What is a Motorcycle Crash Bar and How Does It Work?
When equipping a motorcycle, it is crucial to know its available features. Many products aim to make you safer, while others might pose a danger to you. Meanwhile, some may simply be a waste of money.
Our clients are like family. We want you to have the information you need to make good decisions. Have you wondered about motorcycle crash bars? Read on to learn how they work.
If you are visiting our website because you were in a motorcycle crash, please contact us for a free consultation.
What a Motorcycle Crash Bar Is
Motorcycles are meant to operate in an upright position. If the bike falls over, the motorcycle and the rider could get hurt.
Crash bars are motorcycle accessories designed for protection against falls. They go by a few different names, and there are only slight differences between the terms.
- Engine guards: Protect the engine against damage if the bike tips over and can also make it easier to lift back into its proper position
- Case guards: Another name for engine guards
- Highway bars: Wider than engine guards, this equipment protects the engine, tank, and other essential auto parts
- Freeway bars: Another name for highway bars
Crash bar manufacturers tend to differentiate their products by varying the dimensions and thickness of the steel tubing. You can have a bar custom-made to fit your bike or buy a model off the rack. Most motorcycle crash bars look like chrome loops mounted to the lower frames of each side of the bike.
How Crash Bars Work
Some people may not notice safety features until they need them. For example, office workers might ignore a fire extinguisher until something catches fire. Then, all of a sudden, the fire extinguisher is the most important thing in the room.
Similarly, crash bars do not do anything when a motorcycle is upright but come into play when a motorcycle tips over onto its side. Then, they can diffuse the blunt force of the fall, protecting everything from the paint to the engine to the oil tank.
In addition, crash bars provide a space to mount additional gear like leg pegs or lights. Crash bars might be made of various materials. Some of the most common are:
- Aluminum: Motorcycles can be quite heavy, so the appeal of aluminum is that it is lightweight. It is also rust-resistant. However, aluminum is not as strong as steel and might cost more than other materials.
- Stainless steel: Another material that does not rust is stainless steel. One disadvantage is that it can crack at the welding points, though, and it does not diffuse the force of an impact as well as some more flexible metals.
- Mild steel: Mild steel has a small amount of carbon, a quality that makes it pliant and weldable. It is inexpensive and strong but rusts – a big drawback for bikers living in rainy areas. Some riders treat the bars with corrosion prevention materials and a powder coat.
Motorcyclists know that owning bikes need regular maintenance. Crash bars need to allow access for servicing the vehicle while still protecting the body and mechanical components. They must also not interfere with a safe lean angle so that bikes balance against gravity and speed in turns.
Some riders also feel that crash bars could potentially protect their legs. For example, if a motorcycle falls to its side, the crash bar keeps it from hitting the ground. Therefore, the person’s leg could be less likely to be crushed by the motorcycle.
Deciding Whether or Not You Should Install Crash Bars
In 2017, there were at least 136 motorcycle accident fatalities in New York. Across the nation, there were over 8.5 million registered motorcycles in 2019, during which the injury rate per 100,000 was 975, adding up to some 84,000 injuries that year.
According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration, motorcycle riding carries a higher injury risk than traveling in other types of vehicles. Contributing factors include weather, speed, and personal protective equipment such as helmets and body armor.
Like most people, you probably consider an item’s price and cosmetic appeal before buying it. These factors are significant, but one of the most important considerations for a biker is whether a bike’s accessory will help keep him or her safe.
So what about crash bars? Do they help keep riders and motorcycles safe from harm?
Sliding on the ground damages a vehicle and could also generate dangerous sparks. One report examined harm to a motorcycle’s fuel tanks, fairings, and tires after grinding against the ground. Yet, in similar incidents, they found that the crash bar sustained more damage than essential components.
The following essential components can be easily damaged in collisions, especially at high speeds:
- Radiators: Radiators help engines to dissipate heat, thus preventing overheating
- Side cases: Side cases provide storage on a bike
- Fuel tanks: A leaking fuel tank could spell disaster in a motorcycle accident
- Oil pumps, reservoirs, or tanks: A motorcycle engine will not work for long without the steady circulation of oil, so tanks need protection from punctures
- Tires: Replacing a ruined tire could cost a cyclist between $70 and $350, depending on the quality, brand, and cost of mounting
- Fairing: This paneling made from plastic, fiberglass, or aluminum protects the frame and reduces air drag on sports models
The report mentioned above compiled data from previous studies with an interesting conclusion. “If [crash-bar equipped] motorcycles had capsized from an upright position, they would have lost additional speed on striking the ground which would increase the average deceleration rate, more so at lower speeds.”
In other words, crash bars could slow your bike down in a slide, thereby reducing potential damage.
In regards to crash bars, whether crash bars do more harm than good is quite the controversy. In 1995, a man named James Satcher sued Honda based on the claim that the lack of crash guards made their product defective.
Honda presented expert evidence that crash bars could contribute to head or neck injury. Yet, not all experts agree.
In a crash test decades ago, Honda studied motorcycle crash bars and concluded that they did reduce leg impact in an angled collision. However, in broadside collisions, they seemed to increase the impact on some body areas rather than offer protection.
Crash bars thus have a mixed reputation. As researchers continue to study their effectiveness, new information might come out that could influence your opinion. But, for now, all riders will have to determine for themselves whether crash bars are suitable for their bikes.
How to Avoid a Motorcycle Accident
About 241,000 New Yorkers use motorcycles for commuting, touring, and entertainment. If you are one of them, being concerned about your safety is understandable.
Thankfully, you can decrease the likelihood of an accident. The New York DMV shares many practical measures you can take.
Wear the right gear
Research indicates that motorcycle helmets reduce injuries and fatalities. In fact, regardless of speed, it was found that non-helmeted riders face twice the risk of head injuries than helmeted ones.
New York motorcycle drivers and passengers must wear approved helmets and eye protection. Riders opt for protective clothes like reflective gear, leather jackets, pants, gloves, and ankle-height shoes or boots.
Get to know your vehicle
You should regularly inspect:
- Fluid levels
- Headlights, taillights, and brake lights
- Turn signals
- Clutch and throttle
You should be familiar and comfortable with a motorcycle before driving it on the street. Find out where your controls are and how they work.
Always ride within your abilities. Just because your motorcycle can travel at high speeds does not mean you should test its limits.
Keep your distance
Tailgating is a common factor among motorcycle crashes. You should maintain at least 2 seconds of stopping distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you.
You should keep even more distance when:
- The pavement is slippery or damaged
- The traffic is heavy
- Visibility is low
- Weather conditions are bad
Keeping this “cushion of space” also ensures you have room to get out of the way if someone comes at you from behind or even if the car ahead backs up for some reason. If someone follows you too closely, changing lanes and letting that person pass can be a wise move.
What to Do If You Are in a Motorcycle Accident
You can control how well-equipped your bike is or how well you prepare for a ride. Yet, you cannot control other drivers, the weather, or the road conditions. Accidents happen.
At Hill & Moin LLC, our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to take your call as soon as possible after your accident. Our compassionate lawyers can determine whether you have a basis for a claim and help you establish the facts. Getting in touch right away will ensure that you do not miss deadlines that affect your eligibility for compensation.
Call (212) 668-6000 today or submit a contact form. Your consultation is free, so do not hesitate to get the Personal Injury Recovery SolutionsⓇ you need from lawyers you can trust.