Review: HELD Handlebar Muffs

It’s beginning to get colder, and that calls for drastic measures in the war against wind, rain and cold.

I’ve seen some people riding with handlebar muffs from Wunderlich, Givi, Tuscano etc… but they are too expensive for my taste. They should work well though, but I’m not planning on using it all the time, only in the winter.

Well it was time to get some, but the shop only had 2 Givi options, priced at around 50€. That was too expensive for me. They also had a set of muffs for scooters that was priced at about 20€. It was a bargian for that price!

They also had heated grips, but they cost around 50+€ per set, and you have to get a relay for it to switch it off when the bike is off too.

Ok, so I’ve bought the Held handlebar muffs, but the problem is they won’t fit over my Givi HP1111 handguards. So off with the handguards, and on with the handlebar muffs.

Modifying part 1:
The handlebar muffs slipped too much, and the velcro piece looked so weird when pulled over the mirrors. That’s when I began to poke holes in it to screw it to the bar ends and mirror. It won’t get stolen that way, and they are also much more stiff.

Testing part 1:
I went out and didn’t have cold hands, but the problem is that the muffs still collapse on the brake and clutch lever, pressing them in. At higher speeds (140+km/h), the clutch gets pulled so hard it begins to slip.
This is a dangerous situation and shouldn’t happen, but these muffs were made for scooters that travel sub 50km/h. Under this speed nothing much happens.

Modifying part 2:
Coming home, I remembered I still had some of that flower pot tray plastic laying around somewhere, and cut it in the form of a handguard so the handlebar muffs don’t collapse anymore. This was a major fail, because the flower pot tray plastic was too weak and bendy.

Since I didn’t give the handlebars away with the new owner of the XF, I still had them laying around and found good use for them. I cut them in half and fitted them inside the handlebar muffs. The plastic is thicker and sturdier than what I’ve originally planned with the tray. I could also feel a lot more room inside the handlebar muffs.

Testing part 2:
Hooray! It works! I can travel much faster without making the handlebar muffs collapse, and they work like a charm!

I also have more room inside, no fiddling around searching where all the buttons are etc.
Mission success!

General ideas and conclusion:
For about 20€, it’s the best purchase I’ve made for the bike to keep warm in the winter.
I don’t need grip heaters, heated gloves or anything of that overpriced BS.
It’s mostly function over form. My gloves don’t get wet in the rain, and my hands aren’t getting cold in the wind 🙂

Granted I had to modify some handguards that I already had to make it work perfectly, but they sure do look better than the Givi ones 🙂

The only problem I encountered was that they get wet when the bike is parked outside when it rains. Being impermeable it collects water inside too.

Here are some pictures of the installed handlebar muffs:

 

Review: BlackWidow Decat pipe for NC700X

I’ve been stalling this idea for a few months after I got the bike in April.
I wanted to install a Decat pipe (no catalytic converter), and even told you so in the video Honda NC700X – My Bike Modifications! (opens in new tab).

It was not that week that I bought it, but just last week on a Sunday.
So here’s my experience with researching, buying and installing the NC700X Blackwidow decat pipe.

Research!
As you may know, there aren’t a lot of manufacturers that produce decat pipes for the Honda NC700X/S.
Here is a very short list of those who make decat pipes, including links to purchase them:
1. Leovince
2. Arrow
3. Blackwidow

Since I’m a cheapskate, I went with the cheapest option, which is offcourse Blackwidow.
It’s a relatively new and unheard of exhaust manufacturer, which probably stocks exhausts for almost every make and model of bike there is.

I already found out that Blackwidow made a pipe for the NC, but no-one ever tried it out.
It made me feel quite sceptical about the site too.

dec
Blackwidow NC700 Decat pipe

The one thing that pushed me over the barrier to purchase it was Premises187. He had made a video about the install of the Blackwidow Decat pipe for his NC700, and the sound that you hear in his video doesn’t justify the sheer goodness of the full system.

Buying!
So now I was primed to buy one, but since I live in Belgium, and the pipe has to be bought in the UK, I had to pay conversion fees. It still was cheaper than expected. I saved about 24 cents on this purchase.

You can only pay with creditcard or PayPal on the Blackwidow site. I had a Maestro card, but that one needed a CVC code, which I didn’t have. So I pulled out my prepaid CC, load charged it up and paid for the decat pipe.

The processing took about 1 day. Then it got shipped by DPD
I ordered it on Sunday and got it on Wednesday before noon.

Unboxing!

The decat came in a cardboard box, but it was so light I thought it was empty.
In the box there is:
– Pipe (front piece)
– Pipe (rear piece)
– Assembly putty/gun gum
– Keychain & merchandise (stickers)
– Manual and invoice

Blackwidow box

The pipes are packaged in plastic, with bubble wrap and Blackwidow tape around it, so It’s protected from dings and bangs.

Installation!
Install was quite easy, because I watched Premises’ install video.
However, I did have some problems concerning the fit of the pipe.
The pipe is a bit off, so my Ixil muffler sat askew in the bracket. Other than that, the fitment is perfect.
Don’t forget to remove the ground cable from the exhaust hanger first, because if you don’t you’ll risk damaging it.

Sound!
You have to hear it in person to hear the sheer loudness, raspyness, deep sounding roar that the NC now produces. It’s a big difference if you ask me.
I didn’t change the airfilter to K&N because Premises didn’t too.

However, you need to reset the ECU or you risk running too lean, doing damage to the bike in the long run.

I have made a video about the pipe here:

Review: Sony HDR AS-300V

Well since I wanted to get some voice and better sound in my videos, I sold my Tascam DR-05 and bought a new Sony HDR AS-300V action camera to get better battery life and a mic input.

The main reason I didn’t bought a same priced GoPro Hero 5 session is because it requires a 50+ euro converter to add a 3.5mm microphone jack.

Packaging:
This time it doesn’t come in a package with a display case as the AZ-1. It comes in an all cardboard box with a plastic front, but who needs the packaging anyway? It’s what comes in the package that counts! 🙂

IMG_20170718_122441
Left: AZ-1VR, Right: AS300V

Package contents:
The package contains the following items:
– Sony HDR AS-300
– Underwater housing (MPK-UWH1)
– NP BX-1 Battery pack
– Sony RM-LVR3 LiveView Remote
– Wrist strap for RM-LVR3
– Charger + charger cable for RM-LVR3
– Cradle with tripod mount for RM-LVR3
– 1 set of 1 curved sticky back mount + tripod screw hole mount

IMG_20170718_124510

Size comparison:
The Sony AS300 has a size (lxbxh, including waterproof case) of 9cm x 4,7cm x 7cm.
Without the case it is 8,5cm x 3cm x 5cm.
The AZ1 is much smaller with a size (including case) comparable to the AS300V without a Case.

Price:
I got this action camera for about 300€, which is almost the same as my AZ1VR that I bought a year ago.
A lot of bang for the buck if you ask me.
You can buy it here: Sony HDR AS300V on Amazon

Specifications:
– Zeiss Tessar lens
– 1/2.5 (7.20mm) back illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor
– Waterproof up to 60m with underwater housing (without it’s just splashproof)
– Micro HDMI, Stereo mic jack, Micro USB terminal
– Compatible with M2 and Micro SD cards (SDHC/SDXC)
Full specs here: Sony AS300V

Pros & Cons:
Well to start, it is a fairly cheap action cam for the price. Comparable GoPro’s are no way near the quality of the HDR AS300. The only problem is that these cameras are most likely side mounted because of the form factor. Though not a problem, some motovloggers do like to use a “chin mounted” view.

What I really like is the extended battery life. It shows how much time you have left till your SD card is full or the battery is empty.
It shows I can still record for 2 hours and 47 minutes, but in reality (specs from Sony) it shows that it can only record for about 135 minutes on 30fps.
I film every piece in 60FPS.

A con is that the OIS (SteadyShot) is a bit too much. It makes your riding and actions look much more slower than they are. I prefer to keep the SteadyShot off.

The camera also sports a tripod hole, which is extremely convenient because there isn’t a special mount needed unlike by the AZ1VR, not to forget the AS300 also has a 3.5mm mic jack, which makes it possible to get an all in one vlogging setup without any converters.

To be fair, I’m really happy with this purchase, and I recommend this camera to everyone who needs a fairly compact action camera that sports a lot of features.

Here’s an example clip with audio from the Philips LFH91740 plugged into the HDR AS300V

Review: DR. Wack S100 White Chain Lube

Because I have a new to me bike, I’d like to invest a bit more in the products I use to keep my bike maintained.

In the past I’ve used Holts Chain grease (green, sticky stuff), Holts Spray grease, Nigrin Kettensprühfett -für Motorräder- and now S100 White Chain Lube.

I’ve had my doubts about the S100 spray grease, but I was pleasantly suprised.

It sprays well, it sticks very good, there is almost no grease on the wheel or on the chain guard.

Looking at the specsheet it contains the following elements:
– 20<25% Butane CAS 106-97-8
– 25-50% Naphta (petroleum), hydrotreated light CAS 64742-49-0
– 20<25% Propane CAS 74-98-6
– 1-<2,5% 2-Ethylhexyl-zinkdithiophosphate CAS 4259-15-8

It comes to my mind that the last element is an additive that hardens under pressure, and thus increases the life of the chain. Not a lot of chain sprays I’ve seen and used have that additive. Maybe it is why the S100 Chain spray won the motorrad online test.

So what is my experience with this chain spray?
I have bought a small bottle (75ml) of S100 to keep in my bike to lube the chain when necessary.

It smells a lot, so lube the chain in a well ventilated area, perhaps outside.
You also have to fully depress the spray nozzle to get the maximum amount of lubrication on the inside of the chain.

NEVER spray on the outside of the chain, because that doesn’t do anything but wasting your precious spray.

Also make sure you don’t have any overspray on your tire. That results in crashing the bike. Better is to use some cardboard to protect the ground and tire from overspray.

The best time to lube the chain is after a ride. That way, the chain is warm/hot and absorbs the lube much more between the X/O/Z rings.

I highly recommend S100 Chain spray to everyone who loves to ride their bike, and doesn’t want to clean the slung off chain spray everytime they ride their bike 🙂

I R8 8/8 GR8 M8

Review: Ixil Hyperlow XL

As almost everyone knows, stock exhaust systems never sound good on bikes, especially for commuters.

As an old saying (and also controversial saying): Loud pipes save lives.
This is partially true. I never get noticed by cagers unless I have a loud as f*ck exhaust on my bike.
Never had problems with an exhaust that is too loud, they always hear me coming from a mile away.

Now, the original exhaust (muffler) on the NC700X is so silent, that a cooling fan from a car makes more noise. I thus bought a second hand Ixil Hyperlow XL.

Ixil Hyperlow XL

The seller (and also my motorcycle dealer) wanted to have 250€ for it, which was way to high since it was also second hand.
I paid 170€ for the Ixil and cleaned it up some more, and it’s shiny again.

Sound:
The sewing machine sound is gone, and when I start the bike, it gives a nice low growl. When increasing the RPM (going at speed) the bike sounds a lot better.
Keep in mind that I ride without the dB-killers, because it is silent enough to ride without, but still loud enough to keep getting noticed by cagers.

Look:
I really like the look of the Ixil pipe, it reminds me of the Hurric Pro 2, but it looks more sporty.
It definitly makes the bike look good, but I’m a bit worried that water droplets get into the pipe when it rains and the engine is off.

Fit:
You need spacers to get the Hyperlow on the right place. Fitting the muffler onto the header pipe was a bit difficult. But it fits nicely. There’s also a center stand buffer on the pipe present.

Performance:
There is no noticable performance increase, because the catalytic converter still obstructs the flow. A decat header pipe and air filter should work.

Problems:
– Water can get into the exhaust when parked in the rain
– Centerstand buffer is too weak and bends on impact

Here’s a video of the sound recorded with the Tascam DR-05 V2

Review: Givi HP1111 Handguards for Honda NC700X

I like the look of riding without handguards, but the weather just doesn’t get better, and it even started hailing in April!
I thus impulse bought some Givi HP1111 handguards that will fit my Honda NC700X.

Having a windscreen also from Givi (D1111ST), I looked up if they fit, and they did.

Fitment:
The fitment is so precise that it has around 1cm (and less) space between handguard and windscreen.
The handguards mount to the bar ends and mirrors. You can still use the original bar ends.
The other side mounts to the mirrors using a metal bracket and some washers.

Installation
I struggled with the install because there were no instructions, only numbered parts and an exploded view, but it is possible to do it only with the exploded view.
There are also a lot of different parts, which is totally unneccesary and can be made much simpeler when combining 3 different parts into 1.
There is also a third bracket for the DCT version marked with an “A”.

Protection
The Givi HP1111 handguards are mostly to use for wind protection and not for branches or trees. They do have an aerodynamic design, but they don’t wrap around the controls.
I hope I don’t have to make some handguard extensions just like with my old handguards :’)

Cost vs performance
I hope a lot of R&D went into making these handguards, because 100€ for 2 pieces of plastic and some miscellaneous hardware is to my taste a bit overpriced, but I’m happy these fit in combination with my Givi windscreen.

Pros:
– Keeps some wind from your hands, but not all of it
– Protects the levers a bit
– Fits perfectly in combination with other Givi accessories

Cons:
– Expensive (but they are cheaper than barkbusters and Touratech stuff)
– Unclear instructions
– Too much hardware
– Isn’t sturdy enough

A few pictures

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RIP Freewind, Hello NC700XA

Bad news for the Freewind, time of death: March 30 2017. Died at age 19.
Cause of death: Broken gearbox.

I was on my way home, everything was good, till disaster struck. I departed from a traffic light (that was green) and my gearbox rattled in 5th gear.
A few moments later, I lost 5th gear and it sounded like grinding gears. 1-4 still worked.
I stopped to check my chain tension and it was fairly loose, luckely I have some tools with me, and adjusted the chain.

It then continued going home and a few kilometres from home, the first gear began to rattle too and it won’t shift into 2nd gear without putting it in neutral first.

10 metres in my street, the neutral began to rattle like hell. I lost the 1st and 5th gear, and it grinds gears.

Not having time and not wanting to repair the gearbox, I started disassembling the bike for parts. I sold the exhaust to a forum member Solis 560 as a part of a donation to my new bike.
Removal of all the expensive parts I bought for the bike was fairly easy. I recovered the crash bars, pannier rack, lights, handguards, centerstand, and some other pieces that I can use on my new bike or sell.

I then put the Freewind up for sale, but only got fake bidders. Then a man called from a motorcycle salvage yard who wanted to see the bike, I said yes, but didn’t want to let it go under 400€. He kept his word and I kept mine, so I still got 400€ from a bike that is worth 1000€ when it still worked. I think it is a fair price since parts for these bikes are difficult to get, and also expensive.

IMG_20170401_181213_01

Saying farewell to the Freewind that is gone with the wind 😥

The new bike!

Looking for a new bike took 1 day. I searched for motorcycle dealerships and came out at Motorcycle center Caset in Lichtervelde.
They had an enormous assortment of new and second hand bikes. I’m still bound to the A2 35kW regulation, so I went on and looked at the second hand bikes that were 35kW. The only one were the CB500 from 2013 and the NC700 from 2013.

With sub 10k kilometres, the bike was in pristine condition, only 1 scratch on the topcase. I was directly sold, and for that price I couldn’t let it sit. (it was sub 6k). I got a touring windscreen, gel seat, ABS, topcase and carrier, new tires and a new chain. Just like new!

The salesman (and CEO) Johan Caset is also a very friendly, but hard seller. I didn’t mind, because I wanted the bike. After test driving, I was totally sold. It has low mileage, looks new, high MPG and lots of options. The ABS spoke to me the most since I rode 3 years without it.

Now its just waiting till Monday, calling my insurance to fix the papers, and getting the bike on the road to eat up some kilometres!

 

 

How (not) to extend your kickstand

Since I’m already on my second year of riding my motorcycle, the lowered seat height is a bit weird looking. I lifted the front and rear suspension a little bit, but then my kickstand was too short and made the bike almost fall over.

So I bought some threaded rod, some nuts and Bison Kombi Stick, a moldable metal epoxy. Cut the threaded rod to length, added the nuts and pressed the combi stick including the threaded rod into the upper and lower part of the side stand.

Voilà! An extended side stand!

It IS sturdy, believe me. I didn’t like the look of it afterwards and wanted to weld it. Tough luck, I don’t have a welder.
So I went to the car dealer that my mom and dad knew for about 20 years and asked if they could weld it up for me, they could do it, but first I had to remove the Bison Kombi Stick.

I hammered, forced the nuts, twisted and chiseled my way through the Kombi Stick, and man, that material is hard as sh*t. It wasn’t even neccesary to weld it, but since I’m already destroying it… I also prepared the metal for welding (removing paint).

They welded it up for me, but it wasn’t that good of a job, but I can’t do better than that.
But hey, “A grinder and paint makes him the welder he aint”. It needed some heavy grinding and cleaning up of the weld.

This is the result after painting it with some cheap spraypaint:

Then assemble it and there it is!

IMG_20170306_161025

Looks a lot better now and is finally adjustable. No need for cutting and welding ever again. The threaded rod insert is also very long which increases the internal structural integrity of the kickstand.

Review: Gianni Falco Mixto ATV

After almost riding a year with the Gianni Falco Mixto ATV’s as a replacement for the Held Gear (that leaked), I’m now ready to write a review on them.

Material
The Mixto is made from leather. Brown nu-buck/suede leather to be more exact on the model I have.
The leather is impregnated with a water repellent, but wears of after a few days of riding in rainy weather. Still, the High-Tex membrane keeps my feet dry and not sweaty.
The boots also have an injection molded rubber boot protector to protect the boot from scratches from the shift lever.
It is recommended to spray the boots with a water repellent spray once a month.
I also recommend to throw away the factory inner soles and replace them with shock absorbing soles, just to get more comfort out of the boots.

Safety
The Mixto ATV has a shin plate made of polyurethane, but is rather short.
Aswell the clasps are made of the same material, and are adjustable using an internal ratchet mechanism.
Ankles are protected by D3O material.
Soles are made of rubber with a generous amount of profile.

Flex
The flex is rather a “meh”. It’s too flexible to really go offroad, but it’s good for onroad touring. Shifts feel really good in these boots.

Look and feel
When walking around wearing nothing but black textile gear and suddenly seeing brown boots, everyone that didn’t ride a motorbike said “What are thooose!!!”.
I did like the brown color, but after a few months riding with them, the brown turned a bit ugly. Oil stains are also a PITA to get out of the boots.
The boots squeak when walking, and it gets on my nerves from time to time, but they still keep my feet dry. Function over form I say.

Fitment
My feet are a bit wide, so these boots were perfect for my feet. The only downside is that my cheap textile pants don’t have a wide opening to fit over the boot, so I’m struggling with that. Sometimes they fit, but sometimes they don’t.

Price
I bought these boots for the price of €199,95. Not cheap, but also not that expensive.
The price-quality ratio is rather nice, but the price should be around €165 if I’m being honest.

Verdict
I like the boots, but they are squeaky, and need a lot of attention because of the brown nu-buck/suede finish leather. They are still watertight, even after putting my foot down in a deep puddle of water. I feel safe in these boots.

The only thing is: I won’t buy them again, because I now already wrote a review about them 🙂
My next boots will be the Gianni Falco Avantour (€249) (High-Tex), or Alpinestars Toucan (€359) (Gore-Tex), just to see how these compare to the cheaper Mixto ATV.

Freezing my hands off, how to fix it?

The blog wasn’t kept up to date, that’s because nothing special has happened for the past months. Just the regular “idiots on the road”, and some minor maintenance on the XF650.
It was freezing cold for about a week, and I bought some GoreTex gloves, but they aren’t as thick as I thought they would be.
Already having some handguards (from plastic) I thought these would protect me from the wind chill and rain. Boy was I wrong!

My hands were freezing, and when I turned up the heat on my heated grips, nothing happened, I didn’t feel a tiny bit of heat.
Now I know, heated grips only work with thin gloves, but the windchill was so hard that I couldn’t even feel it.

I went online and searched for handguard wind protectors, but they cost around €20,00, which was too much for me (I’m a cheapskate), and delivery will take a few days.
So I took a plant tray with some thick plastic (PVC), and snipped it with some generic scissors.

I then drilled some holes in it, and bolted it straight into the existing handguards that were too small.

This is the result:

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I thought they’d flap in the wind, but fortunatly they didn’t. It kept the rain from my hands, but the wind still finds a way into the handguards, but it isn’t that bad.

The extensions don’t look homemade, and it fits the grayish color on the front cowl.
I didn’t even have to turn on the heated grips and it was about 3°C.

This was a fun little project (which took me about half an hour) that you can do it yourself to your bike when you have the same problems as me!

Go on, make something and have a nice day!