Anyone who rides a Harley off the beaten track will appreciate the protective plates the first time they hit a large lump - or a tree trunk. While such protective devices are commonplace on enduros and other off-road equipment, you have to search a long time for them on Harleys. The Factory provided such plates only on the Army models and on the 1000s, 1200s and 1300s that sat in the new frame with 4-speed transmission starting in 1936, which replaced the older designs with cast plate under the engine case. The new frame with two beams was more stable, but open at the bottom, and the engineers did not want to leave the crankcase completely unprotected. So they came up with the curved and ribbed plate that is listed under "Crankcase Guard" in the parts manuals.
If the Sportster wants to go off-road, it needs an engine guard from Bates or LeBeef for lack of Harley's own part.
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