When it comes to high adrenaline and thrills, there’s nothing quite like offroading. Whether you’re a casual rider or a long-time enthusiast, there’s always some risk involved in riding. Protecting yourself, as well as protecting your ride, are some of the most important things to consider when choosing the right accessories for you and your rig. Skid plates are just one of the ways you can prevent damage to your ride. This brings us to today’s main event! In the battle of the skid plates which material will come out of the top? Ultra-durable UHMW skid plates or rust-resistant Aluminum skid plates? You decide!
UHMW Skid Plates and Guards
Other than the most highly sought-after material in the UTV market right now: What is UHMW? It’s an ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene, essentially an offshoot of thermoplastic polyethylene. And while that may seem like a mouthful, basically UHMW is a plastic-like material that’s a million times stronger than your average water bottle. This isn’t your average plastic skid plate. Here are the facts when it comes to UHMW skid guards:
PROS of UHMW
- Insanely durable. Won’t crack no matter what you throw at it. These guards allow you to glide right over extreme topography like rocks, heavily wooded areas, and other obstacle-ridden terrains smoothly and without fear of bends or cracks
- Heat-Resistant, weather resistant and waterproof. Rain, sleet, snow or shine. UHMW withstands it all without fading or breaking down. For instance, our Seizmik Full Skid for Polaris Ranger 1000 models is nearly indestructible and can withstand even the hottest temps.
- Impact absorbing. Hey, sometimes when you’re riding, you might bump or knock into things. It happens to everyone. With UHMW guards, your ride’s undercarriage won’t be damaged by the impact. UHMW absorbs any bumps or brushes, allowing you to ride safety
CONS of UHMW
- Non-repairable. Even Superman has Kryptonite. While UHMW is almost bulletproof, accidents can happen when you’re off-roading. If your riding does manage to break a UHMW guard, the material isn’t forgiving. The whole guard will have to be replaced in that case.
- Rumored Chip. Stuff happens. Every experienced rider knows that. While not common, it has been reported that UHMW can be gouged. While this doesn’t exactly destroy the guard, it doesn’t look the best for your ride, and overtime could make your guard less and less durable.
If these sound like a couple of negatives you’re not in the mood for, there are other options that can spruce up your ride, add some style, and still protect it when you’re on the toughest of trails. Now that you know what UHMW brings to the table, what does the contender have to offer?
Aluminum Skid Plates and Guards
Almost everyone knows what aluminum is, but just to be safe Side By Side Stuff defines aluminum as a lightweight metal that is pliable and soft. It’s the same material you line your grill within the summer and drink your favorite ice-cold beverage out of. But here’s how it works when it comes to aluminum skid plates:
Pros of Aluminum Skid Plates
- Lightweight. Aluminum is a lightweight metal, which means it doesn’t add a lot of extra weight to your ride. At the same time, aluminum is great at absorbing any knocks or bumps you might make while off-roading, which protects your chassis much better than rides without guards.
- Rust-resistant. We know, it seems unlikely! But we offer many models (like this one for the Cam-Am Defender HD8) which are in fact coated in a rust-resistant powder. So, if they’re gouged or scratched they won’t rust
- Repairable. This is probably the biggest advantage of aluminum skid plates. Accidents happen. But with aluminum, you don’t have to replace the entire unit when and if those accidents happen.
CONS of Aluminum
- Not indestructible. Although durable, when compared to the nearly indestructible UHMW, aluminum can be seen as the weaker material. These guards can sometimes bend.
- A bit noisy. Aluminum can rattle more than other materials, which can be distracting when you’re trying to ride with only the rushing of wind in your ears and the exciting rush of blood pumping through your veins.
In the end, there are both good and bad qualities to both Aluminum and UHMW skid plates. Although both are durable in their own right, every rider knows there are so many other things that need to be considered before buying. A frequent offroader might be better suited with the ultra-tough UHMW guards. While a more casual rider might find their perfect balance of protection and strength in aluminum models. Cost, environment, and even how noisy something is can all be deciding factors.
Really, all that matters when choosing a skid guard is what’s best for you and protecting your ride. Any material you choose for your skid guard is a giant leap towards a more protected and longer-lasting rig… So, in this main event, the only real winner is you and your ride.
Which material would you use? Let us know down below. And as always, check out all the guards (and other amazing products!) we offer here at Side Side Stuff.