I recently purchased a set of DirtRacks Crash Bars and Soft Luggage Racks for my Gen2 KLR 650. Dirtracks is not a major manufacturer but they are quite popular in the Dual Sport world, with a strong presence on Dual Sport forums. They also make luggage racks and bolt on protection for Suzuki’s DR650 and DRZ400 S/SM and Honda’s XR650L.
I placed my order for the 2008-Present KLR Side Engine Crash Bar Unpainted and the 1987-2015 Kawasaki KLR650 Saddlebag Support Rack and used paypal to complete the transaction which is in USD despite the company being located in Canada. They offer a flat rate of $29 shipping within USA and Canada. The order shipped the very next day and I received the box of goodies via Canada Post quite quickly. The crash bars had no packaging whatsoever, but they are unfinished so no big deal. The Saddlebag Supports came wrapped in newspaper and plastic wrap, well protected, and as a bonus you can read the local BC weather and see how much better it is than where you live.
KLR owners are how you say CHEAP. In a smart move DirtRacks has decided to give their customers the option to buy many items unpainted and finish them to their liking, saving some dough in the process as the unfinished crash bars are $50 less. I purchased the crash bars unpainted and the saddlebag supports painted in order to see what the two options where like first hand. The unpainted products are really “raw”; they have sharpie markings, grinder marks and fresh welds. All of this goes away after priming and painting with little prep needed. I used some Primer and Dupli-Color spray applied truck bed coating to paint the crash bars. Another benefit to the unpainted option is that you can easily touch up damage in the future without worrying about color matching.
It’s not often you get anything in the bike world that is unrefined and not welded by a robot in China. These products look and feel like there is a certain “handmade” quality to them. They could have easily come from a skilled welder’s home garage. That is likely why you don’t see DirtRacks making protection for big expensive Beemers. The KLRs, DRs, and XRs of the world are themselves unrefined. The crash bars are made from 1” steel tubing and the saddlebag racks from 5/8”. Out of the box they feel robust and the powder-coating on the prefinished item’s very durable.
Being “budget” accessories, I was dreading the installation. I pictured myself banging on the damn things with a rubber hammer trying to get the ill-made accessories to fit on the bike. The opposite was true. Despite my anticipation of a hard install, both the crash bars and luggage racks fit perfectly, with little to no persuasion needed to align the parts and bolts. There is no installation instruction, but it’s not rocket science, just hold up the accessories to the bike and you will see where everything should go. My only gripe would be that all the bolts came in one bag, so I had to decide which length of bolt goes with which part, again not a difficult task. They are metric, so for my readers to the south, pick up a metric socket set (8mm and 13mm are needed).
Luckily I have not fully tested my crash bars, aka dumped the bike in the time that I have had these. However from my commutes and weekend rips both on and off the trail and on highways, I have concluded that these crash bars and luggage racks have incredible bang for buck.
They leave a decent gap from the plastics and exhaust yet feel extremely sturdy and can be used to lift the bike onto a stand. I have read some comments that the racks can interfere with the helmet lock, but I actually found as an added bonus that the racks force your helmet to sit better when locked, keeping water out during rain and preventing it from swinging under the tail and getting dirty.
- Great Fit
- None Observed
They have great clearance both from the bike and from the ground. Leaning the bike over as far as I can on-road there is no interference of any kind and no concern of scraping. There is a bit of a buzz that comes from the crash bars when the bike is revving high on the highway or when the chock is on. You can see and feel a slight vibration. On the other hand, that’s not the only thing vibrating on the KLR and this could probably be reduced with some rubber bushings or something of that nature. That being said, it is not a big enough issue for any great effort. A bonus of the crash bars is that they are great for resting your legs on during long highway riding and no highway pegs are really warranted. As you can see in the first image and the one below, the protection on a downed bike is really good.
- Inexpensive ($119-169 vs $212-250+)
- Compatible with the Stock Skid Plate
- Unpainted Option
- Great Fit & Easy to Install
- Good Protection
- Vibration (no isolating bushings)
- Bolts are Grade 8.8 vs Grade 10.9 (offered with more expensive crash bars)
The luggage racks are paired with Nelson Riggs Dry Adventure Saddlebags (review coming shortly). I will be modifying the rack to accommodate a RotoPax, and looking back I would have gone for the DirtRacks Heavy Duty SideRacks, which come RotoPax mount ready. This coming summer the KLR650 and all of its gear will be tackling the Tans-Labrador with 3 other KLRs ridden by a bunch of meat heads who just happen to be my close friends.
Photos: by Ben Reynolds