October 2008 Safety Thoughts 

Anti-Lock Brakes

by Dave Hansen, Safety Officer


Most of us have experienced the effects & benefits of anti-lock brakes in our cars & trucks.  A well-designed,engineered & executed anti-lock brake system can enhance vehicle control during extreme braking conditions.  Anti-lock brakes on motorcycles have been available on select makes & models for several years now.  Many early adopters mixed anti-lock braking systems with what is known as ďlinkedĒ brake systems with mixed reviews regarding their effectiveness.

Harley-Davidson has offered anti-lock brakes for several years on their police service models & now has antilock brakes available on select 2008 consumer models.  Several chapter members have asked my opinion of H-Dís anti-lock system.  I have seen the H-D system demonstrated in a closed course environment on outrigger equipped demo bikes & I am very impressed with the performance of the H-D anti-lock system.

Iíve never been a proponent of linked braking systems on motorcycles.  Thereís a time when using front brake can get you in trouble: gravel, wet grass and other low traction surfaces.  Dragging rear brake only on these surfaces, along with throttle control & feathering the clutch, allow good low-speed turning & maneuvering control. Linked braking systems donít allow application of rear brake only, limiting their versatility to adapt to all riding conditions.  The H-D anti-lock system is an independent front/rear system, which allows front, rear, or both brakes to be applied as required by the rider, as surface conditions change.

Had the H-D anti-lock system been available when I bought my 2007 Ultra, I would have gotten it.  I do expect to have it on my next new bike.  If youíre looking to buy a new bike soon, I would encourage you to consider selecting H-Dís anti-lock brake option if itís offered on the model youíre looking to purchase.

Ride Safe!