When you think about ADV motorcycles, the legendary BMW GS and the venerable Honda Africa Twin will surely come to mind. The Versys-X? Not so much. This is because it was never designed or marketed as an ADV motorcycle. A quick glance at its spec sheet will confirm this with its limited ground clearance and suspension travel. But despite its shortcomings, the Versys-X is a versatile machine. And it holds its own on different types of terrain. You just need to adapt your speed.
If you’re considering taking the Versys-X further than your typical fireroads, you’ll want to invest in a skidplate. The exhaust downpipes run underneath the engine, making them extremely prone to impacts. And unfortunately, Kawasaki didn’t bother to fit a skidplate. A new exhaust from Kawasaki doesn’t come cheap. FYI, the part number is 39178-0276, requiring you to shell out 800+ USD.
Kawasaki doesn’t offer a skidplate as an accessory either. So, you’ll have to turn to the aftermarket: T-Rex Racing and Ricochet offer a bike-specific solution.
The skidplate is well-packed in a rather large box. All parts are sealed separately in a bag. The whole kit is comprised of the skidplate, 3 mounting brackets and 4 bolts with washers.
The skidplate is made of aluminum. So it comes as no surprise that it’s very light. You might even wonder whether it’s strong enough to serve its intended purpose. But more on that later. The build quality is surprisingly well: clean welds which have been smoothed on the outside and a nice satin black paint finish. The bolts and washers are made from stainless steel.
Fitting the skidplate is straightforward and shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes. You start by removing both plastic engine covers with a 4-mm allen key. Each side uses 3 bolts.
Note: The nut of the upper bolt on each side is pressed into a rubber grommet. Don’t overtighten these bolts. If you do, the nut will spin inside the grommet and you’ll need to replace it (ask me how I know…). The part number of the nut is 92015-1700 and costs about 6 USD.
The two lower mounting brackets of the skidplate use the same mounting holes as the engine covers. This makes the installation a bit tricky, because you need to align the brackets and the covers at the same time.
The third (and last) mounting bracket is positioned above the oil filter, as you can see on the picture below. You need to use the longer bolt, supplied in the kit. Once the 3 mounting brackets in place, you can start bolting everything up.
Align everything properly, make sure the skidplate is not touching any other parts (especially the exhaust).
Now, tighten all the bolts, and you’re done!
The T-Rex plate is currently for sale here at 114.95 USD. For the sake of comparison, the Ricochet plate costs more than double with a price tag of 241.45 USD. So, you can assume that you’re sacrificing build quality with the T-Rex skidplate.
Note: Cheap knock-offs can be found on AliExpress for as low as 75 USD (click here).
How does it perform?
Obviously, the skidplate doesn’t change much in terms of riding experience (besides added peace of mind). Some people reported more engine noise due to resonance against the skidplate. However, I felt the noise remained largely the same. You do occasionally hear rocks hitting the plate.
Unfortunately, on my way to Kiou Leou Ti (Ha Giang, Vietnam), road conditions got quite bad. So bad actually, that at one point, we were only averaging 10 km/h… And this is when I hit a large rock, which bent the whole skidplate out of shape. When I got back home, I removed the plate to assess the damage. Verdict: Total Loss
Due to the severity of the impact, the main welds failed. The mounting brackets bend and allowed the whole plate to shift backwards by 3-4 cm, causing it to hit the exhaust pipes. However, the exhaust pipes escaped unscatched from the incident!
The T-Rex plate has its pros and cons. It’s cheap, light and easy to install. For comparison sake, the Ricochet plate is heavier and sturdier, but also double the price. (not to mention harder to install). The T-Rex is definitely a good option for people who do light off-roading. The plate has protected my exhaust from many smaller impacts. However, as shown above, bigger impacts will break it.