One of my previous articles on the upcoming ABS legislation has caused quite a stir. If you haven’t read that, you can check it out here. If you can’t be bothered, here’s the basic information you need, the government has legislated that certain motorcycles require an anti-lock braking system and this is being fully implemented in Australia by November 2021. Numerous other countries have already done this or something similar. These include Europe, Japan, India, China and Brazil.
What my previous has shown is there is a lot of backlash to ABS being made mandatory on motorcycles. The result of this is, certain bikes won’t be sold any more and may even be discontinued unless manufacturers intervene.
So let’s talk about why ABS is being forced onto motorcycles, what the advantages and disadvantages are and possibly answer some of your questions along the way.
ABS is by no means a new technology and has been around for years. In fact it was first used by BMW on their K100 motorcycle back in 1988. Suffice to say, it’s been around for a while now and it has come a long way since then.
So why is ABS being made mandatory? Well it’s a lot of reasons and I’m going to go through the main ones. There have been several studies done on ABS with a goal to discover whether or not it was actually beneficial to have. Some of the major ones have been done in both Europe and the USA, but I’m going to look at the latest one that was done in Australia.
The study was done to determine if ABS on motorcycles is beneficial, should it be used on smaller motorcycles, to predict road trauma and economic costs. So basically the government wanted to know if the technology actually worked and if it would help reduce motorcycle related trauma.
Their findings show that motorcycles with ABS resulted in a 33% reduction of all injuries and a 39% reduction in serious and fatal crashes. So that’s pretty significant. Before you call BS, studies conducted in Europe and the USA got pretty much the same results or higher. These samples were taken over a 10 year period and I’ll put a link to the paper in the video description below.
Pretty much, motorcycles with ABS are safer. But that doesn’t answer everything, another reason ABS brakes are being mandated is the cost savings to society. The study stated there was a profound amount of money to be saved and the federal government stated that ABS brakes would save approximately $1.6 billion dollars over fifteen 15 years. How is the amount so much? Well, let’s break it down.
On most crashes, emergency services attend. Then vehicles have to be towed, insurance companies get involved and the crash is generally investigated. Then you’ve got hospital costs, doctor visits and you could be potentially out of work. Already the dollars are quickly adding up and this doesn’t include everything involved. And if you found out that by simply adding ABS to a bike it will save a butt ton of money and have virtually no negative effects, your kind of mad if you don’t.
Speaking of negatives, what are they? Well as my last article showed, you could potentially lose some bikes. People love their simple, reliable, cost effective bikes, just look at the sales of the DR-Z400 and DR650. Also, costs can go up, but not as much as you think. The Monash University study I referred to earlier actually spoke with the main motorcycle companies to find out how much it would cost. The answer is $150 USD ($220 AUD) per motorcycle. That’s pretty bloody low.
A couple of negatives that I’ve had personal experience with is, sometimes the rear brakes can be overly sensitive to ABS. For example I had a Triumph Street Triple R and the rear brake you only had to slightly touch and it would activate the ABS. Also, if you can’t deactivate ABS when riding off road, it’s pretty terrible and frankly dangerous. Thankfully, nearly all adventure motorcycles have the option to turn it off and proper dirt bikes don’t require it.
Ok onto the positives. Well, it’s safer and I don’t think anyone you can refute that. And before you anyone says, ‘But Curtis, I’m an experienced rider, I don’t need ABS.’ As good as you think you are, you’re not better than ABS, let alone the newer ABS. The cornering ABS and IMU’s now day are awesome and can legitimately save you. Even the best rider is going to get into serious trouble when something out of the ordinary happens.
And yes, I know ABS isn’t used in MotoGP. But that’s not because it isn’t better, it’s because they want to keep costs down, maintain the spectacle and make it about the riders.
Oh and another thing for my American viewers, the US National Transportation Safety Board has recommended ABS brakes be on all motorcycles. So take from that what you will.
I suppose I better give my thoughts on ABS. Personally, I don’t mind it at all. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t like it when it’s overly intrusive, but the newer bikes now days have got it dialled in. On the dirt, I’m happy as long as you can turn it off.
I’ll be the first person to say politicians are a bunch of fuck tards and they should leave us alone. But, this isn’t one of those times. At the end of the day, it’s on the manufacturer to simply update their bikes or tweak them a little bit so they don’t require ABS. Plus we’ll be safer. And who doesn’t want a six speed, EFI, DR650? I know I do.
What do you all think? Are you for ABS? Are you against it? Let me know in the comments below.