Monday, November 30, 2009

Rider's Review: Arai Corsair V Helmet

I've been using the Arai Corsair V for several months now, so I'm ready to share my impressions.

I bought the Arai Corsair V from SportBikeTrackGear.Com for a little over $700. It's not an inexspensive helmet, by any means, but I've always believed in buying the best safety gear you can afford. I got the solid black model and promptly had it custom painted.

Innovations on this helmet include a slightly larger front opening. Five millemeters on each side doesn't sound like a whole lot, but I can tell you it makes a big difference when you do a head check before a lane change.

It also has cheekpads with high-viz orange pull tabs to allow paramedics to remove them to faciliate safe helmet removal in case of an injury accident. A great idea, but I do find the pull tabs tend to fall out despite my best efforts to tuck them in securely. Not a huge deal, as they're small.

Another new feature is the small, adjustable winglet at the back of the helmet. It's meant to reduce drag and keep the rider from tiring, but I have to confess, I don't notice much difference.

The helmet is light, and the shape is a little shorter front-to-back than on any of my other helmets. It's the only one I have where I can actually kiss the inside of the helmet. Putting it on can be a bit difficult, and I find once it's on, I have to reach in past the cheekpads to rescue my ears from being folded in there. Once that's taken care of, the helmet fits snugly, as it should.

Ventilation is very good, with two brow intakes on the face shield, one in front of the mouth, two more intakes at the top of the helmet, and four exit ports to the rear. The downside to all that airflow is a little more noise. The helmet does include a pull-down chin spoiler that's supposed to reduce the low-frequency noise from air rushing past the opening at the bottom of the helmet, but I still think ear plugs are needed for this helmet.

The helmet came with two shields, one clear and one tinted. The shields can be removed and replaced without tools, but I found the process to be a bit tedious, and wound up leaving the tinted shield on and only using the helmet for daylight rides. I imagine with practice and patience, interchanging the face shield might come more easily.

The Arai Corsair V is supposed to be a pro-level helmet, and may be designed for use at the high speeds pros reach on the track. The latest addition to the Arai family, the RX-Q, is similar to the Corsair V, but with wider vents and some slight changes to the contours that are supposed to make it more suitable for road (rather than track) use. It also has a larger bottom opening designed to make it easier to put on/off. My ears might appreciate that. The RX-Q is also a much less expensive helmet, starting at $300 less than the Corsair V.

Bottom line, it's a good helmet, but unless you really intend to use it on the track frequently, the Arai RX-Q would likely be a better buy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Next Chapter

As a Buell fan, it's likely you already know Erik Buell is leaving Harley-Davidson to work at Erik Buell Racing, where he'll concentrate on what had become the focus of Buell Motorcycles- racing.

The official announcement says "Erik Buell Racing will specialize in the supply of race-use-only Buell motorcycle parts and race preparation services for engines and motorcycles, and the building and sale of Buell® 1125R-based race-use-only motorcycles under license from Harley-Davidson, as well as providing technical support to racers of Buell motorcycles."

How many teams will stay loyal to Buell bikes remains to be seen. Richie Morris Racing has already announced that Danny Eslick will ride a Suzuki GSX-R for the 2010 AMA season.

I've been monitoring the resale prices for 1125Rs and it seems the bargains have been snapped up, and anything below five thousand miles is selling in the $7,000 range. That's a lot for an amateur looking to pick up a track-only bike, but I'm hopeful prices will go lower in the future.

The SoCal Buell Riders club is looking into arranging Buell trackdays. If you've never raced, or never ridden a track, but are interested, please let us know at Info@SoCalBuellRiders.Com

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Buell - Buy, Sell, or Hold?

It's been a little more than a month since the closure of Buell Motorcycles was announced, so we've had some time for the dust to settle.

Just after the closure announcement, some Harley-Davidson dealerships began dumping Buell inventory. Sites like BadWeb, craigslist, etc were rife with posts of unbelievable bargains. There was also a lot of talk about the incentives that were offered to the dealerships for each Buell sale. Sales by owners of Buells also seemed to jump for a while, likely from riders worried about parts and support for their Buells, but a lot of the prices seemed to indicate something else- speculation.

Ebay postings also showed more listings for rarer Buell models. With only 50 XBRRs produced, at one point, I think I saw three of them for sale. Bison, Hals HD, Laconia and San Diego Harley were all selling their XBRRs. I also saw listings for RS1200s.

So is it time to buy, sell, or hold? I think the answer depends on who you are and what your motives are.

If you've got one of the rarer models and you never ride, it might be a good time to sell. The initial scramble is over, but collectors and enthusiasts are still looking for bikes to add to their stables. Just don't expect sky-high prices.

If you don't have a Buell, there are good bargains out there. But you can always find a good deal on a Buell. I'm no longer surprised at the number of low mileage Buells I see for sale. I guess people buy the biggest bike they can (whether or not they can afford it), then quickly find that a sportbike just isn't right for them. Don't be in a rush to buy the first Buell you find. Take your time, see what's out there. Visit several sites and dealerships. Good deals can often be found at non-Harley dealerships. A BMW dealer who takes a Buell in on trade may be more inclined to want it off their showroom floor than your local HD dealership.

If you do own a Buell and you ride, don't panic. There will be parts available for the vital components of the XB and tuber bikes for a long, long time. 1125R and CRs will also find support and parts probably past the time you're ready to trade your bike in for something else. If you enjoy your Buell, as I do, ride it hard, and have fun!

After posting this, I came across another article on the same question. And I have to admit, the analysis is better than mine. Enjoy it at AsphaltAndRubber.Com - The Good, Bad, And Ugly of the Used Buell Market

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Buell Barracuda - The Buell that never was

What you're looking at is a photo making the rounds of the internet of what appears to be a new Buell model that will never see production, thanks to H-D pulling the plug.

I remember talking with some people at Buell (including Erik) who dropped hints of something really great to come in 2010. Now it appears we know what that would have been.

Though clearly based on the 1125R, some refinements are clear. There's a more angular look to the opening in the upper fairing. The radiators are faired with nice, trapezoidal openings that look great. The seat/tail is just plain sexy. Looking at the front wheel you can see the ZTL braking system, but the spokes appear to have been milled to remove additional material from the center of each spoke, leaving a triangular opening. An all-around great-looking machine.

Those in the know say the Barracuda had a 1199cc Rotax engine, qualifying for WSBK, chain-drive and was lighter all around than the 1125R. The wheels in particular were said to be extremely light and strong, a clear refinement of the Buell philosophy of low unsprung weight.

I'm sorry I'll never get the chance to ride the Barracuda, and wonder if there are any shops out there who'll take inspiration from this to build one from a stock 1125R.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Does Zero Motorcycles just not get it?

Recently a photo taken at a demo by Zero Motorcycles came to my attention. Here it is:

I've been considering buying an electric motorcycle to add to the stable, and had it narrowed down between Brammo and Zero, but after seeing that, I think Zero is out of the question.

Why would the folks at Zero think that was a good thing to put on a demonstration machine? Did they not think it might offend some potential buyers, or did they just not care?