Is ABS Worth an Extra 600 Bucks?

John Burns
by John Burns

AskMO Anything: To Z or not to Z?

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

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 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:
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John Burns
John Burns

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2 of 47 comments
  • Scat Scat on Jan 25, 2018

    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 Hugie on Jan 25, 2018

    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!