New research seeks to shed light on PTW ABS collisions

12.00 | 24 October 2016 | | 6 comments

A new study has been launched to enhance understanding of crashes involving motorcycles fitted with Advanced Braking Systems (ABS).

The European study – by researchers from Italy, Greece, Austria and the UK – will aim to identify the dynamics of crashes between Powered Two Wheelers (PTWs) that have ABS (pictured) – and another vehicle, object or road/side.

To help with the study, researchers are looking to survey motorcyclists (click here to take the survey) who have experienced a crash on a bike fitted with ABS between 2010 and 2015.

At present, any new type approved motorcycle that is over 125cc must have an ABS system fitted. This decision was taken by the European Union, who in 2011 argued that ABS would reduce casualties by 20% over the next 10 years.

The study sets out to understand the specifics of the impact of the PTW fitted with ABS and how this affects the rider in terms the trajectory of the rider post-impact and the type of possible injuries sustained by the rider.  

The findings will be used to provide information to improve training and the technical development of ABS in the future.

For more information contact Dr Elaine Hardy, the author of the survey.




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    ABS stands for Anti Blockier System which to all intents and purposes is a system to prevent wheels from locking under hard braking.

    In my career as a motorcyclist I have never ridden a machine with ABS. It just wasn’t available on the machines I have ridden. Had ABS been fitted on the rare instances when I suffered an ‘off’ through emergency braking, then the chances are less damage would have been suffered by the machine. In all, I can count less than five times in 50yrs of motorcycling covering in excess of three quarters of a million miles when ABS may have saved a fall. In all said ‘offs’, injuries were none, save pride and a bent footrest or control lever.

    In some instances, ABS can prove to be next to useless. Those instances are when speed is so slow, and the locking action of the brakes so sudden as on loose gravel or a wet manhole cover, that balance can be lost irretrievably within half a wheel revolution – even with ABS.

    In the main however, with modern brakes (twin leading shoe brakes on Japanese machines from the early 1960’s on) and powerful multi-piston calipers on disc brakes, the opportunity to lock a front wheel is far greater, and when ABS comes to the fore. Prior to which, many motorcycle front brakes (with the possible exception of the Vincent with twin front drums capable of stopping in 21ft from 30mph), most motorcycle front brakes were incapable of locking the front wheel – even in the wet. Such is the cost of progress.

    Derek Reynolds, Salop.
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    In answer to the query below – the answer is both. In fact if you look at “our” press release you will see that we have explained that “ABS – Anti Lock Brakes – Advanced Braking Systems, whatever you wish to label them, are certainly marked out in the realms of ongoing motorcycling technical innovations as something that improves rider safety”. We used the European Commission as the basis of our description. Simply the term ABS covers Advanced in the sense that these systems are advanced and includes anti-lock brakes. Because in the motorcycling world there is a tendency to use either or both. However, Advanced braking systems can include combined braking systems – but in order to be more specific we made the distinction by indicating that we meant “anti-lock braking systems. For those of you – i.e. riders that have crashed using ABS – if you go onto the first page of the survey – you will see exactly what I mean. For those that are not riders and do not need to fill in the survey, thanks for your comments. With regards the comments about trajectories – that’s the point of the survey. ABS is a whole new world and we i.e. motorcycle (PTW) researchers need to find out what happens.

    Elaine, France
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    Chris – we are checking with Elaine Hardy (survey author) and will confirm as soon as possible.

    Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News
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    Having shared the link across many platforms there appears to be a little confusion over the term ‘advanced braking system’ (ABS). I’m assuming the reference is to anti-lock braking systems?

    Chris Harrison Bristol
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Is ‘ABS’ in this context, the same as anti-lock brakes or does ‘advanced braking system’, as in the heading, mean something else in the motorcycle world? I can see the usefulness of researching riders’ experiences of whether collisions have been prevented (or not) by ABS, but unles I’m missing something, I can’t see how ABS may influence the trajectory of a rider post-impact – but then again, I’m not a motorcyclist. Does the rapid on-off-on of the ABS have some unwanted effect on ‘what happens next’, if and when contact is made?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    I wish Elaine all the best in her work and of course I for one will be very interested in the results and conclusions of the study.

    Gareth, RSGB Motorcycle Specialist

    Gareth, Surrey
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