Antilock brakes have been a standard safety feature on cars for a long time, but they are even more important on motorcycles. This video (below) from Consumer Reports mentions a study by the non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) according to which motorcycles with ABS are 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash. The video features a road test that demonstrates the advantages of ABS clearly. Until recently ABS brakes were available only on expensive motorcycles and the video mentions Honda CBR250R as the first entry-level bike to have them as an option.
Studies of fatal crashes, insurance claims and test track performance all confirm the importance of antilock brakes.
The rate of fatal crashes is 37 percent lower for motorcycles equipped with optional ABS than for those same models without ABS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2011).
Collision insurance claims for motorcycles with ABS are filed 23 percent less frequently than for motorcycles without it (Highway Loss Data Institute, 2012).
Shorter stopping distances
On the test track, both new and experienced riders stop more quickly with antilock brakes. Stopping distances improve on wet and dry surfaces alike. Austrian Road Safety Board, 2004; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2006).
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Added November 1, 2012: I got some interesting responses to this post on our Facebook page:
ABS brakes does make a difference to me. ABS brakes should be stardard equipment on all motorcycles (Ralph Rodriguez).
They only make a difference for someone that is not inclined to learn how to ride. There is a lot more to “riding” thqn going putt putt down the road (Bret Lawson).
ABS brakes were not implemented on bikes for “inexperienced riders”. That’s BS. Bret Lawson, do you even understand how ABS brakes work? They are there for the same reasons that they are on cars. Most new bikes now offer the option. Including Harley’s. They have pros and cons on a bike. I think it comes down to personal choice (Rory Cooper).
You don’t need abs to safely stop a 400+lb motorcycle. All you need is common sense and a smooth right hand. Inexperienced riders will benefit from abs brakes, especially in the rain or if they panic on a curvy road, which they will, but they are not a necessity for me. They are more beneficial on a 4,000lb car. All abs will do is add to the cost and weight, just like all the extra airbags found in new cars. My first car didn’t have abs or airbags and I’m still here. I don’t think it has any place in racing either. Motorcycle racing is getting to the point where they will just crack the throttle wide open and let the computer do the rest, blah, boring (Paul Pfau).
I have been riding for years and abs saved me from a wreck just a few weeks ago.
Traffic suddenly slowed down on fairly fresh asphalt and no shoulder. I went to slow down and my rear brake locked. If it were not for front abs I would have lost it and rear ended the car in front if not slid up under it.
Smooth right hand or not, those brakes meant I could stop far faster and with more control and they are likely the only reason I did not also lock my front wheel…(Stephen F Roberts).