Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Please Look for Motorcycles

I found out this morning that my uncle was killed in a motorcycle accident.  Please don't construe this as a ploy for sympathy.  In all honesty, I was not that close to my uncle.  Instead, take this as a plea to watch out for motorcycles.  My uncle, by all accounts, was a safe rider who always wore his riding gear.  Unfortunately, it didn't stop an idiot from pulling out in front of him, and taking his life.  I ask this not only as the nephew of someone who died in a bike accident, but also as a rider, and as the father of a rider. The life you save may be mine, or my daughter's.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Evaluating the Sena SMH10 Bluetooth Headset

When I purchased my new helmet last month, I also decided to upgrade my Bluetooth headset.  My decision to upgrade was partially because my previous Bluetooth setup was hard-wired into my old helmet, and partially because I wanted a set, so that I could communicate with my daughters, who frequently ride on the back of my bike.

After a lot of research, I chose the Sena SMH10 headset, and I'm happy with my purchase.  Installation was simple and straight-forward.  The only difficulty I had was finding the proper position for the speakers, and that wasn't a real problem... just a bit of trial and error.

Sound quality is far superior to what I had with my old helmet.  I was able to receive phone calls and communicate with passengers at freeway speeds.  I was able to hear music at freeway speeds, but the sound quality wasn't that good.  This, however, is still a massive improvement over the old system, which was effectively useless at speeds above 45 MPH or so.  The two things I've noticed aren't directly related to the headset itself... One is that the headset mounts in such a way that opening and closing the sun visor on my helmet is a bit problematic.  The other is that, because I'm an animated speaker, people tend to look at me like I'm crazy, because when I talk to my passenger, I tend to nod, shake my head and so forth.  With all of the Bluetooth headsets available for phones in general these days, you'd think that people would be a bit more used to this, but I guess not.

It's very simple to switch back and forth between the intercom and the phone, fast forward or rewind music, and increase/decrease volume via a dial.  My daughter, who's a bit shorter than me, wishes that the dial didn't stick out so far from the helmet, because she usually looks over my left shoulder, and it blocks her view a bit, but this was an offhand comment, not a consistent complaint.

While the set isn't as clear as a set of Beats, you really can't expect that from a motorcycle headset.  That said though, the sound quality is adequate enough to play music (unless you're on the freeway) and good enough to communicate with a passenger or take a phone call even at freeway speeds.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Evaluating the Daytona Twin Tec TC88A Igntion Module

It seems like I've constantly been tweaking my Sportster since I bought it.  When I purchased it new, it was a bone stock, baseline 2006 Sportster 883.  Over the years, I've put on aftermarket exhaust and intake (paid the Harley tax), done the 1200 conversion, added cams, and had the heads ported and planed.  Each change made a noticeable improvement in performance.  My most recent addition was installing the TC88A Ignition Module.  It was definitely money well spent.

Installation was a breeze.  I had the old module out, and the new module installed in less than 30 minutes.  I should state that this ignition module is really designed for Twin Cam engines.  What this means to Sportster owners is that you won't get the maximum benefit unless you purchase the USB cable as well, which means an extra $75 to $100 on top of the ignition module, because it's a separate purchase.  With the USB cable, you can connect your computer to the ignition module and modify the module with a surprising degree of detail.  You can also save these modifications and even download mods that others have made from the Internet and upload them to your ignition module.

Learning all of this during the research phase saved me a lot of work.  I downloaded a couple of very popular maps before my ignition module even arrived, and made a couple of small modifications to them.

Some of the modifications you can make...
-Control the RPM of the rev limiter

-Control the timing advance, based on Manifold Air Pressure, RPM, etc.

-Offset the timing of the rear cylinder.  This supposedly keeps the rear cylinder cooler and prevents pre-detonation (pinging).  You do this by retarding the timing on the rear cylinder.  I set mine back 2 degrees.

-Recalibrate your speedometer/odometer

I'm still doing some minor fine-tuning, but overall here's what I've noticed:  The adjustable rev limiter is awesome.  I set mine at 6500 per my mechanic's recommendation, and I can hit 40 MPH in first gear!  I have noticeably more power in the low and mid range.  All of this comes with no noticeable decrease in fuel economy.

I can, without a doubt, wholeheartedly recommend this ignition module for anyone considering it.  It was easy to install, it's easy to configure, and the increase in performance is noticeable.