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…
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.
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.
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.
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.”