To drill or not to drill? That is the question. Or should that be, ‘well, I don’t intend to crash so why would I need to protect the fairings?’
When the rather polite people at R&G, the motorcycle crash protection specialists, ask if they can send a selection of protection for our long-term loan Honda Fireblade, we offered no objection. It gave us the perfect opportunity to see if a spanner-dodger like me can fit a few bobbins, some bar ends and a tail tidy as well as emphasising what is on offer for the new CBR1000RR.
So, when a box of gear arrived at BikeSocial HQ soon after and I was left to face the music with a natural avoidance of getting my hands mucky. Off to a colleague’s fully-equipped garage I fled without thinking about the possibilities of requiring a drill…I mean, what was I going to drill a hole in just so it could be protected?
For when the box was opened, inside lurked a host of hard plastic-wrapped protection including a set of fairing-protecting bobbins that required, guess what, a drill. They also felt quite heavy, 618g to be precise, and given that the Honda’s MO had been to make the 2017 Fireblade as light as possible, plus it’s a loan bike and Honda might not be too chuffed when they receive the bike back with additional and non-standard fairing holes.
Incidentally, R&G have since unveiled a non-drill kit where the black infill panels are but having put the quandary of to drill or not to drill to our social media followers there was a definite divide of opinion.
I decided to run the risk by leaving the crash bungs in their packaging and instead concentrate on this:
BAR END SLIDERS
PRICE: £22.49 + VAT
FITTING TIME: 5 minutes
Easy to fit as you’d expect and slightly lighter than the originals but I did need to wear a rubber-gripped glove to remove the OE parts given how tightly they’d been fitted. The only tool here is a Phillips screwdriver.
PRICE: £33.33 + VAT
FITTING TIME: 10 minutes
Very easy to fit by removing one end and passing the bar straight through the hollow spindle before aligning the nut and tightening. OK, so it adds an extra bolt to undo when removing the rear wheel but that’s a small price to pay.
M8 Cotton reels
PRICE: £7.49 + VAT
FITTING TIME: 2 minutes
Standard anodised aluminium bobbins that screw into the relevant slot in the swing arm and allow the rear of the bike to be supported by a paddock stand.
PRICE: £99.99 + VAT
FITTING TIME: 1 hour
The photographs in the instructions provided are very dark making it quite a chore to fit. Little things like having to apply the supplied heat-shrink tubing, and supergluing the number plate light shroud are a little frustrating – making it feel a little unfinished.
The number plate light has to have the OE connection cut off to fit the R&G one. It’s not the end of the world, and it is tucked away once complete but would have preferred an OE connection.
The stainless steel with matte black power coat makes the rear of the bike look slicker and sleeker by tucking the registration plate and indicator lights under the seat unit and rear light. An improvement over the euro-conforming OE set-up but up close it’s not the most beautiful.
PRICE: £29.16 + VAT
FITTING TIME: 10 minutes
Comes with a replacement spindle bolt which means undoing the fork pinch bolts and replacing the original. The torque settings of the pinch bolts are printed on the bottom of the fork leg but as it’s not there for the main bolt and R&G doesn’t tell you in the instructions so we had to call Honda to check. It would have been good to have the torque settings in instructions. Of course, not everyone has a torque wrench or cares and a dealer would know the settings anyway.
NB: you need a 13mm socket for each end, so make sure you have two.
TANK GRIPS & BOOT GUARDS
PRICE: £25.83 + VAT & £29.99 +VAT
FITTING TIME: 5 minutes each set
Each set has two pieces for either side for side of fuel tank and knee grip (tank grips) then to protect the frame from the toes of your boots as well as the swing arm.
Because of the ferociously sticky adhesive, each take a little lining up in a bid to stick them down accurately. The coarse rubberised material on the outside is designed to prevent wear from the boot when chaffing against the frame or swing arm.
The kits are supplied pre-cut to fit the areas they are designed for. However, within a week I’d removed the one below the front of the seat, it was harder to fit and the rainwater had affected the adhesive.
PRICE: £38.33 + VAT
FITTING TIME: 2 minutes
I’m sure it would serve as much of a purpose as the rest of the crash protection fitted to the Fireblade but for me, a fan of the aesthetics, this is the most garish piece. A simple jubilee clip tighten by a flat-head screwdriver around the inside of the exhaust is all that is required to fit it but do make sure the rubber protection is in place between the clip and the end can too.
Thankfully, I didn’t get the chance to test their protective nature but shame on me for providing only half a review…