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HDOpenRoad.com TCB Review

"…the bike stopped in 17 feet (vs.) 27 feet…"
Could TCB Brakes Save Your Life???
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TCB Braking System: Cost Versus Value

Posted on 28 Jul, 2009 by Coach in Reviews

For anyone that has ridden in urban or city environments (that should include just about all of us), we all know that the greatest danger to us while we are riding is from other drivers. Those people that believe they can talk on their cell phones, text message, read magazines, or just not pay attention to their surroundings while operating a 3000+ pound vehicle.

They dart out of side streets, pull away from curbs without looking, fail to stop in reasonable times, and change lanes into us (to name a few). All to the detriment of us, the motorcycle rider.

In our defense, we have a few tools at our disposal, besides an increased level of paranoia. Our bikes are lighter, quicker, and more agile. We are able to put our bikes in positions where we will have fewer intrusions by the larger cars and trucks, and we can stop so much quicker. But in our stopping ability, there lies another problem.

While searching the National Traffic Safety sites, I found that many of the accidents involving motorcycles stem from the loss of control encountered during emergency braking. A vehicle will pull into our lane or dart out from a side street, and the riders first reaction is to grab a fist full of brakes. Not an unreasonable decision, but one that starts a chain reaction that can quickly get out of control.

Once a rider initiates a panic stop, with all but the most experienced riders (how may of you have spent your adult lives dirt track racing), the brakes will almost immediately lock up. This begins an uncontrolled sliding effect as 400-1200 pounds of steel and rubber at speed begins to slide on the pavement.

The ability to stop the slide is reduced to rider experienced to unconsciously feather the brakes (because you will never think that fast in an emergency situation). Once sliding, the gyro effect caused by the engine in the motorcycle frame is stopped and the bike will now assume the angel created by the rider as he/she pushes away from the bike to avoid the accident (fight or flight rule).

From this all too common scenario, you can see that once the bike begins it’s slide the chances for avoiding catastrophe degrades rapidly.

Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) came onto the scene for exactly this reason. Developed by BMW to stop aircraft when landing, this system has enjoyed a lot of success in cars for years now. Only introduced in motorcycles over the last few years, most motorcycles are not equipped with ABS. But now there is an alternative.

The TCB Braking System was developed by Mark Lipski in Texas, as a response to a tragedy Mark experienced with a child. After many years of effort and trial and error, Mark has developed a simple valve the when added to the calipers, provide for a traction controlled braking system. Although not an anti-lock braking system, this system is designed to put control back into emergency braking.

Panman and I had heard about the TCB Braking System, and we spoke to Mark Lipski several times trying to get our heads wrapped around the concept. Panman, being an old skool type, just could not let himself be sold on the concept. While my 2008 Ultra is equipped with ABS from Harley-Davidson, Panman’s flatly states in response, “I want to stop”. Well, that sounds like a challenge.

We ordered a set from Mark and decided to put them to the test. The TCB Braking System came individually packaged, and look of good manufacturing. Larger than the banjo bolts they would be replacing, but not exceedingly so. Installation was simple, pull the old banjo bolt off, replace with the TCB Braking System banjo bolt, and bleed.

There is obviously a more scientific way to test a braking system, but we decided to do it the same way you would. Brake at different speeds and measure the distance. Then put the TCB system on and repeat. Compare the results, and tada… instant test.

We chose an area of new commercial buildings (you know they are going to be vacant now) to conduct our test. We gathered our tools, cameras, and a few beers and headed off for our “proving grounds”.

The first test was at 35 mph. We wanted to simulate daily in city riding. During the test, Panman stopped as fast as he can on his ‘08 Ultra, but did not lock the brakes up completely. Even he fears an out of control bike!

The Ultra stopped at 35 mph in 27 feet. That is a whole lot faster than any car can stop. Next we tested at 45 mph. Panman brought his Ultra to a stop in 34 feet. The is less than a car length for each 10 miles per hour. Again, far superior to any car or truck.

OK, a quick intermission while we changed the banjo bolts out to the TCB Braking system and bled the brake lines. Keep in mind that we did this in a parking lot, so the change out is quite simple.

Now installed, we were prepared for the next phase of our test. First speed, 35 miles per hour. (With the TCB) The bike stopped in 17 feet! That compares with 27 feet without the TCB Braking System. Damn, that was impressive. We had to repeat that speed just to make sure. Same results! Panman was starting to believe.

Then we tested at 45 mile per hour. The bike stopped in 27 feet. That compares with 34 feet without the TCB system. That could easily be the difference between successful emergency braking and a trip to the hospital.

But the biggest differences to note came from debriefing Panman. “The difference that I can feel is that without the TCB Braking System, the bike wants to lock up when you panic brake. Right away, the bike starts to move sideways and begins to slide. Without feathering the brakes, you quickly lose control of the bike.”

“When I grabbed the brakes with the TCB Braking System, The first fraction of a second the bike will not lock up. This felt like it began the braking sequence before the brakes would lock up. It felt like I had more control over the bike in the sequence because it did not move to a sideways angle”, said Panman.

This got me thinking. On a stock bike, when you pull hard on the brakes, the bike begins a slide and can quickly adapt an angle that puts the bike out of control. With the TCB Braking System, the lockup does not occur immediately. This allows for a straight angle to be adopted by the braking bike, and maintains control once the lockup begins. OK Panman, simple question. Did you have more or same control with the TCB Braking System, and would they warrant purchase by the average rider?

Oh, hell yeah! My control of the bike was much improved. I didn’t think I was going to like them. I don’t like ABS brakes because I want to stop (yeah, yeah, yada yada). But the TCB Braking system still does stop. It will lock the brakes up, but only after the braking sequence has started and you have begun to quickly slow down. This kept my Ultra from sliding sideways out of control.”

The last part of the test was a planned head to head of the TCB Braking System versus the stock Harley-Davidson ABS system. Wait for it… wait for it… we didn’t do it. We found that the test was too subjective of rider style/ability for the test to make any sense. We did, however, measure the braking distances for my Ultra with ABS. Keep in mind that this is the same ‘08 Ultra, set up the same way as Panman’s except with ABS.

While my bike did stop faster than Panmna’s bike before the TCB Braking System, I could not stop as fast as Panman with the TCB System. But again, that is subjective since I was riding my own. But we were both admittedly impressed with the performance that the TCB Braking System provided. Mark Lipski is definitely on to something here!

End of the day, and Panman won’t give me back the TCB Braking System banjo bolts. He says that he wants to test them riding 2 up going up to Big Bear that evening. Call is for thunder showers, and he says that will be an ultimate test. I think he feels safer with them now!

The TCB Braking System has proved it’s worth. One of the questions we had during testing was would the average rider be able to justify the cost versus the value of the TCB System. Hell yeah, without question. These should be standard on any bike that is not equipped with ABS brakes.

Check out the TCB Braking System yourself! You WANT these on your bike!

Editors note: Panman returned from Big Bear the next day with a smile on his face. He still won’t give me back the TCB Braking System! That’s a brothers love! Must be a good endorsement, huh? Get yours today!!


HDOpenRoad.com Article- Text Only Above
(Traction Control Motorcycle Brakes Upgrade Review)




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