I first met Jeremy LeBreton a number of years ago at the Mines and Meadows GS event in Pennsylvania, when he was just launching his company, AltRider, making high quality products in the USA. He is a passionate rider at heart and fully battle tests all his products himself in the most challenging situations.
Enter his solution for an integrated "suit of armour" for the GS. I ordered my 1200 GS LC with the OEM guards, but quickly found that they were inadequate for real world conditions, and that the stock skid plate was just too flimsy and short to fully protect the undercarriage. In Salem, I saw a demo of the prototype of his crash bars and was impressed by both the beefy 1 1/4" stainless steel tubing (I am told they are 50% stronger than stock but only 10% heavier), and the fully 12 points of attachment to the frame including a new stainless motor mount. The finish is shot peened to blend with the silver frame of the bike perfectly and never needs painting or touch up after an upset (this will save me a bundle in paint!).
They have recently completed engineering the complete system to incorporate a stout upper bar attachment to better protect the tank fairings and radiators, which is in itself attached to the bike at 8 points. They also now have a 3/16" thick anodized aluminum skid plate that bolts directly to the lower crash bars at four points and also with a brilliantly engineered stainless rotary broached pivot pin assembly to replace the nylon OEM centre stand mounts (one of the strongest frame points on the bike). This is the first skid plate that I have seen that does not attach to the engine at all, allows for draining of the oil without removing the plate, and most importantly offers a full 11" of ground clearance for an unladen bike. This is way more clearance than the stock plate, twice as thick as OEM and extends twice as long, fully all the way back to near the rear wheel!
Suffice to say I have not tested the system in a tip-over situation, so I will have to defer to the video on the AltRider site of Jeremy rolling his new GS completely over on a hillside and not even breaking a turn signal, pretty impressive stuff, check it out:
The items come well packed with complete instructions. However, it will take the better part of the day to get everything mounted properly, as there are many points of attachment to address. A bike lift will certainly help a lot in lining things up underneath the bike. The only small annoyance I have found with all their products is that they use Allen bolts instead of the OEM Torx bolts which requires I carry additional tools along, although I do agree that the Allen heads do provide a more secure grip and less prone to stripping over the newer Torx bolts.
I finished up by attaching a pair of Rigid LED lights onto the front of the crash bars which tuck nicely into a space ahead of the tappet cover so as to not impede any air flow to the heads. Lastly, I attached a pair of re-purposed header guards from my old 1150 GS to complete the armour cladding of the beast. Now, hopefully my aging bones can also withstand the beating this system is designed for!
I am very impressed with the quality and precision engineering that went into this system. The price of the lower crash bar/skid plate system has a MSRP of $790, but compared to what the OEM system offers for around $550, it is money well spent to protect your valuable investment. Throw in the cool looking upper crash bars for $349 and you now have an armour-clad GS! You can order AltRider products directly, through various dealers. #moamembertested