Living in Southern California as I do, I might not seem like the one to consult for winter time riding tips. Yet today we are loading up for a trip to Baja to explore around the Catavina area with Jimmy Sones. The weather forecast calls for temps in the mid 30’s.
I want to make sure I stay warm and comfortable. Yes, I realize this is not true cold weather and there are other more substantial preparations that can be made for winter. But here are my quick and easy prep tricks for this ride.
First up is to install the MSR elephant ears. They are simple and effective. But the mounting system they come with is completely ineffectual. The Strap and D ring will not stay tight, nor in place. They need some help.
I drill two holes in the front so I can run a zip tie through or around the handguard. Typically I also drill a hole in the handguard plastic. This keeps the ears in place regardless of how much brush or cactus they encounter. Hint – these make a great cactus deflectors too, will be handy on this trip.
As you can see, I mount them inside out. It is not the prettiest, but the plastic side tends to slide past brush and branches better than the fabric side does. Finally I run a big wrap of duct tape around the strap mount to keep it tight and in place.
My next tip is to put a small wrap of electrical tape around both of my levers. This provides a small measure of insulation to keep my fingers warm. It does not seem like much, but it can make a big difference. It is easy to do and just as easy to remove.
Overall, it is not the prettiest set up, but it works. I would rather be warm than fashionable.
There are a few other versions of “Elephant Ears” style hand guards. Some have more coverage and/or offer more insulation from wind blast. But the unique quality of the MSR version is that they are stiff enough to give the protection, but flexible enough to move when hitting a branch. They tend to stay in place (once mounted properly). They flex enough to not pull the bars offline when hitting objects. Not perfect, but they are probably the best choice for the true off roader.