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