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Monday, October 22, 2012


My VFR is now sharing floor space in the garage with something on the opposite end of the street bike spectrum.

Take a look at my new blog:


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

5 Star Rating

My favourite motorcycle magazine BIKE from the UK recently updated their 5 star motorcycle rating system which appears in their guide at the back of every issue. Previously, they almost never awarded five out of five stars (never, in fact, since I've been a subscriber). In their new format, they award five stars to the best bike in each class. The VFR1200 was upgraded from four to 5 stars under this new rating, presumably for top sport tourer.  The caption remains unchanged:

"No gizmos, but a great engine, chassis and finish meas they're not missed. Auto (DCT) is pillion friendly, smooth, and 600 more. Bike Tip: The definitive sports tourer"

To my knowledge BIKE has not yet tested the updated 2012 version of the VFR.

Other motorcycles that were awarded five stars:

Ducati Multistrada 1200s
Honda NC700x
Kawasaki ZZR1400 (ZX-14)
Kawasaki ZX10R
KTM 990 Adventure
Triumph Speed Triple
Triumph Daytona 675
Triumph Street Triple R

Pardon the crummy cell phone pics:
August 2012 issue. SPOILER: the most fun bike ever is the Triumph Street Triple

High praise... I'd like to see a test on the 2012 model

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Shorai Lithium Battery

My VFR didn't need a new battery but it was treated to a new one last night. My friend Rob needed a new battery for his R1200GSA and I recommended that he check out Shorai.

 I found out about Shorai a few years ago and I've followed their product with keen interest. Their Lithium Iron technology would seem to address all of the shortcomings of a traditional lead-acid motorcycle battery. They're smaller, MUCH lighter, hold a charge better, and are more environmentally friendly.

Being ordered up Shorai LFX battery for his BMW, and being as thoughtful as he is, ordered one for my VFR as well and surprised me with it last night. He ordered direct from Shorai USA and they had the package shipped from their California distribution centre to his doorstep here in Airdrie Alberta barely 24 hours later. 

Installation was simple but not completely straightforward.

Here's how my standard battery sat with a trickle charger hooked up. The Shorai won't need this type of mainenance.

One could easily be fooled into thinking the box was empty.

The Shorai is so light that it feels toy-like compared to the standard battery.

The BS12 battery that Shorai recommends for the VFR is 2mm narrower, 5mm shorter, and 21mm thinner than the Yuasa 14S it replaced. It weighs 960 grams to the Yuasa's 3900 grams. It has a higher capacity and higher cold cranking amp rating.

Shorai supplies a large assortment of adhesive-backed foam spacers for a snug fit. I stuck a 1" thick strip to the bottom of the battery tray, a small 5mm thick strip to the bottom of the battery (it mounts on its side) and another small 5mm strip to the side of the battery. Ideally the foam should be placed in the tray rather than on the battery itself but the tray in the VFR is more of a basket and doesn't have enough surface to stick it to.

A thoughtful touch: Shorai sticks the mounting nuts to a little chunk of foam so they sit nicely in place to thread the bolts.

The positive wire crimp on the VFR has a complex shape designed specifically for the OEM Yuasa battery post. The casing of the Shorai battery interfered with the crimp so I had to add a spacer. Rob's battery came with a 90 degree threaded spacer which I bolted perpendicular in the post. Then I bolted the wire to the spacer. It sits up about 5mm higher than the original arrangement but doesn't interfere with the seat. I could easily lower it by using a thinner foam spacer under the battery.

Will I be able to feel the difference in weight? Maybe... but doubtful. I suppose in side-to-side transitions there will now be almost 7 fewer pounds to throw back and forth. Regardless, the maintenance benefits make it worthwhile.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Shoei Neotec Review

I'll keep this one brief. I'd love to write a comprehensive test and review with photos and diagrams but I'm just too busy so I'll skip to the conclusion.

Excellent, as I've come to expect from a top-end Shoei product. The removable liner has a plush luxurious feel, the shell feels solid, the paint is flawless and has a deep, rich clearcoat. The moving parts all work smoothly and everything opens and closes with a reassuring click. Three shell sizes make for what feels like a custom fit. Comfort is A1 for me. Your mileage may vary. My only 2 complaints here: 1. The chin bar is molded plastic (unlike the fibreglass shell) and there is no finish on the inside of it and I don't like that all the hardware is visible. 2. I don't like the metallic "clang" the clasp makes when the lid is shut. It rings in my ears.

Best I've ever experienced. I get zero buffeting, positive or negative lift, or wobbles no matter how my head is positioned. Even if I turn my head to the side the helmet slips through the atmosphere smoothly.

Even better than my previous Shoei X11 benchmark, which is one of the top helmets for airflow. When the chin vent is opened, a curtain of fresh air flows up across the front of the face shield. When the top vent is opened, little fingers of cool air rush in and tickle your scalp. The exhaust vent seems pointless though... I can't tell the difference from open to shut.

Heavier than I'm used to (the X11 is supremely lightweight) but not uncomfortably so, and the superb aeros help make up for it by reducing neck strain.

Excellent peripheral veisibility with a wide wrap-around visor. Vertical visibility somewhat limited... When the helmet is rotated down to a comfortable position (for me) the top range of my view is somewhat cut off when I have my head down. If I rode a more upright motorcycle it wouldn't be a problem but the VFR puts me in a mild sportbike crouch. Not a big issue. I hate the pinlock posts. They put black blotches in my periphery which plays tricks with my brain. I hope I get used to it, otherwise I'll look for a visor without them. I love the flip down fighter pilot shade. I feel like I should stencil "Goose" or "Maverick" across the front of the helmet.

Overall: Love it. 9 out of 10. Can't wait to put more miles on it. I was initially planning to go with yellow (for visibility) but in my experience, bugs are attracted to yellow and I don't like bugs swarming my head when I'm stopped. So I went with the next most visible colour: gloss white.

Thursday, April 5, 2012