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Bikes lag on ABS brakes

BMW will fit ABS to all of its US models, there are no similar plans for Australia.
Mark Hinchliffe

2 Jun 2011 • 3 min read

However, motorcycles are lagging a long way behind, despite a US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study finding motorcycles with ABS (Anti-lock Braking Systems) are 37 per cent less likely to be involved in fatal incidents.

While BMW has announced it will be the first motorcycle maker in the US to fit ABS to all of its machines, there are no similar plans for Australia. BMW Group Australia product communications manager Lucy McLellan says the ABS plan is a US-only initiative.

"Locally, we have no firm plans to execute this but ... most of our range is already fitted with ABS as standard, including the S 1000 RR (superbike)," she says. "From late this year, there will be only two models where ABS is not fitted as standard equipment, but it is available as a option.

"Whether we make ABS standard across the range or not, it should be noted that our customers are favourable towards ABS and ASC (traction control) and where they are optional," she says. "The take-up rate is still as high as 85 per cent." BMW ABS systems are switchable on adventure models to cater for off-road use.

Harley is not far behind BMW with ABS standard on Touring, V-Rod and Softail models. Only Sportsters and Dynas don't have ABS, but that could soon change. Harley-Davidson Motor Company Australian marketing manager Adam Wright suggests there could be more ABS models in the 2012 line-up to be announced in July in Los Angeles.

"Harley-Davidson are very aware of the increased benefits ABS brings to motorcycling," he says. "Product, design and engineering have been working with suppliers to provide further systems. I'm sure we'll see these flow through to more products in the very near future."

Other manufacturers have ABS available in only a few models in their range, usually for an extra $1000.

Honda Australia motorcycles marketing manager Glyn Griffiths says they will have ABS available on "as many models as the factory fit it to that we are importing into Australia".

Currently Honda offers ABS on the GL1800 Gold Wing, ST1300, and VFR1200F and FD tourers; VT1300CX, VT1300CR and VT1300CS cruisers; and CBR1000RR, CBR600RR, CB400 and CBR250R sports bikes. Griffiths says the take up rate is only about 15 per cent for ABS.

Triumph Motorcycles spokesman Paul Taylor says they are committed to offering ABS, either as standard or an option, on all new projects. "We believe that more and more customers are demanding ABS," he says. "Where we offer ABS and non-ABS versions, generally speaking the ABS version will outsell the non-ABS version. In many European markets, especially Germany, it is very rare for customers to purchase a bike without ABS where they have an option."