Some months back, nearly a year now, I wrote about the Black Dog Cycle Works Ultimate Skid Plate for the KTM Adventure 1190 R in our EZ ADV Upgrades series. Since then, Black Dog has dipped its paws into the smaller dual-sport skid plate market, offering their Ultimate Skid Plate for KTM and Husqvarna dual-sport machines such as the EXC and FE lines. We were offered the chance to test the new skid plate just in time for a 1,000-mile dual-sport ride through Baja, Mexico. A rocky ride with everything from technical boulder bashing trails and rock gardens to long high-speed gravel roads. The perfect place to put the Ultimate Skid Plate to the ultimate test.

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But first, the install!

Installation

Black Dog Cycle Works Ultimate Skid Plate Review

A somewhat black dog supervising installation.

The Black Dog’s Ultimate Skid Plate for smaller dual-sport bikes gives up none of the protection of it’s larger adventure-oriented fitments. Still made in the USA and still made of 3/16-inch 5052 aluminum, the smaller skid plate also features the same hardcore powder and clear coat which makes the finish nearly as robust as the material itself.

Black Dog Cycle Works Ultimate Skid Plate Review

Installation, as it should be, was mega easy with the BDCW skid plate. And that’s an important feature because you’ll need to remove it for oil changes. A total of four bolts secures the Ultimate Skid Plate to the 500 EXC, two bolts on the frame’s downtubes and two bolts tightening the rear hook around a lower portion of the frame. Not quite as easy to remove as the Acerbis plastic skid plate that I had been using, which required the removal of only one bolt, but it is unquestionably more stout.

Black Dog Cycle Works Ultimate Skid Plate Review

Magnets!

What makes the first and subsequent installations quite easy is the bracket that fits behind the downtubes that the two front bolts fasten to. The bracket features magnets which hold it in place while you thread the bolts into it. Why don’t more manufacturers do this?! This makes positioning and tweaking the backplate extremely easy and it stays put as you effortlessly screw in the bolts. A wonderfully simple design that makes all the difference.

Bashing about

Black Dog Cycle Works Ultimate Skid Plate Review

After nearly 2,000 miles of dirt, the Black Dog Cycle Works Ultimate Skid Plate shows minimal signs of wear. There are nicks and scratches, but no substantial deformation of the plate itself and it has taken some significant impacts. My 500 EXC was lowered by the previous owner, which has caused this skid plate to take some hard hits at speed where my judgment of the amount of ground clearance I had may have been slightly off. From rock gardens to ledges, the skid plate has taken the brunt of my lack of finesse as I sometimes bash my way through obstacles.

Black Dog Cycle Works Ultimate Skid Plate Review

The Black Dog Cycle Works Ultimate Skid Plate with mounting hardware weighs in at 5 lbs 10.1 oz. Thankfully, that extra weight is carried at the lowest part of the motorcycle making its effect on handling negligible.

Sure, the BDCW Ultimate Skid Plate is perhaps one of the heaviest skid plates on the market, and yeah, it can be loud when rocks are pinging off of it, but not only is it thick aluminum with a burly finish, it also provides substantial coverage to the sump, clutch cover, water pump and ignition cover giving it some of the best coverage of any skid plate out there. At $225 the Ultimate Skid Plate isn’t cheap, but when considering the protection you’re getting, it’s a bargain over being stuck trailside with a busted bike.

This skid plate fits the following models and is also available for KTM and Husqvarna dual-sports 2017 and up.

KTM 500 EXC / XC-F (2012-2016)

KTM 450 XC-F / SX-F (2012-2016)

Husqvarna FE 450 (up to 2016)

Husqvarna FE 501 (up to 2016)

Shop for the Black Dog Cycle Works Ultimate Skid Plate here