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Gear Towing and Tools

Grid Insurance

Classic Velocity

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A generator is a comforting thing. It means that when the power grid does not exist, you can create your own. The solar suitcase from Renogy was the first level of insurance. It is free power, and reliable power as long as mother nature is cooperative. But therein lies the rub. The sun does not shine at night, nor when it is obscured by clouds or mountains. If you need power during those times, you need an alternative.

Getting to places that are off the grid is often a goal. Solar is portable, and the generator needed to be portable as well. Space is always at a premium. A chance encounter with a fellow gearhead revealed that he was selling a like-new portable generator in order to get a larger one. A great deal on an item I was not really looking for at the time. The unit is a Westinghouse WH2200iXLT. It has a 1 gallon gas tank and a run time of around 10 hours at 25% load. It started on the first pull and was surprisingly quiet. Turning on Eco Mode made it even more quiet.

The unit claims 1800W running, and it comes with dual 110v outlets, a 12v cigarette lighter outlet, and alarm lights for low oil and overload. a brief test handled 600W with ease and bumped it out of Eco mode. This will easily power everything in the Bus for a road trip that involves being off the grid. It is not light at 50lbs with fuel, and it is compact but not small. However, in the situations where it would be needed, it is well worth finding room.

Towable Storage

Classic Velocity

A couple of obvious things disappeared in the transition from enclosed to open trailer. Secure storage is an obvious one. In looking around at options, it seemed wrong to put a typical steel box on the tongue, and Aluminum ones were more than I wanted to spend. Walmart to the rescue. They had a large sturdy plastic container, that was just the ticket. Combined with a couple of large U-Bolts, we had the perfect solution. Oh, and a can of silver rustoleum🙂

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Inside Out

Classic Velocity

In a reversal of a move several years ago, the enclosed is traded for an open trailer. There were several factors. First and foremost, the VW Bus does not fit in the enclosed. Trips to move it about resulted in me becoming a regular at U-Haul. Second in a rare event with a stranded bus, there was no way to get a U-Haul emergently, so I was stuck waiting a whole day when I had a perfectly good enclosed trailer sitting there. Third, the last trip with the 02 in the enclosed resulted in single digit gas mileage, while the previous one with an open trailer was around double that at 16 mpg. lastly, I found a good deal on an aluminum open trailer. The combo caused me to sell the enclosed and get the open.

The new Wolverine trailer is very nice. It is very light in comparison at about half the weight of the enclosed, and even has stylish alloy wheels. Dual axle brakes, D Rings, LED lights, ample payload, almost everything I need. What’s missing? A Winch, and storage for straps and tools.

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RAM X Grip

Classic Velocity

Every now and then, a product lives up to its’ hype. In this case, a few friends had raced about the RAM X Grip after trying several others. I surrendered, keeping all the original packaging handy for a quick return. The product is interesting in that it allows for a swivel of 5-10 degrees in either direction. I thought that this might cause vibration and produce an unusable product. No such worries. The phone stayed in place even in gusty wind flow. 

Next the ultimate test; high speed on a naked bike. Passed again with flying colors. The rubber grips on the X are the perfect consistency to grip a phone, and the spring is strong enough to keep the phone in place at close to triple digits (closed course, professional rider, someone else’s phone;-). The rubber grips also provide decent vibration damping. The X Grip has been a fixture moving between vehicles and the fact that it is a RAM device means that applications are endless. 

Other means to attach your phone are emerging, but the RAM X Grip will be hard to top.  

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Loadall Ramp

Classic Velocity

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After selling the small motorcycle trailer, and researching for over a year,  we decided to go with the load all system for getting motorcycles into the bed of a pick up. It was much cheaper than any of the automated systems, and simpler. They also made a model specific for  midsize trucks such as the Tacoma.  I had to drive about an hour to the nearest shipping depot in order to pick it up, and had to disassemble the pallet that it came on in order to fit it in the back of the truck.

The installation was deceptively simple, only requiring two people at a couple of points along the way.  Measurement was the key element. Measure twice drill once.  There were a couple of spots where the drilled holes were not in the ideal location beneath the bed. Load all had anticipated that with some large washer plates that resolved the issue. In the end, it all fits nicely in the bed when not in use. However, it does take up a considerable amount of storage capacity under the bed cover. 

When extended, the platform extends to the length of the tailgate went down. However, as advertised, It places no load whatsoever on the tailgate, and provides a solid platform. The ramp extends a good 11 feet, providing a reasonable slope on a level surface. Overall, we are pleased with the system. Now to put it to use in the field....

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O'Neal MX Socks

Classic Velocity

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1000 miles in 17 hours in full length boots. This would be a good test for any pair of socks. My go to socks for a journey like this come from ---------. They had done their job on the first leg of this trip, and were now at the bottom of the luggage in a plastic bag. The MX socks were pulled from their new wrapper and put on before daylight. At first glance, they seemed too much like wool. The day was going to be mostly in the mid/upper 80s, and this could make for an uncomfortable day. The socks are long, and came halfway over the knee. They are thick enough to provide a nice cushion, and soft enough to feel good against the skin. 

The best accolade for these socks, is that after being inside Alpinestars boots for 1000 miles straight, they were never a thought. My feet remained dry despite a very warm day. They were never clammy or sweaty. At the start of the day it was in the 50s, and my feet were comfortable.  This is the mark of good underwear, which I consider socks to be. They draw no attention to themselves, and just work...

Plug Up Earphones

Classic Velocity

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The speakers associated with Bluetooth helmet systems are all inadequate in our humble opinion. Cardo, Sena, etc all lack enough volume to overcome highway level noise, and do not produce high quality audio for music. Plus, they can move around if not fully secured, and if you pop for a high quality set of speakers, they do not easily move between helmets. Lastly, if your Bluetooth system is not on, you still need ear protection. So earbuds should be the logical alternative right?

Go to any sizeable motorcycle rally, and you will find multiple vendors in this space offering everything from regular inexpensive earbuds to expensive custom molded solutions. If you have one of those ear canals that don't lend themselves to off the shelf earbuds, you get pointed toward the more speedy end of the spectrum. I have always been skeptical of the value proposition, but a friend went high end and suggested that I speak with the PlugUp folks. After being unhappy with all of the solutions attempted, I relented and sat in the booth for the molds to be made, paid the money, and then waited.

A few weeks later, my custom earbuds arrived. They come with their own compact carrying case along with a couple of clips to help manage the leads where they intersect with clothing. The right ear unit also has a red dot so that you can easily identify it, although custom figment means that left and right are not interchangeable. When first inserted, I was immediately struck by how much sound is blocked. You can hear an engine at higher revs, a horn, an ambulance, but most normal ambient sound is gone. Then, the quality of whatever is played is phenomenally better than regular earbuds much less helmet speakers. Music has the full spectrum and excellent stereophonic separation. Phone calls and speech are crystal clear. 

When plugged into the Sena 20S, they provide the best of both worlds. Bluetooth for phone, music, audiobooks, and PlugUp for sound quality. A year later, the units continue to perform as new. They are comfortable on a ten hour riding day, and their low profile is a big factor in that equation. The ear protection is great even if you don't pump any audio through them. Lastly, PlugUps now accompany me on any flight, as the same qualities that make them great on the bike, make them great on a plane. Highly recommended.