Adventure tourers like Suzuki’s 650 V-Strom are the SUVs of the two-wheeled world. Like their hulking four-wheeled cousins, they’re amenable to occasional off-road forays, but better suited to life in the paved lane. Consider the V-Strom’s plastic fairing, prone to wallet-busting damage in even the most innocuous get-off, and the oil cooler and oil filter hung low on the front of the engine where they’re vulnerable not only to rocks and roots, but highway debris.
Several companies make crashbars and skid plates for adventure bikes, but when I went online looking for recommendations, the SW Motech name came up most often. A call to Whitehorse Gear resulted in a big box being left on my porch, and eventually a cocoon of steel and aluminum around my bike’s fairing and dangly bits.
The crashbars I received are made of larger-diameter tubing than an earlier version of the SW Motech DL650 crashbar—26.9mm vs. 21.3mm—and extend farther up the side of the fairing. They’re made of heavy-duty mild steel, sandblasted, then powercoated for a durable finish.
Installation was easy. The crashbars come with bolts that replace the stock engine-mounting hardware, and they use the same mounting points. All you need is a hex socket, a torque wrench and the sense not to remove the bolts on both sides of the engine at the same time unless you want to hear the sound your engine makes when it falls on the garage floor.
The skid plate for the DL650 is made of 3mm aluminum on the powdercoated sides; the non-powdercoated center section is 4mm thick. The bottom plate has an access hole under the drain plug through which you can stick a socket on an extender if you want to change the oil but not the filter. To take the filter off, and to avoid a mess when you do, take out the rear skid plate mounting bolts and the plate will swing forward enough to give you room to work.
The skid plate can only be used with the crashbars, because its upper mounting point is the sleeve that joins the two halves of the crashbars, just forward of the front cylinder. The lower mounting point is a bracket that loops under the engine and connects to the frame at the sidestand mount on the left, and a muffler mount on the right. The skid plate mounts at two points up top, and two under the engine, and wraps around everything that might suffer from a direct hit by a rock or a log on the trail, or a rusted piece of car muffler on the highway.
Aside from adding a step to an oil-filter change, there’s no downside to the SW Motech crashbars and skid plate. Removing either, or both, for more comprehensive maintenance is the work of a few minutes. Out on the trail the skidplate reduces ground clearance slightly, but makes up for it by guarding the engine from sudden unanticipated attacks by the ground itself. Same for the crashbars, which any V-Strom owner should see not just as a useful accessory but practically a necessity to protect the fairing.
The SW Motech crashbars for the DL650 are $169.99, and the skid plate is $209.99.
For more information: Contact Whitehorse Gear at (800) 531-1133