There is absolutely nothing like getting your hands on a brand new bike straight out of the dealership. Bone-stock, it almost makes you want to just set it on display in your shop! Sometimes, the thought of crashing on its first ride makes you not want to take the risk altogether...
Up here in NorCal, we find some very unforgiving terrain. You can encounter just about anything from granite slabs to burnt manzanita and even rocky sand whoops. I've seen and heard a lot of bikes slide, scape, slam, and eventually break from the strangest hits and falls, and of course even taken part in a few myself. Every time this happens, all I can think of is how happy I am that didn't cheap out on protective parts because a lot of times these crashes can end your day right then and there. No one wants to be the guy with a bent brake rotor or destroyed linkage 40 miles deep in the singletrack!
With this said let's get into what I personally think are the Top 5 Essential Parts to protect your dirtbike! I'll share with you the part I personally run on my 2009 KTM 250 XC-W as well to give you an idea.
Starting with #5 we have the Pipe Guards. These serve for a couple different purposes: protection from impact and also heat. 2 stroke riders seem to be pretty split on whether to install a Pipe Guard on their new pipes, but if you want to protect your new FMF Gnarly (just for example) there are plenty of options. E-Line Accessories has a wide variety of carbon fiber pipe guards, not just for 2 strokes but 4 strokes as well. Slap some trusty Carbon fiber on your new Megabomb header, and you won't have to worry about denting your pipe or burning through your pants while riding! I personally have the HPG006 on my XC-W, because I know my FMF Gnarly is going to get banged up on the trail, I'd like to minimize that actual damage it takes!
Here at MojoMotoSport we do a lot of business with BulletProofDesigns, and for good reason! Their Radiator Guards will take the heaviest of beatings and are used by racers of all levels worldwide. Of course, radiators aren't as exposed as other parts on a dirtbike, so you certainly could take your chances and hope you don't lay our bike over or get them impaled by a branch in tight singletrack, but once that radiator gets bent or cracked you are going to have a whole heap of problems. A couple years ago I was out in the Nevada desert and my buddy cracked his radiator and ended up asking his another guy for a loaner bike because... you guessed it! He fell one time and didn't have Radiator Guards! I'll admit it was a funny crash, but again no one wants to be that guy.
"The ultimate protection & airflow for your machine so you can #GetYourMojoOn in any condition!" - Mr. Mojo aka Nathan Burt
I can't speak for anyone else, but I absolutely will not ride anywhere that isn't a track without a good skid plate. The various amounts of logs, rocks, and boulders I encounter on my rides are just too unpredictable to not protect the bottom of the frame. While my old KTM doesn't have linkage suspension, what I've found to be really cool is the variety of options for new bikes to protect that suspension. For example, the plastic Acerbis Skid Plates are all completely compatible with the Universal Linkage Guard, so you can just mount it up with ease for extra protection. Another vendor that has been in our store for a long time is TM Designworks, a huge leader in protective parts in the off-road industry for years with their hard plastic skid plates. If you prefer the CNC Aluminum route, Enduro Engineering is a big name that simply has awesome skid plates for nearly every bike, either in a standard Skid Plate or Extreme Skid Plate option, with the Extreme Skid Plates offering more overall coverage on areas such as the footpeg mounts and extended side wings on the sides. Last but certainly not least is E-Line Accessories once again. Extremely lightweight carbon fiber composite construction, their skid plates have strength in all the right places to protect your cases and frame rails from severe damage. Of course, at the end it all comes down to your personal preference. Right now I have a Enduro Engineering skid plate on my bike, but I'd likely try out a TM Designworks skid plate on my next upgrade!
I'll admit it, I'm one of those guys who will never run open ended hand guards! As a rider who tumbles and falls a little bit more than I'd like, I am all about saving my levers and am not interesting in replacing lever after lever each ride like a couple guys I know. With that said, there are lots and lots of options for handguards, both full wrap and open end! I personally have had Cycra Probends and had no problems, but now I have Enduro Engineering's EVO Full Wrap Kit just to switch it up! G2 Ergonomics Handguards have been in our store for a long time now and people seem to have nothing but good things to say about their products! Where Open End guards are concerned, lots of styles, colors, and set ups are available. In recent years, big name brands such as Acerbis and Enduro Engineering have came up with special handguards that mount onto the control perches of your handlebars to free up real estate for more controls. Then of course we have the rest of the very popular line of Acerbis handguards that people have come to prefer and love! When deciding what handguards to get, just keep a couple things in mind. With open ended (moto) hand guards you run a greater risk of breaking levers in the event of a crash, whereas with full wrap (enduro) handguards there are risk of hand injuries when crashing as it is possible to get your arm stuck. While there are positives and negatives for all handguards, they're all better than having nothing! Regardless, if you ever do manage to break levers off, make sure they are our MOJO Brand Lever Sets so that they can be replaced for free under our Lifetime Warranty!
A bent brake rotor is something I wouldn't wish upon anybody. Even the slightest tweak can prevent either wheel from even spinning anymore, and as you could probably imagine that defeats the whole purpose of a dirtbike. In a way, it's sort of the same situation as handguards, where you could take your chances and think "Stuff like that never happens to me!" (I do this a lot actually) OR you can simply make one purchase and not have to worry about your rotor again with a high quality disc guard. The BulletProofDesigns Sharkfins are a very popular option with their sleek-looking Billet Aluminum products. If you're looking for a little bit lower profile, TM Designworks offers high quality hard plastic disc guard fins in a solid range of colors. For the Carbon Fiber enthusiasts out there, you can choose from E-Line Accessories once again for their Universal Front Disc Guard, or there's the Acerbis X-Future Front Disc Cover for a great alternative option. Lastly, considering that this a blog on MojoMotoSport.com, there is no way I am not going to point out the awesome MOJO Rear Disc Guards backed by our Lifetime Warranty! I personally run the MOJO-RDG-ORG on my KTM and it is just a great all around Disc Guard. I even got myself a great BulletProofDesigns Front Disc Guard after bending enough front rotors and it looks great on any bike!
Whew! This was a long blog! I'm just going to add real quick that I do not consider myself an expert on ALL things dirtbikes, this is simply the list of protective items that I personally consider the most important from my own experiences and feedback from our racers and customers. Was there anything I missed out on? Suggestions? Let me know with a comment below!