After months of searching craigslist, cycle trader and endless dealerships to find ‘your’ bike you bring home your spanking new and incredibly shiny motorcycle. As you lust over every nook and cranny that is this beautiful machine a thought comes across your mind of how will you ever keep her or him in some cases, this pristine. Sure it won’t be as shiny as when it rolled off the showroom floor but most of the riders out there aren’t too worried about how much of their reflection in the paint scheme they can see. Instead we peer over how to make these powerful machines, which could kill us if mistreated, safer in a sense of surviving our stupidity.
Dumping a bike, your bike, the one you put so much time and effort into finding, is NEVER a good feeling. It is made worse when you could have added preventative measures to insure its survivability in a crash of any sorts. So what can you do to prevent further damages to your steed? Make it crashable of course! Yes it sounds ridiculous but the following modifications to your bike can more than likely help it survive your lack of skill so that you and the steed can ride another day!
- Engine Covers
- They are an expense that is worth its weight in gold if you ask me. They can range from slip on covers, like GB Racing, or full on replacements like Vortex or Woodcrafts. Their whole entire purpose, whether slip on or full replacements, is to ensure that your engine covers, among other things such as clutch/stator, do not get cracked wide open in the event the bike goes down. Another vital role to these covers is that they are made of a much more durable material than what comes on the bike from the manufacturers which I will admit is pretty much like cake batter if it ever hits the ground. IF an engine case is cracked you can bet debris from the road such as rocks, twigs and hell even small animals (ok maybe not animals) can be introduced to your engine’s internals WHICH IS NEVER A GOOD THING.
- No not the ones you get from White Castle, although those are pretty tasty, but these can be for your swing arm (also helps when using a rear stand), engine and forks. These babies are the first point of contact to that unforgiving asphalt, aside from you of course. They range from materials such a metal to polyurethane and prove time and time again that if you want to save whatever precious, reflective paint scheme you have left than you need to purchase a set. I personally go for the polyurethane material as the metal ones, some not all, can actually catch the pavement, spark and flip the bike to the other side, also not something you want to happen. The poly ones are soft and are grinding away by the pavement as it should instead of your bodywork. You can find cut and no-cut versions of these and are pretty much the FIRST modifications you should invest in.
- Exhausts have their own sliders nowadays. Protect that carbon canister on your $1,700 system in the event of a crash. I have lowsided my own bike twice and wished I had one on my exhaust each time. It pains me to see the crackling hole in the carbon weaves (insert angry and sad emoji icons now). Save yourself the heartache unlike me and invest in some. Great for track day riders and racers too!
- OEM handle bars are of a one piece design variety attaching themselves to the fork tubes. Which means these babies, once snapped, will be completely USELESS because you can’t reattach them in the hopes of making it home. Enter the clip-ons. These babies right here are wonderful because they separate the bars from the holder that goes onto the fork tubes. Bars are usually $10-20 to replace if they snap, a fraction of the cost compared to what the OEM units go for. Of course you won’t be having an extra set of bars handy if you go down on the streets but it beats forking over more money to replace if it does happen. Another good benefit from clip-ons is that you can change your ergonomics once on the bike to how you like to ride, great feature if you ask me!
- Shorty/Breakaway Levers
- Levers, along with the OEM bars, are subject to breaking and snapping in the event of a crash. You can remedy this problem by adding a set of shorty or breakaway levers onto your steed. The shorties are just that, shorter levers. They are great because they normally would not impact the ground, or have such a drastic effect if they were of the longer versions. Breakaways on the other hand can be normal length levers with a notch or two in the top or about an inch from the outermost tip. They are designed to ‘break away’ if you crash so that you have some form of a lever still attached to ride.
- OEM rearsets are the worse thing you can ever lay your feet on if you are in mid corner trying to get every inch of leverage out of your body positioning. They provide very little feel, adjustability and most of all grip. You don’t think your toes need grip when mid corner but I beg to differ! After market rearsets come in handy in all aspects just mentioned. They also can hold up to a crash far better than OEM counterparts not to mention that now each part can virtually be replaced. Adjust them to how you want your feet positions to be and ride on knowing you have all the grip in the world to wear through the soles of your shoes while clipping that apex.
- New Tires
- OEM tires are great but let’s be honest most of their R&D went into developing the engine and chassis, tires were a mere after thought. Although they’re great for commuting I wouldn’t be taking that sweeper real quick anytime soon. Take them off and shod your wheels with fresh, stickier rubbers. Plenty of options in a vast range of prices and sizes are readily available. I personally like Bridgestone 003RS as well as Dunlop’s Q2 street tires as they’re good for weekend mountain riding, daily commuting and even a few trackdays.
There are more ways to crash proof said bike but the NUMBER 1 ABOVE ALL OF THESE is to not RIDE LIKE AN ASSHAT. Of course sometimes a crash is not entirely of our own doing, car braking hard for no reason, someone pulling out of a blind corner or making lane changes when they didn’t look, but these preventatives can surely save you a hassle of having to call the tow truck company and haul your precious away.