I like working with my hands, and wanted to come up with my own skid plate at a fraction of the cost of those on the market. I’ve previously used and OE Hard parts aluminum and HDPE skid plates, but found them to have high sliding friction and/or weight compared to other modern materials. The total cost of material for this project was approx. $50 CDN. Tools are not included in cost.
3 out of 5. You need to have some knowledge of how to use tools such as a rivet nut, jig saw, and heat gun.
I believe this could be done in approx. 3-4 hrs or less if you are a good fabricator. In total this one took about 8 hrs to do, but my lesson learnt was I a lot of time trimming the plastic down to suit as I had a poor initial template. I think I could get the second one down to ❤️ hrs as the template is the majority of the work.
UHMW has very high impact and abrasion resistance in comparison to OEM style HDPE skid plates. You may be able to use Nylon as well. UHMW is the same material I believe both Obie link guards and SXS Slideplates are made form. I'm not sure if TM Designs uses Nylon or UHMW, but I believe they are using Nylon. UHMW should have no issues withstanding the heat of the engine, but leave some room for your exhaust. Nylon would withstand heat better but is much harder to form.
I chose to use 3/16" material as that is the same thickness as my previous KTM OEM skid plate and Obie link guards. I have a friend who followed my procedure and successfully used 1/4", but it is a bit harder to mold/bend. I believe the SXS slideplates are also made of 1/4".
Tools & Material Required:
- A bench vice or other method of clamping the material
- Cardboard (of similar thickness to the UHMW)
- Measuring tape/ruler
- Paint pen
- Heat gun
- Hole saw
- Hack saw
- Rivet nuts and gun (purchased at harbor freight in the USA or Princess Auto in Canada)
- I recommend to use high quality knurled steel rivet nuts, not the cheap aluminum ones
- UHMW sheet
- 1” Aluminum tubing (for front mounts)
- Roughly 1/8” Aluminum flat plate (for rear mount)
- Low Profile Hardware (I recommend Stainless Hex Socket Flanged Button Head Hex Screws). Button head cap screws will also work.
Start by cutting a template out of cardboard, this is a method I jokingly like to call CAD (Cardboard Aided Design). Tape and form this to your bike frame; markup and trim the cardboard until you get the shape and profile of the skid plate you desire. Be sure to get this template precise, as the cardboard is much easier to cut and change than the final UHMW material.
Transpose the cardboard onto the UHMW and use a paint pen to trace out the profile; mark up the cuts and bends.
Cut the plastic using a jigsaw or band saw, and a hacksaw as required. I recommend a jigsaw for tight corners. You can use a file to clean up any cuts for a more professional look.
The process of forming the UHMW involves the use of a heat gun and a vice to clamp and form your bends. Heat up from the inside of your bend, and in addition make quick passes with the gun on the outside. You will see the material become shiny and glisten with heat; this is when it will form well. If you don't heat up the outside, the plastic will separate and crack. Take care not to overheat and melt the material. I recommend testing with a small scrap piece prior to performing on your skid plate cutout. Slowly bend the material and hold it in place until it cools and maintains form. You will find you need to over bend it, as it will spring back a bit. Keep moving the plastic cutout to the bike and checking the fit until all of your bends are completed. You can reheat and increase or decrease the angle of the bends as you like to get a nice fit.
I drilled a few large holes in the bottom for drainage and washing purposes. You can add a hold for oil draining as well if you like.
Tip: If you did not heat the outside of the bend properly and/or over bent it, you may have cracked the material. I used a HDPE (P-Tex) stick to plastic weld some minor cracks I made before I learned it was necessary to heat the outside of the bend. You can purchase these at snowboard/ski shops in stick form. Simply light the stick on fire and drip it into the cracks. These sticks also work well for repairing stripped holes in KTM gas tanks where wood screws are used.
I made three mounts in total out of aluminum. Initially I only had two, but with all of the rocks and logs we ride over here I found the skid plate was not as secure as I would have liked.
The 2 forward mounts were made of 1” aluminum square tubing. I simply cut 3 sides of the tubing so that I had tabs that stuck out and rested on the frame. I then drilled holes in and inserted rivet nuts to create threads for the fasteners. These mounts were then transposed and aligned to the skid plate to drill holes to match for the screws.
The rear mount was made by bending aluminum into an S shape, so that it would clamp on the rear frame brace by the swingarm. This was then similarly transposed to the skid plate for drilling holes. I used rivet nuts to create the threads for this mount as well.
Optional Work and Lessons Learned:
I made the 2nd front mount to fasten the skidplate better, as with initial testing and riding over large logs, the old one appeared loose. I also added a second small square piece of UHMW to the linkage guard, as I found this area was wearing due to impacts from rocks and logs. I simply drilled holes and secured it with button head cap screws.
A poor template will result in trimming more plastic, which takes much more time. Make sure to get the template right the first time, as it is a lot easier to cut and transpose to the plastic. The plastic can be quite slow cumbersome to cut!
Now that I have fabricated one, I likely won’t ever buy a skid plate again. This was a pretty easy and fun project, and will save you a lot of money if you don’t consider your time required. Having developed a good template, it will be quick and easy to build a second one.