Valve Stem Caps are Important

Valve stem caps on tire/wheel valves are hugely important, which is why they’re there in the first place although too many riders ignore the dangers. We see numerous motorcycles through the workshop that come in without one or even with both valve caps missing. They’re there to stop the muck and crud getting in and deflating the tire, but also to minimize air escaping if the valve leaks and to contain it as much as possible.

If you look at a brand-new valve, it’ll come with either a plastic cap or a lightweight aluminum cap that’s plated to stop corrosion. Some people seem to like going out and buying fancy valve caps for whatever reason, and wonder why their tire is losing pressure or the valve is bending. Just because your friend down the pub reckons it’s cool to rock skull head or dice caps, it doesn’t make it acceptable.

They are often cheap, porous metals that do more harm than good. You don’t really want that, do you?

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Exciting as Engine Oil

To the uninitiated, modern engine oil is about as exciting, well, as waiting in a queue for over 30 minutes. But once you take some interest in the quality of the lubricant you’re putting into your trusty motorcycle, you realize the boffins in white coats who formulate the motorcycle engine oil are brainiacs.

Take Shell Advance Ultra 4T four-stroke engine oil for example. It’s 100 percent synthetic race-spec engine lubricant, which Shell reckons provides a motorcycle engine with more torque and increased power while also keeping the clutch and transmission well oiled.

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The Joe Rocket Atomic 5.0 Motorcycle Jacket

The perfect do-it-all jacket is an elusive beast. It fits well, flows plenty of air in tropical weather and yet buttons up tightly with an insulating layer for cooler temperatures, has pockets for our stuff and waterproofing to keep us dry. Bonus points if it manages to look good in the process. I may have found a do-it-all contender in the women’s Joe Rocket Atomic 5.0 jacket, which also comes in a men’s version.

The Joe Rocket Atomic 5.0 is made of waterproof treaded Rock Tex and Hitena, with a removable full-sleeve insulating liner. Although I didn’t have a chance to test the jacket in the rain, I noted that the inner liner has an offset zipper inside the main shell zipper, with a flap that looks like it’s meant to eliminate wind and water from seeping in.

The CE-approved armor at the shoulders and elbows is accessible externally via zippered pockets, making it easy to remove for cleaning. The back protector is just a foam pad, but the pocket is large enough to accept optional Joe Rocket CE-approved armor.

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The Cartridge Fork - For More Control and Better Handling

Until the mid-1980s, most motorcycles featured cheap damper-rod forks with overly soft springs and damping that worked only at specific suspension speeds. Tuning in those days was pretty much limited to fitting progressive-rate springs and changing the fork oil to broaden the performance window.

However, sportbikes switched over to cartridge designs in the ‘90s. These offer much more consistent performance, separate rebound and compression damping functions and can be tuned more precisely over a larger range. If you are serious about racing, the internals can be changed for more precisely machined parts working in a different range to reflect the use you’ll be putting them to, hustling the motorcycle around a track lap after lap.

Cartridge forks work on the principle of a variable orifice, giving more damping control over a wider speed range. The damping is controlled by stacks of shims built on compression and rebound pistons. The two pistons are enclosed in a cartridge that looks similar to a large bicycle pump.

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The TomTom VIO - Scooter-Specific Satellite Navigation

In an attempt to reclaim the satellite navigation industry from he smartphone companies TomTom has designed a scooter-specific GPS.

Over a decade ago, TomTom created its first satnav for cars; it later released TomTom Rider for motorcycles, and has now revealed the TomTom VIO, the world’s first smartphone-connected GPS for scooters owners.

Unlike other satnav units, the TomTom VIO can be used while wearing goves and gives the rider access to various phone functions. It’s waterproof display offers turn-by-turn navigation both on-screen and via a Bluetooth-equipped helmet audio system. If a phone call comes in, the TomTom Vio will display the caller’s image, giving the rider the opportunity to answer using the headset.

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The New Michelin Power RS Sportbike Tire

Even though Michelin is involvement with MotoGP as the new spec-tire manufacturer has just entered its second year, Michelin is already looking to capitalize on that relationship by introducing a new flagship sportbike tire, designated the Michelin Power RS. Superseding the Michelin Pilot Power 3 as the company’s top-of-the-line sportbike tires, the new Michelin Power RS is primarily intended for road use while easily handling the occasional trackday outing.

Michelin is claiming that the new Power RS tire outdoes the competition in every dry pavement performance category, from grip to feel to flickability to stability and even average lap time.

Boasting new dual-compound technology derived from its latest racing exploits, the Michelin Power RS also has a new patented carcass construction that is claimed to allow excellent straightline stability as well as increased confidence at extreme lean angles. Interestingly, the new compounds and carcass have permitted Michelin to actually decrease the amount of ‘softer’ compound on the shoulder of both front and rear tire compared to the previous Michelin Pilot Power 3 tire.

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The Moto Guzzi Multimedia Platform - The little black box

When the Moto Guzzi Multimedia Platform arrived for me to attach to the Moto Guzzi V9 Bobber, I was delighted to find that it really is a little black box. It’s simple enough to fit behind a side panel and wire to the battery.

The idea is that your smartphone connects to it by Bluetooth, and your phone – which you mount to the handlebars – can than act as a supplementary instrument, letting you see a combination of revs, power, torque, acceleration and trip info.

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The Drumcharger - The Budget Forced-Induction Solution

Drumcharging, according to the patent rights holder, is the future of supercharging for motorcycles. And if the Italian-based firm has its way, it’s the future of small cars, tractors and stationary engines, too. Because in these days of increasingly stifled emission controls, which in turn are strangling engines and their output, manufacturers are being forced to find more grunt more efficiently.

If the motorcycle industry looks to the car world, it seems forced induction is where it’s at. But superchargers and turbochargers are not only bulky items to squeeze into compact motorcycle-sized architecture, they also add significant and unwanted cost.

AlterEgo Hardware is all about smart, simple and low-cost engineering and it says its drumcharger may just be the answer. While the drumcharger only offers a fraction of the boost that a conventional supercharger or turbocharger would, it can be produced at a fraction of the price.

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Fixing the Wind Screen with Plastic Polish

I’m coming up tp three years as the owner of my secondhand Yamaha YZF-R1 and it’s still pretty mint; if anything it’s better than it was when I bought it. But last month, on of those infuriating slip-ups happened that has you cursing. When we were swapping the brake fluid on the YZF-R1 during the master cylinder test, we spilt a bit on the screen and by the time we noticed, it had market the plastic.

It was only a small defect but, a bit like someone else’s hairy mole, once you spotted the mark you couldn’t stop looking, so it needed sorting. A new one wasn’t the answer – I waned the standard look for the motorcycle and the stock screen on the motorcycle was mint, so no double-bubble. Also, Yamaha stopped supplying OE screens for my model year.

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New Honda Front Fork Design for MotoGP and Sportbikes

The telescopic fork is one of the most enduring elements of motorcycle design, but new patents from Honda suggest that Honda is looking at alternatives.

While telescopics are hard to beat in terms of packaging, cost-effectiveness and handling response, they’re not without their limitations. Especially under braking, they don’t easily brace the mass of the motorcycle against the enormous force generated by modern tires and brakes. The fork and frame have to be incredible strong to transmit the forces up from the contact patch of the front tire to the steering head and back down to the center of mass.

So far, few alternative approaches have succeeded, but that’s largely down to the overwhelming familiarity of telescopic forks rather than problems with the designs.

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Do you like MotoGP racing? Which team do you like?

  •  Yamaha
  •  Honda
  •  Ducati
  •  Apriiia
  •  Suzuki
  •  KTM
  •  No Specific Team
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