It doesn’t take very long at all after buying a Ducati to start pumping it up with some cool accessories.
And what’s a Multistrada without hand guards? After all, the bike is supposed to be an Adventure Tourer.
Well, sort of, anyway.
The Multistrada definitely looked like it could use a pair, so off I went to the hunt.
Along the way, I discovered that some owners have installed aftermarket hand guards from Acerbis.
Some have adapted KTM Adventure hand guards and there are a few other brands here and there that have been adapted for the task.
But Ducati lists a set of hand guards for the Multistrada in the “Ducati Performance” catalog (SKU# 96747905B), and why not buy something that fits, I thought?
So I ordered up a pair, at an exorbitant $179.00. Of course, the price has recently dropped to about $150.00 — still expensive, especially for what they are.
But guess how I feel now after spending $29.00 more?
In any case, the hand guards finally arrived in an “official” Ducati box. The kit included, strangely enough, three different pairs of cap screws, no instructions, no washers and no nuts.
I figured the instructions I could live without, and I have seen photos of the hand guard kit and it doesn’t appear to include the nuts or washers, so apparently our kit is correct, but why?
Hand guards typically attach at one end on the outboard side of the handlebars and inboard at the clutch and brake lever rotating points at the inboard side of the grips.
One of the bolt types that Ducati supplied fits right down through the hand guards, through a hole in the lever rotating point that was apparently specifically designed to hold the optional hand guards.
The cap screws stick out the bottom, under the levers, and a washer and nut is then required to secure each bolt. I had to rummage around in the parts bin to some that fit.
The missing washer and nut mystery might have been solved had there been instructions in the box; the absence of these missing parts is a puzzling customer service faux pas. And remember, these hand guards cost 180 bucks — not cheap, in my book.
Between the problems with fitting the Ducati saddlebags I installed on the GT1000 and the missing nuts, cap screws and instructions with the hand guards, I’m pretty disappointed in both the quality and the lack of customer focus with Ducati accessories.
It’s not worthy of the marque and certainly not up to the excellent quality I’ve experienced with the motorcycles themselves (thank goodness!). It seems like a carryover from the days of the “old” Ducati organization…
Anyway, after looking at as many photos as I could find, I started to develop an understanding for how the hand guards were supposed to be installed.
I’m still not 100% sure I’ve got it right, so if anyone can provide more insight, feel free to send in your tips (see below).
One problem I discovered, which I have not seen posted by other Multistradino owners, is that the Multistrada 620 comes from the factory with cheap plastic caps stuck into the end of the handlebars, which serve as a fake “bar end weights”.
Here is a close-up photo:
The plastic cap can be easily levered from the handlebar with a screwdriver blade. The cap is not metal, it’s a hollow piece of plastic and it weighs next to nothing.
Cheeeep! It’s obviously there for looks only.
Since the outer end of the hand guards are fitted to the outside of the handlebar, and usually over a bar end weight, the plastic caps had to go.
By the way, I’ve heard of some owners wondering if the bar end weight should be installed over the top of the hand guard instead, and although I suppose this could be done, it doesn’t seem correct.
Perhaps there are some hand guards that are designed to be mounted with the bar end weight on the outside?
But then the weights would be sticking out as the widest part of the bike and a branch that should have been pushed aside by the sweep of the hand guard could instead get caught on the bar end weight and pull the handlebars sideways.
I guess this depends on the size and shape of the bar end weights; they vary, as we shall see.
Since the Multistrada 620 didn’t have bar end weights, I had to order a set. I guess I could have, and probably should have, simply ordered a pair from Ducati, but I wanted to try something new.
So I nosed around a bit and found the excellent quality Manic Salamander (details below) bar end weights, which are available in many shapes and sizes for a variety of motorcycles.
I ordered a set of their cylindrical black powder-coated weights for the Multistrada, which cost $64.99 for the pair.
The Manic Salamander weights are nice, hefty units and they’re bigger then the standard Ducati bar end weights that came on the GT1000.
I put the different weights on the Polder scale but have since lost the slip of paper I used to record the results, and I don’t feel like taking everything apart just to weigh them.
But I believe the Manic Salamander weights were something like 40% heavier than the Ducati weights.
The Manic Salamander weights easily fit the Multistrada (after moving the rubber hand grip on the throttle side inboard slightly to ensure that it doesn’t rub against the weight) and they looked great, with the black powder-coat matching the black paint on the bike.
I rode the bike a few times with these weights installed but without the hand guards, and I didn’t notice any different in handlebar shake.
The 620 has a notorious vibration in the handlebars, instruments and upper fairing between 3,000 and 4,000 RPM.
I then discovered that the Manic Salamander weights are slightly too long to fit under the Ducati hand guards, so it was back to the drawing board, or at least down to the local Ducati dealer.
Fortunately, I glanced over at the GT1000 and the ol’ light bulb went off and I realized that all I had to do was to swap out the GT1000’s standard Ducati bar end weights for the Manic Salamander weights and I’d be all set.
The Ducati GT1000 bar end weights also fit the Multi (I’m assuming the weights are a standard Ducati part that will fit other models too), and they’re tapered out towards the ends, so they fit nicely under the molded hand guards.
One of the “button head” cap screws that Ducati provided in the hand guard kit is exactly long enough to attach the bar end weight with the extra length of the hand guard on top, so apparently Ducati figured that owners would use Ducati brand bar end weights only.
Since the hand guards are made from some type of molded plastic, it’s important not to over-tighten the cap screws, as I discovered, or the plastic will crack.
I used some blue Loctite on the nuts holding the hand guards on the lever pivot point, but I over-tightened the bolt on the bar end weight side and ended up putting some stress cracks in the hand guard.
They look pretty dramatic in this close-up photo with flash, but they actually are pretty much unnoticeable otherwise:
The problem is that the bar end weight requires the bolt to be very tight to pull the expansion collar inside the handlebar open wide and tight against the inner diameter of the bars.
But the bolt can’t be tightened too much or it will crack the hand guard.
Fortunately, the hand guard itself sort of acts as a stop to prevent the bar end weight from backing out — so far at least.
I also dabbed some blue Loctite on the bar end weight bolt in the hopes that this will help to keep things from vibrating loose. I’ve checked them after several rides and they seem fine.
By the way, here’s a photo from underneath the handlebars, showing the washer and nut holding the bolt on the inside of the hand guards:
Here are some more photos, this one shows the Manic Salamander bar end weight and the hand guard, which doesn’t really stretch far enough to fit.
The Manic Salamander weight is also too bulky towards the outside to fit under the guard:
Here’s the final product; I’m not sure if the hand guards do much, but I guess they look cool and they further distinguish the bike from a Sportbike.
When is the last time you saw a set of hand guards on a GSX-R 1000? I bet those owners are jealous!
More wBW Motorcycle Hand Guard Reviews
Sato Racing Handlebar End Weight Review
Master Listing of All wBW Motorcycle Product Reviews
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From “DP” (August 2008): “I just completed a trouble free installation of the MTS 620 hand guards thanks to your review.
Although the part took nearly 6 months to arrive it came with all required parts (including washers, nuts and bar end weights) except for instructions….maybe someone at Ducati read your review?”
From “J.E.”: “Just read your recent Ducati hand guard review. I think I would have a difficult time spending $150 + $65 for these hand guards and bar end weights.
I just ordered and installed Suzuki hand guards on my 650 K7 ABS V-Strom — all required parts were included — even instructions.
Re-used the standard equipment bar end weights. I’m very pleased with the quality, fit, and finish. All for a $50 bill.”