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Old 01-24-2013, 12:55 PM   #1
bastimentos OP
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Crash bars - useless?

Hey guys,

So I'm reading along with Colebatch's amazing Sibirsky Extreme RR and he has posted up a strong opinion that crashbars are indeed useless, and proceeds to make a compelling argument.

Rather than clog up his RR with debate, I thought I'd just ask the inmates here to chime in with their experiences and opinions, as I frequently see people spending substantial amounts of money attaching them to their rides. I personally think they all look hideous, so I can't understand the image as a positive myself, so I assumed that they were indeed a highly functional piece of equipment that you "put up with" because they offered substantial protection.

Have a read of his POV and let me know what you think.


Originally Posted by Colebatch View Post
There are no crash bars because on a narrow bike crash bars dont actually protect anything.

Even on prutsers boxer - there are no crash bars - because the engine that sticks out is tough.

Have you ever seen a Dakar bike with crash bars??

We all crashed our bikes many times. I have dropped mine at high speed a few times. Dakar guys usually have a couple of spills during the Dakar. and their speeds are always high. And yet no crash bars. In the BAM Road video teaser from EtronX I posted earlier, loads of bikes falling down in rocks ... and yet no damage to the engines.

Crash bars really dont add value. It might look like they do. It might look like they add toughness. But in most cases the bike is tough enough. As someone said above - check where they attach. Is the attach point strong enough to handle the stress? Often the answer is no. In the main, they are bling that are sold by Touratech and their clones to make money. They are designed and marketed to look tough and create a tough image. But always go back to stuff like the Dakar bikes. They ride huge distances off roads, often very fast, often quite technical, sometimes in sand, often in rocks, for half a month, day in, day out. They crash the bikes. They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get there, for one race, once a year. They know they are going to have crashes, but if they hole an engine, their entire year, and all its money is wasted. AND STILL they dont have crash bars. That tells me all I need to know about the value of crashbars.

In the main, crash bars dont add any value .... but they do add weight and they do cost money.

On a lighter narrower bike they are never necessary. The handlebars and luggage keep the engine miles away from contacting anything. If you have a fat bike you might guard against cosmetic damage.

But on balance - I vote no to crashbars.

You need good handlebar protectors, and you need a good bashplate (again, go back to look at Dakar bikes ... thats what they use) ... the rest is usually just bling - with a few exceptions. On my XC I have also added protectors under the footpegs, but thats because on this particular bike, the back brake mechanism and side stand attachment can and do get hit. But thats purely bike specific.
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Old 01-24-2013, 01:28 PM   #2
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A topic that deserves detailed, well thought out arguments backed up by real world experiences.

I've been having this discussion recently with folks who've put the 10 gallon IMS tank on their KLRs. I really don't want the added weight of crash bars, which I think will do little in the event of a crash. Still, I don't have the experiences to speak from, and certainly not the breadth of knowledge or experiences that Colebatch has.

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Old 01-24-2013, 01:34 PM   #3
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I think it depends why you want them. In my case I have a bike where the plastics are getting very hard to find in good shape and would cost a lot more to replace than a set of crashbars (89 Transalp) so if I have a low speed slide or drop they paid for themselves.
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Old 01-24-2013, 01:35 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by nck View Post
a topic that deserves detailed, well thought out arguments backed up by real world experiences.


"The universe is wider than our views of it." - Henry David Thoreau
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Old 01-24-2013, 01:38 PM   #5
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Other than for boxer engines, I've always thought of crash bars as protection for body panels/plastics. Dakar racers don't give a shit if they scratch their plastics. In fact if you look at most crash bars sold by TT, wunderlich, Altrider, SW motech, etc, they're designed to protect mostly plastic body panels. I think they're popular because most folks don't want to scratch up their bike and a small investment can prevent that. Have you priced replacement BMW body panels? I'll pay $300 for crash bars if it will save me $800 in plastic replacement.
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Old 01-24-2013, 01:40 PM   #6
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i have a set of well abused sw motechs on my klr and saved me from lots of money in broken cases and plastics and well worth the added weight ..

You will never get everyone on the same page some always no matter what have always felt less is more .. but i have put mine through hell and bike always rode home with only scratches on bar ends and crash bars ..

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Old 01-24-2013, 02:04 PM   #7
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It most certainly depends on the bike. New style KLR with plastic sides most definitely needs crash bars. I was on a ride with someone with a new KLR. He dropped the bike twice, once on both sides & broke the plastics on each side. It certainly needs a crash bar.

Narrow bikes, such as most singles with small gas tanks, won't be putting much down on the ground other than handlebars, footpegs & rear turn signals when you drop them. As such, a crash bar wouldn't add much protection.

Originally Posted by wayne_l View Post
i have a set of well abused sw motechs on my klr and saved me from lots of money in broken cases and plastics and well worth the added weight ..

You will never get everyone on the same page some always no matter what have always felt less is more .. but i have put mine through hell and bike always rode home with only scratches on bar ends and crash bars ..
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Old 01-24-2013, 02:04 PM   #8
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As mentioned already... depends on the bike. My R1200GSA absolutely needs them.... but then again it has these antiquated big ass jugs sticking out the sides.
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Old 01-24-2013, 02:05 PM   #9
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A few problems with the Dakar analogy:

  • Dakar bikes are designed for one thing, Dakar... not days/weeks/months/years of over loaded under maintained touring/adventure abuse.
  • More often than not the riders of a Dakar bike don't pay for damages, they could really care less if they destroy noncritical component. Pretty sure all of us have to pay for our own plastics, fairings, and cases.
  • Dakar bikes are not bounced off of rocks, stumps, curbs, and everything else that life throws at you day after day. They are bashed around in sand most of the time, while destructive, it doesn't match a stump at speed.
  • Dakar bikes have a chase car full of parts, mechanics, and tools. Plus they have a guaranteed ride home if they break something important "We" don't get that luxury, we sit where we lay until help arrives.

  • Don't get me wrong, they are a beast of their own kind, but the parallels don't really exist. But it would explain why kids are trying to turn Honda civics into drift

I can only speak from personal experience coming from sport bikes, but they do indeed work on the street. Look at stunt riders, many of them run a cage so when they drop the bike, they simply pick it up and go back to stunting. If I had one mounted on my 919, my case would not be rashed up. My handle bars simply sunk into the mud and my soft luggage compressed.

Besides, where else are you going to mount pegs, lights, tool bags/tubes, oil coolers, spare tubes, and all of the other farkle that abounds on this web site ;-)
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Old 01-24-2013, 02:10 PM   #10
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Have you considered that the Dakar racers have a backup team. If the bike is killed, bars or not, the rider gets picked up. For you or I it could be a long walk.
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Old 01-24-2013, 02:21 PM   #11
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Yep -- bike dependant, and you'll notice most Dakar bike don't have any luggage either ;-}

The bars on my 1050 Tiger saved some heartache a couple of times, and I don't mind the looks (basing an "argument" on something as subjective as appearence . . . . . not useful, IMO. Basing a personal decision on it? You bet!

My KLR w/IMS tank doesn't seem to need em, but if someone wants to run em, they might just get em home

We ride because we want to enjoy ourselves . . . . . my enjoyment doesn't need someone else's stamp of approval . . . . . .

I may be over-reacting to what could be the fashionable "my opinion is equal to a law of thermodynamics" style of discourse popularized on teh intertubes . . . if so, ?cue Emily Latella Voice? Never Mind.
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Old 01-24-2013, 02:38 PM   #12
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Glad for them on the past bikes (F650, R1150GS) and the new KTM.
Saved cylinders and gas tanks.
I find your lack of faith in the force disturbing.
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Old 01-24-2013, 03:07 PM   #13
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Sorry guys, "Dakar" is not all sand. It's rocky as hell in places. They don't have a chase car full of parts and are racing to win, so if they break, they lose a lot of time and don't. The analogy fits. If crash bars would help, they would use them.

Saving body parts from damage is another issue, and not what was being discussed initially. It's a valid discussion, but not what was being covered.

And older boxers, i.e., airheads crash pretty well. The later, non-peanut valve covers are tough.
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Old 01-24-2013, 03:12 PM   #14
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yes i have and had them on different bikes, sometimes effective, sometimes not.
same as a crash your atgatt, sometimes effective, sometimes not.



i still try to protect myself and bike.
sometimes the boss(wife) lol.
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Old 01-24-2013, 03:20 PM   #15
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IMO, it depends on where you ride and what the exposure conditions you ride in that could cause the most damage you your engine. Went down a couple of times where I am almost certain the engine damage would have stranded me in the middle of BFNowhere without the guards. It's a matter of comfort level rather than there being some statistic that shows a low level of damage without them. I don't shortchange on my PPE, and won't on some simple relatively inexpensive bike protection like crash bars, radiator guards, brake piston guard, etc. I really don't care that some dufus says we don't need it. But, that's just me.
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