Crash protectors (sometimes called “bobbins”, “bungs” or “mushrooms”) are bolted-on protrusions, engine casings, and crash bars, designed to minimize or eliminate damage to your faring, tank, and engine should you go down and your bike slide on the road.
The idea is that with the protectors installed, only they, the pegs, bar ends, and wheels are in contact with the road when the bike is on its side.
So long as it doesn’t collide with a roadside object, kerb, another vehicle, or flip over – your bike should take very little damage in medium to low-speed accidents
Best Motorcycle Crash Protector Reviews
Lets dive into what’s available on the market right now.
R&G Racing Cotton Reels
R&G’s Racing Cotton Reels double up as both crash protectors and paddock stand bobbins.
Their primary function is to give the paddock stand something to grip when doing rear maintenance, but when installed, they should also protect your swingarm from damage in a crash.
Depending on your model, the exhaust may still be in contact with the road though. They use the same nylon composite material as dedicated crash protectors which are designed to wear down slowly and not shatter on impact.
These are a great, inexpensive addition to your bike. They attach to dedicated points on your swingarm and have minimal visual impact. The option to easily use a paddock stand for maintenance is welcome – and the added swingarm protection is an added bonus. Recommended.
R&G make reels to fit just about every major manufacturer. Check out SportsBikeShop to get the right size for your bike.
- Dual purpose
- Not a complete solution
GB Racing Stock Engine Cover
This set of alternator, clutch, water pump, and timing covers comes ready to fit – without removing stock casings or gasket seals.
The fibreglass/nylon construction offers protection against abrasion and impact from drops and crashes and each panel is replaceable in the event of an accident.
Many crash protection solutions have a shiny, plastic finish that doesn’t do anything for the look of your bike. Thankfully, these are matte and don’t have that cheap, nasty look common with other competitor’s solutions.
These engine covers support many models from most major manufacturers. Check SportsBikeShop to see if covers for your bike are available. They have a fitment section with lots of specifics for individual models.
- Good impact and abrasion resistance
- Easy to install
- Not a cheap solution
R&G Racing Fork Protectors
Fork protectors, as the name suggests, protect the fork and caliper from making contact with the road in the case of a drop or fall. They do this by protruding beyond the distance covered by your existing spindle.
Most R&G Racing Fork Protectors mount straight into the hollow of the wheel spindle. Other solutions that thread onto the existing spindle nuts are available but not considered as effective.
These can be fitted at home and don’t require a paddock stand – a simple motorcycle tool kit do. R&G Racing make protectors for many models from most major, international motorcycle manufacturers. Check the list below for your model.
- Effective protection
- Some people think they’re ugly
SW Motech Crash Bars
These 22mm steel crash bars for BMWs offer excellent protection in a crash or drop. Mounting bolts are included, the process is simple and the visual impact on your bike minimal.
Once fitted, the most vulnerable areas of your bike are protected, including the engine case and radiator. Credit to SW here for making this crash protection look so much like part of the OEM fit-out
At the price, these provide excellent protection for those who want the protection of 3rd party engine casings, but dislike the way those solutions look when fitted. They’re powder-coated matte black too, so should look inconspicuous no matter the colour of your BMW.
Good equipment at a fair price (if BMW made these they could be triple the price).
- Decent, durable protection
- Minimal visual impact
R&G Aero/Classic Crash Protectors
These crash protectors come in an “Aero” version for more modern sports bikes and a “Classic” rounded version for older and more cruiser-type motorcycles. Both attach to the top engine mount, minimising damage in an accident or drop.
These protectors will fit a range of bikes without the need for any modification and their nylon composite bobbins and high tensile strength steel means they’ll bend and wear down slowly rather than snap off from impact.
The idea is that the bobbins take all the damage and gradually decrease the speed of your bike after you’ve lost control.
- Available for many bikes
- Tried-and-tested solution
- Some people (not us) think bobbins make it more likely that your bike will flip
Considerations and Buyer’s Guide
Why would you fit crash protectors?
Relatively minor falls can result in costs of 300 GBP or more if enough fairing is in contact with the ground in an accident. A cracked or broken engine casing takes your bike off the road and will be a costly and time-consuming repair.
When correctly installed, crash protectors prevent these kinds of accidents in low to medium speed, non-collision accidents.
Crash protectors often allow you to pick the bike up and ride away from low speed “put-downs”.
In the best-case scenario, you may need to replace only the protectors on the side of the bike that touched the ground. If they’re badly damaged enough or the scratched bobbins bother you, that is.
What are the drawbacks of crash protectors
There are a few potential negatives worth considering before you install crash protectors:
Some people love the way their bike rolled off the factory line and don’t want to go bolting on extra objects, distorting the lines and curves the designers had in mind.
Most popular models from the big-name manufacturers are compatible with various crash protection systems. This helps to mitigate the aesthetic concern but brings up another drawback.
If your bike is not listed as compatible with any crash protection system, installing one may require you to modify parts of your frame and fairing.
Drilling holes and modding original parts of a bike is not something everyone is comfortable with although it can be done discreetly and cleanly by skilled garden shed enthusiasts and professionals alike.
Speak to your mechanic about options if there’s no commercially available crash protection system for your bike.
Some people will tell you that crash protectors make your bike more likely to flip in the case of an accident. The idea is that because they stick out, they’re prone to catching and causing the bike to flip over when it otherwise might have slid along the ground.
Flips can be pretty catastrophic to your bike’s health, so we can see why people would be concerned. But MotoGP riders don’t use crash protectors and they flip their bikes plenty.
The connecting factor when it comes to bike flipping seems to have more to do with high speed in risky situations and collision with low objects than the presence of crash protectors.
Nothing beats riding safely for staying safe!
Damaged fairing from a minor fall will cost you and could end your day’s ride – even when you walk away injury free. A cracked engine casing takes you off the road ten times out of ten and is even more expensive to fix.
Crash protectors offer decent protection against the almost inevitable drops and minor crashes your bike will experience. Crash bars (depending on their construction) can also offer some safety benefits to the rider too, preventing the bike from crushing their leg in an accident.
If they can be easily fitted on your bike and their looks don’t bother you, we see no reason not to install at least an inexpensive set of crash protectors. It could save you hundreds of pounds in repair fees.