Engine Guards and Gravel Practice for your Motorcycle

Engine guards…love them, hate them, hang things off of them. The story…

I hadn’t been on a bike for many, many years.

I’d bought a brand new bike, off the showroom floor for my return.

I had finished the Rider’s Safety Courses and gotten my license and put in some hours on solo rides…I was cocky and feeling comfortable. Then I went riding with a fellow owner of a Yamaha Bolt XV950.

Sad fact…I’d ordered Engine Guards and they were sitting in my garage, still in the damn box! Laziness and procrastination had led me to put off their installation. I paid for that! Literally!


Two Yamaha Bolt VX950s -CLTurner

No complaints about the ride. I’d just gotten the Memphis Shades windshield and my friend wanted to test it. I wanted to see if there was any real road difference between my R-Spec and his “regular” Bolt (answer, not much. There are a few, but they are very minor.) His mini-apes were awesome and I vowed right there to replace my handlebars…immediately.

Drifting through the unused, back mountain highways of north central Utah on a bike was damn near ethereal. I don’t need to describe the details, those of us who ride know–those who don’t will never understand unless they take the seat. It served as a solidifier; the reason why I returned were clear and the misgivings, the fears, were put aside.

Drifting through the unused, back mountain highways of north central Utah on a bike was damn near ethereal.

The trouble came in Eureka, a half dead, but stunning, old mining town almost hidden in the East Tintic Mountains. My friend pulled into a large, well maintained gravel pull off with large boulders bordering its edges. He was a seasoned rider and off-road rider, so heading down the (somewhat steep) shoulder didn’t even phase him.

I just thought well, it’s time to face gravel…inevitable and followed. No worries! We parked the bikes, took a brief rest, and prepared to take off. The video…well, it’s a testament to experience and certain truths.

The result?

I broke the shifter, dented a cover, got some very minor bruises, and was grateful for good leather. I also learned the proper way to solo-lift a bike! We used zip ties, wire and electrical tape to piece the shifter together (which held well enough to get me home and replace the $70 part)…I had all of that in my bags and never ride without them! (You can do ANYTHING with enough of those.)

I also installed the engine guards, immediately. Had they been on the bike? Well, I’d still have the original shifter. I’d also not have gotten one of the nastier bruises on my knee (probably). I also wouldn’t have dented that cover, but I really don’t mind that, I like it.

So the lesson here? If you wonder, install the damn guards, don’t procrastinate. I’ve seen many a Bolt rider make the same mistake, repair the same damage. Also, take my advice, go practice the hell out of gravel! I still hate it, but I don’t worry about it much.

Ride safe.

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