The last-lap melee in this past weekend’s Daytona 200 was proof positive that it’s high time to require front brake lever guards on road race bikes.
Why this wasn’t done a long time ago is something I’ve wondered about for years. While Daytona’s spectacular finish-line crash (where Dane Westby’s bike had his front wheel lock up when he and Josh Herrin collided) is the most visible example of a crash caused by a rider having a front brake lever hit, it’s far from an uncommon occurrence.
For years road racers have been crashing when their bike’s front brake lever makes contact with another racer’s bike or body. In most instances a lever guard would have prevented these types of crashes.
Tradition is a hard thing to overcome. Adding safety equipment to a track is one thing, but changing the look of a racing motorcycle is quite another. I maintain that trick little carbon fiber bar guards would not detract from the traditional look of a sport bike. The benefits gained in safety would greatly outweigh any slight cosmetic difference.
One question that has been raised on the use of bar or lever guards is what happens when a rider goes down in a simple lowside. Will the bar guard cause an injury to a riders hand that normally wouldn’t without the guard? It’s possible, but bar guards have been used on dirt bikes for years without major issues. Properly engineered a bar guard might even protect riders’ hands and fingers during those times when the rider tries to hang on to the handlebars when their bike lowsides.
This is a simple fix to a major problem and I hope the sanctioning bodies will consider requiring bar guards in the near future. The addition of a guard just might prevent the kind of accident we saw in the 200 on Saturday.