You’re riding along a road – it could be your favourite scratching road or a mind-numbing section of motorway – when that normal five-mile glance at the dash shows a warning light. Intrigue turns into panic when you finally realise the coolant temperature gauge has climbed into the red, or the digital readout shows a number never seen before.
“WTF?” is usually the first thought as you roll-off the throttle, swiftly followed by more swearing when realisation hits home that something bad has occurred. At the side of the road, helmet off and crouched to stare up and into the area of the motorbike's radiator, an audible hiss of escaping super-hot coolant catches your attention. Dried water stains on the radiator fins and a gritty oily film around the headstock and engine cases underline the worry of a leaking radiator. Droplets of coolant on tarmac or in the motorcycle's fairing rubberstamp this.
Welcome, reader, to the world of ‘holed radiators’; an overcrowded place, no thanks to the decrepit state of today’s UK road surfaces, which costs money to leave. If you own a 2017 ZX-10R then the starting price is £573 for a new motorcycle radiator. Add on costs of possible motorbike retrieval and workshop time to fit the new rad’ and you will have severely dented that month’s bank account.
Guaranteed someone, somewhere will ask why you didn’t have an aftermarket accessory motorcycle radiator guard in place to help lessen the risk of a knackered rad’, or will you now be buying one to prevent such an expensive and annoying situation occurring again? These questions are sure to irritate you (especially after the umpteenth asking), but really they are genuine questions from people who have suffered the same aggro or know of folk who have.
What is a motorcycle radiator guard?
In brief, it is a shield that mimics the dimensions of the frontal area (and sometimes the side of) the radiator. Obviously, it cannot be a solid one-piece item because A) it would add additional weight, B) look bloody ugly, and C) more importantly, it wouldn’t allow air to pass over/through the cooling matrix and in turn cool the contained coolant, which in turn, by being pumped to and around key areas of the engine, namely the cylinder head and barrels carries away the heat produced by way of heat transfer. Phew!
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Designing a quality rad’ guard that doesn’t hinder the flow of cooling air (high-speed or other) takes some doing, especially when you consider it has to incorporate structural integrity to hold back the impact of debris travelling at a good velocity.
Needless to say, a motorcycle radiator guard has to be aesthetically pleasing too, and be fairly easy to fit and remove. Durability also has to be considered – how do you think you would fare if you were bolted behind the front wheel of a bike only to be shot blasted by flung chippings, rainwater, cow poo, several gallons of road salt-tainted water, wildlife etc.?
Another important factor in the motorbike radiator guard manufacturing process is the need to have clearance between it and surrounding motorbike components; apart from its mounting points the guard really shouldn’t touch or interfere with anything else – the latest EP Radiator Guards (above) have a minimum 5mm clearance between the radiator guard and the radiator body especially the delicate cooling fins. Those same fins usually flattened by pressure washing – we all know someone who belongs to the Killer Karcher Klub, don’t we?
To avoid turning this blog into a script for a cheesy commercial radio station advert, we here at Evotech Performance are justified when we say we make the best aftermarket accessory motorcycle radiator guards going.
After all, every EP Radiator Guard (and EP Oil Cooler guards - above) are produced using the latest fabrication design and manufacturing processes (3D scanning, CAD and CAM plus other methods).
The unique hexagonal matrix hole pattern optimises cooling airflow while providing maximum protection from road debris; all road-going guards are finished in durable powder coat (except stainless steel equivalents); and race teams across the globe use our guards – as an example, the top four finishers in one of the Superstock races at the North West 200 all had race-spec EP Radiator Guards in place.
Of course, we would be fools not to use feedback from race teams for future development of road-going EP Radiator and Oil Guards.
One last thing; as a perfect example of bad luck and the effect of 130mph impact from road debris, check out the images below of Peter Hickman’s S 1000 RR after being hit by a stone at the NW200.
OK, so the stone didn’t hit the motorcycle's radiator, but it came close, punching a hole through a radiator hose after smashing its way through the lightweight but reinforced race fairing. This was on a clean road-based circuit, too.
Must be time for a brew and a biccy…
Take a look at the motorcycle radiator guards available for your bike here.