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 www.rideapart.com 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

Oui?

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!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Pirelli DIABLO™ ROSSO SCOOTER - Review

Two years ago, I did a review on a pair of Pirelli Angel CiTy that was fixed to my 13 years old underbone motorbike. 2-years on, I have no complains of the rubber's performance in both wet and dry. Every corner and every braking I did on my daily commute is with full confidence that my wheels will stay on the road. As a conclusion to the "long term review" of this tire, it has clocked close to 4000km over the past 2-years. Low mileage considering I only use it for commuting - and still looked new. No compromise on the grip - wet or dry!  Also, my first bike, the Keeway TX200 came with Pirelli Angel Demon as standard. I know how the bike handles with the rubber, and two experiences tells me, Pirelli makes good tires for bikes too!
Made the 110cc bike looked fast
Fast forward 2-years later, I made a decision to purchase a second hand scooter - A Modenas Elegan 250i, which was a direct rebadge from Kymco X-Town 300i. The 250cc variant is only available in Malaysia. I will find time to do a review of this scooter. I had a hard time trying to find real user feedback of this scooter, as most were written by media and sound too good, driving the marketing pitch. Hands up if you agree real user review trumps any other social media influencers or media write up!
Vrroom!

Nice modern curves of a scooter

The X-LED light is to show it's the Kymco X-Town
The Scooter has two different sized tires/rim. 
Recommended Pressure is 28psi and 32psi
The front tire is a 120/80-14, and the back is 150/70-13. This meant the front tire is 96mm in height, and the rear is 105mm in height. A larger wheel provides better control over potholes or uneven road, and smaller wheels has lower rolling resistance (or inertia). The new bike came with Kenda K711 (and front is known as K711F) rubber. 
K711 150/70-13 M/C 64S (M/C is Motorcycle) (approximately RM180 in Czech or average USD75 elsewhere)
With rating of 64S - which meant it has a max load of 280kg (each) and speed rating of 180km/h. Technically more than sufficient to manage the scooter weight+rider+passenger+load. Kenda tires are good from my own experience, and they make great mountain bike tires. However, I do not know of their reputation with scooter tires.
Kenda 711 Front has a middle line running through, while the rear is more sports aggressive looking
As I bought the scooter pre-loved, it has 4000km on the dial. I rode it home from Jenjarom, via SKVE and NKVE - a decent 40km. Tested the tire at legal speed (90kmh and 110kmh) with occasional sprint (80-110km/h) to see where the power and torque comes in (22hp at 7000rpm and 21.7Nm at 6500rpm). One thing I noticed was that cornering took a little bit of confidence, and straight line (along SKVE one section with 10km straight) was not as assured/stable. I am sure some of you that rides two-wheeler will be able to relate to what I just shared. The next day, i headed out to get the tire changed. 
Front tire after 4000km - pitting spotted.

Rear tire after 4000km, looked worn on the middle - likely running on too high pressure 
In Come The Pirelli Diablo™ Rosso

While researching on internet for Malaysian scooter community, i came across many discussion on tire of choice for the Modenas Elegan 250i, particularly when the owner/rider were talking about cornering and straight line capability. Comfort and braking distance were part of discussion as well (since the Elegan 250i doesn't have ABS). 
Great workshop for tire change!
Three brand and model came up; Pirelli Diablo Rosso, Pirelli Angel Scooter and Bridgestone Hoop BO2 (lower profile at 70, none at 80). Pricing wise, Bridgestone being the most expensive at more than RM150 compared to Rosso, and close to 200 more than Angel. However, the Rosso sizing makes it a perfect fit (no compromise on speedometer reading as it's exact sizing). 
Front tire rating at 212kg and rear at 280kg. TL = Tubeless. Both tires is about a year old based on manufacturer's date (WWYY)
Based on feedback from a friend that used to ride TX200, and not riding a NMAX 155, scooter wheel balancing is essential to ensure even wear and stability. Since this will be changed, the shop offered free balancing and installation. No complains there as balancing will run up to RM50 (total) for me separately. 
Rosso front tire - make sure you install it the other rotation around for water dispersion!
The tires cost slightly less than RM500 (for both, can't remember exact pricing but I know the rear was more expensive due to wider width). Once everything was done, i got a reminder from the mechanic to "please do not ride too fast today as the tire still has a wax layer on it". Adding to that, it was raining. Talk about testing the wet performance immediately! Why not???
Wet Performance
3-rain rides over the past 600km since I took ownership of the bike. Confidence from KM 2 of the ride was very evident. I still rode carefully along DUKE highway (journey of 25km) with heavy rain pouring down all the way. Was cautious as I never rode a scooter, so my ability to take corner on this Elegan 250i was not as great as the Motard (TX200) and the underbone (Modenas Kriss). Then it rained heavily about 3 days ago, and yesterday (those God-sent rain were a great respite from the 38degC heat!)
Drizzle starting!
The Rosso lives up to the claim, and the other bikers' feedback, of the tire performance in wet. One of my Twitter correspondence mentioned that the Rosso is "superbike grade". He wasn't far as Rosso is placed as "Sport" range
Angel is placed as "urban" vs Rosso as "Sport"
Dry Handling
A tire that has been performing well in the wet will obviously provide as good, if not better performance on the dry road. As the Elegan 250i is bigger than other scooter, it also weigh close to 200kg - it was very stable at all speed, including manouvering in traffic and on highway. Having a responsive tire helps in changing of direction. When I rode the Kenda K711, changes in direction on highway was slower - or there is a lag with steering response. At speed of 110kmh, everything else is slow (speed is relative), I remember having to change direction to avoid a pothole (on a highway!), and that milisecond split was critical. However, on the Rosso, changes of direction was way more responsive - almost that milisecond counts when avoiding potholes. I hope I am making sense here. 
correct installation of the front tire is important. As shown in the photo above, the tread/rotation is reverse vs the rear. Make sure your tire mechanic/technician knows what they are doing and do not let them convince you (to put it per rotation on sidewall)
Cornering
Due to the construction and feature of Rosso, cornering on the scooter was safe and sure. Infact, it was fun, and the only thing between the lower part of the scooter frame and the road is the size of your balls. Leaning in on the scooter, and with the Rosso on was significantly different when I compared it against the Kenda. On the former, i felt the tire was losing grip as I exit the highway interchange at 80kmh (to a toll plaza), where else the Rosso allows me to take the same corner confidently. Perhaps, it is also the confidence one has that the (newer) tire will do what it does.
The Rosso from back - looked aggressive and changes how the bike look instantly
Tire Pressure
The reccomended pressure is 28front and 32 rear for one rider. The tire shop reccomended to me both to be running at 32psi for the Rosso. After tweaking it for a week, running it at 32-34, and 32-33, the sweet spot for me was 32-33 where the comfort and handling were optimised for my weight (72kg), and with a passenger (max 55kg). Any lesser the scooter has a drag, and any higher, the ride became too harsh and bumpy. Bare in mind that tire will also heat up due to rolling resistance, and it will increase the pressure by up to . 
Tire rotation, and marking on the sidewall
The Rosso was introduced in January 2017, and it replaces the older scooter tires with more improvement (H-rated to S-rated) and compound


The Pirelli Diablo™ Rosso Scooter Tires, per the website:
THE NEXT LEVEL FOR HIGH-PERFORMANCE AND SPORT SCOOTERS 
 


  1. Motorcycle performance on a scooter tyre
  2. Improved handling, absolute grip and performance in the wet combining all the latest technologies, materials, processes, and know-how achieved by PIRELLI in the racing activities
  3. Dedicated to riders with a sporty riding style, both in the urban environment and/or on winding roads or mountain passes
  4. High Silica Dual-Compound in rear tyre for higher mileage and excellent grip in all conditions
DIABLO ROSSO™ SCOOTER provides the following benefits and technical 
characteristics:
• Sport handling: this tyre provides maximum agility in directional changes, 

great stability in a straight line, and precision when holding a riding ‘line’, 
whilst providing a high level of safety and predictability. This is due to the 
combined characteristics of the profiles and the structures derived from the 
new DIABLO ROSSO™
• The best grip: thanks to the materials and the experience gained in other 
areas, the new DIABLO ROSSO™ SCOOTER provides high level performance in 
all conditions and at a wide range of operating temperatures.
• Consistent performance: just having high performance is not enough; you 
need to be able to have that performance for the entire lifespan of the tyre. 
DIABLO ROSSO™ SCOOTER has a dual blend solution on the rear and a high 
percentage of silica content that provides excellent grip in all conditions and 
after significant mileage. The sport profiles and the “flash” tread pattern 
ensure even wear and excellent water displacement.
DIABLO ROSSO™ SCOOTER will be available from January 2017 in ten sizes
six for the front (14, 15 and 16 inches) and four for the rear (13, 14 and 
15 inches). The complete range of sizes is below

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