I doubt there breathes a motorcyclist who has not seen crash bars on a BMW GS, or most any ADV bike, for that matter. Many are ridden off-road, so it’s natural to install them to protect the machine, especially for the boxer GSes. The protruding cylinder heads hang out in the wind, tempting fate that the rider will take an expensive fall.However, the GS is not BMW Motorrad’s only boxer-powered motorcycle. Although the other models are not designed for off-road use, they have the same potential to require costly repairs when tipped over, or in a more serious mishap. On BMW’s R 1250 RT, R 1250 R, and R 1250 RS, a pair of frame sliders, as seen on many bikes, will not provide the needed protection.
I want robust engine protection for my R 1250 RS, even though I will never ride this bike in the dirt. As I’ve said numerous times, off-road to me is a gravel parking lot. I searched online for crash bars and found quite a few, including BMW’s offerings.I’m testing SW-Motech’s crash bars, cylinder guards, and engine guard for several reasons. Functionally, I like the German-made or engineered construction quality and the four-point mounting (versus three in other cases). I also like the pieces from a styling aspect, and the availability in black.Further, I wanted to get all components from one manufacturer to ensure they all fit together, avoiding some of the problems Editor At Large Neil Wyenn has had on the Ultimate Motorcycling Yamaha Ténéré 700 Project Bike. As it was, I had to remove the OEM engine guards to allow fitment. That’s okay with me, as these engine guards are more for looks than protection.The three protection units were shipped by SW-Motech in possibly the best packing I’ve ever seen, and they arrived in flawless condition. Mounting hardware and instructions are included with each item, so getting organized is easy. The quality and appearance of all components are top-notch, as is the powdercoating on each piece, which is a pretty close match to my RS’s black frame. So far, so good.The SW-Motech cylinder guards ($271 MSRP) mount on the cylinder heads and have a sleek appearance.The SW-Motech crash bars ($325 MSRP) show the same quality of construction and finish as the previous parts. They are steel, 27mm in diameter, and supported at four points around each head. Stainless steel is available for an additional $75, though not in black. I believe this design is superior to those crash bars that only have two or three support points. These are serious business. Care must be taken to not mess up this install, as I will describe later.A pal told me I really don’t need the belly-pan protecting SW-Motech engine guard ($284 MSRP) for street riding, and he’s likely correct. However, it looks great and is built like a tank. Its quarter-inch high-strength aluminum is perfectly welded and appears to have what it takes to fend off any intrusions.Installation of the cylinder guards is straightforward. The tolerances for the pre-drilled holes are tight, so attention must be paid to carefully lining up the new mounting bolts. One does not want to cross-thread the existing holes in the aluminum heads. No, no, no. Budget 45 minutes for this.The engine guard installation is fast and easy. There is plenty of room under the bike while on the center stand to access the existing holes in the engine case—15 minutes here.The crash bars are a bit more intimidating, with somewhat complicated instructions. They consist mainly of lines and arrows pointing to the four legs on each side and what must be removed and then affixed with what bolt, nut, and washer. The all-in-one drawing with lines jogging around other elements adds to the confusion. At first glance, I told myself I’d let the local dealer do the job. However, it was Friday, and I wanted to get this done.This review is not an installation guide, but my advice is this: Read every detail of the instructions three times. Then have a cup of coffee and read them two more times. Be sure you have an 18mm deep socket to remove the long support bolt behind the engine, which you replace with a new one. It took me two trips to the hardware store because I did not yet own a metric deep socket set. Because the nut is deep in the frame and can only be eyeballed, I thought it was a common 17mm head. So, to save money, I just bought the 17, but no. The store didn’t have a single 18mm, so now I own the whole set.Other tools required are mostly Torx and hex-head socket bits because you’ll need some leverage. A torque wrench is necessary for those that don’t just do torque by feel, some medium-strength threadlocker, and a bottle jack or other support for the motor when you pull the bolt. I did support the engine and did not feel any shift when I pulled the bolt, which I credit to the support.It took about three hours to install the three items. The results look awesome, and they are solid.I am happy to have the SW-Motech engine protection on my BMW R 1250 RS, and the low-mounted approximately 22 pounds I added disappears while riding. Hey, it all looks really professional now, and I need all the help I can get.
This Podcast is also brought to you by the new modular helmet from Schuberth, the C5. The C5 blends safety with light weight and amazing quietness. Visit Schuberth.com for more information.
This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!