 11:17 am
(3) Scottie says:

I agree. Ride and drive within your limits. The anti-lock brake system on my 2001 F-150 has engaged exactly ZERO times over 98,000 miles.

People really need to take responsibility. There is a very well known dangerous area on the Bronx River Parkway near the Bronx Zoo. We travel it every time I return to Manhattan from upstate. The other day a woman driving her parents, daughter and nieces was driving in the left of three lanes (and presumably too fast). Based upon her destination – which was a family home so she would have known the area – she needed to exit within a few hundred feet. She hit the center median and careened across all the lanes and launched the vehicle over a four foot barrier and plunged 50+ feet into the zoo property. All dead. Now everyone is blaming the roadway. A fatality in 1986, another in 1997 – both rear enders, not plunging into the zoo.

Not sure any gadget we create will overcome idiocy.

May 2, 2012 at 11:39 am
(4) Luiz C Laba says:

Agreed to disagree!
Makes sense to feel and have control of your ride, however traction systems were put in order to augment safety and for that reason I agree to electronics control.

Safe ride.

May 2, 2012 at 12:54 pm
(5) ryde4ever says:

The controls are nice, but in my opinion they should always have an option to turn them off. I like to know the limits of the bike and work on my riding skills. I don’t know what they are if something else is controlling the limits.
And personally, I don’t want them. It adds cost and complexity to something that I want kept simple.

May 2, 2012 at 1:15 pm
(6) alex says:

I have never been lucky enough to experience traction control for myself, but when I pass one car accidents on apparently clear roads, involving very modern vehicles, I ask, how can this still happen. I feel the absolute limits of a vehicle are the same, with or without control. However, with controls, drivers and riders may be able to manouvre safely and with impunity closer and closer to those limits. That means, that in real life road situations, the margin for error and subsequent correction is reduced… You may be missing the warning signs and when you finally do lose traction, that’s it. No safety margin. You’ve lost it. I think especially car drivers can be fooled into a false sense of security.
By contrast, on an average bouncy and ill maintained road, if without controls the back starts skipping and sliding, it’s a warning. You know it’s getting risky and its easy then to slow down a little.
Of course, on the race track, the whole object is to get nearer and nearer those limits, but that’s not for me. On the roads I prefer a forgiving geometry set-up… Or am I completely wrong in my assessment and traction control makes for a much more forgiving bike?

May 2, 2012 at 5:34 pm
(7) Teddy says:

I can see not having too many electronics on racing machines, letting more up to rider ability and true skill. As for on the street, if these controls aide in preventing accidents etc. I’m all for them.

May 2, 2012 at 5:51 pm
(8) Scottie says:

Update -

Now the taxpayers of NY and NYC will have to pay for the installation of temporary barriers on the Bronx Rive Parkway. To clarify, the driver was in the left hand lane of three lanes in an area which she was familiar. She was just several hundred feet from a right hand exit. She swerved left, hit the center median, careened right across two other lanes causing her vehicle to jump a two or three foot barrier and then another barrier several feet away that was four feet tall.

She was driving a Honda Pilot, which at the very least had ABS. Probably traction control. Didn’t stop this woman from killing her family because she 1.) didn’t plan ahead 2.) was driving too fast 3.) probably doing something on her phone that distracted her from anticipating oncoming events.

May 2, 2012 at 8:03 pm
(9) Pete says:

I see ABS, and TCS, as usefull ‘bail ur ass outta trouble’ especially in the rain, assuming you haven’t got the God given sense to slow down.
Personally, I don’t ride in the rain unless I’m cornered like a rat.

The only time I’ve managed to engage the ABS or the TCS on our Civic, is when I purposely stand on it on wet roads (130HP has it’s limits) or I purposely see how hard I have to get on the brakes to engage the ABS…again on wet roads.
On the street (therein lies the major qualifier) I don’t see the use, other than 3 stars on the spec sheet and ad agency fodder.
If you / ride drive with even a modicum of common sense, and have 2 brain cells to rub together, you’ll probably spend your entire time behind the bars / wheel and never use the electronics.
I only wish I could ride as well as Mr Crafar…that is spectacular, off the charts skill level..and the HP to pull it off.

May 3, 2012 at 9:12 am
(10) nate says:

On the track, I’m with him. Let the riders skill determine wins. On the street it’s a completely different story. Electronic aids are a good thing.

May 3, 2012 at 11:18 am
(11) Phoghat says:

“Take control. Take responsibility. Riding shouldn’t be about electronics. The limit is yours, and yours only.”
1) not too many of us are MotoGP drivers, and could possibly actually use help
2) Using this logic, while we’re at it abandon ABS, air bags, and for that matter, any computer driven system in a car or bike,

May 4, 2012 at 10:13 pm
(12) Arnold says:

Rain? what about snow. Woosie girly men.

May 8, 2012 at 12:12 pm
(13) Brett954 says:

Well, I dont understand the need for ABS at all on a motorcycle… However, I could see the use for traction control on a motorcycle, although, I think an experienced rider can do without.
I have been riding over 13 years and have never had a motorcycle with ABS or TCS. I have even raced both my 2003 Honda CBR954RR and my 2009 YZFR1 on the Streets of Willow Springs, Willow Springs, CA; which neither have ABS or TCS. Its all in knowing how to manage your power and bike. The Honda handled perfectly on the track, with some wheelies here and there coming out of the corner. The R1 had a ridiculous amount of power, causing a lot of wheel spin coming out of a corner, however, I still managed to handle it and put the power to the ground. So long story short, I think that this equipment (for me) adds extra weight and more things to go wrong, but may help others out.

May 28, 2012 at 9:15 am
(14) Yang says:

It’s easy to ride motorcycles at speed, but hard to ride them sllowy because the bike feels unstable. But it’s something you can get better at.Try taking it to a parking lot and practicing your clutch friction zone. Once you’re happy with starting and stopping smoothly, start adding in low speed turns. And then U-turns and progressively tighter circles. It will increase your confidence, and make your motorcycle feel less big and heavy. Be in control of your bike.

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