ABS Failed me - BMW Luxury Touring Community
 
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post #1 of 19 Old Oct 11th, 2006, 4:41 pm Thread Starter
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Unhappy ABS Failed me

After two hours riding in the rain, I exited the freeway and slowed to 20 mph. Applied brakes, front end went sideways! Didn't feel the ABS. Immediatly released front brake, bike shook it's head 3 times and straightened out. Within a minute I pulled over, shut off bike, turned key back on and verified that the ABS test (dash) light worked. 1/2 hour later I decided to try a "parking lot test" and ABS worked. Has anyone else had this happen? Bike is a low miles 2002. I was scared Bleepless, and prolly needed a change of underwear.
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post #2 of 19 Old Oct 11th, 2006, 5:43 pm
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If I'm being totally honest ... BMW's ABS system leaves a little to be desired .

I have found that when it activates it does not seem to pulse like normal ABS but simply release the brakes for a split second. It can be a little scary at times.
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post #3 of 19 Old Oct 11th, 2006, 6:00 pm
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I've noticed this on several brands of motorcycles
so it is something I prepare for by applying the brakes slowly at first, because:
Disk brakes have a tendancy to "grab" when wet


Hans
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post #4 of 19 Old Oct 11th, 2006, 6:14 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarvRead
After two hours riding in the rain, I exited the freeway and slowed to 20 mph. Applied brakes, front end went sideways! Didn't feel the ABS. Immediatly released front brake, bike shook it's head 3 times and straightened out. Within a minute I pulled over, shut off bike, turned key back on and verified that the ABS test (dash) light worked. 1/2 hour later I decided to try a "parking lot test" and ABS worked. Has anyone else had this happen? Bike is a low miles 2002. I was scared Bleepless, and prolly needed a change of underwear.
I had a very similar experience, though not in the rain. I was on a side street going down hill to intersect a major street. As I came up to the stop sign, I noticed that the street was covered will loose gravel. I applied the brakes and the ABS activated on the front wheel. Since I was going down hill, there was little weight on the back tire with very little brake force. The ABS activation released the front brake which caused me to overshoot the stop sign. Luckily there was a break in the cross traffic. Still, it took a while for my heart rate to come down. I am much more careful now about the road surface.

Res ipsa loquitur, sed quid in infernos dicet?

Alan Stuber
2003 K1200 LTC Titan Silver
Austin, Texas



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post #5 of 19 Old Oct 11th, 2006, 7:33 pm
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ABS Failed You

Last year BMW issued a service bulletin regarding a low battery and ABS brake failure. I would search this site for a copy of the letter. Maybe, just maybe that was your problem!
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post #6 of 19 Old Oct 11th, 2006, 8:00 pm
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Its quite possible there was a little oil slick just raised by the rain. And there was no traction available.

Brian Ley
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post #7 of 19 Old Oct 11th, 2006, 10:10 pm
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I testrode a K1200S once and managed to scare myself at slow speed. I was on an freeway and traffic had come to a halt. At about 20 mph, a pickup suddenly stopped in front of me and I locked up the rear tire. After returning the bike, I 'fessed up to the store owner, who proceeded to tell me that ABS doesn't activate at less than 20 mph. It does, however, work as described above at speeds above 20 mph. I'm not sure if this is true, but it makes sense. I was going less than 20 and it didn't work. When I tried it at a higher speed on my own bike, it worked. There must be some truth to this.

Joe
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post #8 of 19 Old Oct 12th, 2006, 3:02 am
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Readinmg this I am wondering if it is worth my while fixing my broken ABS! It isn't a cheap fix and if the results are not worth it, I would rather ride with the knowledge that I have to brake carefully

"Whenever you find you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect" Mark Twain


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post #9 of 19 Old Oct 12th, 2006, 6:05 am
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I rode with mine like that from April to September, because of the price tag of the hydro unit. Someone mentioned that a low battery could cause that problem. I contacted the previous owner and the battery had been in the bike almost 4 years. I swapped out the battery thinking that it immediately would be better. Not. So when I had the front tire replaced a couple of weeks ago, I asked the dealer to test the ABS again and reset the ABS fault. Viola, I have brakes again. So my question to you is, "How old is your battery?"

OBTW, having riden that long without ABS, if I lose the ABS again I will either bite the bullet for the Hydro Unit or trade for a new LT. I will not ride without ABS again.

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post #10 of 19 Old Oct 12th, 2006, 6:28 am
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Funny, I've never had one single brake problem..until this morning! (02LTC, 76K miles)

Its cold here, 36...the gel battery barely got the bike started.

My brakes are working, but I'm getting the double flashing red lights for brake failure or whatever (didn't look at the manual yet).

Thanks for the battery info though, thats my next move. I decided to replace it because I've been thru this battery stuff before..but not with the brake lights.

Now if I can get my gas mileage back up over 36 MPG I'll be all set...gonna get the O2 sensor checked again, last time it came unplugged for some unknown reason.

By the way....I don't know if I'll ever own another serious street bike without ABS, its saved my bacon more than once.

And so far, I like the ABS on my K1200S but it does act weird at slow speeds sometimes. I can live with that.

regards!...geo
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post #11 of 19 Old Oct 12th, 2006, 6:31 am
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sounds familiar

Could it be that you have Metzler tires? If there is no traction there is no deceleration.

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post #12 of 19 Old Oct 12th, 2006, 7:01 am
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Well, no it didn't "fail"

Quote:
Originally Posted by HarvRead
After two hours riding in the rain, I exited the freeway and slowed to 20 mph. Applied brakes, front end went sideways! Didn't feel the ABS. Immediatly released front brake, bike shook it's head 3 times and straightened out. Within a minute I pulled over, shut off bike, turned key back on and verified that the ABS test (dash) light worked. 1/2 hour later I decided to try a "parking lot test" and ABS worked. Has anyone else had this happen? Bike is a low miles 2002. I was scared Bleepless, and prolly needed a change of underwear.
Not being a [email protected]$$ with the title -- but before everyone condemns the ABS system, consider that the ABS probably *did* work, and probably *prevented* your crashing.

Yeah, it was scary, and yeah, it probably felt like the system wasn't "working." But in the situation you described, it's almost certain that you exceed the limits of the available traction (who knows why -- diesel spilled on the ground, excess water/hydroplaning/too fast for conditions -- doesn't matter). If, as I strongly suspect, the ABS released the brake pressure to keep the front wheel rotating, that prevented the front wheel from locking up and slamming you to the ground.

The biggest difference between today's ABS system and the version available in, say, 1990, is that it now cycles *so* fast that you don't feel the familiar pulsing that "confirms" to your mind that the system was working (at least for the 99.9% of riders that haven't taken their bike out to a safe place and worked their way up to ABS activation to find out what it feels like; with the LT, if feels like the brakes momentarily "go away").

Unfortunately, because ABS can't rewrite the laws of physics, when it is activated stopping distance will increase (makes sense: hydraulic pressure decreases, less brake force retarding the wheel). But consider the alternative: essentially NO chance to keep the bike up! *Very,* very few riders have the skill to keep a bike upright with a front locked up -- even fewer can do it with no warning/preparation.

So, here's a thought to consider: Next time your ABS activates and you overshoot your desired stopping point (even if that means running into traffic!), don't "blame" the ABS system -- THANK IT!

The fact that it activated means that your wheel was already past the point of traction. Regardless of whether that is the result of an unforeseeable condition or driver error, the ABS system does what it is designed to do -- keep the front wheel rotating so you can steer/keep the bike up (BTW, contrary to many folks' thinking, ABS was never designed to shorten braking distance -- it's *all* about maintaining the ability to steer). If you feel it working (i.e., feels like the brakes "failed" by momentarily releasing), it's at least giving you a chance to survive the front wheel locking "event." Yeah, that may put you into an intersection, where you have to deal with the chance that you may still be in trouble from other traffic -- but at least you'll have that chance! In my book, that's better than the near certainty of sliding into the intersection on your side.

This isn't aimed at the original poster, but the unvarnished truth is that the fact that you and/or the road conditions may have put you in a lousy position isn't the ABS's fault -- and therefore, IMO, it's simply wrong to maintain that the ABS "failed" or "caused" a braking problem when the real issue is that you're just uncomfortable with its reaction to the situation -- a reaction that has at least given you a chance to survive what 30 years ago would have most likely been a crash.

p.s. -- in answer to the "should I fix it" post -- yes! This system design isn't defective -- despite some folks discomfort/unpreparedness to deal with the "sensation" as it is working, it can really help save your tail. There will always be situations where *no* system can prevent a crash -- physics still governs -- but in those situations where you're right on the edge of control (or even slightly past it), the ABS intervention might save ya -- it certain has for me several times over the years in my daily commuting.

Mark Neblett
Fairfax, VA
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post #13 of 19 Old Oct 12th, 2006, 7:20 am
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Cool

BMW ABS brakes have been the best I have ever had on a scooter. That being said, they did scared the #***! out of me the other day, and I assume they were actually doing their job. I was coming to an intersection rather aggressively applying the brakes and changing into the turn lane with a car in front of me. When I crossed the lane line, it had those little city titties on them and my ABS released the brakes. I thought I was going to slam into the car in front of me. First time I have ever questioned having ABS.


Doc
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post #14 of 19 Old Oct 12th, 2006, 7:26 am
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I agree with one poster here. TEST THE BRAKES NOW AND THEN. It's important to know how they feel when they engage. Every so often, I get the bike going 40-50mph and purposely slam the brakes just to feel the ABS kick in. The BMW system works differently than a car ABS.
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post #15 of 19 Old Oct 12th, 2006, 7:29 am
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That was very informative post

Thanks,

Richard

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post #16 of 19 Old Oct 12th, 2006, 8:35 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hognot
First time I have ever questioned having ABS.
No need to question it, Doc -- all you need to do (as it appears you already have) is contemplate the alternatives, had it not been there.

Mark Neblett
Fairfax, VA
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post #17 of 19 Old Oct 12th, 2006, 8:57 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoodoodrum
The BMW system works differently than a car ABS.
Actooly, if you look at the technical details, it doesn't -- it works _exactly_ like a car system*, but because we're all so unfamiliar with it (as compared to the 20-30 years of exposure to it in cars), and because it is *much* faster than previous generations (and hence is uncannily smooth), it's anything but a comfortable feeling when it engages.

IMO, the biggest problem with the current system is the lack of operator training by BMWNA and the dealers. The system works fine; we all need to be made aware of its operating characteristics and experience it, before it's actually needed.

Everyone, repeat the chat! "Learn the system; try the system; be one with the system! Learn the ..."


*The BMW Intergal ABS system, like a car system, detects wheel deceleration. If above a threshold value indicating imminent or actual lock-up, the system decreases brake pressure at the wheel until it is rolling again, and then raises pressure back to the value commanded by the operator. If you feel the Integral ABS brakes "go away," the system's in use, which means that you're not only retaining steering like in a car, unlike in a car you're probably not tipping over.

And for those that remain skeptical, consider this: If the brakes were truly "failing" when called upon, the brake lever would be coming right back to the grip. Yet if you've ever activated the ABS, in hindsight you should remember that the lever remained firm -- a clear sign that the brake system is maintaining brake pressure upstream of the ABS actuators while it is lowering pressure at the caliper to prevent lock-up. Once the ABS intervention is done, control is seamlessly returned to the lever (i.e., it never changes position during the ABS activation).

Mark Neblett
Fairfax, VA
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post #18 of 19 Old Oct 12th, 2006, 11:24 am Thread Starter
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Abs

My battery is near-new and holds 13.1 volts after 24 hours sitting in garage. my experience is: K12LT ABS works down to almost zero, 5 mph for sure. So far the best theory offered was the slippery spot=zero traction (antifreeze?), guess I'll never know. ( My parking lot test was done at about 10 mph). Thanks to all who tried to help, I've calmed down now and am going for a ride.
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post #19 of 19 Old Oct 12th, 2006, 11:51 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarvRead
My battery is near-new and holds 13.1 volts after 24 hours sitting in garage. my experience is: K12LT ABS works down to almost zero, 5 mph for sure. So far the best theory offered was the slippery spot=zero traction (antifreeze?), guess I'll never know. ( My parking lot test was done at about 10 mph). Thanks to all who tried to help, I've calmed down now and am going for a ride.
If you visit the spot regularly see if there is an arrow or heavily painted area or manhole cover. You might even see a dark spot indicating a fuel or antifreeze spill.

I rode home yesterday in a significant rain and my LT had a front tire slip sideways as I was turning right.. (BTW.. I use BT020s)... seemed like it was a whole lane when it was happening but I'm pretty sure it was a turning arrow as I take that turn quite a few times. I was applying both the rear and front brakes at the time as it was dark and raining at pretty good clip. Enough to have my helmet shield down almost completely. But the net of that is there was a lot of traffic, a lot happening and and it created pucker...

I too have had ABS kick in and my experience is that the slower you are going the more you feel the disconnect from the system. As Mark put .. and I believe he is right on about the ABS and how it appears to a rider.. IMHO... nevertheless I had a handful of good front brake.. and 'lots' of pressure on the lever and the bike was rolling.. and the ABS worked as advertised.. I was under 10 MPH and going into a gully with sand at the bottom and a car popped in front of me.. I have been in similar situations where I did stops with my GL1500 in the '90s and wound up picking up the bike. I had the front wheel slip sideways on loose gravel during a slow speed panic brake when I had from a car coming up quickly at my left and then abruptly stopping ... at the entrance to my lane.. The guy actually got out of his M/V and helped me pick up the GW.. apologized at least a dozen times ...

Jack D. (Southern Connecticut)
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