Dear MOby,

So you have me almost convinced I need a new GSX-S750, thanks a lot. You convinced me at “the complete pushbutton reliability of the thing” in the long-term review last week. My first bike is a 2010 Monster 796 and I love it, but maybe not as much as I used to. It’s not exactly low-maintenance; in fact it’s due for new belts and a valve inspection. My expertise extends to changing oil and tightening the drive chain, and that’s about it. I figure I can use what I save by not servicing the Monster as a down payment on a new bike, then finance the rest super cheap. Also, the GSX at my dealer just seems to fit me better than the Monster.

Money is an issue, though (I mainly use my bike for my 30-mile commute) and here’s my question: Do I want to spend the extra $600 for the GSX-S750Z, with antilock brakes? I never missed having ABS on my Monster, which usually stays in the garage if it’s raining.

Bill in San Luis Obispo


Dear Bill,

ABS is like having earthquake insurance or a large-caliber handgun when an angry bear jumps out of the bushes in your backyard. Well I wasn’t expecting that. You never need those things until you need them, and then you’re very glad you spent the money. The most common terrible thing that happens to motorcyclists is people pulling out in front of, or turning left in front of us. And when that happens, the primitive part of your brain takes over and slams on the brakes without waiting for the part that learned about controlled hard braking to catch up. Nine times out of ten, down you go.

It’s happened to me a few times in the last couple of decades. Two of those times the front wheel went to full lock instantly; luckily I was on big cruisers both times, with lots of self-righting trail and wide handlebars, and I missed cars by inches – not crashing only by the grace of God. (The racers call it crashing without falling off.) On a short, stubby sportbike I’m pretty sure I would’ve crashed both times. The last time it happened, I was on a sportbike with ABS, and the front tire just said cheep cheep cheep while the bike slowed straight and true as I barely missed a left-turning camper truck by a few millimeters. On the skidding cruisers, I was but a clenched sphincter along for the ride. On the ABS bike, I clearly remember braking hard and controllably steering around the back bumper of the thing simultaneously.

So, yes, I would definitely spring for ABS whether you ride in the wet or not. In Europe it’s been mandatory on all bikes over 125cc since 2016. As to whether the Land of the Free will follow suit, who knows? But there’s an interesting piece here at Fairwarning.com.

A quick online peruse reveals that Suzuki is offering 1.99% financing for three years on both the GSX-S750Z ABS model, $8,899, and the non-ABS GSX-S750, $8,299. If you put down $1,000, the online calculator says the Z would cost you $226.21 for 36 months, while the non-ABS bike would be $209.03. Given what I know, I’d gladly pay the extra $17 a month.

And let’s not forget our friend the Insurance Company. Insurance is crazy wherever you go, but many insurers are going to give you a discount for having ABS that might cover the extra $17 and then some. Stop like the wind!


Send your moto-related questions to AskMOAnything@motorcycle.com. If we can’t answer them, we’ll at least do no harm in the time it takes to seek out a believable answer. And we’ll occasionally even admit we were wrong, even if we were right at the time. Depends on what the definition of “is” is.

Recent Ask MOs:
What the Heck are Centramatic Wheel Balancers?
Is a Polaris Slingshot a Good First Motorcycle?
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  • 12er

    Get the ABS, its saved me more times than I can count. Sand, oil, radiator fluid, all slick stuff your hand wont be able to cope with.

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    • Angus Pug

      Absolutely get the ABS. I recently crashed just like the author described. Riding my short, stubby sport bike (ZX7), a car pulled out in front of me, I hit the brakes a little too hard, locked the front wheel, and down we went. That would not have happened with ABS. And for everyone who thinks “I ride better than that,” of course you do . . . when you’re planning your stop or braking for a corner . . . but when something unexpected happens, unless you have a lot of track time, you will react differently. And even then, unless you ride the same bike on the street that you ride on the track, with the same tires, your street bike will react differently to your input as does your track bike. ABS will compensate for many variables, not just lack of skill.

      • therr850

        Like the author, I practiced and practiced really hard braking. The part I didn’t practice was the surprise and panic. Too much front brake, skid, handlebars turned and down I went. Go with the ABS!

  • TC

    I had an FJR1300 with ABS, and the ABS itself failed due to a chafed wire, currently ride a BMW r1200ST with servo linked ABS brakes. I’m told the control module is $2800 if it fails, plus labor. Last summer I was riding on a city street, on a non ABS bike, and watching the signal light instead of the car in front of me, which had come to a stop. I grabbed a big old handful of front brake, and thought it was going to lock up and crash, but the angel on my shoulder came through big time. One thing ABS will not help you with is sand or oil on a curve.

    • Gabriel Owens

      Geez brudda. Which year model fjr?

      • TC

        2005

    • Kevin Duke

      Modern Cornering ABS will help save you on a curve.

  • Gabriel Owens

    Bill, this is not scientifical advice. But the 750z is all blacked out, and to me, that is worth about three fiddy right there so in reality its only about 2 fiddy for the abs. Which is a gosh damn steal when you really think about it. Unless you can find a holdover.

    Btw, Texan here. Been through S.L.O. many times and absolutely love it there.

    • Gabriel Owens

      Maybe you can find last years model for less. Thats another way to save some shekels too.

  • Born to Ride

    I’ve said it a bunch of times and I guess I’ll say it again here. A top shelf ABS system is so seamless that you don’t even notice it is happening. ABS on budget bikes often intervene too soon, give an unnerving amount of pulse, and cannot be switched off. None of the ride reports I have read are on the Z model with the ABS so I have no professional opinion to go on regarding this bike. But its closest competitor, the Z900, was dinged in its review for having overly intrusive ABS. I like the blue on black color scheme way too much. I’d save the 600$ and use it to pay for the desmo service on the monster. My dealership wanted 480$ for that service on my M1100S before I decided to tool up and do it myself.

    • Mad4TheCrest

      The first thing you typically get told about ABS is that you should just grab HARD when needed. ‘Budget’ bikes are often the entry level models, so they design ABS to intervene early since new riders cannot always be relied upon to brake HARD.

      • Born to Ride

        Hrmm, interesting theory. I’m still more likely to believe that cheap bikes get cheap ABS. And cheap ABS sucks.

        • Mad4TheCrest

          Well, I’m sure no one will be putting lean-sensitive ABS on a budget bike, but at least in the EU every new bike from 2016 onward must have an effective ABS system, so what’s ‘cheap’ and why does it ‘suck’?

          • Born to Ride

            Violently pulsing the brake lever long before the tires start to chirp = bad ABS.
            Brake lever becomes rock hard as the bike slows as violently as possible = good ABS.

  • Mad4TheCrest

    Not all ABS implementations are equal, and your benefit may vary. Also, those of us who’ve spent many years on non-ABS rides sometimes find the braking sensations with ABS less than slick. Even so, I won’t buy a new bike anymore that doesn’t come with ABS. I am pretty damn good at hard braking when I am calm and planning it, but my lizard brain takes over in a panic and I am NOT trusting that maniac to do anything other than grab hard and yell.

    • Kevin Duke

      “Not all ABS implementations are equal.” Indeed! People who assume new systems are the same as ones even just a few years ago are completely mistaken. The modern stuff is amazing and much less intrusive, and the best systems allow a user to switch it off if desired.

  • spiff

    I find rear abs annoying.

    • Mad4TheCrest

      Yeah, I don’t think it gets as much consideration as front ABS especially on bikes that aren’t long, heavy cruisers. Rear brakes on many sportier bikes are wooden-feeling and fairly weak to start with, so when you add ABS you have very little ‘feel’ between moderate brake pressure and ABS activation.

      • RyYYZ

        That’s better than having very little feel between moderate braking and locking up the rear wheel, though, isn’t it?

        • spiff

          I prefer to drag the rear some times.

        • Mad4TheCrest

          Very true, but some bikes seem to activate the rear ABS too soon. I would prefer something less intrusive, after all a rear wheel lockup is more controllable than front lockup, so I wouldn’t mind a little more delay in rear ABS activation.

      • Scott Silvers

        most cruiser guys never use the front brake……

        • Hugie

          Most cruisers never use the front brake? I wouldn’t say that is very true. Although cruisers do have a rear brake capable of stopping the bike, it’s still takes the dual disks to haul it down from higher speed and emergency situations.

    • Rocky Stonepebble

      ABS is for wife-swappers and debutantes. I have boot.

      All boot. All cred. NO DICK.
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/187a64fbf62c425c2aabafbf2941461be6835f36bb24ffbc425d9c46e6679be0.jpg

  • JMDGT

    My first ABS experience was riding a R1150R back in 2002 that was equipped with a servo actuated no feel system that in my opinion didn’t work that well. I thought it a poor substitute for a good set of sportbike brakes. There is only so much you can interpret from a short test ride though maybe it did work well. I bought one in 2004 without ABS. The modern ABS systems are seamless and allow great feel. I cannot outperform these modern braking systems. I like traction control and engine mapping too. Todays systems are worth the extra dough.

  • John B.

    ABS is a no brainer.

    This 2013 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (“IIHS) concludes, “… Further evidence shows that ABS is highly effective in preventing fatal motorcycle crashes.”
    http://www.iihs.org/frontend/iihs/documents/masterfiledocs.ashx?id=2042

    Another IIHS study concludes, among other things, ABS motorcycles have 37% fewer fatality crashes, 30% lower claims, and 33% fewer bodily injury claims. Fewer claims equates to lower rates, which further supports John Burns’ claim ABS lowers one’s insurance.

    I only needed ABS once. During a hail storm in Utah and I have no doubt I would have gone down (in the middle of absolutely nowhere) were I on a non-ABS equipped motorcycle. I will not buy a motorcycle that does not have ABS.

    • Ulysses Araujo

      Not denying the effectiveness of ABS (I have paid more for a bike with it) but this study has correlation/causation problems. The riders were different, so guys that bought ABS equipped bikes are more likely to be aware about risks when riding than the others, which could cause the difference, not ABS per se.

      • John B.

        I agree one must always take causation/correlation into account to reach meaningful conclusions based on empirical data. That said, I found several studies that conclude ABS equipped motorcycles are safer. Nevertheless, you are correct a commitment to ride safely is also very important,.

  • Joe DeBiasi

    I bad mouthed traction control and ABS as a 40 year rider. Until traction control saved me from a thoughtless accident on a busy city street. $600 compared to a wrecked cycle and hospital bills……. no comparison.

  • DHZ

    Want cheap safety? Stop buying black bikes. The insurance industry says that white, yellow bikes have about 30% less accidents than black ones. I road test bikes 3 days a week. In 11 years, no one has ever pulled out in front of a yellow or white bike. In the same time period, every single time I drive the black bikes someone either pulls out, or starts to move and then catches sight of me. Big car fleets for large company get discounts for white cars. That is why just about every salesman for any large company drives a white car

    • Rocky Stonepebble

      I walk on roads 3 days a week. In 11 years, no one tiger has ever attacked me when I’ve had a potato in my pocket.

      • RMP52

        What about the days you don’t have that potato? ;- )

        • Rocky Stonepebble

          I won’t walk without it. ‘All The Potato All The Time,’ buddy, ATPATT.

          • Douglas

            Is that the same potato you drop down the front of yr swimtrunks when strolling along crowded beaches?

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            For that, I use a cucumber.

          • Douglas

            Well, sometimes one needs all the help one can get, eh?

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            Help? It’s a diversion. Do they look left? Do they look right? Which is the real “one”?

          • Steve Clark

            Remember put it in the front not the back….

          • Douglas

            There’s a pretty good old joke about that……

    • RyYYZ

      How about satin grey? My bike has Yamaha’s “Race Blu” paint scheme of satin grey with purplish-blue metallic wheels and highlights. Seems non-optimal for visibility to me.

      • Rocky Stonepebble

        Satin grey? Then you have to beware of the Klan.

      • 12er

        Mine is “Matte Chrome”

        • Rocky Stonepebble

          I loved that show!
          “Matte Chrome. P.I.”

    • Rocky Stonepebble

      Wanker.

    • Scott Silvers

      that’s racist! just kidding…….

  • mikstr

    Yes to ABS, and an even bigger yes to rider training (hint : you won’t fly over the bars if you use the front brake!)

  • Rocky Stonepebble

    I think most bikes have acrylonitrile butadiene styrene.

  • Fabian

    Great article. A bike shouldn’t be without ABS in 2018. A clenched sphincter, I’ll remember that one next time someone cuts in front on my wheels.

    • Ulysses Araujo

      Oh I don’t think you’ll have to remind it, it will remind itself for you. 🙂

  • RyYYZ

    I have never needed ABS to save my ass while riding, or driving.

    I would not hesitate a moment to cough up $600 extra on a new bike to get ABS (hopefully cornering ABS combined with an IMU and traction control). I may not have needed it yet, but it could save my ass.

    • Mad4TheCrest

      I have needed it – didn’t have it one time in an emergency deer stop on an S4RS Monster. Stayed upright and missed but the deer probably died later from excessive laughter. The other time I needed it I had it on my Street Trip; rounded a bend to find stopped traffic. No crash and I’m pretty sure it helped (save my ass). On a side note the Aprilia Tuono V4 rider following me stopped too and didn’t run up my ass. Excellent ABS on that Ape!

  • Jim Logan

    You can never predict what the road surface will be like on public roads. Get the ABS.

    • Mad4TheCrest

      Just a caveat to think about: ABS isn’t so great when used over bumpy surfaces. The bumps kick the tire up enough to signal impending lockup and the ABS intervenes too early and too much, at least on less sophisticated systems. Stopping distances can be longer than if ABS wasn’t there.

      • Scott Silvers

        that’s more a problem of your suspension is not set to your weight or riding style………it’s a poor artist who blames his brush.

        • Mad4TheCrest

          Oh, I’ve had my suspension set up by pros, never fear. No matter how well tuned the suspenders, if you are braking the front is being compressed. When you then hit bumps the suspension is less compliant because it’s being compressed.

  • Rocky Stonepebble

    Quite frankly, on, I imagine, every bike I have owned (not certain about the one four-stroke), ABS should be redundant. Under panic braking, my bikes have always ended up with the arse end wagging in the air (2-Live Crew style) and me modulating the amount of bounce or slide of the front wheel.

    That, and I have a potato.

  • hulapopper

    ” don’t leave home without it. “

  • Scott Silvers

    I often joke that my Suzuki Vstrom 650 has ‘anti-lock’ brakes when it in fact does NOT have ABS. The joke being that the Vstrom has, putting it kindly, budget brakes with not a whole lot of stopping power or finesse. Which surprised me the one time my lizard-cave-man brain clamped down on the front brake lever when a left-turn car did it’s thing and I locked up the front wheel for a brief instant – luckily I was able to get my brain back on line to reduce my grip on the brake lever and slow down properly, but I promised myself that my next bike would absolutely have ABS……I’ve been riding regularly for about 35 years and deem myself quite capable a rider, yet surprise, fear and panic quickly overcame my decades of experience in an instant. It was only my experience that allowed me to ‘snap out of it’ quickly and avert disaster….My 2 cents.

  • Hugie

    At times I feel like it is a bandaid for bad riders but at times it could be useful. Hitting that antifreeze or oil spot on the road it may make the difference but rolling down hill on a dirt road, it might send you into a creek. A perfect example in a car is when it snows and hit the brakes. The wheel locks, pushes a pile of snow in front of the wheel, antilock releases the wheel, it rolls up on top of that pile and locks again. The cycle repeats 50 times in in 20 feet and the car never digs in to stop. Going down hill, you actually pick up speed. Same goes for a motorcycle on loose gravel. If I can’t turn it off, I don’t want it and I sure as Hell don’t want to pay for it!