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Outback Motortek Crash Bars - 2018 Africa Twin

inexorable

Active Member
Aug 16, 2018
107
40
28
UK
#1
I didn't know what drop protection would be best for my AT so I started the thread Musing on Drop Protection & Crash Bars. I still don't know what drop protection is best (everyone has their favourite) - but as far as crash bars are concerened this is what I did.

If you're in a rush - they are very good, not 100% perfect (maybe 99%) but I would buy them again. Good decision. 👍

Outback Motortek Crash Bars & Engine Guards

First off, dealing with Outback Motortek.... Fantastic.

All of my emails were answered straight away - I think the first one before I'd even finished my coffee. Always patient, always friendly and always helpful.

There was a slight hiccup with my order that meant the bars came a few days later than expected - but it was an easy mistake to make (and quite comical) and was perfectly handled by Outback Motortek. Once in the order queue the whole process took just a few days. From Canada via Hungary, through Budapest, to London Stansted and to me.

All in all, as far as dealing with the company is concerned - a solid 10/10.

Bought them from here: https://outbackmotortek.com


What I Got

Check out the video of Lorry at Outback Motortek throwing his AT around with the bars on. It's clear that a combination of good hand guards and these bars is enough to keep the bike off of the ground - talk about putting your money where your mouth is. 👍

So that's what I decided on. Just the mid level crash bars and lower engine guards for now. Combined with the [[ BarkBusters ]] I thought it would be more than enough until I get used to the bike and start taking it on the bumpy stuff.


First Impressions

Ok they didn't come with free skittles but they certainly were very well packed - and in a much smaller box than expected.

OutbackMotortekBox.jpg


OutbackMotortekBarsPacked.jpeg

I've got to say, I was surprised by the weight - or lack of it. One of my main concerns about ordering these bars was that they looked a bit bulky and heavy. I think they said they were 9kg in total (5 for the mid bars and 4kg for the engine guards). But when I picked up the box I was quite happy. I didn't check the weight but they certainly are not heavy or bulky. In fact, they look and feel just about right to me.

OutbackMotortekBarsUnpacked2.jpg

Quick tip - they might have some sand in them. I assume from blasting. When you unpack them some of that sand might escape and go on the floor. If that floor is indoors and the other half is not partial to sand on the indoors floor.... well... ;)

So, well packed and very well finished. They look and feel great. Not too bulky and not too heavy. Very relieved.

I think they use a bigger tube than most and that worried me when I was first looking - but now I have them I see I definately wouldn't want them any thinner. Just right.

Don't quite know what I'm going to do with those black stickers on my black bike though - I'm hoping for a good low key contrast between the blacks. We'll see.

Fitting

I will preface this bit by saying I'm a fool and I got these bars fitted using just the instructions in a morning - so the instructions are obviously good enough.

... but not perfect.

I'm being pedantic now - but it's getting hard to find fault with them and I want this to be a balanced post.

I have bought two kits. Crash bars and Engine Guards. Two kits with two sets of instructions that overlap. The instruction booklets do make reference to eachother but I think it would have been a little clearer and easier with a single unified set of instructions for those of us buying bar combos.

Again, I'm trying hard to fault them here - it's not a difficult install.

I'll glance over little inconsistencies like the instructions saying "Allen Bolts" when the kit was supplied with Torx head bolts. Maybe it's a mistake, maybe they improved the kit - or maybe it just doesn't matter because the bolts in question had hexagon shaped heads for a socket or spanner/wrench anyway - so all good.

My main gotcha was with the first step. The two main bolts that hold the main mounting bracket on. When you are installing just the crash bars you use the two long bolts in the crash bars kit and the OEM nuts - but when you are installing the engine guards as well you need to use the longer bolts supplied in the engine guard kit. Easy. That much was perfectly clear. However, it wasn't so clear that the larger of the bolts in each kit had a different thread. The bolt in the crash bar kit was the same as the OEM bolt. The bolt in the engine guards kit was not - I nearly cross threaded the OEM nut onto the engine guard bolt - they are not compatible.

OutbackMotortekBolts1.jpg

When installing just the crash bars you use the OEM nut. When installing the engine guards you need to use the silver/blue nylock nuts in the engine guard kit. With hindsight this was probably obvious but I could have done with an extra line in the instructions for clarity here. So not a complaint - just a close call on my part.

Anyway... front mount fitted.

OutbackMotortekBarsFrontMount.jpg


Crash Bar Install

Left hand side installed without issue - although I'm not sure how I feel about the rear bracket being wrapped around the frame. I would have been happier with a bolted fixing but there just isn't a place to bolt to on the AT - I certainly can't see a better fixing option for this bike and this does feel very secure. And it fits. I wasn't sure because there's an electrical connector in there and it looked very tight - but with careful positioning it went in fine and the connector could still wobble (so wasn't being squashed). There's also plenty of room for the "toolbox". Any previous worries about spacing there are gone. I'm happy.

OutbackMotortekInstallLeft1.jpg

Right hand side was also easy - but watch out for those spacers! I didn't take a good enough picture of the spacers but each of these 3 bolts has a spacer behind it. I didn't drop any taking them out or getting them back in - but that was pure luck. They are feisty. The plate goes (the bar has its own plate) but the spacers go back in.

OutbackMotortekInstallRight1.jpg

I also found that I hit the front faring a few times while trying to line this bar up - so if you care about your paint a rag wrapped around there is a good plan.

OutbackMotortekInstallRight2.jpg


To be continued .........
 
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inexorable

Active Member
Aug 16, 2018
107
40
28
UK
#2
... continued ...

Engine Guards Install

A bit more tricky. Not difficult, just tricky. I'm sorry I didn't take good enough pictures for this bit.

I was sure the right side lower bracket was wrong. Very wrong. There was no way the bracket was going to fit. I couldn't even get it close to where it needed to be from any angle. I spent quite some time looking at it, stroking my beard, getting my head under the bike. There just didn't seem to be enough room. You have the coolant bottle, some electrical connectors, the frame and the exhaust covers all fighting for the same square inch of space and I had to try and fit this relatively huge lump 'o bracket in there. Not a chance. No matter what angle I tried.

Soooooo, I took the exhaust guard off for a better look. I don't think I had to do that but I want to strip this bike as much as I can to learn how it all goes together anyway so off it went. It did help and the bracket does fit. It's bloody tight but it does fit.

WARNING: If you take your exhaust shield off (you don't have to) be careful not to scratch it under the rear footrest hanger. I scratched mine. There is zero clerance. Undo the allen bolts and then compress the plastic cover into the exhaust gently as you slide the whole cover (plastic cover and lower chrome shields) backwards towards the back of the bike just enough to release the slide clips. There are two slide clips. One in the first chrome cover (front) and one in the rear plastic cover. You can see the one in the chrome cover if you look from underneath the bike. Then rotate the whole cover towards you and down to clear the footrest hanger. Just make sure you compress the plastic cover gently to make room. The hanger will make a mess of it otherwise.

This brings me to my first of two things that I'm not entirely comfortable with. This bracket is not thin - which is good. But it does mean that the OEM nut would not fit back onto the OEM bolt that the bracket attaches to. To fix this you are supplied with a half width nut which just about does. And it is just about. I am not an engineer and I am sure this has been thought about but I think I would prefer a longer bolt and proper nut. But that means removing the whole exhaust to swap the bolt so it's clear why they don't give you one. I think I'll come back to this and replace it with a longer bolt and proper nut in the future. Until then I'll just add to the list of regular checks. It's probably fine and feels rock solid once mounted.

My second "not so comfortable" thing (and the only real required improvemnt I can think of) is with the left side lower fixing for the engine guard. This uses one of the bolts where the stock skid plate attaches.

I didn't take a before picture but here's one fitted...

OutbackMotortekBarsPlate3.jpg


My issue is that the skid plate fixing used to have a nice big rubber grommet with a metal spacer insert in there.

OutbackMotortekBarsPlate2.jpg

As you can see the Outback Motortek bar bracket leaves no room for this to go back in - which results in this...

OutbackMotortekBarsPlate4.jpg

Ugly, slightly odd and now without all the rubbery spaced goodness.

So, "fully compatible with the stock OEM skid plate"... yes.. but with a slightly awkward caveat.

It looks like the bar bracket just needs to step out slightly more than it does so that the OEM rubber and spacer can go back in. But they might have their reasons why it doesn't and maybe this is fine. It certainly wont matter in the future when i get the Outback Motortek skid plate. For now though... not as happy with that bit.

To be continued .........
 
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inexorable

Active Member
Aug 16, 2018
107
40
28
UK
#3
... continued ...

The Result

All in all I'm very pleased. I made the right decision.

Outback Motortek as a company I cannot fault. Fantastic throughout.

The bars look solid, well constructed, well finished and inspire confidence. They also fit really well.... even if maybe slightly flawed on the OEM skid plate attachment - but I'll take that for now.... until I buy their skid plate ;)
 

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inexorable

Active Member
Aug 16, 2018
107
40
28
UK
#4
.... oh and....

There's plenty of space for size 12s - no clearance issues at all.
 

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Graves

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 14, 2016
881
277
123
So. Cal.
#5
Nice write up. Not that we want you to test them... but please let us know how they work if you do.
 

inexorable

Active Member
Aug 16, 2018
107
40
28
UK
#6
I was just about to write the "I hope I don't end up back here with a performance review" post. 😂

Hopefully I won't have to - but if I do I will. 👍
 

Graves

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 14, 2016
881
277
123
So. Cal.
#7
I've tested the hell out of the GIVI lowers, and they do the job, but I want something that can protect and survive with only a little paint touch up. I do like the look of the OM bars, would like to see what they look like when thrown down in a sharp edged rock garden like we have here in the Southwest.

Nice write up. Not that we want you to test them... but please let us know how they work if you do.
 

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