Motorcycles are running behind their larger road companions when it comes to anti-lock brake systems (ABS). This technology, which is now standard on all U.S. passenger vehicles, and required on all European motorcycles, is only available on some American motorcycles and scooters. But this list continues to grow as ABS becomes a more popular feature.
Here are things to consider about ABS on motorcycles.
What is ABS?
Unlike cars, motorcycles generally have separate brakes for the front and back wheels, which riders engage with separate controls. Braking too hard or applying uneven pressure can cause the wheels to lock and the rider to lose control. Anti-lock brakes helps to prevent the brakes from locking and skidding the tires.
How does ABS work?
The objective of ABS is to prevent the wheels from locking while braking. The ABS uses a small metallic ring gear attached to the hub of the wheel along with a magnetic sensor to generate an electrical signal or tone ring which is sent to the ABS unit. Each wheel's sensors determine speed and when a wheel is about to lock. When the system senses a wheel is locking up, it reduces the braking force which allows the wheels to spin. Once the sensors no longer detect locking, it allows the brake to increase in pressure. Similar to an off and on switch, the unit monitors when the motorcycle is slowing down, speeding up or keeping a steady speed.
What are the benefits of having ABS?
According to Motorcycle.com, motorcycles equipped with ABS help riders brake fully without fear of locking up. It allows riders to stop suddenly and maintain control. The technology has been shown to reduce fatal crash rates by about a third as well as to reduce braking distance.
Is ABS worth it on a motorcycle?
Motorcycles with ABS are generally more expensive that those without it and the price difference between them can be hundreds of dollars. Depending on the make, model and size of a motorcycle, not all are equipped with ABS. However, if you have a large bike and are not an off-road rider, then you will want to ask yourself how much your personal safety is worth. Anyone can encounter an accident at any time regardless of how much motorcycle experience they have. If having ABS on your bike helps you avoid a potentially fatal accident, then you may likely feel the additional cost is worth it.
And remember - safety features like ABS are never substitutes for riding defensively, thinking responsibly and practicing good judgment.