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Autonomous Braking for Motorcycles


By now most motorcyclists have  wondered why autonomous braking, which is about to be required on every car sold in America, is not being offered by anyone for motorcycles.

Clearly, the risk to the rider of a motorcycle from a careless left hand turning vehicle is far greater than the risk to the driver of an airbag equipped four thousand pound car.

So what’s the deal.

Well, let’s start by looking at ABS brakes that allow a rider to brake while leaned over in a turn.  Bosch has been distributing these systems for several years now.  Clearly, the ability to brake easily if you get into a turn too hot is a great safety addition.  Who would’t want that option in a pinch, particularly if it didn’t interfere with any other operation of the motorcycle?

At this point in time, KTM has it, BMW has it, but not on many popular models, such at the RT, and that’s about it.  The reason is that the peculiar characteristics of two wheeled vehicles means that this system must be calibrated individually for each model motorcycle.  This means a lot of cost.  Clearly, motorcycle manufacturers don’t think the cost will be easily passed on without hurting sales.

A similar pattern accompanied the slow adaptation of ABS brakes.  It took a lot of years for motorcycle manufacturers to start putting ABS systems on bikes, although the best information was that it would reduce deaths to riders by 40%.

At the point, there are autonomous braking systems available.  One concern was whether they would cause riders to lose it when the systems kicked in  Studies show that this is not the case.  Riders seem well able to handle it when the systems kick in and brake the motorcycle.

So when will we see the systems offered to the public?  Nobody knows.

Unless legislation forces the manufacturers to step up to the plate, we can expect the same slow adaptation that accompanied ABS brakes, and now the more advanced ABS systems that allow braking in a turn.

It would be one thing if riders chose not to pay for these systems, but I feel like a second class citizen when they are not even offered.

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About the Author

Michael Padway is a motorcycle accident attorney with over 40 years of experience in motorcycle cases. He’s been a lifelong motorcycle rider, and fanatic for its culture, advocacy, and safety. If you need assistance with a motorcycle accident, contact him at (800) 928-1511 or visit michaelpadway.com for a free consultation.