Thursday, January 24, 2008

Easy Peasy Home Installation of the Vulcan Engine Guard

When I bought my new Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic, I ordered an engine guard from the dealer as an accessory, along with the Vulcan windshield. After waiting and calling for a month the windshield finally came in. They failed to call, so it was a couple weeks later that I called to find it had arrived. I installed the windshield and you can read about it here.

So, they assured me that when the engine guard came in I would again get a call. I finally called early this year and they had my part. They also had a bogus phone number for me. I drove the 40 miles or so and picked it up. When I got home and opened the box, there were two bolts in a plastic bag. One was stripped at the end.

They were a hex-flange bolt and a size you couldn't find just anywhere. We looked everywhere we could think of that sold bolts. Dave finally stopped at a place on his way home one day called ‘Tacoma Screw’. They had ‘almost’ the perfect bolt. The hex head was a little smaller, but it worked just fine.

I decided to install the guard last weekend, since it was way too cold to ride. I even closed the garage so it would be warmer inside while I worked. It was in the 30’s outside. As I worked with the icy-cold tubular chrome guard, my hands became very chilled. It was hard to feel the threads engage as I added each nut to its bolt and tried to finger-tighten it. I could hardly make my fingers do what I wanted them to do.

It’s a good thing that it was pretty easy and didn’t take a lot of work. Add a few bolts and clamps, tighten here and there, and then apply torque on 2 of them.

I think it looks good.

I came home at lunch today since I work only 15 minutes away. The sun was out and it was 39 degrees. It’s been nice and clear and sunny for days, but only in the low 30’s. I couldn’t bring myself to bundle up and get out there. Today I decided to go for it. The weather was as warm as it was going to get, and we have rain and snow in the forecast for the weekend.

I hadn’t tried out the bike since I added the engine guard. I’m always conscious of the added weight so was wondering if it would handle differently. I rode the Vulcan back to work and then home right before dark. I think it felt a little heavier on the turns, but otherwise I liked it and didn’t notice much difference in the way of handling.

Now that I’ve added enough accessories to the front of the bike, I will need to make some decisions about what I need on the rear to carry gear and stuff for a 3 or 4 day ride. I’m planning a ride down the coast this summer but have no way to carry anything on the bike. I find planning trips like this is very fun. I love poring over the maps and deciding what route we will take, having never been on any of the roads in question. That’s where the sense of adventure comes in.


Crusty's Advise.... said...

Hey Becky...Don't ya just LOVE that? Being in the motorcycle industry i am amazed that some shops stay in business treating folks the way the do! That has always been a pet peave of mine. I call my customers back. It's to my best intrest to get them back in the shop anyways right? Sorry the bolt was messed up... Kawasaki makes a GREAT bike, but like many companies, they "out sourse" and thats typical of the quality these days. Half of the stuff i see i just shake my head and sigh. Great job there! Bike looks good! One of my bikes happens to be a Kaw 1600 Classic.-Crusty

bikerted said...

Hi Becky,
Here's some ideas that Ian & Guzziesue have asked me to pass on to you for carrying luggage.
There are several styles of bag that will sit on the pillion seat but will require a sissy bar fixing to your rear end. Do Kawasaki make one or maybe an aftermarket company over the pond.
You could also try who have a good selection of tank bags that clip onto a harness. Ian has used one since 1998 with no problems.
Also if the pillion seat comes off easy you could put a piece of non slip material (possibly rubber based), sorry we cannot remember the correct name, and put a set of throwover panniers on it and secure back in place with the seat. You may have to check yhat this method will not interfer with the rear wheel at any time!
Whatever method you use wrap your clothes inside plastic bags and secure with rubber bands incase of rain.
Keep your knees in the breeze and ride safe.


PS thanks for the encouragement on the start of my blog. I'm typing as fast as I can but my paws keep hitting the wrong keys!

Rick said...

The bike looks great! I imagine you are getting very stoked about the upcoming trip!

Biker Betty said...

I agree with the others. You did a great job with the guards and your bike looks great. Your reference to cold fingers reminded me when I used to work the flightline at Andrews AFB, MD during the winter. I hated it when my fingers froze!!

I had made changes to my blog recently, so you should find it will load better now. Thanks for stopping by,

Biker Betty :)

Road Captain said...

Engine guard looks great Becky! I owe you an apology. I meant to include you on my Motorcycle Bloggers page. I must have gotten your blog confused with Biker Chicks. I have corrected the error and now you are included on my list of honorary super moto bloggers. Please keep up the good work and add me to your blog roll when you get a chance. Thanks.

Becky said...

Crusty: Thanks for the 'advice'. I find that service, in general, sucks these days. You almost have to coax people along to make sure they take care of business.

Bikerted: I will check the website you mentioned. Great tip on the plastic bags, I wouldn't have thought of it. Do you always need saddlebag supports or can you get by without them?

Rick: I am very stoked, just have to save up enough vacation time at work. I used it all up being sick!!

Betty: Much thanks. I tried your blog and it seems better. I need to be more patient....

Road Captain: You are added. Thanks for the correction, I will mention you soon on my blog.


bikerted said...

Hi Becky,

I would suggest that you go to your local bike dealers to see if they stock any throwovers that you can just place over the rear of your bike to see how they sit. Ian uses hard panniers on his Guzzi and BMW due to the amount of camping and touring he and Guzzisue do.
You could also talk to any biker that you see with soft luggage to get their feedback on any pros and cons. Remember what works for one may not work for another.

Ride safe.


Jovita said...

Becky the new gaurds look wonderful. It's such a bummer that you had to wait so long to get them and then when you did the screw was mess up... ugh!

I just bought some saddlebags for my bike, haven't installed them yet. I also picked up a detachable sissy bar and rack so I can use tbags for longer trips. From what I hear tbags are wonderful.

Like you I worry about how the bike will handle with all the extras added. I'm wondering if I have to adjust my shocks when I add the extra weight of bags... hmmm ;)

--xh-- said...

here in this part of teh world, the engine gurad is called a crash gurad and usually people fix it at the showroom before taking delivery. I was thinking of removing them from my Hinda CBF150, but then, i realised if i remove them, i have to fix additional stays for my twin horns.
To carry luggage, i use bags made by cramster - they are tough and durable. i am sure you can find something similar and better out there. take a look at for some ideas.

Becky said...

Jovi: I'm not sure if the Vulcan would take a detachable sissy bar but I will look into it. That's a great idea.I'll check out the Tbags too.

xh: We call them crash bars too, but the dealer calls it an engine guard. I didn't want to pay for them to install my windshield or bars;those are easy enough to do yourself and my dealer hires alot of dumbasses who don't seem to know much about the motorcycles. I did a better job. Thanks for the tip on cramster; I'll check into it.