Gravel Guard for the V
Howdy folks, I thought I’d share with y’all my take on a proper gravel guard for running the V.
You’ll notice I didn’t refer to it as a skidplate. The primary intention of this component is to prevent debris impingement upon the engine case, exhaust, and oil filter, as a result of front wheel kick-up. Its secondary purpose is to reduce the possibility of damage (essentially denting) of the lower forward exhaust from an aberrant exposed rock on really rocky roads.
Nothing currently available, or soon to be available for the V fulfills the role of what I want. The designs from SW-Motech, Algard, JNS Eng, and the other Euro company that I can’t think of the name of at the moment all make stuff that basically only covers the very lower portion of the exhaust and the oil filter. They all also appear to mount directly to the engine case or the small steel case extensions used to mount the plastic lower fairing. These case extensions are attached with very small fasteners (I didn’t look at them close enough to determine which their exact diameter) mounted to cast AL. I have NO trust in the ability of such small fasteners mounted to cast AL to absorb or tolerate impact stresses. I don’t want to experience the situation that Gary did in the “Heading South Until the Road Ends” thread.
- doesn’t mount to the engine case
- provides full vertical coverage of the front of the engine and exhaust
- allows access to the oil filter and changing/draining of oil with out removal
- can be made with basic hand tools
After giving the V a thorough look-over, I decided that if I wanted to create the equivalent of an actual skidplate, I would simply need to attach two front and two rear mounting points to the SW-Motech crash bars, laterally connect the attachment points and then span the area with some sort of plate material. This was more than I wanted, as I have no intention of trying to manhandle a 450 lb bike on single track. For my purposes I realized that the section of the exhaust just aft of the exhaust collector would make an excellent mounting point for the aft end of a gravel guard. For the front end I chose to use a similar method to what I would use if I were making an actual skidplate. I did consider mounting the forward portion of the guard to upper exhaust tubes, such as one guard that is available for the V-Strom, but decided I wanted my guard to have a some “crush space” in the event of a heavier impact.
I settled on using 2mm diamond plate as it was easily available and easy to cut and shape given that I don’t have a shop and had to do everything in my apartment, with what I would describe and a very thorough set of hand tools. Also, AL will deform and absorb impact before any of components that the guard is mounted to. The other material I considered was heavy polyethelene sheet, which I could bend using heat. It’s very tough stuff, possibly an even better material than AL. In fact, there is a guard available for the V-Strom made of the stuff. However, I eventually settled on the AL since I have previous experience working with it, and essentially none with forming poly.
To reduce the “tinniness” or can-like quality of the of the AL sheet and absorb vibration (since it connects a portion of the engine – the exhaust – to the engine guards) I gave it two coats of Duraliner.
I left the AL sheet fairly wide, initially, as it bends aft to provide a “bumper space” for the lower side of the engine. This effectively reduces ground clearance a small amount in very sharp turns, but I don’t intend on performing very sharp turns in circumstances where this would likely matter. From the pics you can see that ground clearance is currently 7” when the bike is upright.
I used fiberglass exhaust wrap where the guard mounts to the collector to serve as a minimalist heat and vibration attenuator.
The guard is designed to allow a small amount of articulation between the three primary mounting points, to reduce the possibility of damage, in the event I am boneheaded enough to impact something hard.
I hope this inspires a few folks to come up with their own designs. My design is far from elegant, but very effective for its intended purpose. If I can do this with nothing but a drill, hacksaw, shears, and wrenches, anyone with any kind of shop could produce something fairly spectacular.
My apologies for the poor lighting in the pics, I didn’t get the install finished until just before dark.
- 2mm AL diamond plate
- ¼” AL bar stock
- Kurayakan (sp?) 1 1/8 ” bar clamps
- fiberglass exhaust wrap
- stainless steel u-bolt
- misc fasteners/washers (mostly stainless, one set of yellow cad)
- Duraliner bed liner