Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Luggage rack prototype

Before you look at these pics and decide they're only about sport-touring motorcycles, think again. What I'll present here could apply to any motorcycle that needs a rack.

I dislike topcases. They're not very aerodynamic. They're cumbersome. They're expensive. They make my FJR look even more geriatric than it might otherwise appear. They're mounted too high and too far back for decent handling at speed.

90% of the time there's nothing in the topcase anyway, but we keep them on our bikes because their mounts are so freaking ugly.

For my purposes, the FJR's sidecases and a piece or two of soft luggage will haul all the stuff I need most of the time. If I need more stuff than that, I need to enlist the assistance of UPS.

So I've been thinking about building this for the last week or so. My design criteria were:

1) Keep my soft luggage from rubbing on my hard luggage.
2) Create a load space that extended from the tail of the FJR to the front of the passenger seating area.
3) Inexpensive but moderately attractive.
4) Easily removable.

And so, I built this.

Total time invested is ~5 hours. Raw cost was ~$40.

The rack is made of 3/8" x 16" x 24" ABS plastic. My local supplier sells it with a mottled finish that helps keep it from looking scratched in real-world use. The supplier even rounded the corners and buffed the edges for me. All I had to do was measure, drill, and fabricate the front aluminum brackets.

So what does this have to do with you and your bike? Well, LOTS of motorcycles out there will support racks. Look up your local plastics dealer. Ask about ABS or Delrin if you want a black rack. HDPE can be used if you want white. Other plastics come in colors. Why use plastic? It's easier to work with and it's 1/4 the cost of aluminum plate.

Just another thing to make you think.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Review - Alpine Stars
Ridge Waterproof Boots

I've been looking for a reasonably priced set of waterproof boots. I really don't like cold/squishy/wrinkled toes at the end of a day's ride. I don't like trying to dry a pair of fungus farms over a hotel room heater unit overnight. I don't like putting semi-dry (cold) boots on first thing in the morning. So, because I live in the Pacific North WET, I got these.

I got a phone call from my friend Suzie inviting me to join her and her GF at one of the local dealerships. Seems they were having their quarterly BBQ and sale. While wandering around, Suzie stumbled on these boots. (We'd coincidentally been looking at them online the previous evening. Suzie had already ordered a set. I was going to order a set that evening.)

I tried them on and they fit correctly in the toe area. They seem fairly true to size and tend to be wider across the toes than most manufacturers' roadrace boots. Construction seems durable. If your feet are like mine with a wide toe area and skinny heels will find they're a bit too wide in back, but they're not unusual in this regard.

Internet price is about $110. Suzie got me these for $87. She made them a gift.

Ok, so now the review in actual use. I only give them 2.5 stars right now.

1) These boots release from both sides. Getting your foot into them is super easy.
2) They're decent looking.
3) They seem to have a small patch of reflective material on the back of the heel. (Yeah, I'm really reaching for pros.)

1) The toe height is 2". This makes it difficult to get the toe under the shifter.
2) The boots are stiffer than John Holmes at the peak of his career. This makes it difficult to bend your ankle for shifting. 1+2 equals lots of missed shifts.
3) The shin guard area of the boot is only 8.25 inches above the inside base of the boot. Stand barefooted and measure 8.25 inches up your leg from the floor. Now imagine a REALLY stiff boot whacking you in the shins at that point every time you walk or shift. The 'shoe' part of these boots is comfy (but stiff). The uppers are torture.

I haven't really tested their waterproofness, but based on what I see of the construction, they seem tight. I'll re-review these if I ever get them broken in. I hated my SIDI roadrace boots when I originally bought them too. Time will tell.