The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) just published a study showing that bikes equipped with ABS are 37% less likely to be involved in fatal crashes, and have 22% fewer claims for damage than non-ABS equipped motorcycles. Why? Because new or returning riders generally aren’t proficient at accident avoidance, and ABS helps to compensate for this. The most common new rider mistake in a panic stop is locking the rear brakes while avoiding the front brakes altogether. This is a bad move for several reasons: first, under braking or deceleration, a motorcycle shifts weight from the rear wheel to the front, reducing the traction available at the rear tire. Second, when the rear tire starts to slide, retaining directional control for novice riders is nearly impossible. By preventing wheel lockup, motorcycle ABS generally allows riders to retain control, especially in sudden, panic-inducing situations.
ABS on bikes isn’t infallible, and stomping the binders while at an extreme lean angle in a corner will still result in a low side crash. I’ve had two ABS equipped bikes, and I’ve got to say that I’m personally not a fan. ABS makes the braking systems harder to maintain and bleed, and gets costly when parts do fail. It’s not a substitute for proper rider training, as it won’t save your bacon in every case. If it were up to me, I’d suggest you spend the money saved on ABS brakes on a few track days; you’ll learn riding skills that will help in every situation, not just a few.