When you’re getting into off-road riding and you’ve just bought yourself a nice, new (or new-to-you) adventure bike, you’re probably expecting it to take a few knocks. That is, after all, what those bikes are built for. What you don’t want to do, however, is put a hole in your tender engine, exhaust, or radiator bits. That’s where good protection for your bike comes into play.
Luckily, adventure rider and mentor Bret Tkacs has some solid advice about what you should look out for when you’re considering skidplates for your ADV bike. Just like anything else, quality and effectiveness may vary, so it’s important to have a good grasp on the characteristics of an effective piece of equipment before you go shopping. Even if your bike came with a skidplate when you got it, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right tool for the job.
It’s important to recognize that the deeper you get into off-roading, the more likely you are to get bashes, scrapes, and nicks on your skidplate. You need to be comfortable with that fact, or else opt to stay on-road only. The most important thing about a good skidplate is that it should absorb all the damage you can throw at it while it protects your bike’s comparatively soft underbelly. It’s made to take abuse so the important, functional parts of your bike don’t have to.
When you’re working on developing your off-road riding techniques, picking the most robust, thick, heavy-duty skidplate you can will make a difference. All kinds of factors can affect how and where you hit it, including your bike’s weight, your weight, whether you’re fatigued while riding, whether it’s nighttime and you can’t see very well, and so on. Just like ATGATT protects your body, having a good skidplate can protect your bike and make sure you can get home at the end of the day.
Tkacs also recommends picking a skidplate that mounts to your bike’s frame, rather than directly to the engine if possible. Some even have a pad that goes between the skidplate and your engine to provide additional energy impact, lessening the negative effects on the beating heart of your machine. The less opportunity you give bolts to punch holes in your engine cases, the better.