Gear: AltRider Crash Bars and Skid Plate

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We’re huge fans of crash protection. Learning to ride fast, either on the track or off-road, requires you to push your motorcycle to its limits. These parts give you the confidence to do just that while protecting your bike should something go wrong.

The Gear
The AltRider Suzuki DL650 V-Strom Crash Bars are designed so that, should you crash, the impact will be transferred to the crash bar’s frame instead of your motorcycle.

They’re made from one-inch, stainless steel tubes and bolt directly to the frame of your V-Strom. They attach without any modifications, using the included stainless steel hardware.

They’re offered in either black or silver, fit perfectly with the AltRider Skid Plate, and retail for $304.28.

Specs:
- Height: 15 inches
- Width: 16 inches
- Depth: 9 inches
- Weight: 10 lbs

The AltRider Suzuki V-Strom DL650 Skid Plate protects the (very exposed) engine cases, oil sump, and exhaust headers on your V-Strom from rocks or debris while riding off-road.

It’s constructed from 3.2 mm (1/8 inch) anodized aluminum, and features cut outs so your oil cooler and headers still receive optimum airflow.

The AltRider Crash Bars are required for installation.

They retail for $302.19 and come with all necessary hardware.

Specs:
- Height: 10″
- Width: 13″
- Depth: 20″
- Weight: 5.85lbs

The Good
Even during the short amount of off-road riding we did to our first campsite on the way to Yosemite, I could hear rocks pinging off the bottom of the skid plate and was glad for the protection. I was able to negotiate the route without having to test the crash bars, but I’ve dropped enough adventure bikes to know how valuable they are.

AltRider make some of the finest gear in this segment and we trust all of their protection parts completely.

The black finish looks fantastic and as if they were intended to come with the bike in its stock form. V-Stroms now look naked without them.

These fit all models 2004-2013 unlike the set offered from Touratech (another brand we love), which say they only fit through model year 2011.

The Bad
They aren’t free and AltRider hasn’t found a way to produce weightless protective parts.

The Verdict
I wouldn’t take anything nicer than a dedicated dirt bike off-road without crash protection gear. We’re huge fans of AltRider and their protective parts and highly recommend them to help make your adventure mobile more adventure-ready.

Additional Product Informtion:
AltRider Crash Bars for the Suzuki V-Strom DL 650
AltRider Skid Plate for Suzuki V-Strom DL 650 – Black

Related Links:
Gear: Garmin zumo 390LM Motorcycle Navigation System
Comparison: 2013 Suzuki V-Strom 650 Adventure vs 2013 Honda CB500X
Roundup: Eight Adventure Bikes You Can Actually Take Off-Road

  • Randy S

    Guess I’m weird. I don’t think V-Stroms are ugly, just functional-ish.

    • Jai S.

      You’re not weird, that’s the common opinion.

      • UrbanMoto

        I’ve noticed that people who read a lot of motorcycle blogs where other people say that say that a lot and pretty much nobody else.

        • Jai S.

          I have a Strom. I ride it every day. It’s an ugly bike.

  • Piglet2010

    The cynic in me says that stock bikes are left vulnerable to crash damage since selling replacement parts is highly profitable.

  • eddi

    My current ride is a 2012 V-Strom 650. Happy Trails skid plate and nerf bars. Givi topcase and soft saddlebags. 80% pavement 20% dirt. All day or just to the store. the skid plate has some scuffs that say it’s doing the job. Not gonna jinx it by talking about potential nerf surfing.

    • Jai S.

      How are your Nerf Bars? Have you dropped you bike yet, any damage? Did they fit together well? Any weird vibration?

    • geoff2k

      Those HT Nerf Bars look WIDE in pictures — are they that wide in real life?

      • Jai S.

        Not too wide. The inside distance varies from 2 1/4″ to 3″.

        • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

          Those are MUCH wider than the AltRider pieces

          • Jai S.

            Is that a bad thing?

            I know that the Happy Trail Nerf Bars also run much higher and protect the fairing more than the AltRider’s. I enjoy the added protection, and it doesn’t affect my ability to operate the bike and lane split.

            Also, having crash bars further from the bike requires a greater deflection before the crash bars impact the bike.

            Lastly, having the bars that big allows me to mount bags on them:
            http://www.happy-trail.com/Soft_Luggage/PDNerf-Horn-Bags.aspx

            The bags are expensive, but fit well, and are decent quality.

            The AltRiders definitely look better, are probably nicer, but I think the Happy Trail Bars offer greater protection.

            Do I recommend them? Not really. I don’t like Happy Trail’s business practices, poorly written instructions and “slop”.

            • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

              umm, mostly just aesthetically I supposed, though I’m not worried about needing the extra clearance between the bars and body in case of a crash.

              I was commenting mostly because I did not post a head on shot and wanted to clear that up in case anyone wondered how the AltRider parts compared in that department.

              • Jai S.

                You should post a head shot. I’d be interested in seeing that. I’m a bit disappointed that most manufactures don’t do head shots of things like crash protection and luggage.

            • eddi

              I got OK service from them. No issues with the items I bought. Delivery was at the far end of their promised range. As I say, I let the pros install them since I didn’t want bolts falling off at just the wrongest moment. Nearly a year later, still solid.

    • eddi

      Jai S. They fit like they were a factory item. Absolutely no vibration or effects on handling. No dropping the bike, but they look like they can take it. The finish is spray-on truck bed liner and took some grinding off around the bolt holes to install. I let the guys at Cycle Country in Salem install them since they have the tools and the talent.

      geoff2k Wide enough that non-riders notice them as unusual. One kid though they were folded wings :-D . I like the look but tastes vary. Oregon is a no-splitting state for now. They might limit the widths you can pass through, but so far I’ve squeezed through some tight fits with no fear. It looks like it would take a hard crash to push them into the side pieces of the tank.

      One last item price $300 for the bars, $167 for the skid plate. I got them on sale as a set saved about $100

      • Jai S.

        Thank you for sharing your experience with them.

        • eddi

          A pleasure.

  • William Connor

    I have Alt Rider bars on my Explorer and they are very stout pieces. The finish on mine was less than perfect but my fault for not noticing before install. The coating around their cut logo was flaked off. Oh well they will get more scratches.

  • Jai S.

    After tons of research, it looks the Enduro Guardian Skid Plate is the one to go with. It looks equally strong, available in both aluminum, and stainless steel, connects to multiple types of crash bars (not jut Alt-Rider), and has an option for pretty unobtrusive highway pegs. Ohh, and it’s cheaper.

    http://shop.enduroguardian.com/Skid-plate-packages_c6.htm

  • BenR

    How do you think the SW-Motech crash bars compare? looking at these for my f700gs.

  • Jai S.

    That would be absolutely ridiculous if they claimed that crash bars voided your warranty. Also, the burden of proof would be on them to prove that the crash bars cause the problem. Check out the Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act.

  • victorz21

    On about my third ride on my first (and so far only) motorcycle, the rear bolts on the skid plate fell off, it started dragging along the road, raising a shower of sparks and making an almighty (and terrifying) noise. As a noob rider who’d just past his test, it scared the living bejeezus out of me.

    Cue half an hour by the side of the road, figuring out where my bike’s toolkit was, and how to remove the skid plate entirely and jam it into my top box. In hindsight, it was a pretty good introduction to the world of motorcycles – mucking about with spanners, getting covered in road dirt and oil, fixing a problem myself.

    I like to think my bike was ‘running me in.’

    I also think the bash plate was installed by morons. (Install it right, and this sort of failure simply isn’t possible.)

  • William Connor

    Alt Rider does post videos of several of the bikes it makes these bars for laying on the side and how well the bars work. This is why I ended up buying them, they actually showed the bars working.

    • Khali

      Got to check that video.
      In the pictures it looks like the bars might bent, but they look quite sturdy as well.

  • Brent Southard

    How do the AltRider crash bars compare with the OEM version (Suzuki calls it an accessory bar) that comes standard on the Adventure model? I ask because I am about to purchase a discounted 2013 V-Strom 650 ABS from a dealer, and they can get me the OEM bars for only $218. I looked at them on the Adventure model and they looked good and sturdy. Thanks!

    • eddi

      Suzuki’s own accessories should be good. The only turn-off normally is the premium price, but you’ve got that handled.

    • Khali

      I have crashed with Suzuki OEM bars (K4 model). It was a front Wheel lock, and the bike slided several meters on the pavement.

      - Crash bars bent a bit (acceptable)
      - Handlebars bent (acceptable)
      - Left handguard scratched (great, as the lever was not damaged)
      - Left footrest broken (instead of folding, it just broke)
      - Left blinker broken (hmmm ok, although Suzuki blinkers break just by staring at them, but they stick out too much)
      - Left fairing totally scratched (not acceptable to me)
      - Left side of the headlight fairing slightly scratched
      - Left side of the front fender slightly scratched
      - Top case slightly scratched

      I know that crash bars main mission is to protect the engine. That mission was accomplished. But in this kind of motorcycle (ADV) where some off-road capability and “drop” capability is supossed, having to replace a side panel on such kind of “light” crash, was not what i was expecting.
      With that said, i think that all the accesories of the new model are made by hepco&becker, and that the crash bars cover the fairing. If that is the case, then go for it, it is a top-grade brand.

      Givi crash bars for example, cover the fairing but i have heard of multiple cases where the bars bent and broke the side fairing.

  • Khali

    Well, you can have the OEM then, and if you crash and the radiator gets damaged, claim it to the warranty… :P