This was something that a riding friend and reader of the web-site, Rod, put me onto following another reader’s question about dispersing rain from the helmet visor. It’s a polish, or more accurately I suppose, a wax coating for plastic. Although plastic has many advantages, its main disadvantage is its vulnerability when it comes to cleaning and maintaining. This is particularly relevant when it comes to clear plastics where fine surface scratching and dirt accumulation cause a breakdown in clarity. VuPlex was designed to address this problem. VuPlex cleans and protects all types of acrylic, clear vinyl, perspex and window tint film. It applies a fine coating of wax that acts as a water barrier which also protects the surface from micro scratching. It’s also anti-static; it repels dust and dirt. It causes water beading, resulting in rain sliding right off. There are no harmful ingredients such as abrasives, alcohol or ammonia. Just spray on and wipe off with a soft cloth. I was reminded about these when I did the article (compiled from readers’ suggestions) on unusual but useful items. And having been reminded I went out and bought one. I don’t leave them fitted (I only bought one), but I use it as a means of solving the problem of getting servo air-nozels onto the tyre valve. I usually check and adjust my tyre pressures at home, but if you’re on the road and need to check or adjust pressures this is a very handy item to have. There are various brands around. Kenma Australia (www.kenma.com.au) deals in the Gryp brand, which cost about $10 each. Like VuPlex, mentioned above, this is a product not designed particularly for motorcycle use, but it certainly has applications in our game. It’s described as a “Residue free detergent”. As the name might imply, it’s designed for “sports” use, removing odours and tough stains such as soil, blood, and grass. (NRL players, form a queue please). Sport-Wash is safe for all washable fabrics. Its main advantage is that, unlike other detergents designed to leave brighteners, fragrances, and other residue behind, Sport-Wash rinses completely. Nothing is left on your clothing to clog the pores of your fabric. Cotton, wool, and synthetic materials are left completely clean. Insulation like down, Thinsulate and Hollofil fluff up for maximum warmth. And even difficult to clean sportswear materials such as Gore-Tex have their waterproofing and breathability restored. Nothing is left behind to smell or clog your garments. The manufacturers, Atsko, claim that while Sport-Wash doesn’t contain phosphates to brighten your clothes, you'll find it doesn’t need them because it leaves fabrics cleaner than any other detergent. In addition, if you or any members of your family have sensitive skin or are allergic to the residue left behind by commercial detergents, Sport-Wash eliminates the irritation you've suffered with other detergents. It completely eliminates the need for fabric softener (another source of odour and chemical irritation). Remember that washing high performance waterproof fabrics with ordinary washing powder can actually clog the membranes causing more harm than good! The distributors, Kenma Australia, say that normal detergents will reduce the performance of Goretex as they clog the pores, effectively making the liner non-breathable. They say that textile garments (like riding jackets) with breathable waterproof expanded teflon linings (Goretex, Hypora etc) should never be washed with a normal detergent. Here’s a list of its claims.
*Restores & maintains the high performance features of technical fabrics.
*Helps wickables wick and breathable-waterproof fabrics breathe.
*Restores loft and effectiveness to down and synthetic insulation.
*Rinses away completely leaving no residue.
*Cleans and deodorizes. Leaves no scent.
*Highly recommended for Gortex and actually will remove the bacterial stench
*Contains no bleach, phosphate, or fabric softener.
*Safe for all washables.
*Biodegradable and completely septic safe.
*For machine or handwashing.
*Helps frequently washed garments last longer.
*Helps restore factory applied waterproofing.
*Fully High Efficiency Certified
Kenma sent me some to try and I can totally recommend it. After trying it for a couple of non-motorcycling-gear spot-cleaning, I tried spot-washing my jacket sleeve after it got a large amount of animal-poo on it. (Either a very big bird, or there was something in the grass where I put it down). It got all the yukky stuff out and the sleeve came up looking clean and bright. There was no residual suds or anything gumming up the fabric either. Washing the riding jackets seem to bring them up a bit cleaner and brighter than normal detergent; and you know you aren’t clogging up the fabric with residue. My winter jacket (which is a few years old) has some slight stains on the ends of the sleeves. I don’t know what they’re from, but they’ve been like that for a while now. I tried washing it in Sport-Wash and while it did lighten the stains, it didn’t completely remove them. Some stains are like that I suppose. A word of caution; it says to test the colour-fastness first – and they mean it! I tried it full-strength on some joggers to remove a large spot of oil or something. It did okay on the stain, but it also removed a little of the colour. So test it first. It seems expensive when you compare the size of the bottle to the size of your usual box of detergent, and it probably is, but you only use a small amount (one capful per washing-machine load). It’s worthwhile, to preserve the expensive riding gear. Availability is a bit limited, so contact Kenma Australia. (www.kenma.com.au). Cost is $10 for 532ml bottle.
This is also made by Atsko, who claim they’ve been in the business of keeping leather conditioned and waterproof since the 1930s. This is also distributed by Kenma, and they say they sell it because they know it works – and they use it themselves. SNO SEAL is made from bee’s wax, and Kenma say that if you are using a leather conditioning compound not made with bee's wax you could be doing more harm than good. SNO SEAL keeps all leather goods supple and protected from the elements. The bee’s wax formula dries to a solid wax that stays in the surface of the leather, so it lasts longer. Kenma say that other products’ greases, oil, and animal products, are able to migrate through the leather till they clog all the pores. These other waterproofing products fill the natural spaces that are supposed to absorb perspiration and insulate. In addition, animal fats weaken and rot leather. Kenma say that the tanneries worked hard to remove the fats and preserve the leather, so it's hard to imagine why you'd put it back on. The makers say that not only will SNO SEAL keep you warm and dry, it'll also help you from getting tired. They say that a typical leather boot can soak up to half a kilogram of water; so imagine how much water a whole motorcycle suit can hold when wet! Here are the maker’s claims for SNO SEAL.
*Prevents water from penetrating leather
*Lubricates & conditions leather
*Preserves and lengthens the life of leather
*Does not interfere with the natural breathability of leather.
*Extremely resistant to salt stains and spotting.
*Will not damage welts or seams
*Keeps leather flexible (even in freezing temps)
*Will not crack during continual flexing of leather.
*Does not deteriorate like other products containing animal fat.
Kenma kindly sent me a jar of this to try. I particularly wanted to try it out on some gloves I’ve had for quite some time, which were looking a bit old and faded. (I hadn’t previously treated them with anything at all). SNO SEAL restored the colour (it does darken leather slightly when applied) and made them look almost like new again. I’m sure it also restored the water-proofing properties of the leather; although I haven’t encountered the exact same torrential conditions with gloves I’ve treated yet to get an accurate back-to-back comparison of the water-proofing properties. But you can feel that this stuff is going to work, it changes the feel of the leather that much. Cost is $10 for 200g jar. Once again, contact Kenma (www.kenma.com.au) for more details.
TRELOCK CHAIN LOCK.
Trelock have a few different ones to choose from, with different lengths etc. Kenma Australia sent me one as a raffle prize for a charity ride I organised. The one they sent was constructed of 10mm chain, and was 110cm long. It came with an Armadon pad lock. They claim the chain lock offers Level 6 protection. It looked solid enough to almost anchor the Queen Mary! I inherited one of these – although a different brand – with my previous bike when I bought it. They’re a good thing. Yes, if Robbie The Robber really wants your bike, he’ll get a couple of blokes to just lift the front wheel off the ground and wheel it away. But probably not if it’s parked somewhere public. And it’s a good visual deterrent, because Robbie will know there’s more involved in nicking this bike than the one parked next to it that doesn’t have a lock. I always put mine on if I’m concerned about where it’s parked, or even when it’s parked in the shed if I’m going to be away for a length of time. The Trelock one comes with a pouch to store it in and costs $29. www.kenma.com.au
DIGITECH INSPECTION CAMERA
This was another item Kenma very kindly sent me as a raffle prize for our charity ride. The one that they sent me was designed to be plugged into a laptop computer, but this new one has a built-in display; so there’s no need to carry a computer around to view it on. It’s a great idea (especially this up-dated model with its own display) for looking into those areas where you really can’t see. And of course it has applications outside motorcycle use. For example, I referred it to a guitar specialist music shop I know; I thought it would be excellent for viewing inside acoustic guitars that have suffered damage or internal problems. Retail price of the one they sent me was $99. The new one with the display costs $299. This is one I’ve yet to try, but I’ve seen the results. Another one recommended to me by my riding friend, Rod. Mirrorfinish metal polish is formulated so that it leaves a non silicone protective coating on the metal. It prevents those harmful elements that we all commonly know, and as you use it, the job seems to get easier and easier. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t seem to get easier, it actually does get easier, because the previously polished surface is easier to apply it to. It eliminates the “cloudy effect” that most metals polishes give on different alloys. This multi-purpose product is compatible with all metals, alloys, brass, stainless-steel, copper, silver and gold. (The makers say to try it on your wife’s wedding ring and it will look brand new!). I’ve seen it on Rod’s bike (mufflers and alloy parts, and even his kitchen sink, which he used it on!). He is very impressed with it, and I am too from the results I’ve seen. It costs $7.95 for a 50ml bottle, or $29.95 for a 250ml bottle. You’ll find it at specialised auto-accessory shops. For more info, visit the web-site, www.mirrorfinish.com.au.
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This is something I haven't tried myself (yet!), but it came highly recommended from a reader, John, who told us about it in response to a question on fuel. It is an additive that keeps fuel fresh. It's generally agreed that fuel does "go off" after a certain period of time, resulting in poor starting, less performance etc. This stuff keeps the fuel fresh - "sta-ble"! The makers say that when added to fresh fuel, STA-BIL Fuel Stabiliser stops the formation of gum and varnish in fuel system components. But, as the ad-man used to say, there's more! It contains corrosion prevention additives to fight the damaging effects of Ethanol in fuels, and cleans fuel injectors and carburettors restoring performance. The makers say that it has been marketed for over 40 years in the USA and recommended by more than 100 engine and equipment manufacturers. They say that it is safe to use in any petrol engine and will not harm any engine or fuel system components or catalytic converters. John says it is expensive ($17.50 a bottle as at June 2011), but it goes a long way. In bikes, especially. John uses it in two classic bikes he has. I think I'll give it a try in the old car I have. Check out more details on their web-site, www.sta-bil.com.au.
This is something I discovered about 17 years ago. A mate had them fitted to his bike (a Kawasaki Zephyr 550 if I remember correctly). I had a Yamaha single-cylinder road bike at the time, which, as you'd expect, did transmit a fair bit of vibration through the bars. The foam grips cushioned the vibration (what there was of it) on the Kawasaki, so I thought they'd be very beneficial on my mid-size thumper. So I bought a set. They worked very well! The only downside was that they tended to isolate the feel through the bars a bit, but I still liked them. I didn't bother fitting them to subsequent bikes though. Recently another riding friend became interested in getting some for his bike (an FJR1300). I do get some slight vibes through the bars of mine at times, so I was interested in giving them a try too. So we got a set each. The current ones are better than the ones I had before in that they aren't as soft or spongy - so they don't isolate you from that feel through the bars like the old ones did. They provide isolation from vibration, of course, but they are still firm enough for you to feel what's going on through the bars. They do, of course, substantially increase the diameter of the grip. But, unless you have very small hands, it isn't too much. I have relatively long hands, so I prefer the feel of thicker grips. These particular ones state on the pack that they are for Harley Davidson (I'm not saying anything!), but they were bought from a general accessories outlet. (MCAS). Retail price is $9.95, but we got them for $8.95 as there was a sale on at the time. (Interestingly, the ones I bought previously cost $7 - back in 1994!). They can be difficult to fit; the difficulty being in sliding them over the existing grips. (They'd be even harder to fit to a Harley, as their grips are usually bigger to start with). The tip seems to be to use soapy water. I tried normal soap and still had trouble. In the end I tried another product on here - Sport-Wash. That doesn't leave residue so I figured that'd be okay to use without affecting the rubber of the original grips. I used a mixture of about 50 /50 water and Sport-Wash. I still had trouble with the throttle grip, but the left side went on pretty easily. Oh, and you may need to cut them to length. My mate with the FJR didn't have to, but my grips were shorter. A tip for this: Measure the length you need them to be, then place an elastic band around the grip just outside that measurement. Then cut along the inside of the elastic band. Voila - a nice neat cut!
SUNAX HELMET VISOR
Rod wrote to tell me about this product, called Sunax, that he got for Father's Day. It's hard to tell from this photo I suppose, but check the web-site to find out more and see pics that explain it better. Anyway, what it is, is a shield that fits to your helmet to act as a sunshield. Rod says the device works extremely well, totally eliminating the need to wear sunglasses. Check it our here. http://sunax.com.au/products
A reader, Simon, wrote in with some useful items. The first is a site that can supply you bits to fix your zippers. (I recently had a zipper break – the bit you pull on snapped – on my boots. An old small key-ring solved the problem, but this is a much better fix! Simon explains. “I bought a jacket that had a broken zip (got it pretty cheap as a result). I hunted around and found the Zipfix lady that sold me a new zip pull for the YKK Vislon zip. Cost about $13AU and took a few weeks to get here from the US (I couldn't find any in Aus!). It was easy to fit to the jacket (good instructions were included) and I still have a couple of spare aluminium stoppers if the old one falls off.” Find their web-site at web-site. www.zip-fix.com.
Next one was a new site-window for a clutch master-cylinder. If that gums up (which they often do, especially as they get older) you might think you can’t fix them, but you can. Simon tells how. “The sight gauge on my front master cylinder is a bit yellowed and has a few cracks (not long before I get a face/lap full of brake fluid and the paint stripped off the tank!), so I got hold of a new lens (from the US) for $15US (about $14.50AU). I haven't installed it yet, but I don't think that there will be any problems as the included instructions look pretty straight forward. It even came with new hex head screws to replace the original phillips head ones. This fix is certainly cheaper than a new master cylinder which would otherwise be my only alternative at about $350!!! "The guys at New River Cycle Salvage reckon that they can make a sight glass to suit any bike or master cylinder etc. That could be good information for people like me with a pet dinosaur.” It could indeed! Thanks, Simon. Go to their web-site at www.newrivercyclesalvage.com .
HEBE ExGEL SEAT PAD.
I saw these advertised in Cycle Torque magazine and thought I’d get one and give it a try. As I’ve mentioned on several occasions on this site, I have a dodgy back, and a bony old bum that gets sore after relatively short rides; even on a bike with a big comfy seat. I have an AirHawk, which is a good thing and certainly helps with the bum pain, but I don’t use it all the time. (On my previous bike I was using it all the time at one stage). I prefer the feel of the bike without the AirHawk. My usual set-up is a sheepskin cover with a piece of high-density foam under it. So I thought these might be a good alternative to the piece of foam. At just $59 they are very cheap – much cheaper than a gel seat conversion and cheaper than other gel pads I’ve seen. As you can see, they are designed to sit on the seat with velcro straps to hold it in place. That done I strapped on the sheepskin cover and away I went. When I first pulled it out of the packet I was a bit dubious about the vinyl covering; it is quite thick and firm. The gel portion underneath feels nice and soft, and kind of gooey, and is covered with a cotton / nylon type material, but the vinyl covering on the top is quite stiff. On the road I felt the stiffness of the vinyl cover. It seemed, if anything, a bit harder on my delicate old posterior than my usual piece of foam. Except for one thing; I noticed that larger bumps seemed to be absorbed better than with my usual set-up. So I figured that the logical thing, if using it under a sheepskin as I am, would be to turn it over and have the vinyl covering against the seat and the soft gel stuff under the sheepskin. Ah, but the vinyl is quite slippery and looked a bit dangerous left to slip around under the sheepskin. Hmm, okay, time for some modification. First thing was to cut off the velcro straps. If the pad is going underneath a sheepskin pad they aren’t needed. Next was to cure the slippery nature of the vinyl. To do this I bought some of that grippy stuff they sell in supermarkets that you use to get lids of jars etc. I glued this to the vinyl surface of the gel pad. It now grips the surface of the seat very well. No chance of movement there! And that is the way I’m set up at the moment. I’ve been using it like this for a while now. It isn’t a huge improvement over the foam that I used to use, but it does work. (And my backside needs all the comfort it can get!). If your nether regions aren’t as susceptible to the biting-seat syndrome as mine, and you don’t already have any type of cover for your seat, this might be well worth taking a look at – used as intended, with the vinyl side up and straps in place. If you have a sheepskin cover, you could fit it as I now have done. It is certainly better than having nothing at all, and better than having a sheepskin with nothing under it! And, as I mentioned, at the price it is well worth the money – a bargain, in fact! To get one, see your local bike dealer. Oh, I should mention, you may have to pay their postage (I had to), if it's a special order.
One for the winter months. I spotted these while wandering through a bike shop in a town some distance from where I live. I didn’t buy them then, but they felt warm and comfy when I tried them on. So I decided to check them out at a local bike shop. And these were what I got. The brand is RJays and they cost $14.95. They provide an insulation of warmth, but still fit easily into your glove (unless you have very tight gloves!). The RJays ones have elastic around the wrist to hold them in place when you take your glove off. The benefit, for me, with these is that they provide extra warmth without resorting to me winter gloves. The gloves I use for winter are very thick, and it’s a bit like riding with ski-gloves on. They’re okay, but my normal gloves provide better feel and ease of use of the controls. I’ve tried them out on a couple of very cool winter’s days and they do work. My hand still fits into my glove okay, and they still provide the usual amount of feeling. I found that I can get my double-D lock helmet strap undone and done up without taking them off too. So, I reckon they are very useful!