"Experimental" Parts

All the work you do in the workshop. Maintenance, repair, troubleshooting, customizing, etc.
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"Experimental" Parts

Post by SpeedRacerOnline » Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:45 am

- Most of us are generally looking for the best balance between quality and value when it comes time to replace a part. There's a lot of options out there for practically every part.

- There's O.E. parts, that are usually great quality, but very expensive (if even still available).
- There's the "tried-and-true" parts that everyone say are the best deal; great quality at a fair price.
- There's lots of "el-cheapos" that claim to be as-good-or-better than O.E. for a fraction of the price, that turn out to be a fraction of the quality, too.

- However, there's almost always one or two special deals; parts that are ridiculously cheap, and turn out to be very good quality. In order to find these special deals, somebody has to be the "guinea pig" and try them out. That's what this thread is all about.

- For those of us brave (or foolish) enough to take the risk on these "experimental" parts, I thought I'd make a place for us to report to everyone else on our successes and failures. If we actually can find a better deal, let's share it with everyone else. Likewise, let's use this to warn everyone of things to definitely stay away from.

- When you try a new part ("new" meaning a particular part that it seems nobody has reported on before), post it up here (with pics and links preferred) right away. Then, come back and edit your post later when you've had a chance to really test the part out, and tell us your recommendations.

- Let's help each other save a buck or two, and at the same time, help some small companies making good parts for good prices!
"I want to drive. I want to feel all of it: freedom, wind, curves, feedback, acceleration, unsteadiness, fear, joy... I don't want to ride. I want to drive."
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Re: "Experimental" Parts

Post by LeighTower » Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:56 am

Good thread topic, Speed! Always on the speed ball, you are! :)
Best ride ever taken? The last one. I live for the next.

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Volar Motorsport O-Ring Chain and [JT] Sprocket Kit

Post by SpeedRacerOnline » Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:56 am

Volar Motorsport O-Ring Chain and [JT] Sprocket Kit

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- I've seen this chain mentioned here on the forums a few times, but never found a report about it's quality, so I thought I'd give it a try. I just ordered this kit from D2Moto on Amazon for $99.89 with free shipping. It's also available at the D2Moto website, though I don't know if it's still free shipping there.

- The posted Amazon link is for a red chain, but it's available in black, blue, gold, green, nickel, orange, red, white, and yellow.

- It's a standard o-ring chain with 110 links, a master link, and slightly-larger-than-stock plates (2.2mm vs 2.0mm standard). D2Moto seems to exaggerate the specs a little bit, listing a tensile strength of 9,850 lbs. Volar Motorsport is a bit more realistic on their own website, listing a tensile strength of 8,500 lbs.

- The MSRP for a Yamaha chain is $240.95! The parts fiche shows a part number of 94581-30110-00, but also lists a secondary part number of DID520VL2-110LE. That makes me think the O.E. chain was made by D.I.D. That said, a standard D.I.D. o-ring chain (520XV2) sells for about $90 online, with a tensile strength of 8,210 lbs.

- The popular favorite around the forums seems to be a Bikemaster chain. Their cheaper o-ring chain (520SX) sells for just less than $70 online, however, it only lists a tensile strength of 8,000 lbs. Their comparable "O.E. grade" is an x-ring rated a bit higher at 8,500 lbs, and sells for around $70 online. While the idea seems legit, the jury is still out on whether x-ring is actually better than o-ring (if it is, it seems to be too little an improvement to notice).

- The Volar Motorsport chain alone sells for only $48.89 on D2Moto's website, with no charge for different colors. That's a steal! (That is, if it turns out to be as good as they claim...)

- The kit includes a set of JT Sprockets. I was concerned that the sprockets may be cheap knockoffs because the pics look different than what I find on JT's website; particularly the stamped markings. Also, the specs listed on the Amazon page say C45 Carbon Steel, while JT says their sprockets are made from C49 high-carbon steel.

JT Sprockets pics:
Image
Image

- However, with a little Google searching, I found that they are actual JT Sprockets; just older models. I found an old press release from 2011 announcing JT upgrading their sprockets from C45 carbon steel to C49 high-carbon steel. These sprockets are the older C45 carbon steel. While that's not as good and durable as the current C49 standard, it's still at least O.E. quality and should last at least as long as the chain does.

- JT's current C49 sprockets sell for about $22 (16T front), and $33 (48T rear) at Motorcycle-Superstore.com.

- That's $55 for a set of JT sprockets, plus $70 for a Bikemaster chain, for a total of $125. For "O.E. grade", it's $55 for the JT sprockets, plus $90 for the 8,210 lbs D.I.D. chain, for a total of $145. With this Volar Motorsport set, you get slightly downgraded JT sprockets and a slightly upgraded chain for less than $100. The chain is rated better, and, as I previously mentioned, the C45 JT sprockets should still be plenty strong enough to last as long as the chain does.

- That's definitely a better deal! All that's left now is to see if it's legit. I'll let you know!

*Update*

- So, I've been running this chain & sprocket set for a couple of weeks now, and I'm happy so far. Of course, being happy with a set of JT Sprockets is no surprise; those are known to be a good quality product, and this deal was no exception. In fact, I'm happier than expected. When I received them, it turned out that the picture was out of date. As I mentioned, the pic showed the older C45 carbon steel sprockets, but I actually received the newer C49 high-carbon steel srpockets, making it an even better deal. Win!

- I don't have any complaints about the Volar Motorsport chain, either. I can complain about installing it, but that's not their fault, anyway. It comes with a rivet-style master link, and it turned out my dad had a breaker, but not a combo tool that rivets, too. I ended up borrowing a clip-style master from him to get it installed for now. I plan to get a replacement, but that's been a bit more difficult than expected.

- First, let me point out that it turns out that the company and the seller are the same. When I went to Volar Motorsport's website to see if they made a clip-style master I could order, I noticed that the company contact information, address & phone, were the same as the seller, D2Moto. That makes it more likely that these are probably bulk chains produced by someone else, branded as Volar Motorsport, and sold by the same company under a different store name.

- When I didn't find a clip master on their site, I called them to ask about it. They didn't have one, but she told me that RK master links are compatible. I asked her if she knew if Factory Spec brand was compatible, as they sell a red 520 clip-style master link. She said she did not know; that she had only been told that they know RK is compatible. So, I called RK after I couldn't find anything on their website. That's when things started getting...interesting.

- The guy I talked to at RK was very knowledgable; like, engineer-type knowledgable. I told him what I was looking for, and that they told me specifically that RK links were compatible. He was surprised, because he'd never heard of Volar Motorsport (no surprise there), and he thought he knew all the chains they had confirmed they were compatible with. He said that RK does manufacture chains for other brands, but they usually have "RK" stamped somewhere on them. He asked who manufactured the chain, and I told him it was Volar as far as I knew. He said to check the links because the manufacturer will stamp their name in it somewhere. I looked again, and the only markings I found on it said, "520" on some links, and "Volar" on the others. That surprised him, too. Because he couldn't confirm anything, he wouldn't sell me a link due to liability if it failed. I can understand that, but it seemed a bit extreme. We knew the sizes matched up (plate thickness and pin length, too), and it's unlikely a RK master would end up being the "weak link" in a cheap chain, but he still didn't want to take that risk. So, I still have my dad's master link in it for now. I'm going to look into the Factory Spec brand ones again. If everything matches up, I'll order one and see how it fits. Other than that, I'll have to buy a riveting tool, but honestly, I really don't want to. For future reference, I think I'd rather just buy an endless chain straight up. It's easier to pull the swingarm bolt than it is to deal with all this hassle. I mean, a clip link is easiest, and probably trustworthy, but an endless chain is pretty much foolproof, and confidence is a worthy commodity.

- Anyway, aside from all that hassle, the chain has seemed like very good quality so far. It rolls very smooth and quiet. It made a little noise the first few miles, but I don't think that was more than 40 or 50 miles before it faded away. It seals really well, too. With my old chain, if it got wet at all, it made noise right away until I oiled it again; and it did still have o-rings in it when I removed it. In the few weeks I've been running this chain, I haven't heard a need to oil it at all; even after riding home in the rain. I still do occasionally to be sure, but it hasn't ever made any noise. Also, it's stayed nice and tight, too. It did seem a little too tight when I first installed it, but it's within spec, and working fine.

- How it lasts in the long run remains to be seen, and hopefully I don't know for a long time. I'll let you know when I know! As of this current moment, if you can rivet your own chain, this seems to be a good product so far. If you want to use a clip-style master, you might want to wait until we find out for sure what actually will work with it.

*1-Year (plus) Update*

- I've been running this chain for over a year now (15 months), and I'm happy to say that it seems to be great! I don't know the actual total, but I know I've put somewhere between 3,000 - 5,000 miles on it (for some boneheaded reason, I didn't take note of my odometer apparently). In all that time, I've checked it several times, and haven't had to adjust it at all since the first adjustment. It still does a great job retaining lube, as well. I just recently had it off to swap out a wheel, and it still moves smoothly, freely, and quietly. Of course, being a cheap part, there's still the chance of random catastrophic failure, but I don't see any reason to expect that to happen. It's working as perfectly as I would hope of any chain so far. I've been happy, and I still am!

- And, of course, who wouldn't be happy with JT sprockets. They're perfect, too!

*2-1/2 Year (plus) Update*

- Happily, I have nothing new to report! While I haven't put nearly as many miles on this chain as most would in 2-1/2 years, it still has held up flawlessly. I've checked it several times, and only had to actually adjust it once in all that time. I have had the wheel off a few times, which would result in some "adjusting", but the adjuster screws still look to be in about the same place. Aside from that, I clean it once in awhile, lube it regularly with Chain Wax, and it just rolls along silently doing it's job. At this point, I have to say it was definitely worth the savings!

*4,000 Mile Update*

- So, it turns out the old phrase "You get what you pay for" is true to Murphy's Law. Looking back through some old pics, I've determined Ruby had about 10,500 miles when I put this chain and sprockets on. She now has about 14,500, so I've put about 4,000 miles on this set. In that time, I've adjusted the chain twice. That makes it an adjustment every 2,000 miles, which is pretty decent, and overall wear on the chain and sprockets is looking good. As I read around many forums, it looks like these days a good quality o-ring chain should last at least 10,000 miles (like my original did) though 20,000 miles seems to be pretty common when properly cared for.

- Well, what started off as routine maintenance yesterday turned into surprising disappointment. As I gave the chain a good scrubbing, I decided to remove the front sprocket cover to clean everything. When I did, I found this:

Image

- Stuck in all the old Chain Wax was a large pile of thrown o-rings. After some more scrubbing of the chain, I inspected further and was able to confirm that there are o-rings missing from some links in the chain. I was sure I remembered cleaning the old ones out of there when I put this chain on, and this confirmed it. In just 4,000 miles, this young chain is already throwing out o-rings.

Image

Image

- Now, that doesn't really mean it's a junk chain. The purpose of the o-rings is to hold lubricant in and keep dirt out to help the chain last longer. The o-rings do nothing for the regular physical operation of the chain; just help it be able to do it's job longer. The chain is still working normally. It still rolls quietly when it's properly lubed, and all of the links fall easily as it turns. With only two adjustments in 4,000 miles, it's wearing well without any dangerous stretching. Looking it over thoroughly, I see no reason not to keep running on it, so that's what I'm going to do. I'll start cleaning, lubricating, and inspecting it more often now, but I'm completely confident it will still be good for at least another 2,000 miles, and expect it to last at least another 4,000 or more.

- So, I suppose at the low price I paid for it, even with this issue it's still been a good deal. That is, assuming it doesn't randomly fail on me in the near future. Time will tell, but I'll be keeping a close eye on it in the meantime. At this point, I don't know if I would want to purchase this brand chain again. So far, it seems the chain itself is good quality. They just used cheap o-rings that didn't hold up. At around 2/3 to half the price of other chains, if I can get 8-10k out of it, I think I wouldn't be disappointed overall. We'll see...
"I want to drive. I want to feel all of it: freedom, wind, curves, feedback, acceleration, unsteadiness, fear, joy... I don't want to ride. I want to drive."
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Re: "Experimental" Parts

Post by fateddy » Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:56 am

Gas caps from china have proven great so far. About $20 to $30 shipped usually. I've also been very happy with my Chinese knock off OEM pegs. They were about $16 IIRC.
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Chrome Battery Chrome Pro Series iGel YTX9-BS Battery

Post by SpeedRacerOnline » Sat Aug 23, 2014 10:03 am

Chrome Battery Chrome Pro Series iGel YTX9-BS Battery

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- When I bought Ruby a year and a half ago, the PO told me she'd probably need a new battery soon, so it didn't surprise me too much when mine started letting me down recently. It makes it through the day, but is too dead to start without a jump by morning. Like I always do, I started looking for a good deal.

- Pretty much everyone knows that Yuasa is the standard in motorcycle batteries. They're very good quality, and with some smart shopping, can usually be found at a pretty fair price. I found one on Amazon for $57.93 with free shipping. The drawback is that they only come with a 6-month warranty.

- Looking for other options didn't do much better than saving some time. Most local parts shops had some store brand of battery for about $60, but they stepped up to a 12-month warranty. The motorcycle shops were offering name brands (Interstate, for example) with a 12-month warranty for $70-$90.

- I was just about to head to the local Napa that my buddy works at to pick one up, when I stumbled across this Chrome iGel battery. I've seen Chrome Battery before selling standard AA, AAA, and others on sites like Newegg.com, and they generally get average reviews; as good as any other battery company. This particular battery seems to be pretty new, though. I only found one review for it, and the guy just purchased it last month, so it's too soon to know much.

- It's a lead acid battery rated at 12V, 8Ah, and 120CCA; same exact specs as Yuasa (depending on who you ask...some list the Yuasa at 135CCA, but 120 is more than sufficient for our XJ's, anyway). It comes with the longest warranty I've found; 18-month, and also has a "60-Day No Questions Asked Money-Back Guarantee".

- The really cool part (unnecessary, but cool) is the digital display and built-in intelligent chip. Built into the top, is a LCD display that shows the battery capacity and voltage, and a low-voltage alarm. It also digitally records how many days it has been working. Being located under the seat, it's not really that useful, but it's cool, and easier than having to buy and hook up an external meter just to check it occasionally.

- The display may be the cool part, but the best part is the price; $33.15 with free 3-day shipping directly from their website and PayPal for your protection. At that price, if it even lasts as long as it's 18-month warranty, it's worth it. Anything beyond that makes it a great bargain! Still, right after I ordered it, I emailed customer service asking them how and why they sell it so cheap. I'll let you know what they say, and what the battery is like after I've tried it for awhile.

*1-Month Update*

- Well, what can I say; it works great so far! I've been using it for just over 3 weeks now. I ride Ruby to work 5 days a week, plus whatever other time I can get with her, too. My commute is only 2.5 miles, so it's pretty abusive for a battery (not a lot of time to charge after starting), and the weather has been getting colder and colder (39 F on the way to work this morning). Still, it's worked perfectly every time. It cranks beautifully, and while cranking, it still provides enough charge to start very quickly. Ruby starts noticeably easier than she used to (but the old battery was pretty shot, too).

- It's gonna take awhile yet to see if it really lives up to it's 18-month warranty, but so far, I feel great about recommending the Chrome Battery Chrome Pro Series iGel battery. It seems like a good quality build, it has great features, it works exactly like it should, it has a better-than-average warranty, and the price is unbeatable! Two thumbs up!

*1-Year (plus) Update*

- It's been well over a year now (15 months), and the battery is still working perfectly. It won't be in use when it crosses the 18-month warranty period, but I don't see any reason it won't make it. It's never had one hiccup since I've had it. It still cranks the bike perfectly every time, even in these colder months when it's harder and takes a little longer to start the bike. I didn't ride nearly as much this past season as I would have liked, which means less charging time for the battery, and it's still worked perfectly. In fact, when I bought that extra bike, I swapped this battery in, and started it for the first time in two years in a matter of seconds, as well. All the little features, like the digital gauge and such, still work as they should, too.

- I'll try to remember to give one more update when I put it back in use next year, but for now, I strongly recommend this battery. I can't think of any way to beat $33 for a battery with such great features, outstanding warranty, and now proven performance. It's a winner!

*2-1/2 Year (plus) Update*

- I can't say anything but good about this deal. It's now been just over 2-1/2 years, including 2 Michigan winters, since I bought this $33 battery, and it still works flawlessly. With life as busy as could be, I unfortunately hardly ever get to ride Ruby much anymore. I'm not sure I even put 2,000 miles on all last year. :( On top of that, Ruby sat outside in the cold Michigan winter this year (with a cover, at least), and I did not remove the battery this winter. I did go out and start her a couple of times, though, and the battery still showed 12.8 volts on the display, and cranked the engine the forever it took to get her to start after sitting for a few months. I've already more than got my money's worth out of this battery, and it's still going strong.
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Re: "Experimental" Parts

Post by LeighTower » Sat Aug 23, 2014 10:10 am

SpeedRacerOnline wrote: While the idea seems legit, the jury is still out on whether x-ring is actually better than o-ring (if it is, it seems to be too little an improvement to notice).
Gotta say I disagree with you on this one Speed. I did oodles of research before I bought my current chain, replacing a cheap chain that had also chewed through my new sprockets, and learned a lot about X-ring technology. I'm sure it is because I know more about cheap chains now, and more about how to care for good ones, but the X-ring Bikemaster I'm using now has given me superb operation. I no longer have to adjust the tension...ever!
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TufStop Sintered Metal Brake Pads

Post by SpeedRacerOnline » Sat Aug 23, 2014 10:21 am

TufStop Sintered Metal Brake Pads

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- I already knew I needed new front brake pads, as mine were oil-soaked from my leaky forks. Then, I noticed my rear pads were just about toast, too. It was definitely time to replace them, but with all the parts I've needed recently, I was about to pull a muscle in my wallet if I didn't find a good deal!

- The popular choice, of course, is EBC HH sintered pads. At BikeBandit.com, they sell for $39.95 front, and $33.95 rear. Another popular option is Bikemaster sintered pads that sell at BikeBandit.com for $30.95 front, and $26.96 rear.

- I've come across TufStop before. While I have no personal experience with them, the reviews I've read have been good. I've only read one "bad" review, and that was that they didn't last long enough on a dirt bike. All others have spoken good of them.

- When I found a full set of front and rear pads on ebay for a measly $25.36 with free shipping, I couldn't resist! Plus, it was OEMCycles, a motorcycle parts website I'm familiar with, that was selling them; legit business. So, they're ordered, and already shipped. I'll let you know what I think of them in awhile.

*Update*

- I've had these pads on for a couple weeks now, and I'm pretty happy so far! They stop so much better, that I don't feel in quite such a rush to get to the FZR front end swap. Of course, that is compared to my old brake pads that were soaked in fork oil, so I really don't know if they're outstanding pads, or just finally working as they should. Still, like I said, they provide all the braking power I feel like I need for normal daily driving. I haven't had them on any hard riding yet to see if they fade with extreme use, but I don't expect them to disappoint. I guess the next best thing I can do is report back when it's time to replace them and see what kind of mileage I get from them.

- That said, don't get too excited about them. I beileve this is a discontinued product, so don't expect to find just anyone selling them. Still, if you need new front pads right now, there are still some places that are selling them, and you can get them pretty cheap. In that case, if they're a good deal, I'll vouch that they're a good product.
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Re:

Post by SpeedRacerOnline » Sat Aug 23, 2014 10:31 am

LeighTower wrote:
SpeedRacerOnline wrote: While the idea seems legit, the jury is still out on whether x-ring is actually better than o-ring (if it is, it seems to be too little an improvement to notice).
Gotta say I disagree with you on this one Speed. I did oodles of research before I bought my current chain, replacing a cheap chain that had also chewed through my new sprockets, and learned a lot about X-ring technology. I'm sure it is because I know more about cheap chains now, and more about how to care for good ones, but the X-ring Bikemaster I'm using now has given me superb operation. I no longer have to adjust the tension...ever!
- Well, by "jury", I meant in general. Research any product, and you'll find someone who has had a great experience, and someone else who hated it. I agree that the technology seems to be there, but the reviews I've found have been less-than-stellar. Almost everyone says that x-ring is good, but not very many say it is vastly better than o-ring. That's what I mean when I say that it may be better, but probably not so much better than most would notice. Of course, the only real comparison would be to run an o-ring chain, and then the same chain with x-rings on the same bike. Comparing the quality x-ring chain you currently have to any cheap chain is comparing apples to oranges. I mean, the only reason I'm replacing mine is because it's stretching so much I have to tighten it every couple of months. That's a broken-chain disaster waiting to happen. Other than that, though, if I keep it normally lubed, it still works perfectly; silent and smooth as a new chain. That doesn't mean it's fair to compare it to a new chain, however.

- As far as adjusting your tension; you shouldn't have to with any new chain for quite some time, unless it's just plain inferior. You will have to eventually. Of course, that' a very likely possibility with this Volar chain, but I figured I won't know until I try. Live and learn!
"I want to drive. I want to feel all of it: freedom, wind, curves, feedback, acceleration, unsteadiness, fear, joy... I don't want to ride. I want to drive."
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Re: "Experimental" Parts

Post by Nelsonmd » Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:54 pm

Just a general comment from a mechanical engineer that appears will be relevant to this thread: Don't believe the given strength ratings, even in comparison to others. Strength ratings are highly dependent on measurement methodology and test integrity. This can be suspect from even reputable companies. What you get from OEM is a customer defining the test method, and holding a component supplier to that standard. The OEM checks and verifies the OES. Aftermarket does not have this relationship, they have no one checking them.

I don't say that to say that all aftermarket is crap compared to OEM, but you do have to take aftermarket numbers with a pretty hefty grain of salt, and for the chain example, don't believe that just because the Volar is "rated" at 8500lbs, versus the Bikemaster or DID at 8000lbs, that it is stronger. I think that brand reputation does mean something; not everything, but something. DID is a reputable chain company, and while bikemaster is probably just a distributor and doesn't actually manufacture anything, they seem to at least somewhat care about the quality of the products they distribute under their name.

Anyway, while we are reviewing products, just remember that ratings don't mean that much, and if a product is significantly cheaper than another, there are basically 2 possibilities:
1. The seller of the more expensive product is fleecing you for a product that isn't any better than the other one
or

2. The more expensive product is actually better, and cost more to make.

I know you can think of some other options, but these 2 I think will cover 95% of aftermarket listings.
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Re: "Experimental" Parts

Post by fateddy » Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:34 pm

LeighTower wrote:
SpeedRacerOnline wrote: While the idea seems legit, the jury is still out on whether x-ring is actually better than o-ring (if it is, it seems to be too little an improvement to notice).
Gotta say I disagree with you on this one Speed. I did oodles of research before I bought my current chain, replacing a cheap chain that had also chewed through my new sprockets, and learned a lot about X-ring technology. I'm sure it is because I know more about cheap chains now, and more about how to care for good ones, but the X-ring Bikemaster I'm using now has given me superb operation. I no longer have to adjust the tension...ever!
Any difference between x-ring and o-ring shouldn't have any effect on how often you have to adjust tension. The o-rings are there to keep lube in. Chain stretch is a different process.
Go soothingly on the grease mud, as there lurks the skid demon.

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