Since tomorrow will be my first ride, I am dependent on what I hear. My understanding is that when engine braking / braking on gravel, the ABS fires both front and back brake, or is it just the wheel that has broken traction?
Since you have gone to great efforts to disable yours, could you explain the reasons for , and how it improves your ride.
Well, I am no engineer so I will explain it as I understand it;
ABS prevents your wheels from locking up during braking. This allows you to maintain directional control. When driving on a solid surface, this helps you maintain traction and steer the vehicle.
When you are riding on gravel or other loose or soft (sand) surfaces, you may not necessarily want the wheels to continue rolling. Imagine braking in order avoid a tree or the edge of a cliff. Imagine the wheels continuing to roll because the ABS prevents you from intentionally applying the desired amount of braking power, to include intentionally locking up the wheels.
When riding on gravel, your tires are essentially riding on marbles. Somewhere underneath those marbles the substrate becomes more "solid". By locking up the brakes, your force the wheels/tires to dig in, creating a burrow which helps you actually stop the bike. Same thing is true in sand.
We're not talking about engine braking. We are talking about the use of hand/foot mechanical braking.
Trail braking, (applying slight braking at the rear wheel) allow you to control speed without altering, to a significant amount, the attitude of the motorcycle. But with ABS on, and loose substrate, it gets a harder to even trail brake because the wheel wants to continue rolling.
Again, disabling ABS allow you more control of the braking mannerisms of the bike. If what I have told you wasn't true, manufacturers of some of the best Dual Sport Bikes in the world would not include switchable ABS on their bikes. By design, Dual Sport bikes travel both on paved and unpaved surfaces.
And... before everyone starts bashing me be reminding me that the Versys is NOT a Dual Sport bike...I will agree. It's not. However, it has some characteristics that, with minor mods (tires, etc.,) allow it to navigate uncomplicated hard packed dirt and gravel which SOME riders would like to take advantage of without having to buy a true Dual Sport bike.
So, I am sure there will be some members here who will chime in about the technical accuracy of my explanation and they will, in some manner, be correct. But, I tried to tell you what time it is without telling you how the watch is made.
Hope this helps.