Product Review & Install, Tusk Nerf Bars for ATVs
With the USRA motocross series in full swing already, I have to play catch up if I am going to get my new stock Honda 450R in proper racing order.
The first order of business is to get all my safety items taken care of. As Off-Road.com has reviewed before, for motocross racing, the most basic requirement is a tethered kill switch. Although it is not always mandatory, you really should have nerf bars also. Nerf bars will protect your feet and will help keep competitors from locking up with your bike in tight racing situations.
I bought and installed my favorite kill switch last week, but I didn't have a set of nerf bars picked out. There are several different types; with and without pegs, with and without heel guards, etc. An important factor early in my decision was that I did like the factory pegs and the heel guards on the 450R, and the nerf bars without these options were also less expensive. During a visit to Rocky Mountain ATV's showroom I had a chance to touch and inspect up-close several sets of nerf bars. I decided to go with the Tusk Comp Series. They looked and felt great and the price was very competitive, so with the wallet only a little lighter, I was off to the garage for the install.
In the box are the right and left bars, mounting hardware, webbing, and the all-important instructions. My initial impressions were very positive. The finish is excellent, the welds looked great, and they appeared to be good and sturdy with the 1-3/8 inch tubing.
It is much easier to flip the nerf bars over when they haven't been installedt, so I decided to get the webbing laced up prior to install. The instructions are pretty clear on how to lace the webbing, but just make sure you get everything lined up before you start cinching everything tight.
Mounting the Nerfs
The front mount is very simple and utilizes the front motor mount bolt location. After you remove the stock bolt it is then replaced with a longer bolt, spacer, washers, and a nylock nut from that comes with the new bars. Just loosely hand tighten to allow for some movement during the rest of the install.
After installing this piece on both sides you can slide the nerf bars on to the front mounts. The mounts actually slide inside the bars. This will allow them to swing up and down while you are marking and drilling the pegs.
Now here is where things get interesting. The instructions note that some quads require drilling and some do not, but they do not elaborate any further on the subject. The TRX450R requires drilling. I would have liked measurements or a cardboard template, anything to guide me before I start randomly drilling my pegs. No such luck, you are on your own.
Well, not exactly, I will share my secrets.
I e-mailed and spoke with the vendor and they say that you can mount them without cutting the front heal guard mounts on the pegs. Leaving this makes the fitment difficult and I opted to remove them. Like trimming your fenders, you will have to cut until you are satisfied if you choose to go this route.
I lined up the right side and carefully measured and marked my drilling locations. The trick is to make sure that you drill in a spot that will allow room for the washer and nut to fit inside the pegs. If you have a set or punch, use it to indent the metal on the peg where you marked for drilling. This will help prevent your drill from walking around while getting the hole started.
After I drilled the holes on the right side, I used a piece of card board to make a template. Put the bolts through the cardboard and trim with scissors to make a good outline of the peg. Flip the template over and take it to the left side and your holes should match up very nicely.
Bolt the nerf bars to your pegs, tighten everything up and you are done. I was at first skeptical that the front mounts would offer a rigid platform, but once everything was bolted I was able to stand on these without too much flexing.
I raced my first race with these units and I am very impressed. I didn't have to keep anyone's wheels away from my feet, but the nerfs did keep me from running over my own boots through some rougher sections. It was a good feeling to have this safety net securely installed underneath me. It was also nice to get a few compliments on the appearance of the new running gear. After the race, the bars cleaned nicely and shined like new.
My overall impression is that this is a great product at a great price. The one negative point is that the instructions could have been more thorough and machine specific.
Tusk Comp Series Nerf Bars are sold and distributed by Rocky Mountain ATV. The only color selection right now is polished aluminum but these will be offered in a several anodized colors soon.
Retail price $109.99
Good luck and good racing,