AltRider Crash Bars and Luggage Rack Review

Adventure bikes like my BMW F 800 GS roll out of the factory ready to blast into the boonies loaded with camping gear, food and spares—or so you would think. Truth is, they need some accessories to be fully functional. The top items on my list are crash protection for the inevitable rough-country tipovers, and a way to carry my gear. With that in mind, I ordered up AltRider’s crash bars and luggage rack for this test.

AltRider TIG welds the bars by hand from one-inch diameter T-304 stainless steel, offering them in bare steel, black powdercoat and triple black for special edition BMWs. I chose black to blend in with my bike, encouraged that any scrapes could be disguised with a marker pen since the bars won’t rust. The kit includes stainless Torx hardware and AltRider’s excellent instructions to facilitate the installation. The bars attach to the upper engine mounts and to threaded holes in the lower engine cases, connecting in front of the radiator via a crosspiece strengthened inside by an aluminum rod. They mounted easily, taking just a bit of muscle on one side to line things up. The tubular top mounts fit inside the GS’s frame tubes, hiding the bolts and lending a clean look to the system.

AltRider Crash Bars and Luggage Rack
AltRider Crash Bars and Luggage Rack

The AltRider bars cover a lot of the bike’s precious parts for the 8 pounds they add. The lower part bulges out to protect the engine cases and headers, while the top bars extend 2.5 inches beyond the plastic panels. They measure 26.5 inches at their widest point and don’t interfere with riding, either seated or standing, nor do they impact simple maintenance chores. For $357.67, the AltRider bars provide a lot of insurance for expensive machines—and there’s no deductible!

At first glance, most luggage racks are just a flat metal plate with some pegs or holes for fixing straps and bungee cords. At second glance, a good rack handles various kinds of loads with ease, provides multiple attachment options and looks cool doing it. AltRider makes such a rack. Its 3⁄16-inch anodized aluminum platform is spacious without being too large, and the drop sides—added for strength—are at a good angle for attaching things. The rack is peppered with holes in various shapes and sizes to accommodate an array of straps and hooks, and every edge has been dressed to minimize strap wear. If that’s not enough, there are attachment points for the Givi Monokey system and RotopaX fuel cells. The rack mounts with four stainless steel bolts, which are provided in the $136.46 package. Color choices are silver and black.

Hard-bag fans will be happy to know the rack is compatible with Jesse bags and BMW Vario and Adventure cases, and accommodates Giant Loop’s Great Basin bag, as well. For daily duty, I mounted a good-sized tail pack using the bag’s pullout bungees plus a set of small Rok Straps to keep flapping to a minimum. There was no problem finding attachment points for any of these. AltRider’s rack is larger than others, but still leaves the pillion free for a passenger. All in all, it’s a strong, attractive piece that combines form, fit and function into a very nice addition to any bike. Visit the website to see AltRider’s complete collection of bike protection and luggage racks for all the big duallies and adventure bikes.

For more information: Call AltRider at (206) 922-3618, or visit

(This Gearlab review was published in the May 2013 issue of Rider magazine.)


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