Well on my vstrum they are accessory bars lol foot pegs and lights on there. and it all depend on the crash. I have seen them do great things. I am more a adv rider so they do help, but not always. Same as sliders on sport bike on and off track. They really can help but in few cases cause worse damage. But generally they help. Bar ends help if the bars hit the rght way, but thats never always the case so you where lucky to hit the right way and we cant use this as a explanation on how all these bikes will hit the ground unfortunately.My bike fell over after I connected a car in an intersection a few months ago. I have aftermarket bar end weights on the bike and these were the only things that were marked. There was absolutely no damage to the bike other than a bent gear lever where my toes got hooked underneath it as I fell over.
In my own experience crash bars are really only good for protecting plastics, if you go down hard they tend to bend or rotate and break the plastics anyway. On my GS1200 I had the full crash bar kit, but this more to stop the cylinder valve covers getting damaged if the bike went down as this would pretty much put pay to the ride immediately.
Spot on.....and having done a few hundred kilometres on some Aussie dirt roads I've concluded that the HS is not well suited. Better to stay on the tar....Those bars just take everything away from the bike that makes it appealing. This is not an adventure bike... it's a Hypermotard with bags and a taller screen. If you want to really go off road, buy a KLR650 or a DRZ400 for $6K and have a blast beating the crap out of it... not your $14K Ducati. I've been riding street and dirt for 25 years and I wouldn't risk taking by HS off road more than a short fire road to get to another real road. It's a fine street bike... nothing more.