Matris Shock For Yamaha R1
To ease suspension adjustments and accommodate different tire profiles on our '06 Yamaha R1 for this issue's tire test, we decided to swap out the stock rear shock for an aftermarket unit with ride-height adjustment. Italian company Matris is better known for quality steering dampers, but recently expanded into shock absorbers and fork-cartridge kits. We ordered up one of the company's M05 shocks for the R1 featuring adjustments for rebound damping, high- and low-speed compression damping, ride height and preload.
The $1470 M05 has a hard-anodized aluminum body, and the shaft is chromed and TiN coated. Compression adjustments are located on the piggyback reservoir, and the preload is adjusted hydraulically via a tidy mechanism incorporated into the spring collar. Rebound damping and ride-height adjustments are located in the standard positions at the bottom of the shock. Craftsmanship appears first-rate, incorporating beautifully machined parts assembled with high-quality fasteners.
Installation was easy enough, and we needed to make only small adjustments from the as-delivered settings to notice improvement over stock. One of the few complaints we've had with the '04-'06 generation of Yamaha's R1 is that the rear suspension squats too much under hard acceleration. The Matris spring is much stiffer, the shock is longer, and the rebound damping can be adjusted to lighter than the stock unit's, all of which contribute to reducing the Yamaha's squatting tendencies.
Ironically, while we wanted an aftermarket shock so that we could easily make ride-height changes during the test, the Yamaha's swingarm design makes it almost impossible to access that adjustment. Aside from that, which is no fault of the shock, we were more than happy with the Matris shock absorber's performance over the course of our tire test. Each clicker offers a wide range of adjustment, and the adjustments make a noticeable change to the bike's handling. We experienced no fade, and performance was consistent over the course of the day in 90-degree-plus temperatures.
Matris offers the M05 in three versions: The ID model tested here; the less expensive S model ($1225), which has standard preload adjustment; and the more expensive R version ($1655) available with specific valving and piston configurations.
Motion Pro Hex Axle Tool
This little gem of a tool sees plenty of action in our shop when tire-changing time comes around. Many sportbike front axles require a big hex socket to turn, and Motion Pro's solution is the Hex Axle Tool, which incorporates four metric hex sizes (17-, 19-, 22-, and 24mm) to fit most sportbike axles.
The "superlight" version of the tool, shown here, is made from 7075 T-6 aluminum, costs $39.90 and is meant for use on the road. A steel version, at $29.50, is intended for shop use-other than material, the two are identical. Using the tool is a snap. Slot the correct end into the axle, then use a wrench or socket on the opposite side. While a 31/48-inch square drive is provided on both ends, we usually use a 11/42-inch-drive socket for leverage and then spin the axle out using a 31/48-inch-drive speed handle. Even the aluminum version, which we've used on plenty of bikes, is easily strong enough for those stubborn, ungreased axles.
If you've ever been in the position of having to remove a front wheel without the right tool, you know how frustrating it can be to MacGyver something that works. Even for one bike, the combination of the Motion Pro tool and the appropriate wrench or socket will most likely cost less than a good-quality hex socket for the front axle-that is, if you can even find one. Here we work on so many bikes that a Hex Tool lives in the top of every tool box in the shop.
Xena Nightmare Disc Lock
The introduction of the disc lock helped numerous bike owners from suffering the indignity of having their bikes stolen by the casual thief. But as is always the case when protecting something valuable, thieves eventually found ways to quickly circumvent the lock. The barrel locks that were so popular in the early days saw a quick demise at the hands of a plastic disposable pen; then compressed refrigerant became a popular tactic, super-freezing the lock and enabling thieves to break the now-brittle metal by smashing it with a large hammer.
Enter the Xena XN18 Nightmare disc lock. Manufactured out of carbide-reinforced stainless steel, the XN18 is designed to thwart any attempts at disabling or breaking the lock. Weighing in a pretty hefty 2.9 pounds (considering its 431/48 x 131/44 x 211/44-inch dimensions), the Nightmare lock is constructed in the now-popular slip-fit lock design, with the entire lock body slipping over the disc and enabling every component to be solidly encased in a virtually impregnable unit. Because of this design and the lock's carbide-fortified construction, the lock is basically immune to compressed refrigerant attacks.
The lock itself uses a high-security four-pin system that is practically pick-proof, and the key barrel (which removes as a single unit to function as the locking pin, which is 18mm in diameter where it passes through the disc) is also carbide-reinforced stainless steel. The gap for the disc is 7mm, making it large enough to slip over the thickest brake disc; depth is 65mm, enabling the lock to fit the vast majority of bikes on the market. (You can check www.xenasecurity.com for fitment.)
The Nightmare lock also features a 110dB siren alarm controlled by dual shock and movement sensors, which have differing sensitivity according to the mounting position on the disc. Powered by a CR2 3V lithium battery (claimed to last about 8 months under normal use), the alarm module automatically arms itself using two infrared sensors that detect the brake disc when the lock is positioned for use. A flashing blue light on the lock signals that it is armed.
The lock's fairly small size makes it easy to stow away when not in use, although its dense heft requires that it be packed securely, otherwise it could wreak havoc inside a tank bag or backpack. Installation on a brake disc is pretty easy, but the key/lock barrel needs to have a groove lined up correctly in order to slide into place, and once the lock is positioned on the disc, you have five seconds to lock it in place before the alarm arms itself. The siren is reasonably loud, but its high-pitched shrill would easily be lost in the din of a busy city street; it is definitely useful, however, in preventing you from riding off before removing the lock. Sensitivity is good without being overly touchy, especially when mounted on the highest brake disc with the bike on its sidestand. And once you feel how stout the lock is, we seriously doubt that a casual thief would want to spend the time trying to defeat it. The Xena XN18 Nightmare disc lock retails for $249.95.
Alpinestars Racing Replica Leather Suit
Any die-hard racing fan surely has noticed that almost all the top American riders in MotoGP are clothed in Alpinestars garb. The Racing Replica one-piece leather racing suit represents the company's latest riding-gear technology.
Constructed from 1.2-1.4mm premium full-grain leather with multiple-stitched main seams for tear resistance, the Racing Replica suit features patented high-strength/rigidity thermoplastic external protection on the shoulders. Patented leather flex zones in the shoulders, sides, lower back and knee area (plus ergonomically placed kelvar stretch fabric) allow complete flexibility without com-promising protection. A patented knee construction permits excellent comfort in a racing tuck position without sacrificing walking mobility. Internal protection is provided by CE-certified, injection-molded plastic armor in the elbows/forearms, knees and shins, backed by dual-density foam padding for impact absorption. Additional vented memory foam padding in the chest area absorbs shock and vibration from the fuel tank when tucked in, while perforations in the leather panels in the chest, leg and flex-zone areas assure good ventilation; the aerodynamic back hump is also ventilated.
A soft, flexible molded collar prevents neck chafing, and the inner polyester mesh lining has an antibacterial coating to help prevent undue odors. A nice plus is that the suit comes with a Tech Race back protector already fitted, utilizing a secure snap-connection system to keep it in place.
We had no problems fitting into an off-the-rack suit, and overall comfort (an important aspect of leathers when you're basically going to be doing calisthenics in them while riding) was excellent, despite the abundance of hard armor in the suit. Flexibility was very good while pretzeled into the most hard-core sport-riding positions, with the stretch panels allowing plenty of movement. Ventilation through the perforated leather panels was very good, keeping us from turning into a mobile sauna on hotter days. We also liked Alpinestars' particular compound of plastic used in its knee sliders, which provide good durability without the distracting noise and vibration we've experienced with some other knee sliders.
Thankfully, we haven't had the opportunity to crash-test the Racing Replica suit, but judging by its stout build and ample armor, we're pretty confident of its protective capabilities.
The Racing Replica one-piece suit retails for $1,899.95, and is available in blue/black, red/black, black/gray and green/black color combinations, in Euro sizes 48-60.