Dirt Bike Handguards Fully Explained

rider in full gear riding a dirt bike

If you’re an adrenaline-seeking dirt bike enthusiast, you know how important it is to protect your hands while you’re riding. 

From full coverage plastic guards to lightweight aluminum designs, there is something for everyone.

Dirt bike handguards are protective accessories that attach to the handlebars of a dirt bike to shield the rider’s hands from impact with branches, rocks, or other debris while riding off-road. They come in various types and materials and provide additional protection and comfort for riders.

Introduction to Dirt Bike Handguards

Welcome to the world of dirt bike handguards! 

Handguards are an essential part of dirt biking, providing protection for your hands and shielding your clutch or brake lever from damage. 

With so many different types of handguards available on the market, it’s important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each style before making a purchase. 

In this guide, I will help you navigate the world of dirt bike handguards, giving you a better understanding of what they are and how they work. 

I will also provide tips on how to choose the right handguards for your specific needs and how to install them properly. 

Finally, I will share my top picks for dirt bike handguards so you can find the perfect set for your ride.

Benefits of Using Handguards on a Dirt Bike

The benefits of using handguards on a dirt bike are clear. 

Handguards provide protection from flying roost, debris, and other elements that can be detrimental to your grip. 

They also add a layer of safety in the event of an accident or tip-over. 

You can also rest assured that your hands and levers are securely protected while you ride, and that you’re getting the most out of your dirt bike experience. 

I once dropped my bike on its side after a good day’s riding and I didn’t have handguards installed back then.

The clutch lever hit the concrete and snapped off right at the base so I had to walk all the way to the parking lot, get a wrench from my car and use it as a temporary lever grip to get my dirt bike out of gear (luckily it happened after the ride, not during).

If you want to get the most out of your ride, investing in a set of quality motocross handguards is essential – your hands will thank you!

Types of Dirt Bike Handguards

dirt bike handguard main types

When it comes to dirt bike handguards, there are several different types to choose from, each designed to meet different riding needs and preferences.

Full-wrap handguards

These are the most common type of handguards and offer the most comprehensive protection. They attach to the handlebars and extend around the front of the controls, wrapping around the levers and protecting the rider’s entire hand.

Open-end handguards

These handguards attach to the handlebars but do not completely wrap around the front of the controls. They provide protection for the top of the rider’s hand and knuckles, but leave the ends of the handlebars open.

Bark busters

These are a type of full-wrap handguard that offer additional protection against impacts and collisions. They feature a metal or composite reinforcement bar that runs along the front of the handguard, providing extra strength and impact resistance.

Integrated handguards

These are handguards that are integrated into the motorcycle’s existing handlebar grips. They offer a sleek and low-profile design but may not provide as much protection as full-wrap or bark buster handguards.

Aluminum handguards

These handguards are made from aluminum and offer a lightweight and durable option for riders who want extra protection without adding too much weight to their bike.

Each type of handguard has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to consider your riding style, terrain, and preferences when choosing the right handguards for your dirt bike.

The Pros and Cons of Different Types of Handguards

When it comes to choosing the right handguards for your dirt bike, you need to consider the pros and cons of the different types available. 

Full-wrap handguards: 

Provides the most comprehensive protection for the rider’s hands and controls.Can be bulky and add weight to the bike.
Can help protect the bike’s controls from damage in the event of a crash.May limit the rider’s ability to move their hands around the controls.
Available in a variety of materials and designs to suit different needs and preferences.Can be difficult to install on some bikes, depending on the handlebar and control setup.

Open-end handguards

Lightweight and low-profile, which can be beneficial for riders who prioritize speed and maneuverability.Leaves the ends of the handlebars exposed, which can still result in injury or damage.
Allows for more freedom of movement and easier access to the controls.May not provide as much protection as full-wrap or bark buster handguards.
Generally easier to install than full-wrap handguards.Limited options for customization.

Bark busters

Offers additional protection against impacts and collisions.Can be heavy and bulky, which may not be ideal for riders who prioritize speed and agility.
Can be beneficial for riders who frequently ride in rocky or wooded terrain.May be more expensive than other types of handguards.
Provides a sturdy and durable option for off-road riding.Can be difficult to install, depending on the bike’s handlebar setup.

Integrated handguards

Provides a sleek and low-profile design that does not add much weight to the bike.May not provide as much protection as other types of handguards.
Easy to install and can be a good option for riders who want a simple solution.Limited customization options.
Not suitable for all types of handlebars or grip styles.

Aluminum handguards

Lightweight and durable.May not provide as much protection as full-wrap or bark buster handguards.
Provides protection against debris and impacts without adding too much weight to the bike.Can be more expensive than other types of handguards.
Available in a variety of designs and colors.May not fit all types of handlebars or controls.

Ultimately, you’ll want to choose a type that offers the right balance of protection and flexibility for your specific riding conditions.

How to Choose the Right Handguards for Your Dirt Bike

Choosing the right handguards for your dirt bike can be a daunting task, especially when you consider all the different types and brands available. 

However, by taking into account the type of riding you do, and researching the various features of the different handguards on offer, you can make an informed decision that best suits your needs. 

Make sure to look at the construction and materials used in the handguard, as well as its overall design and functionality. 

You should also take into account any additional features, such as mounting options, integrated lights or other accessories. 

Finally, be sure to read reviews from other riders to get a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. 

With all this information in hand, you’ll be well-prepared to choose the best handguards for your dirt bike.

Dirt Bike Handguards Installation

Installing handguards on your dirt bike doesn’t have to be a difficult task. 

With the right tools and knowledge, you can easily install new handguards on your bike in no time. 

The specific steps for installing dirt bike handguards can vary depending on the type of handguard you have and the make and model of your motorcycle. 

However, here are some general steps to follow when installing most types of handguards:

  1. Gather tools and materials. You will need a few tools to install your handguards, including a screwdriver or Allen wrench set, a drill (if needed), and any hardware that came with your handguards.
  2. Remove old handguards (if necessary). If your bike has existing handguards, you may need to remove them before installing your new handguards. Use a screwdriver or Allen wrench to remove the bolts that attach the old handguards to the handlebars.
  3. Prepare the mounting hardware. Depending on the type of handguards you have, you may need to attach mounting brackets or other hardware to the handlebars. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing this hardware.
  4. Attach the handguards to the mounting hardware. Once the mounting hardware is in place, attach the handguards to it using the bolts or screws provided. Make sure the handguards are securely attached and don’t move around.
  5. Adjust the position of the handguards. Adjust the position of the handguards as necessary to ensure they provide adequate protection for your hands while riding. Tighten any adjustment knobs or bolts to secure the handguards in the desired position.
  6. Test the handguards. Before riding your bike with the new handguards installed, test them to make sure they don’t interfere with your hand or finger movements and provide adequate protection.

Be sure to consult the manufacturer’s instructions for specific guidance on installation. 

If you’re unsure about how to install your handguards or don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, it’s best to have a professional mechanic install them for you.

Have a look at this tutorial for installing full-wrap handguards.

Tips for Cleaning and Maintaining Your Handguards

Maintaining your dirt bike handguards is essential to ensure they last as long as possible.

Here are a few suggestions that will make your handguards last longer.

Clean regularly

Dirt bike handguards are exposed to a lot of dirt, mud, and debris, so it’s important to clean them regularly. Use a mild soap and warm water to gently scrub the handguards, paying particular attention to any areas where dirt and debris may be stuck.

Dry thoroughly

After cleaning, make sure to dry the handguards thoroughly to prevent rust and other damage. Wipe them down with a clean, dry cloth and allow them to air dry completely before using them again.

Check for damage

Before each ride, inspect your handguards for any signs of damage or wear. Look for cracks, dents, or other damage that could compromise their strength and protection.

Tighten screws

Over time, the screws and bolts that attach the handguards to the handlebars may become loose. Check them regularly and tighten as necessary to keep the handguards securely attached.

Lubricate moving parts

If your handguards have any moving parts, such as the mounting hardware or adjustment knobs, lubricate them regularly to keep them functioning smoothly.

Store properly

When not in use, store your handguards in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight. Avoid storing them in a damp or humid environment, as this can lead to rust and other damage.

Taking these steps will help you get the most out of your dirt bike handguards so you can enjoy the protection they offer for many rides to come.

Popular Brands of Dirt Bike Handguards

When it comes to dirt bike handguards, there are a variety of brands to choose from. 

Popular brands like Acerbis, Barkbusters, RHK, and Racetech offer quality products that are designed to protect your hands and arms from debris and wind. 

Acerbis is known for its X-Future handguards, which feature a unique design that is both lightweight and durable. 

Barkbusters offers the VPS Handguard System which provides superior protection and features an adjustable mounting system. 

RHK also offers a range of handguards, such as the Pro Series Plastic Handguards, for optimal performance. 

Finally, Racetech offers the RT Handshields for maximum strength and protection. 

With such a wide selection of brands, you’re sure to find the perfect set of handguards for your dirt bike.


In conclusion, dirt bike handguards are a great choice for all kinds of riders, from the weekend warriors to the professional racers. 

They provide an additional layer of protection from the elements and help to reduce fatigue on longer rides. 

There are a variety of handguard styles, sizes, and colors available, so you’re sure to find something that suits your riding needs. 

With proper installation and maintenance, your handguards will last for many years of use. 

So be sure to take the time to choose the right handguards for your dirt bike and enjoy the added comfort and protection they provide.