Motorcycle ABS Technology Benefits To Be Evaluated Again With In-situation Study.

When braking hard, we all know that locking up motorcycle wheel(s) will create unbalance and will easily put you down. ABS systems, via their sensors, are supposed to detect when a bike’s wheels are about to lock up, rapidly releasing and reapplying braking pressure to allow the motorcycle to slow while the wheels keep turning because the gyroscopic effect of the 2 rotating wheels helps keep the machine upright.

Still, the motorcycle industry and most of you are arguing about the real safety advantage of ABS technology on motorcycles. Is it because bikers are by nature opposed to more federal safety requirements? Are slow to embrace any new technology? Or had a non convincing experience while using ABS? Or all of the above?

Federal Highway regulators and motorcycle manufacturers, also for reason of liability, are concerned for your safety and are looking for a re-evaluation of the benefits provided by ABS systems on motorcycles. Are they, as initially described and justified to be offered now as either standard or optional equipment, a significant new tool to prevent fatal accidents?

Much more needs to be discovered, and for the first time the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute is about to launch a study funded by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation —a nonprofit group— that will use bike-mounted cameras and other instruments to record riders’ behavior as they travel and use their brakes. I think a very good initiative because I always wondered why safety regulations have often been established from “after accident” studies instead of “in situation” ones. The new study will probably takes 2 years before conclusions can be drawn.

16 Responses to “Motorcycle ABS Technology Benefits To Be Evaluated Again With In-situation Study.”

  1. 1 Luis Jul 1st, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    It’s mandatory in the EU now IIRC. I wouldn’t be shocked to see if most bikes sold here wind up w/ it as a way to spread the costs around.

  2. 2 Richard Jul 1st, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    I had ABS on my ’08 Road King. It worked well. It is especially effective when wet or sandy roads are encountered. I believe they will also be advantages on dry roads should a panic stop be called for. I bought a new ’11 and ordered it with ABS. If it only saves your life once, it will be worth the money.

  3. 3 Scott R Jul 1st, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Call me old school, but I believe in the KISS theory. more electronics = more problems. Gravity will always work, fuel pumps will not. I can remember not too long ago chevy having a recall on their pickups because the ABS was failing at low speed and causing crashes. I like the ability to be able to check everything before I ride and fix it on the road if need be. I’m sure it will be only a matter of time before they become law. Maybe good for most, but definitely not for me.

  4. 4 nicker Jul 1st, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Just so much more nanny-state-ism.

    If you don’t know how to apply your breaks, then learn.
    If you can’t or wont…. well, then take up golf.

    What the industry needs is more tort reform and less promotion of the idea that everything under God’s green earth should be made safe for every idiot who ever drew a breath.


  5. 5 Larry R Jul 2nd, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Totally agree with Nicker!

  6. 6 Call me Rabbit Jul 2nd, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I guess the issue with trying to learn in life or death situations is you can get as little as one chance. I’m against more laws but technology and safety wise ABS is a good choice.

  7. 7 CMA888 Jul 2nd, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Any suggestion on what Company offers a good ABS system, besides Harley Davidson, that would work well with Harley Davidson bikes?

  8. 8 Toby Jul 2nd, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    As we know unlike cars, bikes are unique in that if you lock the front you are going down. If you lock the rear you had better not release it or you will to a high side (yeah I know, you can with exceptional skill and balance, but how many have that). There are really two levels of safety with ABS on motorcycles. Keeping one upright AND maximizing stopping distance. I had ABS on a previous BMW. The brakes already had exceptional feedback, and I could always feel when they were about to lock up. Well, almost. On two occasions they saved my bacon and convinced me. The damage to bodywork alone can far exceed the cost of ABS making them quite cost effective (about $800-$1000 depending on the bike).

    There is substantial research in Europe on their use and overall safety. Compared to an ECU, ABS is actually a pretty simple system so the “too much complexity” argument doesn’t hold with me. Although my Road King does not, if available I will always have ABS. I think that HD is expanding ABS to most of its line to keep their aging customer base, like me, alive for a few more years. 😉

  9. 9 J Jul 2nd, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Love the ABS on my Road King- once most people with at least half a brain try it, they like it, or you can always snip the power wire if you don’t, I suppose.

    “Low speed accidents caused by ABS failure”, eh? Well, other than the obvious question of what sort of “accident” is caused at 3 mph, when ABS “fails” to work, it follows the brake system simply reverts back to ol’ fashioned pro-lock brake- it’s one of them new-fangled “engineered redundancy” features build into modern machinery……

  10. 10 David Jul 2nd, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    ” Are Bikers slow to embrace new technology” Yes they are as you can see they are still riding V-Twin Harley-Davidson’s!!!
    Tell me I’m wrong.
    By the way my BMW has ABS and I like it.
    My Harley doesn’t and it’s ok too.

    SSDD; David

  11. 11 Boss Hawg Jul 3rd, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Say what you may, but I have ABS on the Bagger that we ride for our road trips. If you ever find yourself where you have to lock up the wheels, as I have, you will be damn glad that you have ABS.

    Learn to use them for when they are needed. If you got the nuts to hammer down on the ABS out on the highway at speed….then you will know why they are there.

    Boss Hawg

  12. 12 bigalyts Jul 4th, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Nicker, Scott R and Larry. You make no sense just nonsence. ABS should be a Religon. I only hope that all Motorcycles Built from today on should have ABS, standard. That is the only way Pin Heads like you will have to have a feature that will save your ASSES at least once! Gravity and Kiss theory’s make sense when your are dealing with narrow minded Folks. I am so pissed that you dood’s are so ignorant to this life saving feature. I will bet all 3 don’t wear Helmets, either! That’s another argument for many more times to come in Cyril’s Blog!

  13. 13 Uncle Monkey Jul 4th, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Technology changes. KISS only works for so long. Find an auto parts store that has points for a late 60’s Chev in-line six (if memory serves me correct) let alone a Harley shop with the “correct” ones. KISS worked when you could stop at a gas station and buy fan belts and wipers instead of coffee and gum.

  14. 14 nicker Jul 4th, 2011 at 10:06 pm


    “… ABS should be a Religon…”

    You mean like the Wahabi Muslim religion being forced onto much of the world today…???

    “… I only hope that all Motorcycles Built from today on should have ABS, standard….”

    So much for choice in a free society.

    “… That is the only way Pin Heads like you will have to have a feature that will save your ASSES…”

    Well i must-a-been one lucky “Pin-head” to have lasted this long…. ya-think???

    “… Gravity and Kiss theory’s make sense when your are dealing with narrow minded Folks…”

    That statement makes no sense at all… you wann-a-try it again….???

    “…. you dood’s are so ignorant …”

    Ahhh…. that would be “Dude” not “dood” …. dahhhhh!
    Its “ignorant” morons like you that are trying to turn this country into a nanny-state Shit-hole.


  15. 15 nicker Jul 4th, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    Uncle Monkey,

    “…Technology changes. KISS only works for so long…”

    Hopefully it’ll continue working as long as i’ll need it.

    Local parts store can still get me points and carb-rebuild kit for my 1947 tractor.
    And the local HD shop got me a carb-rebuild kit, points and condenser for may 1942 FL.

    Now having said that its up to me to apply all that stuff.
    (the HD dealer said he doesn’t want to even see my FL at the service door…. 🙂

    But then that’s fine with me, KISS only has to work until i’m too old to give a shit.
    Whatever you young “Dudes” want to do in the future is up to you (E-bikes, ABS, ….whatever).
    Just don’t foul up my gig now. I’m quite happy with my life the way it is.

    Just remember, we are NOT “all in this together.”


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Cyril Huze