Our recent reader poll was all about handguards on your mountain bike, were they really necessary and were our readers running them? Well, we’ve had a set of Barkbuster MTB Handguards on test at Brakes Wide Open and after a few months of testing here’s our thoughts….
By Jesse Chirizzi | Photography by Jesse Chirizzi and Jack Datta
Product: Bark Busters MTB Hand Guards
Available at: Pushys Online and selected bike stores
The Nitty Gritty
• Single point mount (open-ended) hand & lever guard
• Adjustable fit with multiple side positions
• Low profile minimalist design with venting
• Impact resistant plastic guards
• Protection for controls and cables
• Clamp manufactured from lightweight, high strength nylon and aluminium
• Universal Fit
• Variety of colours
Bark Busters is a name synonymous with enduro riding in motorcycles but how do they go on a mountain bike? My initial few rides it definitely took me a bit to get used to these bright orange additions to my bars in my peripheral vision. My EMTB suddenly took on a feeling of adventure and readiness to get rowdy.
Mounting was quite simple, they come with lightweight nylon and aluminium brackets that are shaped to rise over the brake levers giving protection to your levers in the event of a crash or scuff with a tree. The guards are made of a tough durable plastic and come in a decent range of colours to suit your bike.
It wasn’t until I took the Bark Busters off my usual flow trails and onto some more rugged enduro style locations that I really started to get what they are all about. It’s somewhat fun to charge up overgrown trails allowing your bars to push through scrub without your brake lever accidentally being pulled on by vines and branches. It’s also interesting how the feeling of a little piece of plastic over your fingers inspires a sense of confidence, especially in unmaintained single track.
While I’ve had a few minor crashes with the Bark Busters and they’ve held up fine, laying my bike over in a forward motion they haven’t broken. One situation they don’t stand up to however, is a still standing 27kg ebike falling on its side. My bike fell from a bike stand while shooting photos, took a solid hit to the end of the guard and snapped the mounting bracket clean in half.
Bark Busters sent me two more mounting arms, they must’ve known I have a reputation for breaking things, as I again broke a mounting arm as my bike once again fell over on my concrete driveway. I’m on the third mounting bracket now and I’ve had a few spills with no further incidents.
Hand guards on mountain bikes certainly are a personal taste thing. There is no denying that these are a conversation starter at the trailhead, some people love them, others won’t be shy to let you know, they are not fans. Before I tried them I didn’t really dig them, but after trying these Bark Busters out in the appropriate places, I’ve found them to be awesome protection for my hands and levers and the look of them has grown on me.
Personally I think they give my Giant Reign E Pro a more aggressive look and the Fluro Orange compliments the Fox Factory Fork. Haters gonna hate, but I ride an E-bike anyway so I’m used to being heckled on the Trails……
Jesse Chirizzi hails from the Sunshine coast in Queensland, Australia. A man that loves to throw a leg over a bike and spend a whole lot more time creating behind the lens. You can check out his profile in the first edition of the Creator Series here.