What does your riding partner hear in their headset when you drop your bike? I think it’s safe to say it is not “Oh, gosh!” I know what I say, and I remember it well because I say the same word every time. I have dropped the Ultimate Motorcycling Yamaha Ténéré 700 Project Bike at least 10 times on the trail since I picked it up from Yamaha in August. Without crash bars, I know there would have been damage. Well-designed crash bars protect the expensive parts that can break or be broken, even in a simple tip-over. In more severe accidents, your crash bars should bend before your engine, gas tank, or radiator gets damaged.
Unfortunately, all the great manufacturers of quality aftermarket products for the Ténéré 700 do not discuss fitment with each other. This results in parts not fitting with other parts. That is what led me to SW-Motech’s crash bar assemblies. SW-Motech manufactures a 12-pound, all-steel, powdercoated, engine-protecting crash bar set and an eight-pound upper crash bar extension set. The two crash bar sets sell for $265 (MSRP) each, and SW-Motech has local distribution worldwide.
The lower bars attach to two engine mounts on each side, while the upper assembly attaches to the lower bars and the steering head. I have several SW-Motech accessories, and the German company’s printed instructions are always easy to follow and clearly detailed.
Installing both the lower and upper assemblies is an evening project. I tried to time the installation process, but kept getting interrupted by important “emergencies”, such as running to the store to buy diapers and helping family members with computer issues. There aren’t that many parts, so it was easy to pick up where I left off—several times. Because the left and right assemblies cross-connect, I left fasteners installed, though not torqued, so I could make any needed adjustments. The mounting holes on the bars are elongated to accommodate differences in production at the Yamaha factory.
My assembly went smoothly with no re-adjusting required. Lowers were installed first, followed by the uppers. I finished with threadlocker and a torque wrench on all the fasteners.
The most time-consuming sub-assembly is the center connection brackets for the upper bars. The issue is that there is only hand and finger accessibility to the two bolts and getting their bushings to stay put while long bolts are pushed through. I finally put a minute drop of instant glue on all four bushings to hold them in place.
Having pre-read the assembly instructions before ordering the entire set-up, I discovered that my passing lights conflicted with the upper bars mounting bracket. I picked up 22mm tube mounts and attached my passing lamps to the upper bars, tucked inside their protective cocoon.
The next step in my evaluation was dropping my precious on its side and seeing that the SW-Motech crash bars keep the ground away from expensive pieces on the Ténéré 700. It is one thing to inadvertently drop a bike on a trail, and quite another to drop it on purpose in my front yard. It was a weird experience, but an important test.
Checking under the Ténéré, only the crash bars, footpegs, and bar-ends touched the grass. It can happen that if you dump in a rock garden, one rock might be positioned just right and evade the steel bars. That’s the chance we have to take to not wrap the entire bike in a skid plate. With the lower crash bars constructed of 27mm-diameter steel tubing, not much will bend them.
In a seated riding position, my knees are about five inches away from the rearmost edge of the crash bars. I am 5’ 10” and 30-inch inseam. Standing as far forward as I would on the trail, my knees are nowhere near the crash bars. They have been designed for function and aesthetics. I like how the SW-Motech crash bars look, and I fully expect them to protect the Ultimate Motorcycling Yamaha Ténéré 700 Project Bike during the inevitable laydowns.