Tested: Molecule Motorsports Skid Plate and Enduro Flag Handguards

When it comes to choosing a skid plate and hand protection for your dirt bike, there are a lot of options on the market. Some skid plates are designed to do little more than protect a bike’s engine cases from rocks thrown up by the front tire. Other skid plates are designed for much heavier, hard enduro style use, but such heavy-duty protection can have its drawbacks. The same holds true with hand protection. Some options on the market offer nominal protection at best, while others provide heavy duty full wrap around protection. Given how many different options there are on the market, knowing what is actually a good upgrade or a quality part may not always be obvious. In our never-ending quest to try as many parts as possible, we’ve spent the last few months beating on a Molecule Motorsports skid plate, and a set of their Enduro Flag style handguards.

Molecule Motorsports isn’t just another manufacturer of plastic bike protection parts. Almost all of their products are made with UHMWpe plastic, which is superior to the HDPE plastic that most other manufacturers use. Without going off on a material science tangent, know that Ultra-High Molecular Weight (UHMW)polyethylene has better mechanical properties than High Density PolyEthylene (HDPE). UHMW has better strength, durability, and wear resistance than HDPE. UHMW is also self-lubricating, so it can slide over obstacles more easily than other skid plate materials. The drawback to UHMW is that it’s harder to form than HDPE, so making something that isn’t flat, like a skid plate is a more involved manufacturing process. UHMW parts have to be thermoformed, where HDPE parts can be welded. Take our long term test 2024 KTM 350 EXC-F for example; a HDPE skid plate from another brand has multiple welded joints, whereas the Molecule Motorsports skid plate is one solid piece.

Installing a Molecule Motorsports skid plate on a new gen. KTM PDS chassis is a fairly easy and straightforward process. There is a bracket that secures the skid plate to the front two mounting points on the frame, and the skid plate also uses the mounting points below the footpegs on the bike’s frame. The hardest part is lining up the Stainless U-nuts on the bracket, but the whole process takes less than ten minutes. A neat detail here is that Molecule Motorsports supplies KTM style bolts with their products which are made by Bolt Motorcycle Hardware. Module Motorsports also offers improved skid plate bushings, which have better wear resistance and skid plate retention than the OEM skid plate bushings. After installing the skid plate, our next move was to install a set of Molecule Motorsports Handguards.

Utilizing beefy aluminum mounting arms and proper slabs of machined UHMW, Molecule Motorsports Enduro Flag Style Handguards provide serious protection to both hands and controls. Installation is a straightforward process: Simply clamp the mounting arm to your bike’s handlebar, and install and position the flag on the other end. The whole process takes just a few minutes. Other flag style guards on the market can barely protect from roost, but the Molecule Motorsports guards can clearly take a hit. As with their skid plates, Molecule Motorsports provides KTM style bolts for their hand guards where applicable for a consistent quality look. With our pretty new protection parts installed, it was time to see what they could hold up to.

Having witnessed firsthand how even very thick HDPE skid plates can fail and still result in frame tubes getting smashed, I was keen to see what these UHMW parts could do. Starting our testing below sea level on a rock strewn road in Death Valley, one of the first things you notice is that a UHMW skid plate doesn't reflect engine noise, or make loud pinging sounds when rocks hit it like an aluminum skid plate does. During the Grinding Stone Hard Enduro in Page, AZ, we had ample opportunities to appreciate how a UHMW skid plate slides better than an aluminum skid plate when you belly your bike on sandstone obstacles. In the forested parts of Arizona and Colorado, every large, downed tree we’ve skid-plated the bike across multiple times hasn’t done anything to the damage skid plate or the bike’s frame rails. At the time of this writing, the skid plate has been off multiple times for oil changes and inspections, and it still fits as well as it did when new. It's also impressive how little damage there is to the skid plate given how much of the world it's been smashed into. Conclusion: Molecule Motorsports skid plates provide top shelf protection without the drawbacks associated with skid plates made from other materials.

Really testing the Enduro Flag Style Handguards was aided by a bit of serendipity. To see how they handled roost, I just rode on a buddy’s wheel in rocky terrain. To see how they handled brush and the occasional tree tap, I just plowed through some overgrown trails and pushed a little too hard into a corner with a tree trunk on the inside. Yet doing the all-important crash test happened multiple times simply by asking my buddies to ride features or sections of trail for photos. Occasionally, when you ask someone to hop on a bike they’re not used to and try something fancy for a photo, a bike will take an unscheduled nap, which in this case provided real world testing of how the hand guards protected controls in the event of an off. Conclusion: The chance of crashing increases when cameras are present. Also, Molecule Motorsports Enduro Flag Style Handguards can take a hit, and they also provide great protection from roost, brush, and the occasional tree tap.

Materials matter, and Molecule Motorsports has clearly leveraged the superior properties of UHMW to make some outstanding bike protection. Despite being mounted on a dual sport bike, their skid plate has held up to all sorts of abuse that is better described as enduro riding, and is no worse for wear. UHMW seems to be the sweet spot for skid split materials providing top shelf protection, without the drawbacks found in other materials. Likewise, the Enduro Flag Style Handguards have also provided great protection to both the rider and bike controls, and they can tolerate multiple drops (crashes) without failing. Molecule Motorsports also makes a full wrap version of their hand guards which I’ve really been enjoying on my snowbike and my 300. The bottom line is that if you're looking for a high performance, functional, and durable skid plate and/or hand guards for your dirt bike, you need to take a look at molecule motorsports.

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