It is still one of the most controversial topics regarding motorcycle safety. Are motorcycles factory equipped with antilock brakes less prone to create fatal crashes than without? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety re-affirms that antilock brakes for motorcycles are working as designed to reduce the chances of crashing, removing some of the risk that comes with riding on 2 wheels. In a new study, the Insurance Institute indicates that motorcycles with antilocks versus without are 37 percent less likely to be in fatal crashes per 10,000 registered vehicle years. Bolstering this finding is a separate analysis by the affiliated Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) of insurance claims filed for damage to motorcycles. Bike models with antilocks have 22 percent fewer claims for damage per insured vehicle year (a vehicle year is 1 vehicle insured for 1 year, 2 insured for 6 months, etc.) than the same models without antilocks.
I must mention the following: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a U.S. non-profit organization funded in 1959 by insurers. It represents the interests of 80 insurance companies from which it receives its funding. Critics such as the American Motorcyclist Association have suggested that the IIHS sometimes seeks to influence legislation aimed at making insurance companies more profitable, rather than benefitting the public interest. The Insurance Institute released this demonstration video to show how effective ABS can be.
Most motorcycles have separate brake controls, one for the front wheel, and one for the rear. So if the brakes are hit too hard or with the wrong front/rear distribution, a wheel can lock and cause the bike to lose control and eventually fall. Alternatively, if the brakes are squeezed too gently, the bike may not stop in time to avoid a crash. ABS can work in two ways–reduce brake pressure if a lockup is impending or increase pressure again when the bike is under control. It allows the rider to intuitively apply the brakes with full force, without holding back due to concerns of locking up a wheel and alleviate a split-second judgment call.
In the US, shoppers of new motorcycles are concerned by the extra cost of buying ABS equipment when it is offered as an option. To which manufacturers reply that ABS brakes cost will go much lower when bikers will support the expansion of this feature. Currently, most major brands include ABS on their largest motorcycles and make it available on mid-level motorcycles. Europe is ahead of the United States, with a pending rule requiring ABS on bikes there by 2016.