TVS starts offering ABS on its two wheelers
TVS Motor Co has become the first two-wheeler manufacturer in India to offer anti-lock braking technology, sourced from Continental
The ABS on the Apache RTR 180 comprises two small discs mounted onto both wheels of the motorcycle, each connected to non-contact magnetic sensors that monitor wheel speed. The sensors are linked to the HECU (Hydraulic and Electronic Control Unit) located under the fuel tank, supplying it with wheel speed data every tenth of a second. The HECU comprises a pump that regulates brake oil pressure acting on the calipers at both ends. In the event of emergency braking, the HECU recognises the rapid drop in speed and regulates brake pressure through digital valves to avoid the wheels from locking up.
This system also comes with Rear-wheel Lift-off Protection (RLP) which relies on a brake pressure sensor to analyse hydraulic pressure in the braking system. If there is potential for the rear wheel to lift-off under extreme braking, the system momentarily reduces pressure in the front brake circuit till full stability is restored. The system used by TVS also allows riders the option to switch off ABS via a button in the instruments bay.
According to TVS, the Apache RTR 180 ABS concept displayed at the 2010 Auto Expo evoked a lot of interest among bikers, which is what prompted further development. Thereafter, TVS and Continental worked closely to fine-tune the system for the RTR 180. Vinay Harne, president, New Product Initiatives, TVS Motor Company, spoke to Autocar Professional about the development process. “The base design of Continental was continuously reviewed with respect to performance expectations, control robustness and durability. The control strategy was tuned over 18 months, in stages, to cater to all possible biking conditions of India. The world-class proving ground at IDIADA, Spain and the ABS proving ground at Wabco TVS, Chennai, were extensively used in this process, apart from typical regular roads of India. Detailed data of typical Indian usage pattern was collected and used in finalising the control strategy for the Apache RTR 180 ABS.”
He added, “The ABS HECU has been very thoughtfully packaged, very close to the centre of gravity of the bike, to enhance its excellent dynamic road-holding capabilities. The speed sensing discs were specially designed keeping in consideration Indian operating conditions and manufacturing requirements. A special protective guard has been designed for the front wheel speed sensing disc, to protect against bad road environments. Around 120 different test combinations were devised to develop the ABS system for the Apache RTR 180 ABS.”
Conti tech at work
The Continental ABS system used on the TVS bike was introduced globally two years ago. Its light weight (1.2kg) and compact dimensions make it suitable to Indian bikes. In fact, Continental is in talks with other Indian two-wheeler manufacturers for the fitment of this system. Manufacturers in Brazil, Russia and China are also on Continental’s radar. However, the Continental ABS is a two-channel system that requires hydraulic brakes, both front and rear. This limits its application to premium motorcycles that use front and rear disc brakes.
According to Murali Srinivasan, Continental’s India Head for the Division Chassis & Safety, “The initial development of the product was done in Germany, with further development for Indian conditions in India. There are differences in the environment and road conditions of European countries compared to India.”
On the differences between the braking solutions offered by Continental in India and abroad, he said: “The Indian market is driven by the concept of ‘value for money’. Consumers are very focused on getting the right value for their money. They will be willing to spend only for features that would interest them. Continental's ABS system for India is smaller and lighter than more complex systems used abroad. It can be inserted relatively easily into the structure of most motorcycle designs. The heavier European motorcycles use an integral brake system that, along with ABS, also balances brake distribution between both wheels. The system available in India is an independent ABS.”
TVS plans to offer ABS as an option on the Apache RTR 180 within the coming months. There is a possibility the system will also be offered with the front and rear disc-equipped RTR 160 in the future. While pricing wasn’t disclosed at the time of going to press, sources within TVS suggest the Apache RTR 180 ABS could sell for a Rs 10,000-15,000 premium over the standard model.
The Apache ABS will be joined shortly by Honda that will be offering its new CBR250R sports bike with the option of Combined ABS. As the Indian two-wheeler market matures, it is only a matter of time before such innovations become common on our bikes.
For the time being, TVS and Continental need to be lauded for their pioneering step in making Indian roads just that little bit safer.
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