We'll All Drop It One Day
There are a lot of bikes with stunning looks out there, and 99.99% of the guys who own a motorbike would rather see it unchanged, if not bettered. There might be some motorcyclists who couldn't care less for the way their two-wheelers look, but they're so few.
I simply refuse to believe that there are guys who haven't dropped their bikes at least once on each side... or at least they're unbelievably hard to come by. As far as laying a bike down, some old guy's words still keep on ringing in my mind, “there are riders who have spilled and there are riders who haven't spilled... yet.”
Funny thing is that this saying goes for pretty much every kind of motorcyclist, no matter whether you're thinking that indeed offroaders fall more often than the guys riding sportsbikes. They'll all lay it down sooner or later... preferably sooner, I'd say.
Why sooner? Well, it may be only a supposition, but so far, it tends to work pretty much each time. In most cases, newbies tend to ride slowly and their instincts have little to no training, while being prone to make all sorts of errors. Some of these mistakes will end up with a dropped bike or even a crash, in less fortunate conditions. Nevertheless, in case said noobs aren't low-fliers, the crashes have minor consequences, and the bikes' fairing and personal ego are the ones that suffer the most.
Yet, I believe it's exactly these minor events that teach new riders some of the most important lessons, as this is usually their first personal contact they make with riding in the real life. They start to realize that things are far more serious than the romanticized image they've projected in their own minds.
Even more, these fresh motorcyclists begin to understand that getting a leg caught underneath the dropped bike is no fun at all, while a broken limb in such circumstances is the last thing they could wish for. And from this point on, experience starts accumulating.
Now, when it comes to dropping any bike... nobody is happy to see broken plastic and bent metal with dents and chips in the shiny chrome finish. And if broken fairings and the like are of lesser importance after a serious crash (with the health of the rider and passenger being paramount), looking at the messed-up bike after dropping it in the parking lot can be really frustrating.
But it's for such scenarios crashbars and crashpads have been invented and sold throughout the world. Some of these contraptions sport a casual look, while some can definitely make your machine look meaner and, by all means, better. And guess what? They'll also do a marvelous job keeping your plastics in one piece or even protecting important parts of the bike against critical damage.
If you take a look at the BMW R1100/ 1150/ 1200 GS series, or at the 990 Adventure KTMs (and many more bikes), having your cylinders (Beemers) or fuel tanks (KTM990 Adv) protected from impact with the ground is a neat thing for sure. In some cases, crashbars can come in as a somewhat expensive investment, but if you just take a look at the spare parts catalog, their price will instantly seem cheap.
Even sportsbikes can be equipped with crashpads which prevent the fairing from touching the ground when dropped. Depending on the specific circumstances of the drop/ crash, these pads can act like a pivoting point and, sometimes, have your bike spinning around on the road; but even so, it's better than spinning on the fairing/ engine parts!
It's the same with the bar ends which extend the outer portion of the handlebar, protecting the grips and adding some distance between the ground and clutch/ brake lever. Both crashpads and bar ends come in numerous shapes, designs and colors, some in aluminum, some in high-tech plastic so riders can choose the ones which suit their bikes best and play the tuning game a bit.
Now, what makes me wonder is the type of rider who simply refuses to add some external protection elements to the bike because of the “negative impact on the bike's look.” I've met these guys, and you've met them, too. Far from smiling and forwarding the (rather nasty) “told you so” phrase as they drop their bikes and sigh at the sight, it's about some sort of common sense, if you ask me.
I can understand the purists, but they should also think that repair bills with high totals can also occur after a simple drop in the parking lot. And finding some crash-protection which goes well with the bike isn't THAT hard: it will look good, and it will keep your bike looking good after you drop it. No crashpads available for ego, unfortunately!
Ride on, ride safe!