BMW Makes ABS Standard on All Its Motorcycles

07/06/2012 @ 11:58 am, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

In introducing its 2013 line-up of returning models (as well as the updated F700GS & F800GS), BMW has announced that it has made anti-locking braking systems (ABS) a standard option on all of its motorcycles. The move is a part of larger safety initiative called Safety 360, which sees the Bavarian company taking a three-pronged approach to rider safety by focusing on: safety technology in the vehicle itself, safety derived from rider equipment, and safety derived from rider training.

Pre-empting the likely introduction of laws making ABS required on all motorcycles in the European Union by 2016, BMW is the first motorcycle manufacturer to make the braking technology standard on all of its models. Fittingly, back in 1988 the German company was the first motorcycle manufacturer to introduce ABS to production motorcycles, and again is the market-leader in this space.

This news is surely going to be a controversial move with the motorcycling purists, but modern anti-locking brakes overcome virtually all the quoted reasons against the technology’s initial inception. Adding only a couple of pounds to the motorcycle’s overall weight, ABS technology has not only become extremely compact and light, but also extremely potent in its effectiveness and sophistication.

The advent of dual-channel ABS has allowed the rear and front wheels of a motorcycle to be modulated independently, a boon for using ABS in off-road applications where locking up the rear tire is still a predominant motorcycle riding technique. Allowing riders to lock up the rear tire while modulating the front brings the best of both worlds of braking power and motorcycle control — especially during panic situations.

With the addition of ABS technology to sport bikes like the BMW S1000RR, riders are able to approach the limits of front-wheel lock-up with greater safety, which not only reduces the risk of crashing because of tucking the front wheel, but also allows riders to use the full potential of the very powerful braking components found on modern sport bikes — something few sport riders a truly capable of doing (egos aside).

While the debate between pro and anti-ABS factions is surely to continue, the fact of the matter though is that in several years all new motorcycles from the major OEMs are likely to be fitted with anti-locking brakes. I, for one, welcome our anti-locking overlords.

Source: BMW Group

  • protomech

    Good news.

    Modern ABS is even better at braking than we think we are, and much better than we are in practice (eg when tired, cranky, surprised by some idiot merging into us).

    As long as it’s easy to disable for track or trail use, making it standard can only benefit by driving down component and assembly costs.

  • Kevin

    This has more or less been the case for the last couple of years. Almost without exception, unless you custom ordered a bike, you were getting one with ABS and heated grips. A so called “base model” was pretty hard to come by. This wasn’t anything mandated by BMW, but just based on popular builds, most bikes were equipped with at least those two options.

  • Jonathan

    ” Hey Fritz, I just thought of a way of hiking the price by €700 without anyone noticing!”

    Yeah, I know it’s the future (and I also realise that the average European motorcyclist is probably not far off being a grandfather), but why not just put four wheels and a roof on bikes and call it a day?

  • Archer

    One wonders what this will do to the cost of entry into our sport.

  • protomech

    One wonders what helmet requirements will do to the cost of entry into our sport.

  • Jonathan

    @ protomech: I’m not absolutely sure where you’re coming from but while helmet laws are about preventing deaths (and indirectly saving a bunch of money), ABS (and all the other “rider aids”) are at least in part a way to add “value”. Next it’ll be GPS controlled speed limiting and shortly thereafter type approval. The Eurocrats don’t have any power over stuff that matters (like crooked banks), so they dick around with irritating chaff like this. Just say no, kids!

    Anyway, we had anti-lock when I was a kid – it was called the Japanese single leading shoe drum brake. :)

  • MikeD

    I for one im more that happy about it and welcome this decision and ONLY HOPE more of the other OEMS follow their actions. One less thing to worry about when u have to stop on a Dime…i don’t know about the rest of us but im not always 100% rested and alert when i get on my bike…and every little bit of help trying to keep me and my bike’s shiny bits off the asphalt i sure apreciate it and is more than welcome.

    Maybe TC will be next ?

    Sorry for the Purists and “Professional” street racers that still claim they can outbreak a modern ABS System…or maybe not, maybe they still will have the choice of being able to turn it off by a small handle mounted switch ? That would be great, everyone wins ? !

  • Jensen

    While I appreciate that this news is certainly worthy of reporting, there is some BMW spin doctoring here that deserves clarity.

    While it is true that BMW introduced ABS to motorcycling, this move is not nearly as impressive as Honda’s decision to make ABS available on all motorcycles and scooters over 250cc, back in 2007.

    From Honda Press release :

    “By the end of 2007, the Hydraulic Combined Braking System with ABS will be introduced worldwide on all new models in the large scooter, touring bike and 250cc-or-larger sports bike categories….”

    Considering that Honda makes 18 million motorcycles all over the world, and that the vast majority of them are under 500cc, and that BMW makes exclusively premium priced, large displacement motorcycles for a niche market (around 100,000 units annually), begs whether this is any sort of accomplishment at all.

    I applaud BMW for this move, but a grain of salt is due.


  • Larry Hannemann

    I’ve re-read the first sentence several times, and wonder if ‘standard option’ isn’t an oxymoron… Just asking…

  • JSH


    It is one thing to say you will do something is another to actually do it. It only takes a quick look at the Honda website to see that Honda did not carry out that pledge. The CB1000R is not available with ABS in the US market though it is available with ABS in Europe.

    Then there is the NC700X. It comes with ABS standard in Europe but not in the US. In the US, ABS is only available packaged with their automatic transmission for an extra $3000.

    All of the Japanese manufacturers offer many bikes with ABS standard or as an option in Europe that aren’t even offered with optional ABS in the US. This drives me crazy as my next bike will have ABS. I though the NC700X would be that bike but there is not way I’m paying $3000 for ABS and an automatic transmission that I don’t want.

  • Jonathan

    @ JSH: One of the reasons that the ‘Blade is so popular here in the UK is that it is seen as an old-fashioned superbike with no frills and no rider “aids”.

    I’m minded of the move to four stroke dirtbikes. The excuse was that strokers were no longer relevent. What we ended up getting were top-heavy nails. The manufacturers managed to extract decent power from them eventually, but at the cost of engine life that was no better than the strokers and rebuild costs that were an order of magnitude more expensive. The smart manufacturers continued to sell strokers (because they’re very good at what they do), but are clever enough to price them so as not to undercut the “flagships”.

    None of which matters to the modern leisure motorcyclist. Their rocketship will be laboriously washed and polished on a Sunday morning, before being trundled about in the afternoon. With any luck the bike will have been traded in for a new model long before any of the expensive and at-the-mercy-of-the-elements servos, electronics and other whatnot decides to break.

    I’m all in favour of tech that bring performance benefits, but maybe BMW pilots would just be better off buying another car, or a video game that brings them “all the excitement of motorcycling without ever getting wet, being chased by the cops, hit by a bus or actually having fun.”

    Colour me a bit cynical on value added, non-optional extras. :)

  • Jim

    15 years ago a BMW dealer told me that he’d never order a bike for stock with out ABS. He’d order one at a customer’s request and when BMW sent one unbidden, it typically sat on the showroom floor much longer than other bikes.

  • Jim

    BTW if you can’t afford the $500-$1000 or so that ABS costs you shouldn’t be buying a new bike.

  • MikeD


    I can see where you are coming from when you mention all the fancy and delicate bits and pieces deciding to take a crap on u.

    Luckily, when something goes bad on the ABS System it defaults to regular brakes behavior (u can lock your wheels at your own discretion).

    Now, when u have finally figured out what took a crap on u…..well…..then it might be a good time to tap those 401K savings….LMAO.


    Check the price of the Pressure modulator (first part on the little table to the right)…lol. Even tho im down with standard ABS i can totally see your point…but for me, the first time it saves my bacon it already paid for itself right there and then.

  • Jonathan

    I know what you mean MikeD – abs might pay for itself without the rider even realising, but I fully admit to being a bit of a dinosaur…

    It’s just that absorbing tech is easier with cars – the economy of scale is much more favourable with mass market automobiles, physical mass / bulk is easier to absorb and much your gubbins will have a bit more environmental protection. Also, as a dweller of the European outskirts I have a bad feeling about anything like this. Jobs / sales for the boys? Finally, I’m the owner of a Husky dirtbike, so I watch (parent company) BMW’s decisions carefully. I haven’t made up my mind whether BMW are Morgan Freeman or Mel Gibson just yet…

    Even on models where gadgets remain optional, the savings never seem to reflect the cost. Are buyers of base models subsidising the fancy stuff? Hmmm (and this is from a ham-fisted rider who is more than capable of losing the front end!)

  • @JHS

    You are correct about ABS availability on Honda motorcycles in the USA. I would like, however, to point out one uncomfortable reality:

    The USA accounts for about 5% of the global motorcycle market. As well, the highly fractured nature of the motorcycle market in the US which focuses on a handful of niche segments such as big displacement cruisers, MX and sport models over 600cc makes the US a very bad sample for building a case against Honda’s pledge.

    I know it is not easy to digest this, but the American market just isn’t where the cheddar is any more. I hope this changes. Honda and Kawasaki certainly have done far more than any other brands out there in planting new seeds with the likes of the littlest Ninja and CBR250R, which comes with ABS for under $5k.

    When BMW can deliver a product as well developed, well equipped and accessible as that for the same price, then I think they will have something to be smug about. Adding $500 worth of electronics to a $15k plus luxury good, when it is mandated by a future law, hardly makes them terrific innovators or advocates.


  • JSH

    @ Michael

    There is nothing uncomfortable about the reality that the US is a small percentage of the global motorcycle market. In the US motorcycles are generally considered toys not transportation. However, the US is still part of the world. When a company says they are going to do something worldwide and then doesn’t do it in the US they have failed in that commitment. I don’t expect the US market to drive motorcycle development but I would like to at least be able to buy bikes available in the rest of the world not the budget US version.

    The Japanese make some nice motorcycles but few are offered with ABS in the US market. That simply means that they will not get my dollar because I won’t buy a new motorcycle without ABS.

  • MikeD

    Comes to mind really quick the ZX-14R, wich can be had with a ABS in Europe… why not here ? !

    Can’t they just make it an OPTION at least ?

  • Ken

    I, for one, am tired of being nattered about every little damn thing by these self-righteous safety nuts. It’s really all about self-justification for their pathetic, invasive mindset. I hate the feel of the BMW system. I’m taking mine off. Honda’s removes you even more from the lever feel. I never want to hear another seat belt warning tone or see the “ABS Brake Failure ” light at start up again. If you need all that safety crap maybe you don’t have the skills to ride or drive on the street and should have your license revoked. The Moto-industry as a whole is losing a big supporter and customer.

  • Todd

    re: michael uhlarik

    In 2007 if I’m not mistaken, BMW already offered ABS on all of it’s models so it was Honda who was late to the party.

    And love it or hate it, ABS does save lives. While most of us like to think we’re skilled riders who don’t need it, tell that to the guy in the pickup in front of you who just bent over to pick up the phone he dropped while he was texting…………

  • JHB

    @Todd: +1

    that plaster sones where slippery as ***