April 24, 2024

ABS brakes become mandatory on motorcycles

ABS technology to become standard equipment on motorcycles.

The European Commission passed legislation in 2012 that made the fitment of ABS mandatory on all new motorcycles above 125cc from 1st January 2016.

That means that every bike going into production or currently in production and being sold into Europe will be fitted with ABS as standard equipment.

With the European market being one of the largest in the world and that date being just around the corner, we can realistically expect to see every motorcycle now fitted with ABS brakes, and that applies to the Japanese manufacturers as well.

For a long time I’ve been predicting that all manufacturers worldwide will simply comply with the European legislation, and not manufacturer different spec bikes for different parts of the world where the ABS legislation isn’t relevant. That especially applies to smaller markets like Australia.

Well, I guess we’re about to see whether I was right or not.

We’ve been seeing an increase in the number of bikes fitted with ABS as standard for some time, and now we’re going to have to accept that if you want to buy a new bike from about now you can expect it to have ABS whether you like it or not.

There is a variety of systems available and probably the most widely used is the Bosch system. BMW is one company that has been incorporating this system for many years and they’ve constantly expanded the capabilities available.

It’s now a very sophisticated system that adapts the amount of ABS applied to suit the lean angle of the bike.

Unlike in a car, ABS interference in a corner can actually increase the risk of a crash. But this system effectively prevents the wheels from locking even when the brakes are applied quickly with the bike leaning into a corner, and that reduces the abrupt changes in steering force that can cause a crash.

BMW has also made its system available as a retrofit option for many of its previous models.

Honda has a combined ABS system that, when activated, distributes braking force between the front and rear wheels, effectively overriding the rider’s braking input. Honda also has patents on a totally new concept that uses camera and lasers points at the road surface.

As the systems have become more sophisticated the level of interference to a rider’s input has become less obvious, and we can expect further development to continue. Many systems also have the option of switching the ABS off entirely, but of course improving the rider’s braking skills and not activating the ABS in a stop is really a better option.

Steve McDowall