A motorcycle accident has the potential to cause significant harm to both a rider and their vehicle. There are a lot of different steps motorcyclists can take to potentially guard against catastrophic injuries and severe damage to a bike.

Some motorcyclists attempt to minimize property damage in the event of an accident by installing crash bars on their motorcycles. This piece of equipment is essentially a loop of metal tubing that can be installed on a motorcycle’s frame. A crash bar will usually extend a few inches from the bike itself. Its primary function is to protect the engine and frame if a bike falls over and strikes the ground as a result of an accident.

Some also believe that crash bars can protect riders from leg injuries. However, there has been debate regarding whether they are truly effective.

How Motorcycle Crash Bars May Protect Riders

Research indicates injuries to the lower extremities are the most common types of injuries motorcyclists sustain when accidents occur. It is not uncommon for riders who sustain such injuries to be left permanently disabled. 

Motorcycle crash bars can theoretically guard against such injuries. They do so by preventing a bike’s frame from completely touching the ground if it tips over. This can thus prevent a bike from crushing the legs, ankles, or feet of a rider when an accident occurs.

Limited research shows motorcycle crash bars may help prevent ankle and lower leg injuries. This is particularly true in instances of low-speed tip-overs. However, there is reason to believe they may be less effective at preventing harm to the upper legs.

Why Motorcycle Crash Bars Might Not Always Prevent Injury

Several factors might influence the extent to which a motorcycle crash bar can prevent a rider from being harmed. The material used in the manufacture of a crash bar is one such factor.

A study from Monash University’s Accident Research Centre reveals that crash bars’ ability to protect riders when tip-overs happen is somewhat inconsistent. The conclusion of researchers was that too many crash bars are excessively “flimsy” or “poorly designed.” As a result, they cannot protect riders as they should.

The researchers also pointed out that a rider’s legs need to be in the right place when an accident happens for crash bars to protect them. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a rider’s legs to be in the “wrong” place during an accident. This is another reason crash bars might not always be as helpful as some riders assume they will be.

Tips for Staying Safe on a Motorcycle

The fact that crash bars might not always be effective doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider using them. Again, they can protect your vehicle, and they may even protect you in the right conditions.

That said, installing crash bars is not the only step you can take to maximize your safety on a motorcycle.

Along with obeying the rules of the road, you can limit your chances of being harmed by taking such steps as:

  • Getting licensed to ride a motorcycle in Texas
  • Enrolling in a supplementary motorcycle safety course
  • Checking weather reports before riding
  • Avoiding dangerous intersections and roads whenever possible
  • Monitoring the road for potential hazards
  • Scheduling regular maintenance and inspections for your vehicle
  • Wearing apparel that renders you visible on the road
  • Not riding tired, as doing so may be as dangerous as riding while intoxicated
  • Riding with those you know and trust when riding in a group
  • Using gloves that provide a strong grip
  • Maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other vehicles

Additionally, if you choose to install crash bars, purchase a model that is most likely to keep you and your vehicle safe. For example, aluminum and stainless steel crash bars may not be as effective as mild steel crash bars. Mild steel is more prone to rusting, but it offers the most protection. A minor cosmetic sacrifice may be acceptable if it means guarding against personal injury.

Crash bars may not be perfect. But, they can keep you safe in some instances. That’s reason alone to strongly consider equipping your bike with them.