Approximately 16% of all traffic fatalities in Texas are motorcycle riders and passengers. While fatalities decline from other vehicle accidents, they continue to climb for motorcycle riders in Texas and across the country.

A motorcycle does not provide much protection from catastrophic injuries in the event of an accident. Wearing a helmet and clothing designed for riding does offer some protection, but many serious motorcyclists are taking protection one step further. Riders are installing crash bars to aid in protecting both their bikes and their bodies in certain types of accidents.

What Are Crash Bars

A motorcycle crash bar is a piece of safety equipment that attaches to the frame of a motorcycle. The design varies, but the concept is to have a metal bar that sticks out past the motorcycle. The bar will prevent the bike from falling entirely over and providing some protection from the rider from being crushed underneath the bike. The bar is also designed to help protect the fuel tank and engine of the bike, reducing damage to the bike while providing an important safety feature for the rider.

Crash bars are typically made from chrome-plated stainless steel and are also called freeway bars, highway bars, and engine guards. They are mounted to the lower frame and usually consist of two pieces mounted on each side of the bike.

Do Motorcycle Crash Bars Work?

Motorcycle crash bars offer no protection for riders thrown from their bikes during a collision, but they can stop the bike from falling onto the rider. Some riders invest in the bars with more concern for protecting the bike than themselves, and the crash bars stated purpose is to protect valuable and costly components of the motorcycle.

Motorcycle crash bars help prevent extensive damage if the motorcycle falls over while parked, or in a low-speed tip-over. The bars are designed to protect the engine, fuel tank, and can save the paint on your bike.

Improved safety for the rider is a by-product of crash bars, not the purpose. Studies have been done that confirm that crash bars can help reduce lower leg injuries, and anecdotal evidence suggests that they can be effective in keeping the weight of the bike from crashing onto the rider in the event of an accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that lower leg trauma is a significant contributor to debilitating injuries sustained by motorcyclists. During a motorcycle wreck, the bike goes down, and the rider’s leg can become pinned under the weight of the bike. Burns are also common as the motor or exhaust becomes trapped against the leg of the rider. Motorcycle crash bars can help prevent riders from becoming pinned under the weight of the bike.

The bars also serve to make a motorcycle easier to pick back up, which serves several safety purposes. If the rider is not seriously injured, it allows them to quickly and easily move the bike out of harm’s way after an accident. If the rider is injured, good Samaritans and first responders have an easier time lifting the bike away from the rider to render aid.

Gas Tank Protection

The gas tank on a motorcycle is lightweight out of necessity. Puncturing the gas tank in a motorcycle crash poses a very real risk of fire, jeopardizing the rider and individuals attempting to render aid. Motorcycle crash bars do not guarantee that the gas tank cannot be punctured, but they reduce the risk of a puncture allowing a fuel spill in motorcycle crashes.

Should I Have a Crash Bar on My Motorcycle

Major manufacturers like Kawasaki and Harley Davidson are now making crash bars standard on all cruisers, and numerous companies manufacture them as an aftermarket accessory. They are easy to install and pay for themselves in the damage one tip-over could cause to the bike.

Given the relatively low cost, the bars make sense as another layer of safety protection for motorcycle riders. A broken leg or ankle can take months to heal and can even end your ability to ride, so installing a simple aftermarket safety feature to reduce the chance of injury makes sense.

It is important to remember that crash bars are only one tool in your safety arsenal. Nothing can replace the importance of taking a riding course, riding responsibly, and wearing all safety gear. Crash bars in no way guarantee that you will not sustain injuries in a motorcycle accident, but they offer protection for your bike and your legs.