Dialing in a Tiger 800 XC – Part 2 – SW Motech Crash Bars

You don’t know how good they are until you KNOW how good they are:

Crash Bars are one of those funny things on adv bikes. The only thing between your beautiful 500 lb hunk of metal, rubber, and fluids and mother Earth in your epic battle against the forces of gravity over the harshest terrain. At least that’s whats in every adv bike owners mind when they are about to plunk down some dough on this must have item. In reality they should be called, “For the fifth time I drop my bike in the driveway trying to move it out of the way so I can get the lawn mower out of the garage bars”. I always new I would add them to the Tiger eventually but as with a lot of farkles for this bike, the choices are many and varied in design and price. The tipping point (literally) for me came the day I rode to the Freemanburg hill climb with my wife. The parking lot was an uneven grassy field. As I was attempting to turn us around at a slow rate of speed, I had to dab, unfortunately the spot I picked to dab was about a foot lower then my 30 in inseam could handle. The bike didn’t completely hit the turf but I’m not sure why. So I decided that night it was time to crash bar up!

Decisions Decisions:

With the Tiger, Triumph was smart. They brought the bike to market with a full line of accessories including many hard protection parts. This is actually something all manufacturers of adv bikes have caught onto recently. Why let the after market companies get all that farkle money. I believe HD invented this approach. Very smart! So I started looking at Triumph’s offering. For some reason they designed their bars to protect the engine only. They appear to be well made, as most Triumph accessories are and I have little doubt that with the bike on its side they would do their job of saving the cases, and keep the bike from laying completely on its side. Which incidentally is another big plus for running crash bars on a bike, they keep it from sitting completely horizontal, thus making it easier to pick back up. Unless that is if you have big cylinder jugs sticking out of the side. Then they serve that purpose. 🙂

But the thing is those Triumph engine bars do nothing to protect the plastic gas tank shrouds, gas tank, radiator, and most importantly the welded to the frame radiator mounting tabs. I realize it is unlikely, but I once saw a buddies GS on a center stand fall over in a recently paved parking lot and hit the left side jug right on the Belgium block surrounding the parking space. He had Wunderlich engine bars on it too. Really fucked it up. So I guess the point is even a simple tip over could (in my mind) damage the Tigers expensive radiator and possible break one or more of those mounting tabs. So I ruled out the Triumph engine bars and other similar designed bars from other manufacturers.

I started looking bars that covered a little more. The usual suspects are there, Touratech, Alt Rider, Happy-Trail, SW Motech. For me it came down to the SW Motech bars for several reasons. I had Motech bars on my old KLR and they saved me quite a few dollars in Kawasaki OEM parts from various dumps over the years. Price point was good (relative to others out there) at $235. And lastly they weighed in at around 10 lbs a side. Weight also a biggie with crash bars.

So I was off to trusty old twistedthrottle dot com and 3 days later these beauties were sitting on my porch.


One thing about SW Motech stuff besides being top quality is they are German. And as such everything needed is in the kits, leaving nothing to chance. And everything appears to be engineered to withstand a direct hit with a nuclear weapon. Another fun thing with Motech stuff is the directions always seem to be a photo copy of a photo copy of a sketch from the back of a napkin with most directions in German. Now what’s a farkle without a little challenge.

The most interesting thing to me and the most disturbing, is that the Tiger has no frame cradle under the engine. I know that the engine as a stressed member is quite common place on bikes these days and also quite strong. But this was my first experience attaching crash bars directly to an engine. that being said, I appreciated the fact that Motech used the stock lower mounts designed for the Triumph accesory engine bars. The top mount was a total pita though. It was one of those things where I had to run multiple 3/4 ratchet extensions with swivel heads to blindly get the nuts behind the engine.

Still all in it took me about two hours a couple of beers and a half dozen curse words strung together here and there. Happy to report there are no added vibes when riding. And Motech offers highway peg clamp on’s for them, which I’ll add eventually. Here’s to hoping I don’t have to test these out anytime soon!

And now for some post install pics:


They don’t stick out to far which is another thing I like