Hepco & Becker Crash Bars
WHY? Protection. Don't kid yourself, though--the protection is limited. Hepco & Becker calls these things "crash bars," but don't count on 'em to save you or the bike in an accident. They are, however, good for protecting the tupperware and miscellaneous protruding parts in case of a tip-over or slide. On other V-Stroms I've used crash bars made by Givi, SW-Motech and Pat Walsh; I like the looks and heavy construction of the Hepco & Becker bars, though, and decided to give 'em a try. Since I wanted to use these bars in tandem with the Amotostuff engine protector I ordered both items at the same time from Adventure Motostuff. Their web site is very clean and easy to navigate; I placed the order online and paid via credit card. $195 plus shipping.
SERVICE. Pretty good. Immediately after placing the order I received an email confirmation; shipping the product took a while as the bars weren't in stock. After a week I called their customer service line and talked to a real human being who was very helpful and gave me an estimated shipping date. I received a shipping notification in a couple of weeks and the shipment arrived at my door via UPS about three weeks after placing the order; that's longer than I would like to wait, but not unreasonable for an imported product. The bars were packed in a larger box together with a couple of other items and the packing job wasn't the best--one of the mounting flanges had poked through the plastic wrap and there were a few small scratches on the bars. The damage was not enough to warrant a return, but I was disappointed in the packing job by a company that usually delivers better.
INSTALLATION. The installation instructions that came with the bars were in German and were just about useless. The illustration was pretty clear, however, and the average home mechanic should be able to manage this installation without trouble. It took me over an hour to get everything buttoned up, but I had to re-work a couple of steps along the way because the bars didn't align properly. If you're going to install the same bars I'd recommend the following: 1) Use Loctite Blue on all bolts. 2) Assemble the side bars with the cross bar first, leaving the bolts loose. 3) Lift the entire assembly into place (I did it by myself, but could have used a helper) and bolt it up. 4) Tighten all bolts to 27 nm (20 ft/lbs). You can see the finished product above; here's a front view:
RESULTS. Really nice; I'm very impressed with the quality and construction of these bars. They don't add too much to the overall width of the bike, but they do look like they would offer pretty good protection in the event of a tip-over. I haven't tried removing the front tupperware since the installation, but it looks like the bars will make the job much more difficult. The quality of this item looks to be very good, with clean welds and a nice powdercoat finish. Appearance is highly subjective, but I really like the looks of the H&B bars and think that they work well with the overall lines of the bike.
Worth the money? As an appearance accessory, $195 is pretty steep. If the bike goes over, however, it will be money well spent.