MBA Team Tested: Acerbis X-Elite Handguards
Blurring Moto with MTB
Acerbis X-Elite Handguards
If you follow enduro mountain bike racing, you’ve probably seen small plastic hand covers on some of the top pros’ bikes. Popularized by riders like Sam Hill and Josh Carlson, handguards are no longer just a luxury for off-road motorcyclists. Hand protection is more important than ever, with bikes being able to travel faster downhills and electric bikes having the ability to maintain a brisk pace throughout an entire ride. So, when it comes to hand protection, what do you do?
While there are quite a few bicycle handguard companies out there, our team decided to turn to the experts in the field who have been at it since 1973. For all you moto gearheads out there, the name Acerbis should ring a bell. If not, just know the company designs and sells just about every plastic piece you can find on a dirt bike, including fenders, gas tanks, guards and much more. This month we decided to see what a pair of miniaturized handguards would feel like on our mountain bike.
The X-Elite handguards are purpose-built for mountain bikes and kid-sized motorcycles with the goal of protecting riders’ hands from bushes, trees, debris and even cold weather. Manufactured from thermoplastic materials, these guards should handle crashes with minimal damage. Should you break one of your guards, two replacement mounts can be purchased for under $23. Installing the mounts is quite easy, and while it may seem like you need to remove your grips for installation, you actually don’t. The plastic material can snap over the bars with its mounting bolt removed.
Once the guards are in place, tighten them down and go hit the trails. Riders can customize size by using the attachable spoiler, which helps cover your brakes and other bar-mounted switches. The regular size without the spoiler, however, is more than large enough to cover your hands. Furthermore, Acerbis offers these in eight different colors so your guards can match your ride.
Field test results
Adding a pair of X-Elite handguards to your bike quickly changes its appearance, giving it an off-road motorcycle look. Some riders might dig this, while others may be turned off by the look. That said, you can’t argue about their function. These small guards do the trick when you are blasting down overgrown trails. They take a little time to get used to while riding, as they tend to steal your attention, but once you remind yourself to keep your eyes on the trail, you will forget they’re even on your bike. During most of our rides the Acerbis handguards saw little use, but once we began exploring some older trails that hadn’t been groomed in a while, we started to see just how valuable these guards are.
We’d also like to note that the guards shielded our hands from the wind during cold morning or evening rides, allowing us to get away with a thin pair of gloves as opposed to our heavier winter gloves. Another thing that impressed us was the durability of the X-Elite guards, along with their weight. At just 122 grams, these things can take a beating and won’t add much weight. Overall, the Acerbis handguards are a solid option for any riders looking to protect their hands.
• Highly durable
• Protects your hands on overgrown trails
• Lightweight design
• Some may love the look while others may not
Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun.