Some months back I got a hold of Mark Lipski, the inventor and manufacturer of the TCB (Traction Control Braking) braking system for motorcycles. The information I found on the website had intrigued me mightily, and Mark agreed to ship me a pair of his little wonders for me to demo. As it happened, I needed to head on over to see Gary and Dave, co-owners of Wheel Works on Nutwood Ave in Garden Grove, California, where I’ve been buying my Avon Tyres exclusively for 25 years. When the installer, Mat Virgil, finished bolting on a 170/60ZR17 Avon Storm 2 sport-touring model on my Deuce’s swingarm, though I like to think I know my Blue’s performance characteristics as well as I know my own, I thought it would be a good idea to establish a feel for the way the stock braking system worked at that moment in time. So I took my trusty V-Twin out onto the roadway in front of Wheel Works and executed a moderate panic stop at 40 mph using the rear brake. When I executed a full panic stop the rear tire screamed at me and slid out to the right. Even though I immediately let up on the pedal, I had to use all my might to keep the bike upright.
I then asked Mat to replace the banjo bolt on my rear caliper with a TCB unit. Once he had the whole deal buttoned up and properly bled, I put a couple of easy miles on the system to get a feel for the pedal. Mark had advised me that the pedal would feel a bit mushy at first, but that I would quickly become accustomed to the difference. Sure enough, I did notice the softer feel of the pedal and as Mark had reassured me, I got used to the feel after a couple of applications. After my brief jaunt I brought the Deuce back to Wheel Works to put the little device through some paces. Again, on the roadway in front of the shop, I executed a moderate panic stop at 40 mph using the rear brake exclusively. Hey! That worked great. I hadn’t marked off lines on the pavement in order to empirically compare the effectiveness of the brakes with the device installed as opposed to without, but to the seat of this reporter’s pants, it seemed like the bike stopped faster than with the stock system alone. Next I executed a full panic stop using the same technique. This time the bike seemed to slow down a bit initially, but then my tire commenced to scream at me again. This time, however, it tracked straight and I was able to maintain control all the way to a complete stop. Mark told me to expect the tire to skid, but he also told me it wouldn’t swerve because the TCB allows the wheel to continue to turn even while it’s skidding.
Rather than have the other TCB installed on the front caliper, I chose to put some miles on the bike to get an idea of how the device performed under actual riding conditions. It did not disappoint. A short time later I returned to Wheel Works to have Mat install a new Avon Venom 90-90/21 on the Deuce’s front end. Then, on the roadway in front of the shop I executed a moderate panic stop followed by a full panic stop. The resultant out-of-control skid nearly caused me to crash my two-wheeled companion. I went back to have Mat replace the banjo bolt on the front caliper with a TCB unit and then repeated the procedure. As it did on the rear wheel, I noticed improved stopping at moderate panic levels and under full panic the tire squealed, but the bike tracked straight. Next I performed the moderate panic stop deploying both the front and rear brake simultaneously—it felt amazing! Again, I’m going on a seat-of-the-pants impression, but I’m convinced the little devices helped me stop a hell of a lot sooner than with the stock calipers alone. Finally I performed a full panic stop with both brakes simultaneously. The tires went into a skid, but once again the bike tracked straight. What’s more, I was again convinced it stopped sooner than it would have with the stock system alone.
Now that I’ve been using the TCB devices for some time, I’m confident that the Deuce’s braking system is better suited to handle traffic emergencies that get my adrenalin pumping to the point of panic. And that’s a good feeling.
So how does the TCB system work? There’s a piece of elastic material (rubber), installed inside the large portion of the bolt structure that separates the brake fluid from an air chamber in the top (end) of the device. As brake pressure is applied, this rubber diaphragm expands into the air chamber taking just enough pressure off the calipers to prevent total brake lock-up. Even though the tire is screaming and skidding, it tracks straight. Additionally, during normal-to-heavy braking this effect improves the efficiency of the braking system significantly.
Check out the website (www.tcbbrakesystems.com) for testimonials from industry sources regarding information about the improved stopping distance and tracking ability of bikes equipped with TCBs. You’ll also find installation instructions, as well as info about how the little buggers work.
TCB Braking System
TCB Brake Systems LLC
$79 per caliper