I was going to start this as a
“How To Install The Black Dog Skid Plate On Your KTM 950 Adventure“
but the truth is, it’s dead simple. Seriously. 4 bolts to remove the old skid plate, use the same 4 bolts to install the new one, check the clearance of the rubber thingy and you are set. So sorry, no How To post here. Instead, it’s a Why kind of post.
“Why You Should Install The Black Dog Skid Plate On Your KTM 950 Adventure”
Let’s start by examining the stock skid plate. It’s a combo of cast aluminum and plastic.
The cast aluminum makes it easy to create a smooth curve around the bike. Just make a mold and pour the stuff in, right? The plastic makes it a little lighter and a little cleaner looking. You can get the plastic to cover pretty much everything you want.
I guess the factory does this for a number of reasons… looks, cheaper production costs being the big two. The problem is that the stock skid plate isn’t ready to take on the world. A good rock could easily punch a hole in the cast aluminum or demolish the plastic.
You have to remember what it is you are protecting under there. On the KTM you have the battery, the fuel pump, and the rectifier all sitting right there in harms way. This doesn’t even include the engine case, the clutch cover or alternator. One good size piece of granite can punch a hole in the cast or plastic and knock any one of those items out of business. If it does, your day is over and it’s a long walk back.
If you were going to make a real skid plate, something that would stand up to the elements you would have to change a few things from the stock configuration. Instead of cast, you might want to make it out of plate (aluminum or something). You would also want to get rid of the plastic and better protect the parts behind.
That sounds easy, but Plate brings it’s own manufacturing problems. You simply can’t mold it like you can a cast item. That compound curving of the stock configuration would be impossible to do in plate.
Black Dog Cycle Works makes one of the best (if not THE BEST) upgraded skid plates for the KTM. It’s made out of 5MM plate aluminum. You can see the individual pieces it takes to make a single unit.
The welding is fabulous. It’s finished inside and out with black based “silver vein” powdercoating.
As pretty as it is, it’s built freaking tough!
Black Dog – Pros and Cons
Admittedly, the Black Dog isn’t right for everyone. The stock unit is just fine for some people. The previous owner of my bike barely and rarely took it off road, he would be one of those people.
- It’s built strong, like seriously strong.
- It’s beautiful – the powder coating, the welds… You’ll hate to get it dirty!
- You can feel secure ‘casing’ the bike or just flying down a rock encrusted trail.
- It covers and protects everything without sacrificing clearance.
- No hole in the bottom for the drain plug.
- It weighs more – then again, leave out some of that luxury crap you never use on your trip and you’ll be even. The stock unit weighs 3 lbs 13oz while the Black Dog tips the scales at just over 8lbs.
- It doesn’t form fit the bike like the stock one does.
- Visually, it will show some parts that weren’t visible before.
Stock Unit – Pros and Cons
- It has a hole in the bottom for oil plug drainage.
- It’s molded around the bike and fits the bike perfectly.
- It’s cast aluminum in the middle.
- It’s plastic on the outers.
If you are a road warrior (and there’s nothing wrong with that) the stock skid plate is just fine. If you plan to take your bike off road you can take the gamble – but I think the risk certainly outweighs the reward.