Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Engineering For Adventure

AltRider is a Seattle-based startup that is engineering aftermarket accessories for the Adventure Touring motorcycle market. AltRider’s approach is unique in the age of off-shoring. Most of their products are designed and made in Washington State, utilizing talented individuals in the Boeing corridor.

We spoke with Jeremy LeBreton, President of AltRider, about the complexities of designing parts for motorcycles. LeBreton explained how aftermarket parts need to be designed to fit within OEM manufacturing tolerances, and the challenges that arise in engineering parts to fit within those tolerances. LeBreton stresses the importance of understanding production, and he is using his fresh start in this business to utilize high tech approaches that produce high quality results.

Despite the focus on high tech, automated manufacturing, LeBreton has chosen to employ skilled labor for some parts of the production process. AltRider’s crashbars are hand TIG welded to achieve a “stacked nickel look” that stands out for its fit and finish. LeBreton says it’s one thing to make a one-off piece in your garage, but it’s a whole different game when you are producing accessories that will be installed by end users.