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ADV ProductsBDCW Skid Plate: Ultimate Sump Protection for the KTM 500 EXC?

BDCW Skid Plate: Ultimate Sump Protection for the KTM 500 EXC?

 Hunting for the ultimate skid plate with serious protection for rocky trails.

Published on 05.15.2019

Black Dog skid plate for KTM 500 EXC

I always thought the ‘ultimate skid plate’ for my KTM 500 EXC would be one made out of carbon fiber. It’s 8x stronger than aluminum and they make fighter jets out of the stuff, so it would seem like the perfect material for sump protection…right? Unfortunately after a few years of riding with my carbon skid plate, I was noticing a lot more wear and tear than expected.

My old KTM 500 EXC skid plate was starting to turn white in the high wear areas where the epoxy had worn away and there were even some chips taken out of it. The carbon fiber was looking fatigued and brittle compared to how it was new, and I was also noticing enough flex that it might allow a sharp rock to transmit impacts to the engine. Clearly, it was time for a new skid plate and sooner than I’d expected.


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Turns out the ‘Ultimate Skid Plate’ for the KTM 500 EXC is actually made by Black Dog Cycle Works…or at least that’s what they call it. It’s constructed of 5052 aluminum, not carbon fiber, and it’s the same thickness (3/16-inch) they use for the big 600-pound adventure bikes. A two-stage powder/clear-coat finish offers more protection than either anodized or bare aluminum, and it’s made in the USA.

Black Dog skid plate for KTM 500 EXC

Sure, it’s a few pounds heavier than my old carbon skid plate, but the weight is carried down low on the bike where you’ll probably never notice it. And after considering how fast my last KTM 500 EXC skid plate wore out, going back to good ole aluminum seemed like a smart choice for the rocky trails I ride. So I decided to give Black Dog’s new KTM 500 EXC Ultimate Skid Plate a try.

First Look

Checking it out for the first time, the Ultimate Skid Plate has the familiar Black Dog grey speckle finish and precision build. A wrap-around design covers the magneto and waterpump, making it a little wider than my old skid plate but the extra protection is welcomed. Some of the BDCW skid plates I’ve seen for larger adventure bikes can look a little bulky but the KTM 500 EXC skid plate is relatively streamlined with just enough coverage to be effective, without adding any unnecessary weight. And unlike most skid plates, it doesn’t have a drain hole for oil changes. That may seem like a cost savings move, but it’s actually a feature that provides a smooth surface to slide on with no holes that can collect debris or snag on rocks.

Black Dog skid plate and hardware for the KTM 500 EXC
A magnetic front clamp makes it easy to position the skid plate and line up the two front bolts during install.

BDCW makes up for the lack of an oil drain plug hole with a maintenance-friendly design that lets you take off the plate in seconds by removing two front bolts and loosening up the two rear. Getting it installed for the first time was a breeze with a magnetic front clamp that makes it easy to line up the two front bolts. Then a pivoting style bracket in the rear lets you easily position the skid plate before tightening. The two-bracket design also provides more stability than typical four hook-stye skid plate mounting hardware.

How It Performed

To give the BDCW KTM 500 EXC Skid Plate a good test, we headed up to the mountains for some extreme enduro-style trails around the Big Bear Lake, CA area. A few days of crushing rocks here is like a month’s worth of abuse riding out in the desert.

Testing in the rock garden of dispan springs

I was a little concerned that the sound deadening properties of the carbon fiber material would be missed, but the 5052 aluminum seemed to absorb the hits well without a lot of clunking or sending impacts to my wrists. It also glided over rocks smoothly without any catching or lurching, and as I imagined, I couldn’t tell the difference in weight.

After riding pretty much every hardcore trail in the area, sliding and banging our way through tight crevices and rocky step ups, I was pretty sure that I had put some major gashes or dents in the new plate. But after a quick wipe down, you’d have to take a hard look to find any imperfections. This was a far cry from what I’ve seen with bare aluminum or anodized skid plates that can get uglied up by just rocks getting kicked up. The BDCW ultimate skid plate proved tough as nails.

Skid plate testing in Big Bear Lake

Black Dog skid plate and hardware for the KTM 500 EXC
After a rock-crushing ride on extreme enduro-like trails, only a few nicks and minor scratches were visible.

So far, the skid plate has continued to maintain its youthful appearance. The mounting hardware also remains solid and hasn’t loosened up or moved around, even after some hard bottom outs at speed. Judging by the rate at which it’s wearing, I expect it to last or even outlast the lifespan of this bike.

Who Is It For

If you mainly ride open desert or lightly-rocky terrain, it might be overkill. But for those who take on the challenge of technical trails in mountainous areas with lots of rocks, it offers excellent coverage of vital engine parts and can really take a beating. Also, those that travel in remote areas who want to make sure their bike is prepared for the unexpected rough trail conditions.

Rocky trail Gold Mountain

Our Verdict

The KTM 500 EXC is a commonly used weapon for the most technical rocky trails. During these types of rides, you often get into situations where it is impossible to tow strap a bike out when a failure occurs. That makes it even more critical to have increased protection.

The BDCW Ultimate Skid Plate, with it’s full wrap-around design, thick aluminum construction, heavy duty bracketry, and diamond-hard finish is a great defense against a sheared stator, cracked water pump or other catastrophic damage that even a tube of JB Weld can’t get you out of.

Black Dog skid plate for KTM 500 EXC

Some might not like the idea of having to remove the skid plate for maintenance, but the design of the brackets makes it so easy to remove, that it ensures you can still perform quick oil changes.

At $225, it’s one of the more pricey skid plates for the KTM 500 EXC. But it delivers peace of mind every time you go out on a rough trail. For some, this investment is well worth the money saved on as lesser plate, or the money you might spend on an expensive repair bill, and you can also expect it to last a long time too.

What We Liked

  • Maximum protection gives peace of mind.
  • Tough finish keeps it looking fresh longer.
  • Easy to remove/install for maintenance.

What Could Be Improved

  • It’s on the pricey side.

BDCW KTM 500 EXC Skid Plate Specs

CONSTRUCTION: 3/16-inch (4.76mm) 5052 Aluminum
COLOR: Gray
WEIGHT: 4 lbs, 11.5 oz
FITMENT: KTM 450/500 EXC (2012-current); Husqvarna FE 450/501 (2014-current);
Price: $225

Shopping Options

KTM/Husky 2016 & Older KTM/Husky 2017 & Newer

Author: Rob Dabney

Rob Dabney started a lifelong obsession with motorcycles at the age of 15 when he purchased his first bike – a 1982 Honda MB5. Through his 20’s and 30’s he competed in off-road desert races, including the Baja 250, 500 and 1000. Eventually, his proclivity for exploration led him to dual sport and adventure riding. Rob’s never-ending quest to discover what’s around the next bend has taken him on Adventures in Mexico, North Africa, Europe, and throughout the American West. As a moto journalist, he enjoys inspiring others to seek adventure across horizons both near and far.

Author: Rob Dabney
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