A new study published in August of 2021 confirms it: your motorcycle’s ABS is better than you are.
Lots of riders still hold out, firm in the belief that they’re better than some computer when it comes to operating their machine. Antilock Brake Systems have gotten good, lately, though – better than expert riders.
The US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released this most recent study by Eric R. Teoh, their Director of Statistical Services. This study follows up on a couple of past studies reinforcing that ABS on motorcycles is a win, overall.
I’ll posit an untested, unprovable experience here, too. It’s this: Given decent, modern tires, learning to threshold-brake on motorcycles with ABS also makes you a better braker on your non-ABS bikes. Your bike alerts you when its ABS kicks in, so you know how hard you haul on those binders to get the bike slowed down. Are your tires howling? You’re not there yet.
ABS can also give a rider more confidence to practice threshold braking, knowing that really reefing on the stoppers isn’t going to result in a crash.
Take a Look At Those Numbers
But don’t take my word for it: read the study for yourself. The meat of it is only 13 pages long.
If you just want to skip to the numbers, table 2 details specific makes and models of motorcycles, ABS vs non-ABS, and observed fatal crash involvements.
Table 4 calls out some of the “known risk factors” that can affect the estimates found in the study. These include age, speeding, blood-alcohol level, the presence of a helmet, and whether the crash involved only a single-vehicle.
The science straight from the study states “the results of the current study reinforce previous findings that ABS is highly effective in reducing motorcyclists’ fatal crash risk. The fatal crash rate was 22% lower for ABS-equipped motorcycles than for the same models without ABS.”
How does your experience stack up? Has your ABS saved you, or do you think these rider aids detract from the ride?