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Our Member Tested program puts the best gear in the hands of real riders who give real reviews. You'll hear the good, the bad and the ugly about all the gear they have tested. But when it is over, you will know you can buy the best piece of equipment that is durable enough for MOA members. All product reviews must come from an active member (at the time of submission) and should include photos of the product being installed or used in some way. Drop an email to wfleming [at] bmwmoa [dot] org with your idea for a review or your completed review. Thanks!

 

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AltRider Crash Bar System

Posted By Bill L. Hooykaas, Thursday, January 29, 2015

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

Tags:  R1200GS 

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BMW HeatUp Vest

Posted By Bill Wiegand, Thursday, January 29, 2015
Turn a Winter Ride into a Ride in the Park
 

Regardless of whether you’re hoping to simply take the chill out of a cool evening ride or extend your riding season, heated gear can keep you in the saddle longer. The HeatUp Vest, part of the BMW Functional clothing line, can help you do both.

 Constructed of an insulating polyester material and lined with fleece, the thin vest is also breathable, moisture-wicking and windproof yet fits easily beneath a rider’s jacket without adding excessive bulk. Shivers stand no chance as wonderful and welcome warmth is delivered through five heating elements covering the chest, back and kidney area. Other nice design features include a high collar, a slightly longer back and a zipper that angles to the right to avoid irritating the throat area.

  The powerful heating elements are thin without the feeling of being wrapped in Christmas lights that my previous heated gear had. Only the lead running from a pocket on the lower right side of the vest reveals its purpose and the vest is stylish enough to be worn off the bike by tucking the lead into its zippered pocket.

  Connecting the vest to the bike is simple. Plug the three-foot coiled connection cable into your onboard power socket and connect the lead running from the vest into the socket at the end of the cable. With this setup the vest heats at full power. To allow for three levels of heat adjustability, connect an optional controller between the connection cable and the vest. Connecting a Y-cable to the power cable allows a rider to operate two vests, with each able to run without a heat controller, with a single controller operating both vests equally, or with dual controllers allowing rider and passenger the opportunity to control heat individually.

  The thermometer on my instrument cluster read 28 degrees when I fired up my GS. Wearing an insulating base layer, I hardly noticed the vest beneath my StreetGuard 3 jacket with its insulating liner. The bulkiness of my previous heated jacket wasn’t there, and I enjoyed not feeling like the Michelin Man. Sure, it wasn’t the middle of summer, but I could ride.

  After powering up the vest, I immediately set the controller to its highest position and within seconds felt the heat it provided. By the time I put on my helmet and gloves, I was actually uncomfortably warm. After resetting the controller to a much more tolerable medium setting, I rode off. 

  Cloudy Illinois skies blocked any radiational heat the sun might have provided, and for the first 30 minutes of my ride, I stuck to quiet country roads. Other than my “wrong-season” gloves allowing my fingertips to feel the cold and the area around my pinlock visor needing more anti-fog spray, I was riding comfortably. It was time to raise the ante.

  After bumping the heat controller to the high position, I jumped on I-57, headed north and soon settled into a cruising speed of 70 mph. With a full tank of gas and no destination in mind, my limiting factor would be my comfort. With the temperature bouncing between 29 and 31 degrees, cold fingers forced me off the Interstate about 30 miles up the road. Had I been wearing better gloves, I might still be riding. While a fear of ice keeps my bike in the garage when the mercury drops below freezing, knowing how well the HeatUp vest performed on this day, I know anything above 40 is going to be a ride in the park.

  The BMW HeatUp vest is available is sizes from XS to XXXL and carries an MSRP of $249 with the controller selling for $69.  For more information, visit your local BMW dealer.

 

 

Tags:  BMW  Clothing 

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Aerostich Waxed Cotton Dispatch Bag

Posted By Ronald Davis, Thursday, January 29, 2015
 
Ride to work... and bring your lunch.

  

 

 

“Ride To Work” means more to me than the name of special day, it’s a personal motto. So, whenever the wacky Wisconsin conditions allow, I make it a point to make my half hour commute through snaky township roads, over a county trunk, and down a stretch of four lane on the bike. In the morning, the concentration needed to slalom through deer, sand piles left over from winter, and sleepy drivers on their phones is a great wake-me-up; I usually hit the parking lot exhilarated, but at the same time, curiously calm. The ride home at the end of the day is something to look forward to, kind of a reward for a day’s work, and with no urgency to make time, I’m free to take a detour or two down some twisty country lanes.

Rather than messing around with side cases or a trunk, I’ve used an Aerostich Courier messenger bag for years as a convenient way to tote my daily essentials. Park the bike, peel off the helmet, and I’m ready for the walk to my office. I’ve also used it as a carry-on when flying, frequently getting the knowing wink or nod from fellow riders who recognize the Aerostich logo. However, the Courier bag is pretty big, and while drooling my way through the newest Aerostich catalogue, the recently introduced waxed cotton version caught my eye, and so I ordered a new bag in the smaller “Dispatch” size.

Aerostich’s waxed cotton bags are softer and suppler than their Cordura models and seem to develop more of what the company calls a “uniquely experienced patina” with use. I found the waxed cotton does tend to show grime and smudges more than the Cordura (though I did order mine in bright orange, which of course tends to show wear more than black), but, you know, I kind of like that “broken in” look. I also opted to have Aerostich install their new “quick release buckle,” which makes donning or doffing the bag a bit easier since I don’t have to raise the strap over my head. The new dual release tab buckle can be operated with one gloved hand, yet seems very secure.

Aerostich has been producing and steadily tweaking their messenger bag design for almost 30 years, and the waxed cotton Dispatch shares all the best features of the line, including a seamless bottom, a bright yellow PVC waterproof lining, a comfy shoulder pad, a large inside pocket, and a clip-on key loop inside. Also, like all the other size messenger bags, the Dispatch has the wide, 3M Scotchlight reflective strip, a carrying handle, and a cam lock adjuster for the strap. I included in my order the optional pocket organizer, which I would recommend. The organizer attaches to the back wall of the bag with hook and loop and is generously outfitted with zippered and elastic sleeves and compartments for all your smaller stuff. I’d also recommend the optional “Stabilizer Strap,” which buckles around the waist to prevent the bag from sliding around, particularly suited for sport riders who may be in more of a tuck position.

I’d describe the construction of the Aerostich Dispatch as “made-to-last (and last).” Instead of simply stitching binding around the edges of the flap, for instance, Aerostich first sews the flap inside-out, then turns the bag right-side out and edge-stiches the flap, just like the way a shirt collar is made. The fastex buckles look sturdy, and I can’t imagine the nylon straps ever wearing out. The waterproof liner is thick but flexible PVC, which should resist all but the sharpest of objects.

One feature of the Dispatch I’m not a fan of is the wide hook and loop strip that holds the flap down. Though this arrangement does allow the user to close the bag securely without using the two front buckles, it makes opening the bag a pretty noisy, two-handed affair. However, like other owners, I’ve found that simply cutting a two inch strip of hoop and loop and slapping it on the inside of the flap remedies this hitch. Another sort of caveat: if you opt for the installation of the quick release buckle, it may limit which shoulder you’ll use for the bag.

Besides the features and quality construction of the Dispatch bag, its functionality is what made me favor it over a backpack. On the road, the bag can be swung around to rest on the small of my back, the bottom just touching the pillion seat. Stopped or off the bike, the bag can be swung around in front of my chest to pull out my sunglasses, phone, or whatever gadget I need. The bag rides comfortably at my side when I’m hoofing it. Though not a storage system I’d recommend for touring, it’s a great ride-to-work solution for commuting and for short hopping, where you don’t want to worry about gear left on your bike.

The Dispatch, though the second to smallest in the messenger bag line-up (12”x7”x12”x12”/18”), can hold a ton of stuff. It easily swallows a typical-sized laptop with room to spare for a lunch, a binder or books, and lots of doodads. The bag is designed to be waterproof, though it’s possible some water could seep in at the top corners in a downpour.

Like all Aerostich messenger bags, the Dispatch is made in the USA (apparently by the same guy for the last 15 years!). It carries a two year warranty and is available in black, brown, yellow, orange, and green.

Aerostich Waxed Cotton Dispatch Bag: $97
Optional Pocket Organizer: $30
Optional Stabilizer Strap: $10
Contact: aerostich.com

Pros: Life of the user construction, good solution for commuting Cons: Hook and loop band on flap may be overkill, not absolutely waterproof

 

 

Tags:  Aerostich  Luggage 

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Mustang R1200GS Seat

Posted By Stan Herman, Wednesday, January 28, 2015
 
Excellent for the Inseam Challenged

This is a high quality seat utilizing a steel seat pan, an ingenious adjustment method and it fits the bike exceptionally well. The Mustang seat hugs the tank contours and latches easily in place after installing the four bolt mount bracket. To install one removes four 8mm nuts, switches mount brackets and reinstall four nuts, it takes about 10 minutes. The seat looks custom made with excellent stitching. As a bonus an optional rider backrest is available.

This is an excellent seat for someone inseam challenged on a GS or GSA. It lowers the overall seating position by more than an inch from the factory seat. Different width, shape and where one measures make that a hard number to determine exactly. The foam is firm and well sculpted. The throat is also somewhat narrower allowing easier flat footing of the bike. I rode about 250 miles of paved Arkansas River canyons and paved mountain roads around Pikes Peak. I have a 32 inch inseam and the seat is simply too short for me even in the high position. I think it would best serve those with a 30 inch inseam or less. It moves the rider into a pocket both lower and closer to the tank. I think the Mustang is a very nicely crafted seat, but not for me.

 

 

Tags:  Mustang  R1200GS  seat 

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Mustang R1200GS Seat

Posted By Stephen Gregory, Wednesday, January 28, 2015
 Great Quality, But Not Built for Me

The first thing I took note of after receiving the Mustang seat was the quality of the leather and the overall feel. Top-notch. It has a nice cushion to it and soft feel. Really high quality.

Next I was under the impression that I would be able to simply remove my Corbin seat and replace it with the Mustang seat. Not true. There's a mounting bracket that you have to install. OK… not a big deal. Just remove the stock mounting guides from above the battery and replace them with the Mustang mounting bracket. Easy-Peasy.

Then I discovered that the seat has two spring loaded pins in the rear that allow you to easily select a lower option and a higher option. Pretty cool! I'm 6'0" so I went with the higher option. I imagine for those who are 5'9" or 5'10" the lower option would be a wonderful feature. Even with the seat set on the higher option I could reach the ground better than I can with my Corbin.

The Mustang seat is much narrower than the Corbin. The smooth leather and narrow throat allow you to easily slide and shift your weight while leaning into twisties, however the Mustang seat is just too narrow to be comfortable on longer rides. The Corbin saddle is wide and supports your butt in such a way that it ergonomically lessons road fatigue.

The Mustang seat, similar to the stock seat puts pressure points on your inner thighs making for much less comfortable long distance rides. After an hour on my first ride with the Mustang seat, I was glad to have arrived at the trail head just so I could start standing up! I then took it on some very challenging mud trails and got it pretty dirty. The leather held up every time I dumped the bike and had to drag it across some rocks to pick it up. The leather cleaned up nicely as well.

I also tested the back rest with my highway pegs and it felt really good. There is a Corbin back rest in my future. If you get this seat I recommend getting the back rest and some highway pegs just so you can shift your legs and body when your butt starts getting sore on longer rides.

My wife accompanied me on another hour long ride to breakfast one morning and tested the pillion seat. She was not aware that I had replaced my stock pillion seat with the Mustang and at breakfast she was complaining about the uncomfortable ride. When I told her it was a different seat she said that would explain it. And that she had never been uncomfortable before on such a short ride.

To sum it up - the seat is great quality but too narrow for comfortable long distance rides.

 

 

Tags:  Mustang  R1200GS  seat 

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Mustang R1200GS Seat

Posted By Bill Wiegand, Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Quality for Eight Hours!

Probably the most important connection a rider has with their motorcycle comes through their seat, as the level of comfort a rider experiences there is directly proportional to the enjoyment received while riding. Finding a comfortable seat can be a difficult task; but if you do, you will be rewarded with miles upon miles of never ending smiles. By contrast, ride for 10 hours on an uncomfortable seat and you’ll think twice about riding again.

Personally, I ride a 2012 R1200GS Rallye; while I love the styling and look of the stock seat, spending more than a couple continuous hours in the saddle has me squirming around looking for a comfortable spot that just isn’t there.

A new seat has been on my wish list for some time. I do have experience with two aftermarket seats, but neither provided me what I was truly looking for…a seat that not only looked great but allowed me to ride for at least eight continuous hours without feeling like I was being punished for a crime I hadn’t committed. A comfortable eight hours isn’t an Iron Butt request by any means, but more than I was receiving from my stocker and a performance level with which I would be happy.

When I saw the Mustang Seat box sitting in my office, I immediately wondered who wasn’t going to receive their Harley seat that day. I opened the box anyway and, to my surprise, inside was a new seat made specifically for the 2005–12 R1200GS and GSA. Low and behold, Mustang is now producing seats for BMWs.

Upon initial inspection, the seat looked very good and was solidly constructed. A metal seat pan and a premium, leather-like vinyl material enveloped the interior foam padding. I eagerly awaited installation and an initial road test.

Unlike other seats I’ve seen and tried for my bike, the Mustang uses a proprietary front seat bracket which replaces the stock front seat mounts. In the rear, two adjustable pins offer high or low positioning, as do the slots on the front bracket when mated with the tongue mounted on the seat pan. After the 10 minutes needed for installation of the bracket, the seat was mounted and because the rear seat uses the same mounting method as the stocker, a few seconds later I was ready to go.

The initial appearance of the seat on the bike was very good, though the profile of the seat appears shorter than the stocker or other aftermarket seats I’ve tried, allowing the upper frame sections, components usually hidden by other seats, to be visible. Not that big of a deal and it was time to hit the road.

I’d planned on using the seat on a 1,300-mile round trip to South Carolina I’d scheduled in about a week; I used a short, 50-mile shakedown ride for an initial impression. After that short ride, all systems were go and during that first ride, I found the seat felt good, the vinyl had the right amount of tack and didn’t let me slide around. The shape of the saddle fit well and I was truly beginning to think I just might have found a long-term solution to riding comfort. I knew 1,300 miles awaited and, once my trip was completed, I’d have the information I sought.

On the first day of the trip we rode just over 475 miles, and I can truly say I was pleased with the seat. The “hot spots” I experienced on other seats weren’t there, and when I got off the bike that day I felt good and knew I could have ridden longer. The final 175 miles to Spartanburg the next day were a piece of cake. I left Spartanburg alone three days later with the intent to pound out all 650 miles, stopping only for gas. Though I made it, once I passed the eight-hour mark my remaining time in the saddle grew more and more difficult as the miles and the time continued to accumulate. Looking back, I wonder if any seat can truly be comfortable for more than eight hours.

In the end (no pun intended), I can say that I could be truly happy with the Mustang if I never intended to travel more than eight hours in a day. Until I exhaust all of the aftermarket seats, I cannot say that this is the best option. What I can say is that the Mustang seat is a good looking, beautifully built seat that I would gladly use on all but the most demanding of trips. Until I am able to find backside nirvana, I will forever be in search of a seat offering the comfort of the La-Z-Boy in the den and the visual appeal of the stocker.

 

 

Tags:  Mustang  R1200GS  seat 

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