Motorcycle Antilock Brakes Significantly Reduce Crashes

It’s one of the objectives of all motorcycle manufacturers. Removing some of the risk that comes with riding on 2 wheels. A new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates that motorcycles with anti locks versus without are 37 percent less likely to be in fatal crashes per 10,000 registered vehicle years. Insurance claims filed for damage to motorcycles equipped with ABS are 22 percent fewer than the same models without antilock brakes.

We all know that stopping a motorcycle is trickier than stopping a car. For one thing, the front and rear wheels have separate brake controls. In an emergency, a rider faces a split-second choice to either brake hard, which can lock the wheels, or hold back on braking and risk running into an obstacle. ABS  can help by reducing brake pressure when they detect impending lockup and then increasing the pressure again when traction is restored. Brake pressure is evaluated multiple times per second, so riders may brake fully without fear of locking up. ABS is gaining traction among manufacturers and riders.  Buyers can find them on at least 60 new models.

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9 Responses to “Motorcycle Antilock Brakes Significantly Reduce Crashes”


  1. 1 ian Apr 7th, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Got to say I am reasonably impressed with the ABS on my 2009 Streetglide, although I have yet to really put them to the test in anger – the on-off-on-off is quite noticeable on firm braking and I was a bit dubious as I have got quite good at locking my brakes and sliding to a halt on a normal Harley!

  2. 2 Troy Apr 7th, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Antilock brakes are nothing new for H-D. My first new H-D was a 1983 FXWG & it had Antilock brakes. The brakes were so bad the day the bike was new, they would not lock on a gravel road. There was no need for any sensors, computers, or special proportional valves. Just saying…..

  3. 3 Magnumbob Apr 7th, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Being as Anti-lock brakes have only been available primarily on larger touring or sport-touring type motorcycles, I wonder if the study shows that anti-lock brakes really help, or is it that the people who ride the type of motorcycle that has them are more experienced, older, more cautious. etc…

  4. 4 Magnumbob Apr 7th, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Oops, just noticed they were comparing model to model which makes my question a little less relavent. ‘Little quick on the trigger there. Sorry.

  5. 5 nicker Apr 7th, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    So, do antilock brakes come on F1 bikes?

    Does any competition MC have antilock brakes?

    Do any rules require the use of antilock brakes in a performance application?

    How long will it be before DOT requires them?

    -nicker-

  6. 6 Rogue Apr 8th, 2010 at 6:39 am

    I suspect that there are a lot of unanswered questions at this time and of course one has to look at the source of this report.
    From my own experience. I ownd a 2004 Harley FLHTI with coventional brakes. The motorcycle has over 90,000 miles on it and there has been more than one ocassion where I had to brake hard. If the rear brake locks the motorcycle want to come around on me and has.
    I ended up installing a TCB Fitting. That is a product that replaces the current bolt that joins the brake line to the master cylinder. I know there will be some questions and doubts But it made a great improvement in braking and the day after I installed one on the front I had a situation where I feel if I did not have it on I mave have hit a car that took my right of way.
    I recently purchase a new 2009 Harley FLHTC and it came with anti lock brakes. I had less than 1,000 miles on the bike when I got to see how well the brakes really worked.
    I had just gassed up and pulled out of the station behind a Ultra Classic. Immediately after that a pickup in front of the motorcycle did a illegal u-turn. Te guy on the Ultra locked them up and the bike came around to the right and he went down. I believe he made a good choice as to actually center punching the truck.
    I remember saying Oh Shit as I hit the brakes hard. I had visions of running this guy and his motorcycle over and or laying mine down with my wife on the back.
    I stopped in plenty of time and neither happened. I was able to get to the fallen rider and give assistance.
    I have had a few incidents since then where I used the anti-lock because of mostly road conditions.
    I for one do like them. If I change my mind I will let you know.

  7. 7 Doc Robinson Apr 8th, 2010 at 7:18 am

    I’m with Rogue 100%! The high tech ABS on a Harley saved me in Milwaukee during the 105th Anniversary when I was looking down and fiddling with another high tech gadget, a GPS unit. I know. I know. I shouldn’t have been doing so, but when I looked up and saw the traffic in my lane at a standstill just ahead of me, I hit the brakes hard and stopped inches from the back of a truck. Without ABS I would probably have locked up the back wheel and either slid under the wheels of the truck in the next lane or been decapitated as the tray bed of the truck met my neck. It was that close! Initially a sceptic, I am now a big fan. Do I have it on all my motorcycles? No. Would I add an aftermarket set up to them if one was available? No. But I do enjoy that safety edge ABS gives me when riding my FLHX for sure.

  8. 8 Mike Kiwi Tomas, Kiwi Indian Motorcycle Co Apr 9th, 2010 at 12:44 am

    Antilock brakes??? They come standard equipment on most vintage motorcycles especially American ones.

  9. 9 stephen Apr 9th, 2010 at 1:53 am

    My 2010 Honda Fury has ABS and there fantastic. I’ll never ride without ABS again.

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