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The History of Motorcycle ABS

Updated: Jul 4, 2019


Motorcycle ABS or anti lock brakes are one of the most important developments in the history of motorcycles. Today, motorcycle ABS is a standard safety feature on many motorbikes. But, the development of this technology has been a long, arduous process. Even before the system became suitable for everyday use, they did many changes and refinements that precipitated today’s motorcycle ABS system.

We, at Siima MotoWear, have done some research and we present you with the facts that led to the development and spread of motorcycle abs systems:

The Origins

You can trace the history of motorcycle ABS all the way to the 1920s. Engineers

first applied the system to aircraft brakes. They designed the automatic braking system of the 1920s to work for the same purpose of the modern anti-lock brakes. They were created to prevent the wheels from locking at some point in the aircraft’s rapid acceleration or when on low-traction surfaces.

The anti-lock brake system remains used primarily in aircraft's until the 1950s and during those years that they applied ABS on motorcycles. Driving motorcycles present a major safety risk of skidding and loosing traction and so they applied ABS to motorcycles. Since then, motorcycles became the natural place to adapt and develop the anti lock system.



Development of Motorcycle ABS


By 1960, a number of automobile manufacturers began to experiment with the anti-lock brake system on passenger cars. The firs practical ABS system that was used on passenger cars was featured in Ford Zodiac prototype. Manufacturers, however, were forced to abandon their efforts of using the ABS system on passenger cars due to the costs associated with it.

Again, Cadillac features ABS in some of their rear-wheel drive models as a premium option back in 1970s. However, the use of ABS system remained uncommon for common cars. During those years, the ABS system evolved in popularity and effectiveness due to the addition of sensors controlled by computers in cars and the emphasis put on car safety.

Modern ABS

Since 1990s, ABS and all its related systems became common in cars and motorcycles. Today, more and more drivers are aware of this technology and what role it plays in ensuring their safety on the road. Drivers also became fully aware of the ABS technology after it became a standard feature of most cars and vehicles as well as premium feature of high selling trucks.


While back then the idea of using anti lock brake is only for those who cannot be trusted to use a car or motorcycle unassisted, today there are more than 180 motorcycles equipped with ABS system. High performance bikes often come with anti-lock brakes as a premium feature and that means that this brake system is longer just for BMW’s as it used to be.

Unlike what people in the past think of, that ABS is a nanny technology, it isn’t. With or without an ABS system, you can still crash but a motorcycle equipped with the system offers important safety advantages. Riders riding ABS-equipped motorcycles are down to 20% less in crash rates and there are less fatal crashes among them.

If you ride a motorcycle with ABS, your bike will stop faster when in the wet and dry surfaces. Thus, it makes these bikes faster when in racetracks. With safety features of antilock brake control system, it sure is a winning feature for every rider out there, especially those who are prone to pushing their bike’s limitations.

Any thoughts on the subject? Leave your comments below.

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