Hands On: SABS Antilock Bicycle Brake Pads

SABS Antilock Bicycle Brake Pads

Earlier this year, we posted the introduction of SABS’ antilock brake pads for V-brake equipped bikes. During my Bike Blogger trip to Taiwan, we got to see the new standard road caliper version and test them out on a short ride.

In short, they’re amazing.

I sprinted up to a good speed and grabbed a handful of front brake. Normally, this would result in broken teeth, collarbone or worse. With these things, it was a smooth, perfectly controlled stop. Next test? Do the same thing while trying to turn a corner…

SABS Antilock Bicycle Brake Pads

Coming into the turn, I grabbed the brake as hard as I could again. I’m not going to lie, it was a scary test, but the bike turned as smoothly as normal and the wheel retained perfect traction while holding the intended line.

In otherwords, it worked exactly like you’d expect antilock brakes to work in a car. The difference is they rely on speed-appropriate frequency rather computer controlled pulsing. It was really, really impressive.

The design uses what’s essentially a tuning-fork-like-weight at the front or rear of the pads depending on model to pulse the entire pad at up to 23 times per second. At 30kmh (about 18mph), your pads are contacting the rim at full force nearly 12 times per second. I didn’t feel any of the pulsing or any vibrations, just smooth, consistent speed reduction.

SABS Antilock Bicycle Brake Pads

SABS says they’re proven to reduce stopping distances by more than half and offer especially improved braking in the rain.

SABS Antilock Bicycle Brake Pads

Other than aesthetics, the only downsides are added weight and cost. They retail for $109 to $129 per wheel. For performance bikes and riders, the first two are likely deal breakers. For commuters and casual cyclists, the latter may or may not be an issue. OEM placements would be a really good way to seed the market, and they could likely help keep newbies and occasional bikers safer (and those around them).

Performance wise, they’re onto something. They’ve mentioned plans for a disc brake compatible pad or brake, too, which could be a really interesting thing for upscale commuter bikes.

Check them out online here.

Comments

Your Face - 11/27/12 - 2:09pm

Do the missiles come with the launcher or are they sold separately?

Yok - 11/27/12 - 2:23pm

Reduce stopping distances? Isn’t this the biggest fear of having disc brake road bikes?

gtavares - 11/27/12 - 2:26pm

I really want to see this test on video…

Joe - 11/27/12 - 2:28pm

These are contrary to the current aero trend. I cannot remember the last time I grabbed so much brake lever to induce an endo on my road bike.

Topmounter - 11/27/12 - 2:41pm

“SABS says they’re proven to reduce stopping distances by more than half…”

More than half of WHAT?

Obviously ABS really pays off during panic stops, particularly in changeable conditions, but I’d like to see a comparison of braking distances with and without by an independent, competent rider under a variety of conditions.

Jeff - 11/27/12 - 2:42pm

These would be good for the e-bike crowd.

Matt - 11/27/12 - 2:54pm

I can’t wait to see ABS applied to hydraulic road bike brakes. Should be a relatively simple, particularly if you’re also running a Di2 system from which to draw power for the actuators and electronic sensors.

Chipolini - 11/27/12 - 2:59pm

It’s actually really hard to endo any bike if your weight is distributed appropriately while braking… the front wheel just locks and skids and you fall to the side. This product is designed to prevent you from skidding which is the loss of traction as the momentum / inertia over comes the grip from the tire and locked up wheel… good idea for commute and urban rider, or those new to riding… It would be funny to see these set up with “Slip Pad” brake thing that has been seen on this site… one handed duel antilock brakes for commuters – lol.

Jordan - 11/27/12 - 3:10pm

For all of use whose moms somehow conditioned us to not use the front brake and still to this day after 3 years of racing haven’t quite broken the habit… (if you use the front brake you are going to flip over the handlebars bs) This could avoid the sever number of fishtailing incidents that occur in my day to day riding.

RUSTYDOGG - 11/27/12 - 3:10pm

I can see these going towards the bike rental bike tour crowd. I worked for a bike tour company where most of the riding was on the street with MTB and Hybrid type bikes. Witnessed many brake induced endos with some fairly serious injuries.
No serious (expert) rider is going to use them. But I do appreciate the technology that went into designing them. Pretty cool.

JR Z - 11/27/12 - 3:12pm

I have every bit of confidence that I could (and have) stop in a shorter distance than these in a controlled fashion and would never trust my stopping to anything but my own skill… HOWEVER, I have a friend and a family member who would both, likely, return to commuting by bike if they felt they could trust something like this (both were victims of endos). Also, the stopping while cornering definitely catches my attention as an improvement!

notmikeb - 11/27/12 - 3:34pm

Finally!!! The solution to the problem no serious cyclist has ever had!!!!

Oscar - 11/27/12 - 4:12pm

When are we getting traction control?

Andrew F - 11/27/12 - 4:22pm

Yet still no heated seats

ccolagio - 11/27/12 - 4:24pm

i wish they has some idea of a cost and published that so i could laugh harder at this “innovation”

ccolagio - 11/27/12 - 4:24pm

scratch that, its listed – yes, this is now instantly funnier

Adam - 11/27/12 - 5:02pm

Very neat and could be great for general cyclist if it does make for a safer ride.
I am however VERY concerned about one issue. As soon as you make a product that says it is an ANTI LOCK BRAKE, the moment it fails or a person crashes because they could not stop in time (even if it is their own fault) the liability becomes horrific!. Wish them the best of luck but would reccomend selling in countries with less legal mainia than the U.S.

Steve M - 11/27/12 - 6:10pm

Disc brake option?

nick_outdoors - 11/27/12 - 6:27pm

I’d like to see their affect on cyclocross brake/fork shutter.

El Xombo - 11/27/12 - 6:41pm

I’m holding out for the Rapha edition.

yesplease - 11/27/12 - 7:04pm

“Other than aesthetics, the only downsides are added weight and cost.”

Wait so its ugly, heavy and expensive? Rookie grandma’s are going to be all over this.

Ryan - 11/27/12 - 7:04pm

looks like a pair of wine corks

Androo - 11/27/12 - 7:37pm

Haters aside, I think these are great. No, they’re not for the weight obsessives or even those who are advanced riders in general. But for the vast majority of casual cyclists, these can improve performance and safety at the same time.

In fact, I daresay that even for advanced cyclists being able to simply grab the brakes as hard as you can and dive into a corner will make you a faster rider. The less you have to think about something, the better. One of the reasons why indexed shifting became popular, after all.

Ventruck - 11/27/12 - 7:59pm

Like said above, there’s really no place for these on remotely avid cyclist’s bike, but there are indeed people who might just need these and this is generally a forward-thinking step into technology. I mean an ABS system on a bicycle – ready to fit just within the brake pad slots.

There’s stupid things out there, like “invisible helmets”, but handicap items? Time to stop acting all “pro”, and realize not everyone is equally articulate – let alone a proficient cyclist – for one reason or another.

Rory - 11/27/12 - 8:34pm

If i remember correctly, ABS in offroad situations is far less effective as it freaks out and doesn’t apply enough force as the system is constantly sensing a lack of traction…

ricky - 11/27/12 - 9:08pm

this looks like it might just be great for traction on mtb. if i can get better traction out of the tire while not inducing a skid on the disc that would be well worth it. maybe not the xc but definatly the am to dh!! this looks really cool!!

Maury Ballstein - 11/27/12 - 9:17pm

Some day there will be a bike that will stop and go with the push of a button. It could even be enclosed so you stay warm and dry and four wheels so you don’t have to balance. They could even put T.V.s in it you you can be entertained as you run over primitive pedalers.

The Jimmy - 11/27/12 - 9:33pm

I these should be required for every Triathlete

Alan - 11/27/12 - 9:45pm

I agree these look silly. But they might be nice on a carbon brake track…Except that you’re probably riding carbon rims to SAVE weight…Oh well, still pretty cool innovation. I support.

Dan - 11/27/12 - 9:52pm

Seems like Q found a new job.

DeeEight - 11/28/12 - 1:52am

This was a stupid idea 20 years ago when a company tried offering it for cantilever brakes on mountain bikes, and its still a stupid idea today. As to the claimed reducing braking distances by half crap… manufacturers claimed the same shit for cars three decades ago when ABS brakes were introduced there, and that was quickly proven false. In fact, it was proven that in many conditions where the road friction is practically non-existent, such as on ice, the stopping distance would be longer as the ABS brakes basically didn’t slow the car at all because they kept going to lockup and then the computer would interrupt the hydraulic brake pressure. On ice, actually LOCKING the wheels completely, stops a car faster than not applying any pressure at all. Better a skid and swerve than carrying on in a straight line at full speed.

GeorgeP - 11/28/12 - 2:56am

First off, very cool. I mean, unless the big round thing is a battery. In which case, don’t quit your day job.

This falls into an unfortunate market. The people that need them most feel like their being duped for spending 120 dollars for an entire bike, no less ONE set of brake pads. The Modulators that ARE out there remain on bikes in the sub 450 range, and an addition like that wouldn’t be reasonable.
However there are probably niches here and there.
Jeff maybe had the best idea; friggin’ E BIKES! Though… well… you’d probably want a disc. If I had a motor I wouldn’t want rubber stopping me. So… for SLOW EBIKES.
RustyDogg had a good one too… bike rentals. Front brake only though… not on every bike, but a handful for the clumsy dad that HAS to have a mountain bike to tour San Francisco by road.
The Jimmy might actually have it spot on with Triathletes. But Oh My God, will it have to be aero before they’ll snag that. Even though it should be required by the … UCI? Whoever.
Bike share bikes maybe? Though you’d have to hide them away inside a fender fairing or something. Also, those are usually dutch-bike style and you couldn’t go endover if you tried (maybe BikerFox could).
I guess the occasional older lady that buys a 2,200 dollar flat bar road bike to get back in shape. If they could get this on OEM anyway, she wouldn’t bring it up and pay for it and have it installed at point of purchase.
Oh… well actually this could be really great for the touring folks of the world. I can imagine the fear of braking through a rainy turn on a steep descent. Outside of a disc brake version, I think the touring angle is the way to go here. They won’t be afraid of ridicule at the Saturday morning ride (as most roadies would/should) and anyone that’s toured (or played GranTurismo) knows the age-old trade off between grip for turning and braking. Those Ortliebs are waterproof, you’re not stopping for the rain. The descent should be the sweetest part, but slick roads and traffic can make that situation more than sketchy.

So bravo, but you’ll have to prove it to the point to earn yourself OEM, like the gates belt drive, except you don’t have to cut the frame…. so it’s that much easier. And also touring folk will shell out the money, won’t be afraid of geekiness, and could regain a great deal of confidence descending on two skinny wheels loaded with 220 pounds or more. You’ll need to test for that.

El Xombo is right though. Unless I see helmetless roadies using this product gritting through an epic ride in beautiful black and white photography, I’ll pass.

and Maury Ballstein… wha?

Oh God… It’s 2am.

Nicobico - 11/28/12 - 3:00am

THAT will kill my chances of flipping headfirst with the bike when braking and end up with a million views at Youtube….

brit_in_oz - 11/28/12 - 4:18am

The claim of 50% stopping distance when you read the FAQ is actually 50% of the The Standard of
EN14766 test method, not any individual person. Great marketing …..if a little misleading

jse - 11/28/12 - 4:29am

I wish i had these on my bike 6 months ago when another cyclist pulled out in front of me while flying downhill on a wet road, wouldn’t have avoided the crash but might have scrubbed off some speed and saved a few ribs, rather then instantly hitting the tarmac due to an autonomic response of grabbing a handful of both brakes…

Although they are going to have to be at least half price before I buy a pair as for 99.99% of the time they are not needed

BBB - 11/28/12 - 5:40am

According to the website it’s suitable only for front brakes. Why?

Ck - 11/28/12 - 9:35am

In this comment thread: A bunch of people hating on a product clearly not designed for them.

Jordan - 11/28/12 - 9:46am

This is awesome technology, perhaps not the most elegant solution right now, but nonetheless: awesome.

Even if you are a roadie I see this technology eventually being used by you in some form. Unless if course you are going to argue that being able to brake harder later for the corner isn’t going to make you faster, or there has never been a time where you misjudged a corner and perhaps would have liked to have scrubbed some speed while it it. Or perhaps your braking power has never sucked in the rain, you’ve never wanted to improve that either have you?

Fact is that this improves your braking ability in various conditions. No it isn’t the prettiest or lightest solution, but it a a first generation technology it will evolve and hopefully kick ass later on.

Tyler (Editor) - 11/28/12 - 10:09am

BBB – most of your stopping power is in the front brakes, so it’s more important to have the feature there, and the improved control is a bonus. The benefit for the rear really doesn’t meet the cost-to-performance threshhold in our opinion, and they probably realize that.

Mindless - 11/28/12 - 11:46am

What a complicated way to solve something that disk brakes already solved.

Androo - 11/28/12 - 12:22pm

@jse I’ve had the same thing happen. Groggily riding along at 8 am in the middle of a pack during a 220km weekend tour and a guy goes down 2m in front of me. My weight distribution was all off, and I grabbed a fistful of brakes and went over, landed hard on my hip and wasn’t walking normally for a week or two…

andy - 11/28/12 - 2:02pm

There´s a fool born every day…..

Chad - 11/28/12 - 6:20pm

@DeeEight You are missing the point that antilock brakes on a low friction surface may require longer stopping distance but they DO allow you to steer. Something you won’t get from a mashed brake.

When you consider real world attentiveness and emergencies(I realize every one on here has cat-like readiness to brake in an emergency situation 100% of ever single ride) this potentially has its place.

I can understand people arguing the elegance of this particular design, the marketability of this type of a product, or whether this technology is needed on bicycles. But when you start saying that anti-lock brakes can’t be effective, can’t help improve safety in some applications, or is some big conspiracy, you’re just being a crusty old curmudgeon.

Mindless - 11/28/12 - 9:02pm

It is SO much easier to modulate hydraulic disk brakes… No need for this nonsense.

Danwiz - 11/28/12 - 10:27pm

WOW. It just dawned on me as to how difficult it is to apply the brakes on the bike. It’s just so damn tough to figure out which lever and when. Sorry but this is just f’n stupid

BeerBellies - 11/29/12 - 12:42am

I would prefer KERS and DRS . I can’t even get my carbon wheels to lockup going DH.

DeeEight - 11/29/12 - 1:04am

I’ve ICE BIKED every winter without studded tires since I was 15 (I’m 40 now)…. i know how to stop without locking my wheels up and skidding out. Its a shame that so many riders are incapable of such a simple thing that this goofy thing got developed. When you’ve ridden in snow and ice, rainy roads are a no brainer.

DeeSu - 11/30/12 - 12:46am

I don’t know what’s worse — any comment thread on YouTube or any comment thread on this site. Wow! Amazing how many cyclists are nothing but pretentious @$$ hats.

Kieran - 02/09/13 - 3:47am

The arrogance of most of the posters here is mind-blowing.

I don’t care how much of an expert rider you are. If you cycle in busy big cities, especially in the less bike friendly parts of Europe, you will find yourself needing to stop suddenly from 20-30mph because some idiot hasn’t seen you and you will find yourself at least locking up your rear wheel. I can’t remember ever having locked up my front wheel as an adult but only because I hold back a little.
My brother recently had a nasty crash on his bicycle where someone pulled out in front of him. Are you people honestly saying that in such a situation you wouldn’t lock your rear wheel up, and that you would get the maximum breaking power possible out of your front wheel? If you are then quite frankly I either don’t believe you or you’re a pro and I don’t really care.

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