Why choose AltRider for your BMW? Tech Breakdown thread

Discussion in 'Vendors' started by AltRider, Dec 27, 2018.

  1. AltRider

    AltRider Been here awhile

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    [​IMG]

    Welcome, inmates, to the new AltRider Tech Thread. During our 10 years (and more to come) as an off road product developer, we’ve heard all kinds of reasons and explanations of why one brand is better than the other. As riders ourselves, we know all too well that it can be overwhelming with so many options out there.

    On this thread, we’ll dive deep into facts behind our most popular (or widely debated) parts for your ADV bike. We’ll tell you the choices we made and why we made them. Here at AltRider, we feel we have a proven design history stemming from legit off-road riding and long adventures allowing us to make wise decisions when it comes to product development.

    The goal of this thread is to make sure you’ve got all the information you need to make the best choice for you. Join us as we tear apart the marketing, the spin, and the opinions, leaving just the facts. We’ll leave the rest to you.

    P.S. Please leave your feedback! We'd love to hear what you think. Tell us what you want us to write about, what you need clarity on, or just say hello.

    Post 1.1: BMW R1200GSW Crash Bar Materials
    Post 1.2: BMW R1200GSW Crash Bar Mounting
    #1
  2. AltRider

    AltRider Been here awhile

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    Back in 2013, BMW made a huge splash (pun fully intended) with their water-cooled boxer engine for the R1200GS. With a new engine comes new challenges so we looked to our experience building crash bars for the oil-cooled GS for guidance and inspiration.
    upload_2018-12-27_13-2-55.png
    The first big decision we made was for the bars themselves. On the oil-cooled GS, we used 1 inch diameter stainless steel bars. While these already outshone the 7/8 inch bars and/or mild steel of our competitors at the time, we knew we could do better. After extensive testing (read: crashing), with the help of the off-road experts at RawHyde Adventures, we consistently found that the 1 inch bars weren’t enough for these huge heavy bikes. We determined that the 1 inch bar would only be a viable solution if it were positioned farther away from the bike because the crashes we encountered caused significant flexing. That really doesn’t work in the boxer configuration, as we all know the jugs are already (potentially) dangerously extended both for crashes and threading through trees or traffic, any wider would just make matters worse.
    upload_2018-12-27_13-2-29.png
    After dusting ourselves off, more times than we’d like to admit, we knew there was only one option: beef up the bars. Well there was the option of extending the distance between the bars and the engine but that would sacrifice the tight profile of the bars and further reduce lean angle clearance. With the boxer engines on the R12’s, that was a deal breaker for reasons mentioned above. In order to keep the tight profile and avoid sacrificing crash performance ratings, we stepped up our bars to 1.25 inches. I know what you’re thinking, that’s just a quarter inch…what difference does that really make? A 16 inch segment of 1 inch steel tube weighs 1 pound. That same length of 1.25 inch tube weighs 1.2 pounds; only 20% heavier while resulting in 2.5 times (or 205%) the rigidity. You can verify these numbers yourself with any tube calculator, we like how easily this one works.
    upload_2018-12-27_13-4-34.png

    If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading along. If you’d like to keep up as we continue to dive into the details, don’t forget to click Watch Thread. Next up, we’ll move onto the mounting and bracket system for these bars. In the meantime, join the conversation and leave us your feedback below!
    #2
  3. AltRider

    AltRider Been here awhile

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    When it comes to crash bars, the first thing people think/talk about are the bar tubes themselves and with good reason. That’s what is going to hit the ground so it makes sense that this is what people gravitate towards when researching crash bars. What some riders tend to overlook though is the actual mounting of the bars (or any part for that matter). A part that is made well but poorly mounted is not only inefficient, it can also cause extra damage to your bike. Any of you who’ve had old skid plates that mount directly to the bottom of the engine know exactly what I mean here. In this post, we’ll explain how we mount our GSW crash bars and why so that you can compare it to any of the systems on the market that you’re considering.
    upload_2018-12-27_15-16-35.png
    The most important aspect of mounting is where. The AltRider system utilizes a total of 4 bolt locations on each side of the engine, each adding to the strength and stability of the system.

    1. Upper Rear Mount (Engine Through-Bolt): The upper rear section of the crash bar is secured to the frame at the Engine Through-Bolt. (Being torque in photo below)
    upload_2018-12-27_15-17-18.png
    Some of our competitors decided to go another route and use a plastic puck-like spacer instead. It is clear this a much cheaper production maneuver. Also, the tiny M5 button head screw we've seen used to fasten the crash bar (at the important upper location) has very little ability to absorb the significant impact of crashing an R1200GS at speed. This opens you up to the risk of the plastic cracking upon impact and doesn’t offer the extra stability/force displacement of having a fully integrated system.

    [​IMG]
    Some have inquired about how our upper flange remains on top of the frame. This is fully intentional to increase strength and the ability to displace load. It's simple, the wider the diameter the great the strength (not unlike our bars being 1.25 inch diameter vs 1.25). We even go as far to incur the cost of including brand name Mylar® rings to protect the powder coat on the frame.

    2. Lower Front/Rear Mount: The 2nd and 3rd bolt locations are directly underneath the cylinder head, one at the frame spar and one right behind the headers. The bars are attached to these points with the help of our CNC-machined stainless steel mounting brackets. At 3/16in, they’re more than sturdy.
    upload_2018-12-27_15-18-28.png
    The bars themselves are bolted into the bracket then the brackets are bolted onto the bike. The shape of these brackets allows them to follow the natural lines of the bike, creating a nice tight fit. The AltRider brackets are the only ones on the market to utilize both M10 bolts to provide the most energy distribution, this is key when considering the forces behind an R1200GS crashing into the ground. These brackets are also pre-cut to integrate the AltRider Skid Plate, removing the need for another set of brackets and keeping weight down.

    3. Upper Front Mount: The 4th and final bolt location is at the front of the frame, near the radiator. (2013 version shown, 2014+ version only uses 1 bolt to accommodate mid-model change by BMW).
    upload_2018-12-27_15-19-48.png

    This forward mounting point completes the triangulation of the bars’ design and makes sure the bars don’t bend in towards the front of the cylinder and thus allowing the cylinder head to touch the ground, something we definitely don’t want. This design allows us to provide full coverage while minimizing the amount of bar needed. To learn more about why we chose the design we did, stay tuned for the next post!

    If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading along. If you’d like to keep up as we continue to dive into the details, don’t forget to click Watch Thread! Next up, we’ll move onto the design/aesthetic choices for these bars. In the meantime, join the conversation and leave us your feedback below!
    #3
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  4. Mike E

    Mike E Been here awhile Supporter

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    What are your thoughts on cylinder head protection for the objects that will fit through the bar opening (rocks, etc.)?
    #4
  5. AltRider

    AltRider Been here awhile

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    Hi Mike,

    Good question. We definitely recommend cylinder head guards in addition to the bars for the exact reason you mentioned, rocks sliding past the bars. Our bars are built to keep your bike's engine off the ground but that might not be enough if you drop the bike in uneven rocky terrain. We offer our own set here, made to fit alongside the AltRider lowers and it even comes with replaceable skid blocks if you happen to grind along the asphalt in a turn (without your bars installed).
    #5
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  6. Sarang

    Sarang Adventurer

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    One of the things which seems to be overlooked is how difficult it is to remove that long through bolt. It comes with generous amounts of red loctite applied from the factory and is very tight indeed. When I removed it, I was sure I broke the threads.
    Also, another thing that helps is to put a jack / support for the engine. When you remove the lower bolts for the brackets, there is definite shift in the engine holes meant to accommodate those two bolts and they get misaligned. If you keep the engine supported from below with a car jack, the bolts slide in easy.

    The rest of the installation is straightforward and indeed the gap is unequal on both sides between the cylinder head and the guards.

    Can Altrider consider having same gaps for future designs?
    #6
  7. AltRider

    AltRider Been here awhile

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    Hi Sarang,

    Thanks for your comment. We understand that these may not have the simplest or easiest installation process, nor have we ever claim it does. With that said, we feel this is the best way to support and secure our crash bars for them to meet their maximum strength potential.

    In our experience, we've found that some GS's are harder/easier to break the loctite free than others. It probably has something to do with the factory process. A good tip is to apply heat ahead of time, allowing the loctite to loosen much easier.

    You're correct that our bars are asymmetrical at the cylinder heads. Very little is actually symmetrical on the bike, including the cylinders as they are offset with the left side being further forward in the engine due to the connecting rods attaching to the crankshaft.

    Last but not least, using a jack can definitely be helpful in aligning the bolt holes. Though after installing hundreds of these bars throughout all the BMW MOA events we've seen, we find the engine movement varies greatly between bikes and not just because of the bike's mileage. Some are super easy, others have required leveraging the engine or frame spar.
    #7
    AdamChandler likes this.
  8. Cherch

    Cherch Adventurer Supporter

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    Does it matter what type of skid plate you have on the bike? I have a 2018 GS1200 Adv with black dog 2.0 skid plate on my bike
    #8
  9. AltRider

    AltRider Been here awhile

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    Hi Cherch,

    Thanks for reaching out. Is this a question of whether or not our bars are going to fit alongside that skid plate? If that's the case, I'd go ahead and say yes. We've never tested their compatibility ourselves but we've seen many riders use our lower crash bars with their skid plate.
    #9
  10. Sicamose

    Sicamose n00b

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    Hi Altrider, I ride a 2018 R1200GS Rallye... love it! Shortly after purchasing it I installed Altrider engine crash bars (lowers) and skid plate. Love them too!! Already tested them!!
    At that same time, I wanted to install the Altrider uppers but the Altrider mounts for my BMW aux lights were not yet available. I was told they would be months before they arrived. Therefore I proceeded with mounting the OEM light bar without uppers. Turns out the Altrider light mount showed up on your website 2 weeks later! :-(
    Now onto my real reason for my post :-)
    Your uppers were designed to blend nicely with the body panels on the GS up to year 2016. Years 2017-19 have different panels. Does Altrider plan on updating the uppers to match better?
    Thanks
    #10
  11. Lancebringer

    Lancebringer ATGATT

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    Well. Sounds like I'm sold.
    I need some enhanced guards and more protection for my 850gs adventure ;-)
    Are yall working on this?
    #11
  12. AltRider

    AltRider Been here awhile

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    Hi there,

    Glad to hear you're enjoying the bars! I can't speak too much on future design/engineering plans but, at the moment, we will only be offering the current bar structure for the GSW uppers.
    #12
  13. AdamChandler

    AdamChandler Ascending n00b Supporter

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    My favorite photo showing how the AltRider Crash bars are custom fit to accommodate for BMW's Off-center Boxer design:

    [​IMG]
    #13
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  14. AltRider

    AltRider Been here awhile

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    You betcha. We're currently working on a full product line for the F7/850 as well as the R1250. If you aren't already, get signed onto our newsletter by visiting this link: https://www.altrider.com/garage/index. It will assume you've already got an account on our site so keep that in mind. We'll also make announcements on the usual social media channels when the parts are available.
    #14
  15. AltRider

    AltRider Been here awhile

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    Great shot! Having the seat removed really helps illustrates what we're talking about.
    #15
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  16. Lancebringer

    Lancebringer ATGATT

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    Ill create an account when you add the 2019+ BMW F850GS ADVENTURE to the list of bikes.
    #16
  17. AltRider

    AltRider Been here awhile

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    We do intend to create parts that will also fit the Adventure model. In our experience, there are very few differences (as far as our parts go) between the standard and adventure. Is there a specific part you're thinking about? I'd be happy to confirm anything for you.
    #17
  18. Lancebringer

    Lancebringer ATGATT

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    THIS, is why I ask for the ADV model specifically. Its quite frankly not the same in the fairing.
    Normal upper crash bars for 850 models will not fit the 850GSA, in fact its WIDER than a 1250

    50477429_10212735463852588_9086182792781365248_o.jpg
    50404222_2292241447454059_7969853975744741376_o.jpg
    50461230_2292241467454057_7713433467417001984_o.jpg
    #18
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  19. AltRider

    AltRider Been here awhile

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    Oh yeah, that we're very much aware of. An ADV-compatible upper bar is definitely in the works. Like I said, we intend to create a product line that spans across both models. Just like the R12GS and GSA, most parts will be cross compatible but there will be a few (like the uppers) where we'll make another part specifically for the Adventure.
    #19
    AdamChandler likes this.
  20. Lancebringer

    Lancebringer ATGATT

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    excellent, when the Adv model is added to the website (requirement to join) ill gladly create my profile
    #20