Time Savers or Trouble Makers?
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.