MOTION PRO MINI BLEEDER
With just a couple of the proper tools and a little bit of patience, brake bleeding can be accomplished without spilling the slightest bit of brake fluid. Motion Pro (www.motionpro.com), however, has made the job even tidier and more foolproof with its new Mini Bleeder (part #08-0482; $24.99). This clever little tool combines the socket required to fit the bleeder with the wrench needed to turn it. The wrench is captive on the tool but can be slid off the socket’s hex onto a rounded area, repositioned and then slid back onto the hex. Although the hex has, as its name signifies, six sides, the wrench has a 12-point box-end for greater flexibility in positioning the handle, which was deliberately made short to help prevent overtightening of the bleeder valve.
There’s even more thoughtful stuff packed into this small tool. The socket is hollow, of course, to permit fluid to reach the included hose; but it also has an internal rubber seal that fits around the bleeder nipple to prevent fluid from leaking past the socket and out onto the caliper or the ground. What’s more, there’s a one-way valve built into the tool so that fluid can exit but air cannot enter when the bleeder is open. This allows you to easily flush a brake system by simply opening the bleeder and leaving it open while continuously pumping the lever or pedal until all the old fluid has been replaced with new.
A fluid catch bottle is not included, so you’ll have to provide your own, but that’s no big deal; just about any little bottle will suffice. And for the present, the Mini Bleeder is only available with an 8mm socket, which is the most popular bleeder size on current Japanese and European motorcycles. Motion Pro will consider adding other sizes if there is enough demand.
DISCOUNT RAMPS BLACK WIDOW MOTORCYCLE WHEEL BALANCER
Changing your own tires these days, are ya, Sparky? Well, you might as well balance them yourself, too. And if that sounds like a swell idea, Discount Ramps’ (www.discountramps.com) Black Widow Motorcycle Wheel Balancer (part #BW-WB-03; $49.99) is an economical tool that can help you get the job done quite nicely. The steel stand has two-position-adjustable uprights, each topped with a pair of sealed, low-friction roller bearings. Beautifully machined aluminum centering cones ride on a 7/16-inch axle, fit into just about any wheel bearings and lock in place with small Allen set screws. The four nylon-tipped feet are adjustable, so you can level the stand on just about any reasonably flat surface. In their widest position, the uprights will accept up to a 240mm rear tire, and they’re tall enough to allow a tire with as much as a 28-inch radius to clear the base. The stand even ships with 30 grams of peel-and-stick balance weights.
Really, there’s nothing new or revolutionary about this stand; in principle and basic design, it’s very much like many others on the market, some of which have been around for decades. But for the money, you’d be hard pressed to find another one as functional and well-built.
GRIOT’S GARAGE TIRE PRESSURE & TREAD DEPTH GAUGE
Maintenance-savvy motorcyclists appreciate a tire-pressure gauge that’s accurate, easy to use and can slip into a jacket pocket. Several gauges on the market fit that description, but this little digital one not only fills that need to a T, it offers a secondary function: It measures tire tread depth. The Tire Pressure & Tread Depth Gauge (part #44402; $16.99) from Griot’s Garage (www.griotsgarage.com) is powered by a 3-volt watch battery, is 3 x 1 1/2 x 13/16-inch in size, weighs just over an ounce and has an LCD readout that displays information in 3/4-in.-tall digits. It can measure pressures in either psi, kg/cm
Then there’s the tread-depth rod, which can be extended by sliding a little button on the side of the case. When the rod is inserted between tread blocks of a tire, the display shows the remaining tread depth either in fractions of an inch from zero to 19⁄32 or in metric values from zero to 15mm. And those numbers work in conjunction with green, yellow and red bars at the bottom of the display. Between 19⁄32- (15mm) and 5⁄32-in. (4mm), the black bar illuminates to indicate good tread depth. From 4⁄32 (3.9mm) to 3⁄32 (3.2mm), the yellow bar tells you the tread is at the minimum safe depth. Below those readings, the red bar indicates the need for a new tire.
Most people don’t assess the condition of a bike’s tires with a depth gauge, since the rounded profile of motorcycle tires usually results in uneven wear from the center to the sides. But most motorcyclists also own a car or a truck, and the tread-depth function of this gauge is perfectly suited for measuring the wear on four-wheelers.
Unfortunately, the gauge will not read tire pressures on every bike. Although it is only three inches long, the gauge has a straight (non-angled) fitting, so it requires at least three inches of clearance between the very top of the valve stem and the hub of the wheel in order to fit squarely onto the stem. While most wire-spoked wheels do not present this limitation, some cast wheels do—unless they have been equipped with 90-degree valve stems.
INOVA DESIGNS MULTIFUNNEL II
Evidently, creative funnel design is a bigger business than I thought, because for the third time in less than a year, I’ve discovered an interesting twist on the traditional funnel. This one is the MultiFunnel II ($7.00) from Inova Designs (firstname.lastname@example.org). As you can see in the photos, it’s essentially a small, slender funnel that has a deep, elongated reservoir on one side. The spout is long enough to fit into the oil or coolant filler openings on most motorcycles, and the combined funnel/reservoir holds about 16 ounces, enough to let you add liquid at a fairly fast, easily controllable rate without fear of spilling or overflowing. The net effect is a funnel that can fit into a lot of tight areas without being so small as to make adding liquid a painstaking affair.
Inova originally designed MultiFunnel for household use, particularly targeting people who refill water bottles from refrigerator dispensers and purifying containers. Its practicality for other uses was immediately apparent, giving rise to the MultiFunnel II. Actually, the two products are identical except for color: MultiFunnel I is blue, MultiFunnel II is gray.
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