Installing the crash bars, headlight guard and skid plate

Well, it has been a very productive week and weekend! Unfortunately that means that I am now behind in keeping the blog up to date, there’s a lot to write about; I will do it on separate posts. First one:

A couple of weekends ago I got down to installing the crash bars, headlight guard and skid plate, which I had not had time to install when I did the panniers and GPS mount. I had seen some people have trouble aligning the mounting points with the chassis on YouTube tutorials, but I am happy to say I had absolutely no problem. The only setback came from the long screw that goes from one side of the chassis to the other and supports the engine block. The crash bars that were installed on the bike when I bought it second hand were the original Suzuki ones, and they are attached to that screw. I imagine that when you buy them the mounting kit includes a longer screw that enables you to attach them. I removed the crash bars and saw that with separator washers the screw had enough thread in it to stay in place effectively, so I thought I would have no problems installing the Hepco & Becker bars, which attach to different mounting points. However, they partially cover the recess on the chassis where this screw is located, and because the longer screw I had in my bike protruded out of the chassis, it was impossible to fit them.

So, a week later and having purchased the original screw from a Suzuki dealer I was able to fit the bars without any problems. They offer far greater protection than the original ones, are thicker and look cooler.

The problem came, however, when I had to install the skid plate. Adventure MotoStuff had supplied it with a mounting kit for the Hepco & Becker crash bars, but from what I could gather from the pictures, Hepco & Becker had discontinued the bars for the pre-2012 V-Strom and developed new ones for the new model. Since both bikes have the same chassis  the bars will also fit the older ones, and these are the bars that I had bought. However, AdventureMotoStuff had sent me the kit for the older model, which has a lower crossbar, so the mounting brackets were about 100 mm too low.

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Now, on a previous post I made positive comments about this company’s customer service, when I was trying to decided which combination of crash bars and skid plate to use I wrote to them and they replied promptly with clear and useful information. I am afraid that I will have to withdraw those comments now… I sent them an email explaining the problem I had and including some pictures for reference, inquiring whether they manufactured mounting brackets for the new bars or not. That was two weeks ago. I am still awaiting their reply.

Seeing I was not going to get any help from them, I bought an aluminium bar and built my own extension to fit the skid plate. Here’s the result:

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It is a lot more solid than it looks or than I expected it to be, so I am quite optimistic that it will work without problems during the trip.

Finally, I fit the headlight guard. The V-Strom has enormous headlights and they are very exposed to small stones flying from the road or even small falls, so I decided this was a must. However, with such big headlights the mesh I had to fit was enormous, unlike the more discreet protectors for, say, a GS. Even so, once fitted it looks better than I expected.

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Adventure MotoStuff engine guard

I received my engine guard today! I had checked out a lot of different models (see this list – in Spanish) but in the end the only one that I found convincing was the one manufactured in the USA by Adventure MotoStuff.

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All the other options had some shortcomings – they were too narrow at the top and exposed part of the oil radiator; they requiered the oil radiator to be moved to a higher position; they had exposed screws at the bottom; they had access holes at the bottom (handy for servicing the bike, but leaves some parts more exposed); they were build of different parts screwed or welded together, some of them being too thin; etc.

The Adventure MotoStuff one is made of one thick, solid piece of metal, it covers the oil radiator, can be attached to the Hepco & Becker crash bars I already have and has a perfectly clean underside, withouth protruding bolts or screws. The mounting bracket also looks very sturdy.

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It took about a week and a half to arrive, and my only complaint is that I had to pay import VAT, which had never happened before with anything else I had ordered online. I guess this time I was unlucky and the parcel was inspected at the border.

Customer service at Adventure MotoStuff was great, I emailed them some questions and they replied promptly with clear and useful answers.