Motorcycle crash bars are hoop-shaped bars mounted on the frame of the bike that can help protect riders in certain types of motorcycle accidents by keeping the weight of the bike off the rider’s body. Motorcycle crash bars also minimize damage to the bike if it falls in its side, protecting motorcycle engines and body panels.
The bars stick out a few inches wider than the bike. They hit the ground and prevent the side and engine area from contacting it. This protection can potentially save the bike from thousands of dollars in repairs.
Crash bars protect the legs of riders in the event of crashes, like low speed (under 15mph) tip overs. Since low speeds are where the majority of tip overs occur, crash bars can be useful. Basically, crash bars keep the motorcycle from lying flat on its side on top of a rider’s leg. The bars also keep a rider from getting trapped under the bike in the event it tips over in a parking lot. Then, if the bike does fall over, they make it easier to pick it up.
Crash bars can also be used for minor protection if the motorcycle makes minimal contact with another vehicle.
They do not offer full protection and there is disagreement among experts about just how useful they are.
Generally, the wider the bar, the more they protect the bike in a tip-over. There are rear crash bars as well as ones for the front. Having both offers more protection.
According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) analysis (DOT HS 810 982 August 2008) of data provided by the National Automotive Sampling System/General Estimate System for the years 1997 to 2006, lower-extremity injuries were the most common injuries sustained in motorcycle crashes. Crash bars were not mentioned in the study.
Along with Harley Davidson and Kawasaki, there are many after-market companies manufacturing crash bars for almost all cruisers. Crash bars are generally considered easy to install.
Motorcycle crash bars are one of a number of features and accessories that can be selected by the owner of a motorcycle to enhance safety, performance, or comfort. They are also called roll bars, crash guards, highway bars, engine guards or safety bars.
Owners who bolt a set of crash bars on their ride are encouraged to gently lay the bike over onto the bars to check how well they will protect the bike. Having someone to help with this test ensures the bike can be lifted back up.
Riders who wrap some heater hose and duct tape them around the bottom of the bars, can reduce the likelihood of scratching them. There are also motorcycle crash bar covers available from a number of manufacturers.