Crash bars - useless?

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by bastimentos, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. bastimentos

    bastimentos Been here awhile

    Jul 13, 2011
    Ticino, Switzerland
    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.


  2. NCK

    NCK Been here awhile

    May 17, 2010
    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.

  3. AppFan

    AppFan Been here awhile

    Apr 29, 2007
    Concord NC
    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.
  4. Blue Mule

    Blue Mule Persistent Slacker

    Sep 10, 2011
    The Land of Cheese and Beer
  5. Hikertrash

    Hikertrash Wasted Rock Ranger

    Aug 19, 2011
    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.
  6. wayne_l

    wayne_l Been here awhile

    Aug 30, 2012
    meadow lakes
    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 ..

  7. C/W

    C/W Adventurer

    Jun 27, 2012
    San Francisco, CA
    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.

  8. mrt10x

    mrt10x Dumba$s Jarhead

    Aug 27, 2008
    Woodland Park, CO
    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.
  9. Jnich77

    Jnich77 Been here awhile

    Aug 22, 2012
    Orlando Fl
    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 ;-)
  10. k1w1t1m

    k1w1t1m Kiwi

    Oct 10, 2010
    NW Arkansas
    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.
  11. bomber60015

    bomber60015 tikkun olam

    Sep 11, 2008
    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.

    DADODIRT Long timer

    Jun 25, 2004
    Durango,CO(not quite Purgatory)
    Glad for them on the past bikes (F650, R1150GS) and the new KTM.
    Saved cylinders and gas tanks.
  13. chollo9

    chollo9 Screwed the Pooch

    Jul 7, 2003
    Silk Hope, NC
    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.
  14. fallingoff

    fallingoff Banned

    Jun 11, 2011
    syd oz
    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.
  15. VStromTom

    VStromTom Long timer

    Aug 26, 2004
    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.
  16. Mikehusa

    Mikehusa Been here awhile

    Jul 28, 2012
    Bellefonte, PA
    My Holan crash bars absolutely protect my 800XC, especially the plastic tank shrouds. I use them a lot offroad. Not to say I would crack a case if i didn't have them but I like the extra protection. I sand and paint them regularly and to think if I was replacing tank shrouds and side covers as often makes me cringe. In tough situations I use them to pivot my bike around on. I chose them specifically because of where they mount to the engine. I am NOT an engineer but used common sense when making my decision.
  17. Craneguy

    Craneguy British Hooligan

    Apr 29, 2011
    Cuernavaca, Mx, Gloucester, UK
    They've saved my plastic several times, and are a convenient place to hang my aux lights and Contour camera. Will soon be holding a pair of highway pegs too.

    Weight is a non issue for touring bikes I think, considering the amount of crap we pile on as "luggage"

    If you're a minimalist who doesn't care about scratches...leave 'em off.
  18. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

    Nov 11, 2005
    Gold Coast
    Useless in a crash, probably yes in many circumstances.

    But I ride a DL 650 off road, it's a big fat top heavy pig. My 'crashes' would best be described as low speed topples, they work just fine there.

    The dirt bikes I used to ride were a lot more crashable, yeah, plastics got scuffed, but they were narrower a LOT lighter and things were tucked in a lot more.

    And comparing a Dakar bike with a fat-pig adventure bike is laughable in every way, the pigs will generally benefit from crash bars, the Dakar bikes not so much - though, look closely, you'll often see an extra loop of metal tucked away those as well - common under the radiator shrouds.

  19. ParaMud

    ParaMud Been here awhile

    Jun 8, 2008
    Orange, CA
    KLR: Protect the radiator and it's components. Thats it.
  20. jon_l

    jon_l Long timer

    Feb 8, 2008
    Collingwood, Ontario
    SW Motech crash bars make me feel more secure on my CBF1000.


    I doubt in a crash at speed they would save the day, but a low speed or parking lot drop they could save a love of damage. Plus I'm hoping to figure a way to add highway pegs.


    Port of Collingwood