How Do Motorcycle Crash Bars Protect the Rider?

Written by stephen lilley
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How Do Motorcycle Crash Bars Protect the Rider?

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The Basics

Motorcycle crash bars are designed to protect the rider of a motorcycle in the event of a crash. They are also called roll bars or safety bars. Crash bars jut out of the side of the motorcycle, where they protect both the legs of the rider or riders and the motor of the bike itself from damage. Crash bars can also be used for minor protection if the motorcycle makes minimal contact with another bike or car, but they in no way offer full protection.

Protection Level

Though crash bars do offer some protection, there is some controversy about just how useful they are. Bikes are not required to have them in the United States, unlike the helmet laws most state have. This can lead one to deduce that a crash bar is not nearly as effective as a simple helmet. There has been no testing done as to their effectiveness. Many members of the motorcycle industry, including experts in the field like John Snider, say that leg guards of any kind are ineffective.


Experts in motorcycle safety like Warner Riley have been critical of crash bars. The general consensus is that a crash has to happen in just the right way for them to offer any kind of protection. For the crash bar to be effective, the rider can't be launched from the bike during a crash. If the rider stays on the bike, though, there is a chance the bar will trap the rider under the bike, causing more damage than a bike without the bars. A respected motorcycle accident study called "The Hurt Report" concluded that while crash bars do decrease the possibility of injuries in the feet/ankle region during a crash, they actually increase the possibility of injuries in the leg/knee area under the same crash conditions.

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