AltRider will soon be providing parts and accessories for Adventure Motorcycles

Adventure Touring riders and riding is our main focus, with a lineup of bolt-on accessories designed and built in the USA. AltRider also offers 100s of other moto-centric products from trusted companies like Proxxon, Coast and GiantLoop.
Check out our line up of products at the AltRider website.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Motorcycle Maintenance: What Not To Do

Matt Gormley is the copywriting intern here at AltRider, and in his spare time rides his '82 Ironhead Sportster, '74 Kawasaki S3 400 triple, and '76 Yamaha XS 360. Some recent motorcycle maintenance became a learning experience that he shares below.


I had a killer list of tasks to tackle on Friday.  So I drank my coffee, walked the dog and headed to the shed.

First on the list was changing the fork oil in my trusty Yamaha XS 360.  I had never changed it before, but thought it would be a quick and dirty task, easy enough on a day with lots of chores.

I started by draining all the old fork oil.  It looked watery, blown out and clumpy.  If I had to wager a guess, I’d say it was probably the original fork oil from the seventies.  As I began to work, I realized that popping the fork caps was pretty challenging without an extra set of hands.  I also didn't have the center stand installed, which made it tough. 

I hunted for my PB Blaster and laid out my tools in the order I would need to grab them.  Then I almost took out my eye when the fork cap and spring sprang loose. Oops. I measured out the appropriate amount of fork oil and poured it down the funnel.  Getting the fork cap back in place was a bit easier than taking it out.  Now I was working smarter, not harder.

I finally got the first fork done in about two hours.  Luckily, I planned to tell all my friends it only took about 30 minutes. 

The first fork was tough, but this second fork should go lickety split.  I wrestled loose the other fork cap after the PB Blaster had a chance to work its magic.  I measured out the oil from the BelRay plastic container into the Ratio Rite.  My mind was somewhere else, doing who knows what, but I wasn't paying attention at all when I poured the blue oil into the second fork.  I finished pouring and my mind did a short double take...


That fork oil is stringy like foam filter oil.  F*&%!  Oh no!

I noticed the fork oil container next to the foam filter oil container on the bench.  Umm...  I just filled my fork with foam filter oil.

Suffice to say I had some additional work cut out for me.  The second fork took a little longer than the first. And while I did manage to fix my mistake, changing my fork oil ended up being a little more involved than I had planned.

Have you ever made some sort of obvious, oblivious error spinning wrenches?  If so, will you share your story so I don’t feel like such a dunce?

Matt

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Goons in the Dunes Weekend

Well, Jim Thompson is back at it again…Goons in the Dunes.  I (Jeremy) certainly am lucky to get introduced to great people who share a passion for riding.  This summer, Jim put on an epic 10 day ride in the Cascades called “Ride While You Can: the Dual Sport Adventure.”  This time he put a spin on Eric Cleveland’s legendary contests with the Goons in the Dunes weekend.  It was planned initially to be a bunch of Dakar-style challenges, but it simmered into an enduro style event with special tests that included a “Top Rated Goon’n Contest.”

Lead Product Engineer Jacob Ellul-Blake and I loaded up and headed out at 4 a.m. on Saturday.  We stopped in North Bend, Washington and found a bakery with the lights on called George’s Bakery.  Cool old guy running it and a great place for breakfast.  We continued the rest of the 4 hour ride, and came across fellow competitors stranded on the side of the pass (Bill Woods and Scott Weber).  Somehow, their tailgate on the trailer fell open spraying sparks 4 feet high.  They fixed it and got back on the road.

We finally arrived in the middle of nowhere.  There was quite a presence when we rolled up:  about 4 RVs, 5 trucks and 2 vans.  There were lots of familiar faces, as well as many I hadn’t met before.  We started the process of hellos and getting gear out.  We also had to configure our 8 ft flags; they’re required for dune riding so others can see you coming up steep dunes and avoid crashes.

As usual, the adrenaline got going as all the bikes were fired up. It was about a 5 mile liaison ride to the first competition.  The goon was coming out in all of us as wheelies were being attempted all the way down the dirt road.

1st test: “Best 1 Minute Goon Ride.”  All I can say is watch the video, which may not be as funny but it was hilarious in person.

Then we had a liaison through the dunes for a “Time Trial” consisting of 4 laps in varying terrain. The goal was to maintain consistent speed.  I don’t think I did very well, as I began to settle in the sand-riding and got faster.

The next test was a full-on race out in the dunes.   This was awesome. Every lap, the two slowest guys were pulled before the remaining riders went on to the next lap with a full on hot restart. 

Next test, Jim came up with a great idea.  We all drew cards with a number on one of the other bikes in the groups.  This meant the next race was going to start on someone else’s bike.  After the 1st lap you had to wait till your bike completed the first lap and then you grabbed it to finish your final lap.  It was hilarious! Some of the bikes were clapped out old shitters while others were world class racing machines.  Some people panicked.  I found myself on an 8 year old YZ 250 with a Recluse clutch… while not ideal, I was all smiles. 

The 2 stroke power got me the hole shot, but almost blew through the first corner -- as I headed hot into the first corner I couldn’t find the brakes (the challenge of jumping on someone else’s machine).


Somehow, I led the entire first lap.  I got a quick handoff from Ken but couldn’t get the bike to relight right away, and found myself one wheel length behind Colin the entire final lap.  An awesome race, and Colin won.  Once the points were added up, Ken took home the overall trophy.

We spent the rest of the weekend racing in the dunes, fire jumping, and telling lies.













Jacob and I had a great time, and everyone else did, too.  If you missed out on 2010’s Goons in the Dunes, don’t make that mistake again. Come next year.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Meet the newest member of the AltRider team

On January 11, 2009, I wrote the following:

“Hi. I’m Christina Olson, and I’m early for my appointment.”

That’s how my interview with the AltRider company began: early, and interrupting a discussion between Brianna, Don, and Jacob about how best to show off new AltRider products. I was nervous, but they introduced themselves and offered me a mug of coffee to relax. Then, Brianna and I headed back to meet Jeremy in the conference room to begin The Interview.

We went over the usual. “What are your strengths?” “What are some difficult situations you’ve encountered in the past?” “Can you show us your portfolio?” But as we talked, an interesting thing happened. Little by little, Brianna and Jeremy let some of their enthusiasm for AltRider slip out, and soon they were talking about the community that exists among riders. Jeremy outlined how a documentary sparked a passion for many, and Brianna smiled as she suggested that female riders might want a little more out of their experience than pink gear and accessories. I felt myself getting caught up in their vision and excitement. Yes: me, with my klutziness, my near-sightedness, and my utter lack of riding experience.
I don’t know what that excitement means. That I’d be a good fit for AltRider? I hope so. That I have an adventuress hiding inside my school marm exterior? Maybe. One thing is certain: everyone I met in this company was passionate about what they do and had high hopes for the future. There’s no doubt in my mind they’ll succeed, and I hope I get to be there when it happens.


Looks like the answer is YES, I will get to be there!

I’m the new marketing coordinator for the AltRider team, so you’ll be seeing me at events and hearing from me on the website and in our monthly newsletter. Looking forward to meeting all of you!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Beaches, Bikes, and Babies


Starting a business really doesn’t allow you to take months off to go on vacation. So, with several days off for Christmas and New Year’s we took advantage and headed down to sunny Puerto Vallarta to spend the holidays with family from across the country. No vacation that we at AltRider take is complete without a motorcycle adventure.



Before we left, Jeremy searched the forums for people to ride with and places to rent but got little back (unlike our South African journey). So we started our search in town for ANY type of motorcycle we could rent. We ended up with a late model Honda XR250. We admit there were some interesting changes Honda has made to this classic dirt bike: it now has 6 gears and no kick start, electric start only (not great). Otherwise it’s the same machine outfitted with driving lights so it’s street legal (unfortunate for us Americans this great little bike isn’t available as a street legal model). While small, it comfortably fit two of us. If you’re headed down there go see Miles at coolrentals.com.mx.


As for the riding, we sailed down the cobblestone streets (even when wet), through the winding hills (with barely visible speed bumps), and passed many a vehicle (far surpassing the intended passenger capacity limit). It must be admitted that the rider had a bit more fun than the freaked-out passenger (that’d be Brianna… yes, this was a part of the inspiration way back when to get her license). One of the best little trips on the bike was to a restaurant south of town called Le Kliff – where we enjoyed a nice dinner while overlooking the ocean from different “cliffs”.


Jeremy did get to have his own adventure, solo. He did take to the beach, kicking up sand and getting the crazy-gringo comments and looks. Later he was the entertaining uncle that rode wheelies down the street while the rest of the family watched from taxis. His four year old niece was most impressed by this.



Jeremy also ran into a group of adventure riders, several on KLR’s, one on a BMW and one KTM LC4. They had all met while on the road down there. Who knows, maybe we will run into them again…this community is big, but there are still a lot of connections.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays from the AltRider crew!



Santa is loading up his panniers to head out on his epic annual glide around the world. While Mother Nature is trying to rough him up with some cold weather to the East, she has been kind of late with clear conditions in the West.

Every year we visit the Santa at the mall. While he doesn’t let us sit on his lap, he still takes requests (although now he rocks an anti-H1N1 mask to protect himself). We asked for adventure bikes all over the world to be outfitted with brand new AltRider gear in the New Year.

Santa said he would be the first to try it out (he rides a Suzuki V-Strom if you didn’t get the memo) – so he came by AltRider HQ last night. We offered to gear up his V-Strom and it seems our new DL1000 crash bars work exceptionally well on even on Santa’s North Pole adventures.

Built from 1” stainless steel pipe, they deflect any impact through the frame, rather than into the mounting hardware. To make sure the undercarriage of the bike didn’t suffer brutally under low snow conditions, Jacob quickly bolted on a new skid plate on his bike as well. While the skid plate provides full protection of the exhaust header on the V-Strom 1000cc, Santa particularly liked how it protects his oil cooler without restricting air flow.

“You have all been very nice, indeed.” Santa remarked. “And thanks for the parts.”

When he asked what we might have for his elves, Don revealed the new line up of AltRider t-shirts. The 100% cotton short sleeve tees are available in sizes from XXXL down to size S, perfect for any elf. While they are officially “coming soon,” we had to hook Santa up…

Check with us soon for the go-live date of the AltRider web shop. Our elves have been busily welding up great products for you V-Strom, GS, or other Adventure Touring motorcycle.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good ride!

Friday, December 18, 2009

IMS motorcycle show: Thanks for checking out the AltRider bikes

The Seattle IMS motorcycle show last weekend was awesome. The AltRider bikes held court in the cycle pavilion on the mezzanine thanks to our friends from Sound Rider. Each of the three bikes on display featured soon to be released parts form from the AltRider product line up.
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The BMW R1200GS has the new headlight cover bolted to the front.  This lightweight piece provides protection for your headlight while ripping through the trail.  A favorite at the AltRider office, the bike also featured an AltRider oil cooler guard.  And we just finished the brand new AltRider crash bars the morning of the show!

The KTM 950 Adventure carried the new Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag.  This soft luggage carrier straps to the back of the back bike and holds tons of cargo.  AltRider is psyched to offer Giant Loop products.
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The KTM 990 Adventure fell prey to all sorts of jokes over the weekend...  "Nice rack..."  The new AltRider rear rack bolts securely to the tail of the bike.  We're  excited to unveil the new design officially in the coming weeks.
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Feedback from folks at the show was fantastic.  While we're gearing up to go live with the web store, this sneak peek for the brand company was really well received.  Thank you to everyone for coming by, checking out the bikes and all your support.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Good talent breeds a better website



Videos seem to do motorcycle riding much more justice than still images especially when footage is taken with a helmet cam. And no doubt, when shopping for motorcycle parts, most of us would appreciate a good product install video over any set of instructions. As we are preparing to launch the new AltRider web store in 2010, we definitely plan on including video content that will make shopping and meeting up with other riders easier and more interesting.

Over the last few months, we’ve gathered plenty of raw footage, but don’t quite have all the skills to make videos and make them look awesome. Hence, we are bringing on a Video Production intern, Kevin Michael Martin to help us with the task. Hiring an intern is not as simple as one might think (well not when you want 5-star quality).

After sorting through over 25 submissions and doing the initial round of phone interviews, we invited 3 candidates for an in-person meeting. All three showed great potential and had solid school and work experience. Part of our evaluation strategy was to give them a take-home assignment, asking to produce a short video from the helmet-cam video content Jeremy gathered on his 6-day ride in the Cascades.

We are extremely thankful to Kevin Michael Martin, Luis Alani and Eric Vaughn for taking the time to provide us with their ideas and material. With their permission we have posted the three videos on our YouTube page. Check them out and let us know who you think did a better job.

Video by Kevin Michael Martin


Video by Luis Alani


Video by Eric Vaughn