Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Harley XR1200 coming to USA

I'm not a "Harley guy" -- nothing against them, they're just not for me. However, a Press Release I received today from H-D may be of interest to some of you. It seems the XR-750-inspired XR1200, released in Europe in April, is coming to the US, beginning with a pre-sale of 750 units that starts on December 1st. My research tells me the US delay was necessary because another company owned the US trademark for "XR1200". In the photo that accompanied the release, one can see the flattrack-inspired bodywork, minimalist front fender, sparse instrumentation and USD forks. Nice to see the chrome has been kept to a minimum; note the black handlebars and satin-finish exhaust. The pillion pad and belt drive don't exactly scream racer, though. Might make for a fun commuter or short-distance backroads blaster.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fog Tech anti-fog solution

This is the latest installment of my quest to find an effective, long-lasting motorcycle visor anti-fog coating that doesn't distort my vision.  In an earlier review, I deemed Cat Crap Lens Cleaner & Anti-Fog unacceptable for motorcycle use.

I've now had a few opportunities to try a popular product called Fog Tech, which is sold in bottled form and in foil-packaged impregnated towelletes. Following the directions, I cleaned the inner surface of my visor well and ensured it was totally dry. The Fog Tech solution is applied by using either a towellete, or the supplied felt-like applicator if using the liquid. The user then quickly wipes the towellete or applicator across the inside of the visor until it is covered in a thin film.  The tricky part is that to get it right, you must not overlap the strokes more than a tiny bit and you must not keeping wiping/rubbing while it dries.  If you do, the quick-drying sticky solution will cause a mess and you must start all over again.  You only get one shot at getting it correct.   Fog Tech also recommends leaving about a  half inch strip at the top of the visor uncoated to prevent rain water being pulled in.  Keep in mind this all occurs on the inside of your visor -- not an easy task to manage if you've got a full-face helmet, without taking the visor off. So, it takes a bit of practice to get a good, even coating. The good thing (or not, as you'll read later) is that Fog Tech rinses off easily using plain ol' water, which makes starting over a bit easier.  I find that the towelettes and the liquid are equally as easy, or difficult, to use.

On a few dark, clear morning commutes in the 35F - 40F range, I discovered that Fog Tech was doing an excellent jog of keeping my visor clear, with only minor fogging around the edges. The coating on the visor caused some visual distortion, but it was minimal compared to the Cat Crap. However, the fogging increasingly encroached into my field of vision as the ride went on, and  after about 45 minutes the anti-fog properties had diminished by about 50%.  In part, this was because the Fog Tech caused a cycle wherein water droplets from my humid breath condensed and beaded on the inside of my visor, which then ran down, washing away some of the Fog Tech solution, which then caused more fogging, which resulted in more droplets, ad infinitum.

Thus, while Fog Tech has excellent anti-fog properties, they don't last...and I imagine they'd degrade even more quickly in the rain.  Plus the product is more difficult to apply than a product meant to be used frequently (and perhaps re-applied during a ride) should be.  I rate Fog Tech "barely acceptable" for motorcycle use, and then only for short rides in daylight conditions.  I guess I'll have to keep searching.  I'm beginning to suspect that the solution will not lie with any substance that coats the helmet visor, but with barriers that prevent the fog-causing humid exhaled air from reaching the visor in the first place.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

AMA Discount on Garmin GPS

Beginning November 19th, American Motorcyclist Association members can purchase Garmin GPS units and related products (including Garmin's library of downloadable routes) at discounts up to 20%. AMA members can use the discount up to twice in a calendar year. To take advantage of the offer, AMA members should start at Garmin's special landing page. More details on this benefit from the AMA is available here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cat Crap Lens Cleaner & Anti-Fog

This is the time of year to begin thinking of new ways to prevent annoying (and potentially dangerous) faceshield/visor fogging. There are many commercial products and home remedies out there, ranging from a potato rubbed on the visor to fabric breath guards to special anti-fog visors and inserts. The bulk of the anti-fog products on the market are liquids designed to coat the visor's inner surface to prevent fog from adhering to it. I've used a few such anti-fog coatings over the years; some have not worked at all, while others have worked well but only for a very short time. So in my quest to find an effective and long-lasting anti-fog coating, I tried Cat Crap Lens Cleaner & Anti-Fog.

This product, and others under the
Cat Crap moniker, is well-known to skiers and readily available in the USA -- I bought mine from a local ski shop. Following the directions, I cleaned the inner surface of my visor and then smeared on a thin coating of the green, waxy Cat Crap, followed by a thorough buffing with a lint-free cloth. I plopped my Arai Signet on, closed the visor and vents, and exhaled heavily several times: only very slight fogging around the edges I couldn't coat effectively with the visor installed -- so very good anti-fog properties. However, while commuting to work on a dark, clear, cold Fall morning, I discovered that while Cat Crap was doing a good job of keeping my visor clear, it was causing a rather large "halo" around all street lights and oncoming headlights, the effect of which grew in proportion to the closing distance to the light source. On a few sharp backroad corners, I was essentially blinded for a second or two when the multi-colored halos from oncoming headlights filled large portions of my field of vision. Thus, while it is relatively easy to apply, inexpensive, fairly effective at keeping fog at bay, and small enough to carry along in a tankbag or jacket pocket (and has a cool name!), I must deem Cat Crap unacceptable for motorcycle use. It may work fine for skiiers and such, but motorcyclists can't afford any degree of reduced visual acuity, particularly in the dark. Bottom line: Don't buy this Crap. Hmmmm, now where's that potato?

Monday, November 10, 2008

BMG (Belstaff) Discovery Jacket

When the temperature has dropped into the near-freezing (or lower) range during the last couple of years, I've donned my Belstaff (now branded BMG for British Motorcycle Gear) Discovery jacket/exoskeleton. The tank-like Discovery once kept my core temp within normal limits on a 62-mile commute at 9F, without a heated vest. Brits ride in a lot of nasty conditions and so know how to design riding gear to cope: Hitena nylon, Scotchlite reflective, Knox CE armor (including back protector), rain skirt, crotch strap (no kidding!), YKK zips, Thermolite liner, neck warmer, removable rear poacher pocket, and a complex series of flaps, velcro closures and pockets that keep wind and rain at bay. I've intended (meaning I've been too lazy) to do a review, but the folks at webBikeWorld recently beat me to it and did their usual thorough job. Click on over to read wBW's review of the Discovery. I added my .02 in the Owners Comments at the end of the article. The primary difference between my Discovery and the one wBW tested is that mine was made in England. As far as I can discern, the original Belstaff company was bought by an Italian firm, which chose to discontinue the old Belstaff line of gear. BMG acquired the North American rights to the old Belstaff line. My guess is that after selling off existing stock of original made-in-England Belstaff-branded gear, BMG began manufacturing in China and selling the gear under the BMG brand.