Motorcycle operators are often unfairly maligned; people tend to believe they are reckless speed junkies for whom traffic laws don’t apply. That is not the case. The vast majority are not only law-abiding, they are highly conscientious and cautious. They have to be: their bikes lack the structural protection that four-wheeled vehicles offer, and they know a simple misstep can lead to significant damage and pain.
While they don’t have the benefit of a steel cage surrounding them, motorcycle crash bars claim to offer protection for both the bike and the rider. How do they work? And more importantly, do they work to protect riders from common motorcycle accident injuries?
What Are Motorcycle Crash Bars?
Typically, crash bars are a simple loop of steel tube plated in chrome. They mount to the sides of the bike’s lower frame. If a rider dumps their bike, the crash bars hit the ground first, keeping the frame and engine from striking the ground.
Preventing costly damage to your motorcycle is, of course, a worthy goal. But your safety – your life – is always the first priority. And crash bars are believed to reduce some common motorcycle accident injuries.
They may be able to limit damage in certain types of incidents. Say, for example, you are riding at about 30 miles per hour and over brake on the rear. You slide along the ground. The crash bars can keep the bike from crushing your legs.
There are a few “buts” here that all motorcyclists must consider, though. First is the quality of the crash bars. A study from Monash University Accident Research Center found that motorcycle crash bars are often “too flimsy or poorly designed to be effective.”
That study further concluded that the “effectiveness of lower limb protectors… may be restricted to a limited range of crashes and circumstances.” Specifically, they may work when you are involved in an accident which involves the side of the motorcycle landing on your leg during impact.
Crash bars do nothing if you are thrown from the bike, or, it seems, if you are traveling over 30 miles per hour. In other words, you have to crash just the “right” way in order for them to protect you.
While there is some evidence to suggest that motorcycle crash bars can protect against lower leg injuries (to the ankle and foot), research suggests that it may increase injuries to the calf area, knee, and upper leg.
The International Motorcycle Manufacturers Association also conducted a telling study. They used three different motorcycle models with similarly designed crash bars. In eight pairs of comprehensive tests, using dummies with movable, breakable “legs,” the crash bars were beneficial in just three of the pairs. They were detrimental, or harmful, in five pairs. The study also found that they increased the risk of leg and head injuries.
With all this conflicting evidence, should you use motorcycle crash bars?
They do help protect the motorcycle. In certain types of crashes, they can safeguard the engine, frame, and even the gas tank. Whether or not they can protect you from common motorcycle accident injuries? Well, it depends. Some riders swear by them. If you do choose to use crash bars, make sure to invest in a solid, well made pair and have them properly and securely mounted.
Injured in a Motorcycle Accident?
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident and believe third-party fault or defective crash bars played a role, contact the law firm of LaBovick, LaBovick & Diaz. Our team has decades of experience representing clients – and fighting for their rights. If you deserve compensation, we will develop a well-researched case and pursue it aggressively.
Motorcyclists face a number of life and death decisions every time they take their bikes on the road. Whether or not to use crash bars is just one of them. The decisions in the aftermath of an accident are just as critical. Do not hesitate to contact an experienced attorney to ensure that you receive vigorous, and effective, representation.