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Stupid Usability #106

"Crash Bars - As Advertised"

Written By: Joel Baglien
Posted: 6/29/2015

From the mind of Joel Baglien, VP of Business Growth at High Monkey:

I've been an avid motorcyclist for a lot of years.  My tastes run toward sport bikes and sport touring bikes.  I've noticed that a lot of my riding brethren on heavyweight cruiser bikes (think Harley, Victory, Star, Indian, etc.) sport a pair of chrome "crash bars" attached to their bike's frame - usually just in front of the engine.

In theory, or at least when used as intended, these chrome tubes are supposed to protect a rider in the event of a tip over or a "lowside" (sliding) crash.   Some important facts for you to know:
A "lowside" crash is where the bike slides out from under the rider. Lowsides are usually survivable with less damage to body and machine.
A "highside" crash launches the rider off the bike.  Highsides are much worse due to gravity bringing the rider back to earth in a violent manner.  Often the bike will flip over a few times resulting in catastrophic damage.
In the photo below, the rider (and his passenger) are in the early stage of a crash caused, ironically, by their crash bars.  In the realm of stupid usability, is the name "crash bar" a self-fulfilling prophecy or is something else going on?  If you look closely at the photo, you will see that the rear tire is being lifted off the pavement.  The crash bar is acting like a fulcrum with the rider's body weight acting as the lever.  There is a very real risk that when the rear tire comes back into contact with the road surface, it will lurch the bike hard to the left and turn what looks like a lowside crash into a highside crash.  Unfortunately I don't have a photo of the next few seconds of the crash.  Lowside or highside, the driver and passenger on this bike left some skin on the ground.

So, if crash bars are the motorcycle equivalent of stupid usability, what is the alternative?  They are called framesliders.

Framesliders can be bolted to the frame of a motorcycle at several places near the engine, exhaust system, and rear swingarm.  In a lowside crash, a frameslider doesn't contact the ground until AFTER the bike slides clear of the rider and/or passenger.  Since there is no fulcrum and lever action, the damage to the bike and it's bodywork is minimal.  Lowside crash damage to persons on the ground is usually limited to bruises and minor abrasions - assuming they are wearing body armor, helmets, and gloves and don't collide with a stationary object.

Framesliders are to good usability what the crash bars are to stupid usability.  Given a choice, don't choose stupid usability.

Chad's Bio Coming Soon!

More About Virgil

Virgil Carroll is the owner and president of High Monkey – based in Minneapolis Minnesota. Virgil also wears the multiple ‘hats’ of Principle Human Solutions Architect and SharePoint Architect.

Virgil is one of those rare individuals who can dive deep into technical topics while speaking clearly to the business owners of a project and never forgetting that the end user experience has the highest priority. He calls it using both sides of his brain. Virgil is passionate about leveraging technologies ‘out of the box’ as much as possible with a focus on the strategic use of content to create websites that deliver the right content to the right audience on the right device at the right time. Virgil brings high energy, an ironic wit, and a sense of grounded perspective whenever he speaks to an audience. Virgil regularly speaks at conferences and user groups throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe.

Posted: 6/29/2015 12:00:00 AM by Brian Haukos | with 0 comments