In the Land of Farkles, Flatland Racing is a champion of bolt on protection that does a fantastic job of balancing value and quality. Sure there are more expensive solutions available in some corners of the world, but part of the draw of Lil' Blue is her uncanny ability to outshine so many other bikes in many an owner's garage--at a price point that doesn't require a German venture capital company to finance.
Am I averse to paying for quality or protection? Not at all. In fact, I'm rather obsessive about it. But I also want to feel I'm getting value for my farkling dollar. Enter the Flatland Racing Skid Plate.
Likely a skid plate is among the first pieces of kit someone bent on taking their beloved new dual sport off the beaten path is going to purchase and install.
Looking closely at the big hunk of aluminum (or AL-YU-MIN-EE-UM as our British mates would say), you quickly notice the workmanship. The welds look controlled and clean. No sharp edges will accost your digits as all the edges are deburred. Although that didn't keep me from cracking my knuckles on this project. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. The skidplate is a solid 3/16" thick stock
Installation is simple and straight forward. You'll want to assemble the vast tools required to install the skid plate. You'll need a 4mm allen socket, 10mm socket, blue lock-tite, and a torque wrench. In my case, the torque wrench is not a make sure I apply enough torque, but rather to keep me from applying too much force. Yeah, I have a bad habit of twisting the little heads off of small fasteners. This also might be a good time to change the oil, as once the skid plate is installed draining the oil can get a little bit messier. Sometimes when the oil drips, it will catch on the plate and run somewhere besides your drain bucket (unless yours is bigger than mine).
Start by removing those cheesy plastic covers some engineer at Yamaha should have told marketing to go pound sand with.
Lift the skid plate into position. Do all the bends seem to be where they oughta? Do the holes line up with the threaded inserts in the frame? Using blue lock-tite on the threads, go ahead and hand tighten or loosely snug up the bolts. Don't torque any of them down until they are all snuggly--then tighten all bolts to about 10 ft-lbs of force.
Here is the skid plate installed. Functional and awesome looking!
Mike at Flatland Racing knows how to fabricate aluminum. The fit and finish of the skidplate is superb. However, he rolls a couple of extra miles with his designs. The front of the plate has a pattern of holes that, while perhaps mildly functional for airflow, is (in my opinion) a nice styling punch. It breaks up the lines of an otherwise boring leading edge of the plate and creates a rugged look and makes the plate stand out.
"On the trail"
The skid plate installed makes you keenly aware of the number of stones that would otherwise be bouncing off the front of your engine case. Stones clang loudly off the aluminum while flying down the trail or gravel roads. Better than the case, methinks. I have to say I haven't misjudged a log crossing by enough margin to hang the bike on the plate--but I have bounced in and out of some rock infested washes that have made me grateful to have the plate between the engine and the mini-boulders inhabiting the Ouachitas mountains.
The Flatland Racing skid plate is two thumbs up!