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Barkbusters Storm Hand Guards Review

Barkbusters Storm Hand Guards Review
Hand Guards for Everyone
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com

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Owner Comments (Below)
▪ wBW Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS Blog

Also: Barkbusters Blizzard Hand Guards Review

Summary

The Barkbusters Storm hand guards are ultra-popular and made to fit a huge number of motorcycles.

In fact, Barkbusters makes hand guards of all types for virtually any motorcycle made. Example: Twisted Throttle lists 51 different Barkbusters hand guards in their catalog!

The mounting kit was surprisingly easy to install on the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS (Blog).

And they'll even fit over a special version of the Kaoko throttle control for Barkbusters hand guards (review). I wish it was this easy to install the hand guards on the Suzuki DR650

The Storm plastic hand guards fit over the Barkbusters backbone or "skeleton", which is the aluminum guard bar that does the actual work of protecting your hands.

The plastics are surprisingly expensive, but will hopefully last a long time.

They're larger and deeper than the stock Suzuki V-Strom hand guards, which have a simple plastic design with no metal framework behind them.

The Storm guards have much better wind protection that is a noticeable difference over the original equipment guards.

Like the wimp-ola plastic vanity "bash plate" that came with the bike, which I replaced with the SW-Motech skid plate and engine guard for the Suzuki V-Strom (review).

V-Strom owners with any pretensions at all of off-roading will dump the stock hand guards in a heartbeat.

The Barkbusters hand guards offer a real upgrade in protection. Let's take a look in another "picture is worth a thousand words" review.

Barkbusters Storm Hand Guards Kit
This is the Barkbusters Storm kit BHG-046 for the 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000.
Barkbusters Storm Hand Guard Kit

The kit shown above fits the 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 and it also fits the DL650 and DL1000 V-Strom of all years (as far as I can tell).

In addition, it fits the Honda NC700X and NC750X; the Honda XL1000V Varadero (all models); the Honda VFR1200X Crosstourer; the Honda CB500X (20113 on); the Kawasaki KLE1000 Versys (to 2014).

The point here is that Barkbusters makes an amazing number of hand guard kits and not just for off-road and dual-sport bikes.

Although the Storm hand guard kit is one of the most popular, there are single piece clamp-on kits for sportbikes and cruisers.

By the way, the Barkbusters Blizzard hand guards (review) will fit over the Storm hand guards or on the aluminum backbone with the Storm guards removed.

In fact, the Blizzard hand guards inspired me to purchase the Storm hand guard kit with the backbone so I could more easily add the Blizzard guards in winter.

Barkbusters Storm Hand Guards Kit Contents
Here are the kit parts. You buy the hand guards and mounting brackets (L) and the plastic guards separately.
In the center is the AdMore LED kit that fits the Storm hand guards. We'll get to that review soon...
Barkbusters Storm Hand Guards Mounting Brackets
Here are the mounting brackets for the aluminum Barkbusters hand guard backbone.
They appear to be made from something like a sintered aluminum?
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Mounting the Barkbusters Storm Hand Guards

I had all sorts of trepidations about installing this kit, based on my fairly horrible experience with trying to get a set to fit the Suzuki DR650 (Blog). You can read more about that fiasco in the Cycra Hand Guards review.

It took parts from 3 different hand guard kits to cob something together that would work on the DR650.

So, I finally rolled up my sleeves one day and got to work on the Barkbusters kit. To my surprise, the thing is engineered perfectly.

It took me longer to remove the stock Suzuki bar end weights and the original Kaoko throttle control (review) than it did to button up the Barkbusters guards and attach the Storm plastics.

The Suzuki OE bar end weights are easy to remove; simply loosen the 5 mm hex bolt -- but don't unscrew it all the way. Once it's loose, your bar end weights may feel tight; i.e., you can't pull them out of the handlebar.

Don't fret; take a rubber mallet and give a whack on the end of the weight. It should break the seal inside and you can easily pull out the whole assembly.

See all those little parts in the assembly? If you unscrew the bolt all the way, you may end up losing those parts down in the handlebar. I didn't, thank goodness...

Suzuki Clutch Reservoir
TIP: The hydraulic clutch hose banjo bolt on the reservoir was oriented with the short metal pipe angled towards the handlebar. This was probably a result of installed in the SW-Motech bar risers on the V-Strom (review) but it can also happen when the bike is assembled. It's easy enough to fix, however; simply loosen the banjo bolt slightly and turn it to move the pipe out of the way if you need more clearance to install the bracket that holds the inside of the Barkbuster backbone.
Barkbusters Storm Hand Guards Mounting Bracket Close-up
Close-up of the bracket that holds the inside of the hand guard bar.
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Installation Steps

The Barkbuster hand guard installation instructions (.pdf) include a small assembly diagram showing how the connector and multi-fit clamp are assembled.

It's probably better to start on the left side, which is less complex because it's static, compared to the right side with the throttle.

As always, read the instructions carefully a couple of times. Then, line up all the parts from the kit and identify each part with the photos and list provided in the instructions.

Don't forget, there is a left side and right side for the connector and U-shaped "Multi-fit Clamp" (Part 4, MFC-22). These are the parts that bolt together and act as a sort of universal joint that attaches to the handlebar and then to the inside of the horizontal guard bar.

The instructions really do guide you to the most efficient method to get the bracket assembly and the bar installed. There's a certain method to getting everything correctly oriented.

Be sure to leave the bolts loose and get everything oriented correctly (I also added a drop of blue Loctite to each bolt).

It may take a couple of tries to figure out the best way to orient the clamp assembly on your handlebar so that the guard bar remains horizontal and the end of the guard bar is located in the correct position to replace the handlebar end weight.

It sounds more complicated than it is; the only time you might have an issue is if you're using a non-stock handlebar or have other accessories mounted to the handlebar that interfere with the clamp location.

Suzuki V-Strom Bar End Weight Parts
This is the stock Suzuki left-side bar end weight assembly. Don't unscrew it all the way!
Stock Suzuki Bar End Weight Assembly
If the stock bar end assembly is difficult to remove, give it a light tap on the end with a rubber mallet.
Barkbusters Bar End Weight Assembly
This is the replacement bar end weight assembly provided in the Barkbusters hand guard kit.
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Installing the Replacement Bar End Weight

The entire stock bar end weight assembly is replaced by a less complex assembly included in the Barkbusters kit.

Once you have the orientation for the hand guard bar and inner handlebar clamp assembly figured out and loosely assembled, it's time to install the replacement bar end weight assembly.

The way these work is simple: as you tighten the bolt, it pulls back on an expansion device that then grips the inside of the handlebar tube with enough friction to keep the bar end weight (and the hand guard) in place.

TIP: Tighten the bolt just enough so that it fits into the handlebar tube with a bit of a push. If you leave it too loose, the bolt will just turn the expander without doing anything.

The expander needs a little bit of starting friction to hold it as the bolt is initially turned before it will start to tighten.

Throttle Side Installation

Once the left side is complete and you now have the learning experience, it's time to tackle the right side. The procedure is identical, except everything is a mirror image.

Again, only loosen the screw holding the OE bar end weight a couple of turns. Don't loosen it all the way or you might lose the bar end weight assembly parts down inside the handlebar.

The clamp assembly has a tighter fit on the right side, due to the front brake reservoir. I had to cut the cable tie holding the throttle and brake cables/hoses and re-orient the lines and then install a new cable tie.

I need a bit of extra room underneath to hold the hand guard bar clamp.

I did not re-install the original Kaoko throttle control.

Instead, I ordered the correct replacement Kaoko that is specifically designed for use with the Barkbusters hand guards and that installation is described in this review.

Aligning the Levers and Hand Guard

Once you have the inside clamp, the hand guard bar and the bar end weight assembly loosely in place, it's time to align the hand guard bar before you torque all the bolts. You may need to tighten each bolt again slightly to keep everything roughly in place.

I aligned the hand guard bar so it was in line with my fingertips as I sat on the bike (photo below).

The left side hand grip and clutch lever assembly had been installed so that it was turned down more than the right side and I always felt that the left and right sides on my bike were uneven.

On the 2014 V-Strom, it's easy enough to loosen the single bolt that holds the left hand grip assembly in place and I rotated the clutch lever up so that it is now just below the hand guard bar.

Once you have everything lined up, tighten the bolts in the specified order (as noted in the Barkbusters installation instructions) with the correct torque.

Here are a couple of photos:

Hand Alignment for Barkbusters Storm Hand Guards
Sit on the bike and align the hand guard bar to your desired position before tightening the bolts.
Align Barkbusters Storm Hand Guards With Hand Grips
Here's the alignment that felt most comfortable for me.
The yellow arrows indicate the plastic strap that holds the outside of the Barkbusters Storm plastic guard.
Attaching the Storm Hand Guards

The Storm hand guards are easy to install using the provided self-tapping screws. Make sure you get this right the first time though to ensure the best grip.

Don't over-tighten, but you will have to make sure to tighten the screws enough to hold the plastic guards firmly in place on the hand guard bar.

The guards may feel slightly loose until you crank on the screws just enough to take up all the play in the guards. Once they're tight enough, don't tighten the screws any further or you'll risk stripping the holes.

Plastic Hand Guard Mounting Parts
The plastic straps (L) must be oriented correctly to hold the plastic guard to the metal bar. They're attached using self-tapping screws. Note the 4 longer screws are for the straps and the two shorter screws are used on the outside of the plastic guards towards the inside.
Plastic Hand Guard Mounting Points
These are the two small holes drilled into the bar for attaching the plastic guard with self-tapping screws.
Barkbusters Storm Hand Guards Horizontal View
Here's a photo from the side of the rough alignment of the hand guard bar and the Storm guards.
Barkbusters Storm Hand Guards Left Side Front View
The Storm guards provide excellent coverage and good looks.
Barkbusters Storm Hand Guards Left Side
Here's a view from the inside just before I rotated the hand grip assembly.
Conclusion

It actually took me much longer to write this review than it did to install the Storm hand guards.

I was surprised at how easy it was, only because I had such a bad experience trying to get the hand guards installed on the DR650.

It's always a good feeling when you buy an accessory part that is actually designed to fit your bike. I can tell you, it wasn't like that in the old days!

The Storm hand guards provide noticeably better coverage and wind protection than the stock Suzuki hand guards, which do not have a metal backbone or skeleton.

The Barkbusters guards feel rock-solid and the plastic Storm guards provide excellent wind protection -- better than the stock Suzuki plastics.

In fact, the Storm guards allowed me to go one winter weight down in my glove selection because of the improved wind protection for my hands.

I also have the AdMore LED light kit for the Storm hand guards and will be installing that soon.

The Barkbusters Storm hand guards have excellent quality, they're easy to install on the V-Strom and they provide a noticeable difference in wind protection without any extra buffeting.

This kit is much better than the stock plastic pieces that came with the bike.

More in the webBikeWorld 2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS Blog.

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wBW Review: Barkbusters Storm Hand Guard Kit
Manufacturer: Barkbusters (Rideworx)
List Price (2015): $163.49 (Bar + guards)
Colors: Black.
Made In: Australia
Sizes: Fits many different makes and models.
Review Date: March 2015

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Your Comments and Feedback

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From "G.W." (April 2015): "I've had these installed on my Versys now for about three years and have even crashed in them a few times.

I've also removed them twice so feel I am in a good position to comment on their benefits and drawbacks.

They are very high quality and protective but you need to purchase the kit for your specific bike.

Because of the price and the fact generic brake and clutch levers are so cheap to purchase and quick and easy to replace, it may be more cost effective not to install them and just buy some back up levers, if your only consideration is lever protection.

They are however very protective and in many cases enhance the look of the bike.

The only real downsides are the costs and steering clearance. On some windshields installing hand guards may cause them to hit the windshield at full lock. Also I find hand guards have a negligible effect on hand warmth in cold weather.

Don't buy hand guards to keep your hands warm. There are much better and cheaper alternatives like grip warmers or gloves.

My Barkbusters worked fine until I installed my Gaffer brake lines.

The dual connection of the Gaffers on the front of the brake cylinder has meant I've needed to add a spacer to the right shield and so they no longer exactly line up."

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