MXA TEAM TESTED: CYCRA FULL ARMOR YZ450F SKID PLATE
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WHAT IS IT? For years the typical skid plate was made from aluminum. It was strong, light and durable. Then, carbon fiber came on the scene and it was even lighter. Now, the newest generation of skid plates are made from plastic. The benefits of plastic are that it can be color-matched. It is flexible enough not to drastically stiffen a bike’s frame, and it is inexpensive.
WHAT’S IT COST? $89.95.
CONTACT? (800) 770-2259 or www.cycraracing.com.
WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with Cycra’s Full Armor skid plate.
(1) Bike choice. MXA installed the Cycra Full Armor skid plate on our 2016 Yamaha YZ450F. Why did we choose to test it on a Yamaha? Because we have suffered both case and water-hose damage on Yamahas in the past. We were most concerned about the vulnerable water hoses, which are the perfect height to be damaged in first-turn collisions. Yamahas come with a small plastic guard for the water pump, but it is only sturdy enough to ward off roost.
(2) Installation. Thanks to a hook that engages with a frame cross-member in the rear of the chassis, it only requires two bolts and a machined aluminum bracket to mount the Cycra unit; however, it is tricky to get the aluminum bracket behind the frame’s downtubes and line up the bolts and skid plate at the same time. We stuck a spring puller through the hole on one side of the skid plate and hooked it through one of the bolt holes on the aluminum bracket. This allowed us to pull the bracket towards the frame, line up the intersecting holes and finger-tighten the bolt in the opposite hole. A bent coat hanger could easily do the same thing.
(3) Caution. After you ride your bike, be sure to double-check the fitment of the skid plate. The extreme loads placed on the frame can loosen up the skid plate. Once you tighten it down a second time, it should stay.
(4) Plastic versus aluminum. Skid-plate manufacturers are sensitive to frame flex and have begun to design systems to allow the frame to move independently of the skid plate—at least incrementally. It’s not uncommon for aluminum skid plates to come with rubber grommets around the bolts. With plastic skid plates, there is enough inherent flex in the material to eliminate this concern.
(5) Good stuff. The Cycra Full Armor skid plate is color-coded to the brand of bike, with blue and gold offered for Yamaha owners (black and gray are also available for all Full Armor skid plates). Kawasaki skid plates are available in green, Husqvarna in blue or yellow, Honda in red and KTM in orange.
(6) Performance. The Cycra Full Armor skid plate protected the engine cases and water hoses on our YZ450F. Perhaps if we were bashing logs, ricocheting off boulders or landing on top of metal ramps we would want an aluminum skid plate, but for motocross we think that Cycra’s plastic design is more than sufficient.
WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? Our major complaints centered around the 3mm Allen bolts used to mount the skid plate to the frame. First, the front of the engine is not the best location for tiny Allen bolts. The recesses fill with roost and mud that often dries to a concrete-like consistency, making it a hassle to remove the bolts. Second, the torque rating of a 3mm Allen is very low, and any excessive tightening could strip the head. Third, we would prefer a hex-head bolt with an 8mm hex to ease installation, tightening and removal. We don’t see a major need to save grams so low on the frame.
MXA RATING: If you don’t plan to crash, then you don’t need a helmet. If you don’t think that your engine cases, water pump or water hoses could be damaged in a first-turn pileup, then you don’t need a skid plate. But, we think that a helmet and skid plate are investments in a happy future. If they do their job, you’ll never know it.