Words & Photos by Samson Hatae; Action Photos Matt Locascio
After many, many nudges from all my friends with new dirt bikes, I made the plunge and sold my old DRZ 400. I found a great deal on a brand new Husqvarna FE350 and before I even had the bike in my hands I was already buying parts. Luckily, Drew has the same exact bike so I was able to get feedback on what he has purchased and compare that to what I’d been reading online. First thing I knew I needed was a beefier skid plate. The stock one is decent, but doesn’t offer the coverage I wanted to protect my investment. Plus, I wanted something that protected that sweet linkage rear suspension. After doing plenty of research I settled on the AXP Racing Exteme skid plate.
THE LAB The Extreme skid plate is made of 8mm thick HDPE plastic and custom molded for each model of bike. The use of polyethylene plastic makes the AXP Extreme 40% lighter than most aluminum skid plates. Compared to aluminum it is also much quieter as it does not vibrate or reverberate engine noise or make a loud “ding” noise when a rock hits it. The high-density plastic also slides across surfaces like logs instead of digging in like aluminum. Another nice feature of the skid plate is how it wraps up towards the engine cases for added protection.
Installing the skid plate was pretty easy, using a durable 3-point mounting system. It bolts directly to the frame with the same mounting points as the stock skid plate. This all makes it easy to remove for maintenance like oil changes and cleaning. I have read that some people have drilled holes in the skid plate to access the drain plugs for even easier oil changing, but I will not be going that route.
THE DIRT Here in the PNW we get the treat of riding through some of the most beautiful forests. That means we encounter more than our fair share of downed trees and other obstacles that require some up and over maneuvers. Knowing I have this skid plate to protect the underside of the bike gives me a boost in confidence to try and get over things I wouldn’t normally try without its protection. Especially when I head over the mountain to ride the lava rocks of Bend, Oregon. The plastic does take a beating when sharp lava rocks are involved, but nothing that’s caused me much concern. I’m definitely glad it wasn’t my frame or linkage!
When riding faster, open trails I did not notice any excess noise coming from the bottom of the bike, specifically from the skid plate. I have ridden bikes with aluminum skid plates in the past and definitely noticed the “ding” noises when a rock bounces up and hits it and that is not that case with this skid plate. Another welcome improvement when riding our trails with lots of loose branches and boulders.
The Wolf’s Last Word
After a few months of riding with the AXP Extreme skid plate I am happy with the purchase. The plate works well over a variety of obstacles and I really like how it glides over trees and rocks better than some aluminum plates I’ve ridden. It’s quieter on the trail and it looks cool. I like how it wraps up and over the frame and gives some protection to the side of the motor. Plus, knowing that the bike’s frame, linkage and some case coverage are on my side, I’m able to focus more on trying to stay on my bike as I pop the clutch up and over obstacles. I may not be riding at the level of Hard Enduro, but at least I have a skid plate that is built to withstand riding at those levels.
Mounts with Existing Drill Holes Linkage Coverage Less Friction Than Aluminum Quieter Than Aluminum Easy to Mount Extended Coverage Area Lighter Than Aluminum One Piece Design
Have to Remove for Oil Changes Mud Build-up
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