MO Tested: Shorai LFX Lithium Battery Review
Motorcycle batteries are one of the many consumable parts of a motorcycle that we don’t usually think about until we hear the dreaded click-click instead of the starter motor turning over. Sometimes, all that is needed is a recharge to get the battery operational. However, each time a battery gets completely drained, it’s life is shortened. This is particularly common with motorcycles that are only ridden occasionally (like the Kawasaki KLX300 used here). Since lead-acid batteries lose their charge significantly faster than the newer lithium-iron phosphate batteries, I decided it was time to upgrade the stock battery on my Kawasaki KLX300. My battery of choice was the Shorai LFX since the poor KLX sometimes sits for as much as a month – or more – during the oppressive summer heat here in the Southwest.
The Benefits of Shorai LFX Lithium-Iron Phosphate Batteries
Lithium Motorcycle Batteries: Myths VS Realities - Updated
Best Technology of 2020
Typically our MOBO awards have a winner and a runner-up. But we’re going to break from tradition this one time and award our 2020 Best Technology prize to airbags. The runner-up? Also airbags. If you’re a regular follower of Motorcycle.com, then you’ll know exactly why.
If this is your first time to the site, we’re giving the award to airbags in general for the simple fact the Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 allowed me to walk away from a head-on crash with a car with nothing more than some soreness. Safety can’t be overstated or stressed enough on a motorcycle, and when we have the (unfortunate) chance to actually put a piece of safety gear – especially one as advanced as smart airbags – to the ultimate test, it’s deserving of the highest praise we can give it when it performs this well.
We’ve covered how smart airbags work in greater detail elsewhere on this site, but simply put; a smart airbag is essentially a vest. Contained within it is a series of accelerometers and gyroscopes that collect data constantly and send it to the ECU. Once a crash scenario is detected, the ECU triggers canisters filled with inert gasses to fire, inflating the airbag far quicker than the blink of an eye so that the wearer has full airbag protection before they ever make contact with a hard, immobile surface. In my particular case, the airbag registered over 18g of impact when I hit the ground – 18g that would have otherwise been absorbed by my shoulder and collarbone.
Just as any helmet is better than none, any airbag is better than not wearing one at all. Hence why we’re making an exception this time and granting a single award to airbag tech in general instead of one particular product. Alpinestars, Dainese, and Klim (in conjunction with its technical partner In&Motion) have smart airbags that don’t require any tether to the motorcycle, and more companies are coming out with similar technology. Even the airbags that do require a tether provide significant protection over nothing at all.
Needless to say, we’re believers in airbags. You should be, too.
MIC's "Gas Tank" Competition Applications Available Now
Have you ever thought of a clever idea for a new motorcycle product but never did anything with it because you didn’t know how to develop it or bring it to market? Now’s your chance to get your idea in front of industry experts as part of an inspiring contest sponsored by the Motorcycle Industry Council.
The contest title “Gas Tank” is a riff on the popular TV show Shark Tank, in which contestants present their supposedly good ideas to a panel of judges to find out if they have merit for further investment. The twist here is that the products being presented in Gas Tank must be somehow related to the powersports industry.
Five finalists will get the opportunity to pitch their business plans to influential industry leaders at the 2018 AIMExpo, which will be held in Las Vegas next fall. Each entrepreneur gets paired with an established leader in the industry to mentor them and hone their business plans.
No need to worry that your product or idea has to be only motorcycle parts, as winners from last year’s contest included much diversity – from a female motorcycle tour company to a moto magazine, and even to an energy-bar business.
So, if you’ve always been dreaming of being part of a motorcycle enterprise, now might be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. The deadline for submissions is February 28, 2018. Applications to participate in the program will be available at mic.org. More details are below.
Begin Press release
Nov. 14, 2017 – Applications are available now for the Motorcycle Industry Council’s “Gas Tank” competition. Gas Tank is similar to TV’s “Shark Tank,” where aspiring entrepreneur-contestants present business plans for exciting new products and services to a panel of industry leaders.
However, MIC’s Gas Tank is specific to the powersports industry. It provides a platform to showcase creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, and provides contestants a unique opportunity to work one-on-one with established industry mentors. Five finalists will be selected for a chance to pitch their business plans live in front of influential industry leaders at the 2018 AIMExpo presented by Nationwide in Las Vegas. Applications to participate in the program will be available at mic.org. The deadline for completed applications is February 28, 2018.
The first Gas Tank competition, held last year, helped five entrepreneurs in the powersports industry propel their ideas and dreams to reality. Although there was only one champion in the 2016 Gas Tank competition, all five entrepreneurs saw immense progress in the year that followed. Each entrepreneur was paired with a mentor – an established leader in the powersports industry – who helped guide them and refine their business plans, which ranged from new accessories and energy bars to magazines and tours.
But it wasn’t just the entrepreneurs who benefitted. Several program mentors said the relationships that formed and the experience they got from helping others are priceless.
“Although I have been in the industry for decades, this really helped give me a new perspective on the challenges entrepreneurs are facing today. It’s been exciting working with my mentee and I, too, have learned so much from this experience,” said Eric Anderson, CEO and Founder of VROOM Network and MIC Gas Tank Mentor.
Here’s a look at where the 2016 Gas Tank contestants are today:
Debra Chin, of MotoChic® Gear
Debra Chin is a woman on the move, yet she couldn’t find a bag that could keep up with her – that is, one that was practical and stylish. So, Chin set to work on filling that void and created MotoChic®, a company that produces gear for women on the go who don’t want to compromise. Chin was the winner of last year’s Gas Tank competition.
“My mentor, Eric Anderson, told me repeatedly to think big, which continues to push me out of my comfort zone to do greater things,” said Chin. “Since the thrilling Gas Tank win, two areas in which MotoChic has made significant progress are products and community building.” Chin said the patent on the MotoChic® Gear Lauren bag has been officially granted, and the bag is now available with custom monogramming. She has also expanded her line with a collection for “Stylish Women on the Move”: The Lauren Sport bag and Performance Socks.
As for community, it is “a cornerstone of the MotoChic® brand, and we like to have fun connecting our fellow riders, brand ambassadors and affiliates,” said Chin. Still, Chin acknowledges there are hurdles for her small company.
“One of the biggest challenges I face is managing small volume production, and constant vigilance is required to enforce standards,” Chin said. “But every obstacle reenergizes me rather than slows me down, because high quality is a hallmark of the MotoChic® brand.”
Katie McKay, of Modern Moto Magazine
Immediately following last year’s AIMExpo, Katie McKay jumped into production of the first issue of Modern Moto Magazine for a March 2017 release.
“Everything was a challenge, from learning how to use the design software, to how to approach clients, shipping methods, sales tax and marketing. After four issues, I still need to constantly reference my notes, but at least now, I know where to look,” said McKay, whose mentor was Dealernews Vice President and General Manager Mary Green. “Although I may not meet the first-year goals that were set in my business plan, I still feel that we have made great progress. We are growing a subscription base and the motorcycle industry is beginning to recognize our name and they trust us to represent them,” McKay said. “In the coming months and into the new year, we will be pushing brand awareness and letting more riders know we are here as a valuable and entertaining resource.”
Alisa Clickenger of Women Motorcycle Tours
From Colorado’s backcountry, to the American Southwest and Cuba, Alisa Clickenger has been hard at work developing an all-ladies motorcycle tour company.
“Our first-ever all-ladies Colorado Backcountry Discovery route tour was filled up within one month, said Clickenger, who was paired with Scot Harden, an AMA Hall of Fame off-road racer and president of Harden Offroad. “The current popularity of dual-sport riding among women riders is a constant source of delight for me,” she said. “Working on a business plan with my mentor really helped me see the money side of my business. Sure, everyone wants to lead tours and ride motorcycles and get paid for it, but just seeing the hard-and-fast numbers was quite a surprise,” said Clickenger.
Clickenger is now expanding her business with another angle. “I have developed a community building program for dealers to help them jumpstart their female riding communities. We help them get started with introductions to folks and create an event at their dealership that is fun and informative for women. Dealers are the face of motorcycling and how they communicate with their female customers is paramount to growing the industry.”
Gina Woods of Open Road Incredible Edibles
Gina Woods knows that riders need to not only fuel their motorcycles, but fuel themselves. However, “there are so few options for a person who wants to choose a clean, healthy alternative to the chemical-loaded power bars in the marketplace,” Woods said. So, she created a line of all-natural, handcrafted confectionary bars with proprietary infused gel. In short, organic “superfood bars.”
“I think our Feel the Horsepower product line will be a huge hit,” said Woods, who worked with Steve Johnson, past president and chief operating officer of Tucker Rocky. “We’ve finalized the all-organic recipes for the Feel the Horsepower Biker Energy Bar, which is a healthier option to replace energy shots and drinks; the Fuel Bar, a healthier meal replacement option; and the Sports Bar, for enzyme replacement after a workout.”
Woods said her company is finalizing packaging and has selected a supplier for its first round of production. “We are already planning the related products that will extend our brand. We’ve had interest from the biggest health-food grocery store chain, one of the large convenience store brands and many motorcycle dealerships. Our next step is to find an investor to help us with the initial production run, and then we’ll be off to the races.” Woods said she has also been noticed by the producers of the TV series “Shark Tank,” and she has been contacted by a similar show sponsored by Entrepreneur Magazine called “Elevator Pitch.”
“I feel like we are so close to having this product take off in a big way,” Woods said.
The Motorcycle Industry Council exists to preserve, protect and promote motorcycling through government relations, communications and media relations, statistics and research, aftermarket programs, AIMExpo, development of data communications standards, and activities surrounding technical and regulatory issues. As a not-for-profit, national industry association, the MIC seeks to support motorcyclists by representing manufacturers, distributors, dealers and retailers of motorcycles, scooters, ATVs, ROVs, motorcycle/ATV/ROV parts, accessories and related goods and services, and members of allied trades such as insurance, finance and investment companies, media companies and consultants.
The MIC is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., with a government relations office in metropolitan Washington, D.C. First called the MIC in 1970, the organization has been in operation since 1914. Visit the MIC at MIC.org.
Best Motorcycle Product Of 2016
Historically, our choice of Best Product is a consumer-based item such as 2015’s Winner: Sena 10C camera, and Honorable Mention: Healtech Quick Shifter. For 2016 we’ve chosen a commercial product that has remarkable potential for expanding the reach of motorcycling. Based on Cedergrens’ Skidcar concept, Skidbike removes the trepidation during the initial stage of a new rider learning to balance a motorcycle while concurrently coordinating controls by eliminating the chance of crashing. The device also allows experienced riders to venture beyond their normal comfort levels to better understand the functionality of modern electronics, or explore the amount of brake pressure that can be applied before the front tire washes out (which is much more than you think).
Skidbike resembles a motorcycle with miniature sidehacks attached to both sides riding atop a couple of skateboards, and feels as though you’ve a couple squished shopping carts caught underneath the bike, threatening to tug the bike off its line depending how each caster wheel grabs an uneven section of asphalt. But it works.
The outriggers are adjustable to a lean angle of up to 35 degrees. So if the front end of the bike does wash out, there’s a momentary feeling of falling before the Skidbike’s outriggers catches it. A rider can also experience the sensation of reduced traction, such as riding on wet pavement or ice, via the hydraulically actuated components attached to both the front and rear wheels which reduces contact of the bike’s tires from the pavement.
When attached to bikes equipped with modern electronics such as traction control, ABS, and Cornering-ABS, Skidbike provides a way like no other device to test these technologies.
“The Skidbike platform proves to be an excellent tool for evaluating the KTM’s electronic rider aids like Cornering-ABS and traction control,” says EiC Kevin Duke. “To me, C-ABS might well have been a fairytale for as much as I ever dared put it to the test. ‘So, you say I can grab a handful of brakes while leaned over? Right…’ But with the Skidbike, that test can be repeated over and over again until the tank runs dry.”
Skidbike is not yet widely available within the United States, but hopefully, that’ll change in the near future. You can read our entire Skidbike report here, or on Skidbike’s website, or check out our full report of the 2016 International Driver & Rider Training Symposium.
MO Tested: Kriega Hydro 3 Enduro backpack
I was perfectly happy with the kid-sized Camelbak I got my son when he was, what, six years old? But when the wasteful child was last home from college and saw it drying on the clothesline, he disposed of it while I wasn’t looking in spite of the fact I told him Jimmy Lewis himself had told me the black stuff growing in the hose was nothing to be concerned about. It had been colonizing in there since the mid ’oughts and hadn’t killed me yet. With another long hot summer fast approaching, I was forced to obtain a new “hydration system.” I never do any of the sort of serious “enduro” riding this kind of backpack is really designed for, but over the years I’ve found they’re also fantastic for street riding, especially when it’s hot and dry. And especially if I’m going anywhere with Brad Banister.
Speed & Strength Black Nine Shoes Review
Found in the comments section of my Suzuki GSX-S750 Review was this gem from commentor Gary. “Good quality helmet … check. Leather jacket … check. Gloves … check. Deck shoes … WTF?
MO Tested: CR Spotless Water Systems Bike Washer
I didn’t need a CR Spotless Water Systems Deionizing water filter deal, but now that I have one it’s hard to see how I could go on living without it. When CR’s nice PR woman asked if I’d like to try one, I almost didn’t. I’ve used the “Spot-Free Rinse” at the car wash, which I decided is probably a bad translation from the Chinese “Free Spots 25 Cents”. Rinse your thing with this CR Spotless deionized water, and you’re supposed to be able to walk away and let mother nature do the drying without worrying about unsightly water spots.
How could this possibly work? You have to dry things after you wash them or you’ll have spots: Cars, motorcycles, wine glasses are all the same. Frankly, drying my motorcycles after I wash them has never seemed like that big a chore to me, since here in sunny SoCal I don’t wash them much. (My bud Jim takes weird pride in the fact that his Ducati has never been touched by soap or water.) The average bike doesn’t really have all that much surface area, and there’s no way to get all the nooks and crannies dry anyway. Besides, drying your bike after you wash it, even half-assedly, is a good time to give all systems a good eye-balling. It’s kind of a labor of love. On the other hand, drying your car (provided you have one you actually care about keeping clean and shiny) quickly gets to be a PITA.
Supposedly, the key here is deionization via ion exchange, as your hose water passes through a special resin which removes all the minerals and salts and things which are normally left behind when a drop of water dries on your paint. You can read all about it at CR’s FAQ page.
Everything needed came in the box with my DIC-20 system, including Teflon tape. Screw on the two big plastic cartridges which contain the resin, screw the supplied stainless steel hose between your bib and the IN bib on the CR system, attach your garden hose to the OUT, and turn on the water.
I started off with the hardest test, because I didn’t believe this thing could possibly work: I parked my ’97 Shaguar in the hot March sun and soaped it up, a thing I would never normally do. It was hot enough that I had to work quick to rinse the car off with the Spotless system before the soapy water dried. The car does have a decent coat of wax on it; the water beaded up and I chilled with a beverage to await the results.
Ah, yup, the car dried completely spotlessly and looked cleaner than ever. I’d always dried it in the shade whenever possible, with a synthetic chamois and a towel – especially the glass, which would always wind up a little streaky anyway. But when the CR Spotless deionized water had evaporated from the glass and chrome, those areas were more streak-free and shiny than I’d ever seen them, and totally spotless and clean. Amazing, really. Even the rubber looked somehow better than usual.
In my article, Evans Off Camber – Precious Cargo: Riding With Kids, I had photos my daughter using a Children’s Riding Belt which actually straps her to my body. While I still think that it’s a good idea for longer rides where her attention could wander or she could fall asleep (I’ve seen it happen with other peoples’ kids), I’ve been looking for something more convenient for running errands or school drop offs. So, I contacted the folks at Left Coast Mobility Systems about getting a Grip-n-Ride to test. In a matter of days, I had not one but two Grip-n-Rides in my possession. The first is a standard $89 Grip-n-Ride. The second, a limited edition Street Art Collection Grip-n-Ride, priced at $169.
Switch Lycan Sunglasses Review
I’m a fan of expensive eyewear, but like Burnsie surmises in his Why We Can’t Have Nice Things article, the more I spend on a pair of sunglasses, the quicker I am to destroy them. Even to complete this review I had to request a second pair of Lycans due to me losing the originals on the first overseas bike launch I attended with the sunglasses in tow. Twenty-dollar vendor-row aviators … got a box of bent and scratched ones, but it’s that I still have the low-rent shades that’s confounding. My New Year’s resolution is to have the Switch Lycans at this time next year.
Best Motorcycle Product of 2014
By John Burns
Andy Goldfine, the Johnny Appleseed of motorcycling, was looking for a better way when he invented the first Roadcrafter suit circa 1985. Before the Roadcrafter, it was pretty much your choice of leather, waxed cotton or some combination of snowmobile and Alaskan fishing gear if you wanted to stay reasonably warm, semi-dry and somewhat safe on your motorcycle. Thirty years ago, too, business dress codes were more conservative than today – which pretty much meant dressing for success precluded commuting by motorcycle.
“I wanted an all-in-one piece of protective and comfort riding equipment so I could motorcycle more days and to more kinds of different destinations in my everyday life. And do it easier and faster – with less time in a car,” says Goldfine.
The Roadcrafter was not an overnight success, but craftily getting the things on the bodies of magazine editors was the best kind of advertising, for the simple reason that the Roadcrafter was the handiest, most versatile piece of full-body motorcycle wear ever devised. Thanks to its genius ingress/egress system – step in and zip the right-leg zipper from crotch to ankle, then zip the main zipper from neck to left ankle, done! – the wearer could be in and out of the suit in about 10 seconds instead of 10 minutes with whatever sort of suit underneath was required – from birthday to business. Once inside, the suit offered an excellent level of protection from abrasion and impact, thanks to its multi-layer cordura construction and closed-cell memory foam armor. Plus, thanks to its Gore-tex lining, the thing was 90-percent waterproof as well. The only winged insect in the unguent was that if you rode in heavy rain for more than about a half hour, water would find its way past the main zipper and leak stealthily into your crotch, putting a literal damper on your moto-happiness.
Welcome to Roadcrafter 3, MO’s Product of the Year for 2014. Among the upgrades to R-3 are waterproof zippers that eliminate the old suit’s annoying incontinence. Another new feature is elimination of the suit’s inner lining, making it lighter and able to vent more air when riding in hot weather, thus expanding the trusty old Roadcrafter’s performance envelope at both ends. Aerostich makes the R-3 in 31 different sizes (also Tall, Medium, and Short) by hand in Duluth, Minnesota, where somebody’s always there to answer the phone. At a retail price of $1,067, the Roadcrafter 3 isn’t cheap, but the best stuff never is.
Aerostich Roadcrafter 3 Review
CTEK MUS 4.3 Battery Charger Review
Full disclosure, I’ve owned a CTEK Multi US 3300 battery charger since circa 2004. I’ve relied on it for keeping the battery in my 1975 CB400F charged for the rare occasion when I actually ride the bike. According to my records, the battery in my vintage Honda was also purchased circa 2004. So, for a decade the old CTEK model’s been doing a fine job of prolonging the life of this rarely used battery.
Knowing the 3300’s track record, I was anxious to check out the company’s new MUS 4.3 model.