Product Review: AltRider KLR 650 Skid Plate Review

Sep 16, 2014 View Comments by

Product Review: AltRider KLR 650 Skid Plate ReviewFor those wishing to explore the off road capabilities of their Kawasaki KLR 650, the stock plastic skid plate should be replaced with something more substantial. The stock plastic item may be tougher than it looks, but in a rock versus plastic grudge match, my money goes on the rock every time. With something as vital as the bike’s engine at stake, I’d rather not gamble.

Product Review: AltRider KLR 650 Skid Plate ReviewAltRider’s solution is a rugged skid plate fabricated from 1/8-inch thick anodized aluminum, available in natural silver or black finish. Seams are hand TIG welded, and optional stainless steel mounting brackets are available for those who wish to upgrade the stock stamped steel brackets. The AltRider skid plate uses stock mounting points and offers a convenient hole in the bottom of the plate for oil changes.

Mounting information for both current and pre-2008 models are included, and a list of required tools is provided as well. Several photographs and an itemized list of components round out the installation literature. Required hardware consisting of nuts, bolts, spacers, washers, grommets, and zip ties are also included.

My KLR 650 is equipped with Givi crash guards, and the skid plate mounted to the Givi guard reasonably well. I did experience minor alignment issues with the top two mounting bolts. Although the skid plate hole spacing was very close, I suspect that slight interference due to increased contact area between the top edge of the skid plate and the crash guard is to blame. The top bolts wouldn’t pass cleanly or squarely through the holes in the skid plate and crash guard, and I had to use vise grips to close a slight gap between the two components before I was able to start the nuts onto the bolts.

Product Review: AltRider KLR 650 Skid Plate ReviewI doubt that any problem would exist on bikes without crash guards, but I feel that the issue is worth noting since many owners upgrading their skid plate may also install crash guards. I eventually used a couple of stainless steel washers (two per side) as spacers between the skid plate and crash bar to eliminate the unwanted contact. Alignment was much better after the washers were installed, although I did need to purchase slightly longer machine screws at a hardware store. The installation hardware packet includes shorter (16mm) flat head screws for the upper mounts and 22 mm screws for the lower mounting points. There are no screw length clearance issues for the upper mounting locations, and I’d recommend that four 22 mm screws be sent with the skid plate for easier installation when mounting to aftermarket accessories.

The eight rubber grommets included with the skid plate are secured to the bike’s lower frame tubes (four per side) with narrow zip ties that are inserted into the outer groove of the grommet and pulled tight. The grommets appear to provide cushion and limit flex of the skid plate during severe impacts. Exact placement of the grommets is not detailed well in the instructions, and the zip ties are difficult to insert into the grommet’s narrow groove. Installation as well as appearance could be improved through manufacturer-supplied rubber pads secured to the skid plate at appropriate locations.

The AltRider KLR 650 skid plate offers a substantial upgrade in protection over the stock plastic unit, and gives the bike a more serious, dirt-capable appearance as well. Although I’d recommend minor adjustments to the installation hardware, the AltRider skid plate is a quality offering that fills a large chink in the KLR’s off-road

AltRider KLR 650 Skid Plate
Colors: Silver or Black
Price: $190.97, $215.97 with upgraded stainless steel mounting brackets


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