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Suit Of Armor – Part #1 – 2005 King Quad

Suzuki King Quad

We took possession of our ’05 Suzuki KingQuad about 45 days ago, and have been putting it through its paces since then. In typical 4X4REVIEW fashion, we have raced it, thrashed it, jumped it, bumped it, scraped and spindled it, and in general, beat the snot out of it. The KingQuad’s plastic front shroud, muffler shield and skidplates were starting to show the abuse though. While they were definitely holding together, the gouges and scratches we had inflicted were deep, were becoming obvious, and we were a little concerned about protecting the more vital parts.

We needed to find a way to protect these vital parts and fast. We had an off-road adventure planned in 2 weeks that would include rock crawling, mudding and a whole lot of tough trail riding. This, however, was a ‘no bling’ mission to find purposeful, lightweight armor. Function over form was the quest and we found that Suzuki has a large line of aftermarket products, designed with that in mind.

What We Chose and Why

 Since we use our KingQuad like a Swiss Army Knife, we wanted to find armor that wouldn’t interfere with the various types of terrain it sees on a regular basis. We didn’t want to overload the Zuk with heavy items, or that hindered approach and departure angles. We found that Suzuki has skidplates and guards made from top quality components designed to protect the underbelly, front end and suspension components. 

Other manufacturers make similar components, but are typically made of heavy steel or have, in our mind, gaudy chrome and plastic components. Suzuki on the other hand makes their skidplates and guards from 4mm thick 6061 T6 aircraft-grade aluminum, plenty strong for brutal terrain. They cut the shapes and patterns with precision form, then press fold the edges and tabs, which are finally TIG welded as needed. Lastly, a brush finish is applied, making them attractive, but not flashy. 

Of Suzuki’s arsenal, we chose front and rear A-Arm guards, front shroud and under-belly skidplate system.

A-Arm Guards

The front and rear A-Arm guards, in typical Suzuki fashion, are engineered to the nines. The bolt heads are recessed to avoid becoming damaged or caught on obstacles. The front edges of rear A-Arm guards have beveled surfaces to reduce the chance of snagging on obstacles, but are still tall and strong enough to give extra protection for the sway bar ends.

The A-Arm guards also feature a raised rear surface to help protect the drive shaft boots from trail-nasties when backing up.

The installation of the front and rear A-Arm guards was simple and fast. In short, you simply unbolt and remove the plastic OE A-Arm guards, loosely hang and bolt the new ones into place, and tighten to the direction-specified torque settings.

We had the four plastic OE guards off and the new T6 aluminum guards on in less than 20 minutes, which included the time it took to snap 30 or so photos.

We had only two small complaints with the A-Arm guards installation:

  1. Suzuki’s instructions leave a lot to be desired and we would have appreciated the inclusion of a few more pictures and some step-by-step guides. However, after contemplating for a few moments, we were able to figure it out.
  2. While Suzuki had the foresight to cut oval holes into their guards and skid plate to allow for small adjustments during installation, they failed to include flat washers large enough to cover the width of the whole. A quick trip to the local hardware store to buy some larger washers corrected the problem.

Note the stock plastic A-Arm guards

Removing the two bolts that retain the stock A-Arm guards

Note the difference in size of the new A-Arm guards vs. the old

Install the front two bolts loosely enough to allow for adjustments

Position and install the two J-brackets that retain the back of the A-Arm guards

Snug all bolts and ensure proper fit, then torque to specs

Stand back and admire your work

Note how the new guard covers much more area than the stockers

Another view of the protective surface

Front Shroud

The front shroud is also made from aluminum as the A-Arms and under-belly skidplates. The shroud provides the lower front portion of the KingQuad with greater protection from trail obstacles, yet allows for easy access to any aftermarket accessories, such as winches, snow plows, front racks and more.

The front shroud was the toughest installation of the three major components we installed, but still only took about 20 minutes. Since no one on our staff is a contortionist with really small hands, we struggled with the upper nut and bolt combination. The lower bolts used existing threaded holes, and were easier to work with.

Getting the shroud to line up with the frame holes required some persuasion and a heavy rubber mallet. If you are also installing the under-belly skidplates, you will want to put the front shroud on last, as it interlocks with the skidplate.

Total installation, including the removal of the plastic OE shroud was about 20 minutes. Overall, even with the alignment troubles, this was an easy installation and required only two wrenches and a small screwdriver.

We had the same complaints about the poor instructions and failure to include large flat washers.


Note the soft plastic OE shroud, vs. the stout aluminum replacement

Positioning the replacement shroud takes a bit of manhandling and a rubber mallet to get it aligned

Tighten the four bolts to spec

Admire! You’re now fully plated from stem to stern and ready to dish out even more abuse!

Under-belly Skidplates

The underbelly skidplate system is comprised of two interlocking components, which are made from the same 4mm thick, aircraft-grade, 6061 T6 aluminum. The skidplate includes drain holes for oil changes, as well as access to the drive belt housing’s rubber drain plug, in the event it becomes water-logged, so it can be drained on the trail. The main skid plate is also pre-drilled with six holes to allow for easy attachment of the popular Warn snowplow-mounting bracket, without requiring modification by the dealer or customer.

 The installation of underbelly skidplate was also simple and fast. For easier access, we stood the KingQuad up on its rear bumper. Then, it was simply a matter of unbolting and removing the plastic OE main and rear skid plates and bolting the new ones into place. Tighten to the direction-specified torque settings and the job is complete. Our installation was complete in less than 30 minutes.

We had the same complaints with this installation: direction lacking pictures and step-by-step guides; and the failure to include large enough flat washers.

 


Note the stock plastic under-belly skidplate system

Remove the various bolts the retain the OE skidplates

Peel back the OE skidplates

If you’ve owned your quad for a while, be prepared to do some cleaning

Note how flexible and soft the plastic skidplate is

Cut several 3″ strips of the adhesive rubber cushion and apply to the skidplate. This will reduce vibration noise

Simply install the supplied bolts and snug them into place. Once everything is fitted together, you can toruqe them to spec

Note how the supplied washers are too small in diameter. We replaced these with larger ones we purchased

Installing the rear under-belly skidplate

The new aluminum skidplates provide solid coverage from front to back
   

 

 

When traversing rocks, stumps, logs and such, Suzuki’s armor seem to be most at home. They provide a smooth surface to allow the quad to slide off of the obstacles quite easily, and do so without interfering with forward progress or the suspensions articulation.

During regular trail runs, hide speed maneuvers and jumping the big quad, the armor plating can simply be forgotten about. They do their job perfectly well and the 6 or so extra added pounds aren’t even noticeable.

 

If you find yourself around a lot of mud however, you may want to consider not installing the front brush guard. The big front opening acts as a huge scoop and sucks in pounds of mud. We also found that the large flat front surface can stop the quad dead in its tracks when hitting a gooey steep ascent. So much so that it took another quad with a 3,000 pound winch (and a snatch block) to extricate it from its muddy tomb.

After a hard day of riding, the skidplates and armor cleaned up well, but the rear A-Arm guards and front brush guard trapped about 10 pounds of mud and debris. We had to remove the rear A-Arm guards just to free it of the mud, which was packed around the axle shafts.

In all types of terrain except mud, the skidplate systems worked perfectly and we wouldn’t trade them for anything else. Perhaps if the front brush guard and rear A-Arm guards had some two inch wholes drilled in the bottom, the goo could escape more easily, especially during clean up.

Our overall impression – The new aluminum armor is light, strong, attractive, and will withstand a great deal of abuse. We only added about 6 extra pounds to our KingQuad, and the complete installation can be accomplished in less than two hours with a few simple hand tools.

American Suzuki Motor Corp.

American Suzuki MC/ATV Customer Service
P.O. BOX 1100
Brea, CA 92822
phone: 1-800-828-RIDE (1-800-828-7433)
website:
www.suzukicycles.com

About Rick Webster

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