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Discussion Starter #1
I have been building my own skid plate for my 2012 V-Strom 650 with Puig crash bars / engine guards due to there being limited availability of skid plates that fit these particular bars. I wanted to share once the skid plate was finished but call me impatient lol or too excited not to at least share my process and progress.

There is the saying, "If you can't find it or can't afford it, then build it". Now I have no idea who said that, but I like it, and that is exactly what I did.

After researching the various skid plate options, I decided that I wanted to make a skid plate that fit my needs (or wants) and price point. Granted when everything is said and done, I will probably have just as much into it with all trial and error costs as I would from just buying a pre-made plate, but hey where's the fun in that?

Starting off, I mocked up the skid plate design using cardboard and masking tape. I opted to have the sides of the skid plate bolted to the bottom due to lacking a welder to weld aluminum.

Many other skid plates had the bottom plate pieces that bend upwards be equal length and equal angle, so I started with that design as a baseline.

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The mock-up was progressing smoothly; however, I could not help but think, the design is too wide. Low and behold, I put the kickstand down and it hit the "plate" (cardboard).

My original solution was to trim that edge, but the more I thought about it, the more I did not like the idea. Also, the more I looked at the "plate", the more I wanted to make it more streamlined. So, I scrapped the now Mark 1 mock-up and started anew.

The Mark 2 mock-up ended up being more streamlined, narrower, and yet it was still protective of the engine and oil filter. Exactly what I wanted.

I abandoned my attempt at making equal length and angle bottom plate pieces in favor of different piece lengths with angles that fit closely to the exhaust pipe.

The spacing ended up being about 4 cardboard pieces from the exhaust pipe to the plate and from the bottom of the exhaust to the plate. This kept the plate as close as I could while also giving enough room for deflection if I ever had the misfortune of bouncing it off a boulder.

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The bottom piece of the plate was easy to make; just a flat piece of cardboard gradually taped up to the angles I wanted. I made tabs that were to be taped to the outsides of the bottom piece and these would be the tabs that would bolt to the side plate pieces.

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The side plates were much harder to make since they sit at a 65 degree angle outward from the bottom plate and they had to be cut at just the right angle to follow the angle of the bottom plate while also being bent outwards.

Eventually, after much cutting, fitting, and refitting, I had my Mark 2 mock-up complete.

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My first thought was to use was the strongest aluminum I could think of (and knew of), 6061 T6 aluminum.

I chose a .160 inch (about 4 mm) thick piece to use since a lot of the posts I read here and on other adventure motorcycling forums showed that 3 mm plates were too thin and would turn into a crumpled mess when you so much as looked at it.

With the bottom piece of the skid plate cut out and cleaned up, I was ready to start bending.

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I built a metal brake during this time to give me crisper edges on each of the bends, and since I knew I would be making a lot of bends, make it easier on myself.

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Now those of you fabrication experts out there are probably saying, there is no way that homemade metal brake is going to work on a piece of 6061 T6 aluminum plate that thick, especially.

To those of you who thought that, congratulations, you are correct. All that happened is that I bent the angle iron I used to build the brake.

Using a hammer (not the best tool for this, I know), I attempted to bend the side tabs again. Aaaannd, the aluminum bends up to about 60 degrees and snaps off.

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Discussion Starter #2
Now at this point, I have a new dilemma. A piece of the bottom plate is broken off, there is not enough material to make a new bottom plate, and more research reveals 6061 T6 is hard to weld and brittle when bent (unless you take the T6 temper out of it).

I was weary about heating up the aluminum because of how it might affect the strength, I only had a MAPP gas torch, and no way to weld the tab back onto the bottom plate.

With dollar signs adding up, I again had to abandon my original plans with the 6061 and start over.

I ordered a new piece of aluminum, this time 5052 H32 at .190 inches (about 5 mm) thick. I would have preferred .160 inch in 5052, but it is near impossible to find in plate form and when you did find it, it was expensive.

I wanted this plate to be sturdy enough to be able to take it to places less travelled in the future, hence going up in size as opposed to down.

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Fast forward to the point of bending, similar issue, it bends the brake even after reinforcing the brake.

This time, I decide to use heat to help bend the plate, and instead of using the brake to hold it, using angle iron and c-clamps.

With heat, I was finally able to make the bends I wanted. They were not as crisp as they could be, but I accepted this due to lacking the necessary tools to make it so. Plus, they were a real bugger to bend even with the heat.

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Using a straight jaw sheet metal seamer prior to this was taking its toll, so I had to make one more tool that ened up looking something like Thor’s hammer. Nordic references aside (or Marvel whichever your fancy) it was made to grab onto the side tabs and bend the entire length of the longer tabs to 65 degrees.

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Once the bottom plate was bent, I moved onto cutting and bending the side plates.

After bending and fitting, I found that the lack of crisp bends altered how the side plates sat in the bottom plate. Trimming the plates down was an easy fix in the grand scheme of things.

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The skid plate was cleaned up and some holes were drilled for weight and aesthetics.

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It was onto making the mounting brackets. The front was easy, aside from finding the right hardware. All it was is bolt holes drilled in the skid plate, a piece of rubber, and 2 u-bolts.

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The rear mount was tricky. It involved bending the bracket to align with the angles of the skid plate sides, while also aligning with the front kickstand bolt and exhaust mount bolt.

It took some thinking and a little creativity to have the skid plate to bracket bolt sit correctly against the bracket. Welding a couple pieces of c-channel cut at an angle was enough to make the bolt sit and clamp straight.

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The skid plate is mostly complete; however, I still have to clean up some of the plate edges where I was overzealous with the flapper wheel, and I plan to have the plate powder coated.

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Stay tuned for updates to this thread on the finished product.
 

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Good job mate. I'm a big fan of diy but sometimes I'm ending spending more time, effort and dough than buy one already made.
Bending things is such a pain. I had to bend some plates myself and I find easier if I score the plate on the "inside" of the folding. In your case, 1mm deep and 1mmm wide would have worked. The metal will bend on the less resistant part and you will have better edges. Especially with thick plates.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Good job..........don't see how you were able to produce such nice "bends"......... (y)
I just sandwiched the plate in between 2 pieces of angle iron and c-clamped them to a bench. From there I either used pliers, the sheet metal seamer, or the large bending tool I made to push up on the metal.

Good job mate. I'm a big fan of diy but sometimes I'm ending spending more time, effort and dough than buy one already made.
Bending things is such a pain. I had to bend some plates myself and I find easier if I score the plate on the "inside" of the folding. In your case, 1mm deep and 1mmm wide would have worked. The metal will bend on the less resistant part and you will have better edges. Especially with thick plates.
Thank you! I find myself in the same boat as far as cost goes. Scoring the plate like you said definitely would have made life easier. I just had no way to weld the backsides back up.
 

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Similar initial process, similar material, deviated assembly process.


Looking back, welding the plate made it much easier to make the bends with the scoring technique, and it was still pretty tough to bend!
 

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Similar initial process, similar material, deviated assembly process.


Looking back, welding the plate made it much easier to make the bends with the scoring technique, and it was still pretty tough to bend!
I saw your write-up and it was actually one of the posts on here that inspired me to make one myself. Great post and the skid plate looks like it protects quite well!
 

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I saw your write-up and it was actually one of the posts on here that inspired me to make one myself. Great post and the skid plate looks like it protects quite well!
Thanks! It has held up to some good bashing so far.

Nice attachment at the corners for your rear cross bar. Mine mounts on the bottom so I needed to use flatheads and countersink them. Not a big deal but the side mounts make this much less of a concern.

One tip, I highly recommend using nylock nuts on all fasteners. I was rushed last summer and one of the rear attachment points out of three I used a standard nut. That one was missing 5,000 ish miles later. The other two were in place and tight. Your lock washers might be enough though.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
One tip, I highly recommend using nylock nuts on all fasteners. I was rushed last summer and one of the rear attachment points out of three I used a standard nut. That one was missing 5,000 ish miles later. The other two were in place and tight. Your lock washers might be enough though.
Oh I made sure to order new bolts and I included nylock nuts this time. I was worried about bolts falling out too, plus I kept galling the stainless steel bolts I got from the local hardware store. So, I changed over to some higher grade bolts from Bolt Depot's website this time.
 

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One of the few non weld designs I think will actually take abuse.
 
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Dropped the plate off for powder coating yesterday, however the powder coater near me is booked up for almost 3 weeks, so it might be a while before an update. Going with semi-gloss black (or whatever the next step up in glossiness is from matte).
 

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Dropped the plate off for powder coating yesterday, however the powder coater near me is booked up for almost 3 weeks, so it might be a while before an update. Going with semi-gloss black (or whatever the next step up in glossiness is from matte).
Wow, nice touch. The powder coaters here have a minimum charge of $85 I think, maybe even up to $100 now. Bumps the plate into the buying price range.
 

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Wow, nice touch. The powder coaters here have a minimum charge of $85 I think, maybe even up to $100 now. Bumps the plate into the buying price range.
Thanks, and yeah it definitely pushes the price up to about that point. They mentioned it would be around $45 - $50 which is here in Illinois, but with the price of skid plates, that puts my total cost right up there with the ones I could buy.

I'll have to throw a cost together when it is all said and done as well. Maybe I'll do one for the cost with mistakes and cost if I were to do it all correctly the first time.
 

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UPDATE:

Picked up the skid plate from the powder coater and it looks excellent! Had the plate finished in a semi-gloss black as opposed to matte or gloss.

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Assembled the plate using the new, upgraded bolts, and installed on the bike. It fought me a little bit putting it back on what with the powder coating filling up the holes, but I managed to make it fit into place.

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This thing is rock solid!! Feels like I could easily jack the bike up from the skid plate if need be. I would be willing to bet that if I came in contact with a rock or log or anything big enough to hit it, the Puig crash bars would bend first.

Could I have bought one for cheaper, possibly, but it would not have been nearly as fun or as rewarding.
 

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Nice job! (y)

It would be nice if the front header pipe wasn't so low and off to the right a bit.

And using the correct type of metal that bends correctly, correct thickness etc.
 
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