Allroad Engine Guards and Skid-plates
The engine guards are not just for offroad riding. The engine, oil filter, water pump, exhaust pipe, the main frame, rear suspension bottom link, gear and foot brake levers or anything close to the bottom of the motorcycle and around the engine needs robust protection against the sudden hit to the ground, from the rocks and tree stumps or trunks you are passing closely, stones thrown from your own front tyre or another bike close ahead of you etc. The damage could be so easy to repair back at home in the urban, but once you are in the outback far from home and technical assistance, the second priority issue is to protect the vehicle you are in fact dependent on. Therefore engine guards are a basic safety feature for any allroad touring enduro.
Outside the tarmac roads you expose the engine to gravel spray and numerous small hits which can be problematic for soft surfaces such as cables, hoses, filter covers, but also plastic components around the engine. When riding on trails and bad gravel roads you can quite easily use the whole suspension travel and hit the engine to the ground, especially with a full touring load. The hit can also come from the side when passing closely rocks and tree stumps on a trail or when crossing a stream. Therefore the size of the engine guard is also important. There should be protection for the front end of the engine, both sides of the engine, but also the back end of the engine meaning, that the bike should be able to slide over the object without hooking or damaging any technique. Often exhaust pipes run below or on the side of the engine up to the rear wheel before going up and they can be damaged very easily. Short skid-plates do not cover the center stand nor anything in front of the rear tyre and therefore expose the touring enduro for technical failures.
Depending on routing preferences, the allroad touring rider could optimize the level of protection. Those who ride a lot on tarmac roads up to light allroad conditions, do not really need the best possible protection and therefore more payload capacity is left for the luggage and travel equipment. The same goes the opposite way. The more protection is required, the less payload is left for the luggage. Basically the allroad and adventure rider should optimize the payload capacity and riding agility also from the motorcycle tuning point of view.
Engine Guards made of Robust Aluminium
The allroad touring enduro engine guards are not made of plastic and if you have one of those, I think you should reconsider of turning to thick aluminium which is TIG welded on both sides. There can be also a separate base plate which is directly fastened to the bottom of the engine providing additional support and several fastening points for the guard plate itself. It would be ideal to spread the impact force for several fastening points that are very slightly adjustable. The small adjustment in the fastening points protects the materials from a high impart cut off phenomena and problematic cracks in the engine body. You can find good engine guards and skid-plates from TOURATECH, SW Motech, ALTRider and for light adventure touring enduros from AdventureSpec for example.
Engine Guard tuned to Skid-plate
The more challenges you plan and are prepared to take, the more likely sooner than later, your bike takes a couple of hits and a lot of gravel spray. Light adventure riders take it as granted. They even use the engine guard as a skid plate when going over a tree trunk laying across the trail. Therefore the engine guard can be also tuned to slide better and have even plastic runners which can be also changed. These runners simply allow to slide much better, absorb some of the energy of the hit, but also protect the fastening screws. Note that enduros with a center stand require additional skid plate extension which is installed to the center stand itself. Otherwise the center stand feet hook to the object which may lead to the loss of control. This is why light touring enduros have no center stand as standard.
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