Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wichita Wildlife Refuge

I haven't posted anything here in a VERY long time, but I wanted to share a few photos from a recent day trip through the Wichita Mountains. A lot has changed since the last time I posted to this blog. A post with updates and more stories will come soon.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Product Review: Motorcycle Headset for iPhone

Before reading this product review, you should skim over my post: Motorcycle MacGyvering pt. 1: iPhone Helmet Headset. As there are no other commercially available helmet headsets for the iPhone, at least that I've been able to find, that post will give you an idea of what I'm comparing to.

This is a review of's motorcycle helmet headset designed specifically for the iPhone. The headset arrived packaged in a plastic bag, basically as you see it in the photo to the left. The overall build quality seemed good, especially compared to my homemade version. The design is thoughtful, and easily adaptable to many different helmet styles.

The speakers and microphone come with velcro and 3m adhesive to mount them inside the helmet, and I found that it adhered to the helmet lining better than most adhesive velcroes I've used.

The headset includes a button, used to answer calls, play and pause music, and skip tracks on the iPhone, as well as a velcro strap to attach the button to the handlebars. This allows you to control the iPhone without removing your hands from the handlebars. The strap would work well on bikes with bare bars. However, the strap isn't long enough for bikes like mine, with plastic bodywork covering the bars. I found strapping it on to the left hand mirror stem worked well though. A piece of adhesive velcro placed somewhere within reach of your thumb would work also. The button is large and easy to find and manipulate, even with winter gloves on.

My first tests of the headset showed that the microphone worked well. Though it didn't eliminate all wind noise by any means, the person on the other end could understand me clearly and easily.

My first tests of the speakers, however, were not as successful. With them installed as intended, inside the ear pockets in my helmet, music sounded tinny and muffled, and phone conversations weren't even loud enough to understand at city traffic speeds, let alone on the interstate. To be fair, my helmet, an HJC SyMax, has deeper ear pockets than most, putting the speakers farther away from my ears then they were probably meant to be.

I did manage to work around this issue somewhat, by cutting two pieces of soft foam to the shape of the speakers and hot glueing it to the inside of the ear pockets. I then attached the speaker velcro to the foam, bringing the speakers in much closer to my ears. This helped quite a bit, especially with the sound quality for listening to music. The volume of the speakers, especially on a windy day, is still a little on the low side.

Though the speakers are less than perfect, I think one of the best parts of the products design is that the speakers attach to the rest of the headset with a regular 3.5mm headphone style jack. This means that you can easily swap out the included speakers with any helmet speakers you like. For the price of's headset ($49.99) you could get the iPhone compatible headset and a higher quality set of helmet speakers and still come in under the price of many helmet headsets. I did notice that carries three different levels of helmet speakers, the X Pro, the X2, and the X3. Based on the pictures on their website, it looks like the iPhone set-up comes with the X2s, which seem to be the bottom end of the three. It might be worth asking what that cost difference would be to upgrade to different speakers before ordering, though I haven't personally tested the others.

I think the iPhone Motorcycle Headset is a worthwhile product, though not perfect, and with the popularity of the iPhone, I'm surprised there aren't more companies making headsets compatible with it. The $49.99 price point comes in much lower than similar products, and other than the disappointing speakers, the bargain price doesn't seem to come at the expense of quality.

Just as a side note, has several other products that are worth looking at as well, including a throat mic set-up, which is a technology that I've always thought would be ideal for motorcyclists, and and system with a microphone that mounts to the inside top of the helmet, and apparently picks up the vibrations in your skull when you speak.

If anyone else has any experience with this product, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Update: has posted a video to their YouTube account explaining installation and operation of the iPhone headset:

Monday, March 2, 2009

Dan's Motorcycle

Just a quick one for now. I stumbled across a webpage tonight made by a longtime motorcycle mechanic named Dan. It's filled with all kinds of tips and tricks, as well as some pretty helpful (and well illustrated) instructions on the basics. (like soldering, the skill that I was trying to improve upon tonight). 

It's worth bookmarking as a reference point, if nothing else. Dan has been a motorcycle mechanic since 1967, and seems to have learned a lot of things the hard way, so you and I don't have to.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Ride to Vote, Vote to Ride

I know it's been a while since I've written anything here, and really, I mean to. I actually have several entries that I should have written by now. It's just a case of making time. Right now, however, there's a more pressing matter to address. Tomorrow, November 4th, history will be made one way or another. I want to take this opportunity to encourage every single one of you to be a part of that history, regardless of your political affiliations. 

On a more motorcycle related matter, Ride to Work will be sponsoring Vote to Ride Day. They're recognizing the importance of riders being represented, not only in the polls, but on the roads and in the parking lots. Ride to your polling place, park near the entrance, and wear your riding gear as you fill out your ballot. Print out the "I Rode" stickers available on the vote to ride day website and wear it alongside your "I Voted" sticker. If anyone asks you about your sticker, remind them that riding is a good solution to many social, urban mobility, and environmental issues. - The internets fastest growing blog directory