Monday, 25 July 2016

Speedohealer v4 review/comments

So most of you bikers will have heard about Speedohealer? Well in case you haven't, it's one of several useful gadgets made by Healtech Electronics. The item I fitted to my bike is Speedohealer v4, which is a true plug and play item, with the v4 denoting it's version 4 I believe.

With most bikes having optimistic speedos, and with my ongoing IAM involvement, I was looking for a simple way to alleviate trundling around too slow. To give an example, my 2013 Busa in stock trim would achieve a true 100 km/h (GPS verified) with a speedo reading of 109/110. The previous bike, Suzuki GSX750F was even worse, a true 100 km/h would show 114/115 on the speedo although this was partly due to a change in rear tyre size.

So for a number of years I was using a GPS speedo, which worked quite nicely. Yes I know in some ways GPS will only give you a true reading when travelling straight and level, but if you use it to give you an indication of speedo error, the guessing is removed. What does remain a downside, and here my Dutch blood shows through, speedo error directly translates to odometer error, so an optimistic speedo will also mean an optimistic odometer. Shock horror! So the odometer would reach 100,000 when in fact I may have only done a little over 90,000 in the case of my Busa?!? Can't have that sort of thing eating into the resale value of my bike huh?

But serious for just a minute or two. So the Speedohealer allows me to correct both speedo and odo readings to bring them as close to true as possible, sounds like a win/win in my book.

Ordered the Speedohealer from the nearest distributor I could easily find, in my case which is in Australia.

The Speedohealer v4 is a standard item, you just have to order the bike specific wiring loom to go with it. So how does it work? Well, on your front sprocket cover is a speed sensor, this sends the number of rotations your front sprocket is doing, to the speedo. The Speedohealer allows you to manipulate the signal to correct the speedo error, with the online calculator on the Healtech website making this a breeze. A speedo error is typically linear, as in if it's 4% optimistic this shows across the range, ie 50 reads as 52, and 100 reads as 104.

In my case, using the GPS speedo I worked out that actual 100 showed on the speedo as 104. Different than stock trim due to a rear tyre change, stock is 50 section, now running a 55 section. Plugged these numbers into the online calculator and it gives a calibration value of -3.8% which I reduced by 1% to leave me with a true 100 being indicated as 101. My reason for this is to allow for a half worn rear tyre, and knowing a tyre will "grow" a little when hot.

The fitting itself is straightforward, follow the wire from the front sprocket cover speed sensor to find the connector into the wiring loom. Unplug, plug in the wiring loom supplied for your bike, connect to Speedohealer, tuck the unit in an easily accessible place, such as under rear seat. Program and job is done. On a faired bike, the hardest part is removing panels to get access.

In all fairness I followed up by several trial runs, comparing the speedo readings after setting the Speedohealer, with my GPS unit. Having gone thru this process now, felt like kicking myself for not going down this path earlier...

No wires need to be cut on your bike, so you can easily remove the unit when you sell/trade-in and use it on your next one. Just have to get the right wiring loom to suit the next bike.

Top bag is unit, bottom bag the bike specific wiring loom. Pen is to give idea of scale/size.

Pointing out the location of speed sensor on front sprocket cover.

Location under pillion seat, accessible for programming.

The website link for your own research/reading:

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Advanced Test 05.07.16

On a bleak and damp Tuesday it was my turn for the advanced test...

Yeah ok, I'll keep it serious. Met up with Philip at his Westgate base for my big day. It's weird how one can look forward to something like this with anticipation, and yet also want it to be over with already?!

Having had the benefit of spending a few hours riding with Philip thru his Riderskills school, I already knew his relaxed approach. Theory part first, 1 out of 20 questions incorrect. Room for improvement in other words!

The ride in itself had similarities to the cross-check, bit of dry stuff but damp conditions for the most part. The variety of roads Philip took me on covered the spectrum obviously, and with a good mixture of unfamiliar and somewhat familiar at least this reduced the pressure a little. The silence over the comms, apart from giving directions, was a little odd at first. With Geoff we'd near constantly be delving into how to improve here, another angle on that, consider this etc. Now it was like show time, you've done the homework so just lay it on.

Accepting the fact the IAM experience is an ongoing learning curve, I'm almost ok with my performance on this day, for in reality it represented my best under the circumstances. Will I be better in another year of exposure to the IAM system? I'm sure I will, for more practice and mentoring will bring more accurate and consistent results.

So yes I passed, but let me be fair and focus on the important aspects for me, the areas that could do with improvement. Funnily enough Philip laid out three areas, the number seeming curious as it's been this way all thru the observed rides, three areas to focus on...a hint of things to come?

Observational links were commented on, as in there should have been more. Yes, no argument at all. More practice and focus will improve this I reckon.

Overtaking position held for too long. Absolutely. On the run from Helensville back towards Waimauku, the opportunity to overtake arose. Two cars were dawdling (to my way of thinking at least) at around the 80-85 mark, far too ginger (to use Richard T terminology) for the conditions in my book so in short order snuck around them in a decisive fashion. Further along though, caught up to a car that was for a good spell hovering around the legal limit, so sitting back seemed like the done thing. Then this car for no apparent reason slowed down a bit, so I got myself into an overtaking position, yet with the overtake not being on in short order...I failed to then drop back to a safe following distance in a timely fashion. Funny how indecision creeps in, wanting to "make progress" without getting carried away with speed, all because one is in a test situation. With the benefit of hindsight, a beautiful thing, the decisive thing would have been to overtake at first opportunity with a bit of gusto or just drop back. Had I been on my own, the likely approach for me would have been to sit back. By nature and profession I tend to be risk averse, a funny thing for a Busa rider to admit to perhaps? Just a case of finding the right balance.

Smoothing out the setup for right handers. A valid point of course, and this will lead me into expanding a little on another topic shortly. I found myself on occasion setting up for a right hander by leaving the getting into position a little late, thus almost swerving left to then crank into a right hander. Not intentionally, but it was fair for Philip to comment on it of course. Part of this action I put down to some nerves creeping in, and part to my observation skills needing further honing. One could thus ask when I'm late getting into position, is it due to me not looking far enough ahead or going too swift for the conditions? Again using the benefit of hindsight, bit of both. So again, not stressed about it, but practice and focus will iron this out in due course.

This got me into sharing with Philip something which has come to the fore in both my work environment and also when travelling privately. I found myself having to work quite hard when traversing unfamiliar roads, something that perhaps sounds obvious, but as a career trucker I cover loads of kilometres. The downside is that by the time one has travelled to a certain destination often enough, the road in itself brings few surprises, so we're left with just the variations in traffic or surface conditions on any given day. Take me onto unfamiliar roads though, and all of a sudden it's like hard work, and it shows up how "blunt" the observation skills can become. Partaking in IAM training and the most recent SAFED course we did at work, all made me think about this topic. So I'll be working on venturing onto unfamiliar roads on purpose to hone my skills.

Now I'm just looking forward to taking the observer course to take the next step as trainee observer.

Cross-check 26.06.16

So with Geoff James having deemed me ready for the cross-check, had another (weekday) outing with both Geoff and Mike Watson, who is trainee observer at this point. For me this was a first, a three way comms outing. Nothing untoward to report really, the main point of note being the obvious difference between an experienced observer in Geoff and a trainee observer as in Mike. Seeing as I'm embarking on the same path, trainee observer, this was actually a relaxing point to note. So much to learn, yet if it's done in building blocks it's not as daunting a task.

In a way this ride with Mike and Geoff served a dual purpose, in that both Mike and myself got the benefit of each other for the stage of IAM learning we're both at. Some of the route was familiar to me, and some wasn't. When he turned off onto the Coatesville/Riverhead Hway the guess was Ridge Rd...and Mike sounded almost disappointed when I asked the obvious. We also came back via Ridge Rd, and it just highlighted to me how technical this bit of road is, with a multitude of challenges all jammed together in a fairly short stretch.

This ride was treated as a warmup for the cross-check that was on the horizon, and as such it worked quite well. No big changes needed, and a nice validation that Geoff had imparted sufficient knowledge to bring me up to par.

Then on to the actual cross-check with Richard Turnbull. This took place on the Sunday social ride day, for which we meet at Westgate. With the weather looking bleak, we set off on a circuitous route, with lots of variety to cover the spectrum obviously.

At our tea/coffee stop in Helensville Richard explained how I could make improvements.

1. In the damp conditions I was tending to be a little cautious in cranking into corners with gusto, the word Richard used for this was a typical English expression in "ginger" which bemused me slightly. He was spot on though, for in hindsight I was backing off a little more than I probably needed to, then making up for that with a bit too much throttle once I'd had the limit point moving away from me again. In a sense, going out with different observers is helpful in this regard, for it points out the varying nuances that one can improve on. Thinking of it another way, ride properly and don't simply use the grunt of the big bike to "mask" what in effect develops into an incorrect technique.

2. Speed and speed creep was another topic we briefly discussed. I won't make any excuses here, but I found myself at times running 5-10 clicks over the limit. This was partly complicated by the variation in speedo error we each thought we had. In the end, I just treated my speedo reading as absolute. As the conditions went from damp to ever heavier rain this became irrelevant anyway.

The departure from the Helensville stop was delayed slightly by torrential rain, after which Richard led me on a route that was at first unfamiliar to me. So here I am on unfamiliar roads, with the weather getting worse, being cross checked for my test and it was putting me a little on edge. In the end I fared ok once I got a rhythm going and the various elements that I'd practiced repeatedly flowed nicely.

But you know how this goes though huh? Get into the swing of it and then you have a wake-up call. On the approach to Scenic Drive around the back of the Waitakere township there was this one gnarly corner that I misread. Focusing on the limit point, taking in the shiny tar and the rain, the fact it was far more off camber than I'd initially assessed had me heading for the centreline like a bit of a novice. I must remember how to get to this corner for it's a great leveller for learners like me.

Once we joined Scenic Drive and made our way to the Titirangi debrief point, the rain went from drizzle to solid rain, at times near torrential. This in itself, apart from being uncomfortable, doesn't worry me so it was pleasing to hear Richard being complimentary about me still making good progress in the deteriorating conditions.

The end result of the cross-check was positive thankfully, ready for the test!

I do however really appreciate the pointers Richard gave me to continue to "tidy-up" my riding. The speed and speed creep, the cornering approach mentioned above and even seemingly minor stuff such as being decisive in stopping short of instead of on or just beyond stop lines, or give way lines in cases where a full stop is required. Far from being annoyed by this, it's the fact this stuff is pointed out in a neutral manner, that I see as being part of the ongoing improvement in skills.

As for speed, I used to have a GPS speedo fitted to my Busa, but when making some changes I removed it to have a more or less "gadget free" work space so to speak. Following on from the cross-check I pondered how to deal with the speed problem, so ordered a Speedohealer, which Stephen McCormick mentioned in one of the IAM Facebook topics. Now I've been aware of Speedohealer, but since I'd used GPS speedos for a number of years never looked closely at the Healtech solution. Yes the error will still be there once the rear tyre wears, but at least I'm going to be much closer to the mark than in OEM trim.