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Crash tested: AltRider crash bars for the BMW R1200 GS/GSA

Posted By Adam Chandler #207579, Thursday, April 25, 2019

A few years ago, I did what many of you have done and forgot to fully deploy my kickstand as I fumbled to find my camera in the tank bag. I started to dismount and down the bike went, taking me with it. My BMW pannier was bent and would start letting water in until I sealed it with silicone; my BMW head guards were bent, but they did their job and the OEM crash bars were bent so much that repair would be pointless. Just another love mark for a bike that was not a garage queen. I started looking at the prices to replace these 3 broken items and found BMW parts sure are expensive! A cylinder head guard for $200, crash bars for $600 and a single pannier box was $650. Off to the aftermarket we go!


I initially tried a brand out of Europe. One drop off-road without any luggage and the bars bent permanently. Much weaker than BMW's option, which suffered quite a bit of abuse before finally bending. I looked for more options and found AltRider. I'm lucky to ride off-road with a lot of people and have seen every crash bar take abuse. Most hold up just fine, but some disintegrate like paper.

AltRider's prices are high. I say that even as a convert. Then I remember that their products are built in the United States and everyone there rides and uses the products. If you check their YouTube channel, you'll know what I mean. Despite the high cost of AltRider products, you do get what you pay for.

The tubular construction of the AltRider crash bars is tig welding done by hand and the material twice as thick as most other bars out there. This adds a negligible amount of weight compared to the competition. Their bars utilize the frame mount points and the motor, including the included crossbar that replaces the upper engine bolt through the GS frame. They include all the bolts and thread locker you need and the job can easily be done with one person so long as you have a little bit of patience and a heat gun to break up the high strength thread locker BMW uses on their structural bolts.


I knew the crash bars were strong. They survived 10 fairly hard off-road drops in the first 15,000 miles of use and didn't move an inch closer to my heads or deform at all. Their size, location and form make for great use when you need to stretch your legs on long rides, too.

Last year, I had a crash on pavement that totaled my bike simply because the slide into a guardrail bent my lower right foot peg mount, which is a part of the frame. As I slid about 45 feet at 30 miles per hour into the guardrail, I knew it was going to be a tow truck out of there. After the slide, I got up, dusted myself off, picked up the bike and it started. The crash bars were seriously scraped up, but they didn't move. The formerly round tubes were flat on the outside, but still whole without any holes in the construction. They stayed in place like the crash never happened. How did a 600-pound bike slide sideways for 45 feet and this was all the damage? Had the peg mount not been bent to the point of breaking, I'd still be riding my Triple Black GSA today.

R1200GS Rosie, March 2019 Completion

I grabbed another GS a month later and the first thing I ordered was the AltRider crash bars and skid plate combo. Knowing how resilient they are, I'll be a customer for life and try to avoid guard rails going forward. I did want to make an honorable mention that I ride with a few friends who stick with their stock GSA crash bars but add an AltRider reinforcement bar, which bolts directly to that upper engine bolt location and makes the OEM crash bars a lot more resistant to bending. It's a low-cost way to get a lot of life out of the OEM crash bars and I've seen it in action myself holding up to some serious falls off road.

No riders were harmed in the making of this review.

More info on AltRider's website; prices for water-cooled GS crash bars as of this posting are $506.97 (if you have their skid plate on your bike already) or $546.97 (if you don't). The crash bars are available in various colors for BMW, Ducati, Honda, Husqvarna, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha motorcycles. BMW models covered are the F 650/700/750/800/850 GS, R 1200/1250 GS/GSA S 1000 XR and K 1600 GT/GTL.

Pros: great strength, hand welded, made in USA
Cons: expensive


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Courtney Allen Jr. says...
Posted Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Great review Adam. I lived in Seattle and was lucky enough to have Alt Rider use my GSA for development of the OEM "Crash Bar Reinforcement". As a result I was given an opportunity to purchase some of their products at a little discount and bought the lower crash bars, skid plate, and radiator guards. They are all great products and have been tested multiple times on my too tall and too heavy low-framed GSA. The only thing I can add to your review is that the SEM brand "Trim Black" spray paint is a perfect match to the powder coating used by AltRider.
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