Concerns about AltRider Crash Bars

Discussion in 'Africa Twin General Discussions' started by Cuchulainn, Nov 21, 2017.


Is this really "life of the metal" as AltRider suggests?

  1. Yes

    0 vote(s)
  2. No

    10 vote(s)
  1. I had come across a thread soon after I purchased my Africa Twin, but I believe it may have been on the other forum. The poster had complaints about odd vibrations from his AltRider crash bars on his Africa Twin. I asked my wife about vibrations on her AltRider crash bars for her F800GS and at the time she responded no. That she had no vibrations from the bars. Well, that was then.

    We took a took a trip from Denver to the Ozarks at the end of October to early November. Along the way she noticed her right site AltRider crash bar was vibrating significantly. Upon arrival at the hotel for the night, she inspected it and it looked fine, however it cooled significantly that night and in the morning she discovered this...




    This is NOT the result of a hit, drop or any kind of physical trauma. The part broke at the weld and simply snapped through. Almost as though it had been cut with a hacksaw, which of course it was not.

    My wife contacted AltRider and they refused to accept any responsibility for it, claiming it was the "life of the metal" even though only 1 year old. She was told by AltRider that she would have to pay for the replacement, but that they would kindly include free shipping.

    @OneEarTim would likely know more about this than I, but I have been told by others that this is NOT the "life of the metal," but rather the result of HAZ (Heat Affected Zone) around a weld that causes hydrogen embrittlement and can result in spontaneous cracking.

    I hope I am understanding this correctly, but from the folks who explained it to me have said, this is not a result of "life of the metal" but a failed part.

    I tend to NOT believe the claim of "Life of the Metal," but I personally don't know enough :(

    I am guessing it is a rare occurrence and wont affect the majority, but something to be aware of perhaps and unfortunately they won't do anything to help you out if it does occur.
    OneEarTim likes this.
  2. Well, the failure is metal fatigue, but it was caused by a poor welding process. They should have just sent you a new one to avoid the negative press, but I’d guess that they’re seeing this failure over and over, and if they did provide a replacement and they didn’t fix the problem, where would it end? Just have somebody weld it properly, put some paint on it... good to go.
  3. Wonder if the cost to have someone weld it would be much less than replacement?

    Unfortunately it is the low crash bar too and not the upper, since her plan is to sell the bike as she just recently purchased an Africa Twin of her own. Expecting delivery this week.

    Obviously she was hoping that AltRider would do the right thing and replace it, so that she could have it up for sale with the lower and upper bars. If it had just been the upper, she probably just could have sold it with the lower bars only.

    Obviously she is NOT going with AltRider crash bars for her new Africa Twin, which is a shame. We have bought a LOT of stuff from them over the years for various bikes and we have always thought of them to be a stand up company. But we both feel that they should have owned this and made it right.

    She even offered to meet them half way and the best they countered was free shipping.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
  4. #4 ProCycle, Nov 21, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2017
    That's a pretty easy fix to have it welded (and some additional gusseting to reinforce it)
    Looks to me like it can be blamed on the design. Although the crack started at a weld flaw it shouldn't require aerospace quality welds to stay in one piece. A small triangular gusset in that corner would ensure it won't happen again. If the other side is similar I'd reinforce it too to prevent another failure.

    "Life of materials" ? No way. The life of steel in this kind of application should be hundreds of years. It should be halfway rusted away before it would start to break. Steel doesn't fatigue when it is not stressed beyond its yield point.

    Altrider really should use this as a learning opportunity. They could repair it and in the process re-examine and modify the design.
  5. First off, very glad you guys are alright. Agree with @ProCycle and @Graves about their opinions in regards to the metal fatigue and sub par design.

    Always a pain to try to get it repaired and I really hope Altrider comes through with this for the purpose of the safety of their customers.
  6. One thing that struck me as odd is that AltRider did not even want the failed part back to examine. I would have thought they would want to have a look at it to try to determine why it failed.

    One of the guys who informed me about HAZ, said “It is an engineering/process problem. Alloy, annealing, hydrogen embrittlement. A good look at the grain structure of the fracture will tell you. Cottage built tube stuff”

    If that’s the case, I would have thought they would want the part back to examine the grain pattern, rather than be so quick to dismiss it as “life of the metal” and want full price for replacement.

    Perhaps Graves is correct. It isn’t the first time they have seen it and they already know exactly what the flaw is, so no need to see another.

    I will get some quotes on welding and decide whether there is value in repairing it vs just leaving them off for sale. You never get your moneys worth out of those accessories in a sale.

    The funny thing is however, had they done the right thing, she would have purchased AltRider bars for her Africa Twin, just as she had for her F800GS, her F650GS before that. They don’t really do themselves any favors by taking that dismissive route really :(

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
    SoCalEddie likes this.
  7. I hope so as well. My wife also contacted the BMW dealer from whom she purchased them and whose techs installed them, to see if they might go to bat for her as well. She obviously hopes to have the bike ready for sale and everything in tip-top shape and this has been a big disappointment as we were sure, as longtime customers, that AltRider would stand behind their product and take care of it.
    In a similar vein, she also had a Wunderlich exhaust heat shield crack on her previous bike. Wunderlich simply responded, "That should definitely not have happened, we will send out a replacement immediately." Some companies do the right thing :)
    SoCalEddie likes this.
  8. True enough but the technical side of the welding shouldn't matter. All motorcycle products like this are "Cottage built tube stuff" and should be designed from the get-go to have a long life with mediocre welds. Fabricators of steel tube motorcycle accessories like Altrider are probably not capable of examining the grain and they probably wouldn't really learn much. I speak from experience - my company makes steel luggage racks for a few other models. No failures yet (knock on wood) but if we did hear of a non-impact failure I would definitely want to look at it - not for a metallurgical analysts but to understand why it happened and how to change the fabrication to eliminate future failures.

  9. We'll go to bat for you and will shoot Altrider and email in regards to this matter as well.

    I'll put my pitch fork away for now... :)
  10. The non-impact failures and the vibration complaints for the Africa Twin and other models, should perhaps be a warning sign to AltRider that something isn't quite right here. Hers never vibrated until right before the brake. So it leads me to wonder if the vibrating isn't a sign of e possible failure. It was only the right side that started to vibrate and only that side that broke (so far).

    But I was really taken back by them not even wanting to see it. They had me take a series of photos, including front/back and left/right of the bike to show them that there is no damage to the bike and also the close ups of the bar where it broke. We thought for sure they would take care of it, because the bike if flawless with no damage whatsoever, other than that crack. And it was obvious that the crack occurred at the weld. We were shocked when all they offered was free shipping on the replacement and wrote it off as "life of the metal."
  11. We definitely appreciate any and all help. We have purchased AltRider parts for many bikes over the years, including a Tiger 800, Tiger Explorer 1200, KTM 1190, BMW F650GS and F800GS. We have always championed them as being a company who makes a quality product and who stands behind what they make. So obviously this response from them has been a MAJOR disappointment from a company who have frequented and trusted over the years.

    There even seems to be some "infighting" amongst themselves on how to deal with it. One guy, who is the parts manager, knows who my wife has been dealing with (I will leave both names out here) and said "dammit, I told them to offer her my price on it,"

    I don't know what his price is, but my wife did offer to meet the guy she had been dealing with halfway and they declined.
  12. On a side note, she is thinking about going with the Hepco Becker upper bars with the new Africa Twin, because she is done with AltRider, particularly if they maintain this hard line.

    Her interest in the Hepco Becker is that the upper bars apparently work with the Black Dog Cycle Works lower bars and skid plate and she can order it all through BDCW.

    Any reason the Hepco Becker uppers would be a problem? I know Kurt and Martha Forgét are two of the most customer service oriented people out there and if this had been their lower crash bar, I don't think we would have had the same response :)
  13. It’s really not a big job, it shouldn’t really cost much. Just don’t expound on how you were wronged by the manufacturer of the failed part, or how perfect it should be, you don’t want to scare the welder off of the job, you just want it welded back together to sell it.
    Cuchulainn likes this.
  14. I talked to a welder about it. He seems more than willing to do the job. Of course he hasn't seen it, but I told him that it looked like someone sawed through it with a hacksaw blade. He seemed familiar with the type of break. He mentioned that is generally the result of a bad weld, that it starts at the edge of the weld, and once it starts to go, it just keeps going straight through the tube.

    He told to just bring the bike by and he is going to try to tack it in place, rather than risk taking it off the bike and having it be slightly off position. He is also going to try to add some reinforcement by way of the triangle gussets as was mentioned above. We will see how that goes.

    I didn't even mention the company that produced it until the end of the conversation when he asked what kind of bike it was and I told him it was a BMW F800GS. He responded by saying the issue was a result of "typical German engineering" and I corrected him by saying "Not in this case, they are AltRider crash bars. So maybe typical Washington State engineering?" To which he replied "Lets hope not." :)
  15. First I'd like to say you have a really cool wife.

    I think I read about the other incident about vibration from Altrider crash bars but considering the cost of their bars I would be very angry about this. I agree with the others about it being fixable but the bars should last as long as the frame in my opinion.
    Cuchulainn likes this.
  16. 053C4B47-A65C-427D-92A0-5FBBF7F3DFFC.jpeg This is another example of a broken AltRider crash bar from the Ducati forum. Likewise not dropped or impacted and likewise AltRider did not take care of him.

    I agee that it is fixable and hopefully won’t cost me lot to fix it since we are only fixing it for sale. But I thought considering the cost and the nature of the issue, that my wife’s offer to give the benefit of the doubt and meet them halfway on cost was more than fair. All things considered. We were shocked that they wouldn’t budge from full prose replacement.

    Crazy with that they cost. Why on earth would we pay full price to rebuy a failed product? If we are going to have to pay full price, obviously we are going a different route with a different company.
  17. Oh yeah. As far as my wife, she is really cool. She was town the one who got me into motorcycling. She announces to me out of the blue one day "I am going to sign up to take a motorcycle class, you are willing to join me, or not" the rest is history :)

    This is from our very first ever ride out of town in 2010. We decided to take a trip to Taos for a Triumphs in Taos event...

    And here she is 7 years later...


    We have been a lot of places and put on a lot of miles over the past 7 years :)

    You all will "meet" her soon enough, after she picks up her AT. Likely this week!
  18. I was seriously about to buy some alt rider bars for my AT... literally was going to order today. thank you for making us aware of this type of failure and most importantly, lack of support.

    Ill have to look elsewhere.

    I hope you get sorted soon
  19. The lack of support has been alarming. We have been long time customers, purchasing accessories for half a dozen bikes between the two of us over the years, but this is the first item we have had a problem with and the first time we have had to deal with their (lack of) Customer Support. We are both done with AltRider.


    The dealership where she purchased the bike and whom she purchased the bars and had install them, got involved on our behalf. They were very apologetic about the treatment we had received, how long it has dragged on (end of October) a the quick brush off, etc.

    While they could not get AltRider to budge on just making it right themselves, they told us that they as a dealership, could get the replacement bars for $100 and would un-install the broken ones and install the new ones at no charge.

    It isn't ideal. AltRider should have just stepped up and taken care of this and not had this drag on without outside involvement through the dealership etc. But, I don't know that the $100 is much more than we would have had to pay the welder to repair the broken one. It will likely look better for resale with the new bars vs a welded/repaired one. So I think that is the route we are going to go.

    Verdict: Thumbs down for AltRider, but a big thumbs up for BMW of Denver for doing everything that they could to make it right. I am glad that I told the welder that I would be over after the holiday and didn't take it over today :)
    OneEarTim and Admin like this.
  20. Before I comment... I'm happy to repair this if you want to ship it to me. No charge. It won't fail at my repair.

    Wholly crap!!! I hate to admit that sometimes the best people even screw up. A screw up is clearly what this looks like to me and I try to not judge people and companies by IF they screw up but how they handle their screw ups. Sounds like a fail to me. Sadly I WAS thinking about getting their crash bars. Sorry I didn't read all the posts but this is crazy disappointing to me.

    @Graves Said they probably should have replaced it to avoid the bad press. As reasonable as that seems being a person of principle I don't agree. That creates a hostage type situation where people can basically hold your company hostage with threats of giving you bad press. I do agree that it should be replaced if you can show more pics that this was not significantly dropped. ESPECIALLY considering how grossly they state how much better and stronger they claim their parts are than everyone else's parts. I would be less disappointed if they just made the best parts they could without dogging everyone else's parts so much.
    There could be a number of reason this failed without a significant impact. Honestly if it was welded properly it still wouldn't have failed the way it did with a significant impact. Life of the metal is a VERY disappointing reply.
    My guess... When ending a TIG weld puddle it's fairly common for newer or less professional welders to end with what is commonly called a "butt hole" . That ends up being a VERY common point of fatigue failure. I'm guessing the Beemer vibrates like a (fill in your own funny blank) and eventually turned the "butt hole" into a crack (that why it has that super dark spot) and then eventually the whole thing failed at the embrittled area. Generally if it was just over heated and it became brittle you wouldn't see that black sooty spot you circled.
    This is what a butt hole looks like. keyhole-large.jpg

Share This Page