Monday, June 23, 2008

Olympia Phantom Update

I just finished a trip with the Olympia Phantom suit. Temps in Yellowstone were 34F in the rain / snow / hail. Temps over Washington's Snoqualmie Pass were in the 38F range and speeds were 70+.

On the other hand, temps in the Texas Panhandle pinged triple digits. Dalhart, TX showed 100F even for several hours on the ambient air gauge of the FJR.

The Phantom and I handled it all quite well, thank you.

Here are a couple of pics in the cold with the liner installed and one layer of common thermal underwear. Heated grips were the only thing I needed to be perfectly comfy. Really, I have no memories of discomfort, cold spots, drafts when I was set up this way. I use thin roadrace gloves with gauntlets. V-Strom hand guards help.

Then came the Texas panhandle. I only used the exterior of the suit and a specially ribbed air moving liner (separate article later). Obviously the stock warming liner was packed away and all the vents were open. It worked. 100F is 100F and staying in the shade of the suit was just fine as long as air kept moving.

So that part of the package worked, but if you read the first review you'll find that the suit is an absolute commitment. You have to put the suit on in the morning and decide which mode it'll be in. You pretty much have to live with that commitment for the rest of the day.

It's impractical to take the liner in or out in the middle of a day. It's impractical to even change the venting on a large scale without pulling over and asking for help. Set it and forget it, because it's just gonna be hard to do.

Just to show an example: There are vents / air intakes in the arm. They extend from the upper shoulder down to a point below the elbow. They're large and they work. No complaint there. But OMG, if you open them and do the velcro that keeps it all from flapping in the breeze, you cannot possibly close the zippers and redo the velcro for a sudden shower or a mountain pass. You must pull over, yank on zippers, tug hard on velcro, and batten the hatches.

I don't even want to discuss the vents on the back. Virtually impossible to secure if the suit is on your body. I don't care if you pull over or not. You'll have to get naked at the side of the road.

This is my only problem with the suit....... It's the most inflexibly flexible thing I own.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The luggage rack in actual use.

I just finished 4600+ miles over two weeks with the luggage rack. Mind you, there's one mod I made before I left that probably proved to be beneficial. I used aluminum barstock for the front mounts of the prototype version you see two posts below.

For the actual mounts, I switched to 1/8 x 1 steel stock. The one or two ounces of weight I might have saved with aluminum just didn't concern me when compared to the possibility of cracking or crushing of the mounts.

Here are some pics of the plate installed and then in use. I have to guess I had more than 50# on it for the entire trip. The load is mounted forward, very low when compared to using a topcase, and there is very little problem with handling changes. Basically the bike just gets a little more heavy.

Again, this kind of thing can be fabricated for any sort of bike. TW200 to GL1800.