5 On Your Side

Anti-lock brakes keeping more motorcycle riders safe

One of the major problems with motorcycles is that they slide. But a major safety feature that had been available only on expensive bikes - anti-lock brakes - is now offered on an entry-level bike. Consumer Reports hits the test track to show us the difference ABS makes.

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New motorcycle sales were up nearly 3 percent the first half of this year.

That's great for Angela Annamalai, whose been selling them for years. One thing that's always part of her sales pitch - get anti-lock brakes whenever possible.

"I've seen a lot of folks that have injuries from accidents, and I feel that when you're only on two wheels, why not do your very best to be safe,” she said.

Anti-lock brakes have been standard safety equipment on cars for years. But Consumer Reports says they're even more important for motorcycles.

"On a motorcycle, if you lock up a wheel, you're going to go over in a heartbeat - faster than you can possibly imagine," said Jim Travers of Consumer Reports.

A test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety clearly shows the danger. With the anti-lock brake system turned off, the motorcycle goes into a skid. But with the ABS engaged, the motorcycle easily comes to a stop.

Consumer Reports just checked out a Honda CBR 250-R motorcycle. Anti-lock brakes are an option. It's the first entry-level bike in the United States to offer ABS, and it sells for around $4,600.

"It's going to appeal a lot more to a newer rider, a novice rider,” Travers said. “And that's where we see ABS as having the biggest benefit."

A recent insurance industry study shows what Consumer Reports calls a pressing need for anti-lock brakes on motorcycles. Those equipped with ABS are 37 percent less likely to be in a fatal crash than motorcycles that don't have antilock brakes.

Combined with helmet use and rider education, Consumer Reports says, ABS could significantly help reduce the number of motorcyclists who die on the roads.


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