Saturday, August 03, 2019

Continental UltraContact 6 SUV - UC6SUV

Introducing the Continental Ultra Contact 6 SUV or UC6 SUV
This was a year decision in waiting and making. Today I am changing the Bridgestone Dueller HL400 stock tires (6 years, only 23k km, 40% tread left. Pitting on the tire shoulder, time to go) to Continental UC6 SUV (manufacture week 24 and 25 of 2019). 

Significant tread differences
The tread pattern differences is significant and obviously the Continental has an advantage of being more recently launched and researched, which include all the bells and whistles of tire technology by Continental. 
40% tread life left. Pitting on the outer tire shoulder as you can see in this pic. 
This UC6 SUV is not the same as the UC6 as the SUV was built with harder sidewalk for better stability. My experience with the stock tires was “too soft” and you can feel the car floating while taking corners and even on the straight at cruising speed. 
Deeper Grooves. Larger channel for water dispersion. The "dot" in the middle actually helps with water dispersion, though I would question the effectiveness past 30% life span. Conti call them "Aqua channel", and the aggressive grooves, Aqua-Drainage". 
I was looking for the 225/55/R18 size which is not a size you find easily. So choices like Pirelli Scorpion Verde, none from Goodyear, and the Bridgestone (Japan) is hard to find (which, why would I want to get back the stock tire, right?). The other option was Yokohama RV02, not too great of wear and review.
The rib between the grooves (what Continental call "double tie bar") on the lower left will provide rigidity to this version (SUV) for better stability. 
Decided this over Michelin Primacy4 as reading feedback from doesn’t sound too convincing (not even close to as the Primacy4 is not meant for SUV (Car and Van). Was hoping for Michelin Pilot Sports 4 SUV, or PS4 SUV to be available in market, despite it being launched earlier this year, no luck even after calling Michelin Malaysia.
Will be interesting to see how noisy this big blocks will be. The bumps in the middle of the second channel is "Noise breaker 2.0", which reduces noise.
With this Forester XT capable to churn 245hp and 350Nm torque, it be fun to see how this tire hold up on the road, wet and dry. Wait for both short and long term review, if i have the time.
34psi as always. 
Tire Run-in Review
Much is not expected as the tires are new. So, it's all quiet when compared to the worned rubber. However, one thing i noticed immediately, improvement of the braking. It is significantly different that I had to re-learn my car braking capability. The car now stops faster vs the older rubber. Good sign of safety there!
Notice that the "outside" of the tire has the "box" like pattern. Perhaps mimicking "smaller" boxes to reduce noises.
As it has it, the sky opened up and it poured on my way back from the workshop. I know a few spot where the road often pond (with water) and no better way than to try to test for aquaplanning at 70km/h. Yes, Malaysian road is dangerous that even highway ponds! The reference is of course the Bridgestone, which will cause the body to dive when i hit a pond of water (since 40% wear rate about 1.5 years ago). Since then, I never hit a pond of water at anything faster than 60km/h. Bear in mind that my car is all wheel drive (AWD) and the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) is always on. With this new UC6 SUV, it cuts through the water. Just like that. No drama. No diving. No feedback at the steering (of losing traction). Maybe still new ;-)
Consistent with the other side, installer can't get this wrong.
Taking corners at 70km/h (think the Butterfly interchange at Jalan Damansara down to Jalan Duta) is also less roll - evidence that the side wall is harder than the Dueller. Will be interesting to see how it holds up on the way up to Genting. 
The space in the tire well doesn't auger well with many fast cars lover ;-)
 Stay tuned for more reviews, soon.
Get your tires need completed at Perniagaan Tayar Sing Yu Huat, Jalan Ipoh. It's near Sentosa Hospital. Ask for Loon. He is my friend, 3rd Generation Tire Specialist in the family.
More Info of the tire at Continental Malaysia Website. Currently they are running a promotion where you can get a gift with every 4 units of tires 15inches and above. Details at their FB page here
Mine will be on the way.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Shell Eco-Marathon : Driving an Awesome Prototype

What happen when the Sun, Moon and all the stars are all aligned (or when members of the media pass the opportunity)??? You get a once in a lifetime blue moon moment to be in the Shell EcoMarathon Prototype vehicle and take if for a spin around the Sepang International Circuit!!!
The Shell Prototype!
That was what happened to me today. Suited in the Nomex, wearing a ballerina shoe (to fit into the tight feet spaces), pulled up the leather gloves, covered the hair (or for me, lack of), and helmet - the one lap of 2.67km remains an unknown for me.
Press this, not that
A full 5-mins briefing by Ian from Technical - including knowing where is the engine start switch, the emergency kill switch, throttle control and the speed control device (brakes!), all the bits and pieces of emergency response - and the all important “toot the horn three times to overtake” (vision of speed flashed through my mind), I was all ready to go.
Sub 71kg, 173cm, in a tight space
“Remember to go faster on the incline at the first left bend or you will stall”, Ian’s word of wisdom echoed between my ears. I know there will not be something more embarrassing that to have the all sleek Prototype rolling back down the small hill and me walking back in “walk of shame”. 

“I will leave the walkie-talkie here with you so I can give you instructions”, Ian said as the carbon fibre enclosure closed over me. It was then I realised just how tight, warm and limited spaces I had inside. There was no chance of selfie (no IG/FB/Twitter upload? Where can!)

Not if you are claustrophobic
“Start Your Engine”, I heard it through the walkie-talkie. The 125cc internal combustion engine of the Prototype that runs on Shell V-Power rumbles lowly right behind my head, sending vibration through the helmet and the green flags was waved! Off we go!

Controlling the Prototype was easy. It take corners like being stuck on a rail. Point the 12inches handle that doubles up as throttle, brakes, horns, and emergency stop button, and it goes with a lot of feedback from the simple rack-pinion system. Motörhead will says “got road feel lah”. 

Not too bad of a line!
As the Prototype was made with fuel efficiency in mind, the power generated was sufficient to get you across the racing line, up the small elevation (+13m) and it was cruising downhill all the way to the finish line. 

It was a shame I was only allowed a lap, just as I was getting ready to improve on the second lap... but alas, this once in the blue moon experience will come again, when the Sun, Moon and all the stars aligned (and the media declined the opportunity) to do this again in the next Make The Future event!

2.67km of fun!
“How was it?” Ian asked as I twisted the release buckle on the 5-point harness.

“Nothing short of awesome!”, I replied as I continue to count how lucky I was today! 

Thank you Shell EcoMarathon 

The aim was to go as slow, as efficient, as "off the throttle" as possible. Not too bad for a sub5:00 pace

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Shark Skawl One Fullface Helmet - Review

There are plentiful review online if you care to find/look/google/research to know about this fullface helmet. The most comprehensive and detailed review was from which I truly enjoyed. So, let me start by sharing my decision to purchase this helmet (brand).
Home Safe
The Years before Shark
About 5-years ago, I bought a Nolan N91 modular helmet to compliment my ride, and priority to safety. I spent almost 1/3the value of the bike on riding gears. Partly because life is priceless, and you can never be too overly cautious with good gears. The Nolan was bought at slightly less than RM1.1K.
Surprised myself I took similar photo 5 years ago!
The Nolan has been serving me, alongside another helmet from Givi (Model 11.0 HPS), which has been discontinued. It is a open face helmet, suitable for short commute from home to shops to get some eggs or bread. As both helmet (Nolan and Givi) is already at it's End-Of-Life (past 5-years), I need to get a new one though there are still plentiful of life still in them due to the fact of my short ride, which doesn't happen everyday due to my extensive work travel.

However, the decision were more based on the "want" to get a new one to complement the new (pre-loved)  Modenas Elegan 250i, which is a Kymco rebadged X-Town 300i. 

Back in 2013, Motorbike helmets brands are limited, and do not have more than the usual brands (Arai, Bell, Givi, Nolan) and you do not typically get an expensive helmet to ride on an underbone (kapchai) or a "non-superbike". Hence you can see my investment on helmet, padded safety wear and leather gloves seems to be an overkill when riding a China-made Keeway TX200 Motard, and a 13-years old Modenas Kriss 110.

SHARP Rating

My selection to replace the aging helmet went from LS2, Givi and HJC. SHARP or Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme, is a scheme to help motorcyclists make an informed choice when buying a helmet. They independently buy and test helmets, and provide the results openly.
The details on the box

My Nolan N91 is 4-Stars rated, the LS2 FF396 (fullface, Sub RM600) and the HJC CS-15 (fullface sub RM350), are also 4-Stars rated as well. At this point, only one Givi fullface helmet (benchmark on affordability level) Givi 50.4 (RM1.5K) has 4-stars! At price point below RM1000, I was down to LS2 and HJC. I was ready to commit...and then i saw someone wanting to sell his Shark Helmet for RM500. He bought it wrong sized (XL), wore it once, and complained it was a bit tight for him. He was nice enough to tell me how much he bought it for (RM550) new; I thought he was pulling my legs until i went online to search using "Shark Skwal One Helmet RM550 Malaysia", and bingo. I found myself staring at Shark helmet at RM550 (on clearance sales). 

In Come Shark

I known of Shark about 5 or 6 years ago when they debut with a video showing how 5-riders were swung by their legs while wearing using a generic helmet, and then Shark helmet. Watch it below, you see how it had pique my interest 6 years back, right before I bought my helmet.
A polycarbonate helmet that are French made, absorb impact, stylish and make my Nolan looked like a relic (as with everything British). As I intended to try the XL helmet, and it is best that I know how L would feel (RM50 differences is small savings but still savings). I am wearing L on my Nolan and Givi, so I wasn't too sure if XL will be too loose. Ony one way to find out - visit the Authorised Distributor and Seller!
Tell me you are not in Shark Helmet Heaven
I was like a boy in a toyshop when i entered the shop. Who won't when you see so many different model of Shark helmet all at once. Something maybe a biker can understand.
Top of range and new range of helmets

Other ranges, including open face
D-Skwal Replicas

Skwal One LED Lorenzo
Skwal One LED
I had my eyes set on the Skwal One LED from the word LED. Imagine a Helmet that has LED lights built in, that lend visibility actively, rather than passively (reflective material). While I try not to ride in the dark too much, sometimes, it does happen. And when it does, at least I know I have done my best to be visible - and hoping other motorists will sees me too! I have previously came across products such as Fiberflare (no longer selling) that can be attached to helmet. So, having something permanently, and with rechargeable battery like this, a big bonus for me!
Skwal One LED White Lorenzo

Skwal One LED Black Lorenzo
Skwal One LED Spinax

Skwal One LED Instinct Hi-Viz
The news of the sales was at least 7-weeks old by the time I found out. My wish of getting a high-viz yellow did not materialise as they only have 3-designs with sizes. I have choices of the older Spinax, the white  Lorenzo or the black Lorenzo. I went with the black Lorenzo after consultation with my fashion advisor.
Skwal One LED Lorenzo - Photos on internet always looked better
Features of the Skwal One LED - special attention to Safety Rating and certification

  • SHARP 4 stars rating (out of 5)
  • Rechargeable LED lightings (two front, two back)
  • Comes with Pinlock 70 insert
  • Intergrated drop-down sunvisor
  • Bluetooth communication possible
  • Multivent with two intake (chin and top) and one exhaust (back)
  • Removable cheekpad (if you do not like the squishy feel on cheek feel)
  • Removable padding to wash
  • Removable visor (no special mechanism, just very very careful removal by pulling slowly)
  • Micrometric adjustment (like my Nolan N91 and Givi 11.0 HPS)
  • Polycarbonate constructions with 2 Shell sizes (XS,S and M share same shell, L and XL same shell) Differences in thickness of the padding to determine good fitting
  • 1.5kg (for L or 58-59cm head) already lighter than my Nolan N91 by 250grams
  • ECE 2205 - compliant with latest SIRIM standard MS1-2:2011, which refers to UNECE R 22 (see photo below)
Sirim 1-2:2011 is the latest requirement for helmet testing. It call for compliance to UNECE R22
UNECE R22 has reference to the ECE 22-05

The Skwal One LED i have carries a E11 (UK) 05 (comply to ECE22-05) 0537 is the manufacturer reference and P stands for Fullface protection, including chin.  The X84 is likely the model number refer to Shark. Number after the P is the batch test number.
Important to know, as the helmet will save your head when needed!
Some fullface with no chin protection will turn up to be NP, and open face, or Jet helmet will be J. So best to be educated when you next buy a helmet! This helmet carries no DOT (US) certification. 
Fit and Feel
I was measured and lands at between M and L size (57.5cm). As the M and L doesn't share the same shell, it is not possible to switch the padding if i desire a different design (Spinax, which only left M size). I was taught how to wear the Shark Fullface helmet, which is from back to front. Unlike my Open face and modular, which is front to back. The L was a good fit. I was told to wear it for 10minutes - so yes, I was walking about in the shop with a Fullface helmet on. I was to pay attention to the top and front of the head - and if it is uncomfortable, it is too tight. 
Cheek pad pressing my cheek and making me pout under cover
Due to the new pad, the L was tight fit, but it was comfortable. I did the tilt, rock, shake test to see if the helmet moves more than it should. It stayed firmly with no undue pressure to the front head, ear or the back of the head. I then tried the XL - and it was a looser fit where I can actually move the chin section more than half an inch. It's an indication of too lose. As the padding starts to age, I may end up with a helmet that bobs in all direction - not ideal! So L it was!
After a 20km ride home, photo with main visor down, installed with Pinlock.You can see how much my cheek were compressed.
Wind Noise and ventilation
Maybe because the helmet is new, wind noise was definitely more muffled compared to my Nolan. However, i did remember the Nolan to already be quiet, so this is even quieter. I can hear the noise of wind hitting the helmet, but not wind in the helmet where it can gets to your ears. FYI, i ride with earplugs in my Givi open face, and Nolan. And this Shark Skwal without earplugs is quieter than Nolan with earplugs! Making a note here to revisit in a year's time if it's still the same feel.
Sunvisor down - completely mysterious! I do not blame motorist thinking I am up to something sinister - in pink!
Ventilation was good. Maybe due to the helmet insert to be more open compared to my Nolan with more cloth. The insert reminds me of my cycling helmet, and I actually feel the wind passing on top my my head! I however, do not feel anything against my mouth maybe due to the air being directly inwards and upwards towards the main visor.
Huge top vent, green strip is the LED
Chin vent, with the air directing upwards towards the main visor

Insert of the helmet, with a lot of air-space for circulation

Sharks claims that the seal of the helmet is good, which reduced the wind noise, and that the helmet also comes with a chin curtain - non-retractable though (the more expensive range has the chin curtain that can be open or close to help with more ventilation.
Helps with windnoise

Reduce windnoise, and allow for ventilation
There is one complain though, the top toggle for the ventilation sort of clicks as it stay open. It moves as the rider moves or tilt the head. I have to push it until it has a bit of resistance, and the sound went off without compromising the ventilation from the top. Not sure if it is a defect and I will check with reseller soon. 
Have to push the toggle/switch to the front, till there are some resistance and it stops clicking or loose
The LED Function
One of the main attraction for me to get this helmet is the LED lights. Eventhough D-Skwal has more color choices, it doesn't come with LED lights. It has one at the chin, near the ventilation; one on top, also near the ventilation, and one behind (which looked like two) near the exhaust.
Rear where the LED is split to two side with the exhaust in middle

Close up of the rear LED

Close up of the chin LED

Top LED near ventilation
The LED is pwoered by a rechargable battery placed inside the helmet. With a micro-USB port on the back left side. The switch is placed at the bottom of the left side, right under the ear area.
The white is part of the helmet charger. Black is Micro-USB connected to wall plug source. Was advised not to charge with powerbank as it may not provide suffficient power to charge it.
The LED claimed to be able to last 10-hours on blinking mode, or 5-hours on steady mode. I left it to charge for about 5-hours, and may keep them charged on weekly basis when not riding. The video below shows how the LED lights up in the darkness of my home. May not be representative as I switched off all lights. 

Pinlock and Other Extras
My Nolan N91 Pinlock failed in 2-years and I have been riding without it. It fogs up, and I have to open the visor a little when I am riding to prevent severe fogging when it rains. Cost to replace the Pinlock is half what this Shark Skwal cost (at discount), and it was one of the motivation to get a new helmet (apart from 5-years shelf life).
Pinlock70 - clear.
I may attempt to remove the visor, and the Pinlock to clean them, one day.
The other feature that Shark Skwal has is the helmet has grooves for peple wearing spectacles! Sounds good for those that love their sunglasses vs the built in sunvisors. 
will try with my sunglasses so we know how it fits!
Almost forgot to show the micro-lock retention system. I also noticed that retention system requirement differs between ECE (micro-lock is ok) and DOT (double-D ring). 
Micro-lock grooves

quick release buckle
Another close up look of the charging port. It doesn't really bother you except when putting on and taking off the helmet
The package comes with reflective sticker for it to be compliant to the French regulations. You also get a charging cable, and a CD for the helmet. There is also a bag for you to keep the helmet from dust when not wearing them for a period of time. 
I love stickers

The warranty card and serial number, CD and cables


This helmet retail for about RM1200, and considered to be within the medium range. Great value for a 4-Stars SHARP rating!

You can find this nice place by googling Slipstream Helmet on GoogleMap or searching on Facebook. This is a not a paid review, and I paid good (bargain) money for the helmet I bought, and very happy about it!

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