Thursday, March 29, 2012

SW-Motech Skidplate

Now that the electrical work is done, I moved on to the oil change and SW-Motech Skidplate. Like pretty much all of the other SW-Motech gear I've installed on the bike, the skidplate is pretty easy to install, although the instructions leave a lot of the process for you to figure out. The exploded drawings are great, but the text is, ahem, minimal at best. Here's how I installed the skidplate.

I started by installing the rubber grommets in the skidplate. I presume they are being used as vibration isolators or shock mounts. Then I looked at the parts drawing trying to find the two 12mm washers that SW-Motech says should go over the bolts that hold the rear bracket to the bike. I couldn't find them, so I organized all the parts on a table in the garage. Nope, still can't find them. Then (finally!) I noticed the fine print on the drawing that says, "Original parts." Oh... <sheepish>

The next step is to remove the two bolts that hold the kickstand to the frame. Hey, wait a will the bike stay upright if the kickstand is removed? Okay, jack the bike up, and then remove the two bolts that hold the kickstand to the frame. By the way, those bolts are TIGHT; you will either need a really long-handled wrench or a cheater bar to break them loose.

The other side of the bracket attaches to the exhaust pipe hangar, just below the rear brake pedal. Unlike the kickstand attach bolts, the exhaust pipe hangar is really simple to remove.

Once all the kickstand and exhaust pipe hangar bolts have been removed, take the time to clean up the frame where the skidplate bracket will attach. The bottom of my Wee-Strom, at least, was caked with grime. If you mount the bracket without cleaning the frame first, you'll grit will grind away at the frame and the bracket.

Here's photo of the bracket hanging from the kickstand mounts. The silver bar on the top left of the photo is the shifter; the odd-shaped black lump on the lower left is the kickstand.

Here's the other side of the bike, with the bracket attached to the exhaust hangar.

Put a little blue (medium) Locktite on the threads of the bolts, reinstall the kickstand, and tighten up all three bolts. Unlike the SW-Motech Evo side carrier racks, you can tighten these bolts up before continuing the installation.

There are two little metal pieces that look kind of like washers, only with small protrusions on each side (see the left photo above). Notice that one side is smaller in diameter than the other. Insert the smaller side into the rubber grommet in the front of the skidplate, leaving the wider diameter side pointing forward. The metal protrusion will fit into the plastic clamp holding the two sides of the SW-Motech crash bars together.

There is a similar washer-like piece that fits on the rear of the skidplate, except that it only has a protrusion on one side. Again, fit that protrusion into the rubber grommet.

Fit the two smaller bolts through the rear of the skidplate, through the metal washer-like pieces, and through the clamp on the crash bars. Install the nylock washers on the other side of the clamp, and tighten the bolts enough to hold the skidplate in position, but don't clamp everything down yet.

Now, take the two last bolts and the two last washers, and fit them through the rubber grommets and metal washer-things at the rear of the skidplate. Again, I used a little blue Locktite to keep the bolts from working loose while riding. If you need to adjust the positioning, you can rotate the crash bar clamp to move the skidplate forwards or backwards so that the rear bolts line up with the bracket. Then, once everything you've got everything lined up, tighten up the two rear bolts and the two front bolts.

Here's the completed install.

A couple of comments about the skidplate, now that I've got it installed: on the plus side, it looks very sturdy and very robust. I wish the Wee had a little more ground clearance, but the skidplate should help minimize the problems with clearance, since I would have to hit a rock or a stump pretty hard to damage the oil cooler or exhaust headers with the skidplate installed. On the negative side, SW-Moetch seems to have left a lot of empty space under the oil filter, oil pan and front of the headers, which only makes the ground clearance worse. The plumbing for the exhaust pipe sits a little lower than I expected where the rear cylinder headers join with the forward cylinder headers, and the skidplate has to be even lower than that. I suspect SW-Motech wanted to keep the skidplate as smooth as possible to allow the bike to slide over rocks, stumps and/or logs, but I still wish the front of the skidplate was fit a little closer to the engine. I guess you can always use the extra space to carry tools or water though!

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