WHAT IS IT? It’s a brand-new plastic skid plate from the company famous for making the world’s most durable chain guides.
WHAT’S IT COST? $64.95.
CONTACT? (541) 772-4161 or www.tmdesignworks.com.
WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with TM Designworks frame coverage skid plate.
(1) Construction. TM Designworks’ plastic skid plate is not molded; instead, it is hand-layered and formed to shape. Using forming instead of molding allows for more strength, fewer air pockets and much tighter bends. It should be noted that the TM Designworks skid plate doesn’t have any tighter corners, but they still prefer hand-forming to molding (even though they mold their chain guides and chain buffer pads). The final step in the production process is to coat the skid plate with a thin layer of silicone.
(2) Installation. We tested the TM Designworks skid plate on a 2013 Kawasaki KX450F. The KX450F comes with a stock plastic skid plate that is mounted with four bolts. TM’s skid plate uses these mounting points, plus an additional frame clamp. The frame clamp is held to the skid plate with wood screws; additional frame clamps are available separately if you want to make the skid plate extra secure or need to replace the supplied one.
(3) Holes. Our TM Designworks skid plate was one solid piece of plastic with no holes. The solid design offers maximum protection and glide factor over rocks and in jump-casing situations. There is also the option to customize the skid plate with as many holes as desired with a drill. Some TM Designworks versions have oil drain holes and some don’t. We were happy with the solid design, but think that a drain hole is a big plus.
(4) Performance. Since many bikes come with some form of a skid plate, the TM Designworks skid plate is designed to offer superior, more extensive protection. The TM unit covers the frame rails and has an extra mount to keep it securely attached. Equally important, the frame-clamping method doesn’t bolt solidly to the frame where it could interfere with how the frame flexes on the track.
(5) Options. TM Designworks’ skid plates are available in black and bike-matching colors. TM Designworks also offers full-coverage skid plates with wings on the sides to protect the side cases for $109.95.
WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? We had two quibbles. (1) Our frame clamp’s wood screws required a Torx wrench for installation. After we complained, TM Designworks promised to supply the needed wrench for every skid plate sold until they replace the Torx screws with Allens. (2) Having to remove the skid plate to change the engine oil is a big nuisance.
As Dustin Hoffman learned in The Graduate, plastic is the future. A plastic skid plate, like the TM Designworks unit, can absorb blows, spring back into shape and cushion tender aluminum frame cradles.