I get a lot of questions via IAATB and my twitter account as to what is the best skid plate (bash guard) for the BMW F800 GS. The plastic unit that comes stock on the bike is a joke, and doesn’t protect your engine, particularly the exposed oil filter, oil cooler, and exhaust manifold pipes from rocks that you might encounter while riding the F800 offroad. I settled on purchasing the BMW brand (made by Touratech, but only sold through BMW dealers) last season, and have about 3,000 miles of mixed riding on it.

I am now testing out a locally-made product from Ricochet Offroad Armor, based right in Salt Lake City, Utah. Let me disclose that I approached them with the opportunity to try their product out and provide a review, and was generously supplied with a demo unit. Below are my thoughts on ease of install, comparative weight, likes and dislikes thus far. This will be a long term product review, and I will do a follow-up post after some miles off the beaten path. This is the only way to truly test the worth.

A little history on Ricochet: founded by motocross racer Don Gibbs, Ricochet Offroad Armor has been making aluminum skid plates and armor for motorbikes and ATVs for 30 years, originally under the Utah Sport Cycle name. I saw a little tiny ad in a dualsport digital magazine, and noticed they were here in Utah and a product for the BMW, so I gave Don a shout. I also learned they make skid plates for Toyota FJ Cruisers. How convenient, because I have one of those too.

The first thing I noticed about the Ricochet product; it’s black anodized finish is going to look sweet on the bumblebee. The next thing I noticed was the weight. Noticeably thicker aluminum than the BMW Touratech skid plate, but also heavier. In fact, below are the actual weights of the stock plastic guard, the BMW Touratech, and the Ricochet (all weighed by me, and including necessary hardware:

Stock plastic: 1.4 lbs (600 grams)
BMW Touratech: 3.8 lbs (1,700 grams)
Ricochet: 4.6 lbs (2,100 grams)

Why is this an issue? A pound here, a pound there. These bikes start getting less nimble in the dirt every time you add a farkle or doo-dad. But in this case I am willing to let it slide, because you really do need good protection to your engine.

The last thing I noticed was the amount of hardware required for the Ricochet: 20 pieces of hardware including nylock nuts, washers, bushings, brackets and bolts. The stock plastic plate only uses 6 pieces of mounting hardware, and the BMW Touratech uses only 5 of the 6 stock parts. Something tells me less is better, and although the install was easy despite all the parts on the Ricochet, I was still blown away. The Nylock nuts are a nice touch, and we’ll see if they loosen up. The hardware pieces on my BMW Touratech skid plate were not much more than finger tight when I went to take them off, which means I was probably one good ride away from losing a nut. If I put that one back on, I’ll have to use some Locktite.

That’s about it for first impressions. Below are some photos. The BMW model wraps around more of the engine casing in the front, but the Ricochet is sturdier and feels more solid in general, even with all the extra hardware. The Ricochet is far cheaper at $129, versus the $275 or so for the BMW. You’ll notice the BMW Touratech has taken a beating, all dented and scratched up. Imagine what your engine casing, oil filter, etc would look like after the same amount of riding and no skid plate! Grim.

Ricochet, BMW, and stock skid plates for BMW F800 GS

Ricochet, BMW, and stock skid plates for BMW F800 GS

BMW Touratech skid plate has taken a beating.

BMW Touratech skid plate has taken a beating.

Ricochet Offroad Armor aluminum skid plate for BMW F800 GS

Ricochet Offroad Armor aluminum skid plate for BMW F800 GS

The Ricochet skid plate uses thick aluminum plate and burly mounting hardware.

The Ricochet skid plate uses thick aluminum plate and burly mounting hardware.

This shitstorm was opened back in April, regarding the currently suspended masters phenom, Kenny Williams, who was suspended for a positive dope test. I wrote some of my thoughts down in this post when the story first broke about Kenny. Read this article by Charles Pelkey of Velo News. Williams has apparently showed up at a few local training races, to the objection of a few local, non-cheating, ethical type bike racers. It has thrown the Northwest scene into a tizzy over the definition of “suspended” and the definition of “cheating” and the definition of “race.” After Pelkey’s article, there is a sounding board of comments. Here’s my take. Other racers on the scene are criticizing the rider who wrote the letter of objection. Kudos for Mike Hainsworth for speaking up. Suspended means suspended. There should be no place for dopers to keep racing, to keep their fitness sharp for when they make the big comeback. You know Kenny can’t wait to get back to racing when his suspension is up. What do you think?

Bike EXIF has been posting some fine specimens lately. This looks like it would be a hellafun scrambler. My rule is if it has knobbies, it’s worth taking a look.