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Building the S 1000 XR Concept Bike

Jan 29, 2016 // The AltRider Story //

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Earlier this year we were presented a unique opportunity to conduct a design study of the ADV focused version of the new BMW S 1000 XR, and immediately our design team was in full force on the project.  We started thinking about names like ADV S, the ‘S’ standing in for the word sport, or ADVLite, and many other ideas.  The truth is there are a lot of riders in the awesome ADV world who don’t love the more hard-core trails or down and dirty, throw-your-bike-off-a-cliff-to-save-your-ass kind of rides, and who can blame them?  Every time you survive a trip like that it’s empowering, but frankly it can wear on you, your nerves, and of course your body.  The BMW XR is a barely civilized Sport Tourer with the attitude and cockpit of an ADV-infused gravel road destroyer.

This is why we handed this project over to the ADR team (Adventure Design Research) team. The team evolved over the years and is made up of some of our best and brightest, and they thrive on innovating and pushing the envelope, whatever envelope you give them that is.  The concept is simple, this team of the elite gets together and puts all of their best thinking into a new build idea collaboratively.  We believe that when possible, collaboration can make the difference between good ideas and killer ones.  This is the structure which supports the ADR shop.  One of the reasons for creating the team was to explore and adapt new technologies to keep AltRider as the leader of innovative product design in the ADV market.

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Now on to the bike.  We were supplied a bone-stock XR, (the white one in the image) our goal from the beginning was to create something to show what this bike could really do, and to inspire others to branch out into the ADV world a little bit.  If you are one of those early buyers of the XR who wondered at the dirt-worthiness of this machine, prepare to get sucked in to the ADV lifestyle forever.

Starting with some of the more basic ADV needs, when considering this bike rallying down gravel roads at blistering speed, and especially in a group scenario, the massive radiator would need some serious protection.  Looking closely at the curved design of the XR’s radiator, and the shape of the plastics which surround it, it was clear that we needed to take advantage of those shapes with our design.  One way we can do that is to design louvers which are positioned so that the opening faces the oncoming torrent of cold, combustion inducing air.  This uses the aerodynamics to help force more colder air in behind the AltRider Radiator Guard, and through the fins of the radiator itself.  We paid careful attention to the design of the guard to ensure that the ambient temperature in the space between the guard and the radiator stays as low as possible, with fresh air always coming in. All of these design principles apply to the design of the AltRider Oil Cooler Guard as well, except in this case, since the oil cooler is so close to the ground, and the front tire, the guard offers more coverage than a typical oil cooler guard which only needs to protect the fins of the cooler and channel fresh air into them.

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This brings us to the AltRider Skid Plate and the mounting brackets.  This was a real challenge, designing a skid plate which could hold up to a reasonable amount of abuse, but still look great on a decidedly sporty body style and all aluminum chassis.  In order to get the strength needed for the plate, we came up with a fantastically creative mounting bracket system.  Similar to our approach to the BMW R1200GS LC, the mounting brackets serve as the main anchor for both the crash bars and the skid plate. This mounting system needed to come “forward” very far in order to provide a solid, forward mounting point for the very long skid plate. The obvious issue with “hanging all this structure out there” as we say is even a 3/16” piece of 304 stainless will bend and bow with impacts if it is too long without support.  We found a way to have the mounting brackets come far enough forward that we could run a stiffening tube to connect them.  This actually lines up with one of our main design goals when making crash bars; "distribute the load as much as possible to allow for successful crashes".  You need to distribute impact loads across as many mount points as possible, this reduces the forces that are transferred to any one  part of the bike you mount to, and instead displaces the great load of a 500+ lb bike crashing at speed and distributes the force to multiple mount points. Genius, right? Or just a logical smart approach? 

Once we sorted out how to make a set of rock-solid mounting brackets we moved on to the actual skid plate.  We decided that the catalytic converter was in desperate need of protection as was the 4-into-1 header and the aforementioned oil cooler.  As a result our plate mounts to the very sturdy brackets in the front, and has 2 independent brackets which drop down from the rear-sets.  Unlike other designs the rear brackets are tied with 2 mounting bolts per side, this is critical to prevent the plate from rotating rearward upon a large impact. Additionally, the front has 2 mounting points per side. This equals 8 total point of contact to the bike for the skid plate, again this is not something seen in other designs. This allows the plate to achieve maximum coverage and also helps tie the belly of the bike into the more adventurous aesthetic experience.  A center stand plate will protect the few inches left of the cat which is un-covered by the skid plate.  This is one serious piece of skid plate for attacking gravel roads, but you’ll need it as this bike comes stock with a very low ground clearance.

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Crash protection is obviously going to be a very important aspect of this bike, and the offerings available from OEM are, frankly, utterly inadequate.  We can only hazard guesses as to why that occurs from the OEM, but the lack of excellent mounting options may be a tell as to what happened there.  Since we began our study with the creation of a bomb-proof mounting system at the lower part of the bike, we felt extremely confident about being able to mount AltRider Crash Bars, not just “down low” on the bike but in exactly the right places to mount them, so that in a crash event, the loads from impact can be shared not just to the multiple mount points of the bars on a given side, but also across the bracket to the other side.  The narrow design of the bike meant when laid over this bike would roll onto all its body work, which is why we made ONE integrated crashbar system instead of selling you two separate (lowers and uppers), but build one system from the start that yields a strong completed product. We truly had a blast making these bars.  We are now able to have the bars completely protect the entire side of the bike, without the need for an “upper” and “lower” set of bars. They even wrap around a part of the plastics at the nose of the bike.  This was because there were very solid mounting points at the front under the nose that we wanted to utilize.  The more solid mounts we can connect to, the better protection we can offer.  We’re very proud of the end result.

Once we were settled on the design direction for all of the protection we would offer in the initial launch, we turned our attention to the experience of actually adventuring on this machine.  Cool looking, and robust protection is great, but there are a lot of other aspects to consider when kitting out a bike for ADV travel.  We wanted to be sure to address luggage, and ergonomics specifically.  

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If you haven’t already seen the excellent AltRider SYNCH Dry Bags, then take a minute and really check these things out.  Every XR imported into the USA market comes with a set of basic  (but sturdy) hoop racks for the plastic luggage system.  Those plastic boxes won’t last 1 day in the ADV world and they look kind of…lame.  We grabbed a couple of 25L, double ended opening, roll-down dry bags and sorted out a bomber strapping method that secures the bags perfectly to the racks, while giving a great positioning for lower weight, and maintaining leg movement (a must in wet and muddy conditions) but also allowing access to your contents.  We then fabricated one of our top of the line luggage racks to add approx 70% more mounting surface area to the optional cast aluminum rack, and strapped our 38liter duffel to that. For a little moment-to-moment accessibility we had to add our AltRider Hemisphere Tank Bag to the mix.  Now updated with a removable waterproof liner, and a stash pocket to store it in if you aren’t using it, the Hemisphere tank bag is still a must-have ADV build staple.

All of the farkles in the world don’t help you maintain better control of your bike, or prevent you from getting too tired on the long, grinding trails. Ergonomics get overlooked way too often in getting your bike set up and ready for travel.  The two biggest improvements you can make are getting the bars in the correct position to support your movements in the cockpit; and upgrading foot pegs to offer more positive traction which can allow more decisive movement, and also reduce fatigue over long rides by again, spreading the load of your overweight butt over a larger surface area.  Think about that for a second.  How much weight do you have bearing down on those tiny, 1” wide stock foot pegs?  It makes sense when you think about it for 20 seconds doesn’t it?  Normally we’d go for Pivot Pegz because they go the extra mile to reduce fatigue by allowing you to shift your weight more freely while still maintaining a solid connection to the peg.  Next up we put on the Rox Risers.  We can’t say enough good about how these simple but innovative risers make a difference in your cockpit setup.  They allow you to get the bars up at a height which is still comfortable for touring, but when you stand, offers you very little need for  adjustment of your hands in order to stay in complete control.  It takes a little bit to set your controls up, and sometimes you need to lengthen the brake lines, but it’s ALWAYS worth it.  Reducing your reaction time to make adjustments to your trajectory and speed is more than just a good idea, your life can depend on it so we don’t mess around when it comes to getting our controls set up right.

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Lastly, but certainly not least, we turned the bike over to our graphic designer who put together a shockingly simple, yet beautiful design that evokes the essence of the ADV spirit in a topo map of the Nevada desert.  We turned this design into a vinyl wrap made of that stunning looking 3m 1080 matte finish automotive vinyl and the result is well, it’s evoking the desired response.  

We had a genuinely good time working up the concepts, the actual designs and the finished parts for this build and we are proud to offer them all to our customers in the coming weeks.  Look for an appropriately ridiculous AltRider style video of the bike in action sometime in the first quarter of 2016 and subscribe to our newsletter to the be the first to know about which parts are coming down the pipe when.

Thanks for your time,

Venture on

P.S. We obviously HAD to put TKC80s  on it.

comments

4 and counting...

guest // Feb 02, 2016
We lead of group of 10 riders including Neale Bayly on 12 day 4,000 mile Adventure ride into Mexico this last November. He rode a new 2016 BMW S1000XR. The bike was fantastic but it really needed Protection! Your SkidPlate is just bitchin and the bike really needs help on the underside!! The products Altrider is making for the XR are prefect & look really good..... Great Job!!
guest // Sep 15, 2017
Is it possible to get more information on the vinyl wrap you guys used for this project? I'd like to put it on my bike. Thanks!
guest // Nov 20, 2017
I'm just about to buy one of these bikes and will probably be getting some of your items. One thing i'd like some information on is the knobby tyres fitted. The look like conti TKC80's. Is that correct, and did you have to mod the front guard? Also how did the rear 180 tyre fit on the 6 inchj rim? Any info greatly appreciated.
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