Should All Motorcycles Come Standard With ABS?

ABS, we’re all familiar with it and the benefits it brings to riders on the road, especially beginner riders who are only just getting a feel for the brake lever and pedal. However, until now, not all new bikes, particularly in the US, come equipped with this safety feature. A recent petition from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) seeks to change this, however.

The two organizations are lobbying for the mandatory installation of ABS on all brand new motorcycles in the US. Similar to what’s being implemented in other markets, the two organizations believe that ABS has the potential to save lives, especially when it comes to emergency braking scenarios in wet weather conditions. The petition highlights that the US lags behind other countries in this aspect, as until now, ABS has remained an option, even for mid-tier motorcycles. For reference, multiple countries around the world, such as EU member countries, UK, Brazil, and many Asian countries, are already implementing mandatory ABS on all motorcycles.

Indeed, the data speaks for itself. A report by braking industry publication The Brake Report states that motorcycles fitted with ABS have a 22 percent lower fatal crash rate, translating to 20 to 24 percent lower collision insurance claims. Now, should ABS be made mandatory in the US? That answer certainly depends, but from a personal standpoint, I believe that it should, but riders should have the ability to switch it off when necessary.

I’m not going to lie, ABS has saved my ass on multiple occasions – even when I was riding with reasonable caution. All it takes is a person, dog, or other furry animal to jump out in front of you for you to grab a fistfull of brakes and send yourself careening over the bars. Yes, you can train and practice proper braking technique, but putting all this into practice at a moment’s notice is a completely different game. Here in the Philippines, where I’m from, ABS isn’t exactly mandatory, but as a general rule of thumb, all motorcycles 400cc and up come out of the factory with ABS pre-installed.

Of course, we can’t ignore the fact that insurance companies would certainly be all for having mandatory ABS on bikes. This would translate to fewer insurance claims, and at the end of the day, a smaller cashout on the part of insurance providers. It’s also worth noting that in the US, motorcycle manufacturers have voluntarily increased their ABS-equipped offerings. The same article from The Brake Report states that ABS-equipped bikes now comprise 59 percent in 2023, as against a mere 20 percent in 2013.

At the end of the day, ABS was invented and widely accepted all over the world for a reason, and as is the case with most things in life, it’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. My take is that all bikes are probably better off having ABS as standard, but riders should be able to switch them off. It’s a feature offered on most premium motorcycles nowadays, anyway. After all, this just gives riders with varying skill levels more options when it comes to hitting the open road. Ryan of FortNine proved that, under certain circumstances and with some serious skill, you can actually out-brake ABS.

What do you think? Should all motorcycles in the US come standard with anti-lock brakes?

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