What is an ABS brake, and what is the importance of ABS for motorcycles? If you have taken a motorbike safety course, you will know stopping and swerving are pretty standard parts of the discussion. However, whether bikes need to have ABS or not is a large debate.
In this guide, we will explore the importance of ABS and why your bike needs to have ABS on it, so keep reading.
What is an ABS brake?
ABS stands for the antilock braking system, and it’s there to prevent your tires from locking or skidding your tire when you apply the brakes all of a sudden. There is a small ring gear made of metal, and it is attached to the hub of your bike wheel and a magnetic sensor. This sensor produces an electrical signal as soon as you put the brakes in.
This ring gear is mostly referred to as tone wheel or tone ring, and the signal that it generates goes directly to the ABS unit. This unit measures the frequency of this signal and how it changes to determine if the bike is slowing down or speeding up. This unit also determines whether your bike is going at a steady speed or not.
How Does This ABS Unit Work?
To understand the importance of ABS for a motorcycle, you need to find out how it works. With the help of this unit, your stopping power will significantly increase. Apart from that, this unit will also make braking a lot safer because your tires will not skid no matter how hard you press them.
That wheel sensor and the one ring send a signal to the unit at a particular frequency. But most of the magic happens when the unit reacts according to the signal. A module receives these signals and counts the number of signals sent by the tone ring and the sensor on your bike’s wheel.
It knows when the wheel is about to lock when a sudden change in the frequency of the signals is received. Then, there will be a sharp decline, and the number of pulses that reach the unit will almost be zero.
At this point, the ABS unit will slightly reduce the pressure on the braking system, primarily on the brake calipers. This will allow the wheels to spin and then reapply the brake force. If there is another locking situation in occurrence, it does the same again.
This unit can read these signal pulses approximately around 100 times in a second. Furthermore, it can make adjustments to the pressures up to 10 times a second. Thus, it can react to signals much faster than the reflexes of most people.
What Is The Importance of ABS for Motorcycle?
So, what is the importance of ABS for a motorcycle? You might not use ABS that frequently but it will significantly differ when you need it the most.
There are long and extensive research data available that proves the importance of this unit on your bike. Any chances of fatal crashes on a bike with ABS are reduced by up to 31%.apart from that.
In addition, accident insurance claims are filed 20% less on motorbikes with ABS. And this percentage increases to 31% for the bikes that come with combined control ABS with both wheel brakes are applied together.
Another study stated that bikes over 250cc that don’t have ABS are 37% more likely to get involved in a crash. Yet another study has found that all severe motorbike accidents on 125cc and above could have been reduced up to 48% if the bike had ABS on it.
So, that data shows that ABS adds a layer of protection for all motorcycles. But still, this unit remains an option and not a mandate in North America. However, Europe in 2012 stated that all 125cc bikes and higher sold after 2016 would feature ABS.
Misconceptions About Motorbike ABS
Asking about the importance of ABS despite the evidence is quite confusing. This is primarily because people raise questions about its operation and effectiveness due to certain myths and misconceptions.
ABS is always in operation, and it prevents quick slowing down
This is not entirely true because while the unit is continuous, it monitors the signals coming from the wheel sensors. It will not make any changes to the brake pressures until it detects a lock condition.
Not all motorbikes can have ABS
Primarily there are two main types of braking systems. You can find traditional braking systems, and some bikes come with combined braking systems too. Traditional systems allow you to brake both wheels independently. An integrated system will enable you to brake both wheels combined. Both these braking systems can have ABS.
An ABS unit is pretty heavy, and it adds a lot of weight to your bike
This one is only partially true as well. ABS units of the earlier times were taken directly for the automobile industry. They were relatively heavy as they featured various components from the automobiles.
Such a unit on a car will only weigh around 15 pounds, and that’s only a fraction compared to a 4000 lbs car. But a motorcycle weighs much less. So, the results will be quite different when you add a 15 pound ABS unit to a 150 lbs motorbike.
But the newer ABS units are explicitly for motorbikes, and they can only weigh around one and a half pounds. This weight will not affect much on the overall weight, so there is no excuse for not having ABS because it’s too heavy.
ABS unit clutters up motorcycles
This is more of a complaint from the naked bike lovers. The bikes that have full or even half fairings can comfortably hide the ABS unit right behind its bodywork, and you won’t even notice that it’s there or not.
Bikes with ABS are costly
Comparing a bike with ABS and one without it will indicate that both of them have a price difference that might range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. But even the most experienced and safe riders can experience fatal accidents. Therefore, personal safety should be mandatory.
What’s the Difference Between Motorbike ABS and Car ABS?
So, how is a motorbike ABS different from a car ABS? The basic principles of both the units are similar: preventing the wheel from locking up and skidding. But braking is much more complex for bike riders than car drivers.
Most of the bikes come with separate rear and front brake controls. This brake controls help in balancing the braking force between both wheels to guarantee optimum braking.
If you are driving your car and your wheel locks up, this will ultimately result in skidding. But you won’t have to deal with the loss of balance. When the wheel locks up on a bike, you deal with skidding and the loss of balance. This causes the motorcycle to fall.
This ABS unit prevents wheel locking and enables you to control your bike in the right way while maintaining your balance. In addition, this unit can help reduce the overall braking distance.
Can an experienced motorcycle rider out-brake a bike with ABS?
With controlled environments, an experienced biker can out-brake a bike with ABS. But the reality is quite different on the roads. Road environments are very unpredictable. In addition, there are various interactions with other drivers and riders on the road.
Changing weather and road conditions make it complex for any rider to be accurate in an emergency.
Can I buy ABS separately and install it on my bike?
Yes, you can buy ABS separately and install it on your bike. But it is highly recommended to go for a bike that comes with manufacturer installed ABS. This is important because most of the research mentioned above refers to the motorcycles that come with ABS pre-installed by the manufacturer. This is because the original equipment is always tested vigorously. Plus, it will be an integrated part of your motorcycle.
Is ABS available on all motorcycles?
No, ABS is not available on all motorcycles. It is still not mandatory in the US, but Europe has already made it mandatory.
So are you convinced enough to use ABS on your bike or not? After going through this guide on what is the importance of ABS for motorcycle, it is clear that having ABS on your bike is always a good option. It will make your bikes much safer to ride.
With ABS, you will have more control over your bike with better stopping power. You won’t have to worry about loss of balance. These ABS units don’t add much weight to your bike either. They will only engage when they notice a locked wheel. So, consider ABS the smallest investment in your overall ride safety.