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I used to fear working on the brake systems of my vehicles because of how vital they are in avoiding becoming one with other cars on the road. If you don’t have knowledge on your side along with some mechanical aptitude and proper tooling, that fear is justified.
It’s not hard to arm yourself with those things if you decide to take the plunge, and this write up will help give you the knowledge portion.
Areas of Focus
For Inspection and Maintenance:
Pads and Shoes
Rotors (discs) and Drums
Brake Fluid Level
Pads and Shoes
Inspection and regular maintenance is paramount when it comes to catching problems early. The brake pads on the left in the photo above came off a dirt bike I purchased a few years ago. The pads on the right are brand new in comparison.
While test driving the bike, nothing seemed to hint that the front brake pads were in such poor condition because the braking power was normal. In fact, it braking was better than normal, which can sometimes be an indication of a problem.
Once all the friction material is worn away on brake pads the metal backing plate of the pad pressing on the disc grips quite well. This yields better stopping power temporarily, until the metal starts to suffer more heat damage and degrade to the point it fails spectacularly.
It also tends to destroy the disc or rotor because the pad’s backing material digs into them better than the pad’s friction material does.
Signs of Trouble To Look For On Brake Pads
Uneven Wear: Pads should wear fairly evenly if they aren’t hanging up on the slider pins. If they aren’t check to make sure the pins aren’t bent or damaged in any way.
Oil and Dirt Contamination: In the picture above you’ll notice how the material left on the pads is dark almost like it’s been burnt. It’s actually fork oil that had previously leaked out, ran down the chrome and wound up contaminating the brake pads.
You never want oil of any kind around your brakes for obvious reasons. This burnt fork oil helped break down the pads’ friction material and accelerate wear.
If you see this happening, first repair the fork seal leak and then replace the brake pads otherwise it’ll keep contaminating them.
Glazing: There are signs of glazing on the friction material left too. Glazed portions look shiny and smeared. It’s caused by high heat and makes braking less effective and squealing or grinding noise at times.
Signs of High Heat: When there’s glazing you’ll usually also find a rainbow or dark blue/purple condition cropping up on the pads and discs. This can be a sign of a seized brake pad on a pin or even caliper piston.
Another sign of high heat would be cracks developing in the friction material or large chunks missing.
When In Doubt: Replace Brake Pads
As a rule, I replace the brake pads on all used bikes I buy regardless of condition, so I can check them carefully and start fresh with the maintenance intervals. They’re not very expensive and peace of mind is priceless.
I’m glad I did in the case mentioned above especially because there were no warning signs anything was amiss. No squealing, pulsating or any other typical warning signs I watch for. I replaced the pads just in time before catastrophic damage was done to the rotor, thankfully.
Brake rotors are wickedly expensive so take the time to inspect the pads at least once a season or more if you’re riding extensively or off road.
Brake dust is hazardous to your health!
Whenever working around brakes use brake clean to wash away the dust and dirt.
Wear nitrile gloves and avoid breathing in anything you clean off friction surfaces.
Even though newer brake linings aren’t asbestos as they used to be, brake dust of any kind isn’t good.
If there’s an extreme amount of debris and dirt to remove use water and then brake clean to remove any moisture left behind.
YouTuber smallengineshop shows how this is done in this video on his Kawasaki KLR650. The procedure will be different from bike to bike and you should definitely buy a repair manual for your specific model to reference before starting to work on your motorcycle. There are many different designs of brake calipers in use today that come apart in totally different ways.
Motorcycle Repair: How to Measure Motorcycle Brake Pad Wear on a 2009 Kawasaki KLR 650 - YouTube
He mentions 0.040” as the minimum thickness for the pads on his bike and that’s a good standard number to gauge yours by. The other general guideline is that the friction material should be thicker than the backing plate. In the end it’s best just to follow your bike manufacturer’s specification.
Replacing the brake pads is easy when you have them out anyway for inspection.
Additional valuable tips:
Smooth/polish the pins that the pads slide on with fine steel wool, especially if there is any kind of buildup on them. Some people also put graphite dry lube on them, but just keeping them smooth and clean is best.
Put a slight chamfer on the leading and trailing edges of the pad backing plate where they slide on the caliper frame.
While the pads are out for inspection you can take some sandpaper to the friction material just to rough the surface up to help fight glazing and remove any unwanted debris embedded in it. Don’t get carried away and remove material, just scratch up the surface evenly
Follow manufacturer procedures for brake pad bedding. Usually this involves avoiding emergency applications for 300 miles depending on the kind of pads. EBC Brakes has a great write up on it here:
When you replace brake pads bleed some of the brake fluid out of the line(s). More on how to do that later.
These measures help ensure easy application and retraction of the brake pads yielding proper brake life on your motorcycle.
Photo YouTube’s Ichiban Moto
Becoming more rare (thankfully), but still around on many bikes – are drum brakes.
Drum brakes use cables or rods to activate them instead of hydraulics, and those need to be checked for stretch and damage according to manufacturer’s specifications. Poor braking power could be caused by stretched cables or rods.
The “pads” used in drum brakes are called shoes, not pads, if you want to use correct nomenclature.
The same inspection criteria applies to both brake shoes and drums, but the method differs.
Some have a small inspection plug on the cover to remove allowing inspection of the thickness of friction material remaining on the shoes.
Others have an external gauge to reference. The gauge is more convenient because all you do is hold down the pedal and make sure the arrow is still in the usable range.
Adjusting them is fairly straightforward. Turn in or out the adjuster nut on the rod coming from the brake pedal to set the brake activation point. Get the rear wheel off the ground and turn the adjuster nut in until the brake comes on fully when you push the pedal down.
Make sure the brake doesn’t drag when the pedal is released.
Replacing the shoes involves removing the rear wheel from the bike. Not rocket science either, but you’ll have to set the tension on the chain when you’re finished as well.
Importance of Proper Drum Maintenance
Here’s a video from YouTube’s Brandiland as she changes the brake shoes on her dirt bike drum brake.
How To Change Rear Drum Brake on a TTR230 - YouTube
It gives pretty good guidance of how it’s done, but I would stress how important it is to use Brake Clean instead of just a dry shop towel on the drum and hub assembly to avoid inhaling brake dust. Maybe she used it but didn’t include that footage in the video?
She says the dirt found inside is “regular” but it’s not. Her brake is contaminated with dirt or mud and needs to be cleaned out to avoid accelerated wear.
I also spotted some deep scratches on the friction material of the brake shoes caused by the dirt which she doesn’t mention. It’s good she chose to replace those shoes.
I would say the seal on the brake housing (if there is one) should also have been changed to stop more dirt from getting in. With dirt bikes, contamination is almost unavoidable due to the sheer amount of mud they ride in.
It’s also a good idea to put axle grease on the axle bolt when reinstalling it.
Solid rotors used on bikes are mostly maintenance free, but need to be inspected for damage and wear. You can also clean them with disc cleaner specific solution or isopropyl alcohol.
Some people take Scotch Brite pads on the wear surface to remove any embedded brake pad material too.
Photo from Quora.com
There is a minimum thickness specification for rotors (discs) in order to remain in service. Leaving them in service past this point runs the risk of them cracking and failing catastrophically.
Rotors, like brake pads can show signs of glazing, cracking, heat damage and deep grooves caused by contamination of the brake pads. Any of these will necessitate replacement of the rotors.
If you get grooves worn deeper than 0.5mm in either side of the rotor, replace it or them. You can have the rotors machined flat again but not if doing so thins it past the minimum thickness allowable.
Don’t replace individual pads or rotors from a set of multiples. If you need to replace a single component on one wheel (like one pad out of 4, or 1 rotor of 2) you should change all the same kind of neighbouring parts to maintain a balanced braking system.
The photo above shows a couple of types of floating rotors.
The identifying characteristic is the round rivets connecting the inner carrier and outer friction surface area (blade) where the pads grip. The rivets are the only bond holding the two halves together and you can see a small gap between them.
The rivets, aka buttons or bobbins, allow different types of metal to be used which helps deal with heat expansion and dissipation.
The inner metal carrier is usually aluminum and the outer blade steel.
This design compensates for some movement of the outer ring when braking occurs. That flexibility gives smoother and more efficient braking by keeping the pads in better contact with the disc. On semi floating discs this movement is less pronounced while on full floating ones there’s more movement or float.
Most manufacturers equip semi floating discs these days while full floating ones are generally only found on racing motorcycles.
Testing and Maintaining the Rotors
Over time those rivets can seize up due to buildup of debris and brake lining material which causes vibration to be felt by the rider. You’ll find tapping on the rotors with a rubber mallet will produce a buzzing sound from rotors that are still loose and doing their job. That will diminish as they seize up and conversely ring more solid.
There are many videos on youtube of people doing various things to free them up again involving brake clean and drills. Some even use penetrating oil –DO NOTuse any oil around brakes.
If you want to clean out the rivets and service the rotor, remove the wheel from the bike and use compressed air and brake clean, disc cleaner or isopropyl alcohol to do it. While you’re at it take Scotch Brite pads to the blade surface to clean it up too.
This is a useful piece of maintenance to do, but really, if your rotors are causing vibration they’re most likely warped due to high heat and should just be replaced along with the pads.
Drums should be inspected for damage, cleaned with steel wool and brake clean then measured on the inner diameter to determine usability. You’ll have to check manufacturer’s specifications for the maximum allowable inner diameter, but if you find uneven wear just replace the drum.
Photo via JPCycles Whether you have steel braided lines or rubber coated you should take time to inspect them for loose fittings, bulges, cuts and leaks at the crimps. Don’t take chances with them. Replace the lines if you find anything unusual.
If you replace a brake line you’re obliged to drain and replace the brake fluid too. The purpose of bleeding is to remove old fluid or air pockets in the reservoir, lines and calipers.
Some people check the level in the reservoir and then choose to overfill them thinking it should be full to the top. More is not better when it comes to brake fluid. There needs to be some room in the reservoir for expanding fluid to retreat to during heavy braking. Thermal expansion of the fluid can become a real concern in extreme cases.
If the expanding fluid can’t move up the lines into the space in the reservoir it will instead start to apply the brakes by pressing against the piston(s) in the calipers.
Getting it Done
Just as it says on this page from a Honda CBR600RR maintenance manual, maintain the fluid about halfway between the upper and lower marks. When you replace the fluid fill to the halfway point, bleed the lines and then top up to halfway again, and replace the cover.
You’ll need a partner to avoid a lot of mucking about when it comes to bleeding and flushing. You can do it by yourself if you buy a vacuum bleeder tool, but it’s not necessary if you have friends and family members to spend quality time with in the garage.
Brake fluid damages paint and clearcoat. Take care not to get it anywhere on your bike without immediately removing it.
This YouTube video from Sum4Seb shows how to drain, flush and fill the front brake circuit using a helper. It appears he recruited his daughter or wife to help out with the job. Bonding over brakes. Doesn’t that just tug at your heartstrings and bring a tear to your eye?
How to do a front brake fluid flush / bleed |¦| Sum4Seb Motorcycle Video - YouTube
Use caution with the bleeder screw on calipers which don’t need to be hamfisted or closed super tight. They will easily sheer off if you use gorilla level strength on them.
If you have twin caliper brakes in the front you’ll need to flush and bleed each circuit separately.
Choosing the Correct Brake Fluid
When replacing brake fluid it’s critical to use the correct type of brake fluid and follow the maintenance schedule. Typically this is done every two years and the correct DOT brake fluid type will be stamped in the reservoir cover.
Brake fluid absorbs moisture over time especially when left exposed to air. That moisture can lower the boiling point of the fluid which is a real concern when things heat up.
As mentioned in the video, brake fluid is nearly free of colour when in good condition. If yours appears dark or murky there’s a good chance it’s been contaminated or burnt because of heat and should be replaced.
Usually it’s DOT 4 or 5 in motorcycles. DO NOT mix any different fluid with silicone basedDOT 5 fluid. They won’t mix well and you’ll have big issues. There are non-silicone based DOT 5 brake fluids produced now on the market just to complicate things.
The best idea is to pay close attention the the label and always use the same fluid.
Motorcycle brake maintenance is nothing to shy away from as it turns out. You may need to purchase some torx or allen sockets in order to do the work, but those aren’t exotic by any stretch.
Most important, read and follow the proper procedure in the service manual to do it correctly. YouTube is a great reference, but not completely reliable.
The personal satisfaction gained in doing your own work will put a smile on your face and grow your confidence to tackle bigger projects.
Saving some money never hurts either. Take the money saved on labour and invest it in higher performance parts instead!
Most experienced riders agree that gloves are must even in the hot summer months. There is really no excuse to risk your hands when there are a number of really great short glove options on the market. From the “dry heat” of Arizona at 113 degrees to the humid 90 degree plus days of south Florida, there is a short glove that can meet all of your needs for safety, comfort and durability.
Be sure to check back regularly with us here at wBW to read about our latest hands-on reviews of short gloves, cooling vests, and other great products for riders.
Some riders will only wear short gloves in the summer in an effort to stay cool and reduce sweating, switching back to gauntlets in the cooler weather, whereas others ride with short gloves year round. Neither method is wrong, it’s just a matter of deciding what works the best for you. The only wrong answer is not wearing gloves and putting your hands at risk.
The Icon Pursuit glove stands out from the crowd for its ability to be 100% comfortable from day one but still offer great protection. In addition, this great design is offered in two styles, both perforated and non-perforated giving riders even more reasons to buy this great short glove which sells for less than $100.
This glove is a 100% Pittards sheepskin leather construction with goatskin overlays in critical areas to provide more durability and protection.
The integrated knuckle armor provides protection on impact and also serves as a strong sliding surface to help eliminate abrasion when you go down.
The hook and loop wrist strap ensures that this glove will stay in place throughout your ride and be easy to take off even when you are hot and tired.
The expansion gussets add to the comfort and custom feel of these gloves each time they are worn. And you will never need to worry about losing one glove again, as each glove has a snap to keep them together during storage.
The final feature is the riders ability to choose between the perforated and non-perforated version of the Icon Pursuit. The perforated model will certainly provide better airflow but will be just a touch less durable than the non-perf version. This feature along with the combination of quality and comfort offered by these gloves make them our best overall choice when looking at short gloves.
Where to Buy Icon Pursuit Gloves
webBikeWorld has worked closely with RevZilla over the years to provide our testers with products to review. In addition to being a great site to shop from, they’re also a great partner. Both Amazon and Revzilla have a big selection of gloves.
At less than $50.00 the Joe Rocket Super Moto glove is a great choice and a great bargain for a name brand short glove.
This lightweight glove is constructed of goatskin leather and stretch Span/Poly to provide a great fit and all of the safety that you expect from a Joe Rocket product.
In addition to the drum dried goatskin leather palm, this glove is reinforced with a synthetic leather overlay on the palm to add to its durability.
A great grip is provided even through these multiple layers because of the silicone printedtexturizing on the palm.
The hard PVC knuckle protector provides protection on impact and also helps to reduce potential abrasion in a slide.
The neoprene wrist cuff with hook and loop closure keep this glove firmly in place all the time.
Riders will also appreciate that the glove is pre-curved to help reduce hand and finger fatigue, and improve the fit to avoid blisters and other abrasions. The thumb and index fingertip are constructed using a conductive material so you will be able to quickly access information on any touch screen device without removing the Super Moto gloves.
For a name brand short glove that is priced below $50.00, the Joe Rocket Super Moto offers many great features. Riders can feel protected and comfortable even in the heat of summer.
Where to Buy Joe Rocket Super Moto Gloves
webBikeWorld has worked closely with RevZilla over the years to provide our testers with products to review. In addition to being a great site to shop from, they’re also a great partner. Both Amazon and Revzilla have a big selection of gloves.
The Dainese 4 Stroke EVO glove is certainly a cut above most other short gloves. But that exceptional quality does come at a rather steep price which is why this is the best rated fully loaded short glove in this evaluation. This glove provides certified levels of safety and comfort features which are far superior to most gloves available.
Safety is definitely the priority for the 4 Stroke. It is certified to CE – Cat.II – Pr-EN 13594/2010 Standard Level 1.
The back of the hand and knuckles are protected by composite inserts made of preformed stainless steel and thermoplastic resin. Thermoplastic resin is also used to protect all of the finger joints and the outside of the little finger.
In addition, a special polyurethane insert is placed over the side of the hand and knuckle of the little finger for enhanced support and to reduce the risk of twisting in the event of a fall.
Additional inserts are located on the palm of the hand and in the cuff area.
Dainese did not overlook comfort and ergonomic features in this glove either.
The glove is constructed of cowhide leather for its durability but the palm is made from a softer reinforced goatskin to provide maximum comfort and flexibility.
The fingers are pre-curved to help reduce fatigue and there are perforations on the inner side of each finger.
All of the inserts are micro-elasticated to remain firmly in place.
Clearly, Dainese did not overlook anything when it came to constructing an extremely protective glove which also offers extreme comfort. What can be painful for some riders is paying over $200, but that is the cost of a great fully loaded short glove.
Where to Buy Dainese 4 Stroke EVO Gloves
webBikeWorld has worked closely with RevZilla over the years to provide our testers with products to review. In addition to being a great site to shop from, they’re also a great partner. Both Amazon and Revzilla have a big selection of gloves.
The Alpinestars Celer is a great blend of protection and functionality for a fairly reasonable cost. The fullgoat leather construction is reinforced in the palm but still offers flexibility and a grip that remains comfortable for a full day of riding.
In addition to the leather body the palm includes EVA foamreinforcements on the landing zone as well as synthetic leather and syntheticsuede reinforcements. The synthetic materials are also added to the thumb and side of the hand for added protection.
The exterior armor on this glove includes the PU knuckle protection system which provides a polymer flex insert to optimize fit for various hand sizes and TPR sliders on the first two fingers.
For maximum comfort, the Celer offers perforations on the finger surfaces, finger sidewalls, and the top of the hand for complete airflow. Each finger is also pre-curved to reduce fatigue and improve grip. Accordion leather flex panels on the fingers and thumb provide complete range of motion.
The wrist cuff with the Velcro closure ensure a secure fit and also provide additional support and protection in the form of EVA padding. The Celer offers good protection and mobility for a fairly good price which makes it a solid choice for a short glove.
The Alpinestars SPX Air Carbon gloves are a design derived from the race glove, and offers many of the same safety and performance features. The combination of full grain leather and 3D mesh make this glove the perfect choice for summer use in even the hottest regions.
The leather/mesh shell offers superior protection and ventilation capability.
The carbon compound and injected TPR knuckle protectors offer great impact protection as well as slide capabilities for the back of the hand.
The palm is protected by EVA foam and TPR sliders. Finger protection includes EVA foam and 3rd and 4th finger bridges to prevent rolling in the event of a slide. Additional comfort in the SPX Air is provided by the ergonomic pre-curved fingers to reduce fatigue and improve grip on long rides, stretch accordion leather inserts on the fingers, and Lycra inserts for maximum flexibility. An added bonus feature is the index finger compatibility for touch screen devices.
At just about $100 the SPX Air Carbon is a good selection for a mid range priced short glove that provides both safety and comfort in warm conditions.
The Alpinestars SMX 2 Air Carbon is a refined model which offers riders a short glove selection made from a combination of full grain leather, suede and 3D mesh. This glove offers safety, comfort and a price around $20 below the full leather Alpinestar models.
The body of the SMX 2 is a combo of full grain leather and 3D mesh to provide both protection and comfort when riding in hot weather. The streamline carbon knuckle guard is reinforced with thick EVA foam for added impact protection.
Additional TPR inserts protect the rest of the back of the hand and fingers. Premium quality suede is used to reinforce the palm of the hand and provide landing shock absorption. The pre-curved construction helps to reduce finger fatigue and also improves grip capability on long rides.
Stretch fabric is added to the sidewalls of the fingers for added mobility and comfort. The neoprene wrist strap keeps the glove secured with a Velcro closure. Riders will also like the touch screen compatible index finger and thumb.
At $79.95 the SMX 2 Air Carbon is a very reasonably priced short glove..
Get Lost Goggles are comfortable and inexpensive, and should last you a good long time. They come in a selection of 3 different tints that should cover all your on and off bike needs.
At this time of the year my motorcycle is snugly tucked inside my garage under cover, and my helmet is replaced on the garage shelf with stocking caps and ice melt. But just because I can’t ride doesn’t mean motorcycles aren’t on my mind.
After the holidays I usually have some Christmas money burning a hole in my pocket that I can’t wait to spend on brand new gear. Because I spend a lot of time studying to improve my riding skills and researching motorcycle products, when the editor asked me if I want to test out these goggles – I jumped right on it.
Below zero temps are not ideal for riding, but that doesn’t mean we’re stuck hunkered down in front of the fireplace. Here in the heartland we participate in plenty of other outdoor activities in the winter, ranging from skiing to hiking. There were ample opportunities to try out the Get Lost Goggles.
I must confess I have never heard of Get Lost Helmets. The package they arrived in was of no help. There was no information about the goggles or the company included inside. So I googled them and it seems Get Lost is actually well known for their helmet accessories (think orange Mohawks). I’m not sure how they came up with the name, but it fits with the sort of rebellious products that they make, and the independent nature of motorcyclists.
These goggles are made with heavy-duty polyurethane frames.
Instead of foam lining the inside, like most goggles I’ve previously owned, they have a soft rubber interior with curved edges that make it nice and comfortable against your face.
The lenses are scratch resistant and come in three different tints: clear, smoke, and yellow.
The bottom edge of the frame has 5 small slotted vents on each side to allow circulation up behind the lenses and there are also 7 vent holes on each side of the frames underneath where the strap attaches. These act as exhaust vents to keep the air moving.
The strap is not very wide but it has a large amount of adjustment leeway and I had no issues with it rolling or twisting.
The only branding is a small logo on the strap.
A microfiber cloth for cleaning.
A microfiber pouch for storage.
A hard-sided carrying case for added protection on the bike.
Everything in the package was well made with no loose threads or blemishes.
Wearing the Goggles
I happen to have a very small head and my face is rather narrow (goes with the head), so I usually have to buy youth size glasses in order to get a good fit. I found the Get Lost goggles to be very flexible and comfortable. They fit both my narrow face and my husband’s larger, broader face with no issues.
The nose cut-out was large enough that it did not pinch or cut off my air supply – much like my ski goggles have a tendency to do. They have a kind of funky retro style – sort of 1940’s. However my Softail Slim also hearkens back to that era so they kind of fit with my ride.
I’ve found them to be very useful in overcast weather and at night.
The optical quality of the lenses is excellent.
The yellow tint sharpened the edges on overcast days and reduced glare for night-time riding.
I spoke to several of my racing friends who prefer to use the yellow lenses for racing under the lights, because they increase visibility and reduce glare from the overhead track lighting.
The strap is long enough to accomodate the outside of a ¾ helmet, but I found the goggles fit closer to my face when I wore them under my helmet. As you can see in the picture above, my very patient model had no trouble with the fit over the top of his helmet.
I did not find anything online that claimed these goggles are anti-fog, which is good, because they’re not. Putting them on in cold weather they can fog pretty quickly, but once you get up to speed (I wore them skiing) they cleared up with the excellent air flow coming through the vent holes.
As a temporary fix, I used a little saliva on the lenses and had no further issues. I’ll probably invest in anti-fog spray if I use them on the bike.
They do fit tightly against your face and they do get a little warm when you’re exercising vigorously. I found that flipping them up when stopping to rest kept my face from perspiring underneath the rubber edging. I imagine if you’re just sitting on a motorcycle with wind constantly in your face this might not be a problem.
In short, these are comfortable, well-made goggles.
With the inside use of soft rubber instead of foam, I expect them to last much longer than my other goggles – ones that I have been replacing every year.
Modular helmets offer the perfect blend of style and function. The evolution of the modular helmet has been, like all motorcycle safety gear, continuous and explosive.
The perfect hybried between the full face and open face helmet, a modular allows you that additional level of comfort and convenience. If you’re in the market for a new modular helmet, we recommend you consider the following options.
As always, check back with us here at wBW for hands-on reviews of our favorite modular helmets.
Looking to pick up a new helmet and unsure of what to look for? Our helmet buyers guide outlines what you need to know: safety standards, fit, top-brands, and more. Check it out here.
Best Overall Schuberth C3 Pro
Why We Picked It
When we reviewed the C3 Pro back in 2014, we praised the excellent build quality, paint finish, interior comfort, and noise-reduction. We also liked the internal sun visor. Despite its high price, there’s no denying that as we enter into 2018, the C3 Pro remains the best all-around modular helmet on the market today.
The C3 Pro is an updated version of the popular C3. Among the upgrades include a rear spoiler, reduced noise levels, improved ventilation, and enhanced comfort (via revised liners and cheek pads). With an MSRP just north of $600, these improvements give the pricey C3 Pro a commanding lead in both form and function compared to other mid-range modular helmets.
Other features include an integrated sun visor, built in antennas (to boost FM or Bluetooth range, plug and play with the Schuberth SRC System), and venting on the chin and top of the helmet.
We chose the C3 Pro as our best overall recommended modular helmet because it offers the perfect blend of price vs. function. It’s more expensive than some other options, but it’s also among the best in comfort, build-quality, and features. At just 82dB (@ 60 mph / 100 km/hr), the C3 Pro is also among the quietest.
If you don’t need all the integrated speaker/mic that the C4’s got, the C3 Pro is easily the modular helmet to buy.
Best Value Scorpion EXO AT950
Why We Picked It
Currently available for around $270, the Scorpion EXO AT950 is a bargain and a great value. It wears a bit tight compared to other helmets, but is otherwise an excellent dual-sport helmet.
During Rick’s comprehensive hands-on review, he noted that the AT950 is a bargain at its list price of $270. It’s comfortable to wear, fitting a bit snug but not uncomfortably so, and is well balanced. Ventilation is average to above average, and the fit and finish are both excellent.
The AT950 is based on the AT920 (the 950 is the dual-sport version). Built-in features include an internal sun shade, removable interior, and chin curtain. The integrated peak can be removed, along with the face shield, allowing you to wear the EXO AT950 like a dual-sport helmet using Goggles. We prefer the peak removed, but the choice is yours- it only takes a few seconds to swap out.
The AT950 offers everything that the “big boys” in the modular adventure helmet space offer, but at ⅓ the price. It also looks fantastic. That’s a winning combination.
Fully Loaded Schuberth C4
Why We Picked It
While we haven’t tested a C4 hands-on (yet), there’s no denying that the C4 is a very solid contender in the segment.
The Schuberth C4 is the long-awaited update our top-pick, the C3 Pro, and bakes in a few choice upgrades that make it the segment-leader in terms of technology and design. The C4 almost looks more like a German luxury car than a motorcycle helmet- it has a distinct sleek, refined, luxurious style that other helmets don’t reach.
Included in its rich feature set are an integrated one-touch sun visor, integrated antenna, pre-installed speaker/microphone, and an extra-large anti-fog lens. As you’d expect, the Schuberth SC1 communication system plugs right in with minimal setup needed.
However, all of this luxury and functionality comes at a considerable premium compared to some other options in the class. Then again, those options don’t have integrated speaker / mic systems and the upscale styling of the C4.
First released in 2012, the Neotec is the very definition of the word “paradox”. That’s because it’s not a radical redesign of the flip-up motorcycle helmet concept — yet, at the same time, it’s completely different. Stick to the basics — but take the time to do it right and obsess over every detail — and you’ll be golden. Sounds easy, right? Apparently, it isn’t. Why and how so many motorcycle helmet manufacturers get it wrong is very puzzling.
In the case of the Neotec, Shoei nailed it. From the ventilation, which has a chin and top vent (well-engineered, we might add), to the internal sun visor, to a consistently excellent level of build and quality of finish.
All told, the Neotec is quiet, built extremely well, and well-ventilated. It’s a great combination of the qualities that riders appreciate. Its price is near the high-end for modular helmets, but is in-line with our segment-pick, the Schuberth C3 Pro, and is much less expensive than the C4. A great option for those seeking a quality, comfortable, and well-made modular helmet.
Introduced as Nolan’s flagship model in 2012, the N104 Absolute is a premium modular helmet that offers features that you’d expect at the price point (including integrated sun visor). As we noted in our comprehensive hands-on review, the N104 has excellent ventilation, visibility, and quality of build. It earned an “outstanding rating” for paint and graphics quality for this very reason.
The N104 fits a bit narrower than Nolan’s of the past. If you’ve worn an N90 and found its internal fit to be a bit too round, the N104 – with its sporty, snug feel – may be just what you’re looking for.
One big win for the N104 is its forward visibility which, thanks to a large eye port and face shield, grants its wearer an expansive view of the path in front of them. While all the helmets listed on this page provide good visibility, the Nolan takes it a step further.
The N-104 has a very high-quality, precise and solid feel. The build quality on our example it outstanding and all of the features are carefully designed and have been evolved over more than a decade of Nolan N-series flip-up helmets.
A considerable upgrade compared to the IS-Max (we’d know), the HJC IS-Max 2 offers a strong value-play at the sub-$200 price point. It competes directly with the Bell Revolver EVO, GMax GM54S, and LS2 Strobe. We chose the HJC for a variety of reasons, the least of which being that we have had numerous positive hands-on experiences with HJC holistically.
Integrated into the IS-Max 2 are quality of life features that we appreciate, including a UV-blocking face shield and one-touch sun shield. The anti-bacterial interior is also a nice touch, making the IS-Max a little more forgiving on long-distance rides through hotter temperatures.
While the IS-Max 2 may lack some built-in functionality seen on segment leaders (ike the C3 Pro or C4), it more than holds its own in the sub-$200 price-point and is an excellent value. If you’re wanting a modular with the basics done really well, HJC’s IS-Max 2 is a worthy consideration.
Choosing not to rest on their laurels, Shoei has taken an already excellent modular helmet design in the popular Neotec (see our review) and made it even more worth our hard earned dollars in the new Neotec II.
Features and Benefits
The Neotec II is touted as the premier, multi purpose helmet by Shoei. Comfortably used for upright or sport riding positions and even as an open face helmet.
If you’re an uncompromising gentlemen who (like myself) rides several different classes of motorcycles frequently the luxury of only needing one helmet is alluring indeed.
I’m a big fan of modular helmets. Flipping up the chin bar to give my wife a kiss farewell, take a drink, have a mano a mano conversation with the police officer who just pulled me over, or simply being able to ride open face in high heat is my cup of tea… all easy thanks to the modular design.
Shoei improved the Neotec II chinbar locking mechanism in such a way that it officially passed their criteria to be used open faced if desired. The old Neotec wasn’t endorsed as such, but everyone used it that way regardless. Fight the power!
Shoei knew this and so the locking mechanism was improved to accommodate us rebellious types as such.
The big red button on the front isn’t for initiating a self destruct sequence or ejection off your bike. That might be on the Neotec 3 possibly…
It’s for lifting up the chinbar easily even while wearing bulky gloves. Ditto for the controls of two vents and a switch on the left side to raise or lower the integral QSV-1 sun blocking lens. Once you wear a helmet with this feature in it you’ll never use sunglasses again. It effectively blocks 99% of the UV rays encountered and is replaceable if damaged.
The CNS-3 Visor and base have an improved seal from the original Neotec to keep water and dirt out of your face. Add to that the PinLock anti fog system which Shoei claims is the best in existence at keeping your view fog free.
Shoei visors are a cinch to replace in seconds compared to say an Arai visor which is more challenging and takes practice to do without damaging something in the process.
The Neotec II unsurprisingly received a solid safety rating from DOT testing. It’s equipped with Shoei’s exclusive Multi-Ply matrix shell on the exterior and several layers of impact absorbing, varying density foam on the inside.
The mixture of organic and synthetic fibres on the outer shell were carefully chosen to keep the weight down wisely. The original Neotec weighed in at about 3.5 lbs. I couldn’t get an exact weight spec for the new helmet as of yet.
I have no doubts about the life saving potential of this or any Shoei helmet, but was a little surprised not to see a SNELL Memorial Foundation pass. It’s very rare for SNELL to stamp approval on a modular helmet, but I was hoping the Neotec II would reach what I view as the highest level recognition.
Silence is Golden
The biggest gripe with modular helmets is how much wind noise has to be endured by the wearer. Shoei chose to specifically target that and make this helmet quiet through extensive wind tunnel testing and design strategies.
The vaguely coffin-shaped intake vent on the top not only draws cool air in nicely, but acts as a spoiler when the wearer is riding in an upright position.
In other riding positions the numerous ridges and scoops molded into the shell exterior work together to quiet airflow over the helmet and reduce or prevent drag and lifting. The skirting around the underside minimizes turbulence and the cheek pads have specific noise deadening qualities in them.
The Neotec II is available in 4 sizes of outer shell ranging from XS to XXL. Six total sizes are possible by swapping out interior padding. This should ensure a custom fit when combined with the Interior Comfort System. This is the name given to the myriad of different sized pads available for the helmet that are removable and washable.
Micro Ratcheting Chinstrap
I recently bought a new Harley Davidson modular helmet that doesn’t have a ratcheting chin strap figuring I could live without it. I was wrong. I’m really missing it now, since I had it on my previous helmet and liked it a lot. You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.
Fortunately it is a feature on the Neotec II.
The quick release strap is very useful for emergency removal of your helmet in the event of the wearer needing medical attention for example. Paramedics will often just cut a chinstrap to access a patient which would ruin the helmet.
Staying Cooler: Improved Air Flow
Venting from two front air inlets route cool air effectively through channels inside the EPS foam and liner to exit cleanly out the rear “exhaust” opening. No one likes a sweaty head and not all venting systems are created equal. This one has a lot of engineering and thought behind it. It looks like a winner.
SENA Seamless Integration
That air flow will come in handy to remove all the hot air you’ll produce using the SENA SRL Communication System (Shoei Rider Link). It has a talk time capability of 10 hrs after all.
Pair with your phone to access music media, make/take calls or talk to other riders in your group with very minimal weight increase. Nothing was missed by SENA in the SRL system, it’s got all the options anyone would list on their helmet comms wishlist.
SENA designed this system specifically for the Neotec II. The components install easily and completely on the inside of the helmet, so there’s nothing outside to create noise through added wind turbulence. The custom design ensures there’s no negative effect to the helmet’s level of protection either (no holes to be drilled in the shell or padding adjustment).
You have to buy the SRL system separately as it’s not included with the helmet. I couldn’t find an exact availability date for the system at the time of this writing, but more in depth details for the SRL are available on Sena’s website here.
With all these features protected by a 5 year warranty and the level finery found in a handmade helmet, it’s no surprise the price to own a Neotec II isn’t low. It starts at $699 USD for solid colours and $799 for the detailed, graphic-rich ones.
Then you have to shell out some more bitcoin for the SENA… because it wouldn’t be right not to listen to music and call all your friends to tell them how much fun you’re having while out living life to its fullest on two wheels.
Let me add my voice to the many claiming that it’s worth the cost. I know someone whose life was saved because he was wearing a premium quality brain bucket. Specifically it was a Shoei on his head at the time of his accident. The helmet absorbed nearly the full force of the crash, destroying itself in the process, but without doubt preserving him.
Shoei already released the Neotec II to the European market back in October 2017. They expect to release it everywhere else this year. That leaves us here in North America and those in Asia some time to save up for this can’t miss offering in head protection technology.
The RPHA 70 ST represents HJC’s top shelf sport-touring helmet and is an evolution of the original RPHA ST. Features such as a lightweight and rigid shell, an internal sun visor, and included pinlock ready visor and insert are just the beginning of the features packed into the RPHA 70 ST.
If there were an official “household” name in motorcycle helmets, HJC could likely be that name, especially here in the in the United States.
HJC has been the number one selling motorcycle helmet brand in the States since 1992 and has achieved this by offering a balance of good quality and reasonable price. As such, HJC has not been the most expensive or inexpensive choice around and has excelled at dominating the mid-range market.
My first motorcycle helmet was an HJC full-face model in 1993. I don’t recall much about it except it was black, full-cae, and it did the job. I believe it was right around the $100.00 mark which fit well in my meager budget at the time.
Since that first helmet I’ve had some other helmets from HJC but haven’t owned one in the past few years. When HJC provided a RPHA 70 ST for review, I jumped at the chance to check it out and see their latest and greatest.
RPHA 70 ST Overview
At first glance, the RPHA 70 ST is a busy design. There are numerous vents, a slider at the lower edge of the left side for the sunshade, and a visor locking mechanism front and center.
That’s not to say it’s an unattractive helmet. The unit ia have for review looks great in black/white/grey Grandal graphic and the pattern works well with the various hardware located on the shell.
The main visor uses HJC’s RapidFire II shield replacement mechanism and it one of the easiest I’ve used. The visor is prepped for a Pinlock “like” insert and HJC includes a clear insert in the box. The included insert comes in an HJC package labeled “Skipfog” which appears identical to a Pinlock insert. More on that a little later.
Being a sport touring helmet (hence the ST label) the RPHA 70 ST includes features like an internal retractable sunshade, a chin curtain with an extender, and provisions for intercom systems.
Looking at the underside we have a double D-Ring closure strap and textured vinyl lining the bottom of the neck roll and cheek pads. One feature that really stands out are the red “Emergency” pulls for safe helmet removal in case of an accident.
With the high-level view behind us, let’s dig into the details.
Paint, Graphics, And Overall Quality
The Grandal graphic is a nice looking pattern that works well with the overall shape of the helmet. The graphics and the HJC logo decals are very smooth and the semi-flat finish is free from defects that I could see.
I prefer high gloss finishes on helmets but this finish is a nice balance between gloss and full flat matte finish available on other helmets. The smooth surface has a sheen to it rather than being completely dull and it seems to resist fingerprints well.
Operation of the various vent closures is solid and positive. Smoothness of operation seems to vary a bit from vent to vent but none of them reach the “high” quality feel I would associate with other premium range helmets. They are certainly not bad, but I’ve experienced better.
Likewise, the sunshade slider isn’t the smoothest in action. It feels perfectly solid and seems like it will last, but moving it from one end of it’s travel to other it doesn’t exactly “glide”.
The cheek pads have a nice soft feel. While not “plush” they are very comfortable. The underside of the cheek pads are covered with a textured vinyl designed to be grippy for staying put on motorcycle seats.
Helmet Fit and Internal Shape
Fit for the size large reviewed here is right what I expected, however, it is important to note that HJC’s size chart recommends size large for 58-59cm heads. This is a little smaller than the typical 59-60cm range many other manufacturers indicate for size large.
HJC uses three shell sizes for the RPHA 70ST with XS/S using the smallest shell, M and L using the middle shell, and XL/2XL using the largest shell.
As expected the size large is more snug than other large helmets I’ve had. Snug, but not painful. I actually prefer the snug fit and now that it has broken in it feels great and still fits secure.
Just keep in mind if one is normally towards the upper range of the typical large helmet, the next size up might be appropriate. I always recommend getting a helmet on your head if you can before purchasing or at least buy from a seller that allows for easy exchanges.
The shape feels just slightly to the narrow side of “neutral” so I’d characterize it has intermediate oval ”-ish”. If it were any more towards the rounds shape my chin could probably touch the chin bar without much effort. In this helmet I can barely touch the chin bar if I really stick my chin out.
Eyeglass wearers should have little to no issues fitting most frames comfortably inside the RPHA 70 ST. I found wireframes and plastic frames all fit without issue for me. Of course everyone’s head shape and size is different so one should bear that in mind.
The liner and cheek pads are very comfortable with a lot of open air space in the upper lining area. The surface material of the upper liner has a little texture to it and is not as soft as the cheekpad surface.
The cheekpads are covered in a moisture wicking “Multicool” fabric that is also anti-microbial. It’s a soft material with a nicer feel than other helmets in this price range.
Both liners and cheek pads are removable for cleaning and they can also be swapped out for other size options to customize the fit. The cheek pads are interchangeable between all shell sizes. For the upper liner, HJC provides a table to determine what sizes can be swapped between different size shells.
Eye Port And Visibility
The eyeport opening on the RPHA 70 ST is fairly standard with a bit of extra height than what I would consider average and average side to side view. Having had a Shark Vision R GT helmet in the past I can say that super tall eyeports aren’t necessarily ideal, especially during morning and afternoon times when riding towards the sun.
An extra bit of additional downward view can be had by removing the included nose/breath guard. These are getting to be common on full face helmets now but I’m not a fan. I have yet to notice much difference in fogging with or without them.
The main visor is optically very good with very little distortion visible through the clear polycarbonate. The material is about 2.8mm thick (measured at the top center of the visor) which is slightly above average but is still has some flex to it.
Since the visor uses a centrally located visor lift tab/lock flex isn’t really an issue when opening. It will twist pretty easily if one tries to flex it once it is open, but in real world usage it isn’t an issue.
Speaking of the lift tab / locking mechanism, HJC uses a spring-loaded squeeze-clip arrangement attached to the edge of the visor. It is very effective but it seems a bit cumbersome for doing what it does.
I both like and dislike the setup. On the plus side, I like the locking feature as it easy to engage by just closing the lid down until it “clicks”. I like this better than other helmets that use a separate lever located to the side. I also prefer the central location for lift tabs as it reduces flex of the visor and can be reached with left or right hands.
The downside in this case is that HJC has created a bit of a pocket in the upper chin bar around the clip to presumably keep it from accidental opening. At the same time it can make it a little difficult to get a thickly gloved finger into this area to release it. Vemar implemented a simple and effective locking mechanism on their recent Zephir helmet which seems more elegant a solution to me.
Regardless of what one thinks of the closure setup, popping up the visor lock leaves the visor open just 2-3mm which is great for letting a small amount of extra airflow in for de-misting or just extra airflow when it is hot.
There are a total of six positions into which the visor can be placed with the uppermost taking more effort reach. The top position is also where one positions the visor for removal.
HJC includes a “SkipFog” insert that attaches to the inside of the main visor to prevent fogging. This insert is similar (if not identical) to a Pinlock insert not only in form but also in the way it is installed.
Pinlock also offers a replacement insert to fit the HJ26 visor used on the RPHA 70 ST and 11 Pro. I’m not sure exactly what is up with this but the SkipFog included seems to work just as well as Pinlock inserts I’ve had in other helmets
The only concern I have is that the SkipFog lower edge seems to contact the upper edge of the visor locking mechanism. The edge of the insert seems to ride up a little here instead of being perfectly flush against the visor. I’m not sure if this would the same with the Pinlock branded option.
Face Shield Removal
HJC has a real winner with the removal procedure on the RPHA 70 ST and the HJ-26 visor. To remove the visor, simply open to the top position and pull back the release lever on the side pods. The visor will pop right out of the pivot point with ease.
Replacement is equally easy and only requires placing the visor at the right position and pressing it into the pivot. It will snap into place solidly on each side. It really is quick, easy, and simple.
Locking the visor into place creates a tight seal against the gasket around the eyeport opening. I tested the visor seal by running water over the brow of the helmet and even running it directly at the visor edge. No water leaked through in this static test and I doubt it would be an issue even on the road. It is sealed tight.
Internal Sun Visor
A drop down internal sun visor is integrated into the RPHA 70 ST which can be raised and lowered via a sliding actuator on the lower left side of the shell. Sitting around the ten o’clock position, sliding the lever towards the rear drops the shade down. Sliding it forward raises it and also has a strong detent at the end of travel to lock it into the raised position.
Like many other internal sun shades I’ve tested, I would have liked to see it be a little darker but it is still effective and removes the need to wear sunglasses or carry an extra dark visor in most cases.
It comes down pretty far, but like the darkness of the tint, I would have liked just a bit more. This isn’t a call out against HJC as this is typical of these visors across brands and the visor here is still better than most.
Optically it is good, but not quite as low distortion as the main visor. A bit of distortion can be seen to the left and right of center with the visor but it isn’t strong. After a few minutes of riding it isn’t apparent much anymore.
The RPHA 70 ST has no shortage of vents. At the bottom of the chinbar is a small screened opening that vents directly through the bar onto the chin area. The air comes in the from the front opening and empties into two separate channels that are opened and closed via a sliding switch on the inside.
Reaching this switch can be a bit tight if one has the extra chin curtain piece installed but I haven’t seen much need to use the switch much other than testing. Air flow here is hard to discern as it is so close to the bottom edge it’s hard to tell what air comes from the vent and air coming from under the bar.
Above this is a sliding switch on the outside of the chinbar that opens two channels on either side of the switch under the visor. These open up to large ports that channel air directly at the main visor.
The switch has raised sections at the bottom and top of the switch making it easy for gloved fingers to get a grip. Air flow through this vent is excellent and can be easily felt when opened. Having the drop down visor lowered blocks some of the airflow but it can still be felt.
The large top vent opens by sliding the entire vent cover toward the rear in two positions. The surface is very smooth with the front edge being the best place to push back on the cover. Once opened the rear edge is exposed to make it easy to catch for closing.
Like the larger chin vent, the top vent flows a lot of air. I can actually feel significant air flowing along the top of my head with the vent open. Of course the cold weather lately has me keeping the vent closed, but it also makes it easy to tell how effective the vent is.
The two top rear vents sit high on back and are under two small spoilers to which a rocker switch is located to open and close them. These two vents open directly through channels in the EPS material inside. Airflow isn’t as pronounced as the larger forward facing vent but it does make a small increase in airflow when open in conjunction with the large top vent.
Finally there are two always open rear exhaust vents are nested under vertical plastic covers. The covers sit vertically and are about 3 inches (76.2mm) but the vent hole is only about ¼ inch (6.3mm). The vent holes do have a straight path through to the interior through the EPS.
Overall the airflow is outstanding and is one of the best I’ve experienced.
Considering the various vents and the spoilers I expected the RPHA 70 ST to be a noisy helmet. In fact, the opposite is the result with lower than average wind rushing noise and very little low frequency booming.
A small chin curtain is pre-installed and does not appear to be (easily) removable but at only 1 inch (24mm) wide it isn’t that significant. An additional panel is included that attaches via hook and loop fastener on the inside of the curtain to extend it another 1.5 inches (38mm) to reduce airflow coming up from under the chinbar.
Opening the vents creates a bit more rushing noise but it is very well controlled. No whistling was audible no matter how I positioned my head. Raising and lowering my windscreen had little effect as well.
While not the quietest helmet I have tested, it is definitely near the top of the list in this area.
It is important to note that I always wear custom fitted earplugs when riding and one should always protect your hearing when riding a motorcycle. See the wBW Earplug Reviews page for more information on choosing and wearing earplugs. Note also that perceived noise levels will vary, depending on the individual.
Noise can be caused by many factors, including helmet fit, the type of motorcycle and windscreen, wind speed and direction and even the rider’s clothing.
Helmet Weight and Feel
Despite the internal visor, pinlock, and multiple mechanisms for vent closure, the RPHA 70 ST comes in at only 1538 grams (3.39 lbs) in size large reviewed here. This places it in the top 50 for light weight out of the 250 plus helmets we’ve reviewed at webBikeWorld.
Weight isn’t the only factor in overall comfort. It “feels” small and since size medium and large units share the same shell size the compact feel is not surprising.
The shell seems to cut a very clean path through the air with virtually no pulling or lifting at highway speeds. Windscreen or not it seems to work well either way. Head checks are also drama free and the helmet is very stable at speed.
A convenient way to carry around one’s helmet when off the bike. Locking it on a bike is not always possible or desirable. The design works best with helmets using micrometric type chin straps but it can be used with double d-ring types as well.
Motorcycle helmets are just a part of life for most riders and even in places where helmets are not mandated by law, riders will still more often than not have a helmet.
When riding a motorcycle, where to put a helmet is generally not an issue (your head!). What does one do with said helmet, however, once having arrived at a destination? Also, what if one needs to carry an extra helmet along for a passenger to be picked up later?
For some, that helmet ends up being stored in a top case or other lockable storage on the bike. This is fine for bikes that have this type of luggage but not all do or can even be outfitted with bags like this.
Some bikes have helmet locks that allow one to affix a helmet to the motorcycle itself. This can be a lock on the frame or even loops under the seat that secure the helmet when the seat is locked down.
Of course the last option is to just carry the helmet in hand, typically holding the fastened chin strap. This can be less than convenient if one has to carry other things or if there will be a lot of walking around and it doesn’t solve the “bring an extra helmet” issue.
There are some backpacks that will handle a full-face helmet and some others that are specifically designed for this task. These bags can still be a bit bulky and would have to be worn while riding which some, including me, don’t care to do.
What if there were a simpler way to carry it along and keep one’s hands free? Enter the EZGO strap.
The EZGO Helmet Carrying Strap
This carrying strap from EZGO is a simple and inexpensive solution to carrying a helmet along while keeping one’s hands free. It also packs up into a compact space so it can be easy to store when not in use.
The EZGO is currently available in five different styles and colors including black, light blue, grey, blue and white stripes, and white stars on black. All of the styles include the orange EZGO logo and use 1 inch wide (24mm) black nylon for the adjustable portions of the strap.
On the underside of the padded portion of the strap is a black mesh material (orange on the grey strap model) that allows for some breathability.
At each end of the strap is one side of a micrometric (also called micro ratchet or Uvex) buckle. A ratchet strip on one end and the spring loaded locking mechanism on the other. This is the same type of fastener that has become popular in Europe and is available in some helmets in the USA market.
So how is the EZGO strap in use?
Using the EZGO
I’ll admit that when I first received this item for review, I thought that this strap was an answer to a question that no one is asking. Carrying a helmet around via a shoulder strap? Really? When would someone use this?
Turns out after some time to think about it, I can see how this would be very useful for more riders than I initially thought. A scenario came to mind when I was at Barber Motorsports Park for their Vintage Motorcycle Festival.
At that event, most attendees arrive on motorcycles, myself included. I have a top case that can easily hold my helmet but not everyone does and they end up leaving their lid with their bike (locked or unlocked) or they carry it around.
At an event like the Vintage Festival, one can do a lot of walking at areas like fan zones and the huge swap meet that is also going on. Having both hands free while also having one’s helmet safely beside you does have an appeal.
Thinking about the fact that if someone steals a jacket or gloves that are left on a bike or in a top case one will undoubtedly be upset but they would have their helmet. They can hop on their bike and ride home (or to the nearest bike shop for a new one). If a helmet gets taken, then you are essentially stuck.
Granted, at an event like the one described, a new helmet can be purchased on the spot but what if it is some other kind of event where one is walking for a while without somewhere to store a helmet. This idea starts to make sense.
The EZGO makes the most sense if one has a helmet with a micrometric buckle. I still had access to my old Shark Vision -R GT helmet which uses this type of fastener so I could see how it works.
It really couldn’t be simpler. It slides into the buckle components like it was always part of the helmet. A simple lift of the red tab releases the strap when you’re ready to remove the EZGO.
Mechanically, the EZGO works as advertised and the strap seems strong enough to handle most any motorcycle helmet. There are a couple of potential issues one of which really depends on where you are located in the world.
First off, as I mentioned earlier, the micrometric buckle system is popular in Europe so many riders in the “Eurozone” will likely have or have access to helmets using that fastener. In the United States, where I am located, the Double D-Ring setup is by a wide margin much more popular.
When I reached out to EZGO about this, they suggested that one simply fasten the D-Ring style strap and then just loop the EZGO through that strap and fasten it. Of course, this does work but the helmet has a tendency to “roll” and flip around on one’s hip.
Another concern is more on the part of the helmet owner than the strap itself. Wearing a helmet on your hip means needing to be mindful of that extra margin needed to negotiate small and/crowded spaces.
I know I’d rather not have a potentially expensive item like this being banged around on tables, chairs, or even the heads of small children all of which live around waist/hip height.
The point is, be careful. Like adding large sidecases to a motorcycle, being aware of how much wider one has become needs to kept in mind.
I think the greatest barrier to my adoption of the EZGO for me is the simple fact that my current helmets don’t use the ratcheting closure. Using the alternate method of passing the EZGO through the Double D-Ring strap doesn’t seem as stable to me.
Still, the idea is sound and in markets where the EZGO can connect as designed, the strap would be a great alternative to leaving a lid unattended on a bike parked on the street or other similar situation.
I was a doubter at first but I’ve come to see the EZGO as a useful tool and a good idea for carting one’s helmet when not riding. The construction of the strap and the micrometric buckle
hardware is nicer than expected considering the $19.99 (USD) list price (currently on sale for $15.90).
A glove mounted system for cleaning a motorcycle helmet visor which includes a cleaning solution delivery setup and a squeegee on one device. A clever design and flexible materials create one of those accessories you’ll wonder how you didn’t think of it.
If you’re seeing this review and thinking you’ve seen this product before, you are correct. One of our reviewers across the pond in the UK, Alice Dryden, reviewed the Visorcat in 2013 and she gave it a very favorable review.
This “at-hand” cleaning system (paraphrasing Alice’s joke there) worked well for her and the UK weather is as good a testing ground as any for this kind of device. In fact the Visorcat was designed and developed in the UK after company co-founder Alan Boulton during a damp evening ride in Warwickshire.
His visibility through his visor had gotten so poor that he ended up having to pull over to let a car pass. It was that evening where “lightning struck” and his desire to create an effective visor cleaning system for motorcyclists was born.
Fast forward to today some subtle updates have been made to the Visorcat since our first review but the product is mostly unchanged. Now I’m getting a chance to evaluate the Visorcat here in the USA.
Will it be just as useful on this side of the Atlantic?
Read on and see…
Alice covered the Visorcat rather thoroughly before but I’m going to just briefly go over what we have in, or rather on, hand here. The main body of the Visorcat is rubber in roughly the shape of an “L” and is designed to fit on one’s left hand with the longer portion of the “L” wrapping over the back of the hand/wrist area.
An adjustable nylon strap runs from the far ends of the longer “L” side. This strap runs under the wrist to hold the Visorcat in place. Although Visorcat recommends just tucking it under, a keeper to wrangle the extra main strap material would be handy.
On the top the long side is where the fluid reservoir sits along with the refill port for the cleaning fluid. The port “cap” is permanently attached with a rubber strap next to the reservoir. Sitting perpendicular on top of the short side is the “business” side of the Visorcat where the sponge and rubber squeegee are housed.
The shorter side of the “L” sits alongside the index finger (or thumb) and at the far end is an elastic strap to wrap around that finger (or thumb). On the underside of the sponge area is a stiff portion of plastic to help add rigidity to this area. This should help keep the sponge and squeegee area straight as one uses the Visorcat.
The “Visorcat” Name
The way one drags the sponge and squeegee across the visor likely the the reason for the “cat” portion of the Visorcat name. Although it is not called specifically in the included literature or their website, using the Visorcat mimics the way a cat cleans its face.
Think about how a cat licks its paw and then swipes over it’s face and ears. This is how one looks using this device to clean a visor when dragging the sponge and squeegee back and forth across the helmet visor. Speaking of which, let’s take a closer look at actual use.
Many gloves designed for wet weather include some kind of “wiper” that can be used to clear a visor. These can be helpful in the rain but what about road grime or insects?
The times when it is hardest to get my own visor clean is when riding after rain has passed through. Vehicles up ahead can throw up a mist of crud and grime that quickly reduces visibility through my faceshield. Trying to clear it with the small rubber wiper on some waterproof gloves can make it even worse necessitating pulling over to stop and clean the shield.
The Visorcat deals with this type of mess handily by adding fluid cleaner to the equation. Wiping from left to right uncovers the cleaner dampened sponge so it drags across the visor. Movement from right to left covers back the sponge and the dual squeegee blades wipe clear. Repeating this motion a couple of times seems to clear the grime easily.
I thought this would be the only time it would be useful but insects can also be removed by the Visorcat in a much better fashion than rubbing one’s gloves over the spot of impact. Turns out this is very useful when on the interstate for long rides where dead insects can build up on the face shield.
This can get even worse during the evening and night as once the sun goes down, bugs are drawn to the headlights of cars and bikes alike. Trying to wipe a visor clear with a gloved finger alone is usually a mess. Definitely a perfect time to have a Visorcat strapped to one’s hand.
With insect impacts it can take more back and forth wipes to get the shield clear versus removing road grime but it will clear it. Plus being able to clean right after impact makes the work much easier than trying to clean that mess of the next day when the bug remains are dried out.
Maintaining the Visorcat
The Visorcat ships with a small bottle of cleaning solution that they claim is specifically designed for polycarbonate face shields used for motorcycle helmets. Don’t be fooled by the “glass cleaner” blue color, this is not your typical home use glass cleaner that can discolor plastics over time.
The cleaner is made for Visorcat by a company called Shift-It that makes motorcycle and helmet specific cleaning solutions. A 50 ml bottle of this cleaner is included and larger 250ml bottles are available from Visorcat.
That bottle of fluid has a long tip that opens when twisted (took me a minute to figure that out) and creates a nozzle that mates to the port on the back of the Visorcat to refill the fluid reservoir. When I went to open the refill port to initially charge my Visorcat, I only saw one opening (pictured) for filling.
Alice stated in her review that she saw two openings and when she tried one, it went everywhere but inside the Visorcat. Maybe this is one of the improvements that has been made since she reviewed hers in 2013.
Once the reservoir is filled the fluid travels from there to the sponge via a channel in the body of the Visorcat. To keep things from getting messy a wick is used in the channel to regulate the flow of cleaning solution.
This works well and keeps the sponge from getting oversaturated and/or the fluid leaking out in a hurry. Since the system isn’t entirely closed I did find that a half-full reservoir will dry out in about two weeks or so due to just normal evaporation. For occasional usage it is probably best to not top the reservoir up to conserve the solution.
Over time the sponge will undoubtedly need to be replaced as it will wear like any other sponge. Replacement sponges are available from Visorcat and they easily slide in and out of the holder requiring nothing more than a firm grip to replace.
To “charge” a dry sponge I found that a squeeze on the reservoir space. It will encourage the fluid to wick down to the sponge faster than just waiting for it to happen naturally. I cannot say that Visorcat recommends this action, only that I have done it and it seems to work without causing any issues.
I have to admit that when I first received the Visorcat for review, I was dubious about how well this would work, if at all. It seemed like it would be bulky and get in the way of the switchgear and such on the left handlebar.
For my part, I didn’t have any issues. In fact, I was pretty impressed how well this works. It can take a few tries to get the hang of properly positioning one’s hand and wrist to get the best “wipe” across the visor.
Is this something I would have on my wrist everyday? Probably not. I would definitely keep it with me for longer trips or for when I’m riding in the evening during warmer months of the year.
The low weight and small size make it easy to find a spot in a tank bag or similar storage space for the Visorcat to live. I would recommend keeping it inside a ziploc type bag to prevent possible solution leaks that could get on other items.
At the (GBP) £34.99 (~$47.00 USD) asking price, it isn’t the most inexpensive visor cleaning system around but the convenience, effectiveness, and potential safety factor is hard to argue with.
Unfortunately for my fellow Americans, the Visorcat is not currently distributed in the USA. I have found a couple of ebay of sellers who will ship to the States but the price climbs a little over $60.00 by the time shipping is considered.
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I’ve begun noticing that there’s nothing more controversial in the world of new motorcycles right now than the growing number of different “automatic” transmissions being rolled out to consumers by manufacturers.
If you’re in the dark about what I’m referring to as an automatic, let me clarify. Motorcycle automatic transmissions are different than the ones found in the world of cars. They don’t have torque converters, anywhere near the bulk and weight and in reality are a whole different ball of wax.
There are Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT) which have made the leap from the world of scooters to regular motorcycles on machines like Aprilia’s Mana GT.
There are electric motorcycles from companies like Zero which have no actual transmission to speak of, but an electric motor instead.
Then there are Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmissions (DCT) which are a cut above the rest… including regular manual transmissions when it comes to overall performance.
Why are DCTs are better? They perform faster and allow the rider to concentrate on more important things than shifting, like cornering, braking, dodging obstacles, other drivers or just enjoying the view of insects slamming into the windshield.
Not only are they better and safer as such, they’re not going away and likely are going to drag all of us kicking and screaming into the future of motorcycle transmissions.
DCT bikes are superior to the electrics because they don’t suffer from limited range before needing a recharge and don’t need a drive belt like in the CVT system.
DCT is more correctly described as a semi-automatic in reality. There aren’t any deliberate shifts in gear ratios in the aforementioned true automatics while conversely there are 6 or 7 different ratios found in the DCT and two clutches used for shifting between them.
How Honda’s DCT Transmissions Work
The technology has been perfected from extensive testing and development in the world of auto racing. If you want to shift gears seamlessly up or down, faster and smoother than any human can using a clutch pedal (or even paddle shifters on a steering wheel), then you want DCT automatic mode.
There are two main shafts used to transmit power from the engine through the transmission using two separate clutches. The different gear combinations are selected by a computerized control unit using a shift motor.
The odd numbered gears are splined to the mainshaft connected to the start up clutch.
The even numbered gears are found on the second mainshaft controlled by a second shift clutch pack.
The shift clutch mainshaft is hollow allowing it to ride on the outside of the start up clutch mainshaft.
This design makes the DCT compact enough to live in a motorcycle frame while only being about 10 lbs heavier than a conventional bike transmission.
When the rider pushes the “N/D” button to the “D” side on the handlebar switch, the control unit engages first gear by moving a shift motor via solenoid instead of the rider stomping on a foot lever.
When the rider twists the throttle, pressurized oil is instantly sent to the start up clutch to engage it and so power flows out to the rear wheel.
This is done so fast that there’s no noticeable throttle lag and the bike takes off in a way to match the input from the rider’s wrist. Whack the throttle open and you’ll launch with authority. Keep it civilized and the computer reciprocates in kind.
As the bike hurtles down the road the computer monitors front and rear wheel speed and selects second gear before it’s needed in preparation for an impending upshift. It holds off engaging the second (shift) clutch until a preset rpm and wheel speed is reached.
Once there it swaps power from the start up clutch to the shift clutch and a faint “Tick” sound can be heard.
This makes the shifts basically seamless compared to the massive drop off in power experienced when a manual clutch lever is pulled in and your left foot makes the gear shift.
So it continues from there either pre-selecting the next higher gear as revs rise or going to the next lower speed if the revs and wheel speed drop off. Seeing as there are two clutches to work with it can instantly go up or down in the blink of an eye according to the rider’s needs before they even realize they need to shift.
The DCT Mentalist
I don’t want to compare the DCT to The Amazing Kreskin or Derren Brown but the system anticipates what the rider needs from it in a way that is silky smooth and optimizes fuel efficiency. If it wasn’t so helpful it might even be a bit unsettling. How can the bike be smarter than I am?
You can select a more dynamic shift pattern to match a sportier riding style if you want the computer to hold off longer before shifting to let the revs go higher.
At any time while in the automatic mode a rider can hit a plus or minus button on the left handlebar to override the system and make a shift. The system will take over again a few seconds afterwards though.
There is an optional manual mode using the aforementioned plus/minus switches to do all the shifting yourself if you prefer.
I found the DCT was in sync on road with my shifting needs about 99% of the time.
I’m not a professional racer admittedly and so I imagine more talented riders might instead opt to tickle the shifting buttons themselves for aggressive riding on road.
Off Road Winning
The DCT equipped CRF1000 Africa Twin is quite at home off the asphalt and is a good case sample to look at of how the system performs there.
Johnny Campbell is an 11 time Baja 1000 Champion and in this video compares riding over really rocky terrain with a DCT vs manual transmission. It really cuts through the fat nicely.
Honda's DCT Transmission - Johnny Campbell - YouTube
To me it sounds like a match made in heaven because when I ride over really rowdy terrain the constant shifting and need to slip the clutch going up hills can be a real workout for my hands.
Lots of enduro riders install Rekluse clutch kits on their dirt bikes to free themselves from the manual clutch, so why not go one better with a DCT?
In deep mud and muskeg riding I find the build up on my boots can negatively affect my ability to find the shift lever with my foot as well. Not an issue with a DCT… there is no foot lever!
You can’t stall the engine while in automatic mode which would be extremely useful and welcomed when hill climbing. Especially true when you only get halfway up the first try.
The system uses an inclinometer to detect a hill climb and pick the correct gear for it. Similarly it can choose a gear to implement engine braking when going downhill.
These are clear cut positives for DCT off roading.
Off Road Limitations?
Having said that, some experienced off road riders’ feedback about DCT isn’t all positive but even they recognize the potential of putting the DCT on a 250 lb dirt bike should Honda do that in the future instead of just on the 500+ lb Africa Twin.
The ones who like DCT use the manual mode more often over the automatic while in the rough stuff to get the shifts exactly how and when they want them without issue. It’s not a hard transition to make if you’re open minded.
The ones who don’t favour it complain that they prefer pulling in a manual clutch lever when entering a sharp turn to tackle the initial entry unloaded. Being able to dump it once pointed the way they want to go then powering through and out of the turn is what they want to do.
With a DCT you have to brake and then downshift to make the same move, so it’s not quite the same.
You can alternately do controlled powerslides with a DCT Africa Twin through a corner if you have the traction control set on the lowest setting.
Another example where the DCT is described by some as less capable comes when a rider encounters a large diameter log fallen across the trail they need to get over. You can’t pull in the clutch, rev the engine up and pop the front high up and over the log quite the way you can with a manual… or so they claim.
The riders who don’t have a problem with this on the DCT bike say it’s fine as it is with the stock sprockets while others choose to swap out the rear for a one tooth smaller design to be able to raise the front end easier.
The smaller sprocket did drop their top speed in exchange for the added torque, but not to the point they couldn’t go faster than well over 100 mph.
Still Not Sold On DCT Reliability? Too Fancy?
Honda first put DCT on the VFR1200 in the 2010 model year so this isn’t a new thing at all. They’ve already improved the first generation DCT system to make the shifts even faster while ironing out any bugs with it.
In speaking with the Honda techs at my local dealership they tell me virtually zero DCT problems have come their way with the second generation system other than a few minor oil leaks here and there.
From a maintenance perspective there is an extra filter to be replaced compared to the manual clutch system and a little more oil, but that’s it. No special extra work required.
***In addition to the VFR1200 and Africa Twin, these transmissions can be found on the Honda NC700X, NC750X and CTX700 (in the US only) along with the new for 2018 Gold Wing DCT.
I did find a couple of instances online from owners of first production year Africa Twins (2016) where after plowing through a lot of deep water while out off roading some moisture must have gotten into the handlebar switch housing and caused their bike some significant shifting problems.
Water and electronics don’t mix obviously and after replacing the switches the problems didn’t return.
One other notable issue I heard from an owner was about DCT overheating when the bike got stuck in deep mud and the rider sat spinning the rear wheel for a time before they got out. I can see how that could be a legitimate concern, but no permanent damage was done to the transmission when they were allowed to cool before continuing to get unstuck.
Several owners now have in excess of 30,000 miles on their DCT bikes over varied terrain reporting no issues with them. Au contraire, they are pleased as punch.
Honda for its part claims you’ll get the same life out of a DCT as a manual clutch transmission. That’s the kind of promise Honda usually keeps if you look at their track record.
This isn’t their first rodeo, so to speak.
“I Just Don’t Like It”
This is what’s really at the heart of the resistance to DCT and other automatics from what I can tell: habit and distrust of change.
Yes it’s true that you can’t pull in the clutch lever at a red light and “blip” the throttle to listen to your exhaust note or signal your riding buddies… well actually you can, but you have to remember to first flick the N/D button into N.
Forgetting to do that will result in your bike launching forward abruptly into the car in front of you or deep into the “tulies” if you’re off road.
I understand your trepidation and concerns.
Motorcycling has been built up in our minds as an art and skillset we all pride ourselves on having mastered. Us “two-wheeled Picassos” feel deep satisfaction when it comes to executing a perfect launch or shift.
We’ve all worked hard to hone our skills to the point of being an unconscious reflex over the years. Starting out fresh again and re-learning our craft on a DCT could be uncomfortable at first.
Letting go of personal pride and embracing this new technology could even be troubling as one might feel like they’re abandoning their motorcycle heritage in a way.
Some may even worry about not having the same amount of control over the bike at first.
Nah… you’ll catch on much faster than you think, I promise.
Allowing sentimentality to get in the way of the performance enhancement DCT offers is a bit silly when you stop and think about it rationally.
Bikes these days are LOADED with dazzling electronics and techno-whizz-bangery that really does make us better and safer if accepted and utilized correctly.
Give It A Chance
In short, we’re actually missing out not having DCT on our bikes.
I realized this when I took a 2017 Africa Twin out for a test drive back in August.
At first it was awkward when I reached for the phantom clutch lever a few times, but after 20 minutes of city riding I was totally sold on it. No cramped hands from riding in heavy traffic. It was even dare it say it… almost relaxing!
Owners tell me that it takes about 250 miles of riding to really fall in love with it.
One claimed that upon initially leaving the dealership he felt a strong urge to return the bike in exchange for a manual clutch model.
Gradually that sense of panic faded with each passing mile and after enough saddle time it all came into focus for him along with a clear epiphany: it’s actually more fun on a DCT.
If you haven’t tried one out for yourself don’t hesitate any longer.
I’m definitely looking forward to trying out a new 2018 Gold Wing DCT as soon as I can.
The C5 single-channel camera system is a newer offering from INNOVV providing a lot of desirable features for powersports activities, particularly motorcycling enthusiasts, at a reasonable price.
Compact and ruggedized, the modular-based Innovv C5 provides a sealed waterproof lens, an aluminum DVR module, USB 3 integrated heavy-duty cable, and a dedicated protective power supply in the form of a weatherproof 12-5V DC converter.
The Innovv C5 also provides WiFi, a popular and extremely useful feature not found on the single channel l C3 and dual-channel K1 products.
When networked to a compatible smart device running the iOS or Android INNOVV app, users can configure the system for set-once use or interact dynamically to preview/live-view, review video, and manage the system.
Thanks in large part to the C5’s modularity and long lens cables (1.8m, 3m and 5m options), the system is easy to install and use on virtually any motorcycle.
Designed to have broad base appeal it is likely to have a special attraction for adventure touring riders who typically need a more ruggedized weatherproof system; for those of us who are just as happy getting wet and muddy the C5 is a great option.
Speaking of wet and muddy, the camera lens has an IP68 (waterproof) rating, whereas the DVR module has a somewhat lesser IP65 (dust/water protection) rating.
The pressure-fitted, thumb-screw sealed USB-C connector on top is ready for the task of coping with the elements, though users need to be aware that integrity of the system can be compromised by the silicone seal flap on the bottom – used to provide quick port access.
Where the solid sealed lens is more than functional, the original lightweight (thin) lens holder showed signs of weakness. It has now been redesigned for greater strength, more resiliency, and better grip of the lens.
Initial concerns about video quality were largely mitigated in making sure the lens and holder were solidly mounted. Depending on the motorcycle, using some form of isolation mount to cope with the ultra-low-weight of the lens, motorcycle suspension,the terrain being travelled, pays big dividends.
The Innovv C5 is a welcome and well-priced product that bears a close look. While not ‘bug-free’, the C5 team has completed some updates and continues to provide outstanding support.
Not having used the INNOVV C3 single-channel system, but in being familiar with the K1 dual-channel system (along with most of the other INNOVV products), the C5 piqued my interest when it was released.
For those who have looked at or used the C3 and/or the K1 systems, some components found with the C5 system will be familiar. Although virtually everything packaged for the C5 is upgraded or new.
There are two K1 systems installed and in constant use since the original wBW review published in December 2015.
Outside of the sporadic ‘freeze-up’ issue, exhibited by one of the DVR modules, they keep recording front and back ride video – some of which have proven extremely valuable at times.
Looking at the specs and features of the C3 and the K1 systems, the C5 seems to be ideally positioned, especially with WiFi and its ruggedized weather resistant approach, to move the INNOVV product yardstick forward.
Innovv C5 Overview
The Innovv C5 single-channel camera is a modular system with small form-factor components, heavy duty cables and weatherproof connectors. All of which facilitate installation on virtually any powersport vehicle; especially moto-machines.
While the main components,DVR module and lens (camera), are similar to those used for the Innovv C3 product, the Innovv C5 system is designed to be more rugged, provide a wireless link for smart device connectivity, and provide a wide range of settings.
Dust and water protected (IP65) level components, along with the even higher rated (IP68) sealed lens or camera module, should withstand heavy duty use. Including on and off-road in a mix of weathery elements
Users can undertake basic interaction with the system via front end (module) controls or have more detailed interaction with the system by using the onboard WiFi capability, and a compatible smart device running either the iOS or Android app to provide finer-grain configuration with on the fly control.
Camera with 120-degree field of view lens
Integrated Lens cable with waterproof USB-C thumb screw-type plug connector
Integrated Power cable with small waterproof coaxial pin connector
Innovv 12V to 5V DC Converter
DVR and Camera Holder components
Mounting kit with: 2 x lens brackets (one flat, one L-shape); 3 x silicone washers; 2 x flat metal washers; a 5/8ths in long screw (0.25in and 28P thread); and a 4mm Allen-head ‘L’ wrench
External microphone lead with 3.5mm connector and three clothing clips
USB 2.0 Card Reader with security loop strap
Installation Guide/User Manual handout
Innovv C5 Components
The Innovv C5 is truly the sum of its parts in providing a multi-component turn-key solution suitable for almost any platform.
Innovv C5 Components
The face side of the small module has a sealed screw insert with three tactile pressure activated controls for input; all three controls have integrated LEDs that provide visual communication.
Innovv C5 DVR module in easy reach and viewing
With the module oriented to put the INNOVV logo at the top, the upper oval button is the WiFi connection control. The one below is the Power & Recording (On/Off) control and the large bottom rectangular button is the Reset control.
The small 70 x 46 x 21mm (2.75 x 1.81 x 0.8in) aluminum module is available in black or gold and has an overall International Protection Marking (IEC standard 60529) rating of IP65 (dust and water protection).
A key component in providing dust and water protection is the weather-proof screw-type USB-C screw-interface power and data connector used on top of the module.
A somewhat less robust but effective silicone cover (cap) recesses into the raised edges of the module, protecting the bottom interface ports.
The bottom section provides a 3.5mm external microphone (mono) port, an internal microphone hole, a micro-USB port, a small access hole for the reset switch and a micro-SD card slot, accepting up to 128GB media – the faster the better.
Keep in mind that the silicone flap needs to be fully engaged to maintain the environmental integrity of the module per its IP65 weatherproof rating.
Lens and Lens Holder
Left to Right, original and new stronger lens holder
At 25.5 x 54mm (1.0 x 2.13in) the tubular aluminum-bodied lens is small, sleek, and low profile. It provides an encompassing 120-degree horizontal field of view, along with a bit of edge distortion – a minor trade-off considering its other attributes.
Itt is a totally sealed unit, from its permanent integrated lead to the actual lens and it features an IP68 (immersion) rating.
The most rugged piece supplied with the C5 kit, the lens has an impressive operating temperature range of -20C to 60C (-4F to 140F).
Between its IP rating and operating temperature range, the C5 lens should have the ability to handle almost any climatic condition.
The integrated 1.8m or 180cm (70.8in) integrated long connection harness terminates with a USB-C connector, in the previously identified weather proof connector housing.
This sealing housing fits snugly into the receiving port on top of the DVR module as a pressure fit and secures with two small thumb-screws – unique and comforting in its design.
A lightweight C-shaped lens holder with an integrated 0.25in (20P) threaded insert cradles and secures the equally lightweight lens.
Weatherproof coaxial power connector
The included DC/DC (12V to 5V) converter power supply is a small sealed component providing 5V DC (2A maximum) with a 10 second power on/off delay -a system safeguard. This component is also available as a separate product.
The 5V connection to the DVR module is made with a dual wire lead, terminating in the male end of a waterproof coaxial connector that mates up to its other half on the shorter power lead segment, and integrated into the main USB-C harness.
A 500MA Li-Polymer battery is the internal system power source capable of providing up to 60 min. of recording at 1080p, along with a stated 60 min. charging time.
The internal supply allows the system to power down under control when the ignition is switched off and the 10 second On/Off delay ends so ongoing functions (like saving to a file) are completed without corruption.
Another function is to provide a critical fail-safe power supply, providing the means to power the system for short periods of time in event of an accident, or if the motorcycle is parked and subsequently ‘disturbed’.
DVR bracket and mounting hardware
This small lightweight plastic bracket provides a snap-in pressure-fit mount for the DVR module.
The bracket has four small holes drilled in a rectangular pattern on the back section and the mounting kit includes small sheet screws and double-sided foam adhesive for use with the bracket.
An overlooked opportunity regarding this bracket is that the four-hole pattern used is not sized to accept a four-hole AMPS industry standard pattern plate or bracket.
Harness Lengths (for Reference Purposes)
USB 3.0 rated video cable – 1.8m or 180cm (70.8in) provided, with 3m and 5m lengths available
DC 12v to 5V Converter – Input Red & Black are 60cm (23.6in), Yellow trigger lead is 80cm (31.4in); and Output DC Coaxial Connector (dual wire) is 60cm (23.6in)
External microphone lead is 2.5m or 250cm (98.4in)
Innovv C5 Installations
After completing the recommended one hour charge prior to initial power-up by using the bottom micro-USB port, the next step is installing the system components – initially on the 2014 BMW F800GS Adventure.
Finding the right home for components provides challenges, especially as motorcycles (usually) feature lighter trimmer designs and less (typically) encompassing plastic, but with more OE electronics and related components.
Thankfully, most electronic components continue to shrink in size, like the small sealed Innovv 12V to 5DC converter/power supply that is a welcome inclusion with the C5 camera kit and is installable almost anywhere.
With the centre top panel removed exposing the airbox cover and battery box components, the converter is mounted with 3M Dual-Lock to the left of the Arboreal Systems Neutrino Black Box (NBB) V2 module (also secured with 3M Dual Lock).
Use of quick-detachable 3M Dual-Lock fastener allows the Innovv and NBB modules to be lifted away from the air box cover when it needs removal for air filter maintenance.
This location puts the converter in close proximity to an available circuit on the NBB or to the battery terminals – an option exercised while keeping the converter away from the C5 DVR module, and eliminating or minimizing electrical interference – all set.
To prevent unplanned incidents before doing any electrical work, the negative and positive terminals on the battery should be disconnected and isolated. Before doing any electrical work, the negative and then the positive terminals on the battery are disconnected and isolated to prevent any incidents.
With the battery connections made, a length of yellow PET is added over the yellow trigger for protection and routed over to the right side of the motorcycle where it runs parallel with the NBB V2 trigger wire back to the under-seat On-Board-Diagnostic, or OBD plug.
The existing Blue Posi-Tap originally installed for the NBB trigger wire now hosts both leads to the 12V switched supply wire on the OBD harness. Neither device draws much, so they do not intrude on the onboard system or functionality of the OBD.
Initial Lens Mounting
Front and Side view of the initial lens fitment
Several test placements for the lens revealed many options – some relatively exposed and some more protected with stronger bases.
The initial mounting point chosen is also the L-bracket perch for the left-side mounted ADVmonster M60 LED.
The flat bracket from the kit sits so the elongated cutout faces forward for the lens holder mount, while the single hole end provides the means to secure it to the lower side of the L-bracket, with the LED sitting on the top side.
The elongation provides adjustment of the lens forward or backwards, and side to side, while a cushion sandwich mount made from two of the flat, and one of the silicone washers from the kit, sits between the lens holder and the bracket.
This cushioned sandwich potentially serves to help absorb road and machine vibration and also takes up the excess length of the kit’s three-quarter inch long screw with its 5/8th’s inch of thread (longer than the insert in the lens holder).
Finely formed piece but thin walled and lightweight. Its integrated 0.25in (20P) threaded insert used for the hardware is far stronger.
Carefully tightening the hardware reveals that the holder side walls flex a great deal, raising the potential for failure of some kind over time and use – turns out our concerns were well founded.
Once positioned, the lens has a clear view without any parts of the motorcycle intruding into the wide-angle view laterally and beyond.
Sure enough, after two weeks of use and some adjustments of the lens and holder (which may not be the norm), two observations were made: stress cracks appeared on the walls of the holder, and the tubular lens moves and pivots in the holder.
A makeshift fix uses shaped sections of Gorilla Clear Repair tape to cover and reinforce the brittle sides, including the cracked areas, while small strips of the tape overlap the front edges of the holder and lens to bind the two components together to maintain the lens orientation.
As usual, especially with a new product, observations with constructive feedback points were forwarded to the Innovv C5 team lead, who was quick to acknowledge the information – a pleasing start.
Follow-up correspondence identified that the holder piece was has been redesigned for more strength and better grip. Other observations submitted have also been added to the team’s review list. Bottom line here – support from Innovv remains quick and positive.
C5 DVR Module
DVR module in clip mount and RAM-B bracket
The module may eventually find a home in the small crowded under-deck area behind the full-length seat and the leads are long enough to accommodate this front to back installation.
Though in wanting to test the C5’s ability to withstand environmental conditions directly and allow direct access to C5 DVR module controls, initial fitment of the module is on the exposed left handlebar area.
The module is secured using a RAM-B handlebar clamp base (PN RAM-B-367U) installed on the upper left 8mm handlebar clamp mounting point, while a RAM-B rectangular AMPS plate mount (PN RAM-B-347U) is stuck to the back of the Innovv mounting bracket with 3M adhesive.
A short 1.75in RAM-B arm (PN RAM-B-201U-A) mates the two RAM-B ball mounts together to provide lots of positioning flexibility; RAM medium or three-way flex arms also work well.
The power harness exits the front left of the top panel and runs along the left side of the steering head. All the other cables and harnesses make their way to the left side of the handlebar.
As located, easy and safe left-hand access to the DVR module is provided along with a good visual line, although the hard to see LEDs don’t provide much in the way of visual communications.
If a fixed location is not desired or viable, the C5’s modularity and harness lengths provide flexibility when looking for optimum lens and module placement, and the most secure platform for a specific application.
The 0.25in (20P) threaded insert used with the lens holder is the near-universally accepted standard for camera mounting systems – many of which wBW has reviewed over the years and the use of RAM products just make things easier as well.
Bottom line – the Innovv C5 lens and holder combination can be affixed to almost any compatible mounting system, although users need to make sure the mounting location provides a stable platform for the lens to allow optimal video recording.
Innovv C5 Smart Device App Basics
Main App screen with menu
The Innovv C5 mobile WiFi app for Android (v5.1+) and iOS (v8.3+) is directly downloadable using the QR codes on the website, or by searching and installing the app directly from the Google Play Store or the App Store for iOS devices.
“Between the two platform versions, displayed on the aging Nexus 5 and the iPad 4 Mini, there are layout differences. But overall look, feel, and function is consistent; the team is also working on noted disparities.
Once launched, two of the usual welcoming splash screens are presented, followed by the main interaction screen with eight active menu selections or tiles: LivingRecord; Photograph; Document; Setting; WebSite; Shop; Blog; and ShareFun.
With the network connection made, exploring the tiles and their features is time well spent. I found the Record, Photograph, and Settings selections had the most use overall, while other menus provide further exploitation of the system’s capabilities.
Available C5 System Settings
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