Desirability of ABS Brakes

Motorcycle.com Staff
by Motorcycle.com Staff
I just started riding last year and am contemplating an upgraded bike. I'm confused by the reports I read from riders about the desirability of ABS brakes for a road bike. I understand why ABS might not be desirable on an off-road bike but it seems to make alot of sense for a road bike. Even Peter Egan, who writes the "Leanings" column in Cycle World made the off-hand comment that his next bike won't have ABS even though its saved his life on more than one occasion. I've seen this sentiment echoed in other articles where one writer would never have a bike with ABS where another would never ride one without. What gives? It seems like a no brainer from a safety standpoint.

ABS lets go of the brakes for you. This is good if you're not smooth and "grab a handfull." Conversely, this can be a bad thing if you know what you're doing -- and result in longer stopping distances.

Think of a big barge going down the river. Before it gets to a bend in the river, what does it do? Turns sideways before the turn, and uses the engine to push it in the direction the driver wants to go. Dirtbikers do this all the time, you see roadracers doing this in dramatic form (although it's easily done with engine decel when you're hard on the front brakes, but you get the idea...) and skilled street riders can do this too without ABS.

If you're at maximum lateral loading on the tire, ABS won't stop you from washing out the front end.

All that said, if you just want to grab the brakes in a straight line and never worry about it, it's a great thing, and so many people like it. As a side note, ABS can be more effective in automobiles because you don't have front/rear control, and so it can "let go" of the front wheels if they're sliding and the rears aren't.

--MO


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Motorcycle.com Staff
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