Product Impression: Black Dog Cycle Works BMW 1200GS Skid Plate
BMW’s stock R1200GS skid plate doesn’t look like it’s designed to do much more than deflect pea gravel. The metal is thin and coverage is minimal, so if you’re looking to do more than strafe a few fire roads on your GS, chances are a beefier skid plate is in order. Black Dog Cycle Works, a motorcycle parts and accessories company based out of Sandpoint, Idaho, has a solution.
BDCW saw an inherent problem with the stock BMW’s skid plate, in that it uses four bushings that thread vertically into the engine case (there are no frame supports on the bottom of a 1200GS engine). According to Black Dog, this can result in engine damage if the bike suffers a big hit, as force from the impact is transferred into the case.
To help alleviate this, BDCW’s skid plate utilizes one front horizontal engine mount (versus the four vertical mounts on the stock unit), but the majority of the structure is suspended by the rear mount, which bolts to the frame just forward of the swingarm pivot. The idea is to have the skid plate absorb the shock and keep from damaging either the engine or frame. “The front and rear supports have reliefs built into them that will allow the support to compress to help absorb a substantial impact,” said Kurt Forgét, Black Dog Cycle Works owner and designer of the skid plate. “This is especially true on the rear support. Additionally, the rubber ‘shok bloks’ just behind the front mount will help disperse the force from a large hit, lessening the impact to the front and rear supports.”
When we pulled the Black Dog GS protection out of the box, it was apparent a lot of thought had gone into its design. The sturdy, 1/4-inch aluminum plate features an attractive textured powdercoat finish. The weld seams on our test unit were all top-notch, and didn’t have any slag or sharp edges. Sitting on the ground next to the stock plate, the BDCW unit looks massive.
We installed the BDCW plate on our 2007 R1200GS. Overall, installation went well, but we gave BDCW some feedback on what could be improved. Almost all of our comments revolved around the instructions, which could possibly be made more intuitive by using more images and a few CAD drawings.
The rear mount bolts to the frame using two machined U-brackets, and it took us about 20 minutes to get these installed and lined up correctly. Additionally, our 2007 GS was missing one required bolt that all other model years have as stock equipment, so we had to source it at our local dealer. That bolt is now included on all of BDCW’s GS skid plate orders.
We also installed the optional centerstand guard (which is not available for 2005 model years). The entire installation—with a run to our local dealer—took about 1.5 hours. If we had to do it again, it would take 30 to 45 minutes.
Anyone who is somewhat mechanically-inclined and has a few wrenches in the toolbox should find the BDCW GS skid plate installation fairly straightforward.
We especially liked two aspects of the BDCW design: 1) The large front and side flanges do a good job of covering the header pipes, something that we feel is an important feature, and 2) the flat bottom means nothing will snag on sharp objects. The coverage is impressive, the material is extremely stout–there is no comparison to the stock unit. Additionally, Black Dog pointed out that the rear frame mount was unique among GS skid plates and is the key selling point of their GS protection.
We didn’t call this a “test” because we rarely roll out of the garage on an $18,000 motorcycle with the intent of bashing the bottom of the engine off of boulders. That time will come, but it probably won’t be planned. For now, we’re pleased with the look, feel and build construction of the Black Dog Cycle Works GS skid plate, and are confident in its ability to fend off obstacles that would have destroyed the stock protection.
Skid plate: $349.00
Optional centerstand guard: $49.00