Product Report May ’05

LEO VINCE X3 EXHAUST

APPLICATION: All four-strokes (Tested here on a 2005 Suzuki RM-Z450)

PRICE: $899

RATING: 8

// WHAT IT IS: Last month, we tested a Leo Vince X3 exhaust system on our 2005 Honda CRF250R, and criticized it mercilessly for its poor fit and lack of improved performance. Since then, we’ve learned that we were inadvertently shipped an incorrect pipe and agreed to try out a second system, this one for the all-new Suzuki RM-Z450. Leo Vince is the world’s largest high-performance four-stroke exhaust company, and has a full year of research and development on the new Suzuki, thanks to a strong relationship with the factory race team that contested the machine in last year’s MX1 World Championship Series. The X3 system for the new RM-Z features full titanium construction, two header pipe choices (standard or low-boy) and a set of super-trick carbon fiber muffler brackets.

// HITS: Once installed, the Leo Vince X3 system has an exotic look. From the beautiful welds on the titanium piping to the rich-looking carbon fiber heat guards and muffler mounts, it’s obvious that the X3 system is a high-end unit with lots of R&D time and effort behind it. On the track, the standard header pipe gives the bike a much livelier feel, boosting the low-end throttle response greatly. The docile RM-Z is transformed into a harder-hitting beast that packs a punch as soon as you crack the throttle. Mid-range power is just as impressive, as power keeps on pulling and pulling into the upper end of the rpm range. It is possible to carry each gear several bike lengths further with the pipe installed. With the standard header delivering so much added power, we were almost hesitant to try out the low-boy header, which is designed to pack an even bigger punch down low for Supercross-style tracks with obstacles that require immediate power. Unless you are one helluva rider, we would seriously suggest the standard header, as the powerband yielded by the low-boy header is definitely for advanced riders only. With the extra-long header installed, the RM-Z hits like a two-stroke: it comes on hard and fast, and is actually a little tough to hold on to. Where the low-boy gains in torque, however, it loses in top-end overrev, and does not allow you to carry each gear as far. Depending on the end cap you choose, the bike can be either quiet or really quiet. We prefer the smaller end cap, which brings the exhaust note down to a claimed 98db. As far as we’re concerned, a quiet pipe is a good pipe when it comes to the longevity of our sport.

// MISSES: This is not a pipe that you want to install at the track, as it requires patience and a methodical, unhurried technique to install correctly. Unlike most aftermarket exhaust systems that are held on by two fasteners at the header pipe/cylinder junction, a single bolt at the mid-pipe and subframe area and one bolt at the muffler, the Leo Vince X3 system utilizes 21 small bits of hardware to fasten the exhaust to the bike. 21! That’s including springs, flanges, extra bolts, washers, L-brackets and muffler straps. While we praised the system for its high quality of construction and beautiful appearance, we must say that we feel the V3 is severely over-engineered. Take the dual-strap muffler mounting system, for instance, which requires you to cut a notch in your rear fender to accommodate a second mounting point on the rear subframe, or the L-bracket that you use to connect the mid-pipe to the subframe. Leo Vince states that the complicated mounting design is to ensure against equipment-induced DNFs, as less solidly-mounted systems have been known to crack and fall off during a moto. While that may hold true, we would still rather take that risk than bolt on all that extra hardware that could-in fact-come loose and fall off, too. The low-boy header is so long that it routes down next to the engine case guards. Our pipe melted our stock plastic case guards into deformities that look like Pringles potato chips, and it also hung so low that we were often afraid of catching it in deep ruts.

// THE VERDICT: The Leo Vinci X3 system is a work of art for your motorcycle, and it provides great performance, to boot. If you have the patience to learn how to install it properly, can appreciate a well-built and quiet pipe and don’t mind the appearance of the super-long muffler, this is the system for you.

Call 888/610-4242 or visit www.leovinceusa.com

WHITE BROS MX4 SLIP-ON MUFFLER

APPLICATION: All four-strokes (Tested here on a 2005 Suzuki RM-Z450)

PRICE: $319.95

RATING: 9

// WHAT IT IS: Because not everyone wants to fork out big bucks for a complete exhaust system for their four-stroke motocross bikes, White Bros. has developed a line of muffler-only slip-on systems that offer performance gains at a more realistic price point. The muffler itself is an impact-extruded aluminum can that uses a billet aluminum inlet cap and mounting brackets, and it bolts right on to the stock header pipe of your machine in minutes.

// HITS: We tested an MX4 on our new Suzuki RM-Z450, a bike that we admire for its easy-to-ride, torquey powerband. In stock condition, the RM-Z doesn’t feel like the fastest bike on the track because of its super-smooth power delivery, but it is certainly capable of grabbing holeshots and winning races at all levels. Still, slipping the MX4 onto the yellow beast made a significant improvement in the bike’s overall power delivery, without sacrificing any of its rideability. With the MX4 installed, the RM-Z seemed to rev a little freer and quicker down low, but the system maintained the bike’s great roll-on power without turning it into a big, unruly hit. Mid-range power was snappier as well, and the bike revved out further in each gear before flattening out and demanding a shift into the next gear. The muffler was a breeze to install and fit perfectly. At 5 lb., 2.6 oz., the MX4 weighs nearly one pound less than the stock muffler.

// MISSES: As fashion-fickle as this sounds (and we know it), the MX4 is not as sexy as the higher-end White Bros Carbon 4 system.

// THE VERDICT: We’ve had the chance to try several systems on the new RM-Z450 thus far (including some costlier full-systems), and this is the aftermarket exhaust we’ve liked the best.

Call 714/692-3404 or visit www.whitebros.com

AP DESIGNS HELMET PAINT

APPLICATION: All helmets, preferably new and white

PRICE: Designs starting at $550 ($630 for design shown here)

RATING: 10

// WHAT IT IS: Alex Paul of AP Designs has been painting helmets, watercraft and motorcycles for well over a decade now, and his custom works of art have been seen on the heads of many a factory rider. We had a flat-black Bell Moto 7-R lying around the office, and wanted to jump on the “siiick” black helmet bandwagon, so we fired it off to Alex to see what he could conjure up.

// HITS: Alex gave us exactly what we asked for: a simple pinstripe job that would have some flair, yet maintain a simple, clean design. Using fluorescent red paint, AP Designs added plenty of style to our once-drab lid. Furthermore, some gold leaf highlights for the name and number on the lid were used to help give the helmet a race-oriented look. AP’s work is flawless; from the reinstallation of the rubber moulding to the quality of the paint job itself, everything about this custom job is first class.

// MISSES: Depending on the time of year, your helmet may or may not be delivered back to you in a speedy fashion. As one of the most popular helmet painters around, AP’s shop is quite often backed up with work.

// THE VERDICT: If you want to stand out from the rest, and can afford to have your helmet tied up at the shop for a custom paint job, the end result is well worth the wait.

Call 760/471-1024 or visit www.apdesignsusa.com

BOYESEN QUICK SHOT ACCELERATOR PUMP COVER APPLICATION: Most Four-Strokes (That use the Keihin FCR carburetor)

PRICE: $89.95

RATING: 10

// WHAT IT IS: The Quick Shot is an aftermarket accelerator pump cover that bolts onto the Keihin FCR carburetor in place of the stock unit. Without going too deeply into the technical aspects of it, we will tell you that the Quick Shot utilizes two small holes in place of the single stock small hole on the mating surface between the carburetor and the pump cover. Suffice it to say, this supplies fuel to the motor in greater volume and with more velocity during the first 1/8th of the throttle turn, vastly improving off-idle response. Basically, the Quick Shot is a cure for the dreaded low-end bog that often occurs when you chop the throttle open quickly, especially when landing from jumps or in technical rhythm sections.

// HITS: This is quite possibly the most amazing bolt-on modification we have ever ridden with. Installing the product is a 15-minute affair, and we would recommend doing so in the clean environment of your garage, rather than at the track. We first tested the Quick Shot on our Suzuki RM-Z250, which has undergone some extensive modifications at the hands of our friends at Pro Circuit. Though the bike runs like an absolute champ, we did struggle with some extreme low-end bog when the throttle was snapped open quickly. With some hop-up products, you have to really concentrate to notice the benefit they provide, but this is definitely not the case with the Boyesen Quick Shot. Throttle response was vastly improved, and the bike would bark with authority the millisecond the throttle was cracked open. Even when twisting it completely wide open from a low-rpm idle, the Quick Shot allowed the motor to respond without the dreaded bog or hiccup that you have likely become accustomed to. We put one on our Michael Young’s Honda CRF250R Supercross race bike, and the smile that crept over his face after his first moto with the Quick Shot installed was worth a thousand words. After our success with the product on small-bore thumpers, we decided to slap one on our Suzuki RM-Z450. To be honest, the Quick Shot made the big yellow beast so responsive and snappy that Swap actually took it back off! Boyesen does, however, include with the cover everything you need to readjust your timing screw to mellow out throttle response, simply because the product works so well. On top of all this, the Quick Shot can never wear out or clog up. Add Boyesen’s signature magnesium color and powder-coated finish, and you have a winner.

// MISSES: The only thing wrong with this part is that it didn’t come stock on your four-stroke. But mark our words, some day soon…it will.

// THE VERDICT: The Boyesen Quick Shot is a must-have if you ride or race a late model four-stroke with a Keihin FCR carburetor. Simply put, this is the single best modification you can do for your bike’s throttle response, short of fuel injection. Every now and then a product comes along that revolutionizes motorcycle technology, and we believe that the Boyesen Quick Shot is one of those products.

Call 800/441-1177 or visit www.boyesen.com

WHEEL WRIGHT WHEEL LACING

APPLICATION: All bikes

PRICE: Starting at $70 for lacing and truing, per wheel

RATING: 10

// WHAT IT IS: Wheel Wright is a company that specializes in building custom wheel sets. If the wheels on your bike wobble like the ones on Fred Flintstone’s car, you’re probably due for a fresh set of rims. The problem is, though, that building a set of wheels from the hubs up is not as easy as cleaning an air filter: it requires special tools, lots of experience and the perfect touch to get them spinning true and remaining tight. Wheel Wright can custom build you a set of wheels with a wide variety of options, from aftermarket hubs to heavy duty spokes to different colored anodized rims.

// HITS: Our buddies at the Suzuki race shop felt sorry for Swap when he laid out a well-thought-out sob story about his taco’ed stock wheels, FCR carburetor)

PRICE: $89.95

RATING: 10

// WHAT IT IS: The Quick Shot is an aftermarket accelerator pump cover that bolts onto the Keihin FCR carburetor in place of the stock unit. Without going too deeply into the technical aspects of it, we will tell you that the Quick Shot utilizes two small holes in place of the single stock small hole on the mating surface between the carburetor and the pump cover. Suffice it to say, this supplies fuel to the motor in greater volume and with more velocity during the first 1/8th of the throttle turn, vastly improving off-idle response. Basically, the Quick Shot is a cure for the dreaded low-end bog that often occurs when you chop the throttle open quickly, especially when landing from jumps or in technical rhythm sections.

// HITS: This is quite possibly the most amazing bolt-on modification we have ever ridden with. Installing the product is a 15-minute affair, and we would recommend doing so in the clean environment of your garage, rather than at the track. We first tested the Quick Shot on our Suzuki RM-Z250, which has undergone some extensive modifications at the hands of our friends at Pro Circuit. Though the bike runs like an absolute champ, we did struggle with some extreme low-end bog when the throttle was snapped open quickly. With some hop-up products, you have to really concentrate to notice the benefit they provide, but this is definitely not the case with the Boyesen Quick Shot. Throttle response was vastly improved, and the bike would bark with authority the millisecond the throttle was cracked open. Even when twisting it completely wide open from a low-rpm idle, the Quick Shot allowed the motor to respond without the dreaded bog or hiccup that you have likely become accustomed to. We put one on our Michael Young’s Honda CRF250R Supercross race bike, and the smile that crept over his face after his first moto with the Quick Shot installed was worth a thousand words. After our success with the product on small-bore thumpers, we decided to slap one on our Suzuki RM-Z450. To be honest, the Quick Shot made the big yellow beast so responsive and snappy that Swap actually took it back off! Boyesen does, however, include with the cover everything you need to readjust your timing screw to mellow out throttle response, simply because the product works so well. On top of all this, the Quick Shot can never wear out or clog up. Add Boyesen’s signature magnesium color and powder-coated finish, and you have a winner.

// MISSES: The only thing wrong with this part is that it didn’t come stock on your four-stroke. But mark our words, some day soon…it will.

// THE VERDICT: The Boyesen Quick Shot is a must-have if you ride or race a late model four-stroke with a Keihin FCR carburetor. Simply put, this is the single best modification you can do for your bike’s throttle response, short of fuel injection. Every now and then a product comes along that revolutionizes motorcycle technology, and we believe that the Boyesen Quick Shot is one of those products.

Call 800/441-1177 or visit www.boyesen.com

WHEEL WRIGHT WHEEL LACING

APPLICATION: All bikes

PRICE: Starting at $70 for lacing and truing, per wheel

RATING: 10

// WHAT IT IS: Wheel Wright is a company that specializes in building custom wheel sets. If the wheels on your bike wobble like the ones on Fred Flintstone’s car, you’re probably due for a fresh set of rims. The problem is, though, that building a set of wheels from the hubs up is not as easy as cleaning an air filter: it requires special tools, lots of experience and the perfect touch to get them spinning true and remaining tight. Wheel Wright can custom build you a set of wheels with a wide variety of options, from aftermarket hubs to heavy duty spokes to different colored anodized rims.

// HITS: Our buddies at the Suzuki race shop felt sorry for Swap when he laid out a well-thought-out sob story about his taco’ed stock wheels, and they hooked him up with a set of those unobtainable fluorescent yellow factory Excel rims. We sent the bent up stock wheels-along with the shiny new Excel hoops-off to Wheel Wright to get built up, and were surprised to get them back only a couple days later. Having ridden on them for several months now, we have been quite pleased with the quality of Wheel Wright’s work. Unlike stock wheels which require break-in time and plenty of spoke maintenance, the Wheel Wright-built wheels never loosened up or lost their true.

// MISSES: None!

// THE VERDICT: Sure, Swap’s ill-timed case outs and poor line selection can still wreak havoc on the overall shape of any wheel set, but the manner in which Wheel Wright built up this set of hoops for us has allowed them to outlast any stock wheel we’ve ridden on, as far as keeping their shape is concerned.

Call 714/931-9791

or visit

www.wheelwrightusa.com

FMF FACTORY 4C EXHAUST SYSTEM

APPLICATION: All current four-strokes (Tested here on a 2005 CRF450)

Price: $899.99

Rating: 9

// WHAT IT IS: FMF is known for building high-quality four-stroke exhaust systems, and this year they added the Factory 4C exhaust system to their lineup. The Factory 4C system comes with the Factory Forward Powerbomb titanium header and their new 4.1 series carbon fiber muffler. This combination makes it the lightest four-stroke exhaust system on the market today. The 4.1 carbon series muffler has a carbon fiber oval canister that is hard-mounted to the frame.

// HITS: The Factory 4C system is tunable thanks to the removable muffler end cap, which is easily changed to fine-tune the system for different tracks. There is also a quiet end cap available for riding areas where sound is an issue. The finish of the Factory 4C system is very clean, and the trick-looking carbon fiber muffler not only saves weight, it also gave our test bike the look of a works machine.

On the track the difference in power was clear. The system we tested had the end cap installed for more top-end power; however, there was improved power throughout the curve. Our CRF450 had better throttle response down low with an additional surge of power through the mid-range and top-end. The additional power produced by the Factory 4C exhaust system was smooth and manageable and did not jerk our CRF450 out of our hands.

// MISSES: The pre-production 4.1 carbon series muffler rubbed and melted part of the side panel on our test bike. Also, the $899.99 price tag may be a bit steep for the casual racer or weekend warrior; however, it is inline with comparable systems from competitors.

// THE VERDICT: Between the quality construction, the gains in performance, and an optional quieter end cap, FMF has produced another winner with Factory 4C exhaust system.

Call 310/631-4363 or visit www.fmfracing.com

SHOEI V-MOTO

SIZES: S-XL

COLORS: Holeshot: red, blue, yellow, gray; Pulse: red, blue, black, white; Solid: black, white, matte black

PRICE: $324.99 to $424.99

RATING: 9

// WHAT IT IS: To help expand their presence in motocross and off-road, the folks at Shoei recently doubled the size of their off-road helmet line with the addition of the new V-Moto. Shoei has been producing top-quality helmets for over 40 years, and until now their trusty VFX-R has been the flagship moto helmet in their line, and coincidently one of the premier helmets in the sport. For that reason, the arrival of the new V-Moto came with high expectations.

// HITS: Like just about everything else that we test, the first thing we analyzed on the new V-Moto was its look. The entire helmet is brand-new from the ground up, and we were quite pleased with the outcome. The newly-designed outer shell is stylish, yet maintains an aggressive, aerodynamic look. The new cross nose cover not only looks great, it has been designed to provide additional airflow as well. Working with the front intake vents and rear cross-voortex vents, airflow in the V-Moto is as good as it gets. The shape of the new visor took a little time to grow on us initially; however, its design actually makes it more resistant to crash damage than most other visors on the market.

Most pleasing to us about Shoei’s new lid was its overall comfort and fit. The removable, washable liner is plush and fits snug without cramping or irritation. And as always, Shoei has more than done their homework in the safety department and has utilized state-of-the-art organic and glass fiber materials to produce a strong, lightweight helmet.

// MISSES: Our only real beef with the V-Moto is its inability to facilitate a wide range of goggles with the same comfort. The majority of our testers have commented that smaller goggles fit pretty well, but larger frames like Scott and Utopias feel crammed and may even inhibit breathing slightly. Again, this varies depending on goggle size, and of course the shape of the rider’s face, but it was a concern nevertheless.

// THE VERDICT: Overall, we are very pleased with the new offering from Shoei. The V-Moto provides everything you could ask for in a top-quality helmet, and for a pretty reasonable price when you take the custom paint options into consideration. Other than some minor goggle fitting issues, we’re pleased to announce the V-Moto as one of our testing staff’s favorites.

Call 714/730-0941 or visit www.shoei-helmets.com

they hooked him up with a set of those unobtainable fluorescent yellow factory Excel rims. We sent the bent up stock wheels-along with the shiny new Excel hoops-off to Wheel Wright to get built up, and were surprised to get them back only a couple days later. Having ridden on them for several months now, we have been quite pleased with the quality of Wheel Wright’s work. Unlike stock wheels which require break-in time and plenty of spoke maintenance, the Wheel Wright-built wheels never loosened up or lost their true.

// MISSES: None!

// THE VERDICT: Sure, Swap’s ill-timed case outs and poor line selection can still wreak havoc on the overall shape of any wheel set, but the manner in which Wheel Wright built up this set of hoops for us has allowed them to outlast any stock wheel we’ve ridden on, as far as keeping their shape is concerned.

Call 714/931-9791

or visit

www.wheelwrightusa.com

FMF FACTORY 4C EXHAUST SYSTEM

APPLICATION: All current four-strokes (Tested here on a 2005 CRF450)

Price: $899.99

Rating: 9

// WHAT IT IS: FMF is known for building high-quality four-stroke exhaust systems, and this year they added the Factory 4C exhaust system to their lineup. The Factory 4C system comes with the Factory Forward Powerbomb titanium header and their new 4.1 series carbon fiber muffler. This combination makes it the lightest four-stroke exhaust system on the market today. The 4.1 carbon series muffler has a carbon fiber oval canister that is hard-mounted to the frame.

// HITS: The Factory 4C system is tunable thanks to the removable muffler end cap, which is easily changed to fine-tune the system for different tracks. There is also a quiet end cap available for riding areas where sound is an issue. The finish of the Factory 4C system is very clean, and the trick-looking carbon fiber muffler not only saves weight, it also gave our test bike the look of a works machine.

On the track the difference in power was clear. The system we tested had the end cap installed for more top-end power; however, there was improved power throughout the curve. Our CRF450 had better throttle response down low with an additional surge of power through the mid-range and top-end. The additional power produced by the Factory 4C exhaust system was smooth and manageable and did not jerk our CRF450 out of our hands.

// MISSES: The pre-production 4.1 carbon series muffler rubbed and melted part of the side panel on our test bike. Also, the $899.99 price tag may be a bit steep for the casual racer or weekend warrior; however, it is inline with comparable systems from competitors.

// THE VERDICT: Between the quality construction, the gains in performance, and an optional quieter end cap, FMF has produced another winner with Factory 4C exhaust system.

Call 310/631-4363 or visit www.fmfracing.com

SHOEI V-MOTO

SIZES: S-XL

COLORS: Holeshot: red, blue, yellow, gray; Pulse: red, blue, black, white; Solid: black, white, matte black

PRICE: $324.99 to $424.99

RATING: 9

// WHAT IT IS: To help expand their presence in motocross and off-road, the folks at Shoei recently doubled the size of their off-road helmet line with the addition of the new V-Moto. Shoei has been producing top-quality helmets for over 40 years, and until now their trusty VFX-R has been the flagship moto helmet in their line, and coincidently one of the premier helmets in the sport. For that reason, the arrival of the new V-Moto came with high expectations.

// HITS: Like just about everything else that we test, the first thing we analyzed on the new V-Moto was its look. The entire helmet is brand-new from the ground up, and we were quite pleased with the outcome. The newly-designed outer shell is stylish, yet maintains an aggressive, aerodynamic look. The new cross nose cover not only looks great, it has been designed to provide additional airflow as well. Working with the front intake vents and rear cross-vortex vents, airflow in the V-Moto is as good as it gets. The shape of the new visor took a little time to grow on us initially; however, its design actually makes it more resistant to crash damage than most other visors on the market.

Most pleasing to us about Shoei’s new lid was its overall comfort and fit. The removable, washable liner is plush and fits snug without cramping or irritation. And as always, Shoei has more than done their homework in the safety department and has utilized state-of-the-art organic and glass fiber materials to produce a strong, lightweight helmet.

// MISSES: Our only real beef with the V-Moto is its inability to facilitate a wide range of goggles with the same comfort. The majority of our testers have commented that smaller goggles fit pretty well, but larger frames like Scott and Utopias feel crammed and may even inhibit breathing slightly. Again, this varies depending on goggle size, and of course the shape of the rider’s face, but it was a concern nevertheless.

// THE VERDICT: Overall, we are very pleased with the new offering from Shoei. The V-Moto provides everything you could ask for in a top-quality helmet, and for a pretty reasonable price when you take the custom paint options into consideration. Other than some minor goggle fitting issues, we’re pleased to announce the V-Moto as one of our testing staff’s favorites.

Call 714/730-0941 or visit www.shoei-helmets.com

cross-vortex vents, airflow in the V-Moto is as good as it gets. The shape of the new visor took a little time to grow on us initially; however, its design actually makes it more resistant to crash damage than most other visors on the market.

Most pleasing to us about Shoei’s new lid was its overall comfort and fit. The removable, washable liner is plush and fits snug without cramping or irritation. And as always, Shoei has more than done their homework in the safety department and has utilized state-of-the-art organic and glass fiber materials to produce a strong, lightweight helmet.

// MISSES: Our only real beef with the V-Moto is its inability to facilitate a wide range of goggles with the same comfort. The majority of our testers have commented that smaller goggles fit pretty well, but larger frames like Scott and Utopias feel crammed and may even inhibit breathing slightly. Again, this varies depending on goggle size, and of course the shape of the rider’s face, but it was a concern nevertheless.

// THE VERDICT: Overall, we are very pleased with the new offering from Shoei. The V-Moto provides everything you could ask for in a top-quality helmet, and for a pretty reasonable price when you take the custom paint options into consideration. Other than some minor goggle fitting issues, we’re pleased to announce the V-Moto as one of our testing staff’s favorites.

Call 714/730-0941 or visit www.shoei-helmets.com