Sport ATV Skid Plate Shootout
Protecting your ATVs frame, motor, and swing arms is a major factor in today's riding scene. If a rock or a metal rod hits your motor, chain or any other vital areas can bring a end to your riding day and could cost hundreds of dollars of repairs. The sport ATV scene has many companies that offer skids in many different shapes, sizes and cost. We tested 3 and found that although some might look the same, they are very different.
Our test bike that we used was a 02 400EX. When the bike was bought it already had a set of AC Racing skid plates on the belly and the swing arm. We also received 2 other sets of skids from UM Racing and Ricochet. All three was put to the test.
Because the AC Racing skids was already on the bike all we had to do was make some measurements and pull the skids off. AC racing’s home page is www.acracing.com. Their Honda 400ex swing arm skid plate is made of ¼ aluminum and retails for $99.95. Their full chassis skid plate for the Honda 400ex is described as a heavy duty skid plate that is reinforced for the more aggressive rider. The retail Price of the full chassis skid is $109.95. One thing they got right with the swing arm skid was ground clearance. AC Racing had the highest amount of ground clearance and was the lightest in our shootout. One reason for this is because the material is a lot thinner than the other two plates we tested. The swing arm skid plate that was tested was on the ATV when the bike was bought. It was inspected and in good condition when bought. At the time of the test the swing arm had cracked two of the welds and had bent under the chain. This skid plate is not thick enough to stand up to the abuse of cross country type racing or aggressive riding. The AC Racing full chassis skid was a lot thinner than the other two we tested. One thing we liked about it was that the skid plate does not stop at the front of the frame. The skid extends up in front of the quads bumper for more frame protection. This is the only plate we tested with this design. Because of the thickness of the skid the AC Racing full skid plate could not handle harsh riding areas like rocks or stumps without causing damage. During the short time we had the bike we damaged the belly skid. It was bent in the middle and large scrapes into the metal were in several places toward the back of the skid plate near the rear shock linkage. Also the AC full skid plate is the only one that does not let you drain the oil out of the engine without removing the skid plate. It has a hole for the oil tank but not the engine.
After removing the AC skids we installed the UM Racing skids. UM Racing’s home on the web is www.umracing.com. UM Racing describes their skids as a line of skid plates to accommodate many race teams competing in the “Best of the Desert” race series. Their full skid plates and swing arm skid plates are made up from 3/16 inch (.190cm) thick 5052 aircraft aluminum. The retail for UM Racing’s full skid plate is $94.95 and their swing arm skid plate at $79.95. One thing we liked about all of the UM Racing skids was the finish. They all have a brushed look. Although we don't look at the underside of our quads everyday and when we do it is usually after a wreck it is good to know that our quad looks good from the top and from the bottom. The UM swing arm plate had the lowest clearance of the skid plates in our shootout. They designed their products more for desert racing than XC so it may not be as much of an issue for those guys. But being in the South we need all the ground clearance we can get for our riding environment. We did feel this plate is plenty thick enough to hold up. The belly skid that we tested was an old design that did not offer an engine oil drain hole. The new skid that is out now has that hole. Ground clearance was not an issue or noticeably different with any of the chassis skid plates. We did not like the way the skid ended at the front of the bike. We felt like it should had bent up a little in the front for more bash protection.
Last to mount onto the bike was the skids from Ricochet. Ricochets web site is www.utahsportcycle.com. The standard body plates for the sport and light weight utility quads are fabricated from 5/32" (.160) 5052 H-32 Aluminum. The standard rear swing arm Skid plates for the sport and utility quads are fabricated from 3/16" (.190) 5052-H32 Aluminum. For their high-performance sport quads they offer their exclusive BULLETLINE Swing arm Skid plates. Fabricated in the high impact areas from 1/4" (.250) 6061-T6 Extruded Aluminum and incorporating their long wearing integral chain guide. Prices for the Ricochet skids is $89.95 for the full skid plate, $49.95 for the a-arm skid plates, and the Bullet Line swing arm skid that we tested is $99.95. The first thing we noticed about the Ricochet skid plates was large amount of mounting hardware that came with the skids. No stock bolts was re-used. We also was impressed by the bends in the skid for the purpose of fitment. The skid was bent on the outer edges to protect the frame more. Ground clearance on the belly skid also was not an issue. The skid included a fanned out place to help protect the side of the engine case and also had an engine drain as well as an oil tank drain hole in the skid. For the swing arm Ricochet sent us one of their BULLETLINE swing arm skid plates. This thing looked like it could be ran over by a tank and still not break. This swing arm plate was the heaviest of the three but also gave the most protection. It also included a chain guide to help keep the chain in place. Ground clearance on the swing arm was 2nd out of the three. The chain fit nicely into the chain guide. Their swing arm skid gave the most protection but surprisingly did not weigh a lot more.
We felt that the Ricochet skid plate was far better then the other two in the comparison. Although the UM Racing skid was equal in quality with Ricochet the coverage was not. Ricochet had more coverage and better ground clearance then the UM swing arm skid and proved to be a much stronger protection. We did wish that the Ricochet swing arm could be a little lighter but because of the coverage area this was a short lived wish. UM Racing skid and AC Racing skid has its place in this market. Both was made with high quality in mind and had no trouble with fitment. All is worth the money. MaD