Wha…..h? New brake lines save lives?
We at Motosquirrel have been preparing a winter “Tell new Tails!” series when it comes to riding stories, reviews and …..wait for it….TIPLITS!- Yes we coined it here first! (Just as we paired photo graphics of bikes in profile view in our “Size Matters” series- Now everyone is doing it!
It never pays to be trendsetters!
Back to the story at hand: New brake lines (Hydraulic hoses).
So many Cool People talk and review their motorcycle(s) along with products in a way that makes the reader/viewer feel that they have ALWAYS been cool! Very few speak of their humble beginnings which are full of mistakes, misunderstandings and absolute accidents!
We are not mechanical engineers here at Motosquirrel and we do not pretend to be. We encourage all new and long time riders to research, qualify, get advisement and purchase equipment for your bike through highly trained professionals.
With that said, when we started riding no one specifically or expressly forewarned of how important brake lines, their state of function and the usage of higher quality metal braided outer lined units are!
When learning to ride within the greater Seattle area (One of the most hilly and steep cities in North America- Yep even worse than S.F.!) it didn’t occur to us how much of a role engine braking would be required as well as how essential it’s usage needed to be learned! As a matter of fact- we barely new what Engine Braking was… Wait a minute (You newbs are saying)! You said that you Squirrels were going to talk about brake lines! We are! Read further.
Like so many towns and cities in the Northwest, Seattle has only one major artery running through it’s middle, namely, I-5 (Evil). The area has grown twice the size in ten years (Thanks Bezos, Bill and on and on) so all the state roads are hyper busy. Which leaves the minor avenues packed full of cars. Add in Communitarian special bike lanes, devoted bus lanes, plus idiots on small electric bikes taking up whole lanes….well- it is a recipe for disaster. Or, perhaps it is a finely tuned and orchestrated plan to promote a need for more tunnels which will birth an entirely new tax boondoggle on the people! Ermm….we digress! Sorry!
Back to hills and traffic! While residing in a city such as this it is mainly impossible to learn to ride in massively chaotic bumper to bumper traffic. A new rider has to get up at 5:30 am (Timing the commuter traffic perfectly) as well as Leave The Bubble and find roads to practice on!
In our neighborhood, in order to orchestrate any ESCAPE, it requires that a rider or driver take on extreme grades that feel like climbing a wall! Add into these hills too many parked cars on either side, construction everywhere, frantic traffic, deliveries (Thanks Amazon!), and commuters following their GPS’s through small streets...well this is hell on earth for a new rider!
What happened: While practicing on Motosquirrels very first sport bike through the peaks and valleys of a very posh neighborhood overlooking Lake Washington, the front brakes gave out while careening down an extreme incline that would eventually end and abut at a T cross street at it’s bottom!
Having ridden this bike for about an hour through the hills and NOT knowing (through ignorance- as well as a lack of video tutorials covering motorcycles on hills) that a motorcycle is NOT a bicycle- this Squirrel used the moto brakes like a bicycle’s brake system. Over and over while descending quickly, and sometimes abruptly, I overused the brake set without having any mind to utilize the engine! Through ignorance and an excitement to learn I overlooked what a combustion engine and geared motor can do!
Little did I know (Always wanted to use that cliché) that all the while those old rotting brake lines were heating up, become more flexible and unable to maintain pressure to the lower cylinder! Also when I bought my bike used, these very brake lines had been completely overlooked by my Squirrel self! I was told the bike was like new and the brake pads were barely used…...(But the bike had been sitting in someones garage for years!). I don’t blame the dealer, BUT we at Motorsquirrel feel that there should always be special considerations for new riders!
Back to careening down a super steep four hundred yard hill only to face a brick wall at it’s end! Luckily, this Squirrel has had umpteen years of experience riding bicycles and I believe that in this case it truly saved me! Reaching the lower third of this hill which abutted a cross street (And most likely after soiling myself!), out of habit from mountain bike riding, I reacted by jumping up onto the foot pegs (Like pedals of a bike) and haphazardly slammed the ball of my foot onto the rear right brake foot lever of the motorcycle. I began to slant and skid my way along the curbside and road seam that caught my bike for about ten yards eventually hoping up to the grass that ran along side the brick wall. I skidded, hopped a curb, slid some grass and slammed my motor off – ALL without being a professional Supermoto Driver! It scared the Sh*f out of me!
Being Stooopid (Wanted to write that too!) after this accident, I did not know entirely whether the bike was safe to ride further down the major hill to the Squirrelpad. “Were the lines leaking?”- I asked my squirrelself. “How about the levers themselves?” I didn’t know anything at that time, but one thing was for sure- it was time to replace everything if I could. This meant new brake lines (I was determined to find higher quality), new hydraulic fluid and a test of all the levers and seals.
The only problem was that my bike was now stuck at the top of the hill, in a posh neighborhood overlooking Lake Washington. Being under a mile away from home, it felt silly towing my bike from there! Plus spending more money on stupid! I decided to leave my not-so-priceless toy among the toy buyers homes up on the hill!
I immediately researched all things brake lines, fluid, replacement, testing and being a D.I.Y. Squirrel that is not afraid of wrenching….committed to the idea that I would remove and replace the system out on the street in the Uber rich reserve.
After purchasing and receiving Galfer (Based on great reviews, match for my bike, and price) brand brake lines from Revzilla (The very next day!) and all the materials I needed to replace my old worn-out brake hoses- I made haste to rectify my mechanical breakdown with a mobile fix-it Takedown! (Note: the materials required to replace my old brake lines consisted mainly of: Brake line fluid as per manufacturer suggestion, New braided brake lines, Brake cleaner, plus ensuring that the Galfer’s came with proper copper crush washers plus banjo bolts etc.)
Armed with tools, my mobile mechanical pit crew vehicle (Econo-Car Hatch Back!), newly gained knowledge on how to bleed brakes and regain/install new lines, I arrived at my bike in millionaire world and determined to brush off the scoffs and stares!
Your Squirrel worked quickly but with great care. I also filmed it! Squirrels film themselves all the time don’t ya know!
The Galfer’s fit perfectly! And once tightened down and brakes were tested- I could feel the difference immediately! There was/is a night and day difference in brake pressure, sensitivity, actuation/return and quality feel to these brakes now. Combine this system to a very light (325 lb.) motorcycle and suddenly you feel that this new monster could race on a track. NOT kidding! Go Galfer! I will NEVER go back to crappy brakes!
Addendum: A year later I would find myself on this very same bike with this updated state of brakeage (Yep said it). And thank the big man that I was. While I was about to traverse across a busy commercial street in a nearby town, an autistic child who was hiding (literally hiding from his family) behind a light pole decided to forgo the crosswalk light and ran full pace into my bikes path. My heart was in my throat! I used these updated brakes with full force and not only stopped, but I stopped straight, within feet of missing the child plus we both lived to talk about it! No joke. If I would have still had older or less quality brake lines fitted onto that bike I am certain that I would not have been able to stop so quickly and efficiently! Period! Update your lines!
WARNING: LIVE LINKS ABOVE!
Galfer is a huge manufacturer of many varieties in bike parts including brakes, brake and clutch lines as well as pads…...check em’ out!
Light It Up Baby!!
Light-Up Tire Pressure Gauge?…..Always!
Go Ahead and Splurge!
(Also a Great Stocking Stuffer!) ; )
Sometimes a million copied, inexpensive and handy Tire Pressure Gauges is a good thing (....Really!)
Most of us who have been riding long enough to forget how many hot and cold seasons we have gone through with our motorcycles, most likely, also forget how many tire pressure gauges we have lost along the way!
Whether for better or worse, the days of owning a very well made, metal constructed, warrantied and fixable tire pressure gauge are gone (Almost) forever!
Most of the moderately to cheaper priced gauges come in the variety that are only built to last so long. So be it.
What does Motosquirrel suggest? We suggest purchasing or utilizing a pressure gauge within your garage that can be calibrated and rebuilt or fixed. This should be an accurate unit that you DO NOT LOAN to neighbors (Unless, like great books, you are willing to not read it again!). It will also be of a higher cost and more valuable. When doing home wrenching you can use this unit without fail.
It's Murphy's Law: Your bike WILL flat in the dark!
We also suggest carrying a small, relatively inexpensive, easy to use, easy to fit in your travel gear, stow on the bike, easy to find (get to that later) as well as…..wait for it….the ability to light up!
One of the few benefits to having most of our products being made overseas (Don’t get us started), is the fact that many of these foreign manufacturers constantly copy each others products most liberally and specifically. But this brings the cost down to consumers! To be able to purchase a small, somewhat accurate, digitally operated, LCD displayed, light up and portable tire air pressure gauge- that can also measure in both metric and pounds (for less than 15 dollars) a few decades ago would be unheard of!-(Patents were once protected in the good ol’ days as well...oh we digress!).
Enter the plethora of small and very usable gauges that are available to keep your bikes tire pressure up to snuff!
There are many to try and so many to eventually lose! When it comes to choosing a small gauge be wise when striking the balance between something that is affordable enough and accurate enough without being too precious to lose while on the road.
There are many small and very handy units (See the one illustrated in our photo set as well as links etc.) that are now coming with the ability to light up. This may seem like a small thing but The Squirrel recommends this highly! It is not that you need or must absolutely have such a unit. But we cannot ignore innovation- even if it comes in the form of a small plastic tire gauge that lights up like a lightning bug!
Let’s face it! When are we most likely checking our tire pressures? It is often first thing in the morning or at the end of a ride commute day when there is less light at dawn or dusk. And it is Murphy’s law that dictates that when we get a blow-out, it will most likely be during a raining late night ride when we forgot a flash light and will need to see into tiny places. What makes this little unit illustrated here (And it’s many sisters copies/knock-offs) so great is that it can be used as a small light to guide you as you find your way with your patch kit, pump or are just double checking in the dark etc. Do many mobile bike battery operated emergency pumps come with their own lights nowadays- why yes they do! But this little unit let’s you check in the dark both before and after filling with your emergency kit without pulling everything out.
So far, we have found this unit accurate enough to keep your tires rolling (Plus or minus a pound) or to be used as reference or in an emergency. It is also handy coming in a yellow color which makes it easy to find in your kit and will be less likely to lose.
This would also make a perfect motorcycle crazy's stocking stuffer!!
WARNING: LIVE LINK ABOVE!
WARNING: LIVE LINK ABOVE!
WARNING: LIVE LINK ABOVE!
Not every Moto Gift has to be expensive! Goes in X-mas stockings nicely as well!!
Shin Armor (Not just for breakfast anymore!)
We at Motosquirrel love all things Dual-Sport, Enduro, Motocross, Flat-Track, Evel Kneivel, Supermoto and appreciate that in professional baseball, catchers wear very mighty protective gear to fend off baseballs traveling at over a hundred miles an hour aimed at their faces and knees!
What all of these super-whack attack activities have in common is the usage of proper knee and shin armor (as well as much protection everywhere else including their heads!)
What makes the mention of all these types of riding most interesting for us at Motosquirrel is the fact that while we had been wearing all kinds of gear, including gloves, boots, helmet and CE rated armored jackets, we never saw the need for lower leg protection (Both shin and upper knee cup etc.). We are all for A.T.G.A.T.T…….but we reside in the city. What need would we have for lower leg armor? Read on!
After injuring our front right shin during an Outside Of Motorcycling Activity (OOMA! For short!- sometimes we do things outside of motorcycles! Coined another one!) it didn’t take long to compound the problem by smacking our many hundred pound Motorcycle’s hard aluminum left foot peg against that very same shin injury first thing in the morning! It was while putting the bike back up on it’s centerstand. The Squirrel just wasn’t paying proper attention, but the neighborhood did when they heard a wailing yell of pain as Motosquirrel received the smacking!
In order to avoid more injuries like this and to circumvent the actual thinking process required to remind oneself (Please refer to our Duck Switch article!) NOT to be smacked by the same two wheeled metal monster mentioned prior; your Squirrel resolved to purchase some lower leg hard protection!(To be used temporarily of course!)
Well, your Motosquirrel smacked that same furry little leg again! But this time, after the decision to protect our furself was made! After purchasing and receiving an inexpensive, but effective, lower leg pair of protection guards from Revzilla (Thor Sector Knee Guards), that same evil little footpeg rendered a “ZERO” effect upon the shin in question and added no new pain! The protection just pushed the Squirrel’s lower leg backward (Which was still scary enough!) and did what it was supposed to do- protect!
It took weeks for this initial injury to heal and the black and blue to turn into normal colors again. During this time, team Motosquirrel rode with this protection as a matter of defense in the beginning, but putting on this gear became a habit after the first week.
Because we purchased a thinner (Most likely LESS protective) lower leg guard set, it was possible to wear normal riding pants and, in some cases, regular pants (looser). The caveat being that there is no hiding the fact that you have armor on while sitting, as was our case on a sport bike. Even with a thinner pair of protective leg armor, the knee cup portion must surround and rest over your kneecap area.
That said, the look of having extra armor adorned down below didn’t look “Un-Cool” or
out of place in our opinion. As a matter of fact, this extra bump up at the knee looked race oriented, purposeful and serious in our view plus reactions of others etc. These particular guards came in black and especially looked cool on top of black pants or under riding pants ….of course every Squirrel has their own taste and everyone thinks they are nuts anyway!
After riding with this protection we were able to note quite a list of benefits to wearing them. Among these reasons are: better wind and cold protection on an un-faired naked or sportbike, no fear of clamboring on or off the bike and smacking your knees through doorways etc. (Especially with limited view while wearing a helmet), gripping the tank with your knees feels more solid (in our experience), less worry when wearing low-top riding boots for accident protection and……...our favorite ….wait for it….when kneeling to work on your bike because of minor maintenance or a break down- it’s just dam comfortable! (Note: CE armor manufacturers most likely will not warranty your gear if you use it in this last example).
That was the good……...so here is the bad!
Although we feel the benefits of riding with this lower protection outweigh the negatives , we still feel a few warnings are in order.
Now let’s go shake some tail!
Via Revzilla: Thor Sector Knee Guards
Careful! Link above will take you to Rev's site!
Pricing (At the time of this writing) $13.95
You got your new boots- check! You got your new riding Jacket, gloves and pants- check, check and...check!
Got your helmet? Check!
Of course you have every cozy protective gear for your bike but, perhaps, there remains once last problem. That problem is the lack of grip that your lower body and/or upper legs have in their connection to your gas tank and bike control.
We cut the whole adhesive backing panel out in order to get a feel for the position of the grip placement etc. Get a good idea of placement and work with some water based markers or paint tape etc.
Shut-the-*-UP! You reply so smugly to our wonderful Squirrel staff. “How Insulting!” you exclaim when we suggest a product that has been around for quite some time! This is not NEW...(Say it like Noowha! CA style- sorry CA!) you think, as a matter of fact Stomp Grip seems to go in and out of trend in the Motoworld all the time. There are plenty of products that have mimicked or “Aped” this product since coming out on the scene years ago.
There are many motorcycle tank protection products made of various plastics, kevlars, carbon and other grippy or protective materials to choose from. But not many that succeed in protecting your bike, giving you grip around the tank (Not just for racing- we’ll discuss further down) AND also while reducing minute vibrations in a steel tank if your bike suffers from higher frequency shaky shake!
Prior to peeling, you can re-draw and cut down the pattern(s) to the size or shape that is best for your bike and usage. If you are not so visually acute- have someone else take a look. Remember that these clear examples won't look tan!
For many of you new riders out there or experienced riders who have never considered StompGrip type(s) of covering on your equipment before, let us explain briefly and generally why and how it is and CAN be used as hinted above.
In a forever quest by racers of the GP and sport variety to give themselves a better connection to their bikes as they make sharp bends, weighting and unweighting the moto, as well as countersteering and braking- the quest is realized when they have found a product or combination of products that allows a grabbing of the tank with their legs.
YOU don't have to get as precise as we did here....! Heck- We didn't have to get as precise as we did here!
Grabbing the tank with both legs allows the rider to have a more loose and controlled steering grip in the front without accidental whiskey throttle etc. When a rider can grip the tank beneath him/her there is an infinite possibility of body position fore and aft, hanging off angles, leg down without slipping and less muscle aches and calorie burn from just trying to hold on!
Updates in OUR usage:
Sure, having more grip on your sport bike is cool, sounds cool, looks cool and you know ...is COOL. With the above product usage definition there is no need to look further right? Wrong!
StompGrip (And any close wannabe’s- Just buy the REAL thing darn-it!) have many more benefits than just rider control!
Here are a few to consider:
All apologies for the fuzzy photo here! You get the idea!
StompGrip- The Good, the bad and the Ugly:
Well, we already raved about this product above- so we will list some of the “Ugly”...
Stompgrip instructions recommend using a lower temp heat gun to both heat the tank (or body) surface prior to adhesion. They recommend reheating and pressing as well while working the material flat and you can still pull the sides a bit while hot etc. We found a pro-grade hair dryer worked fine!
Disclaimer: Please consult a professional before daring to do anything whatsoever! Even using the bathroom!- Ha!
The Good: STOMPGRIP!
We at Motosquirrel recommend this product highly!
Via Revzilla: Universal Streetbike Clear Variant (Will take you to the Rev page so watch out!
Pricing: About $47.00 U.S. (Worth every penny in our book!)
Designer, artist, writer Motovlogger