The Advantage of Traction Control and ABS

From the comfort of my couch, I like nothing more than watching MotoGP and WSB riders strangling the throttle on their factory build superbikes and concept motorcycles, usually at the point in corner where I know I'm normally poking my tongue out of the corner of my mouth and sparingly adding throttle extremely careful. It's all too easy to convince yourself that if you had traction control, you'd be able to get on the gas earlier and go many kilometers per hour faster. But just how much quicker?

In our office, our assistant mechanic is the closest thing to an average rider. Unlike most, he has yet to line up for a race. Getting past a few motorcycles in the fast group on a track day is as good as a win to him and for that reason he feels perfectly qualified to strap the datalogger to his back and head out on track. The plan was simple; ten laps on the traction-controlled BMW and then then laps on the amazingly unrefined Suzuki GSX-R1000. This isn't a test of either motorcycle's limit, far from it. We wanted to find out if we could go any quicker because of the safety net that ABS and Traction Control provide. Our test rider knows the test circuit well enough to not have gained an advantage by going on one motorcycle before the other. He is confidence that he can feel a win coming on, let's see with which motorcycle he reaches the flag first.
Off the line and up to fourth gear on both motorcycles heading towards turn one. Before our test rider get on the brakes he already traveling 16km/h faster on the lightning BMW at 212km/h. The quick shifter and the monstrous 190 horsepower engine no doubt giving him the edge, over the slightly less powerful Suzuki GSX-R1000.

The speed gained on the straight is carried to the apex, where on the Suzuki he slowed to 124km/h, rather than 135km/h on the BMW S1000RR. Although only one corner in, the BMW has gained an on track advantage of about three-quarters of a second.

Heading towards a double right section of the circuit, our test rider actually start to catch up on the Suzuki. You could never accuse the BMW of lacking midrange clout, but evidently in Thew's hands, our test rider , at least, the Suzuki is more than capable of matching it. Let's not forget that the BMW was carrying more speed off turn one though, maybe enough extra speed for Thew to feel that he did reached the limit of what he was happy with, whereas on the Suzuki, he got off the corner and realized he was riding a bit slow, hence the extra speed carried into the next set of corners.

Despite the opinion of some of the weak-feeling Brembo brakes on the Suzuki, and the sky-high confidence the front end on the BMW gives, Thew actually braked later and harder on the Suzuki GSX-R1000. The overall difference in time between the two motorcycles. The Suzuki catches up a bit around turn three, but then the BMW pulls away for the rest of the lap, finishing 2.01 seconds ahead of the Suzuki.
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