Any day that you wake up and the sun is shining, the morning temperature is in the middle sixties, and you can jump on the motorcycle and ride without tons of traffic…well, that’s almost the definition of a perfect day to be alive. Topping it off with some new tires and a helping of a new throttle lock now in place…well, it doesn’t get much better than this.
The Mitas E07 Dakar tires finally found a place out of my garage and onto the Vstrom today, compliments of the labors of Brian, another good riding friend of mine. Some of you may remember that name…he’s the one responsible for this customized look to my bike last fall:
Fortunately, today’s work was much easier…a simple two tire swap out from the previously ridden 95% highway tires…Michelin Pilot Road 4…to the new Dakars that are designed as a 50-50 tires…50% asphalt, 50% dirt. It’s 4,000 miles of highway before I see dirt up north though.
Anyways, here’s one picture of Faith (the name of my bike) wearing one of her new shoes:
The Dakar’s are very, very beefy tires. Weighing around twice as much as the Michelin’s that they replaced, there’s no mistaking the motorcycle for anything but a true dual sport bike now. Unlike some adventure riders that have bikes like this to show off to their friends, this one’s actually going to be doing one heck of a journey in just eighteen days.
My immediate feedback on the Mitas are mixed. They don’t produce the road noise I have heard so much about previously, but they fall very quickly. It feels like riding on a balance beam…the slightest lean of the bike and the machine wants to keep going over. It is a weird feeling, especially doing donuts in the round dead end at Brian’s home. It will be very, very easy to lean this bike quickly through tight curves, that’s for sure. Looking forward to seeing how it feels in the rain though, which I expect I will have plenty of opportunity to experience soon enough.
The tires are very slick new though. Both Brian and I commented on that as we handled the tires during their wheel installations…a process previously described when work on my ex-Ultra was detailed on this blog a couple of years ago. Changing lanes over a solid white, the bike got a little loose. Definitely will need to get it to a gravel road and scrub the tires in to remove the “new tire feeling”.
The last new accessory to go on the bike is an ATLAS Throttle Lock. This is a device that holds your throttle in a temporarily locked position while you ride, which helps reduce hand fatigue on long jaunts. There are dozens of different types of throttle locks; each has their positives and negatives. The ATLAS replaces a N.E.P. lock that drove me nuts. The N.E.P. was easy to engage with the right thumb while riding, but took two hands to disengage. Causing more than one butt-puckering event, it was time to find a different solution.
The ATLAS was a Kickstarter project which after reading up on it, I quickly participated with a purchase donation of the product that was still being developed. You can read about the Kickstarter project HERE if you wish. Developed by a RTW (round the world) motorcyclist that envisioned a throttle lock that actually worked properly, I received one of the first production release pieces when the developer heard I was going to Alaska and wanted to ensure that I brought this along for some hard core usage in a short amount of time.
I’ve exchanged some feedback with David (owner/creator) already on this device. Fresh out of the box, the switch is hard to use…but after sitting in the recliner and activating/deactivating it probably around 30-40 times, it is much easier to engage and disengage now. It’s a quality piece of hardware. And I mean HIGH quality. It exudes American made quality; not that import junk you find at the dollar store or even at most motorcycle gear shops. The knurled button simply pushes in to catch the throttle and lock it…and you push down on the button from the top to release it. If I could make one change to the product, I’d create a little lip with knurling on it to catch it just a shade easier with the thumb during the disengaging sequence. It’s not required…but it would definitely add just a touch more to it.
This comes with pages of instructions and drawings, making it easy to install. Also comes with the needed allen wrench too! And a few other pieces. And you know it’s good kit when the package comes with a sticker as well for your toolbox collection!
Installation on the Vstrom was not hard, but it was not a simple “plug and play” type of install either. As David previously warned, some bikes would require some very quick and easy modifications to get this to seat properly. My bike was one of these bikes. A small hacksaw blade allowed us to cut out some throttle grip material to get this to seat perfectly; a small slice with a razor knife allowed the fitment not to have any impedance. I can see that most motorcycles would not have the problems that the Vstrom did. After all, the Vstrom is a wonderous piece of machinery. Not wonderful…wonderous. Many of us owners wonder what was going through the minds of the designers when they created this motorcycle. But with a little patience and test fitting the ATLAS installed in about fifteen minutes. I didn’t see any way that the device could install easier. Just take the needed time to install it correctly and it will work produce worthwhile results.
ATLAS installed on a ’07 DL650A
I rode forty-some miles with it today, engaging and disengaging it many times. It holds well, is intuitive on the placement of the switch, and most importantly, it release the lock on the throttle very easily. No more needing two hands on the right side of the bike; this releases the hold very quickly and without hardly any effort. A nice refreshing change over the N.E.P. and many other devices. Only time will tell how good this is…and I plan to put it through the ringer really soon. If this device doesn’t still work as it should by the time I get back from Alaska, I’ll create an update post about it. Right now, I don’t see anything that would create any issues for the long haul.
So far, on a scale of five, I’d give it a 4.5. I’m dinging a shade for missing the lip to release the lock a shade easier but that is my own preference and I can see where somebody else could care less about it. I rarely give more than a 4 in rating for any product; this is quality kit and I’m going to recommend this every time somebody asks about a throttle lock solution going forward.
You can learn more about the ATLAS by clicking HERE.
18 days…13 hours. The anticipation is starting to ratchet up here.