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How Do Motorcycle Crash Bars Work To Protect Your Bike?

For many of us, our motorcycles are almost just as important as our own kids or even our pets, and so crash bars can really help.

Motorcycle Crash Bars help to protect your engine from serious damage arising from crashing your motorcycle. Accidents at high speeds can damage radiators, side casings, the fuel tank and oil reservoir. Generally speaking, it’s crash bars that will take the brunt force of any crash and thus protect the motorcycle while also providing some mild protection to the rider too.

If you have ever seen bull bars on Australian 4×4’s or bash plates under their engine to protect the oil sump, then crash bars on motorbikes work in much the same way. In some cases, they do provide some aethesic differences.

Are motorcycle crash bars worth it? Certainly, if you value your paintwork and are keen to prevent any potential damage to your high-spec adventure motorcycle.

Motorcycle Crash Bars

You’ll find motorcycle crash bars typically mounted to the lower frame of a motorcycle. These can be fitted to dirt bikes, dual-sport motorcycles or any other motorcycle for that matter where the rider feels there is a high risk of serious damage to their engine.

Not only do the crash bars protect the engine, but they can protect the paintwork too. This only applies if the motorcycle crashes at low speed and don’t flip on to the other side, given that crash bars are mostly protecting the underbelly of a motorcycle.

These crash bars can stop the oil tank from being punctured, however they don’t provide complete protection to the underbelly. If you’re going truly offroad and are worried about rocks striking your oil sump, then a bash plate is highly recommended.

These are Upper Crash Bars for KTM 1090/1190 and 1290 Motorcycles. Source: Adventure Moto.

Now, they’re not just good for protection. You can use crash bars to mount additional gear like your pegs and lights, or even a forward-mount for your rear luggage sets. For riders who crash often, they’re thankful that they have a set of crash bars as anchor points for their gear. On that same token, you can use the crash bars as mounting points when you’re sea or air freighting your bike to a new country.

There is some talk among the ADV riding community that they can prevent some leg injuries, though study 1 and study 2 reject these findings.

Disadvantages of Crash Bars

While it sounds like we’re singing the praises of crash bars, there are some disadvantages that they bring. Namely:

  • Cost. You can expect to pay a hefty price for crash bars considering they’re simply a piece of metal, and even more, if you get your dealership to install it for you.
  • Width. Because the crash bars make your motorcycle wider, you’ll have to get used to the additional width. Sure – they’re not as wide as the handlebars but the extra width you see is notable.
  • Color matching. Sometimes it’s hard to find exactly the right color match for your motorcycle, and so you may have to settle for a crash bar that’s almost identical, but not quite so.
  • Weight. You’re adding additional weight which takes a couple of rides to get used to. Fortunately, the weight is often down low and the materials used are typically light, but it’s still noticeable and you can expect increased fuel consumption.
  • Heat. Your crash bars can generate some serious heat on a hot summer’s day. If you have big fairings and aren’t getting the airflow that you need to stay cool, then the crash bars are going to add a few extra degrees to an already hot ride.

Now – are they worth it in the end? Absolutely, especially if you’re going on expedition trips where you’re away from civilization and the local dealership. It’s at that moment that you pick yourself up from a decent crash that you’ll be thankful that you had a set installed.

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