ABS, or The ABSence Thereof – Question of the Day

Dennis Chung
by Dennis Chung

Are anti-lock brakes expectation yet?

“People that still use ABS.”

That was one of many replies left in a previous Question of the Day about motorcyclist pet peeves, but somehow it stuck in my head a lot longer than the others (and yes, we do read them all).

The succinctness of the reply is part of it, but also the question of how one actively “uses” anti-lock brakes. For the most part, it either kicks in when needed, or it doesn’t. Semantics aside, the real core of the reply was about ABS in general, and, I’m assuming, the commenter’s staunch opposition to the technology. That’s what has signed a rent-free lease for a small part of my brain.

Writing about motorcycles for a living, I’m so used to seeing the phrase “ABS is standard” with new model announcements that it catches me by surprise when I come across a new motorcycle that either doesn’t have ABS, or has it optional or only a separate variant model. ABS is more ubiquitous than it used to be, but in markets like the U.S. where it’s not mandated, I have to remind myself it’s still not completely “standard.”

This reminds me of a time, not that long ago (but probably long enough to make me feel old if I try to think about it) that we saw the same with electronic fuel injection. Carburetors were the norm for so long that when a new motorcycle offered fuel injection, manufacturers made a big deal about it, going so far as to add an “i” to the model name. Fuel injection is now common enough you don’t really see that anymore, but we’re still in that stage with ABS, with bikes like the new 2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500, where even the KRT Edition models may, or may not, have “ABS” tacked onto its name.

So, that leads us to our Question of the Day. When you’re shopping for a new bike, is ABS something that you now expect to be standard equipment, or do you still prefer it to be optional?

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Dennis Chung
Dennis Chung

Dennis has been a part of the Motorcycle.com team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.

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2 of 22 comments
  • Eric Robert Ellis Eric Robert Ellis on Feb 15, 2024

    ABS should absolutely be standard these days. For the vast majority of us normal, average-talent riders ABS can/will save your butt in a sticky situation (like panic-grabbing a handful of front brake in the wet) which would otherwise result in an immediate face-to-face meeting with the pavement. I've been riding for almost 30 years now at this point and my 2018 RSV4 is the very first bike I've ever had with ABS so I don't really "need" it, but it sure is a nice insurance policy for if I ever have a brain fart while day-dreaming in the saddle...

  • Mike buhler Mike buhler on Feb 19, 2024

    My newest bike is an '07. No ABS on any of my bikes. I don't miss what I don't know. I virtually never use it on my cars.