Mandatory ABS Coming To America?

Europe moves towards mandatory ABS on all motorcycles.

If you’re in the market for a new bike and you’re on the fence over whether to get ABS, you’d better hurry up and decide while you still have a choice. That’s because the European Parliament has approved a proposal to mandate ABS on all motorcycles with engines larger than 125cc beginning in 2016. But wait, you say, I live in America. Who cares what they’re doing in Europe? You do, and here’s why.

The diverse regulations governing motor vehicles in different countries around the world constitute a huge headache for motorcycle manufacturers. Designing and building bikes that in some cases are legal for just one country is an expensive and time-consuming process. The more countries there are whose regulations are the same, the less work for the manufacturers, and the more profit they make. If enough countries decide ABS should be mandatory, manufacturers will simply build all their bikes with ABS, even those for sale in countries where it’s not required.

Whether your next bike comes standard with ABS might not be solely a matter of manufacturing costs. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been lobbying for federal requirements mandating ABS on all new motorcycles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hasn’t come out in favor of that just yet, but the European Parliament’s move might be enough to make NHTSA take a closer look at the issue.