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ADV ProductsTested: Black Dog Ultimate Skid Plate for the KTM 790 Adventure

Tested: Black Dog Ultimate Skid Plate for the KTM 790 Adventure

High-level protection to match the performance capability of the KTM 790R.

Published on 07.06.2020
Photo: Sam Bendall

Developed from KTM’s race DNA, the 790 adventure R has earned its place as one of the top performing off-road bikes in the adventure segment. But sometimes, it’s easy to forget you are carrying nearly 500 pounds and the crushing forces generated by an adventure bike when it smacks its undercarriage in rocky terrain. While the wrap-around design of the 790’s OEM skid plate does offer good coverage, its wafer-thin sheet metal doesn’t provide a lot of protection for aggressive riding. One good hit could mean being stranded far from home or an expensive non-warranty repair when you return.

We got our hands on one of the new Black Dog Ultimate Skid Plates for the KTM 790 Adventure and installed it on our test mule before heading out for a couple of rough rides in the Anza Borrego desert and the Salton Sea area. After pulling off the stock plate, we were glad we did. Dents and distortion in the plate were already visible after just a handful of previous rides. We also noticed the stock plate is held on with bolts that have a protruding hex-head design, which could become a liability if they catch on obstacles or become too damaged to remove after grinding on rocks.

First Impressions

Black Dog’s Ultimate Plate provides a much beefier construction than the OEM unit, made with 3/16-inch 5052 aluminum with a large number of ventilation holes strategically placed to ensure the engine stays cool at slower speeds. It also uses mounting bolts that lay flush with the plate to ensure there’s no catching as you slide over roots and rocks. The rubber mounting pads are also significantly thicker to help reduce shock and vibrations transmitted to the bike’s sump. We put both plates on the scale and as expected, the Black Dog skid plate was heavier by about 6 pounds. But just like a burlesque dancer, a couple of extra pounds in the right place is never a bad thing.

After just a few rides, the OEM skid plate was already starting to show some dents and distortion.


Mounting was made easier with high-quality hardware and everything lined up without a lot of cajoling. Although, we did notice the new plate utilizes the mounting points reserved for the 790’s optional centerstand. This design is intended to maximize protection but does mean you can’t install a center stand. That may not be ideal, although these days we’re getting used to adventure bikes not having center stands. To adapt to the times, we’ve started carrying a portable Trail Stand.

The BDCW Skid Plate comes pre-drilled for use with the Trail Stand. Use it as a center stand alternative to prop up a wheel for a tube change or to lubing the chain. It fits in your tool kit and weighs just 10 ounces.

It’s a lightweight telescopic pole with a hook on one end that can be used to prop the bike up for a quick trailside tube change, or even just lubing the chain. It’s compact enough to fit into your tool roll or under your seat and it’s super light at 10 ounces. The Black Dog plate was specifically designed to work with the Trail Stand and incorporates notches for the hook end to fit into for a secure mounting point. 

Photo: Spencer Hill

Once the Ultimate Plate was installed, we had a lot more confidence when clanking over boulders and sliding over protrusions in the trail. When riding in the Old Dale Mining District near Joshua Tree, as well as tackling ‘The Squeeze’ in Anza Borrego, we put the Black Dog Ultimate Skid Plate to the test and it emerged from the dust unfazed. After a good wash down, the bottom of the plate looked none the worse for wear too. So far the Ultimate Skid Plate has held up as well as other Black Dog plates we’ve tested, but we’ll keep punishing it to see if it squeals. 

Black Dog Ultimate Skid Plate Highlights

  • Large rubber shock block is placed under the stock support bracket at the center of the skid plate.
  • Includes a second shock block, between the skid plate and the engine block, at the rear of the engine.
  • Completely removes the mounting points from the engine case, which is what we are trying to protect.
  • Comes in Black, White or Two-Tone Powder Coat.
  • Fits 2019+ KTM 790 Adventure standard, R or Rally.
  • Works with stock tank protectors and H&B, SW Motech or Touratech crash bars.
  • Smooth Bottom for clearing obstacles.
  • Remove 5 mounting bolts on the lower portion for oil changes.
  • Made in the U.S. out of 3/16-inch (4.76mm) of 5052 Aluminum
  • Measured Weight: 8 lbs. 6.3 oz.
  • Price: $349.00
Photo: Jon Beck

What We Liked

  • Major upgrade in protection over stock.
  • Tough finish keeps it looking new after much abuse.
  • Smooth bottom won’t catch on obstacles.

What Could Be Improved

  • Can’t use with optional center stand.

Shopping Options

Ultimate Skid PlateTrail Stand

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 Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia, 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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