Mandatory Anti-Lock Brakes on Motorcycles?

07/03/2009 @ 11:39 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

The NHTSA is considering whether anti-locking braking systems (ABS) should become a mandatory component to new motorcycles on American roads. ABS has certainly become an increasingly prevalent optional feature on street bikes, with sportbikes just recently catching onto the trend.

Honda first released the VFR Interceptor with ABS back in 2002, and both BMW and Honda released bikes with optional ABS this year. We’ve also seen other safety features from cars finding their way into motorcycles, with integrated airbags in leather suits, and bikes offering rear-wheel traction control systems.

To us, this seems like a logical extension of existing technology into motorcycles, but for the NHTSA this is more serious issue of climbing motorcycle crashes, as both more riders take to the streets, and new riders join the motorcycling ranks.

Motorcycle deaths have doubled in 10 years from 2,116 deaths in 1997 to 5,154 deaths in 2007. Unfortunately, this isn’t just a case of more motorcyclists on the street, thus creating a similar rise in fatal crashes, but the increase in ridership has seemingly also brought worse (or greener) motorcyclists onto the road.

In the same time frame as above, the motorcye fatality rate has also doubled from its 21 deaths per million miles to now nearly 39 deaths per million miles traveled. This increase in both the number of riders, and the likelihood of a fatal crash occurring, have caused the NHTSA to further scrutinize its role in regulating how motorcycles are built and ridden.

One solution to the problem is making bikes safer for riders to operate. An insurance institute study has shown that fatal crashes are 28% less likely to occur on ABS-equipped motorcycles than other bikes. There are some problems with this statistic, but 28% is a considerable gap. Further analysis is being conducted to see why there is such a stark difference here.

Until this year only more expensive bikes had ABS, and were marketed towards older and likely more experienced riders, meaning ABS equipped bikes could simply be an unrelated issue here, with rider skill and experience still being an issue. Let’s face it, how many squids do you see riding a Honda Goldwing compared to a CBR600RR?

While ABS isn’t a replacement for properly motorcycle handling safety courses, the NHTSA is considering making the technology obligatory in new motorcycle design. We always welcome new technologies like ABS to motorcycles, but we still think making mandatory helmet and motorcycle safety course laws would likely have a deeper impact on the problem. Hopefully further analysis of this information will allow a more proper conclusion to be drawn.

Source: Detroit News via The Kneeslider

  • Kevin Burson

    Harley Davidson has had ABS since 2007 on police duty bikes, and 2008 brought ABS to the general public touring line of motorcycles. BMW has had ABS options on their motorcycles since 1985.

  • It seems that the federal government is also looking into the helmet issue. Preliminary info is that there would be 2 types of licenses issued. One for those that wear helmets, and the one for those that don’t would require them to have proof of medical insurance.

  • What if there was a simple way to have the benefits of ABS on any motorcycle, any year, make or model with disc brakes?
    At less than half the cost would a unit that performs to reduce wheel lock-up before it happens be considered?
    Does it have to use the three letters ABS or can it use TCB, (NHTSA does not think so).

    The TCB brake System works to prevent wheel lock during panic stops before it happens unlike ABS that functions after it happens. After thousands of TCB units sold worldwide and lives saved from what could have been TCB can’t gain the similar recognition as ABS.

    It seems a small technicality prevents this safety product from getting the recognition it deserves. A small yellow light on your dashboard that lights up when the ABS is functioning is also mandatory.

    As the Inventor of the TCB I find this ridiculous, why would anyone take their eyes off the road during a 2-3 second emergency situation to watch a yellow light come on the dash?

    The TCB needs no light because it works every time you use the brake at any speed so you know it’s got your back always! (it also is a fraction of the cost and you don’t have to purchase a new bike to get one)

    I am frustrated that I spent over 20 years developing the greatest safety feature since the helmet and still nobody knows it exists. Don’t get me wrong, new disc braking configurations on all power sport vehicles have come a long way in the past few decades.

    In fact they have become so good they can lock up on a dime with hardly any physical pressure at all! When this happens only a very small footprint of the tire(s) is used to stop you from a serious accident without control of your vehicle. Seasoned riders know how to modulate the brakes but even in an emergency things happen out of our control.

    Read more about TCB visit;

    “Safety on the road is a relentless pursuit. Any inspiration, invention, or innovation is one helluva good idea.”
    Mark Lipski; Inventor

    Tell me what I am doing wrong,
    Feel free to contact me: or 903 569 2998

  • JSH

    What are you doing wrong? You have to be joking! Your TCB is simply a diaphragm that makes the brakes mushy. Yes, it helps prevent brake lock-up if someone panics and grabs a fistful of lever but also removes the brake feel that is so important. Charging $80 for something that ruins brake feel is almost criminal. To attempt to equate your valve to ABS is fraudulent.

  • JSH
    Sounds like a challenge why don’t you try it before you boast about things you have not tested. I invite you to take a free demo on your personal cruiser so you can retract your statement so please contact me. You have my email and phone info so give me a brake so I can give you one!

    Mushy? where did you hear that do you work for someone that manufacturers ABS, the proper term is “controlled compressibility”. Do you drive a car without shock absorbers in a way they use the same theory as an accumulator valve.

    That is what the TCB does,

    Mark Lipski

  • Classic Rider

    BMW deployed ABS I in 1988. The original system was not nearly as sophisticated as the current version which is far more effective and can link both front and rear brakes to provide safer braking. BMW was the first to deploy traction control on motorcycles.

    Neither system will overcome a bad decision by a rider. I believe that the NHTSA should consider the following:
    A. Mandatory Helmet use in all US territories and states.
    B. Limits on engine size since most fatality increases are disproportionately occurring with 1000cc plus engine sized motorcycles. I’d like to see a limit at 500cc.
    C. Mandatory Fuel Economy standards. Motorcycles are the most inefficient vehicles on the road and have very high coefficient of drag.
    D. Mandatory Clothing standards which will reduce injury similar to the European standards.
    E. Mandatory graduated drivers licenses, similar to the UK. New riders must ride smaller motorcycles. In the UK this is a 125cc machine. Here the ultra weak 250cc machines would do.
    F. Far better education of automobile drivers is needed to further reduce motorcycle deaths.
    G. The nation should adopt Vision ZERO. Norway was the first country to make a road to be safer for motorcycle riders.
    H. Drivers over 40 are the majority of fatal victims. They should especially be given graduated drivers licenses and very strict supervision as ability declines with age.

  • Classic Rider needs to move to Europe!! We like our freedom in the U.S.A. Your not making us Harley Riders happy. We like big bikes and some, like me, like riding without a helmet on. I’ll put one on if I’m in a big city but it ruins the whole reason to ride a bike. Heck you probably want seatbelts put on bikes!!! Like you say, your ability to think declined with your age. Are you a girl?
    And to JSH: The new factory ABS cost $900, a TCB is only $80, so don’t knock it. It works great on the front and could help a new driver from crashing when they grab that front brake too hard!

  • JSH


    I don’t need to try your product to know what it feels like. You are introducing air into the brake hydraulic circuit. You trap this air behind a diaphragm but the result is the same. When the brake lever is applied instead of force being transfered directly to the caliper piston first the air must be compressed. This causes a delay in the activation of the brakes, longer brake lever travel, and a non-linear feel to the brake lever. The same effect can be simulated by simply not completely bleeding the brake system.

    Here is my free guide to TCB:
    Materials: You will need a friend, a screwdriver, and a wrench.
    1. Have your friend squeeze and hold the brake lever
    2. Open one of the brake bleeders and allow the brake lever to come to the bar
    3. Have your friend release the brake lever. (Pulling air into the brake system)
    4. Close the brake bleeder
    5. Top of the brake fluid in the reservoir.

    CAUTION: Only do this if you want ineffective brakes with poor feel. NOT RECOMMENDED!!!

    The ironic thing is that manufactures are doing everything they can to increase brake force and feel. One of the way they do this is to replace rubber brake lines that swell slightly when the brakes are applied with metal braided lines that do not swell. Your produce does the opposite and takes us back a couple decades in brake technology.

    Motorcycle Consumer News tested TCB back when Mark was selling it as ABS. While the NHTSA now prevents Mark from advertising his product as ABS, the effect is the same. They revisited the topic of TCB in 2008:

    BTW, I don’t and have never owned a cruiser. My tastes lean toward the sportier end of motorcycling. However, if the Road King I rented from Eagle Rider is any indication; cruiser brakes are absolutely horrible from the factory, no TCB required. That Harley required a firm squeeze with all four fingers to even start to slow.

  • Good Morning JSH! Ref: My TCB Are you a mechanic? Because when you install a TCB, like any other hydraulic part, you “bleed the system” and the air is removed. The only air left is above the diaphram separate from the fluid system. It does feel different because in hard braking the diaphram expands into the air cavity. Several test have reported they have stopped faster when their brakes were applied full force trying to “lock it up.” The other identical test bike locked up when trying to stop as fast which resulted in a few more feet to stop! A few feet or a little more control under emergency braking as you try to turn to avoid a car could make a BIG difference. But the best results overall would probably be for a new rider who inevitably grabs that front brake too hard and drops their bike.
    But everybody has an opinion.

  • You be the judge!
    It appears there are only a few people arguing the benefits of TCB. The old article “Bolt on ABS” was a cheap knock off of an older patent. The TCB did not hit the market until 2004. The testimony letter below says it all…

    Two Wheel Safety with Traction Controlled Braking

    My name is Scott Sauder and I’m compelled to tell you about a product I just tested. First, let me tell you that I am an automotive/motorcycle technician, NOT a journalist or a columnist. I’m a wrench, and have been for over 35 years, with factory training and certifications through G.M. Ford, Chrysler, and Audi, on the automotive side, as well as, numerous ASE certifications. On the two wheel side, I have had the pleasure of working with and gaining factory recognition from Kawasaki, BMW, and Harley Davidson. With that said, it’s probably safe to say I’ve been around the block a time or two. I have currently spent more than the last decade testing, servicing, maintaining, and outfitting motorcycles with the Los Angeles Police Department, possibly one of the largest and most demanding fleets in the United States. I believe them to be a pioneer in the safety, outfitting, and equipping of their motor fleet.
    I’ve seen and tested a LOT of products through out the years and truth be told, I’m a sucker for snake oil with a good sales pitch. But this product is different, it WORKS and it works remarkably well. The product is called T.C.B. which stands for Traction Control Braking. The unit is installed into the brake system and acts as an accumulator, causing a pulsation effect which in turns helps control wheel lock up and allowing for greater steering stability during severe braking conditions. And yes, it is similar to an ABS effect, although not ABS. It is however a VERY effective alternative when so many of us ride pre-abs manufactured bikes.
    I became acquainted with Mark Lipski the founder and inventor of the T.C.B. units through a mutual friend, Mark approached me with his product and it’s claims, in hopes that I might test it and give an opinion. Mark explained the units and how they worked, along with the theory behind them. It seemed hard to believe that something this relatively simple and inexpensive could actually simulate an ABS type braking system, but it does! Mark was kind enough to supply me with three units for my personal bike, a 1995 Road King mildly built and my second love. I’ve been a rider since I was 12 and in relation to my age now? Let’s just say I have a fair amount of time in the saddle and consider myself an experienced and somewhat seasoned rider with enough experience to give a fair and accurate judgment.

    I installed one unit at the rear master cylinder and the other two directly into the front calipers. I also had just installed a new front tire and as I’m sure most of you know am extremely “slippery” and prone to washing out, so needless to say I was more then a bit apprehensive to attempt a full force brake with the possibility of a wheel lock. But on the same token, what a great test for traction control and stability. I headed up the street and at approximately 55 mph I grabbed a hand full for front brake, lightly at first to the point of what should have been a front wheel lock up to full pressure, and to my surprise the front end maintained complete control with out locking up. Now feeling a bit more confidant and “test pilot” like I did several more passes at high speeds with full brake pressure, as if to simulate a panic situation and I have to say “incredible.” I believe this simple add -on unit provides better braking and quicker stops while still maintaining front end control and maneuverability away from or around an obstacle or situation that could otherwise create a dangerous or even fatal situation. In other words, this T.C.B. unit could save your butt.

    Safe Riding
    S. Sauder

  • JSH


    I am not a mechanic. However, my father is and I have been wrenching with him both on personal vehicles and customer’s vehicles since I was 12. I’m a mechanical engineer.

    I know that TCB recommends bleeding the brake lines to remove air from the system after TCB is installed. However, there is still air in the system, it is just behind the diaphragm. Whether air is suspended in the brake fluid or contained behind a diaphragm the effect is the same. That air must first be compressed before force is applied to the brake caliper. What I am saying is that the same result given by TCB can be obtained by introducing air into the brake lines. TCB simply makes the process easier by containing a set amount of air behind the diaphragm.


    Since you are claiming Motorcycles Consumer News tested an old design, how is your new TCB valve improved over the old design?

    Do you have any actual back-to-back testing that shows riders can stop faster with your product installed than on a stock bike? I actually think your TCB would work for novice riders that simply grab a handful of brake lever. However I have no doubt that a skilled rider that modulates pressure on the brake level properly can stop faster without TCB.

    Have you worked out your legal fight with Steve Chicilo that also sells TCB and claims he ownes the patents to the product you are selling?

  • There seems to be a lot of speculation on the mechanics of the TCB Braking System, and whether or not it injects air into the braking system. has agreed to test the system head to head against an ’08 Ultra with ABS installed. The TCB System will be installed on another ’08 Ultra, so that we can get a good comparison. Look for the article soon and we will let you know what we find.

    Keep in mind that is not sponsored or paid by TCB Brake Systems, and is unbiased in this matter. We’ll let the test results do the talking.

  • T.F.

    I am waiting for the lawsuit to get settled before we purchase the TCB product for two motorcycles. When will the lawsuit finally get closure?

  • T.F.

    Why wait nobody else is, call me directly and I’ll tell you anything you need to know but if you wait for the “lawsuit” that’s your problem it won’t keep you safe on the road.

    I already won!

    Mark Lipski; Inventor
    TCB Brake Systems LLC
    903 569 2998

  • Mark Lipski hasn’t won anything!! If you want the truth contact me!!!

    Steve Chicilo: Owner

  • Concerned Citizen

    BEWARE!!!!! Steve Chicilo has spent his entire life stealing from other people and I am sure he has stolen this product idea from Mark Lipski as well. He lives in a house that has more than twice its value in liens on it, built by defrauding a litany of contractors and suppliers over several years. Both of his building licenses have since been revoked by the State of Minnesota as well. See link below:

    This guy is a true Sociopath. A dark, little and insecure guy that feels entitled to your money by any means. He really ought to be in jail, he has no friends or business associates left that will support him. To get the real story, take a look at the list of people that he owes in within the civil action records at the state of Minnesota also. You will see that he owes his ex wife Dawn Van House over 40k along with dozens of others.

    Search Stephen Chicilo at link below

    Be sure to search all 3, criminal, civil and judgments

  • Tom Marincic

    “In the same time frame as above, the motorcye fatality rate has also doubled from its 27 deaths per million miles to now nearly 39 deaths per million miles traveled.”

    REALLY? One death every 25,600 miles? Aren’t traffic fatalities usually quoted in deaths per 100 million miles? For example, most states have about 1.5 deaths in a car per 100 million miles. I can see motorcycles being 25 times more dangerous, but 2500 times more dangerous? Really?

  • Tom Marincic

    I think this article is wrong.


    Motorcycle Crash Facts
    Motorcyclist Fatalities Increase
    ■Motorcycles are the most dangerous type of motor vehicle to drive. These vehicles are involved in fatal crashes at a rate of 35.0 per 100 million miles of travel, compared with a rate of 1.7 per 100 million miles of travel for passenger cars.
    ■Motorcyclists were 35 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash in 2006, per vehicle mile traveled, and 8 times more likely to be injured.

    Damn, that’s a relief! I’ve ridden about 25,000 miles in the last 3 years. I’d hate to think I’d “cheated death” statistically in so short a time.