It was an interesting legal case because jury decision could have affected production for many motorcycle manufacturers. Background: In 2009 Judy Wilson, 50, was riding on the back of her husband 2008 Road Glide when he crashed and she suffered severe brain damage. She joined her now estranged husband in a lawsuit against Harley-Davidson where both claimed that the Harley had a defective design because the tachometer was featuring an ABS icon that made them think that the Road Glide was equipped with anti-lock brakes when it didn’t.
Testimony of husband Jack Wilson was that he used the rear brake on the motorcycle thinking it had an ABS system when traffic backed up on him on the freeway. The brakes then locked up and sent the bike into a slide, throwing his wife to the pavement. His argument was that by putting an ABS icon on the tachometer, Harley-davidson suggested that the Road Glide had ABS brake. He also claimed that the HD dealer salesman who sold him his bike gave him an elbow-to-the-ribs-type aside and said ‘chicks love ABS security’.
As a matter of fact ABS is offered as an option on Road Glides as a part of the ‘Security Package’ including H-D® Smart Security System. Attorneys representing Harley-Davidson explained that the manufacturer puts this icon on all his models where ABS is optional to be certain that bikes that do have anti-lock brakes system will definitely have the accompanying light. They argued that there is nothing odd or unique about a non-ABS bike having an ABS icon. “If the icon doesn’t light up when starting the bike, anybody should know you don’t have ABS.” They also stated to the jury that it’s common practice for manufacturers to include the ABS icon for all of its bikes even if they don’t have the system because it is more costly and complicated to use different parts when they make the different bikes. After a full last weekend deliberation the jurors decided that the Road Glide tachometer doesn’t bear a design defect in the form of the ‘ABS’ icon and exonerated Harley-Davidson of any responsibility for the crash.