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WRB's: We don't like them, but are they as bad as we think?

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by robsalvv, Jul 26, 2010.

  1. The other day while driving towards Gippsland on the Princes Hwy, I came across a hapless ute that was hung up on WRB's.




    It seemed to be a glancing blow into the WRB based on the isolated damage to the front right and the trail of flattened staunchions that you can see in this pic:


    The end result being a car saved from falling down the embankment into the trees and two wheels getting hooked up in the ropes.

    I'm not a fan of WRB's, but after seeing this closely two things came to mind: thank goodness this wasn't a motorbike and also, the damage wasn't as much as I thought it would have been. We can all speculate what happened, that's NOT what this thread is about. I wanted to share what I saw and see what discussion it kicks off.

    So, what do you guys think?
  2. I'm in two minds about 'em.

    I've heard all the gruesome stories about the "cheesegraters" doing terrible things to riders (though not seen anything "in print", so to speak), and they do seem likely to cause more damage due to concentrating the force over three much smaller surface areas.

    On the other hand, I've heard plenty of gruesome stories (and seen some "in print") about what happens when a rider hits an armco barrier, particularly the staunchions which hold the barriers up. Those stories aren't particularly pretty either, usually resulting in death or significant damage to the spine.

    Both of these are based on pretty much anecdotal/rumourmill levels of evidence, which is usually pretty useless for accuracy.

    Or in summary: I tend to think that this is a situation like the mythology surrounding steelcap boots being more dangerous than barefoot. Maybe there are situations where WRBs will cause tremendous damage to the human body. But then, are the alternatives (eg: armco staunchions) any better?

    If anyone's found proper literature which demonstrates one way or another, I'd be interested.
  3. i'll have a search, but there was a study done which shows the difference between armco, WRB and concrete barriers. I do believe it is actually on here. Basically the wrb can throw you head first due to catapulting into the ground, the double armco was not so bad, but the concrete appeared to be the safest option.
  4. They are designed to stop sedans, so vehicles in that weight range you would hope it would work for.
    There complete lack of value for trucks is one issue.
    The other thing that I can note from your pics, is that for higher vehicles, it looks like the CoG is above the top wire which leads me to wonder how close it came to a roll over.
    They are very informative pics.
  5. There's enough "give" in the wires to absorb some of the energy so while it's not nice - you won't be sliced into bits... In fact there is no "cheesecutter" effect since it's not the wires but the posts that do the real damage. The wires effectively guide you nicely into narrow sharp posts which can cause quite serious damage.

    If the armco goes right to the ground then it's not a bad option but if there's a gap beneath the lowest armco rail and the ground then you may be in trouble if you slide into it.

    That's why some of the motorcycle treatments being trialled consist of padding round the posts - and an underneath "rub-rail" for armco.

    Concrete (providing you hit it at an angle) is definitely the best option for bikes, unfortunately it's extremely expensive.
  6. No, I don't think they are as bad as we all make out.

    If you were to hit a WRB with enough speed/force to be decapitated, anything you hit is going to mess you up to the point where you probably won't survive.

    (I am basing this solely on the episode of Mythbusters where they tried to slice a pig in half with a single strand of steel cable. The force required was staggering. Unfortunately, that's about as close as it get's to definitive research on the subject that I've seen.)

    If you don't hit anything, there won't be much left by the time you've finished sliding down the road.

    Of course, that's assuming they do actually arrest your movement.
  7. Whether you crash into ARMCO barrier or WRB wire fence on a motorbike you're going to be ****ed up, so I don't understand all this bitching about what degree of ****ed up you're going to be. If you're going to hit that wire fence fast enough to be sliced up by it, and hit armco at the same speed, the difference will be the type of injury, each will be as severe and long lasting as the other.
  8. smokae, other factors apply. If your front wheel gets tangled up you'll be doing an unintended stoppie. Head first into the ground with the acceleration of the back of the bike propelling you downwards. Armco and Concrete will not do that.
  9. Let us be clear on a few Facts of a collision here.
    It would take a very peculiar set of circumstances to have you strike a barrier at right angles. Commonly (As you can see in robs pics) you strike at a very fine angle, and you’re deflected along the line of travel so the barrier doesn’t cause you to decelerate rapidly.
    If on the other hand there are breaks in the barrier (Like a single Armco or WRBs) you go under the deflection barrier and then strike the posts at right angle to your line of travel causing all of your velocity to be arrested almost instantaneously.
    There is a HUGE difference in the damage done.
    So Smokae, once you put all of that into your thinking can you still hold the same stance?
  10. ISTR hearing, a few (maybe ~5) years ago, that the European riders' lobby groups were backing off on their WRB campaigns because hard evidence was emerging that, in practice, they're no worse than the Armco which many were replacing. I don't have a reference and can't go looking right now, but a trawl of the FEM website might turn something up.

    Personally, I don't like 'em very much, but roadsides are so well provided with scary things to hit that aren't WRBs, I've never lost much sleep over it.

  11. best option for stopping the bike or rider? I wouldnt like to slam my body into a concrete barrier 8-[
  12. If you hit at an angle (as you will 99.9% of the time) you slide along the face of relatively smooth concrete. This is a far better option than hitting a post on a WRB or going under the armco.

    Ask anyone who used to race at the old Adelaide International Raceway. The concrete "bowl" looked scary but if someone came off they would merely slide along it. Provided your gear held up to the slide then you came off pretty well unscathed.
  13. You're not running head-on into a road-side barrier in almost all crashes. If you hit the concrete barrier at a glancing angle, as is more typical, you just slide along it without hitting objects (stanchions) that decelerate you instantly.

    If you've ever come off your bike at the racetrack, or watch bike racing when people crash, simply sliding along until you come to a stop is fairly safe so long as the leathers hold together. Armco (without under rub-rails) and WRB's both have stanchions for the rider's body to impact with. Concrete barriers do not.
  14. This WRB is now damaged. The posts will need to be replaced and wires re-tensioned or replaced.

    How much does this cost compared to running double row armco as a capital cost and the minimal damage that it may incur following a similar impact?
  15. If Armco gets hit it's a throw away item and if the posts get damaged they've got to be dug out and replaced as well.

    WRB's only need to replace the plastic posts & retension the cables.

    WRB's are cheaper to repair per metre than Armco style railing.
  16. Nothing plastic about those posts.
  17. i don't understand why they just don't have drop in plastic lower portions that lops around the post at either end and hang it off the wire, pretty easy replace after an accident, covers both cars and bike
  18. #18 DRMAT, Jul 26, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2015
    True... but armco and concrete barriers also bounce out of control vehicles back on to the road. AFAIK the point of WRB was the stanchions break away so the vehicle is hugged/partially enveloped by the wire to stop it bouncing back into traffic. Doubt i'd find the video but when they were first introducing WRBs weren't they designed more for trucks? I'm positive i've seen test footage of trucks hitting them and being slowed and prevented from crossing over or bouncing back into traffic. I'd look but internet is capped atm :(

    Here's one... takes too long to load for others, but better a truck being absorbed like that than immediately bouncing back into other cars, going straight through armco or jumping concrete barrier into oncoming traffic.
  19. All the WRB's going up around here have been big ass rectangular steel posts painted either green or white, with only 2 or 3 wires up top, easy to imagine a limb being torn of by the posts.
    Though in most of these locatins I don't think there's enough room for any other barrier to go up.
    Not going to do jack for the trucks that often use the roads either...

    I wonder if plastic "plates" hooked onto the wires would work. Could create a larger surface to absorb the impact/stop us from tangleing up in the wires and posts... and have some of the hinges engineered to brake when the force of a car or truck hits, alowing the wires to work as normal.
  20. @ DRMAT - The people killed by trucks going straight through the WRB might disagree. It has happened in NSW, and 4 people died in NZ(Auckland) when one went straight through after hitting at a shallow angle iirc.

    Trucks are to heavy to be restrained this way, ARMCO might of had a slim chance to divert the truck out of incoming traffic, Concrete would of. That being said WRB Will allow a travel of 2-3 meters(Directly away from the barrier) if a suv hits it hard enough at 30 degrees.