Cylinder Head Protection
By email from Frank F.
I am awaiting delivery of a 2014 R1200GS LC in early March. I will ride the bike mostly two-up on both street and dirt, but probably do more gravel/FS roads and off-road than most people do on their GS bikes.
Here in CO, the tertiary mountain roads are often rocky and loose, as you probably know. Tip-overs and slow falls have occurred on our trips and likely will with the new bike.
I am grappling with the question of whether to buy crash bars or not. It seems that the most likely scenario for a tip-over on a rocky trail would be puncture of the valve cover by a sharp rock and crash bars might not prevent this from happening at all. It seems to me that crash bars are more useful in higher speed falls and what I really need are your valve cover protectors. The bike will probably come to rest on our luggage bars and the cylinders as they already stick out.
Any comments and insights are appreciated.
Regarding using crash bars or not, for mostly street riding either X-Heads or crash bars will be sufficient. Some riders do not like the look of all that plumbing around the engine so opt for X-Head guards instead. X-Heads are designed to cover 80% of the face of the head to protect, not only the bottom/front initial impact area in a drop, but also the upper part of the cylinder head. Even in a stationary drop in a driveway, inertia can cause a bike to roll partially onto the face of the head before it settles down.
For off-road riding, X-Heads alone are very effective because of their broad coverage and the Super Tough Nylon material we use is the best that can be had for this application, preventing breakage and punctures. For heavy duty riding and frequent drops in rough terrain, X-Heads complement crash bars to protect heads from weird strike angles onto rocks that can get past openings in the bars, especially at the rear part of the cylinder. Adding bars is another layer of defense.
X-Heads for the GS_LC were designed with clearance for BMW’s crash bars in mind so you will be able to fit them at any time. I cannot yet vouch for other brands of bars.