Time Savers or Trouble Makers?

story by MO Staff, Created Dec. 14, 2005

For about the price of what Hollyweird is asking for any number of steaming piles of dog poo they're pumping out these days, you can pick up a nifty little gadget that may make your motojourneys a little easier. MO staffers routinely subject themselves to the rigors of product testing so that you, the faithful reader, can make informed purchasing decisions based upon our less than scientifically viable conclusions. The aftermarket is becoming littered with trinkets aimed at improving your riding experience or just adding a convenience factor. What follows are a few that we felt required further investigation.

The Echo Safety Helmet Chin Strap™

What this is in fact is a quick release buckle adapter for your helmet chinstrap. It serves to replace but not remove the D rings found on many helmets for securing your strap. Using two interlocking metal pieces--one shrouded in the plastic 'quick release' body, it clicks into place in the blink of an eye and presto, your strap is secured. Echo touts the release as meeting both DOT 218 and Z90.1 from 1992 that is supposed to be the same standards as Snell (M2000).

This doo-dad is purely a convenience item but it works like a dream! As a courier I wish I had come across this device years ago as I often had need to take my helmet on and off countless times in a day.

Though my courier days are behind me (may MO make a zillion dollars this year!)I still saw fit to use it even in my reduced mileage capacity. It took all of 12 minutes to install on my Shoei ZII and no circumcising of the original strap was needed. In fact I can still use the little button on the end of the excess strap to clip onto the snap at the D ring end that is factory equipped from Shoei.

You can find U.S. Patent #4,559,679

Fog City Fog Shield™/Hyper Optiks™

This thing is amazing! Quite frankly, this is one of the greatest inventions of the 21st Century. This helmet-lens shaped piece of optically clear plastic film contains some science known only to the inhabitants of Krypton. Nevertheless, it does an outstanding job of providing a fog-free view through your helmet lens. No matter what the difference between your hot onion breath and the ambient air temperature, it refuses to steam up.

It is difficult to clean but the best experience we've had is simply to use warm, soapy water with a gentle touch. Then let it air dry. Do use caution though as it scratches pretty easily. It really only has the life expectancy of a year of constant use. But it is completely indispensable for rain riding. Repeat that to yourself again and again until it sinks in. This makes riding in the rain a tolerable, even pleasant experience, especially if you're wearing decent rain gear, waterproof gloves and waterproof boots. This product has been criticized for not sticking to the inside of visors very well, but it has to be installed properly, like any other accessory. Once you've done yourself the favor of cleaning the interior of your lens (you did clean it didn't you?) you're ready to apply the Fog Shield by carefully heeding the installation instructions and let the sticky adhesive do its job. I'd also recommend starting with a lens that is as scratch-free as possible. But that's just me. Once it's on it should stay there for the life of the lens. There's one more product from Fog City called Hyper Optiks. Modernworld Ventures has this to say: "Light Reactive, Anti-Fog, UV blocking Vision. A unique light reactive anti-fog visor insert, HYPER OPTIKS combines the advantages of the world renown Fog City anti-fog inserts with the newest photochromatic technology."

In a nutshell, what this is supposed to do is mimic those eyeglasses that your favorite dork wore in high school. You know, the glasses that would darken once you hit the playground and then slowly lighten when you returned to the classroom. Hyper Optiks won't make you into a dork but they won't block out as much sun as you might hope either. The lenses do in fact change color in the time promised--four seconds, but the change isn't nearly as dramatic. What this like all the other Fog City products do and do well, is prevent you lens from fogging. Application of the Hyper Optiks is a little more involved than the other anti-fog inserts, but the directions are clear and a template is provided to assist you in placing the insert perfectly on your helmet lens.

They all come in two basic shapes: one to fit the Arai Pro shields and one for everything else. It comes in clear, smoke and amber and retails for $16.95 for the ProShield and ProSheild Arai. Hyper Optiks retails for $34.95

Throttle Rocker™ Cruise Control and the Crampbuster

Loose control for...er, uh...cruise control for under ten bucks. A little Velcro and some hard plastic can go along way to make life a little easier or scarier. Designed to give the rider's throttle hand a place to take a break via the heel of the palm, the Throttle Rocker is the poor man's cruise control. It secures in seconds with a Velcro loop and stashes in the smallest of places when not it use.

This little gem allows a breather for your Kung Fu grip on the twisty part of your handlebars. It's surprisingly effective at less than ten dollars. The best thing I can say about this pared down idea of a throttle lock is that it's probably the safest out there in terms of allowing the rider to regain throttle control almost immediately, as your hand still has to be on the gas for it to work. Take your hand completely off and you decelerate like normal. It doesn't actually lock in place like most others on the market. This latest version of the Throttle Rocker has been recently redesigned with the Velcro strap. Previously, it was a single piece of plastic, but it was too         similar to a competing product, the Cramp Buster. At $11.00, the Cramp Buster stays on the grip better: no matter how tight the Velcro strap is, the Throttle Rocker slips, reducing its effectiveness.

Editor Gabe has an old Throttle Rocker, and he likes it a lot. "It's one of the little things that makes long motorcycle trips tolerable." I have to use a piece of tape on my grip to keep it from slipping, but it's still a great thing to have on my 50-miles commute to work. The 'Rocker comes in a right hand or left hand style and retails for $10.00.

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The Helmet Sunblocker™

Isn't it funny how a thin strip of plastic film can cost so little and yet be worth so much? The patent pending Helmet Sunblocker was crafted from material used in aviation. Creator, Peter Harris, tells of its origins: "I am a private pilot and I had a sheet of the Sunblocker material which I used in the airplane. Wherever the sun was shining, I would slap it in the window of the plane. I got the idea to cut a strip out of it and put it in my helmet. It worked great and so I gave one to all my riding buddies. We had them in there for years and never thought much about it until one day, I was riding along and raised my head to get my eyes out of the Sunblocker protection and about blinded myself. I thought, "How can anyone stand to ride without a Sunblocker?"

The Sunblocker works like the visor in your automobile in that it will cut the sun's rays just as they start to aim right into your line of sight. It's made of a flimsy film that is applied to the inside of the lens. With a little bit of warm and slightly soapy water, slid the Sunblocker on, align it so that the top edge of the Sunblocker is even with the top edge of the lens, wipe off excess water then let it dry for a few minutes. After a little drying time check to see if any air bubbles are present. If so, simply but carefully push them out with your finger or a soft cloth. The directions call for dry time of at least an hour or as much as overnight. Gabe was able to use his almost immediately after installing it on his Shoei. Bottomline: this thing works! With plenty of setting-sun opportunities, we found it to be similar to the experience of stepping outside into the brightness, then putting on your sunglasses. When properly installed it never impeded normal vision as the bottom edge of the Sunblocker should be just above your line of sight. The exception to this may be when riding sportier bikes that may require a more aggressive riding position. In this instance the natural position of the riders head will cause them to look through the top portion of the shield more often, thereby forcing them to look through the Sunblocker.

One advantage of the material is that is still clear enough to see through, again like a pair of sunglasses, while doing a good job of cutting the sun's rays. We can't speak for reducing stress, tension and fatigue as the packaging claims but it definitely reduces annoying sun glare. And the fact that the Sunblocker can be moved from helmet to helmet with little effort only adds to its value making it worth far more than the $15.95 that you'll pay. If for some odd reason you don't like it, return the Sunlblocker within 90 days with proof of purchase for a full refund.


Shift Cush

You've done it again! You agreed to meet someone right after work for dinner but you won't have time to change in and out of your riding gear without being late. With a sigh of disappointment you resign yourself to the fact that you'll just have to wear your good shoes and hope they don't get too scuffed up. But then you remember that you just installed a Shift Cush on your bike last night. Hoorah! Now you can arrive at dinner and no one will ever know you wore your Stacey Adams on the bike.

The Shift Cush is one of those, "Why didn't I think of that!" products. It looks like a typical shift lever rubber piece. The exception being that it has a "platform" on one side with a tiny air bladder sandwiched in between a vinyl cover that is neatly secured with a small zip tie. It's put together seamlessly and works incredibly well. And durable seems to be a hallmark of this little gizmo too. It takes all of about five minutes to remove the original shift lever rubber and install the Cush. Once on, you can rotate the Shift Cush to just about any position you'll need, as it isn't a permanent fit. But it never moves excessively and is quite secure once in place. It's comfortable to use with almost any type of footwear, as the pad is soft yet firm enough to allow sensitivity for shifting.

The only potential drawback could be with going back to using a typical boot, like a construction type boot for example that many people use. Extra effort was required when trying to wedge the toe of the boot under the shift lever with the Cush in place. In this instance we suspect it had more to do with the length of the shift lever and the relative distance from the foot peg that caused us to work harder to manipulate the shifter. Boots also typically have a larger toe box than most street shoes or even some race oriented motorcycle specific boots do. So this may or may not be a problem.

Whatever the case the Shift Cush does such a good job of keeping your shoes shined that you may never go back to wearing boots on the bike. But that could be a whole other MO debate in and of itself. Designed to fit all bikes with a standard 8mm round shift lever for$13.95, it also comes in a 5/16" size to fit Harley's at $19.95. And yes, they even make one in chrome for the Hogs at $59.95.




Canyon Dancer Bar Harness

Gabe was strapping a motorcycle down in the back of a pickup truck when Ashley noticed something. "Wow, Gabe, that thing is really cool. Where did you get it?" Gabe blushed and made a little coughing sound before he realized she was  referring to the Canyon Dancer Bar Harness he had used to prevent tie-down hooks from getting too close to the paint of the motorcycle he was transporting and said, "oh, that!" He thought everybody knew about them. The Canyon Dancer Bar Harness does a great job of enhancing the use of tie downs. Too bad we can't say the same for Gabe's choice of a flaming eight ball sticker enhancing the nuclear green on his SpeedFour.

But if Ashley, who has more knowledge of motorcycles and the motorcycle industry than most of us didn't know about it, than maybe you don't, either. It's an ingenious device, a two-piece sliding strap that loops over the handlebars, keeping tie-down hooks from your soft, delicate plastic and paint. A soft, padded loop goes over the central strap to keep your tank from being scratched. It's designed for sportbikes but it works well on any machine with low bars.

It costs $29.95, which seems like a lot until you consider even the smallest scratch on your new GSXR or whatever can cost you five times that. As sportbike people, we transport our bikes a lot, and cheaping out when it comes to securing our investment in the back of your transport rig is foolish. There are those of us out there who refuse to buy so much as a pair of locking tie-downs and insist on performing acts of nautical wonderment with long lengths of clothesline to tie down their bikes. We think these people are insane. Buy some good tie downs, buy a Canyon Dancer and enjoy the peace of mind.

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RoadWired Travelock Security Kit

When it comes to simply but effective gadgetry the RoadWired Travelock Security Kit is hard to beat. The key to preventing theft is to take away the ease for the crook. Most thieves are opportunists. If they see something that looks like it's even moderately secured they will pass it by and go for the easier target. The Travelock is your friend to this end. The kit consists of a small, square locking mechanism, one very short and one very long "braided galvanized steel cable with PVC coating and nickel plated brass headers" , a computer lock and two key cards--one wallet size and one for your key chain.

Our own Fonzie has been using this kit for sometime, long before the rest of us knew about it, for his camera cases and the like, having found it in a camera store first. There's no end to the number of things that can be quickly and conveniently secured with this pocket-sized gizmo; however, the laptop connector does not work with Apple laptops, bummer.

It's relatively easy to operate: choose the cable length you'll need, snap both ends into the lock and you're done. To release the lock simply slide the key card into the slot on the side of the lock. Our best results came when we inserted the key card up from the bottom rather than directly into the side of the lock. The release was finicky at times with one of the ends of the cable not wanting to let go at the same time the other one did. But with a little practice and patience it's easy to master. We used it to secure helmets to bikes and to secure our computers. But as mentioned above there's no limit to the uses of this much-needed tool for the motorcyclist. The Travlelock Security Kit retails for $15.95

SpiderWeb Strap

Have you stretched you cargo nets and bungee cords to within an inch of their useable life? Do you wish you had something that had more than just a few securing points? Tired of the metal on the bungee hooks wearing through the cheap, vinyl coating and ruining your paint or tearing your seat? Well look no further than the SpiderWeb Strap from Accurate Plastics, Inc.

Consisting of injection-molded rubber, this SpiderWeb goes beyond the norm by offering what is one of the nicest features available on a strap system: the ability to remove the all-plastic hooks in a heartbeat. This allows you to configure a variety of securing points in no time at all. And the fact that they're plastic means no more scratchy scratchy on the paint and chrome. The manufacturer claims that it will stretch up to 300% of its original size. The other nice benefit is the grip that the rubber offers. Once you've secured your item you'll be hard pressed get the web to slip and slide. Securing a helmet to the seat was our favorite use for this simple net. But like many of the items in this story, it can be used for any number of chores. And as the manufacturer says: "This is a quality product that is made in the USA, and carries a lifetime Manufacturers warranty." The SpiderWeb Strap retails for $10.00.


The Super-Visor

"The SUPER-VISOR was developed as a simple low cost solution to a dangerous riding situation. Priced to allow all riders to enjoy its benefits the SUPER-VISOR is a sun-blocking visor designed to fit all full-face helmets. Digitally engineered in DOT approved plastic the SUPER-VISOR aerodynamic style will actually improve the look of most helmets and quiets wind noise from your helmet."

That's the claim of the maker of the Super-Visor. With a different take on sun blocking than the Helmet Sunblocker listed above, the Super-Visor attaches to the exterior of the helmet lens. One nice feature of this sun beating attachment is its ability to be removed via a set of clips that are permanently glued to the helmet's lens. If you're not concerned with the original integrity of the look of your helmet, then by all means consider this product. Be prepared to wait about a day to use you new Super-Visor though, as the curing time on the glue is several hours and is best served by letting in set-up overnight. The installation is somewhat involved but once it's completed you'll be rewarded with glare-free riding.

The Super-Visor comes in three-color choices: black, smoke and white and retails for $16.95.

Do-It-Yourself Visor Cleaning Kit

This is a product review unlike most product reviews. That's because there's really not much to buy, but you will find yourself using it a lot. The next time you're in the drugstore, find the bins that hold small plastic containers and bottle designed to carry shampoos and other toiletries when  you're traveling. There, you will find a cool plastic spray bottle about four inches high. Buy one of these, but have fun with the Walgreen's employees by pretending you're at the motorcycle parts counter and tell them you shouldn't have to pay $2.99 plus tax for that item because you know they only pay 19 cents each for them, and you can buy it mail order for $2.49.

After you've been escorted out by the security guard, go across the six-lane expressway to the Rite-Aid and pay $2.99 there. Don't complain this time. Instead, go to Lenscrafters or somewhere like it and purchase a bottle of eyeglasses cleaner. Note the obscene mark-up. Then, go home. Find the softest, most worn and washed 100% t-shirt you have and cut the sleeve off. Now you have a very compact visor cleaning kit that is easy to use, safe for plastic, and fits in almost any jacket pocket. Your friends will cluster around you at every riding stop and ask you to scrub their facesheilds, and your disembodied t-shirt sleeve will quickly look like a Jackson Pollack painting but you will have a great accessory, for not much money, and it will serve you well.

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