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BikeProtection ACD Racing Skid Plate For R1200GS/GSA '06-'13 Oil Head Bikes

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The adventure bike’s skid plate, or bash plate as the metric-types call it: it's not a terribly complex piece of equipment, one would think it would be easy to make an effective plate. Yet there are many different designs out there ranging from comically ineffective, to overweight overkill. Since it’s such a simple bit of hardware, one would think there’s not a lot of reason to charge more than, say, $300 for a really good one. Why then is it so difficult to find a good skid plate for the big adventure bikes, that effectively covers all  the vulnerabilities under the bike, whose cost doesn’t leave you feeling like your wallet is the thing that needs armor plating?

 

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When XLADV asked me if I would like to review the new ACD Racing Parts skid plate for the BMW R1200 GS/GSA, ‘06 - ‘13 bikes, I was quite interested. Early on with my ‘13, I was quite aware that the stock skid left some huge gaps in the protection of the engine. It’s not terribly robust in its ability to protect what it does cover and offers no protection for critical items like the oil filter, O2 sensors, or the clutch cover. I began checking around the market for a good aftermarket replacement. There were some that simply, on sight, were no better, or even worse than the stock plate. Some that looked like a great design, but lost me because they were made of unnecessarily heavy steel. I had settled on a very expensive skid plate--prohibitively expensive, but it had everything I wanted, so I was planning on just waiting a couple more paydays, holding my nose, paying the money, and being done with it. That was when XLADV came calling. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

 

First Impressions

While I waited for the product to arrive, my expectation was that since I’d never heard of ACD Racing, they were probably a tiny shop that didn’t offer a lot for ADV bikes or a new arrival to the ADV market, and might not even be very effective protection. At best, I speculated, it will be nice looking and priced at or above $400. In a couple days, the skid plate was in my hands. As soon as I had the package open, I knew that ACD was onto something. the aluminum was thick, the welds looked strong, and the rear mounting looked solid. Some might argue that the back side welds could be more robust, but the pragmatist in me is only concerned with depth, coverage, uniformity and (for aluminum) that there is no obvious contamination. My first impression was that this was exactly the plate for which I had been searching. It came with the plate (a two- piece affair), a small goodie bag of mounting hardware, but no instructions for installation.

 

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The first thing I did was find ACD Racing on the web. I needed to know what this skid plate cost. I was absolutely floored by the $280 price tag. Nothing I had found previously, that was anywhere near this build quality, was anywhere near this price. Now I was excited. This quality of plate, at this price, needs more attention in the market place. But before I go bananas about this thing, first I have to install it and get it out in the desert; the chickens haven’t hatched just yet.

 

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Installation

Before the product arrived the folks over at XLADV mentioned something about probably wanting to install the bracket first (ed. turns out ACD recommends it be installed as one piece after all.  oops!). At the time that comment didn’t find traction in my mind, but now that the parts and the bike were sitting side-by-side, it made perfect sense. What passed for instructions had been emailed to me. It was a PDF of an engineering drawing of the skid plate with some annotations added here and there to show where the hardware goes when installed. The instructions didn’t mention this, but the rear part of the skid that mounts to the bike’s frame, can be removed from the plate. This will also come in handy later for oil changes and other under-the-engine service that requires the skid be removed. The instructions were almost passable and I managed to figure out some critical details from them, but they could have been much more comprehensive.

 

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As with most service to the bike, my first order of business is to get the bike up on the lift and on its center stand. The old skid comes off and I line up the ACD skid to see how it fits and what bits of frame accept the rear mounting of the skid plate. What I find is that the skid mates up to the frame extensions that mount the center stand to the bike, so installation must be done on the side stand.

 

Overall, installation was a bit fiddly, but nowhere near the level of making one crazy. I spent just short of two hours getting it all hooked up, but with better instructions that allowed one to understand all the steps involved, not have to figure a few things out, and perhaps a few tricks thrown in, it could have taken an hour. If you’re even moderately mechanically inclined, you should have no trouble doing this in the comfort of your own home. The rear mounting bracket went on first. The left side was the most difficult and here is my only real complaint about the design. The right side is very easy to get bolted in just like stock with the center stand bushing as the nut, while the left, for a reason I can’t see, uses a very long bolt that threads through the center stand pivot bushing and into a nut that has to be precariously held in place on the back side of the mounting bracket. I would be interested to see if ACD can explain this better with proper instructions or if they can change the design to have the left side match the right.

 

Once the rear bracket was sorted out it was time to bolt up the plate attach it at the front. This was pretty straightforward until I got to the front bolts. For some reason, BMW made their forward skid plate mounting bracket with elevated ends such that any flat skid plate will need spacers to bolt up firmly. As a result, there is a gap at the bolting locations of a flat plate like the ACD, and those gaps are different on the right than on the left. ACD fills these gaps with two washers as spacers on the left, and one washer on the right. They fill the gap correctly, but they are very difficult to get in place while you get the bolt through, aligned and then threaded. There is not a lot of room to work between the plate and the bottom of the engine. Again, not a deal-breaking problem, but worth mentioning. I would have liked to have seen the appropriate width spacer for the right side. One spacer would have been easier to get in place than two washers.

 

 

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Tips:

Get the side that needs two washers done first, you’ll have more room to work.

Use a telescopic magnet to slide the washers into place.

 

Experiences

Once the front bolts were in place and secured, the two rear bolts were were tightened and torqued and it was ready to ride. The ACD Racing skid plate looked great. Its design is a full tub, wrapping up around the engine and the exhaust. It looked great and added the needed coverage that the stock plate doesn’t even try to provide. First rides were around town. I had deliberately not used any thread locker on all the bolts on the bottom of the plate to see if they would begin to work their way out. The all held fast in about 300 miles of city freeway and 200 miles of dirt, but you should always use a good thread locker.

 

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Out on trail, I ran a few very rocky, fast sections of trail. On several occasions there was the familiar twitch of the front wheel as I hit some loose rock, but instead of the flimsy prang of the stock skid plate, there was the satisfying heavy ring like a big bell. With the stock skid, when I heard or felt those same hits, I would cringe and spend the next few minutes making sure the bike still ran right, now I just smiled inside my helmet and kept on chugging down the trail. It took some pretty good shots and has only a couple little nicks to show for it.

 

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All told, knowing what I know about this skid plate now, I would absolutely buy one. The price is unbeatable. Any difficulties I had with installation are minor for the quality of this skid plate at this price. In fact, remember that super expensive one I mentioned earlier? Nevermind.

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Great write up!

 

Three things stand out to me about this plate:

 

  1. Attaches to the frame at the back, which makes it very sturdy
  2. The price:  $280.  This is about $100 less than a few of the leading skid plates out there for this bike
  3. Isaac Feliu has been running this plate for quite a while and if it can stand up to his riding then it's a great plate!

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