American Honda Motor Company, Inc., Grant of Application for Temporary Exemption From Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 122

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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
[Docket No. 97-43; Notice 2]


American Honda Motor Company, Inc., Grant of Application for 
Temporary Exemption From Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 122

    American Honda Motor Co., Inc., of Torrance, California 
(``Honda''), applied for a temporary exemption from the fade and water 
recovery requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 122 
Motorcycle Brake Systems. The basis of the application was that an 
exemption would facilitate the development or field evaluation of a new 
motor vehicle safety feature providing a safety level at least equal to 
the safety level of the standard.
    Notice of receipt of the application was published on July 31, 
1997, and an opportunity afforded for comment (62 FR 41127). This 
notice grants the application.
    Honda seeks an exemption of one year for its 1998 CBR1100XX 
motorcycle ``from the requirement of the minimum hand-lever force of 
five pounds in the base line check for the fade and water recovery 
tests.'' It wishes to evaluate the marketability of an ``improved'' 
motorcycle brake system setting which is currently applied to the model 
sold in Europe. The difference in setting is limited to a softer master 
cylinder return spring in the European version. Using the softer spring 
results in a ``more predictable (linear) feeling during initial brake 
lever application.'' Although ``the change allows a more predictable 
rise in brake gain, the on-set of braking occurs at lever forces 
slightly below the five pound minimum'' specified in Standard No. 122. 
Honda considers that motorcycle brake systems have continued to evolve 
and improve since Standard No. 122 was adopted in 1972, and that one 
area of improvement is brake lever force which has gradually been 
reduced. However, according to Honda, the five-pound minimum 
specification ``is preventing further development and improvement'' of 
brake system characteristics. This limit, when applied to the 
CBR1100XX, ``results in an imprecise feeling when the rider applies 
low-level front brake lever inputs.''
    The machine is equipped with Honda's Linked Brake System (LBS) 
which is designed to engage both front and rear brakes when either the 
brake lever or the brake pedal is used. The LBS differs from other 
integrated systems in that it allows the rider to choose which wheel 
gets the majority of braking force, depending on which brake control 
the rider uses.
    According to Honda, the overall braking performance remains 
unchanged from a conforming motorcycle. If the CBR1100XX is exempted, 
it will meet ``the stopping distance requirement but at lever forces 
slightly below the minimum.''
    Specifically, Honda asked for relief from the first sentence of 
S6.10 Brake application forces, which reads:

    Except for the requirements of the fifth recovery stop in S5.4.3 
and S5.7.2 (S7.6.3 and S7.10.2) the hand lever force is not less 
than five and not more than 55 pounds and the foot pedal force is 
not less than 10 and not more than 90 pounds.

    Upon review of this paragraph, NHTSA determined that granting 
Honda's petition would require relief from different provisions of 
Standard No. 122, although S6.10 relates to them. Paragraph S6 only 
sets forth the test conditions under which a motorcycle must meet the 
performance requirements of S5. A motorcycle manufacturer certifies 
compliance with the performance requirements of S5 on the basis of 
tests conducted according to the conditions of S6 and in the manner 
specified by S7. In short, NHTSA believed that granting Honda's 
application would require relief from the performance requirements of 
S5 that are based upon the lever actuation force test conditions of 
S6.10 as used in the test procedures of S7.
    These relate to the baseline checks under which performance is 
judged for the service brake system fade and fade recovery tests 
(S5.4), and for the water recovery tests (S5.7). According to the test 
procedures of S7, the baseline check stops for fade (S7.6.1) and water 
recovery (S7.10.1) are to be made at 10 to 11 feet per second per 
second (fpsps) for each stop. The fade recovery test (S7.6.3) also 
specifies stops at 10 to 11 fpsps. Test data submitted by Honda with 
its application show that, using a hand lever force of 2.3 kg (5.1 
pounds), the deceleration for these stops is 3.05 to 3.35 meters per 
second per second, or 10.0 to 11.0 fpsps. This does not mean that Honda 
cannot comply under the strict parameters of the standard, but the 
system is designed for responsive performance when a hand lever force 
of less than five pounds is used. For these reasons, NHTSA interprets 
Honda's application as requesting relief from S5.4.2, S5.4.3, and 
S5.7.2.
    Honda argued that granting an exemption would be in the public 
interest and consistent with objectives of traffic safety because it:
    * * * Should improve a rider's ability to precisely modulate the 
brake force at low-level brake lever input forces. Improving the 
predictability, even at very low-level brake lever input, increases 
the rider's confidence in the motorcycle's brake system.

    No comments were received on the notice regarding the petition.
    The distinctive motorcycle brake system setting which Honda seeks 
to evaluate in the United States is a ``new motor vehicle safety 
feature'' that can be evaluated in the field, as contemplated under the 
temporary exemption authority. Further, the level of safety provided 
should be at least equal to the level provided by Standard No. 122. 
NHTSA notes that Honda does not seek an exemption from the stopping 
distances specified in Column I of Table I (S7.3.1). Instead, Honda 
wishes approval to allow modulating the hand brake lever at a force of 
less than the five pound minimum specified in Standard No. 122. It 
asserts that the lower force to modulate the brake lever would improve 
the rider's control over the brake force. This improved control, and 
thus predictability over the brake's function, would also improve the 
rider's confidence in the brakes and motorcycle.
    NHTSA concurs with Honda that new technology that may lead to 
greater rider control over the brake force thus resulting in reduced 
stopping distances and better crash avoidance is in the public 
interest, and consistent with efforts to improve traffic safety.
    In consideration of the foregoing, it is hereby found that an 
exemption would facilitate the field evaluation of a new motor vehicle 
safety feature providing a safety level at least equal to the safety 
level of Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 122, and that an exemption 
will be in the public interest and consistent with the objectives of 49 
U.S.C. Chapter 301 Motor Vehicle Safety. Accordingly, American Honda 
Motor Company, Inc. is hereby granted NHTSA Temporary Exemption 97-1, expiring September 1, 
1998, from the following requirements incorporated in 49 CFR 571.122 
Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 122 Motorcycle Brake Systems: S5.4.1 
Baseline check--minimum and maximum pedal forces, S5.4.2 Fade, S5.4.3 
Fade recovery, S5.7.2 Water recovery test, and S6.10 Brake actuation 
forces. As provided in 49 CFR Sec. 555.6, under this grant of temporary 
exemption no more than 2,500 motorcycles exempted from Standard No. 122 
may be sold in the United States in the period for which the exemption 
is granted.

(Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30113; delegations of authority at 49 CFR 
1.50. and 501.8)

    Issued on: October 1, 1997.
Ricardo Martinez,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 97-26491 Filed 10-2-97; 9:33 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P  

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