We knew the ABS system on cars, scooters or motorcycles. Now electric bikes can also benefit from it. Among the companies that have developed assisted braking systems, we find the specialist Shimano or the German giant Bosch.
The latter invited us to discover his technology for a morning. Riding a Kalkhoff bike equipped with the Bosch ABS system, we traveled the streets of Paris and crossed the slippery, sometimes muddy paths of the Bois de Boulogne.
ABS on bikes electric, is it really that revolutionary? Answer in our essay.
Bosch started from a simple observation: many bicycle accidents occur due to a faulty braking system. While motorcyclists learn to avoid an obstacle by swerving and braking with the front brake, cyclists have few options. Either they brake from the rear with relative efficiency and a loss of control, or they brake with the front brake and go over the handlebars.
To overcome this safety problem, Bosch has therefore developed ABS brake technology. The principle is similar to that of the automobile: the driver can brake with all his strength without fear of losing control of the bike or falling. Ideal for food delivery and tradespeople who want to reduc etheir carbon output, adults tricycles offer a great alternative to fuelled vehicles
Bosch is not new to ABS on bicycles. The German had already unveiled a first version of its technology a few years ago with a huge box under the handlebars.
Since then, engineers have miniaturized the device for obvious reasons of driving comfort but also aesthetics. The Bosch ABS system now consists of three elements:
- the ABS box fixed to the fork, very discreet
- two carbon discs fixed on the brake discs
- a Kiox display and a Bosch pedal board, integral parts of the Bosch Smart System
Bosch ABS for bicycles is based on a very simple principle: when the user brakes, the ABS detects that the front wheel is turning slower than the rear wheel. He then guesses that the driver is braking and activates a system of pistons avoiding blocking the wheel.
Roughly speaking, he brakes and releases the wheel at an unimaginable speed to obtain braking effective without blocking the wheel. And it works!
For the moment, Bosch offers an all-in-one system to bicycle manufacturers. ABS only works with the latest version of the Bosch Smart Systemand therefore the Kiox display reserved for premium bikes, its electric motor in the crankset, as well as the Magura brakes, Bosch’s partner in the development of this technology.
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According to Bosch executives,it takes 400 to 500 euros of additional cost for the bike manufacturer, a cost that is logically found in the final price of the bike. The ABS system is therefore reserved for rather expensive bikes.
All bikes.Bosch enters into partnerships with manufacturers to integrate its technology into various types of bicycles. If we had the opportunity to try ABS on a mountain bike, Bosch also offers its system on other types of bikes, such as cargo bikes or mountain bikes.
Indeed , the miniaturization of the system also results in a considerable weight loss (it weighs less than 250 g) allowing cyclists to seriously consider adopting the technology. Bosch has also designed its ABS brake system to be suitable for mountain biking.For example, the ABS is only triggered from 6 km/h, which allows “noses turns” (tight turns leaning on the front wheel with the rear wheel raised). ).
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So we rode our Kalkhoff bike through the streets of Paris and paths of the Bois de Boulogne in good weather, the day after a few days of rain. The woodland paths were therefore greasy enough to experience braking that was more risky than on the asphalt.
In all circumstances (mud, gravel, sand, bitumen, wet grass, tree roots) , the observation is the same:the Bosch ABS is impressively efficient.In the hands, the feeling of the pumping effect is very present and reassuring.
Formerly a mountain biker in his spare time, your humble tester never managed to fault the braking system. On the same surface, the emergency stop is each time more effective with ABS than without. The braking distance is shorter, wheel locking is non-existent and, above all, trajectory control remains optimal.
For commuters, ABS is a small revolution that provides reassurance in everyday journeys, particularly on the steepest streets of Paris in the middle of heavy traffic. Although we have not had the opportunity to test ABS on a mountain bike, we can easily guess its potential. Even if the most experienced will have to get used to new sensations and new behavior of the bike.
In any case, Bosch demonstrates that ABS on a bike electric is a guarantee of safety both for daily journeys and sports activities. The fact remains that this system has a significant cost which reserves it for a public with comfortable finances.
Like any new technology, democratization will take time. In the automotive industry, it took years for ABS to become a standard. It will take at least that much for bike manufacturers to adopt it.
“The more bikes equipped, the more affordable it will be” told us a Bosch frame at the end of our test. Let’s hope so, because, we are convinced, ABS is revolutionizing the electric bike.