It’s one thing for a company to stand up for “free choice”, such as riding without a helmet…
Caleb Ramsby

Indian appears to be going in the direction of ABS on their cycles. I think they want the police market, which they used to dominate back in the day. Harley Davidson has ABS as standard on their Road King and Electra Glide police models, and I always figured that police motormen are the best trained and most experienced riders.

Interestingly, HD Australia has ABS as standard on all their bikes, except for one 500cc model that is not sold in the US. This 500cc unit appears to be related to the Buell that HD uses in their rider training program. 
Bosch and BMW are working on a more advanced form of traction control which will include ABS functions but also the ability to detect centrifugal wheel slippage which might soon make ABS obsolete. You might remember the traction control that Honda put on their 1990s ST1100 models but omitted on the ST1300 replacement.

Considering the prevalence of the cage left-turn into the biker’s right of way category of accidents, which Hurt and MAIDS figure is more than 30% of all bike crashes, accident avoidance tech we are now seeing on cars, coupled with rotational and lateral wheel slippage countermeasures, might be the way to go. Promocycle of Montreal estimates rider reaction time at 0.8 seconds, and an automated system that could instantaneously apply the brakes could easily double the brake application time in these crashes and possibly avoid many of them.

ABS on bikes may soon become obsolete but it is still the best bet, and we should be looking for technical improvements.

As regards the cost of ABS, NHTSA did a report in 2011 costing ABS at under $280 and,when the EU made traction control mandatory on cars, in ten years the production cost declined 90%. I think time, economies of scale and the action of the marketplace will bring ABS costs down around $20 to $40 in a decade, so there is probably no need to interfere with pricing.

The problem is NHTSA and its obeisance to the industry. If future accident-avoidance technology meets the same fate as ABS, riders will still continue to die in our thousands for the lack of fifty bucks worth of kit.

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