Review and Photos by Michael Lindsay
In my group of riding buddies, bike damage seems to be a common theme. There's always that one guy who gets a flat, burns out his clutch, or destroys a radiator during a small tip over. (Actually, in my group that's typically the same guy.) A damaged radiator is one of the biggest pains. Mostly because you either have to buy a costly OEM unit, or if you're lucky your stocker might be repairable, which still results time and expense.
After I started racing off-road, I needed to do anything I could to keep the bike in one piece for the longer races. Between rocks, high speed desert sections, and constantly banging into riders before entering the tight confines of a scoring loop (have to make every pass count!), the radiators would be in a bit of danger. After doing a little searching, I settled on some radiator braces from Works Connection.
Works Connection Radiator Braces features:
- Constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum.
- Supports radiators from side impacts and being bent backwards.
- Sold in pairs when applicable.
- MSRP $39.99-$109.99.
The Works Connection Radiator Braces are fairly simple in design. For most models, they resemble an aluminum triangle that mounts to the top and bottom of the radiator and to the side of the frame. They're slim in design, following the general shape of the radiator shroud. On some models, it may take a look or two to even realize they're on.
Inside the packaging, you'll find a pair of braces (for single radiator bikes, there will only be one brace), along with mounting hardware.
In the Shop
For most models, there will be three mounting points. To install, you simply take the radiator shroud off, bolt the brace onto the outside of the radiator, then re-install the shroud. The braces use the bottom shroud mounting bolt hole and one along the side of the frame. Some models have a hole along the top of the radiator for the third bolt (such as the Kawasaki KXF models), but some need to have the third hole drilled (Honda CRF and Suzuki RM-Z models for instance).
You can bolt the braces up to the two pre-existing holes and then drill, using the open third hole as a template of where to drill on the radiator. As long as your radiators are fairly straight, these braces line-up extremely well. However, if the radiator has already taken a few hits, there are no guarantees that the braces will fit.
On the Track
Some radiator cages I've seen before required spacers because of their large size. This can cause the radiator shrouds to bulge out and widen the feel of your bike. I've tested these braces on five different bikes, and never once thought to myself that the shrouds were wider and impeding my comfort on the bike.
The most long term situation I've spent with these braces consisted of a year on a KX450F. This bike spent its time between motocross tracks, desert races, WORCS, playing around with Endurocross, etc. Even though this bike had spent plenty of time bouncing down hills, falling in corners and rocks, and the occasional end-over-end flip, it still had its stock radiators at the end of the year. I will mention that I went through about eight sets of radiator shrouds in this time, giving you an idea of how may times it took on side impacts.
The Last Word
How do I describe these braces? Cheap insurance. A pair of these braces are cheaper than just one aftermarket radiator and around the cost of repairing your stocker. In trade though, they offer continued support crash-after-crash. They're well-priced, can save you money, and keep you from loading up early after a small tip over. As most riders are aware, you endo over a triple and your bike might be fine, but you can fall over at 5mph and rip your radiator off.
These braces will offer more protection on some bikes compared to others based off the bike's design. Personally, I've noticed these braces are most supportive for modern CRF and YZF models. The only real drawback is that some models require a small amount of drilling to properly install.
Vital MX Rating
Check out WorksConnection.com for more protective products for your bike.