Saturday, November 4, 2017

Hydrocarbon fury

There's no denying that image is a huge factor in vehicle selection. We fork over big bucks for a ride that will not only get us and our stuff from Point A to Point B, but will also make a statement about the person behind the wheel.

Take this pickup, for example. Shiny red paint! Overt display of patriotism! Oversized rubber! And... check out that exhaust pipe! It's so big that you could store your CD collection in there! It must take quite the man, to even handle all that barely-contained raging fury when the gas pedal is punched!

Hey! Wait just one minute!

Upon closer inspection... that huge exhaust pipe is just pretend! It's just bolted on the end of a much more conventional-sized exhaust pipe.

I'm no internal-combustion engineer... but it seems to me that this giant chrome exhaust tip wouldn't add even a single horse power! Am I wrong? I invite expert opinions that might clarify my misunderstanding, if there is one.

Is this exhaust tip the vehicular equivalent of sticking a cucumber down your tight britches?

(nudge-nudge... wink-wink)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Don't be a victim of the dark!

This morning as I left for the office, it was as dark as a total solar eclipse! I was glad to have an extra measure of visibility, in the form of headlight, taillight, and high-viz/reflective vest.

Far too often, when a motorcyclist or bicyclist is involved in a collision with a motorist, the car driver laments, "I just didn't see him!" Let's face it - our smaller vehicles are harder to see than that F350 pickup truck, or Wagon Queen Family Truckster. The problem is exacerbated by the dark. Don't be a victim!

Here's what I use - because it's cheap and apparently effective.

On the front, I have a single-AA battery LED flashlight. (I think mine cost about 8 bucks, 2 or 3 years ago. But they are very common nowadays, boasting lumen outputs from about 200 on up.) My model has a clicky-button on the back, that turns it off and on, and selects one of three modes - bright, dim, or strobe. I generally use the "strobe" setting when I'm riding down a familiar road and am mostly concerned about being seen by other roadway users. And when I'm on a less-familiar road, I choose bright, to light up my path. I use a rechargeable battery, and carry a spare battery with me. I attach the light to the handlebars with a little rubber-and-velcro doodad that I ordered with the light. (Both ordered from (I've got a bigger and far brighter light that I'll be trying out soon. Amazon made me an offer I couldn't refuse.)

On the back, I use a bright flashing red LED taillight. Mine is a Planet Bike Superflash. It was expensive by my standards - more than 20 bucks! But it's given me faithful service for 3 or 4 years, so it's money well spent. There are other cheaper-but-effective alternatives nowadays... we live during an LED Renaissance! The taillight uses two AAA batteries - I use rechargeables.

In addition, I like to wear a hi-viz reflective safety vest. In fact, I wear it year round, day and night, and no matter what kind of riding I'm doing. For a few years, I wore a nice brand-name (Dickies) model. Pretty expensive ($20+), and they would last for a couple years before they started getting pretty gnarly-looking. I decided to give a much-cheaper Harbor Freight model a try - and that's my current choice of hi-viz fashion. Six bucks, and they last about as long as the brand-name. They're made of a mesh material that seems to make very little difference on hot-or-cold, and they just go on over whatever-else you've chosen for attire. Not very fashionable, but who cares? You can quickly take it off, once you arrive at your fashionable destination.  You know, like James Bond.

Stay safe, mis amigos.