We have already reported here several times about the innovative anti-lock braking system for bicycles from blubrake — most recently about the ABS specifically for cargo bikes, in addition the system will also be available invisibly installed in S-pedelecs from Stromer and Bianchi.
So it was a welcome opportunity to try out this system up close. The fact that a cargo bike was used for the test also lowered the inhibition threshold for an emergency braking with the front wheel — the probability on a cargo bike is already less likely to make a dismount over the handlebars when the front wheel is locked 😉
More safety due to ABS
A brief description of the system itself: As the name suggests, ABS prevents the wheels from locking — which, in the case of bicycles, particularly affects the front wheel. If this comes to a standstill during emergency braking, the aforementioned fall over the handlebars is usually unavoidable. But this is precisely where the anti-lock braking system comes in and prevents the wheel from locking. This means that the bike remains controllable and a fall over the handlebars can be avoided.
In the case of e-bikes, the use of such a system is doubly appropriate: an integrated power supply is already available here anyway, which is necessary for the ABS control system. Also, e-bikes usually travel at higher speeds and thus require a reliable braking system that is easy and safe to use — think here of the growing number of new and rather inexperienced riders or occasional users of rental bikes. And especially in urban environments, the brake is used particularly often due to the large number of road users and traffic lights.
Components of the anti-lock braking system
But let’s first take stock: On the outside, the bike’s technology is hardly noticeable. The only thing that stands out is a small indicator on the handlebars with illuminated ABS labeling — a regulatory requirement similar to the ABS status light in the car cockpit. Depending on the model, this status display can also be shown directly on the display of the e-bike, making the hardware even less visible.
A second indication of the ABS is a sensor disc mounted on the brake disc. It measures the movement of the front wheel and passes the information on to the blubrake control unit. The system thus works completely independently of the brake disc, which means that it does not matter to the ABS what condition the brake is in (whether brand new or already significantly worn). Even the brand of the brake does not matter, the blubrake system is compatible with all common, hydraulic disc brakes.
All other components — namely the hydraulic and control unit — are concealed under the cargo bike’s luggage basket.
Technically, the system is to be wear-free and as low-maintenance as known from hydraulic disc brake systems. However, only blubrake-trained technicians are allowed to work on the brake, and the entire system is precisely adapted to the respective bike model and approved. A subsequent conversion of existing bikes is therefore not feasible.
By the way, if the technology should fail contrary to expectations, there is no need to worry: the brake then continues to function mechanically as it would without active ABS!
Full braking with and without ABS
A video is probably the best way to show how the system works — or, better still, two videos, one without ABS and one with active blubrake ABS. The slow-motion footage shows the differences during emergency braking quite clearly:
Without ABS: the front wheel locks immediately and the cargo bike slides away uncontrollably to the side. The rider tries to keep the bike from tipping over with his legs.
Especially on the cargo bike, the test clearly showed how easily the front wheel can lock. If you then also get a rather slippery surface, like here with gravel, you have to handle the front brake very sensitively without ABS. Especially in corners, the front wheel quickly slips sideways when the front wheel locks, and a fall is then inevitable.
With ABS: as soon as the front wheel locks, the ABS releases the brake to get the wheel rolling again. In the process, the cargo bike remains controllable and safely on track. Only at the very end does the wheel then lock up to a standstill, as the ABS only works up to a speed of 5 km/h.
The handling with ABS is very simple: you simply press the brake lever fully! Depending on the surface, a vibration was then felt by the stuttering front wheel in the test, which was further amplified by the suspension fork. However, the brake lever itself remained absolutely quiet. There is also little more to say about the function — which is actually the best news, because you have to pay attention to absolutely nothing special with the blubrake ABS!
A winning concept: For the user, the ABS for bicycles first and foremost offers more safety from crashes. In addition, the braking power can be used more effectively, as the worry of rolling over when braking hard with the front wheel is now a thing of the past. And thanks to its simple handling and reliable function, the blubrake ABS is a convincing innovation that should soon find its way into numerous other bikes!
For an overview of all bike models with the ABS, we recommend visiting blubrake’s website.