I took advantage of a wet and miserable day today to install the Happy Trails package of engine guards, bash plate and Teton Panniers. It's a great setup, though I do have a huge problem with one part of the engine guards. More on that in a bit.
Here's my buddy Al on KawasiMoto after we finished with the installation. By far, the hardest part was the engine guards.
The instructions that we got with the package were minimal - a couple of dark photos with little detail, a parts list, and some very basic tips for putting the stuff together. While I installed a Ermax Hugger from Frogger Specialties, All started organizing the parts for the engine guards. He took the left side of the bike then while I started on the right. All went well until we mounted the guard rail to the rear engine mount on the right side. It's a very tight fit, wedging the mount between an electrical mounting bracket and the oil drain plug. The ad from Happy Trails says that the guards and bash plate make draining the oil easy, but on this setup, the rail on the guard is situated right beneath the plug. It needs at least another 1/4 inch of clearance to be able to get out the drain plug without removing the guard.
The engine guard bar needs to have a bend put in it to avoid the plug. Even though I really like most of the setup, I probably wouldn't have gotten the engine guards and bash plate package had I known about the poor fitting. Have any of you encountered this problem and found a good solution? Also, how long is the drain plug? It it's not too long, it might be possible to still ease it out without having to remove the guards. Everything else about the guards is outstanding. They are very stout and should provide pretty good protection in a fall. The parts lined up well, with the exception of the one point at the drain plug.
The bash plate took about 10 minutes to put on. I plan to use the KawasiMoto mostly on pavement and dirt roads, with no plans for trails at all. If I planned to put it on single-track, I'd look more closely at a stronger design, but for what I plan to use it for, the Happy Trails setup is ideal. Lightweight and strong, it will keep most of the crud off of the engine, radiator and headers when used with the fender extender. The plates aren't pre-drilled (the bash assembly consists of two plates), so we lined each up where we wanted it, used c-clamps to hold them in place, and marked where we wanted the mounting holes to be drilled. The rear mounting point on the left side is right between the headers, so we had to figure out where it would go by measuring first the mounts on the engine guards that the plates go on, and then measuring from the already drilled holes on the plates. It worked and we were done with the bash plate assembly.
The Hugger was a breeze to put in. I got the unpainted version and painted it with about 15 coats of satin black Krylon, formulated for plastic applications. It looks great. The only problem that I had with that installation was when I put the spacer between the brake cable mount and the hugger. The spacer was so thick that after being put in place, I couldn't get the brake cable mount through the hugger and into place at the holes on the swingarm. I had to fashion another thinner spacer out of an old inner tube. Once that was done, it only took a minute to finish securing the Hugger. That's the too-thick spacer below that was replaced.
After the battle with the engine guard, we dreaded the panniers, but luckily, the panniers were gravy to put on. Again, instructions were sadly lacking, but they went on so easy, it really didn't matter. It took a moment to figure out which mount went on which side, and then all we had to do was figure out which bolts to use. It took about 15 minutes, start to finish, to have the panniers securely in place. They look bitchin', and seem to be bombproof to boot.
So... on a scale of 1 to 10, the panniers get an 8, the bash plate a 7, and the engine guards a 4. It's a shame that the bars don't rate better - they're very stout and look good, but the drain plug situation is a real PIA.
Pre-setup photo below - the pitchfork, the sledge, and the cross cut saw, along with the tequila and Jack Daniels were there too, just in case the going got tough...