I ride with a few guys who are died hard fans of their Suzuki 650dr’s. They seem to take the low fenders on other adventure bikes really personally.
I did a lot of reading on advrider on this low fender thing. Here is what I found.
The brilliant minds at KTM, BMW, YAMAHA, KAWASAKI, HONDA, ETC attach low fenders to all their “adventure” bikes. I trust these genius engineers more than a few dudes I ride with.
Reasons for the Fender
The low fender is there for added stability (down draft) at highway speed, protection for bikes radiator, forks, break cables and calipers, and reduction of water and rocks that your tire kicks up.
Reasons against the Fender
The only time these things are an issue is travelling though sticky mud. That cake up around the tire and jam into the space between the tire and the fender. It can make your tire refuse to roll.
The people who do these types of mods are attempting to radically alter their adventure bikes into dirt bikes with big engines. They very often remove one of the front break rotors to shed weight.
Solutions to the Mud Jam
1) Remove the low fender completely. Your KTM is basically ready for this mod but you will need to install protection pieces on your forks for your break parts. These will be exposed after removing the fender. However, doing so solves the mud issue but potentially creates several other issues for you (see above). For me this is an unrealistic possibility because removing the low fender entirely creates another situation that will ultimately remove function of my ABS. Not worth it.
2) Add the raised fender kit made by Touratech or other companies. They run about $165 for BMW bikes. It does raise it but it doesn’t raise it that much, only about 1 inch and a half (which gets reduced if you’re running a large knobby tire). It costs so much because it involves adding longer break lines to fit the extension. So like we saw with my bike, it helps you ride in mud but you can’t keep riding in mud or the problem will come back anyway. After doing a bit of research I learned I already have this 🙂 It came with the bike I purchased. Obviously didn’t stop the mud from caking up the wheel rotation.
The raised fender is not really worth it for most people. The cost, the potential loss of other performance in other areas, the potential loss of durability in the rocky stuff; it all amounts to fixing a problem that really only exists two or three days a year and potentially creates other issues year round, specifically in gravel and rocky terrain. Would really suck to damage the radiator riding gravel in Colorado because you raised the fender to avoid getting stuck in the mud on spring day in Iowa.