The Lightest Most Versatile Helmet on the Market: The Redesigned Shoei RF1200 Helmet

The all new RF1200 is just what this inked girl needs.

The all new RF1200 is just what this inked girl needs.

As a commuter, having a helmet that is quiet and fits comfortably means the difference between a pleasant ride to work and a miserable hour in traffic thinking about the pain radiating through my forehead. With the Shoei RF1200, any caveats I had about previous helmets are a distant memory.

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The Phantasm is the perfect graphic for us here at motoinked.com. Skulls, matte colors and filigree. Worthy of a tattoo.

The Shoei RF1200 helmet is light and compact helmet that weighs next to nothing. It has wide field of view and is so quiet, I can hear my hear my tunes without being annoyed by wind noise. It’s not just the comfort that makes this helmet one-of-kind, it’s the technologically advanced protection based on Shoei’s racing helmets that make the RF1200 freakin’ awesome.

The folks at Shoei are motorcycle enthusiasts and they value making a helmet that works for not just racers, but the every day rider, no matter what bike they’re riding. They’re about the journey, not the hype.

A Lighter yet safer RF1200

In 2010, Shoei helmets grew in size proportionally to manage more energy making them bigger, heavier and just plain cumbersome to wear. With the new RF1200, the helmet maintains its SNELL rating, but is now smaller and lighter like previous model helmets in the early 2000‘s. This is evident in the concave curve at the bottom of the shell, which offers complete freedom of movement. The RF1200 still provides the energy management of previous models and the protection a rider needs, but in much more manageable package.

The Shoei helmet maintains it's SNELL rating while being lighter and more compact than ever before.

The Shoei helmet maintains it’s SNELL rating while being lighter and more compact than ever before.

Shoei was able to make the RF1200 lighter and more compact as the shell of the RF1200 is made with Shoei’s AIM-PLUS or Advance Integrated Matrix Plus construction which is what Shoei uses in all Snell-rated products. This SHOEI-exclusive Multi-Ply Matrix AIM+ Shell is a high performance fiberglass composite. “The other layers are trade secret, but the layers have specific attributes that we wanted in the shell, whether it be sheer strength for a chin strap rivet or anti-penetration in the shell,” says Don Bailey, Shoei’s Technical Advisor.

This Multi-Ply Matrix AIM+ Shell construction includes the characteristics needed to make the RF1200 resistant to high impact energy. To obtain the characteristics needed for an impact-resistant shell, resin was applied in the mold during the manufacturing process and this resin was pressure injected to maintain a very light, uniform thickness throughout the shell to give it optimal attenuation or flex in order to distribute load throughout the helmet in as large of an area as possible.

Beneath the shell is the EPS, or Expanded Polystyrene, foam interior. This EPS interior shell has two different densities. The purpose of the dual density EPS is to get stiffer and bleed off more energy as the rider’s head presses against it during the event of a crash thus protecting the rider’s head from injury.

The Emergency Release function is annotated on the exterior of the helmet so the EMT’s know the helmet has this function. I knock on wood as I say this, as I have yet to crash-test-dummy proof this feature, but I feel better knowing that if I were in crash, the EMT’s job would be a little easier.

The Emergency Release function is annotated on the exterior of the helmet so the EMT’s know the helmet has this function. I knock on wood as I say this, as I have yet to crash-test-dummy proof this feature, but I feel better knowing that if I were in crash, the EMT’s job would be a little easier.

The Emergency Release Function

In addition to a high impact resistant shell and dual density EPS interior, the cheek pads of the RF1200 have the emergency release function or two red pull straps, integrated into them to create another line of defense for the rider. This is a feature that has been garnered from SHOEI’s technologically improved VFX-W and X-Twelve racing helmets.

Shoei began including this function in their helmets a fews years ago to help EMT’s remove the helmet safely and quickly from an unconscious rider without causing unnecessary damage to the rider’s neck. The EMT’s are able to pull the red straps at the bottom of the cheek pads and thus create a much bigger hole to pull the rider’s head straight through.

The padding inside is available in different sizes for a completely custom fit.

The padding inside is available in different sizes for a completely custom fit.

The RF1200‘s Inner Liner

The RF1200‘s 3D Max-Dry System II liner is three-dimensionally shaped to match the contours of a rider’s head and thus make the helmet fit comfortably. Pressing foam with spoons and pulling over to massage a pressure point is a thing of the past, as the RF1200 has a completely snug and contoured fit.

The cheek pads, center pads and chin strap covers are fully removable, adjustable and replaceable through Shoei. The cheek pads, center pads and chin strap covers can be removed from the helmet easily as they are snapped in. The cheek pads and center pads are available through Shoei in different thicknesses for a completely custom fit.

The padding of the Shoei RF1200 is made with Shoei’s exclusive Max-Dry System II liner material that is plush and soft to the touch. This material absorbs and dissipates sweat and moisture twice as fast as traditional Nylon interiors for riders who wear their helmets for longer periods of time. This technology is also borrowed from Shoei’s premium racing helmets.

How to Wash the RF1200‘s Helmet Liner

To best preserve the material of the cheek pads, center pads and chin strap covers, it’s best to sink wash them with a mild shampoo. If you’re unable to get all of the shampoo out of the padding, it won’t irritate your skin like laundry detergent as it’s something you wash your head with on a regular basis.

Also, you don’t want to twist the padding while washing them. Squeeze them and then let them air dry. If you do this instead of tossing the padding in a laundry bag and machine washing them, they will last a lot longer. “We definitely recommend people do that because as you sweat and dirt gets in the padding, it clogs all the pores in the foam and that’s when they start packing down and not fitting very well,” says Don.

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The outer shell of the RF1200 is equipped with three large upper air intake vents as well as four large upper exhaust vents at the back of the helmet to improve air flow over the rider’s head. These vents can be easily opened or closed with gloves on.

 

There is a large lower air intake vent on the chin bar of the helmet in front of the rider’s mouth that when left open, can act as a defogger during misty early morning rides.

There is a large lower air intake vent on the chin bar of the helmet in front of the rider’s mouth that when left open, can act as a defogger during misty early morning rides.

The exhaust vents not only keep my head cool but keep me from being a bobble head on the freeway. Thank you Shoei!

The RF1200 has the exhaust vents in the spoiler to create a down force as air passes over the spoiler. This induces “negative pressure suction” to keep the rider’s head more stable and thus reduce wind buffeting.

Beneath the outer shell, the EPS liner is also equipped with tunnels to help cool the rider’s head during hot summer rides without compromising the integrity of the shell. I can attest to the awesomeness of a cool breeze while riding in toasty California weather and I give Shoei a hi-five to offering me some relief on the highway.

Beneath the outer shell, the EPS liner is also equipped with tunnels to help cool the rider’s head during hot summer rides without compromising the integrity of the shell. I can attest to the awesomeness of a cool breeze while riding in toasty California weather and I give Shoei a hi-five to offering me some relief on the highway.

The QR-E base plates are spring loaded so when the is shield installed, it is pulled back against the dual-lip window beading to keep the wind and rain out when the shield is closed.

The QR-E base plates are spring loaded so when the is shield installed, it is pulled back against the dual-lip window beading to keep the wind and rain out when the shield is closed.

Shield System

The new RF1200 is furnished with a CWR-1 Shield that protects against 99 percent of the sun’s damaging UV rays and is available clear and tinted. The visor is manufactured with a rib that molded into the inside of the visor around on the top and bottom edge. Per Shoei, this rib improves rigidity and eliminates bending that may occur due to wind pressure or during the opening and closing process.

Along with the CWR-1 shield, the RF-1200 has a new QR-E base plate system that makes shield changes quick and easy. The sun is usually down during my evening commutes and this new system makes having to change out my shield quick and convenient.

The base plates are also equipped with a five-stage rotating dial that provide nearly half a millimeter of adjustment. This doesn’t sound like much but can make a huge difference as the helmet wears over time.

The base plates are also equipped with a five-stage rotating dial that provide nearly half a millimeter of adjustment. This doesn’t sound like much but can make a huge difference as the helmet wears over time.

To remove the shield, simply pull the spring-loaded stirrup down and lift the shield away from the helmet.

To remove the shield, simply pull the spring-loaded stirrup down and lift the shield away from the helmet.

 

To put the shield on, hold the cam in the open position and line up the tabs and push it in.

To put the shield on, hold the cam in the open position and line up the tabs and push it in.

IMG_2260Fog Shield

The RF1200 visors have two posts on the inside to clip in the fog shield which uses Shoei’s PINLOCK® system. The fog shield is mist retardant and when used in conjunction with the visor, creates a clear field of view for the rider during foggy or misty rides.

The fog shield is not scratch resistant, however, and should only be cleaned with soapy water and a nonabrasive cloth then left to air dry before reassembling. The fog shield should only be used during the day and not at night. I found this out when I left it on during a night ride home. The fog shield created a bad reflection that obstructed my field of view and was very distracting.

To clip in the fog shield, flatten the visor and clip in on one side, then clip in the other side. Once the visor retains it’s curve, the fog shield will seal against it.

To clip in the fog shield, flatten the visor and clip in on one side, then clip in the other side. Once the visor retains it’s curve, the fog shield will seal against it.

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The chin skirt helped to reduce air flow on a cold morning ride.

The chin skirt helped to reduce air flow on a cold morning ride.

Options and Accessories

The Shoei RF1200 helmet is available in 22 different colors and graphics from sizes XS-XXL for an m.s.r.p. of $485.99 for solid colors and $589.99 for graphics. All RF1200 helmets come with the pertinent manuals, a nose guard, chin skirt, fog shield, helmet bag and a small bottle of Shoei visor lubricant for ease of shield installation.

Don’t forget all SHOEI helmets are backed by a five-year limited warranty which covers any manufacturer defects. I doubt you’ll find any! With more than 50 years experience, Shoei is an industry leader in R&D for helmet testing with a state-of-the-art wind tunnel facility based in Japan. Their helmets are made in-house making them well worth the money.

The RF1200 has the most wide range of use of all the helmets in Shoei’s product line. Whether you ride scooters, commute or do track days, the RF1200 will provide the comfortable fit and protection a rider needs. “It’s like the swiss army knife of the Shoei line where a lot of the other models are more focused on a particular type of riding,” says Don. Kudos to Shoei for creating this amazing helmet!

Click here to find a Shoei dealer nearest you.

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Shoosh Engine, Don’t Cry! The APE Racing MCCT Will Soothe You!

The Dilemma

Since day one, my 2005 Suzuki GSX-R1000 has had a bothersome top end rattle, even when it had low miles. After a few years and 26,000 miles later, the rattle seemed to get worse. I checked valve clearances twice (once at 17,000 and again at 26,000) and all clearances were in spec. I knew there had to be a way to quiet the top end down, so I asked around.

Most of the mechanically inclined friends I spoke to said it’s rare for cam chain tensioners to go bad and I should just try to push the stock tensioner out a click to see if that worked. I tried this. No change. Though I respected their opinion, I was convinced there had to be a better solution.

Not too long ago, a friend brought a 2005 Suzuki GSX-R1000 engine to me to rebuild after it started knocking at a race. Two of the bottom connecting rod bearings had spun out after just six laps. I rebuilt the engine and noticed it was equipped with a manual cam chain tensioner. I had never used one before and really had no clue what the advantages were so I started doing some research.

Automatic CCT’s vs. Hydraulic CCT’s

What I found out is the automatic cam chain tensioners that come stock with a Suzuki motorcycle (for example) have a ratchet type mechanism that holds the push rod of the tensioner to the cam chain guide and maintains tension. But after continued high r.p.m. use, it is possible for this ratchet mechanism to weaken and thus dull or wear the teeth on the push rod. This can cause the tensioner to slip which creates noise or worse, inflicts damage.

On the flip side, hydraulic tensioners use oil pressure to determine how much pressure to put on the cam chain guide and cam chain. These types of tensioners actually have a tendency to put too much tension on the chain guide under high r.p.m.s or high oil pressure conditions like during start-up. This could result in premature wear of the cam chain guide and other components, per APE Racing. Additionally, if there is any foaming of the oil or the engine loses oil pressure, this can also cause the cams to go temporarily out of time and you’re back in the same boat you would be in with a faulty automatic cam chain tensioner. The

APE Racing Manual Cam Chain Tensioner

Per Ape Racing: “The easy-access socket head adjuster screw is perfect for tight spaces. The interior o-ring design ensures that repeated adjustments will not eventually flatten the o-ring against a jam nut.”

Per Ape Racing: “The easy-access socket head adjuster screw is perfect for tight spaces. The interior o-ring design ensures that repeated adjustments will not eventually flatten the o-ring against a jam nut.”

I found the APE Racing Parts website online and starting reading about the manual cam chain tensioner (or MCCT for short). The MCCT is designed for the racer who frequently adjusts or makes changes to their engine, per APE Racing. This means the MCCT will have to be adjusted every oil change, but I believe a happy, humming engine is worth it. APE Racing’s MCCT can eliminate the possibility of the tensioner being too loose or too tight as the mechanic can set the tension himself (or herself). The tension will remain the same, regardless of oil pressure or r.p.m’s. What does this mean? The possibility of engine damage goes down dramatically and the engine runs much quieter with better performance.

As APE Racing MCCT’s are CNC machined from billet alloy to exact tolerances, they fit perfectly to the gasket surface of the engine with no modifications needed. This makes for a quick install with little hassle. After reading this information on APE Racing’s website, I was convinced the MCCT was the answer I’d been looking for.

The Install

The part number of the MCCT I received was ST1000-3-PRO. I know this one works on more than just one year/model GSX-R. Click here to see what models APE Racing currently make manual cam chain tensioners for. I did appreciate, though, how they had a link to the “how-to” page right on the packaging. And I know this is going to sound really girly, but I love the color of this tensioner too!

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I removed the valve cover and made sure the engine was on TDC or top dead center where the cam chain is at it’s slackest point. I checked to make sure the timing marks on the crank shaft were correct and lined up. I also checked the position of the intake and exhaust cam sprockets and marked them with a paint pen (both on the chain and on the sprocket itself) in case I needed to reset time for any reason.

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I removed the original, stock tensioner and placed it in a baggy.

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It should be noted that I removed the oil feed to the tensioner body and placed it in the baggy as well. The APE Racing MCCT will not install correctly if this oil feed nozzle is not removed.

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I then cleaned the gasket surface at the CCT opening.

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I loosened the jam nut on the MCCT and pulled the tensioner push rod all the way back up against the body. It’s best to do this when on installation to prevent the cams from jumping time as it would be prematurely set too tight.

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I installed the gasket to the MCCT body.

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I installed the MCCT, tightening down the body first and torque-ing the two body bolts to about 16 ft. lbs.

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I screwed in the tensioner foot or push rod while turning the engine clockwise slowly until I felt resistance against the cam chain guide. I must note it was really difficult to feel where the best stopping point was, so I screwed the push rod in until it nearly stopped, then backed it out half a turn. I turned the motor clock wise at the crank shaft and checked the cam chain tension. It should have had a 1/4’’ deflection but it was extremely tight, so I loosened the tensioner another half turn, tightened the jam nut and turned the engine clock wise again. I checked the chain tension and my timing marks and everything was spot on!

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Done and ready to start!

Done and ready to start!

 “APE'S Pro Series tensioner features an internal O-ring and custom-machined adjuster bolt. The bolt is broached with a 4mm hex.”

“APE’S Pro Series tensioner features an internal O-ring and custom-machined adjuster bolt. The bolt is broached with a 4mm hex.”

Conclusion

Before I put the bike back together, I also installed NGK iridium spark plugs and swapped out the coolant. On start up, it purred like a kitten. It literally sounded like a completely different bike. All the top end rattle was absent. It was so quiet! I was so impressed at how quick and efficient the install was and how much of a difference it made! I was not expecting such a drastic change. The APE Racing MCCT really is an amazing, simple solution to an annoying problem. I highly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind spending extra time working on their bikes.

More about APE Racing’s MCCT

The APE Racing MCCT is available with the bolts and gasket included and is available at an m.s.r.p. of $51.65 for standard model tensioners and $89.95 for pro series tensioners.

Take a look at this detailed video on how to install the APE Racing manual cam chain tensioner on a 2005 Suzuki GSX-R1000.

1999 Suzuki Marauder $1000 firm

We have a 1999 Suzuki Marauder for sale. It’s a California model with current registration and clean title in hand. Never down. New chain and brake fluid and the carburetors were recently cleaned. This bike does need a top end rebuild, however, due to owner over filling the oil. Needs a new set of piston rings, but we do have new spark plugs. It needs to have new piston rings to be in good running condition, but the rest of the bike is pristine.

Email motoinked@gmail.com if interested.

Facebook photo reel

So there are a lot of photos of moto-inspired tattoo pictures I post to our Facebook page and not here. The main reason for that being it seems social media does more to drive a following these days than an individual website. If you look at the number of views to this page, I could be mistaken. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m a compulsive Google searcher with a taste for the savory sight of fresh ink on riders or models for that matter. Draw from that what you will. If you like the pics you see, I upload more daily to our Facebook page and they can also be seen on instagram @motoinked. So like us with the button to your right ===> if you’d be so kind. Thank you.

Fast Diva: CJ’s Custom Busa

Garwood takes it up a notch to turn a bike with one fast attitude into a ride fit for a feminine rider.

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photo 2You can’t go to Busa Fest on a bone stock Suzuki Hayabusa, especially if you’re the founder of the event. A strong African American female entrepreneur CJ a.k.a. “Da Busa Girl” showing up on an un-modified Busa is like Madonna showing up to her own concert and performing in a kitchen frock. Just like Madonna needs a wardrobe to compliment her die hard burlesque image, CJ needed a ride that reflected the bad ass she is, while staying true to femininity.

Initially, CJ took her bike to a painter who didn’t quite capture the vision she was going for. After her bike sat idle for months with no results, CJ decided to take matters into her own hands. “I wanted a unique custom look to capture my personality,” said CJ. While perusing the display booths at IMS (International Motorcycle Show), CJ met Steve from Garwood Custom Cycles and he was more than willing to make sure her Busa would be transformed into the bike of her dreams. “I was amazed at their work,” CJ said. “I told them the story of my bike not being completed and they stepped in right away and offered to help.” With a little interview, Garwood got to know CJ and created a design for her that would turn her Busa into her ideal custom, which they later revealed to her at Busa Fest 2012 in North Carolina.

photo 1Garwood began CJ’s project Busa with the paint work, laying out a series of simple yet elegant fades of black into pink that blend into each other with stars and diamonds air brushed in as accents. With any custom Busa, you can’t call it quits with only a pretty paint job. You need the finishing touches. “She wanted a bike that would reflect her personality – feminine but with an edge,” said Steve. So they installed a 240 wide tire kit to make CJ’s Busa “cool but functional” with a ten-inch stretch. It was something to stop an admirer in their tracks without going “over the top.”

They also painted the frame and powder coated the foot pegs to blend with the bike and enhance the styling. To complete the montage, Garwood added some flashy, classy wheels and bright pink brake rotors to add sparkle to the custom wheels.

Basically, this glamorous road-bound rocket will have you saying “Damn!” when CJ rides by.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbout CJ:

CJ is a North Carolina native with a passion for motorcycles. Her father taught her how to ride dirt bikes by the tender age of 10 and she also learned the basics of safety. She rode her first street bike when she was 15. These days, CJ is a full-time corporate office employee, a writer, a plus size model and event promoter. She is planning to release a line of custom motorcycle riding jackets and motorcycle accessories, so keep an eye on CJ, as this line of gear will launch soon.

As the founder of Busa Fest, CJ has created an event that celebrates the Hayabusa motorcycle but welcomes all brands of motorcycles. Busa Fest is a huge gathering of bikes that includes competitive bike shows for all brands of motorcycles, including the Title Belt class for the “Best in Show Hayabusa” and the honor of being named the “King (or Queen) of Busa Fest.” The event also features drag racing and enables world-class custom motorcycle builders to showcase their work. During Busa Fest, attendees can win awesome giveaways and enjoy outdoor concerts. Busa Fest is going to be held at Rockingham Dragway in Rockingham, NC this year on Sept 20-22, so make sure to check it out!

Fast Diva’s Specs:

Make/model: 2006 Suzuki Hayabusa

Bike name: Celebrity Glam

Owner: Cj (BusaGirl)

Paint & Body by: Garwood Custom Cycles

Chassis & Swingarm: 240 swingarm by C&S Customs

Wheels & Tires: Custom rims by FTD Customs, tires by Shinko

Exhaust: Dual Alien Head slip-on exhaust mufflers by Brock’s Performance

Parts & Accessories: Black scale-cut, billet parts by PPM Customs, black, glossy fairing grilles by 2 Wheel Grilles, pink LED light kit by Tricked Out Custom Cycles, custom pink turn signals and integrated smoke tail light by Garwood Custom Cycles, custom pink LED seats

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1017497_439559762818931_29557859_nby Rachael Maltbie

Rachael has been riding motorcycles for 13 years. She is a former road racer, MSF Instructor and Kawasaki Technical Services Coordinator. She is also a graduate of MMI and a certified motorcycle technician. She has been writing for motorcycle publications since 2003 and is an avid lover of two wheels. Check out more articles by Rachael on motoinked.com.

2014 MotoInked PinUp Calendar Preview

To all the MotoInked Fans –

We’ve got a new project in the works. We’re putting together a calendar to be published in print later this year featuring tattooed female motorcycle riders, their bikes and all around pinup fun! We’re trying different settings, different hair and make-up and of course different pinup style outfits! All photos will feature bikes, or bike parts or good all-around garage fun.

We’ve got two more photo shoots planned for August and September with an anticipated publish date of December 2013. Here are preview shots of the lovely ladies. Enjoy!

Photos are mostly by Bill Bevard of Two Wheeled Photography and hair and make-up is by Breona Mandel. There are many more photos and info to come, so keep checking back for updates!

Sponsors:

Two Wheeled Photography, Atomic Boutique

Arizona Bike Week Instagram Diary

I worked at West World in Scottsdale, AZ, for Kawasaki doing demo rides during Arizona bike week. While I was there, I took some photos of the motorbiking mayhem. I certainly saw some interesting things as hordes of bikes took over the streets from Glendale clear over to Scottsdale (about a 30-mile radius). Check out the photos here or on our Instagram @motoinked. ===>>>