Ready to take your big, heavy motorcycle off-road? Not so fast! Even a simple, low-speed crash is capably of damaging it irrevocably. Luckily, there’s an abundance of effective crash protection available in the aftermarket. Here’s the parts you need and how to fit them.
Adventure riding is a fantastic way to be on two wheels. ADV bikes allow us to smash miles and carry loads (and passengers) in great comfort and ease, while large displacement engines, long travel suspension, and controllable engine, traction and abs characteristics allow us to tailor our bikes to the application. The bikes can be sporting and are agile, despite their heft and geometry, provide a commanding view of traffic in town, and well, they’re big bore twins, for the most part. Stonking torque means lots of grins and deeply offended Audi drivers.
For some, the appeal is high mile on-road touring on a comfy bike, and OEMs tend to focus on that group, forgoing crash protection on standard models to keep MSRPs appealing, sometimes offering (some) improved off-road equipment on more dirt-focussed models. The road-going folks probably won’t be looking for protection from flying rocks and sharp boulders that can perforate a crank case. For those riders, an OEM accessory crash bar or basic crash bobbins are an adequate choice.
3KG difference in dry weights. 214 for my buddy Chris’ Scrambler, 217 for my 1190 Adventure, and probably the most roadworthy bikes to ever get to this little gem overlooking Kootenay Lake.
For those of us with off-road ambitions, well, we need a little more. Stout skidplates to protect our engines, upper crash bars to keep fuel tanks and body work out of harm’s way, and some gravel-resistant lighting may be in order as well. Going off the beaten path means preparing ourselves and our machines for the worst, and combining high quality OEM accessories with aftermarket upgrades to keep our machines safe and give us piece of mind.
Touratech has a fantastic range of adventure-ready products for the big adventure bikes, and my 1190 was ripe for some extra protection. I added Touratech’s upper crash bars, along with a lexan headlight protector to keep rock impacts from turning a late night ride from awesome to awful.
I started with the headlight guard for a warm-up install. When getting things in the mail from afar, the best first step is to remove and lay out all of the components of your package, first, to make sure everything is there, and second, to make sure you didn’t drop one of those little plastic bags behind the work surface in your garage. Once everything is out and organised, count your parts to match the instructions, then get to work removing anything you need to remove.
Laying out parts before assembly helps you stay organised, and keeps you from wishing you knew where that last nylock nut went.
For the headlight guard, that meant removing the two screws that hold the front of the fairing infill to the headlight mount on the bike, simply remove the screws ( I like using T-handles for this, they’re like a screwdriver with better leverage), then simply attach your headlight guard mount to the front fairing.
Removing the stock screw from the fairing infill with a T-handle. I have Motion Pro 1/4″ and 3/8″ drives with a detachable head.
I especially like to use Loctite in these low-torque applications, bikes can be vibey and things can shake loose going down the road.
Screws, washers and spacers in place. It’s a lot less fiddly to do this on the bench than try to arrange everything one-handed while you’re standing in front of the bike.
Run the bolts in, torque them to spec, and attach your headlight guard. Not today, rocks trying to ruin that expensive LED headlight.
Next up, upper crash bars. The body panels on the 1190s aren’t cheap, and I’m short in the inseam (29 inches on a good day) so having something to protect my fuel tank and plastics is a great bit of reassurance if I’m riding steep, rocky terrain and the like. Same procedure for unboxing, put like with like, and arrange your parts separately for each side.
OEM accessory crash bars that were fitted to this KTM when I bought it are great, but offer zero coverage above the engine!
Touratech provides some stainless bolsters to mount your upper bars onto, they’re laser cut from a little tube, so use some side cutters to remove and deburr them before fixing them to the bike, otherwise you’ll scratch your expensive lower crash bars.
Doing this solo might leave you wishing for an extra hand, but it’s manageable, just be patient. Start at the front and work your way back, and only hand tighten the fasteners to start, as you’ll want some wiggle room to get everything lined up later. The fasteners for the crash bars all come with nice nylock nuts, so you don’t need to worry about using Loctite here. Repeat the process on the other side, then move to the middle of the bike, just in front of the radiator, and snug those up by hand as well. Get everything just the way you like it and tighten down either side of the crash bars before finishing in the centre.
Wrap the stainless sleeve around your crash bar, then, guide the bar into place, slide the bolt through the bar and backing plate, then hand tighten for now, so you have some wiggle room to align everything later.
Repeat the process on the other side, ensuring that you’re not contacting the fairing when mounting is complete
All is square and torqued to Touratech Specification. Time to ride! (Or, if you’re like me, wait six months until your alley isn’t 10cm deep in ice, then ride!)
Admire your bike briefly, then, gear up and take it for a good flog around the neighbourhood. Recheck all of your fasteners after the first ride, and enjoy.
Picture: Schedi, R./KTM