What to know about ABS on motorcycles

Anti-lock brakes aren't just for cars. Find out how this braking technology can save you from losing control of your bike.

Man with a helmet riding a motorcycle.

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.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.
Start a Quote
Select a product to start a quote.
Agents Near You
Contact Us

Also Important

Tips to Prevent Motorcycle Accidents

Stay safe on the road and help avoid the risk of accidents by following these tips.

Motorcycle Safety Tips

Road safety habits for motorcycle operators and all drivers make for easy riding.

Related Articles

Motorcycle Safety Tips: Riding Double

Do your research and know what's different when it comes to safety when you have a passenger on your bike.

Motorcycle Maintenance: Spring Checklist

Eager to dust off your bike and get on the road this spring? Consider these motorcycle maintenance tips first to help ensure a smooth and safe ride.

Help Make Your Commute Safe and Sane

Want a safer commute? There are things you can do to help make sure you commute safely, such as eliminating distractions. Read these tips from State Farm.