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P3 Carbon Fiber Bi-Color Weave Skid Plate Reviews

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  • Retail Price ~$189.95 Shop Now
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Product Details

Hans Schmid


With 2016 models hitting showroom floors, the ever present question is asked, "Should I buy new or freshen up my old one?". Either way, you always have a mental list of what parts need to be purchased for the upcoming season. For most, bike armor (more specifically a skid plate) is at the top of one's list when it comes to protecting your investment.  Buying a skid plate, whether it's for off-road or MX is a relatively inexpensive way to protect expensive engine cases. P3 Composites offered me the opportunity to not only put their carbon fiber skid plate to the test, but their carbon fiber exhaust heat shields as well. Keep reading to see how they fared.


Why P3?

With the theme of keeping my 2015 Yamaha YZ450F as light as possible while still being properly protected, P3 composites fit the bill perfectly. For years, P3 Composites have been using carbon fiber to produce lightweight, yet extremely durable protection for off-road motorcycles. Everything from skid plates, pipe guards, case guards, disc-guards, and heat shields, to their newly expanded Rally Line, P3 has established themselves as the industry’s premium carbon composite protection brand. But, P3 is not all business. Their Bi-Color Weave process gives riders the choice to punch up the color of their carbon fiber bits from the more traditional black.


Initial Impressions

Upon opening the box, the P3 carbon fiber skid-plate did not disappoint. It's beefy, measuring in at approx. 5mm (3/16" for you American folk) with variations in thickness depending on area of protection. Along the sides, P3 beveled and smoothed the edges, so there are no burrs or hang-ups. The finish is mirror-like with little to no air bubbles or blemishes. The inside surface of the skid-plate is a bit rougher, but still smooth.


Designed to conform around the bike's frame rails, yet be wide enough to offer excellent protection, P3's design eliminates the sloppiness and gaps that aluminum skid plates cannot. Also, the skid plate comes up high along the front to protect the water pump and upper motor. This is an excellent design as the front wheel throws rocks to this exact location. Other observations were that the skid plate does not have a pre-drilled hole to allow access to the oil drain bolt. However, I was told by P3 that an oil drain hole can be effectively added with the hole saw that you likely have in your garage. Also, the skid plates does not come with foam to keep mud from accumulating on top, but P3 sells them separately.


Along with their skid plate, P3 offered up one of their carbon fiber heat shields to help protect my expensive head pipe and to keep my gear from melting. The heat shield is thinner than the skid plate, it doesn't need to be as thick since it will not be subjected to same level of abuse. Like the skid-plate, the visible side finish is smooth without a blemish, burrs, or air bubbles. On the inside, P3 coats the heat shield with a high-temp (up to 1500°F) Silicone coating to further reduce heat transfer to the insider of your leg. Both products include all necessary hardware and mounting instructions.


Mounting and Performance


Skid Plate

I want to tell you that mounting the skid plate was a simple job, but it wasn't. Because of how well it fits the contours of the bike, there is pretty much no room to hold the bracket while trying to thread the bolts. You cannot get your hand into the small space between the skid plate and frame rails! After some deep thought, I used needle nose pliers to hold the bracket while threading a longer bolt that I already had into hole #1. I was able to tighten this longer bolt to the point where I could then thread the smaller bolt (included) into hole #2. With #2 bolt tight, I was able to remove bolt #1 and thread in the supplied, shorter bolt. Since, I have used this technique four more times and it has worked perfectly. Once installed, fitment is great!


Performance-wise, the P3 skid plate weighs 1.8lbs. (mounting hardware included) which is over 2lbs. lighter than the typical HD aluminum skid plate and on par with plastic units. I have always been resistant to running aluminum skid plates due to the added frame stiffness that they create and because they tend to reflect a lot of engine noise back to the rider. Because the P3 carbon fiber plate has more flex, I didn't have to make any chassis or suspension changes to compensate. And, it runs much quieter.


With 40+ hours of abuse that included two off-road races, the P3 skid plate has taken everything that I have thrown at it! From your typical trail litter such as small stones, sticks, and mud that get thrown off the front tire to bigger obstacles such as logs and boulders, damage has been minimal. During four oil changes I have inspected the skid plate (inside and out) for wear, including cracks, blemishes, and delamination of the composite layers and have yet to see anything concerning. I expect another 40 hours to be a walk-in-the-park! This thing is tough!


Heat Shields

First, I have to really tip my hat to P3 for their work done on the heat shield. To the best of my knowledge, no one but P3 makes a heat shield that covers the entire header for my bike. From the very front of near the radiators to the rear frame spars, the header is covered. This design virtually eliminates burning expensive riding gear and makes damaging the header a likely rare event.


Installation is fairly simple, requiring you to remove the stock Yamaha heat shields, install two hose clamp style brackets around the header and fasten the P3 heat shields on. A loose test fit is recommend before you tightening, so you can make fine adjustments to keep things centered. In a side-by-side comparison with the stock Yamaha heat shields, the P3 units are roughly 3x the length and size.


With the same amount of hours as the skid plate, the heat shields have proven to be every bit as good. Just doing a basic hand-on-the-shield test has shown that they run considerably cooler than stock units, actually being touchable. During tip-overs, the heat shields stayed in place and prevented any damage to my header. I also felt for any snags or such on my boots or pants and nothing was noticeable. One last point to add is they are transferable to any current YZ250/450F, YZ250/450FX or WR250/450F.


Skid Plate Hits 👍

  • Great Protection.
  • Lightweight.
  • Durable.
  • Less reflected engine noise.

Skid Plate Misses :thumbsdn:

  • Difficult to mount.
  • No oil drain hole.

Heat Shield Hits 👍

  • Great Protection.
  • Easy to mount.
  • Transferable.

Heat Shield Misses :thumbsdn:

  • None

Monk's Bottom-line :prof:

With great protection, durability, lightweight, and style, the P3 components passed my test. The one and only major downside was the installation of the skid plate. I'm an experienced mechanic and even with the right tools, mounting is difficult. Its a tight fit, but with a little Canadian ingenuity, I did get it mounted.  Also, I'd like P3 to consider adding an oil drain hole from the factory. The only regular reason that I need to remove the skid plate is to do oil changes, but then I have to go through the difficult task of mounting it again.


The heat shields offer more than what I can ask for and is a well thought out, simple product. Overall, I am impressed with what P3 sent me to test and will likely continue to use their products on future bikes. If you are in the market for a bike armor, whether it be MX or off-road, 2T or 4T, I highly recommend that you look at P3 Composites.


More @ http://p3carbon.com/

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Scared me the first time rocks clunked under neath it but does its job and protects well.

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Great fit. Good coverage

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These folks actually make a carbon fiber cover for the electronics especially for the FX model YZ

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Plate fits bike great using original mounts. Protection is excellent and plate looks great. Slightly lighter than aluminum plates and easier to clean with its smooth inside edges. Just a quick hose out and it's done.

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