When I look at protecting a motorcycle for multi-surface touring, my first priority is the soft aluminum underbelly, better known as the crankcase. Difficult to field repair and expensive to replace (over $1,400 from one online source), those intricate castings are the inner sanctum for the motor and tranny. Like most OEM skid plates, the Yamaha Ténéré 700’s 2mm-thick aluminum stock unit is adequate for mellow dirt-road travel, but it doesn’t provide enough protection against the serious rock impacts that can occur when the road deteriorates. For something more substantial, I turned to AltRider for its 4mm-thick aluminum plate, which is TIG welded by hand in the USA.
It attaches to the same four mounting points as the stock piece with the included stainless-steel hardware, and to four rearward frame bolts, unitizing the undercarriage. AltRider’s compact design keeps the plate close to the engine to prevent rocks and debris from collecting; protects the header pipes, oil filter, and sidestand switch; and is vented in key areas to shed heat. The oil sight glass is still visible, just a tad harder to see.
To complete the armor package, I also sourced AltRider’s Linkage Guard, a 6mm high-density polyethylene piece that bolts to the tail of the plate. Riding just below the T7’s exposed rear suspension joints, the flexible guard helps the bike slide over obstacles while limiting impacts to vulnerable suspension components.
The skid plate installation video on AltRider’s website was a helpful guide during installation, to the point of showing how to keep the forward spacers in place with a dab of grease while lining up the screw holes. My 700 has the OEM centerstand fitted, which complicates matters somewhat, because the stand’s thick bracket shares the frame attachment points used by the rear of the plate. Having some visuals would have been helpful for aligning everything and getting the bolts threaded, but perseverance and some colorful language carried the day.
Testing began in the wilds of Nevada, with clunks and clanks ringing out from below as the T7 conquered rocky climbs and roadways-turned-creek beds. The extra-thick metal and stout welded structure gave me the confidence to plow through or smack aside anything in my path –good thing, since at times there was no option but to slam on ahead. The abuse continued into California, where the back way into Bodie State Historic Park dished up more rocks and rubble. Damage assessment: zero, to either bike or plate (not counting scratches), and no small rocks left rattling around between the crankcase and its armor.
Consider me satisfied. The skid plate runs $383.97, or $405.97 with the guard, in either powdercoated black or clear-finished silver.
For more information, visit altrider.com.