The idea of anti-lock braking (ABS) for bikes – and e-bikes in particular – has been around for a few years now. Bosch introduced a system for trekking and city pedelec e-bikes in 2017 which was rolled out on production models for 2019.
Blubrake is claiming its system is the world’s first integrated bike ABS. Given that Bosch is already out there, the key word here is ‘integrated’. This production version of its ABS system is on a bike from Swedish outfit Crescent, the ELLIE 7-VXL. According to Blubrake The ELLIE’s ABS system is “completely invisible as it is integrated into the frame itself”. Told you it was all about the integration.
It’s certainly a neat looking system and looks to be a commercial implementation of a system we reported on back in 2016 when Blubrake - who are one of the many bike tech related startups that have been spun out of the Milan Polytechnic (see also HiRide and their electronic suspension system) – were working in conjunction with Pinarello. That version of the system was prototyped on a road bike, but the real potential was clearly going to be on urban, utility and e-bikes.
According to Blubrake 58 per cent of e-bike accidents happen when the front wheel locks under braking, so its system is all about preventing the front wheel locking up under braking and the rear wheel lifting off. That’s much the same approach as the Bosch system which was developed in conjunction with Magura (who supply the actual braking bits of the system). No word on how much weight Blubrake’s system adds to the bike, but we’d expect it to be a similar amount to the the 800g overall weight of the Bosch system.
We gave the system the once over recently at the Eurobike show. Not on the Crescent city bike that’s going into production, but on a Bulls e-MTB that had the system fitted.
First thing to note is that it really is very well integrated. Bosch’s system certainly works but you wouldn’t say the bulky bar-mounted ABS box was a masterpiece. The only real giveaways of the Blubrake system are the extra timing rotors and a discreet button on the top tube that shows you the system is active. Everything else is hidden away.
And does it work? Well, yes. We tried winding the bike up to speed and then hoiking on the front brake to pull an endo and, well, you can’t. The bike still brakes, but more gently so that you come to a controlled stop rather than going over the bars. Similarly on gravel surfaces, once the front wheel starts to lose grip under braking it eases back so that you don’t wash out and end up in the shower with a wire brush and some dettol. It feels similar to the Bosch system, which isn’t a surprise since it’s looking for the same issues, and reacting in a similar way.
Anyway, ABS on bikes looks like it’ll be a more common thing in the future, with both Bosch and Blubrake at production stage and Sachs not far behind. It'll be very intersting to see how it develops over the next few years.