More calls for mandatory ABS


He should’a had ABS!

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the United States has put its voice behind calls for mandatory antilock brake systems on all new motorcycles.

The IIHS says crash statistics for motorcycles in the period from 2003 to 2008 showed bikes with ABS were 37 per cent less likely to be involved in fatal collisions.

The organization says that a Highway Loss Data Institute study found that bikes with ABS were 22 per cent less likely to be involved in a crash that caused damage to the motorcycle.

From an IIHS press release of May 6:

"Recent research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety strongly demonstrates the benefits of antilock brakes for motorcycles. Based on findings that antilocks significantly reduce motorcycle crashes, including fatal ones by more than a third, the Institute is seeking a federal requirement that manufacturers equip all new motorcycles with this technology.

"’The best motorcycle crash is one that never happens,’ says Institute president Adrian Lund. ‘Traveling on two wheels instead of four is always riskier, but our new research shows that antilock brake technology can make motorcycle riding a much safer way to get around.’"

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has stated that it would look at the efficacy of requiring all street bikes to be equipped with ABS systems.


  1. ABS is a supplement to proper rider training. It is not a substitute for proper rider training and should never be treated as such. If most of your braking situations result in the ABS system working then it may be time to reassess and change your riding habits. Any rider who does not understand and is familiar with threshold braking is in for a very abrupt and rude education if the ABS system malfunctions or fails completely.

  2. As for taking control away, a good system and they might have a ways to go shouldn’t be doing anything until the point at which you would have otherwise locked up a wheel. In that case I can’t imagine someone sliding into another vehicle or down the road on their but thinking I’m glad I had control.

    Rider aids have been around since Doohan was beating the world on a 500 2 stroke. On the up side (?) it will probably be some time before you actually can’t buy a new bike without is.

  3. Silverous got my point.

    EFI is just an advancment. IT does not take away any control from the rider (unless ya have the throttle by wire and such). And yes i know how efi works im a bloody mechanic for a living LOL. BUT ABS directly removes control of the bikes brakes from the rider and gives that control to a computer. And although that computer is better at said job than MOST humans it still takes away from the purity i so love about riding.

    Also ABS actually INCREASES stooping distance on loose surfaces by a large margin so its is actualy worse in so its worse in some situations too

  4. Hey Tiny, I agree that we ride bikes even though (because??) they’re not as safe as cars, and we shouldn’t expect them to be. (Don’t get started on that ‘free country’ stuff though. :roll

    But I feel that ABS is a ‘no-brainer’ on Street bikes. The NHTSA is investigating the idea, and I would bet they mandate ABS on ‘large’ street only bikes, ie 800cc and up (or maybe 500cc). I agree with others that it may not be practical on small dual-sports etc.

    I’m sure you’ll have at least 5 years before anything is mandated.

  5. The difference between EFI and ABS is one of control. EFI doesn’t take away any more control of a bike than you would have if the bike was carb’d. ABS, on the other hand, does take over to some degree.

    I think that’s what Tiny was trying to say. Although I could be wrong.

  6. Tiny,
    your argument makes no sense Injection is just an advancement of carburetors and ABS is a computer controlled gizmo? what do you think runs the FI Why a computer of course and if it quits or you leave your lights on and drain the battery you do not get to ride your “simple machine” I too disagree with mandating ABS but I disagree with mandatory helmet laws too

  7. Tiny,

    I think you miss my point. Safety of some level is already mandated. Bikes have to pass various tests like stopping distance before they can be brought in. Expecting these regulations to go unchanged is not realistic. There is always vintage bikes though!

  8. I agree with Deuce.

    I don’t see how it could be a bad thing when braking hard in a nasty situation. Wet roads for instance.

    My S1000RR has it and I’m very pleased to know its there when I have to crank on the brakes to save my arse.

  9. Sorry, I like ABS. I have it on my 2008 Varadero and although I have not had to use it yet, I feel it would improve my ability to stay upright and in control. My experience in emergency braking is that I always tend to lock up the rear wheel.

  10. Obviously Greg et al are better riders than me. I practice hard braking every day I ride. I ride 12 months a year in all types of weather, in Victoria, which has THE worst drivers I have ever seen. But when you have a split second to brake or die all the practice in the world will not help you. Especially on wet or slippery pavement. ‘Experienced Rider’ courses are taken in a controlled environment, not out in the real world of incompetent drivers.

    Get off your high horse and try a bike with ABS before you pontificate about its’ accident preventing capabilities.

  11. Until manufacturers are made to add “features” without transferring the costs to the consumer, I’ll vote against every single one of them. In cars, it’s ABS and air bags, this is just the start for bikes.

    I don’t even have the option to buy the car without those items even if I pay for an (incredibly overinflated and unjustified) insurance rider to cover the “increased risks” to life and limb.

    It’s crock.

  12. As expected, those here arguing FOR compulsary ABS on all new motorcycles believe that all other riders should think exactly like they do.

    To the rider that locks it up in every ‘PANIC’ situation: please, please, please go take an experienced rider course, and PRACTICE HARD BRAKING VERY REGULARLY.

  13. Fehr by all means you have every right to buy the bike you wish but why should i be forced to buy the bike i dont want???

    I ride for enjoyment. I wear a helmet and full gear because i feel comfortable with this but when it comes to the machine part of the draw for me is the machines simplicity. By make motorcycles with more and more electronic accessories you take away soem of the romance if ya will i so love about bikes. I understand fuel injection as thats just an advancement in technology but ABS is just one more computer taking something away from me i like it SIMPLE.

  14. It’s a good thing those government types haven’t mandated helmets on bikes or seat belts in cars, oh ya they did and no one reasonable is really fighting to go back. Requiring ABS on bikes is just drawing the line a little over from where it already is.

    Personally I can’t see me replacing my bike unless there was a good ABS option.

  15. Deuce, after 35 years your definition of “panic situation” and that of the average rider aren’t the same. You would be a prime example of the sort of person riding a larger bike, equipped with ABS; a statistics skewer.

  16. I all for abs being offerd on bikes by all means if ya want it then get it. BUT i STRONGLY dissagree with it being manditory.

    I personally DONT want abs on my bike, Nor do i want any other electronic doo dads, I just want my nice simply motorcycle.

    Yeah maybe ABS is safer but a car is safer still LOL. Should we all give up on bikes and drive cars only???

    Drive what ya like buy what ya want but im sick and friggen tired of stuff getting forced on me that i dont want. What happened to being a free country.

  17. Sorry Pat but skill does not come into the equation in a ‘PANIC’ situation. I have been riding for over 35 yrs. and ALL (only 3- touch wood) my mishaps in a PANIC situation have resulted in me skating down the road or hitting something. In a Panic stop or situation skill is non existent. You grab the brakes and pray as your life goes by in slow motion. My ass has been saved in similar situations by my ABS equipped bikes (VFR & BMW). I won’t ride without it anymore. Hence my ’05 KTM is for sale so I can get an ’07 equipped with ABS.

  18. What the data doesn’t take into account is that the bikes with ABS are models that, for numerous reasons are purchased by more mature riders. They’re generally more expensive or of a design that appeals more to older or more experienced riders.

    This is just more insurance industry driven BS along the lines of the tire pressure sensors that became mandated after the Ford/Firestone issues a few years ago.

  19. At one time 80% of the abs equipped BMW’s that
    I knew of had the little abs system fail light
    on. The repair bills were $600-1400.
    ABS is great but I will choose skill over
    it every time.

  20. I’m with P. Walker…

    I bet that you would find the ABS equipped bikes 30+% more likely to avoid a collision would be models like Gold Wings, FJR, Concours, My Bandit, most BMW’s and a bunch of Harleys.

    I’ve not done a lot of shopping for them, but I’m willing to bet the GGGGSSSSXXXRRRFFFZZZXXXX1234 buyers didn’t make their purchase based on whether it had ABS or not…

    Go with age groups and bike model – ABS vs. Non ABS models before nailing all bikes with it.

    But I like it on mine.

  21. @Singletrack: They said ALL motorcycles. Think about it, ABS on a small light dual purpose bike???? Ever ride that VFR on a dirt road?

  22. I’m usually leery of Government getting involved in our daily lives, but in this case, ABS is a no-brainer. It works. And now that makers have refined it for supersport bikes, there is really no rational reason to be against it. I had a 2002 VFR800 with ABS, and it was awesome. I could hammer the brakes at 80kph on a gravel road without fear. As many magazine tests have shown, most riders can’t brake as hard and controlled without ABS.

  23. Data can be configured to give the results you want.
    I would like to see the date broken down to age groups and bike types.
    That’s all we need is the gubbermint getting into this. If you want a bike
    with abs buy it. If you don’t you shouldn’t be forced to buy one with it.

    What’s next the gubbermint mandating self adjusting chains because
    the riders today don’t know how to adjust their chain? I can’t believe
    that people would pay $20.00 to have their chain adjusted.

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