by H.B.C. for webBikeWorld.com
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The Zeta hand guards and deflector kits are of good quality and cost effective.
The straight type hand guard provides necessary clearance between all controls, a concern with most other designs.
The kits have met all basic requirements and look good mounted on the motorcycle.
Now these are something we needed!
Frequent use of the Kawasaki Versys (Blog) for off-pavement forays has resulted in some incidents and close calls.
The right side has a couple of battle scars, but nothing that can’t be buffed out or filled in and touched up (winter project of course).
With these events in mind, a salient observation regarding the provision of hand-guards was made.
The final straw came about when temperatures decided to plunge and wind-chill protection became an even higher priority.
Given the time of year, most of the dealers did not have much in stock that we could look at and compare, although there were lots of dirt machines around to provide some insight into brands, mounts, etc.
Wanting to expedite everything, a quick Internet search provided the applicable part numbers, and a local dealer ordered the items from Kimpex, a Canadian distributor.
Two days later we had received a Zeta Armour Handguard (Straight) kit and a companion kit: a set of the Zeta XC Deflectors with the optional LED flasher strip.
Although the kit ordered was for hollow-bar-end mounting, the Versys has spun-on bar-ends mounted via 8mm threaded assemblies as part of the handlebar, so a minor workaround was needed for this installation.
Mounting the left hand side guard was straight forward, but the front brake assembly on the right side was going to complicate life somewhat.
Some compromises were going to be needed for this initial fitting.
The Zeta kit is well made and well finished, although the included hardware, with stainless steel bolts, appears to be a bit light.
Included are two-piece clamshell brackets that fit over the 7/8 bar and used to secure one end of the guard to the handlebar.
This bracket uses two 6mm bolts to clamp the two clamshell halves together along with the bridge piece that brings the guard and the clamp together.
When mounting the left hand guard, it became apparent that the provided bolts were not the same thread pattern as the clamshell bracket pieces and were also a bit short.
Resorting to our metric stock on hand, a 35 mm and 30 mm length bolt was used for the front and back respectively of each assembly. While not stainless steel, the items used will work for the short term.
With the left side loosely installed, attention was turned to the more problematic right side.
It was at this point in time that the decision to pick up a small (30mm) lightweight set of LP bar-ends proved prudent.
The stock bar-ends are quite long and recessed to cover the bar end.
And given where the right side guard had to be mounted on the handlebar, due to the space taken up by the front brake assembly, it was accepted that the stock bar-ends would need to go, at least for this fitting.
Using the smaller bar-ends allowed the far-end of the guard to extend just beyond the front brake assembly so that it could be mated up to the clamp bracket and bridge pieces.
It is a tight fit, especially as clearance is needed for the rigid front brake hydraulic line housing. The stock plastic cable retainer strap was cut away and its plug pulled out of the handlebar; that spot was exactly where the clamp needed to be mounted.
After fitting both sides, some leveling was undertaken and everything was tightened up. The sequence was: hand-guard end to bridge pieces, clamshell clamps and finally, the bar-end bolts.
While the Zeta kit 30 mm x 8 mm recessed-head bolts would be fine for a stock bar-end installation, they were far too short for this installation.
Again resorting to the bin, a stainless steel 45 mm x 8 mm bolt secured the guards and bar-ends into the bar on each side.
Mounting the Zeta XC Deflectors was like the icing on the cake.
It took about 30 seconds to mount each one up using the supplied bolts to secure each deflector via two holes threaded into the guards (the Zeta brand label had to be punched out to reveal the holes).
In the cool of a late fall evening, the handiwork was admired and final checks were made for tightness and clearances -- portable work lights to the rescue again!
Aesthetics considered, there is a small (5 mm) gap between each 125 mm grip and the bar-end itself, which would be hidden if recessed weights were used.
Also, the replacement bolts used to secure everything at the clamshell mounts are a bit more visible than the kit items would be.
But overall everything mounted up well and it all looks okay. A larger deflector with rounded lines could be used for even better protection and to better flow into the windscreen and fairing lines.
Once again the age-old question, “how do they work?” needs to be asked. They work very well indeed.
The difference in wind protection, with or without the Givi shield, is remarkable.
At highway speeds wind-chill effects are almost negligible: the same gloves that were border-line for keeping the fingers relatively comfortable are now quite adequate.
Both my Alpinestars and the Olympia 4150 Gore-Tex gloves are comfortable for prolonged periods of time behind the guards, and without using the heated grips.
As mounted, the guards and bar-end combination results in virtually no change to the overall width of the handlebar assembly, but the deflectors do create a heavier or bulkier look from the front.
However, the positives far outweigh the negatives.
Riding at and above highway speeds with the windscreen and the deflectors doing their job, and the handgrips pumping out heat, the whole cockpit area becomes a far warmer, and much more inviting environ.
Overall, the whole assembly provides a more rugged, adventure-touring look, which was one of the objectives.
The deflectors are easily removed for warmer weather and could easily be packed for travel and use if inclement weather is encountered.
The guards, on the other hand (pun!) will provide permanent protection during all riding, especially in event of a spill.
Although there was concern over using a smaller and lighter bar-end, it would appear to have been unfounded.
Only a very slight increase in vibration is evident and then only below 4,000 rpm. Above that, there is no difference whatsoever; the Versys really is a smooth machine.
I ordered an Acerbis Multiplo / Multiconcept hand guard, but it cannot be used as the guard component (curved style) is too short and does not provide enough clearance for the levers and the hands.
With all the accessory kits on the market, other options should be available and our quest continues.
The Zeta hand guard kit contains well made pieces that are easily fitted.
The straight guard component used provides clearance for all stock pieces, especially control levers.
Many other guards, straight or curved, do not provide adequate clearance for standard controls, as they are designed for shorter motocross assemblies.
Although having a relatively small frontal area, the deflectors are quite effective and add a distinctive adventure touring look to the Versys.
The hardware could be a bit heavier and hopefully the bolts found in our kits are not typical for all Zeta kits.
Test and Riding Environment
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From "T.C." (5/10): " I am seeking to fit such a product my Versys '07 model. But unsure what you fitted, are they standard or did you fit a certain size, etc?
I followed link to Kimpex whom you got them from but found their search facility for the item somewhat fiddly and couldn't find the item, gave up. We can get Zeta here in the UK but asked a few times and shops not sure?
Can you please advise on the sizing etc. of fitted hand guards.
Also if you could provide the product codes or sizing codes
that we be great."
HBC's Reply: The zeta product line has changed, so the information below is based on both the original installation and what I now see on the website, so here goes:
The original Zeta its installed on the Versys were the Armor hand guard Straight Kit and the Zeta XC Deflector Kit which are small LED light strips that got mounted to the plastic protector shields (deflectors) that were part of the original kit.
a. Armor Hand Guards, Straight, aluminum, Black, ZE72-0011 for 22.2 mm (7/8") bars, they are available in Titanium as well.
b. The kit should include a set of the clamps (middle) length, ZE71-1712 for 22.2 mm bars, but in some instances or if more clearance is desired or needed along the bar, there is a replacement kit: Replacement Clamp (long), for 22.2 mm bars, ZE71-1713 listed.
c. The original equipment bars have threaded inserts, so you just need longer bolts (stainless steel or alloy if available) to fit the guards, as identified in the article.
If you have replaced the original equipment bars, optional bar end adapters (included in the original kit I used) are available as part number ZE74-0910
d. It seems the deflector shields are now sold separately. The basic XC Protector, Black, ZE72-3106 is listed, along with other colours.
Another kit, the DC Flasher Protector has the LED strip fitted and its part number is ZE72-3406 (this is basically what was used on my Versys, although it was packaged differently at the time).
Zeta now lists Orange and Smoke coloured replacement flasher strips as well.
A3. I hope the information provided in A2 above does the trick. Regarding specific suppliers in the UK, there seem to be a few suppliers, some listed on various forums, especially those related to the Versys.
From "D" (12/08): "First of all my compliments with your great site! I got some great ideas and inspiration from it.
For my Versys I will buy some hand guards, and I wonder about the fitting challenge you had: How did you solve the fact that the Versys has spun-on bar-ends?
Did you make it hollow, or what exactly did you do?"
Author's Response: "Most aftermarket hand guard kits use either a hollow-bar-end mounting or a bolt-on, like the Zeta units.
Some people actually do drill out the bars to make a hollow fit, but this takes time and effort, and precludes re-installing the original equipment at some point in the future.
I would recommend using hand guards that let you use a longer 8mm bolt to attach the hand guard frame and bar-end weight to the handlebar directly.
Depending on whether the stock bar-end weights or a shorter item is used, the actual length of this bolt will vary.
For my installation I used an 8 mm x 45 mm stainless steel bolt with an Allen key head, although a 8 mm Philips head machine screw will work as well (which is what many Japanese manufacturers use anyway for bar-end weights).
For what is worth, most hand guard kits, even those that use a hollow-end expansion pressure-fit component can be adapted to use a straight bolt mount using the stock 8 mm threaded holes."