Enduro Engineering Handguards

Solving the question of flag vs. barkbuster

If you ride the kind of single track that has you climbing over logs and rocks that are taller than the clutch cover and the hillsides are steep enough to grab the clutch lever, this article is for you. For you have likely been torqued more than once because of a slow tip that wasted a handguard, or been caught by a whipped branch that you would swear went right though that high dollar piece of aluminum wrapped in plastic.

However, if you are just looking for a roost deflector, this article can prove interesting but it’s over the top for your needs. You can skip to the Enduro Engineering Moto Roost Deflector if you still want something that is overkill. If it were me I would simply get a few kits of flags (extras are good) that have plastic mounts with a decent arm. Warm the arm if needed to mold it around reservoirs. Shave a little off the clamp area here and there to clear perches and buttons and call it good.

About this Article

Over the years we have tried many different hand guards in both the “flag” and “bark buster” styles. Most experimentation resulted in dissatisfaction from poor performance, quality, or fitment. While Enduro Engineering Handguards can be found in both styles and I have some good information for you, I want to take advantage of having my own special spot here on the Internet and perform some well deserved bashing on Acerbis and Cyrca first.

Acerbis: Proving Failure is an Option

In the case of Acerbis, they make some great products. We own and will continue to purchase several Acerbis components. However, there handguards just plain suck. The Rally Pro and the X-strong appear to be the most popular bark buster in the Acerbis lineup. I think this has more to do with looks (they look very cool) and name recognition than anything. It certainly is not because they can take a hit, can be fixed, or have replaceable components.

After purchasing and running multiple sets of both I am convinced the X-strong is nothing but a “we need to make it cheaper” attempt of the Rally Pro. They both suck, but the X-strong sucks more.

What I don’t like about the Acerbis bark busters

They have a very weak reinforcement bar that reminds me of Pot Metal. Hopefully it has more aluminum than not, but I think they are relying on the plastic to keep things straight or simply just don’t care. Several tip overs on rock laden hills resulted in badly bent guards. To make things worse, trying to straighten a reinforcement bar that is encased in plastic is a joke. You have no real way to clamp or pound on it without chewing up the plastic, and the plastic makes finding the actual curve of the metal pretty much impossible.

The protective area of the guard is not very tall. I suffered a very bad break on my left hand when an on-coming rider panicked on a narrow trail and ran into me. I stopped just off the side to let him by, but that is a whole other story that includes a crying teenager that broke his hand and me pissed that I may lose a finger. We went bar-to-bar on the left side. He hit the Rally Pro and then smashed my hand. I cannot help but to think that a proper deflector would have bounced his bar over mine.

The Acerbis suffer in brush and when getting pelted with rocks just the same. The low profile guard fail again as brush does not get pushed up or down far enough to keep it from hitting your hands unless you have the throttle pinned, and the chances of a rock zeroing in on such a thin slice of plastic is minimal. The only satisfaction I really ever got from the Rally Pro was knowing it broke that kid’s hand as payback for his stupidity.

If you are smacking into actual trees you are probably bending them, but should be protected. Beyond that, looks, and the ability to drain your wallet, the Rally Pro has little to offer. But they are good for breaking hands of oncoming riders.

Acerbis fail
Initial testing of bar to bar impact with Acerbis Rally Pro: Results indicate you better have one heck of a good surgeon.

The Uniko flag variants that Acerbis makes are again, cool looking, but all the ones I have tried have one fail in common. They roll when hitting brush at higher speeds. By roll I mean if you smack brush or small tree limbs with the top or bottom of the protection area they will twist in that direction. This in turn results in the brush or tree limbs still smacking you in the hands. Bottom line, I think the Uniko protection is for roost-only.

Cyrca: Bent about Pro Bend

Ah, Cyrca Pro Bend. I read the reviews, spent the money on a set specifically for ProTaper 1-1/8″ bars, started mounting them and, bam! Disappointed. They packaged 2 left deflectors. Okay, stuff happens so I wait for replacements. After they arrived I began to mount the supposedly flexible mounting points that people talk about (bunch of bull if you ask me). Sure, maybe if you have just the right bar bend. I was running the EVO in an RM Low with super thin perches. They should have been easy to mount up but I had to rearrange everything.

The very first ride after I sacrificed my desired positioning for controls to get the overpriced Cyrca’s installed, I dropped the bike and the POS Pro Bend bar bent. Makes me wonder if that is how they got the name. I am not joking when I say I took them off the bike as soon as I got home.

Enduro Engineering Debris Deflectors

I first purchased the Enduro Engineering (EE) Debris Deflectors because I was absolutely sick and tired of paying large sums of money for handguards (2 bikes, 2 riders, lots of rocks and trees). I really liked that the initial purchase point of the EE lines were relatively inexpensive, that they sell a full line of replacement parts, and that the deflectors (plastics) can be easily acquired and swapped when graphic and bike plastics were changed.

When I took the Debris Deflectors out of the packaging the first thing I noticed was the bar inserts. Bah, I despise the style that EE uses as they do not “lock” to the bark buster bar. The non-locking inserts mean the brush bar is going to spin on the insert if dropped at a bad angle. Worse yet is that the short insert is smooth which means it is going to get pushed into the bar and jamming the throttle on right side drops because it is too short to put the proper amount of spacers. Being completely smooth instead of knurled, it there will be no packing resistance.

Rather than trying to just deal with it I immediately grabbed the inserts from the Acerbis Rally Pro’s (got plenty of those!), the bar from the EE, and figured out how I was going to make them work. All it took was a little time with the Dremel to get a good locking fit between the EE bar and the Acerbis bar insert. The result? Well how about well over 250 hours of rides that have seen everything from drops in massive rock gardens, trees, brush, limbs and race roost with ZERO bending, ZERO jammed throttles, ZERO broken levers (running stock levers) and ZERO movement around the bars.

Enduro Engineering Debris Deflector Kit
The Enduro Engineering Debris Deflector kit comes with a smooth bar insert. I chose to modify the set by adding bar end spacers, using knurled inserts from an Acerbis kit, and grinding our the bar to lock in the Acerbis insert.

The modified EE setup is so amazing that it has been moved from old bikes to new bikes (we have 2 sets), with only replacing the deflector to make it look fresh again. I will also point out that the bar mount (not the insert) for the EE Debris Deflectors does not require a special mount for ProTaper bars. Just get 7/8 or 1-1/8. The aluminum of the bar mount is strange in that it forms to the bar so well that you need to smack them with a rubber mallet to get them off, after removing the bolts of course, yet they never got bent, and never deformed. These things act like they are welded on!

Modified Enduro Engineering bar

Modifying the Enduro Engineering Debris Deflector mounting bar to lock onto an Acerbis bar insert is a quick and easy way to tighten them up. Add some spacers inside the insert to stand off the throttle and your good.

Maybe EE did the inserts and bar connection for a reason, and I will get to that in a moment. But I will say I would not ride with the as-sold unit. I have had similar designs turn up on me on the trail and it is never good. What I am attributing to the modification and is as downside of it for me, all the flex was taken out of the bars. This does not matter much on the tight trails, but it does cause me to fatigue quicker in the bumps and open areas. You feel everything! Because of my getting tired of being tired from the stiffness, I reluctantly decided I would try a flag-style deflector again.

Mounted Enduro Engineering Debris Deflector
The modified Debris Deflector mounting bar locked on to the Acerbis bar insert, combined with the Enduro Engineering bar mount took every last bit of flex out of the ProTaper EVO bars which was less than ideal.

Enduro Engineering Moto Roost Deflector(s)

 

When it came to searching for flags I stuck to my typical pattern in finding the best option rather than brand loyalty. Translation, I explored many options during my search. The only one manufacture that I was not open to was Cyrca. The only way I will ever look at Cyrca again is if it was free. Bitter? You better believe it.

Having trashed or rendered flags useless with the throttle pinned smacking sage in the desert, bumping trees on tight hill climbs, or slow motion drops tip-overs down dry waterfalls, I had little hope of finding anything that would survive. Regardless, I was determined to get back to being able to feel my front suspension through the bars rather than every vibration and bump. Since this was going to happen, the things I focused on most during the search were:

      • Stiffness. Did the setup look like the deflector was going to roll?
      • Breakage. Even after taking my less than cat-like reflexes (which can lead to crashes) out of the picture, I know the deflector is going need to be somewhat durable when dropped in the rocks.
      • Low cost means I won’t worry about it so much, good design means I would not need to worry so much.
      • Mounting. Do I need something special for the Pro Taper bars?
      • Clearance around the perch, lines, thickness of the mount.
      • Looks. Ugly is ugly. I don’t need “Acerbis cool,” just not ugly.

Before I started to look for a flag I made up my mind that I was going to buy different levers. I keep spares with me, but I would just assume not have to use them. More on the lever search may be written, but suffice to say I ended up with a breakaway lever.

Keeping with the lever theme for a moment, I thought it would be cool if someone had a flag setup that would “break away” like the levers do. As it turns out EE had (“had” being operative here as they discontinued the option) just such a mount. The mount accepted the same deflector as the Debris Deflector. Now the wheels are spinning.

I already had a few packages of of the Debris Deflector plastics laying around in various colors. It seemed like a bonus that the ones on the bike were still in great shape. EE was already rather inexpensive and since they sold the “Moto Roost Deflector mounting kit,” which was the breakaway mounting kit minus the plastics, for a very reasonable price I just couldn’t pass it up. Click-click, and the order is placed from RockyMountainATV (RM) on a Saturday.

On Monday when I checked the order status I found that the Moto Roost Deflector had been discontinued! Fortunately RMATVMC was still shipping my order as placed. A quick look at the product page revealed that EE replaced the original Moto Roost Deflector with the “Solid Mount Moto Roost Deflector.” What had they learned? Was there a problem with the breakaway function of the prior generation? I decided to go ahead an order up the solid mount as well so I could compare them side by side.

This One or That One

Both the original and new solid mount Roost Deflector use the same clamp at the bar, and the arm extending from that clamp is identical. The only difference is the tip where the deflector flag attaches to the mount. The original tip is slotted to allow forward movement on the mount, and a spring to control the movement. The replacement has no spring, and the slot is machined to form a tight fit around the mount which eliminates movement (thus the ‘solid’ mount I guess). The mounts themselves are high quality machine work but are nothing special in the strength department. I am sure that I could easily bend them or twist them by hand once mounted to the bar.

The deflector mounting bar (deflector mounts to the mounting bar, mounting bar mounts to the bar mount) for both kits is the same, which is a thick piece of plastic that has good strength. I am reasonably sure it would fold and then regain its shape. I do not see it ever snapping because of a hit or wreck. The most likely outcome is the bar mount will bend.

Enduro Engineeting Roost Deflector mounting bar
The Enduro Engineering Roost Deflector mounting bar is a thick strip of plastic held on by 2 plastic straps, each of which have 2 small screws. It may sound and look less than ideal but turns out they just may be the best thing on the market.

After some careful examination I decided that I could not decide between the two based on function alone. The breakaway functionality was cool, but since the product is discontinued what happens when not if they break? It looked like I could take the tip and spring off the non-solid mount and bolt it to the solid mount arm, but it was obvious that a lost or broken spring or tip would mean I was switching to solid mounts. Decision made, going with the solid mount.
Enduro Engineering Solid Mount
Clutch side mounting was a bit challenged with the reservoir, perch mount, and button. I did eventually shape the sides of the clamps at the bar to get the controls to fit where I wanted them.

Mounting was a bit more involved than I expected. The levers that I “wanted to run” did not fit with the bar mounts (again, maybe more on this in another post), but they did fit fine with the Streamline Reflex levers that I picked up. I still had to move the kill button closer to the grip than I like (it is now in the body bump zone), but I can deal with it later if needed (see the after report). Also, the amount of room between the lever mounting bolt and the bar mount is minimal which has me a little concerned that I could end up with a stuck lever after a spill. The thought that I can bend the mounts by hand minimizes the concern.
Enduro Engineering Solid Mount Clearance
Clearance in front of the clutch lever was a bit of a concern but it never became a problem.

The first ride with the EE Solid Mount Moto Roost Deflector we played sweeper for the first loop of a desert race. I instantly noticed that great feel come through the ProTaper Contour. Talking about improving your ride! More comfort is more control. Sure this does not say anything about the deflector, but it did confirm that I prefer not to run bark busters, at least not run them all the time. Yeah, I’m getting old. Get over it, I had to.

The actual testing came when bushwhacking hillsides to get around the Novice carnage on the harder sections. The deflector mounting bar had just enough give to keep the bars from wanting to get pulled from my hands and not impede forward progress, yet they never pushed in far enough to hit my hands. I also did not experience any noticeable hits on the hand from the brush. I have not crash tested the solid mounts yet, but I assume they are going to twist from awkward drops on the rocks where the flag may get caught. Time will tell.

Still, I am satisfied with the performance and price that I think I will be fine with buying replacement parts as needed. I may even pick up an extra mount kit just to have it for when I bend a mount to the point that is cannot be bent back. As for my son, he is not convinced and is sticking with bark busters.

After Report

Just as with the Debris Deflector clamp, the Moto Roost Deflector bar clamp molded to the bar and stuck. Once you put it on you never worry about it moving. I did get a slight bend every once and a while but never anything that warranted replacing them. Simply take the arm off and flatten it back out as needed on the bench.

The mounts themselves are sturdy enough that I had no problem taking a fair amount of material out of them to thin them out where needed to make room on the bars. This included rounding out enough area to get the start and stop buttons to rest in just a bit in the mount which also ensured they never moved.

From the most challenging single track up American Fork and Hobble Creek canyons, to every trail on the no-go side of Jerrico, to the Nevada 200 Trail Ride, and to the muddiest WORCS race I have ever been to, I have absolutely nothing but praise for these deflectors. After so many hours that I stopped tracking the only things I ever replaced were the plastic deflectors. Having several colors for matching graphics is always good and it just making things look cleaner since they get cutup on brush pretty quickly.

The fact that they are cheap makes it easy. The fact that they protect like they should, don’t jamb your levers, and don’t break, makes buying them a no-brainer.

The decision to rebuild the site from scratch was a decision to dump all comments that were on any article prior to the rebuild. While I am not aware that anything that should have received a response went unanswered, feel free to re-post if needed.

1 Comment

  1. Ouch! Get why you may be po’d with the acerbis. I have bent a couple of them and they don’t straighten very well but never thought flags would be a good idea. Looks like i may have to give these a shot.

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American Fork
light rain
44.7 ° F
48 °
41 °
57 %
4.8mph
20 %
Wed
44 °
Thu
46 °
Fri
46 °
Sat
52 °
Sun
53 °
WORCS mud race
Me sporting the Enduro Engineering solid mounts at a WORCS race that got a little wet.