Can you hold the rear brake pedal down hard enough to activate your ABS in this gravel? If not, then you have a malfunction not a poorly designed brake.
In other words, what you need to do is figure out what is going on. In normal conditions, the rear brake ought to be able to nearly lock up so that the ABS takes over. IF you are not getting an ABS then changing pads or otherwise futzing with the system will be to no avail anyway.
Get down to flat dry pavement and see if the ABS is doing its thing when you really get on the rear brake. If its not. then fix that first. If it IS activating the ABS then that is as good as its going to get.
Thanks for the reply. No it is not a joke. I was unsure when I went from my R1150r to this bike because of the goat paths I ride in WV and western Md. Will the front lever ABS keep me from high siding in gravel? I'll try to activate the rear ABS on dry roads, in gravel it has not activated.
I test/exercise my ABS every week on my gravel driveway. Quite easy to lockup/activate the ABS on the rear wheel. Takes more nerve on the front but I do that also. It is interesting to see how much stopping force you really have on dirt. But, several times in the mountains on down hill curves the ABS has put my heart in my throat when it keeps going "whizz bang" and I am headed for the edge. I like the K bike and the ability to turn off the ABS as needed. And yes, you can get in trouble with the front wheel in ABS territory, ending up on the ground. Not completely fool proof. Don't ask, it was expensive.
Sorry... No... the ABS will not keep you from high siding. (or Low siding either)
It will keep the wheels turning but if you are out of balance... ABS will not save you.
When I said to test your ABS I mentioned dry places. What I should have said is to do it someplace where there is no traffic, no slope and maybe just some light sand or small gravel. I go to an empty church parking lot that is usually a little gravelly. I suggest that you do the ABS test enough times to learn how much pressure it takes to activate, and what it feels like when it does.
Some new guys are surprised at it... it is not a very "normal" feeling or sound. You need to know what it is like... under safe and not threatening conditions.
As Hopz says it is important to give the ABS a try and get a feel for what is going on and how it reacts. This is so when you do it for real you will not be taken by surprise and react poorly to the braking in addition to the problem you are braking for. The slicker the surface the nastier the ABS reaction. On dry pavement the drama is minimal on dirt it really lengthens the stopping process in situations where there is no or minimal traction. On ice, oh well, it is scary. But in general on a compromised surface you can actually detect the wheel skidding then releasing very quickly. It is not seamless. This is why you need to check it out. My last non ABS bike I could tell on pavement when the break loose point was near by the howl of the tire, not on dirt or ice though of course. This is why I feel just about the most important part of a motorcycle are the tires. All the different qualities they are supose to have, durability, traction, handling, braking, acceleration, suspension augmentation, flat resistance and more, then people go cheap thinking they are "saving" money. Buy good tires, be picky, find a buddy to get a tire changer with to save money there not on the tires. Test your ABS out in controlled situations. Know your bike. Your butt is hanging out there.
Thanks for the reply's. I have ridden and raced Duc's an d a MG LM 850 so I know what a skid feels like but at 62 it is a whole new learning curve. I'll play on safe turf and see how it goes. The driveway has lots of mud and gravel it is where I go the slowest. But on non ABS I have never had any problems, old age makes learning these new things hard to grasp.
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