Used And Abused

Used And Abused


Qwest Passage TC-2

Helmets, much like the heads they protect, come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. But what really separates the good, the bad, and the ugly? The only true way to choose the right one is to try them on and see which one fits. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to have worn lots of lids for my particular dome. And what a dome it is at that. I have a big fat head with short shaved hair. What this means is that many lids meant for, say, a smaller Japanese cranium, won’t fit my super-sized American skull and many inner liners tend to stick to and pull my hair. I’m still getting used to getting bugs in my teeth wearing peanuts and half helmets now that I’m at Hot Bike, so when the mailman stopped by with a Shoei Qwest Passage TC-2, I was anxious to rack up some miles back behind the facial windscreen.

The QWest is light, comfortable, and most importantly doesn’t leave my skull feeling like it’s being squeezed in a vise. It isn’t the most expensive model that Shoei offers at $492.99, but it has all the safety features of the big boys including the ever-elusive SNELL 2010 safety rating. Ventilation is quick and simple with a single chin and top air inlets pushing air out dual rear vents. Everything is big and snappy and can be opened and closed while on the move. The flat blue racing stripes on the flat black base are subtle enough to work with an all black bike, but offer just a hint of something other than the negative space that my current helmet lineup has. For just shy of 500 bones, I can at least feel like the most important bone is protected in the event of something gone wrong. JZ


Digital 400 Battery Charger

There’s nothing worse that gearing up for a ride, heading out to your garage, hoping on your bike, and hearing that “click, click, click” of a dead battery. We’ve all left something on, forget to turn a switch off, or just waited too long to replace an aging battery. Trickle chargers will greatly extend the life of a battery, but sometimes, if a battery is too far gone, even they can’t bring one back from the dead. The Optima Digital 400 may just be a knight in shining armor to save those batteries from the recycle pile. For starters, the Digital 400 is easy to read and extremely compact. It has three different ways to mount it, including a Velcro hook, a stand, or an included wall mount. A built-in microprocessor determines the state of the battery and adjusts to either charge or maintain the battery. It’s also specifically designed to be used on Optima and other AGM batteries. You can also run a quick test to see if the battery is still good or not. The easy-to-read lighted LCD screen takes the guesswork out of what’s going on and the buttons are raised and big for easy access even with greasy hands. To charge or maintain a healthy battery, just connect the leads, selected the type of battery, and go. The Digital 400 does the rest. At just less than $110, the Digital 400 will pay for itself with one saved battery. Leave it connected to make sure you never have to hear the click of death again. JZ


XD-5 camera case

We always have our smartphone on us and even though we can email, text, and blog from it, it’s also a great way to get the on-the-fly video footage when needed. We had used the Optrix XD4 case for our iPhone 4 with good results, but when we upgraded to an iPhone 5, we also had to put our quick-draw, wide-angle cell phone filming days behind us and use a dedicated vid cam. Well, our pals at Optrix came up with a case for the newest iPhone and we were lucky enough to be one of the first to test it. The new XD5 case is totally redesigned. It fits the phone like a glove and is leaner and lighter than the previous model case. The XD5 enhances the 1080p HD video of the iPhone by adding an all-glass, three-element, wide-angle lens that mimics every other mini-video recording device’s lens. Once the phone is slid into the case, it is cleverly protected from any and all elements by a rubber seal and beefy locking clasp. Once the phone was in the solitary confinement of the XD5 case, we could easily say goodbye to dirt, sand, bugs, and road debris. It’s also waterproof to a depth of 15 feet, so a little rain on the ride home would do no damage to the phone.

The XD5 now has a new rail-mounting system case and mount, which lets you free the phone from the mounting hardware, yet still have it reside in the protective Optrix case. Once we attached it to the bike with the supplied mounts, we found it to be secure and strong enough that we didn’t ever worry about losing our $500 phone even at tripe-digit speeds.

After playing with this clearly wonderful iPhone case for a few weeks, we can say that unless you are going to be making professional videos or are some sort of videophile, this case pretty much negates the need to buy a $300 stand alone video camera. JGH


Tie-down security system

It is inevitable that we are going to have to strap down our bikes from time to time. This is usually done hastily on the side of the road with some long-forgotten tie-downs bought from a discount store. More times than not, the bike is usually hauled away with disastrous results. These results can range from chipped or scratched paint, to the bike falling over in the trailer. No matter what the degree the damage is, it could have been averted by using BarCuffs.

What in the hell are BarCuffs, you say? They are ingenious stainless-steel forged metal clamps lined with soft rubber-like inserts that can and will keep your bike safe and upright when tied down. The design of the clamp is tapered for a good constricting fit when clamped around handlebars, grips, frame tubing, or anything else that is round.

Say the cuffs are clamped around a pair of ape hangers. A set of holes from each side of the clamp line up and allow a tire down hook to be attached to the unit. When the tie-down is put under tension, it immediately and securely clamps the BarCuffs onto the surface of the bars with no scratching or marring of the chrome. To fit a variety of needs, the kit comes with replacement soft inserts to fit tubing from 7/8 inch all the way up to 2 inches around. To add to that, each clamp has a tested strength of 2,000 pounds, so it is sturdy enough for even the most fully loaded bagger. We have been using these for a while now and have had nothing but good results. The product speaks for itself. JGH