Sep 27, 2007

Mailbag #16: Leg guards guard what?

Caughtilya-Rearset Stamp 1Hi Rearset,

I remember sometime back you posted abt why you think crashguards are no good. ( or was it the opposite ?)

Anyway , you never published the reasons why you thought crashguards are unnecessary or even detrimental.

My experience with crashes is that bikes always fall in the handlebar (widest part of a bike), footpegs and rear indicators , the silencer/rear foorpegs. So most of the impact is borne by the handlebar and muffler usually, indicators bend/break away ....the crashguard then comes in second, in preventing damage to bike as handlebars have already done most of it.

And when you crash you generally fall off and away from the bike so the crashguard doesn't help the rider ( so called protect the riders leg from getting crushed ). Anyway if you hold on the bike, chances are your knee might get saved/get less damaged by the crashguard but your hips will get hurt ,since the bike will fall on you( and the hip will take the impact).I'd say its better to leave the bike (mostly ) when you crash - and learn how to fall ! Racers leave the bike , maybe they do it deliberately too.

And I have heard that the crashguard may cause the frame to get damaged as the guard is mounted in the downtubes and the impact may transfer forces to the frame and damage it.

So what do you say - are these the reasons you think crashguards are unnecessary?

Rahul Patil

Hero Honda Glamour FII haven't touched upon crash bars so far because they invariably generate heated debates, which then turn personal... and so forth. But yes, in theory, I don't think they add any value, unless the engine sticks out where it can get hurt. Everything I have read over the years (the links I can find right now are this (see #39), this, this and this) says the the crash bars were designed to protect the engine and not the rider. BMWs and Goldwings make very obvious cases, because you can see that the factory guards wrap around the engine closely, ignoring the rider completely. I have also seen a 140+ kph on a crash bar equipped Yamaha Royal Star that left the engine completely undamaged.

I've been riding now for more than 12 years (I think) and none of my bikes, owned, mooched, borrowed or otherwise, have had 'leg guards.' Having crashed a fair number of these, I can confidently state that having leg guards, or not, makes little difference to your injuries. At least in terms of preventing or mitigating them.

If you're low siding – most common crash in our situation – you simple slide away from the motorcycle. If you are smart enough to be dressed right, you can usually pick yourself up and resume normal operation. I have seen a few proper crashes (I haven't had any... touch wood), where the crash guard produced two clear results. Cheap crash guards made from light metals, usually fold horribly, in two cases, the giant wraparound style Bullet/Shogun guard folded in around the poor riders legs. Both didn't break their legs in the process, but were bound to the motorcycles, and needed some serious help before they could limp away. The other ones, are more expensive because they are made of harder, thicker metal. These are even worse. They won't bend, but if by chance, they are stronger than the motorcycles' chasses, they will bend your motorcycle instead, which, no matter how you look at it, is not a positive outcome.

What you're saying is right. Take a bike with an empty-ish fuel tank, wheel into some grass or onto a carpet and lay it down. You will notice that the points of contact are the handlebar ends, clutch/brake levers, rear indicator, rider footpegs and the silencer (on that side of the bike). Adding or removing crash guards does very little to change this unless you have a really wide one. If you can contort yourself into the riding position on the fallen bike, you will also note that your foot is not getting crushed, has space to move around. And once more, had you dressed for the occasion, you will see that the padded areas of your jacket and riding pants are ready to absorb most of the impact. The Bullet being the exception to all of this. That motorcycle, I am convinced, actively tries to break your leg in a crash, no matter what you do – I've heard enough stories to be convinced.

The new bikes, like the 220, have much more subtle guards, which I know from experience bend and absorb impacts that might rupture the oil-cooler or damage cooling fins on the engine. They're too small to involve any measure of leg protection.

That said, motorcyclists tend to be a bit superstitious. If you've had a crash, walked away with no injuries on your legs, noticed a badly mangled crash guard, your brain will tell you it works. If it makes you more comfortable, use them. I don't like them, so I don't. Also, I am given to understand that Indian law requires a saree guard, but not a leg guard, but I have not verified that claim.

Related links

8 comments:

Revhard said...

I used to think that crashbars are legally mandatory, until the Karizma went on sale without 'em.

Anyway - I never felt the need for one ( have a Karizma ) , and the 220's seems to exist for formality, haven't crashed the 220 yet ( touchwood ) so can't comment on the saving of oil cooler by the crashbar.

thanks for the links, will read them ...

Deaths Head Roy said...

Not sure that we are required by law to have saree guards...

arunesh said...

Crashguards do fragg-all for saving yr legs. They are a mass-conditioned social habit from 60 years of our fathers and grandfathers riding scooters.
Something about a bike makes the oldies look for screening to stop the wind up their pyjamas.
From Experience, I say leg guards suck. I am 58kg, my bike is bout 120kg. When i hit or crash, the bike stays more or less where it is and falls over, it is I who goes flying off. Adding a leg guard is just something that will break my leg before the road does. I should know, I have a metal rod in one shin. Secondly, all of you who have done a bit of off-road biking, know that your foot slips off the pegs sometimes. This is when it gets tangled up in between the leg guard and peg when you try and bring it up.

Saager Mhatre said...

Lowslid my Avenger just this morning. First to contact the asphalt was the Highway bar (i'm assuming that's what you're calling the leg guard), then the muffler cover. Minor scratches, though not very pretty considering the bikes just 3 months old. :'(
I think they make sense on the Avenger.

theslayer said...

I crashed my 220. Handlebar, clutch lever and the crash guard had paint scraped off them. Like you said I immediately assumed that the crash guard had saved the fairing. Hmmm...

@saagar_mhatre: Feel any difference between your ride and the Avenger 200? Do tell us :D

JulianPaul said...

quote :

"Also, I am given to understand that Indian law requires a saree guard, but not a leg guard, but I have not verified that claim."

you mean, my spanking new R1 from Yamaha Motors India Ltd. is gonna have a frigging saree guard ??

now THAT'S a developed country.

Saager Mhatre said...

@theslayer
I'm actually looking for someone with an Avenger 200. Although, I doubt I'd feel any of the difference in torque/throttle-response at 'city-speeds'.

But, the accesories seem interesting, esp the fuel guage. I mean, in this day and age you'd figure that would be standard in ANY bike! But, NOOO, the 180 wasn't privileged enough.

What bummed me out the most is that I bought my 180 just 3 months ago at about the same price as they are offering the 200!!! I even asked the dealer if Bajaj was coming up with new cruisers and they said, 'No'! Duh!!!

I'll be sure to ping you once I get my hands on one.

@rearset
Off topic, but I was wondering if you could point me to a good (technical) comparison of (most) bikes out in the market today. I've been 'mooching' rides on some of my friends wheels (Pulsar 150, RTR 160, Thunderbird, Unicorn), but wanted a more formal head-to-head analysis.

For instance, I liked the smoothpower curve on the RTR 160, but was left wanting throttle response. Then again, after a 180 DTS-i with TRICS III, the throttle response on everything seems sluggish, even the Unicorn. Although I really liked the Unicorn's transmission; it felt supremely smooth, notwithstanding the fact that the bike was seriously overdue for servicing.

BTW, goes without saying, your blog's quite the reference resource. This feed's a permanent on my reader.

Anonymous said...

I crashed on Monday and i think that Leg guards are quite necessary. When i skidded (while cornering- :p..actually the road had a bit of baaloo :D) my bike and i went down but thankdully both were saved and scratches came only on the leg gaurd and not on the indicator or the front fairing or the pegs. If the leg gaurd was not there the bike would have been damaged and maybe my leg could have also got scratched more seriously!!! It is really necessary and everyone should have one installed on their bike (though the Rx shogun type are dangerous..they bend pretty easily )