Outbraker claims its bolt-on "ABS" brake mods make bikes safer
There are more bicycles out there than ever before, and many of them are electrified, so people are getting around quicker. Bosch has responded by releasing ebike-specific versions of its ABS system, and others have followed suit, but Korea's Outbraker says it's got an unpowered gadget you can plumb into any hydraulic bike brake setup to stop you from locking up the front wheel and crashing.
The company makes a number of hydraulic gadgets like the Booster, based around the idea of manually adjusting the pressure in your hydraulic brake system. You screw them in between your front master cylinder and brake hose, bleed the brakes up to regular pressure again, and then play around with the settings to find a pressure that suits you.
The thinking here is that bicycle disc brakes can be pretty powerful, and if you grab a brake lever in a panic situation, it's not hard to either slide the front wheel or start the back lifting. By allowing you to finely adjust the pressure in your lines, you can use this to back the pressure off a little, so you can slam the brakes on hard without worrying too much about losing the front, or you can increase pressure on the fly to account for brake fade or pad wear.
Outbraker makes the Booster in single and double models – the latter lets you run both the front and rear brakes off a single lever.
Somewhat more interesting are products called the Outbreaker Pro and Outbraker 2nd Edition. Like the Boosters, these items sit between the master cylinder and the brake hose, but where the Boosters simply manually adjust pressure in the entire system, the Pro and 2nd Edition claim to be able to "block excess hydraulic flow." On Outbraker's EU website, these are referred to as an "ABS Brake System."
"This is not just a simple product for reducing hydraulics and cutting down braking performance," reads the website. "However, it helps to create an optimal braking force when braking. Optimal braking pressure is right before the wheel’s lock-up point that represents the best braking performance."
The company doesn't elaborate further on exactly what's going on here, but we're reminded of a device we saw pitched at the motorcycle world back in 2008. A company called TCB Brake Systems created a banjo bolt that could be put in a motorcycle's brake lines in the same way. Its hollowed-out head was kept separate from the brake lines with a firm elastic membrane, such that under high pressure, the membrane would deform to compress the cubic centimeter of air in the bolt head and relieve some pressure from the brake lines, giving the pads a chance to keep sliding rather than grab and lock.
Could the Outbreaker gear be running a similar system, albeit with the addition of the ability to compress that little extra reservoir of air to tune the effect? We don't know. Sadly, I actually did a "full test" on that TCB system, and published the results on our now-defunct sister site, The Biker Gene.
That site's now offline and I can't for the life of me remember what I concluded – but I can tell you that none of the 15 or 20 motorcycles I've owned since 2008 have had such a brake mod fitted.
Check out a video from Outbraker below, and see if you can figure out what's going on here.