BikeJet Visor Cleaning Accessory Prototype: Review & Road Test.
Being an inventor of motorcycle accessories – now that’s got to be a toughie. There you are, you’ve invented something you’re sure will interest the always generous biking public, you’ve tested it yourself and you think it’s amazing. But at some point you’ve got to let someone else get their grubby hands on it to try- and if you’ve got any self respect that person won’t work for the magazine you’ve just paid to advertise in but be an independent unpaid tester. It’s a massive step. That tester may be incompetent. They may not ‘get’ your idea. They may have a vested interest in a competitor product. They may even be Matt Hull from RiDE Magazine staring down the barrel of a Loobman chain oiler. That’s just the risk you take.
I always tell companies who contact me to test things that I will actually test them as opposed to just politely regurgitating their press release – as many do. Just like BikeJet have, one motorcycle security reseller (who shall remain nameless) also recently asked me to ‘test’ their products. “Sure” I said. “But be aware that it’ll all be saying hello to my little friend Mr Makita the 4 ½” grinder for some real-world destructive action”.
Guess what? Never heard from them again – and sadly this happens quite a lot. Most companies just want free advertising and most bloggers and websites just want free content. That’s how it works. I however, prefer to see if material things actually do their stated job and write what I think. So, sending in an early prototype as BikeJet have done is either an act of extreme foolhardiness or a sign of justifiable confidence in their product. Which will it be?
BikeJet Visor Cleaner – Exactly What Is It?
Apart from knowing it goes squirt, I have little idea. And if I have little idea, then Stansted airport’s security staff, who it must pass on the way to my bike, may have even more trouble given that it looks like a hand grenade with wires poking out of it. I take a popular bike magazine with me in my luggage which includes an article of mine with a picture of my face in should I have to pull the royal ‘But don’t you know who I am?’ to explain its presence, but in the end BikeJet passes through with little more than a knowing look from the x-ray machine operator, who presumably identifies it as a harmless if jumbo-sized sex toy. The shame.
PantsEgg BikeJet is basically a bar-mounted hard-wired plastic reservoir which contains a small 12V water pump which, when activated, sprays the rider’s visor with cleaning fluid. And that’s it. No on-board batteries to charge or go flat, no wireless controls to fail, no magnetic wiring connectors to entangle the rider and, being bike-mounted, no safety worries about compromising your helmet shell integrity in an accident. It’s just a simple fit and forget on-bike safety accessory.
With its cast bars, my BMW R1100RT is not blessed with much in the way of cockpit real-estate to fit extras, so BikeJet supply me with a Ram Mount fitting – a kind of multi-adjustable ball and socket fitting which you’ll see used with many sat navs and phones these days (it’ll also be available with a moulded in bar clamp so should fit 99% of bikes).
With the reservoir easily attached to one of the bar mounting points, it’s then a case of finding space for the small activation button on the bars (I squeeze it in next to the left bar grip) and running the wiring – a simple live and neutral – onto the switched and fused side of the bike. I have to remove the dash to do the last bit, but in all it takes me about an hour and is a straightforward process. On more traditional bikes with normal bars and no enclosed fairing (like BikeJet’s own Suzuki Bandit test bike) I imagine fitting would be easier, though every bike will have its own peculiarities.
With BikeJet in position, I pop the cap on the reservoir and fill to capacity with 200ml of visor cleaning product. BikeJet tell me they’re developing their own organic cleaner at present, but as it’s early doors they tell me to use a regular screenwash diluted to 5%, which I do.
Once filled, I put my gear on, flip down my visor (the reservoir’s not filled with Optrex remember) and press the bukkake button, adjusting the angle of the reservoir until the jet aims its flow squarely at my visor to give me my first ever golden shower. Well, it’s more of a light blue one I suppose, but even taking into account a colour change, doing this in the garage in front of a sceptical looking girlfriend is still kind of humiliating. Again, the shame.
BikeJet – Out On The Road.
On the test, I ride from southern Italy to the UK; a trip of 1074 road miles which, not including ferries, I complete in less than 24 hours. In January it’s a hard, relentless ride (my favourite type) and the temperature ranges from 1 to 8 degrees throughout. With lightning and torrential rain to dry and sunny conditions all in the mix it’s a perfect scenario for a visor cleaner to prove its worth – or lack thereof.
On trips like these, I don’t have the patience to hang around so don’t waste time for anything except riding, getting fuel and standing in service station toilets with my hands in the hot air dryers – motorcycling is inconvenient enough without having to stop every 25 miles to clean a visor too.
Stage one to Palermo is undertaken in torrential dirty rain and with all the water about, BikeJet remains untouched even though my visor wiper – a Visorcat – gets plenty of use.
Yes, if you were wondering, you use BikeJet in conjunction with a glove based visor wiper. And in case you’re a bit of a gibbering fanny and are about to scream ‘But you must never let go of the bars, because safety!” as I’ve noticed some people doing lately, please see my separate comments on using glove wipers by clicking here.
Once I arrive in Genoa for stage two and loop south around the Alps, the rain stops but the roads remain wet and the salty nightmare year-round bikers know all too well soon becomes a reality. Spray from trucks and cars instantly flecks and dries on my visor and it’s now that BikeJet must really prove its worth. I suffer until my visor goes opaque then feel for the magic button and it’s Goop, Wipe – and Clear!
After being showered with its soapy gifts then quickly wiping away the dirt I’m forced to admit it – BikeJet actually works! I continue to squirt myself in the face like a self-harming child with a water pistol for the next 1000 miles and the novelty does not wear off. Clear Vision – Safe Riding is what they said and in a few short squirts that is what is achieved.
Notes On Using The BikeJet Prototype:
Just like a car windscreen washer system, BikeJet has been designed to work with the airstream rushing over your bike and not against it. The jet, when it hits you, is not a sudden high pressure blast that compromises your vision (no one likes a surprise one in the face if you get my drift) but for safety reasons is more of a light, measured shower. After all, what you need is just enough spray to wet the visor so your glove can do its thing and lift off the dirt – and nothing more.
The spray pattern is generously wide so you can be pretty sure it’ll hit the target, though I’d be wary of using it in stationary traffic just in case Mr Angry is nearby with his window open (unless you want to dose him of course).
I tested BikeJet at speeds up to (not telling but unfortunately I was speed camera’d on this trip) but it works best between 30-50 mph and at 75mph remains functional too. One thing to note here is your bike’s aerodynamics will have an effect. The RT is a special case, being a big tourer with a huge electrically adjustable full screen. I’ve noticed at speed (unregulated autobahn speed mind) that negative pressure behind the screen actually pulls heavy rain forwards. At lower speeds (around 75-85 mph) and depending on screen position rain is pulled down my visor in vertical lines. Clearly there are pressure-based air currents at work where Bikejet sits and this will change on a per-bike basis. Will be good to see some more tests, especially on naked bikes, to see how the jet copes.
Dosing myself liberally, I run the reservoir out in 400 miles, then again about 400 miles later. Depending on road conditions then, 50ml per 100 miles should be plenty for most bikers.
One thing to be aware of – and BikeJet’s instructions make this clear – is that you should orientate the activation button out of sync with any other nearby switchgear (something I do not do out of lazyness). The potential scenario to avoid here is accidentally dosing yourself while flipping the lights from dip to main while your visor is up. It could happen…
We all know the nightmare of dried on visor crap in winter and combined with a glove wiper BikeJet seems to deal with that pretty comprehensively. You’ll either love or hate its looks and its size may demand clever mounting if you’ve got a sat nav on your bars too but it in terms of function BikeJet does exactly what it says on the grenade, even as a prototype.
For year round bikers – especially hardcore tourers and working bikers like couriers or blood bikers who work to deadlines, have little time to spare and where convenience is king the concept could be a real safety boon. The fact that it sits there ‘til you need it is perhaps its biggest plus. The less I have to faff with something on a trip the better.
Interested? BikeJet is still in development so the final tweaked production model is still to be revealed, but once it is the company will be running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a first production run where early adopters will be able to snag one for £12.99 – half the predicted £24.99 RRP. I’ll post a link when they go live in February/March.
In the meantime if you’re interested in learning more and following their progress, head on over to their website at www.BikeJet.co.uk or email them direct at hello@BikeJet.co.uk and ask as many annoying questions about flow rate as you can.