The BMW Motorrad principle Safety 360: Electronic control systems

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BMW Motorrad ABS – more than two decades of innovation.

BMW Motorcycles Safety 2012

From model year 2013, BMW Motorrad will be offering all its new vehicles with ABS fitted as standard. This is a proactive step, clearly pre-empting the requirement for ABS which is likely to be introduced in 2016 for all newly registered motorcycles in Europe. 

Generously dimensioned brake systems with high-quality components have long been a part of the BMW Motorrad development philosophy. In order to further shorten brake distances, BMW Motorrad was the first motorcycle manufacturer in the world to fit its machines with the anti-locking system ABS over 20 years ago, setting a milestone in active motorcycling safety at the time. Initially introduced in the BMW Motorrad models of the K series such as the K 100 and K1 as an ex works option, it soon blazed a trail of success in the opposed twin “boxer” series and later in the F and G models. On August 31st 2009, a BMW K 1300 R was the one-millionth BMW to leave the production plant in Berlin-Spandau fitted with the innovative BMW Motorrad Integral ABS.

ABS for the R and K series: constantly smaller, lighter and higher performance.

In spring 1988, motorcycle experts spoke of a “technical revolution” and the “most important advancement in the field of active safety”: BMW was the first motorcycle manufacturer in the world to put an electronic-hydraulic antilock braking system (ABS) on the market in the model K 100. It weighed
11.1 kilograms and saw instant success.

It was not long before the next generation of the system went on the market in 1993, ABS II. This new system was just under half the weight (5.96 kg) and much more compact than the first ABS. The structure of the electronics using modern digital technology further enhanced reliability and control quality.

The third generation of ABS went on the market in spring 2001 – BMW Motorrad Integral ABS. This system offered an integral brake function linking the brake cycles for the front and rear wheel for the first time, as well as providing a brake servo function. At a weight of 4.35 kilograms it was around 20 per cent lighter than ABS II.

In 2006, BMW Motorrad Integral ABS moved into the next generation, this time making a veritable leap in its evolution – from being confined to brake control to becoming a fully networked system. With the new Integral ABS, BMW Motorrad created a platform for additional riding dynamics control systems based on reduced engineering. This opens the way for the option of additional rider assistance functions as desired by the customer, such as Automatic Stability Control ASC.

The technology was developed separately from the predecessor system and the system layout fundamentally recast. Maximum stopping power and thus very short braking distances are now possible, even without electrical brake-servo assistance. The Integral ABS weighs 2.3 kilograms and is in highly successful use in this version to this day in the models of the R and K series.

ABS for the entry level and medium category.

An ABS was likewise introduced in the entry-level model F 650 GS
(single-cylinder) in the year 2000. This is a solution specific to the segment: a compact, light (2.1 kg) dual channel valve system without integral function.

A refined system on this basis was used from 2006 in the medium category models of the F series and in the sports boxer machine R 1200 S. The new generation of BMW Motorrad ABS is characterised not just by a compact structure and low weight (1.5 kg) but also by much improved control quality as compared to the predecessor generation.

In 2008 the system was slightly modified, with braking distances shortened even further by means of an improved lift detection function for the rear wheel and extended diagnostics.

In 2009 the system was then further optimised with the addition of a new pressure sensor for the launch of the BMW F 800 R – to match the sporting purpose for which the roadster was designed.

Based on the BMW Motorrad principle “Safety 360°”, the latest generation of the BMW Motorrad dual channel ABS will be installed for the first time in serial production from model year 2013 in the two new models BMW F 700 GS and F 800 GS. The new system is not only much lighter, weighing just 700 grams, but is also more compact in size that the previous generation. What is more, it now has inlet valves which can be infinitely adjusted for an even better response. New wheel sensors automatically monitor the distance between sensor and sensor wheel. As usual, the new standard ABS can be deactivated at the press of the button if the rider so wishes – for example for active riding over rough terrain.

Race ABS for the race track.

The current high point of technological development is BMW Motorrad Race ABS developed for the launch of the BMW S 1000 RR in 2009 to meet the needs of supersports riders. This is a completely newly developed system which is significantly lighter than previous part integral systems. With a control unit weighing just 1.5 kilograms and a total weight of just 2.5 kilograms, it is ideally suited for use in supersports motorcycles.

The rider can press a button to select engine characteristics including the relevant Race ABS characteristics for a range of conditions such as a wet surface (“Rain”), road (“Sport”), race track with supersports tyres (“Race”) and race track with slicks (“Slick”). These are combined with the various modes and are mutually harmonised for maximum safety. Even though the new system – like every other ABS – cannot redefine the limits of motorcycle physics, the new Race ABS does provide the rider with valuable support and an enormous safety bonus.

BMW Motorrad ASC and DTC – increased safety when accelerating.

In the course of ABS development and with a view to increasing ride safety even further, BMW has also created traction slip control systems such as ASC (Automatic Stability Control) or most recently Dynamic Traction Control DTC for the new BMW S 1000 RR.

The rider assistance system ASC introduced in 2006 has been one of the most popular ex works options for years. This is because the BMW Motorrad traction control system limits drive torque in relation to the nature of the road surface. By comparing the rotational speeds of the front and rear wheel obtained via the ABS sensors, the electronic system detects spin in the rear wheel and cuts back engine power accordingly by reducing the ignition angle as well as adapting injection via the engine control system. The result: no more rear wheel spin, more efficient power transmission while maintaining lateral forces and thus significantly increased active riding safety.

In the BMW Motorrad GS models, the ASC also features a special terrain function which is adapted to the traction conditions on loose surfaces such as sand and gravel. The change between the road and the terrain setting is conveniently made by means of a switch on the handlebar instrument panel. Since 2011, this innovative traction control system has been available for retrofit in all BMW motorcycles with Integral ABS (since 2007).

An outstanding refinement of the traction control system and a genuine innovation in the field of electronic control systems in general is Dynamic Traction Control DTC, introduced in 2009 in the BMW S 1000 RR. This was the first traction control system to be offered in the supersports segment with banking detection. In addition to comparing the rotational speeds of the front and rear wheels via the ABS sensors, there is now a sensor box which determines the motorcycle’s banking angle. Like the new BMW Motorrad Race ABS, DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) is also individually combined with the engine control modes available.

With its four different settings, DTC helps the rider control the S 1000 RR much more effectively and safely when close to the physical limits than would otherwise be possible without it.


Adaptive Headlight – significantly improved road illumination on bends.

Seeing and being seen are crucial to safe motorcycling. In the area of electrical engineering, BMW Motorrad constantly works to develop innovative lighting systems.

Since the launch of the 6-cylinder models K 1600 GT and K 1600 GTL in 2011, BMW Motorrad is the first motorcycle manufacturer in the world to offer an Adaptive Headlight in conjunction with standard xenon headlamps. Here, compensation of the banking angle and the pitch provide much improved illumination of the road on bends, thereby significantly increasing ride safety.

Daytime running light and LED technology – much improved visibility.

BMW Motorrad first presented its LED daytime running light feature in the new scooters C 600 Sport and C 650 GT in 2011. This safety feature, hitherto a rarity, provides considerably enhanced visibility in road traffic, thereby contributing significantly to the motorcyclist’s passive safety. Much more widespread use of LED technologies in scooters and motorcycles is being prepared for the future.

Ergonomics and usability.

The ergonomics triangle as the defining factor for ride posture.

Ergonomics has always been a key issue in the development of BMW motorcycles – after all, lasting safety and fatigue elimination is only possible if the rider adopts the right seating position. Here, particular importance is attached to the so-called ergonomics triangle, consisting of the positions of the handlebars, seat and footrests. Depending on the model, BMW Motorrad offers various adjustment options and alternatives such as seats for higher or lower seating heights.

BMW Motorrad addresses special ergonomic needs – such as those of especially short or tall riders – by providing an extensive range of options and special accessories (windshields, lowering kits etc.) for customisation purposes.

Optimum usability based on maximum functionality.

Simple handling and excellent reachability of switch units, hand levers and pedals for brake, clutch and gears are absolutely essential for safe motorcycling. This is why BMW Motorrad has always attached great importance to functionality. Here the multi-controller as part of an integrated operating concept is an innovation in the motorcycle field, as found in the K 1600 GT and K 1600 GTL, for example.

The readability of instruments and information has a very important role to play in this connection, too. Dial faces with optimised design, high-resolution TFT screens, anti-reflective instrument panels and intuitive menu guidance – every aspect is subjected to ongoing examination and improved where necessary.

Special accessories.

BMW Motorrad offers an even broader range of possibilities for optimising motorcycle safety when it comes to special uses and requirement profiles.

For example, additional crash pads and crash bars can prevent major damage to the motorcycle in a worst-case scenario. Additional hand protectors safeguard against flying stones and an underguard prevents more extensive damage to the underside of the engine when riding off-road.

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