Here's a cut and paste of an earlier post I made on the subject:
For the past week and a half I've been in motor school to renew my instructor certification. The bikes are all '05 Police Road Kings, and all have the ABS.
Externally the only difference is the "tone ring" on the low side front brake
rotor, and on the rear rotor. This doesn't change the aesthetics of the bike at all. Unlike other manufacturers the control module is not visible. Instead, it is hidden behind the high side saddlebag, and is mounted on the frame, outboard of the rear brake assembly. The down side of this, and as far as I'm concerned the only down side of the system, is that the high side saddle bag's interior is reduced by at least 1/3 to accommodate this. It looks the same from the outside, but the interior is modified.
The police motor school spends a great deal of time on braking exercises. The primary one requires slowing from 40 MPH to a speed enabling maneuvering through an obstacle, in 62 feet. This is certainly possible without ABS, and in fact if the ABS is activated, that run will not be counted. However, on a non-ABS bike, the fear of locking a brake hangs over you. The ABS allows you to use the maximum potential of the bike, and concentrate on proper application of the brakes.
In addition to the scored events, I've had the opportunity to experiment with the ABS system. First I ran into the same exercise at 40, and instead of properly applying the brake, I simply snapped on the front brake, and stabbed the rear. There is a feel in both levers of the system modulating the brakes; however the bike stops nearly as quickly as with maximum non-ABS braking, with no feeling of instability; although you do feel the "surging" as the ABS does its job. This is very similar to the feeling you get with ABS in a car.
Next I stopped on asphalt with loose gravel on it, again deliberately using bad technique, and again at 40 MPH. The lower coefficient of friction helps to reduce the feeling of "surging", although you still get the feedback from the levers.
I then went to an area where the pavement runs off into grass. First I braked just on the grass. This was amazing. With both brakes jammed on, the bike remained absolutely stable as it came to a stop. With so little friction, there was no feeling of surging from the bike, only the ABS feedback through the levers. Next I got going 40 MPH, and began braking properly on the paved surface, but in a spot where I ran off onto the grass. Again the ABS worked flawlessly taking over seamlessly when the friction dropped away. Finally, I got going 40 MPH on the grass, and began braking on the grass, but running onto the pavement. I applied brake in an amount that activated the ABS on the grass, but wouldn't normally be enough to activate it on the pavement. The ABS stopped as the surface improved. As soon as I was on the pavement, the ABS discontinued its management of the braking, and allowed me to control the bike.
My opinion of this system is entirely favorable. The only downside is the reduction of the capacity of one saddlebag. As far as the system itself, I have not been able to find a way to make it show up when it shouldn't, or not be there when it should.
If I were looking at a police bike, I'd definitely look for the ABS.
I do not have the particulars, but I have seen Harley correspondence to dealers regarding a recall of ABS equipped 05 Police Touring models due to incorrectly installed brake lines. This was an assembly problem as I recall where brake lines were installed improperly, not a generic system problem.
A number of police bikes in the Atlanta area are leased by motor escort services on annual leases and returned to the dealers at the end of the year for replacement bikes. So a large number of 05 bikes (with ABS) are showing up for sale and it would be prudent to confirm that the recall was acted on for the particular bike if you are considering purchasing one of these.
Very true. This was a rare but serious prblem, with a valve that had been incorrectly installed. In the worst manifestation, if the front brakes went into ABS, the front wheel would lock, and not release even with release of the lever. As HarleyPingMan mentioned, this was not a design flaw, but an assembly problem. If you have an '05 Police Bike, it should definitely be confirmed that the correction has been made.
This my second year with abs on my work bike and I don't like it. The motors I ride with, me included could all out brake abs in every combination when doing measured stopping (when we were on non abs). The abs kicks in when you are down shifting and braking at the same time and your front wheel free wheels for a part of a reveloution. On really rough terraine the abs does not allow you to lock up the tires and your braking distance is really increased. I also noted that during recert that on the brake and escape that the abs would encage easier on some bikes than on others. We also fail if the abs kicks in so on some bikes it was very difficult so I would jump on another bike to do the exercise. My assigned bike has a mushy rear brake that the factory can not get figured out (it feels like it needs to be bled but that does not fix it).
Hopefully the 2nd generation will be better. I think Harley kind of rushed this generation so they could get the CHP contract. I do think for civilian use the down falls would be less and the benifits greater.