Friday, February 27, 2015

Rockets and Misc Reviews

The Geophysical Institute and constructed this rocket from salvaged pieces and parts from their rocket program. The University of Alaska Fairbanks is, I believe, the only university that has a rocket launch facility. It is about thirty miles north of Fairbanks. It is used to launch sub-orbital experiments in support of auroral and possibly atmospheric research. The display was under construction last summer but I hadn't stopped by and taken a photo of it yet.

This is the tail bag that I had selected to review from Motorcycle House back in the middle of November. I did an initial review at that time and said that I would do a followup after using it for a while.  I've used it every day that I've ridden since then and that has been just about every day. I am still using the bungee cords attached to the bottom of the bag to attach it to the pillion hand holds below the seat and that seems to be working out alright. Still not as convenient as a top box or some other fixed luggage. I still plan on replacing the bungee cords with some nylon webbing and quick release buckles for quicker and more secure attachment.

So far, I've only forgotten to attach the bungee cords once. Fortunately, the bag didn't fall off on the road.  It isn't quite as convenient as a tank bag but it makes up for that in storage space. I haven't needed the extra storage provided by expanding the sides out just on my commutes. After all, if it doesn't fit, it just gets thrown in the sidecar. When I get to my office, I just unhook the bungee hooks and carry it into my office. The handle makes it much easier to carry than my tank bag.

It holds quite a bit and the one thing that I would add would be a ring or clip to carry keys. For now, a carabiner on a zipper pull works well enough but I suspect that long term, the zipper pull will fall off. It holds my laptop in a padded case, the GoPro camera and all of it's assorted pieces in the blue neoprene bag, lunch and Micro-Start XP-3 battery which I'll cover in a bit. In the small side pockets I carry things like tire pressure gauge, multitools and paperwork. In the upper pockets are the Skidoo face mask filters and rubber tubes, and some other bits and pieces that would easily get lost in the Ural trunk. And, if I need to run an errand the bag comes off easily enough to lock in the Ural trunk if I didn't feel like carrying it around.

This is the Micro-Start XP-3 battery that I had mentioned. It's one of those "almost too good to be true" items. I had heard about these but had a hard time believing the claims until I read a post by some skeptical folks that I knew on AdvRider. This bag holds a small (10.2 oz) Li-ion battery that has enough current output and capacity to jump start a car. The case holds the battery, wall and car chargers, jumper cables and a USB dongle so you can use it to charge your electronic gadgets.

After charging it up using the small wall wart rated at only 1 amp @ 12v, I took it out to the garage, disconnected the battery from the BMW which is now conveniently in the sidecar. And connected this tiny battery up using the supplied cables. It started the bike repeatedly as in start the bike then immediately shut it down, repeat. After 10 times, it would still spin the starter easily and start the bike. Good enough to convince me. The unit is rated at 200 amps with a peak of 400 amps. Not too bad from a package that barely weighs over a pound. After this test it took quite a while to recharge. This is the second smallest of five models and has found a home in my tool bag.

How about that, a post with no videos!


David Masse said...

That's a phenomenal tool to have. I can see it providing peace of mind on a tour, particularly if one was going to be solo for a considerable stretch and possibly hours from roadside assistance.

RichardM said...

You just have to remember that it's against the rules to put the battery in your checked bag when flying. But it's nice to have it in your carry on to charge your phone anyway.

I haven't tried it on a car as we have a Prius (which can't be jump started) and a diesel truck (which needs a lot more current).

Coop a.k.a. Coopdway said...

Richard, I'm impressed with the battery and expect to be an owner.

The webbing/buckle is a great idea and one I hopefully will get accomplished. For now, I'm still using the bungee's with a bit of tubing slid over the hooks. I'm very satisfied with my bag and it rode along on almost every trip I made once it arrived.

Unknown said...

Sooo, Richard, have you at all considered somehow incorporating that clearly abandoned rocket into your Ural kit? Maybe for extra propulsion when running late, or as a persuader of sorts for when traffic is a bit thick?

Nothing could possibly look more true to the Russian origin of your ride than to have a missile strapped to its side.

redlegsrides said...

I like that Micro-Start doohickey.....very nice. I'd heard about such devices, nice to know they actually work as advertised. I carry, when needed, a portable jump start battery with cables, it'll do for now.

Conchscooter said...

I have a giant jump start battery, probably 20 years old and works fine- except its so heavy my wife can hardly move it. I just ordered one of these modern units. Thanks for the recommendation. It will travel with me and I can leave the power pack at home in my hurricane supplies. Looks excellent for $80 delivered.

RichardM said...

The only downside that I can see is that it takes a long time to charge up. And the do warn you not to leave the battery cables attached after the engine starts. I think the charge voltage would ruin the Li-Ion battery.

RichardM said...

Welcome and thank you for commenting!

If you use a better propulsion source with the Ural, the next most fragile thing would then fail. And there are a lot of candidates i.e. wheels, bearings, drive shafts, etc. 39 HP is probably enough for the chassis. And Fairbanks rarely sees that much traffic. But a rocket strapped on the rack may look good ;-)

RichardM said...

Ever since I moved all of the accessories behind a relay, I hadn't been too concerned about a dead battery. But, I did leave the power port in the sidecar always connected to the battery for a battery tender so there's always a chance.

RichardM said...

I used to have one of those jump start batteries but it wanders around from vehicle to vehicle. This is light enough to be carried indoors with me so it's always warm. Plus it can be used to charge up the phone or tablet. The larger models come with laptop adaptors as well as multiple USB ports.