Should a Beginner’s First Motorcycle Have ABS? (Explained)
If you are a beginner and currently researching what would be the best beginner motorcycle for you, you will undeniably stumble upon the notion that beginners should get a motorcycle that has ABS.
At this point, many people may wonder how important or whether it is even necessary to have ABS on their first motorcycle.
Should a beginner get a motorcycle with ABS? Beginners should buy a motorcycle with ABS—especially if this is their first motorcycle. ABS can help beginner and experienced riders alike in preventing wheel lock-ups and skidding and improve their braking distance. The riders should also learn proper braking techniques regardless of ABS.
Here’s the thing.
When it comes to ABS and motorcycles, there are some caveats that should be mentioned. In the article below, you will find more information on how ABS will affect your riding experience and more.
ABS vs. no ABS
In its essence, ABS is a computer-controlled system that monitors how the wheels spin. The system looks for any signs of the wheels losing traction while braking.
If the wheels lose traction under hard braking, the ABS will relieve the hydraulic pressure in the brakes. This process happens extremely fast and can happen multiple times in an extremely short span of time. The goal is to prevent the wheels from losing traction with the surface. This allows the rider to maintain control of the motorcycle while braking and lowers the chances of crashing.
A fairly good example of what can happen in the case of hard braking on a motorcycle with ABS vs. a non-ABS motorcycle can be seen in the video below.
And this is another good video that shows the difference between ABS and non-ABS motorcycles. Pay attention to how abruptly the rider losses control of the bike after he hard brakes without ABS and how controlled and less aggressive the whole situation is when using ABS.
And check out this video, as well. It is a very good demonstration of how ABS vs. non-ABS motorcycles will perform in gravel.
Although many riders will experience faster stopping with motorcycles that have ABS, this is a secondary effect since ABS does not guarantee a shorter stopping distance.
The primary goal of ABS is to prevent wheel lock-up and allow the rider to remain in control of the motorcycle. Because of that, riders riding motorcycles with ABS may not have to fight as much to prevent the motorcycle from falling. The rider will still have to keep their balance, learn where the limit is, and adjust accordingly.
In some cases, the rider may not notice any difference in riding with or without ABS.
Should a beginner get a bike with ABS?
Beginners are recommended to get a motorcycle with ABS. Beginners should get a motorcycle with ABS as their first bike due to the added safety the ABS offers in emergency situations that call for hard braking.
Beginner riders are more prone to locking the wheels by grabbing the front brake lever or applying too much pressure on the rear brake lever in an emergency. Doing so can result in locking the front wheel and subsequently in a front-wheel slide or locking the rear wheel, which can be extremely dangerous and often leads to a highslide.
Although very experienced riders may sometimes recover from a front-wheel slide or a rear-wheel slide, even they will often fall.
A skilled motorcyclist can regulate their brakes to prevent a lock up. However, even in these cases, a motorcycle with ABS will usually provide better braking performance and be much safer in an emergency situation.
It also must be mentioned that even experienced riders can panic or apply more pressure to the brakes in a real panic situation or after a stressful or exhausting day.
ABS is in no way going to prevent all and every possible thing that can go wrong. However, it can save the rider’s life.
Is ABS necessary on a motorcycle?
ABS is not completely necessary on a motorcycle.
In certain cases, the rider may not want the motorcycle to have ABS. ABS is usually not used on off-road and track motorcycles. In these instances, the rider will want a motorcycle without ABS or a motorcycle with ABS that can be turned off.
One of the commonly tossed around facts is that ABS is a fairly new technology in the motorcycle industry. The first motorcycles with ABS were introduced to the market in the not too distant 1988 by BMW with the BMW K100, followed by Yamaha (Yamaha FJ1200) and Honda (Honda ST1100 Pan European). Much later, Harley-Davidson and Suzuki also introduced their first motorcycles with ABS.
The first mass-produced motorcycles were introduced in 1898, which means that people have been riding motorcycles for nearly 100 years before ABS was introduced and become standard on most motorcycles.
A similar correlation can be made for motorcycle helmets. The first-ever motorcycle helmets were made in 1914 and were used primarily for racing. Much later did they become standard for all riders.
Just because a certain type of technology is introduced much later does not mean that people cannot benefit from it and that it cannot improve their safety.
Just because people can ride without a helmet does not mean they should do it or that they cannot benefit from using a helmet; nobody will argue with that simple fact, and the same logic applies to ABS.
So do you need ABS as a beginner?
So far, you have learned about what ABS can do for you as a motorcyclist and whether or not it is worth it.
At this point, some people may be wondering if they really need ABS.
Motorcyclists do not need ABS, but it can save their lives, especially if they are beginners. In practice, most beginners will do well to get a motorcycle with ABS because it improves their safety on the road.
Many riders also report that they feel safer and more confident when riding a motorcycle with ABS compared to one without. And, unsurprisingly, most riders will state that they will never ride or go back to riding a motorcycle without ABS. Even experienced riders report that they will not go back to non-ABS motorcycles.
The motorcyclist’s riding skills are extremely important. Having ABS will not take away from the rider’s skills and abilities. And the advantages of riding a motorcycle that has ABS should not be underestimated—having ABS can significantly affect and reduce the braking distance in case of an emergency, effectively improving the safety of the rider.
The rider’s skills, abilities, and technique are critical, however, having ABS can save them in case something goes not as planned.
In fact, things get even more interested when we take a look at the data we have in connection to ABS and motorcycle crashes.
- Having motorcycle ABS has been proven to reduce injury crashes with 24% to 34% and severe and fatal crashes with anywhere between 34% up to 42% according to one study.
- Another study looking into ABS motorcycles found that having ABS was associated with a 31% reduction of fatal crashes.
This is why ABS is becoming standard.
And, although in many countries, no laws regulate if a beginner should ride a motorcycle with ABS or not, some countries do have such regulations. For example, the European Union requires all motorcycles above 125cc to have ABS from 2016 onwards.
ABS can be like your motorcycle helmet or gear. Nobody plans on falling down or crashing with their motorcycle, but it can and will help in increasing the odds of the rider walking away if something goes wrong.
So while the beginner rider may not necessarily need a motorcycle with ABS, they probably do want to get one with an ABS. And having ABS on a motorcycle does not in any way mean one should not learn the proper braking techniques in emergencies.
Practicing panic stops will allow the rider to get used to how the motorcycle behaves. ABS is a great feature but the rider should not rely solely on it.