Well it has certainly been a while since I last posted on here, so maybe now is as good a time as any to pick up where I left off. As you can imagine, the last twelve months have seen many changes and a lot of things that needed to be ticked off the list of life …. the most recent being a run back home to Italy after almost four years. 2020’s Covid lockdown didn’t help of course and then after Jan passed away last year I just couldn’t face the trip alone. But eventually the clouds parted and the Caponord got to do what it does best, run faultlessly for almost 4,000 miles over a couple of weeks! This then is a potted summary of what stuff worked and what could be improved for next time.
The fact is, lots has changed since I last travelled over – all my riding gear is different for one. The Capo has had a fair amount of maintenance/refurb during those years and even my cookware of choice had changed! Gear wise, I’m now using Rukka/Daytona and of course the venerable Shoei Neotec 2 with Senna intercom. All performed faultlessly especially in some prolonged and very heavy rain in Northern Italy/Switzerland. Expensive gear yes, but worth every penny in my book. Oh and I can’t leave out the surprise of the trip … EDZ Merino wool socks! Those and the Daytona boots kept my feet comfy warm and dry like never before, absolutely fantastic.
Cookware wise, the old Trangia stayed in the loft and I used the much smaller and neater gas cooker that I got from Manuel over at motrag.com ….. as a one-person unit it worked fine for me. Hot coffee on the go in the smaller mug and and a re-heated pasta dish in the bigger one was just about perfect after a long run. Simple, compact and a doddle to use, it’ll stay the cooker of choice for now.
One concern on the trip was the Capo’s battery. Throughout, the voltmeter showed charging ranging from 13.9 – 14.2V depending on load, but less than an hour after shut-down the battery standing voltage would fall to 12.4 – 12.6V and that isn’t great. Ultimately it never actually gave me any trouble, but it was waving the imminent flag of failure, so time for replacement. As soon as I was back in Blighty, I ordered a NOCO NLP-14 LiFePO4 battery. I have exactly the same one on a ZZR1200 and Andy (BeastHonda) has one on his Caponord ….. short and simple, they work. For the ZZR, it was a straight swap, but for the Capo, the terminals have to be modified slightly – no biggie and I’ll post more on that later.
Other than the battery, the Capo performed brilliantly, returning an average of 46mpg using the heavily modified Catfish 50429 map/airbox/snorkel and even managed 52mpg through the Swiss alps. I can live with that! The Mitas 07+ tyres worked well and wore predictably, however they were a tad skittish on wet over-banding …. but maybe I’m being picky when the Capo is fully loaded, leaning and doing 80mph at the same time! Throughout the ride I used the cheaper E10 fuel as I wasn’t going to be keeping it in the tank for long, but as the mileage to Calais ticked away, I changed back to E5. Once off the boat at Dover I changed again to Shell Supreme 99+ …. ethanol free. Expensive yes, but so much more friendly to the Capo fuel system.
Finally I rolled into a dark and cold Oxford driveway at 1:30 in the morning with the Capo showing 170,053 miles in the dashboard. The arthritis in my knees is playing up and my backside has had enough of today …. but through all that I just feel so immensely proud of the Capo. So what next? A well earned clean and service in the short-term and then a full rebuild and line replacement for the rear brake, just to bring it back up to scratch and looking as fresh as the front brakes. I should also get around to replacing the fuel sender unit .. it stopped reading properly a year or two ago and I have all the parts to hand, but never found the time/enthusiasm. I think the Capo has earned it. After that? Maybe it’s time to head North for a change, who knows.
When it comes to electrics/electronics, we are all oh-so familiar with the fact that for the most part, things either work or don’t. But occasionally we get the mighty frustrating intermittent fault that dances between the two, then we also get the rare as hens teeth, slow failure. The one that takes an absolute age to travel from 100% working to finally broken, the kind of behaviour more befitting a mechanical part than electrical. Well that’s what I’ve just had!
Back in August of 2010 I fitted the Shindengen FH012 rectifier / regulator and I think it’s fair to say that it began its slow decline within a couple of years. The once steady 14.2V at 4,000rpm slowly ebbed away, a few millivolts here, a few millivolts there, year on year. By last autumn the charging circuit was giving me about 13.6V (idle) and 13.9V at motorway speeds.
After the incident with the stuck starter solenoid a couple of weeks ago, it seemed to shave off another 0.1-0.2V. On the return leg of our trip the Sparkbright battery monitor would dip from green (OK) to amber (not OK!) when the fan cut in …… such that I was turning the headlights off when we hit slow traffic in order to keep the thing charging.
Each year I’d checked the alternator, wiring, connectors and battery and everything tested just fine …… so was it the regulator? Time would tell I figured! In January I bagged a brand new Shindengen FH008 but hadn’t got around (galloping laziness!) to trying it out. So before the main power/ground cables were replaced it seemed only fit and proper to test the new regulator, then decide what to do about sorting the charging system.
The quickest test was to simply crimp some spades on the FH008 leads and plug them directly into the Furukawa sockets on the charging loom and see what happened – 14.4V (idle) and 14.5V at 4,000rpm is what happened! Most definitely the regulator rather than the alternator or wiring then.
The old loom was removed and inspected – all still in excellent condition. Even so, new cables, connectors and sheathing were ordered from the original suppliers and in went the FH008, back in the original location. With the bike buttoned up and a healthy voltage at the battery, it just left a moment for my eye to linger on the right hand side of the bike. Somehow it looks odd, naked, empty without the old rec/reg in front of the clutch, I’ll get used to it I know, but for now I do miss it!
Measured voltage at battery:
Idle (lights / fan OFF) – 14.4V and at 4K – 14.5V
Idle (lights ON + fog lights ON) – 14.3V and at 4K – 14.4V
Idle (lights / fan ON) – 13.9V and at 4K – 14.2V
Idle(lights / fan / fog lights + everything else* ON) – 12.8V and at 4K – 13.6V
* GPS / Intercom / K1 Camera / Heated Grips (high) / Cruise Control / brake lights
So what is this new-fangled modification to the starter circuit I alluded to in the last post? Well in a nutshell it’s a new loom (plug’n play) that goes between the starter solenoid and the main loom and also goes to the battery. Why?
As mentioned previously, the starter solenoid draws about 2.9A when energised and that power goes from the battery via 2x 30A fuses, through the ignition switch on the headstock, then up to the fuse box in the cockpit and back to the starter solenoid. From here it goes via the diode block down to the engine (neutral switch) or side-stand switch (and back up into the loom) and all the way back to the handlebars (clutch switch) before finally making its way back to the battery via the main earth (Ground) cable – phew!!!! That’s a lot of cable and switches, never mind the diodes. OK the fact is, this circuit has worked trouble-free for 14 years, why mess with it? Because my gut instinct is that restricted power to the solenoid over time makes for low-speed actuation and eventually, burnt contacts …. that’s my theory anyway!
I figured an easy way to make sure the solenoid gets lashings of fresh volts/amps is to make the circuit between battery and starter solenoid shorter and simpler – so in goes a small loom with another relay, a 20A unit exactly the same as used for the headlights. This relay is now activated by the starter circuit and its contacts switch fused-battery power direct to/from the starter solenoid – short and sweet!
This relay has a coil resistance of 70Ω and so only draws 170ma @ 12V so no problem with starter buttons or switches getting a little resistive over time as (for example) a mere 0.5Ω difference when set against the 70Ω coil is only 0.7% difference compared against the 4.4Ω of the starter solenoid coil where a 0.5Ω difference equates to over 11% difference. Bottom line – the whole circuit has an easier time!
The wiring is soldered direct to the relay spade connections and then slides into a 3D printed case and the case/contacts are encapsulated to keep the whole thing neat and tidy. Now the relay sits on top of the ECU held in place by a double-sided adhesive pad and the connectors tuck away neatly behind the battery.
If somewhere down the line it all turns belly-up, I only need to unplug the two connectors and reconnect the solenoid back to the main loom and it’s business as usual. So I figure I’ve got nothing to lose by giving it a whirl …… I’ll find out soon enough if it’s a thumbs-up or thumbs-down job!
Ok, so with the old starter solenoid removed and a little starter-circuit modification simmering in the old mental stewing-pot, it was time to remove the OEM solenoid-starter cable, along with the Earth(Ground) cable and the battery-solenoid-30A-fuses cable and fit the new upgraded items from John Walker (UK).
Removing the ground and starter cable required the removal of the crash bars and side panels along with lowering the sump guard (remove front bolts and pivot on rear) to allow extra room to lower the oil tank and move the oil cooler – both to illicit a little more room to remove nuts/bolts more easily with the tools at hand. With the respective ends disconnected it was just a matter of a few tie-wraps to be removed and the old cables slid out of the frame. The battery-starter cable requires a bit more work (care?) as the two wires to the 30A fuses need to be cut. These will be spliced with the new ones on John’s loom, so I carefully pulled the black sleeving back as far as possible, matched the old/new looms together then cut the cables at what seemed the sensible place!
Now with all three cables clear of the bike I could lay them out and compare them to John’s replacements. Not only am I impressed by the workmanship of the new cables, but also that they are approximately 15mm longer than the old ones – not over the top and certainly not too short, just nice – a little extra flexibility when fitting. One thing I really like about John’s cables is the extra mounting point on the Positive and Negative lugs – very useful indeed.
After lunch, in they went with no drama at all. I spliced the 30A cables together with crimp/solder joints that are then sheathed with heatshrink. John doesn’t provide the splices, but he does supply the heatshrink! With that done, the old black sleeve can be wiggled back up into place and the whole thing then looks very ‘OME’! Running the cables down the frame is easy enough as they’re quite flexible – surprising as they’re almost (if not more!) than twice the diameter of the old cables …… this does make things a little tight getting the cables in place either side of the battery, but a bit of patience and a wiggle here and there gets them seated comfortably.
Before tie-wrapping everything and refitting panels and guards it just left the little matter of trying it out! So ignition on …. no pop, bang or fire (good start!) then thumb the starter button and ………….wow! What a difference, the engine spins like a hyperactive puppy spotting its tail for the first time – fantastic! Putting the multimeter on the battery (fully charged), then cranking the motor over showed a minimum voltage (momentary as the starter takes the in-rush current) of about 10.8V. That’s way better than it used to be. Steady cranking voltage rises back up to about 11.8V…….. and as mentioned cranking speed is very impressive now!
With that done, it was time to button the rest of the bike back together and try it all out on the road. What a difference a week makes eh? From ‘Dear dog please start, please start …. oh and starter please disengage, pppplease disengage’ to ‘Oi you, call that a starter? …… Listen in awe my wayward friend because THIS is a starter!’
In the end did I really need them? Well truthfully, no the originals are fine, no corrosion and the insulation is intact, but at the time of ordering I really didn’t know one way or the other. Yes I could have made my own, but sometimes like having a meal served to you rather than cooking yourself, it’s nice to buy in the finished item ready to fit. Besides, I just wanted upgraded replacements not some fancy parts made from gold wire finer than badger bum-fluff with diamond encrusted unobtanium connections! In the end I’m glad I did buy them ….. the starting is much more energetic now and that’s worth its weight in gold right there!
So if you are in any doubt at all about your wiring, then drop John a line and I’m sure you will also be as pleased as I am with the results. Price including postage in the UK (May 2017) is £70.00GBP
I honestly couldn’t believe my luck ….. dozens of perfectly normal starts after the one stuck-solenoid moment during our 10 days away and then, this morning in the comfort of the old barn, first start of the day it stuck again!
So it was off with the seats, top deck and right hand plastics, disconnect the battery Earth (Ground) then snip a few tie-wraps, unclip the two-pin connector and twiddle the 10mm spanner to undo the battery/starter cables from the old solenoid and voila! One dodgy 50A and 14 year old solenoid confined to the bin …… by way of stripping, measuring and knocking up in CAD!
It’s pretty obvious from the picture that one side of the contacts has been burnt and welded together such that the return spring couldn’t provide enough force to pry it apart again – that was the job of a swift whack from the all-powerful 1/2″ ratchet!
The new solenoid (AP81129275) was bench tested and shows a coil resistance of 4.4Ω pulling 2.9A at 12.8V – approximately! Now 2.9A is quite a current draw in itself, especially when you take into account the amount of wiring (under specified?) and switches/diodes along the way. The only way the solenoid really has of reducing pitting/burning is by opening and closing as fast as possible – opening is purely by return spring but the closing speed is proportional to the applied Volts/Amps ……. and if this is low then the solenoid will become sluggish and more susceptible to damage. So tomorrows little job will be to look at losses through the entire circuit up to the solenoid. In fact looking at the circuit diagram and simulating it in ‘EveryCircuit’ (Android app) it seems that the best possible current flow path you can give the solenoid is – bike in neutral, side-stand up AND pull in the clutch before hitting the starter … this adds a mighty 0.1V over ‘neutral only’. In comparison bypassing the diode block completely could elicit another 0.55V at a struggle!
With a hot brew to the left and a warm mouse to the right, I’m ready to reflect on the last ten days as the Capo sits outside soaking up the morning Abruzzo sun. After the hiccup at 138 miles the remainder of the 3,000 miles went perfectly, not one low-volt drama in sight. Mind you, that is with a new YTX14H-BS battery in the bike since last Thursday!
That same morning she’d sailed through her MOT with a clean sheet at 120,861 miles and now reads 122,135 miles at journeys end. Waiting in the panniers is a new Aprilia 150A starter solenoid (AP81129275) ordered online from Aprilia performance (UK) and deliver in 48Hrs which is great service, also a beautifully made power/ground cable kit from John Walker who pulled out the stops to make sure the kit reached me before we departed for Europe. More on this later.
So on reflection, what next for the dear old Capo? Well I’ll install the solenoid and cables over the next week or so and dig out the rear wheel/sprocket carrier bearings and seals, since a dull drone can be heard from the back wheel at about 50-70mph – and is getting steadily louder. There’s no play or sign of rust near the seal, but my guess is that one of the bearings is on the way out, so best do a touch of pre-emptive maintenance I think. 😀
Highs and lows of the trip …… low, the DVSA. I can’t and don’t want to say anything on that front …… the high, yesterday afternoon, slicing through the late afternoon A14 traffic side by side with a new gen Caponord also two-up. We kept each other company for 20 minutes or so until he peeled off for Rimini, big smiles and waves all round! Great fun!!
And so, waffle over, without further adoo let the spanner twiddling begin! 😯
The INNOVV Power Hub 1 is a 40A rated relay unit with five outputs each fused at 5A out of the box. The battery wiring is 12 AWG so good to 41A and the output wiring is 16 AWG and good to 22A each, however INNOVV specify 15A max per line to a total of 40A. Lastly there is a yellow sensing wire that needs to be connected to a switched 12V source. All cables are of a decent length, especially the yellow wire which is 1.45m long. At key-on this line will trigger a 10 second delay timer in the unit, after which it turns on. At key-off, there is another 10 second delay before it powers down.
In the box is the Power Hub, a couple of brass crimp/solder tags to connect positive/negative to the battery and a bag of ‘posi-lock’ connectors and a ‘posi-tap’connector to join the sensing wire to a switched line on the bike.
Installation was easy if a little thought-provoking due to the very limited space on the Capo. In the end I decided to put it above/behind the battery and made a 1.5mm aluminium plate to mount it onto and that worked out just fine. I used the ‘Posi-Locks’ to attach the circuits with a sleeve of adhesive shrink-wrap over the top to add a little weather resistance to the connection. I hooked the yellow sense wire into the injection relay, so the Power Hub would detect key on/off, this was a soldered joint so I didn’t use the ‘Posi-Tap’ connector.
Next up I swapped out fuses where necessary for higher or lower values to best suit the attached accessory ….. then key-on! The blue LED flashes and 10 seconds later the relay activates and all the attached circuits power-up including the INNOVV K1 camera system. Thank goodness I hadn’t got any wires crossed! 😀 Key-off and the same happens in reverse – blue LED flashes for 10 seconds then the relay drops out.
Five months later …..
Sometimes its old age, wear and tear, faulty parts or manufacturing, but in the end technology fails. Of course we’d much prefer the former rather than the latter option, because that is when we have to invoke a warranty claim or get it repaired by the manufacturer. And that my friends can be unbelievably frustrating and seriously tarnish how you feel about the company in general.
So when the INNOVV Power Hub 1 developed a fault shortly after fitting it, I was intrigued to see how INNOVV would react. A quick email, no fuss, no argument, just another unit in the post straight away – good customer service, that’s what I like! Now the eagle-eyed among you will know that a few months ago I fitted the ‘Beasthonda’ fuse box to the Capo …… that was because of the Power Hub 1 issue. So when the new one arrived I wasn’t about to undo/redo all the work again, so this time the Power hub was installed behind the windshield for a few months testing, then removed and installed in my old Range Rover engine bay.
To be fair the Power Hub didn’t stop working or fail to do its job, it just forgot how to count to 10! In the end it was switching on/off almost immediately or definitely within 10 seconds. To date the replacement has worked faultlessly enduring sub-zero winter temperatures and the heat of a V8 engine bay, throw in a good dose of rain and snow and I think it’s fair to say it is an all-weather unit!
It is a well packaged device that does the job required – no fuss. The wiring is good quality and ample for the rated current although I personally wouldn’t push it beyond 20A total just to allow a safety factor and extend the working life of the relay.
In operation I measured a current draw (at 13.8V) of 190ma ON and 6ma OFF. Now 6ma may not be much but it is worth bearing in mind if your bike sits off a battery tender for long periods of time.
So – final thoughts ….. firstly, it would be nice if a mount was provided. Secondly, looking at a nest of new red wires and fuse holders and thinking back to the nest of black wires and fuse holders I had before, I realised that one fundamental flaw remained. In a day, a week or next month, I’m not going to remember which red wire feeds which circuit. To this end I think INNOVV could make a couple of simple changes which would help immensely. First, add a numbered/coloured sleeve marker on each line, either side of the fuse holder to identify each circuit 1,2,3,4,5. Second, pop a sticker in the box, so that the owner can write down the details of what’s connected to each of the numbered cables and stick it somewhere near to the Power Hub. That way you can look up the appropriate circuit/cable number on the sticker, then rummage around for the matching numbered fuse holder – easy!
I joined the HD camera bandwagon back in January 2014 and since then have enjoyed (or not!) the delights and foibles of the GoPro Hero 3+ Black camera. Constantly charging a bucket load of batteries, taking it on and off the bike then getting frustrated when the current battery needs replacing/recharging in oh-so short a time.
In the end of course the penny dropped. The GoPro is simply overkill for day-to-day riding where (hopefully) nothing of any note happens. But if it did, I’d still like to capture it if possible, just in case it could help with an insurance claim or legal dispute.
I realised that what I wanted wasn’t an ‘Action camera’, but a ‘dashcam‘ …. a subtle difference it seems! So here’s what I’d like it to do:-
Bike AND battery powered – turn on/off and record video with just the turn of the ignition key
2 cameras – forward and rear both recorded by a single unit
Full HD – 1920 x 1080 (30fps minimum) progressive with good low-light capability
Protect files – Either on demand or on collision detection
Be designed for motorcycles – waterproof and ruggedised.
And so courtesy of Jim at Abbey Motorcycle Instructors in Oxfordshire, an INNOVV K1 dual-camera kit found its way to the Capo. While the INNOVV didn’t tick all of my ‘wish-list’ it ticked more than most. The full specification of the K1 can be viewed here.
To fit the kit to the Capo required a bit of sacrifice. The long serving and ultra-reliable Autocom Pro-7 unit had to come off the bike and has now been streamlined and put into the tank bag along with the ICOM PMR446 radio. You really can’t keep a good, but very old bit of kit down for long!
The INNOVV 12v/5v voltage regulator is wired into the tail-light loom and installed on top of the ECU with a (provided) double-sided sticky pad. I have to be honest here and admit that I already have an extra loom in place ready for the Active Brake Light System which is still being built. So in the meantime I pinched its Molex connector to power the K1. Next the GPS unit was installed in the Capo’s luggage bay just behind the ECU on a 3D printed bracket so it fits nicely next to the MCCruise electric servo.
With that done it was time to install the cameras. I decided I wanted them on the center-line of the bike rather than bias them one side or the other. I wanted them EU/UK road friendly! The rear is mounted just above the tail-light and the front on the headlight guard. Both are angled down about 7º to reduce glare, each has an excellent view of the road with only the edge of the top-box getting in the rear camera frame. The cameras are each physically identical (just different cable length) and have machined aluminium bodies that are waterproof and heavy-duty, however the lens (especially front) is vulnerable and would benefit from some protection. They each have three 1/4-20 UNC thread mounting points (normal camera thread) and come with basic steel L-brackets. However I decided to make my own to best suit the mounting points – the rear from a piece of steel plate, while the front is 3D printed and bolts to the headlight guard (AP8791235). The final two items in the box are the push-button and a small loom that plugs into the DV recoreder, joining both button and GPS USB’s to one connector, however I left this off for the initial trials – more about this later.
With the kit fitted it was time to set-up the unit in the two recorder menu’s. Time, date and vehicle name are straight forward as was selecting camera orientation – one of mine had to be rotated. Initially I set both cameras to 1920×1080, then had a play with 1280×720 on the rear, but ultimately went back to full HD on both. Again all the settings (bar one) are covered in the manual. The one that is missing is ‘EDOG beep’ …….. INNOVV tell me this is to do with warning of being over-speed but requires the speed camera data to be installed. Besides, the ‘beep’ is under the saddle and inaudible for riders, so I leave it switched off.
The system also incorporates accelerometers in the front camera and they can be used to lock video files or start the cameras (Park Mode) when they detect an impact above a certain value. Setting this value is trial and error and at first I found it locked files when riding along our dirt/stone road. It’s something you can tweak over a few rides until it suits your roads/riding style I guess.
Operation and observations
With the Capo buttoned up, it was time to give it a whirl and see if it really is as fit-and-forget as I wanted. In short yes it is! We all have our little routines and mine is key-on, wait for the dashboard to finish its self-test, hit the starter and when the motor settles, turn on the lights. At that point the K1 turns on and immediately begins recording. I set mine for 10 minute segments, the selection is 1, 2, 5 and 10 minutes. At the end of the ride simply shut off the lights or ignition and the K1 reverts to its internal 3.7v 1100mAH battery** to finish the current file and store it, then it shuts down. It couldn’t be any more turn-key if it tried! The K1 also has voice (and beep/bong!) confirmations that tells you what it’s doing, but you look mighty odd jumping off your bike and sticking your ear to the pillion saddle, so I turned it off once confident it was working reliably.
With a 128Gb card installed it records for about 14∼15 hours before overwriting the first files it recorded. All video files can be viewed directly on the recording unit, with basic fast forward/reverse functions or remove the SD card and pop it into your computer. When you format the memory card in the recorder it adds a useful viewing program (Registrator Viewer 5.8 for Windows) that allows you to not only view the files but it can also show you location/speed/heading from the GPS data and data from the accelerometers. However, if you want to save your video as picture-in-picture format like you see dotted around the internet, you’ll need a video editing package such as Adobe Premiere Elements.
What about picture quality? I left the menu settings at default, however there are a few items specifically for tweaking the image quality – resolution, quality (Normal, Fine & Super Fine) as well as WRD (Wide Dynamic Range). This improves the cameras night-time images or images with strong back-lighting where objects appear more in silhouette. Personally I find the images pretty good but a little over sharpened such that there is some noticeable image ringing. Also the data rates differ front to rear, the front camera has a data rate of 12Mbs while the rear is reduced to 8Mbs and I found definite compression artifacts on the rear footage especially (for example) when riding along a tree-lined road where the image has lots of fast changing areas (overhanging trees) instead of a relatively constant sky. Maybe I’m being a little harsh here. After all it is a budget dual camera system not a high-end Sony/Nikon/Cannon! But having said that, and looking at the specification of the Ambarella OV2710 sensor and A7LA70 chipset I can’t help but think that image quality can be improved by tweaking the firmware. Maybe an update will be released in 2017?
Here’s a short video put together from K1 and GoPro (top left & audio) footage. The Capo popping on the overun has stopped since the new camchain tensioner was fitted and the slight front camera movement has gone since the new mount has been fitted ….. oh and some of the quality has been lost sending it over to YouTube. 🙁 I think I better do a new video!!
Parts not used
As mentioned previously, there is a push-button provided as well. This is used to lock/unlock (momentary push) the currently recording video file and (2-3 second push) to start or stop the recording. When recording an LED is lit in the button. Now here is quite possibly my biggest gripe of the K1 system. The button isn’t waterproof and the LED is so weak as to be almost impossible to see except in a dimly lit room (or car interior?). I decided to strip it to find out what makes it tick, then set about replacing it with something more useful.
The button has two functions – first it grounds a 3.8v signal line (the button push), second the LED is fed by a 1.8v 11mA signal from the DV recorder – both ground through a third wire. So I knocked up an interface box to improve the LED power and feed both signals forward to the old Autocom PTT (Push to Talk) button I still had on the handlebars. Now I have a waterproof, heavy-duty push-button and a much brighter LED that I can see in daylight.
Conclusion after 6 months use
Overall I’m pretty happy with the kit and enjoy letting it do its thing …. nowadays I don’t think about it and only check the cameras are clean before heading out. In fact I only checked the SD card yesterday after about a month – everything is recording just fine.
The one niggle I had early on was intermmittent locking-up or shut-down of the DV recorder. This was cured by fitting ferrite cores to all the leads. The only other change I’ve made has been the replacement of the bag provided for the DV recorder with a 3D printed frame – similar protection but with better ventilation for cooling – it does get VERY warm over time! Anyway, here are a few more bullet points that come to mind.
Build quality, installation instructions & general performance
Price (pre BREXIT £/$ crash!) of approx £200
Availability of accessories and spares
Communication with INNOVV – quick response to emails.
Could be better
Improve video quality – reduce compression and sharpening
Waterproof heavy duty button with bright LED specifically for motorcycles
Supply a pair of lens protectors in the kit
Susceptible to RF interference – shielded wires or add ferrite cores to cameras/GPS/switch wiring
Waterproof cases for the GPS and DVR unit.
Other things to possibly consider for the future ….
Improved battery capacity and reduced drain when unit is switched off
Wireless or Wi-Fi capability for intercom or Off-Bike video file storage on a smartphone. Maybe the system could notify you via SMS if the Park Mode is activated by impact?
Combine the DVR and GPS units to reduce the overall number of cables and connections.
* The voltage regulator has been updated with a sensing wire to be attached to a switched 12v source while the red/black connect directly to battery supply. The regulator supplied in my kit did not have this upgraded function.
** This is the same battery as used in the old GoPro / GoPro2 – Battery model AHDBT-001 or 002. There are loads of aftermarket versions of these on the Ebay if you need to replace it.
I had a bit of a stress-monster moment last night. After finishing off a bit of work on the Capo, I fired it up and stuffed the multimeter probes across the battery terminals – 16.1V with the lights on! My heart skipped a beat and thoughts of a toasted rectifier rumbled across my mind. However the Sparkbright battery monitor LED showed steady green and should have been flashing red/green at this voltage. A prod of the ‘mode’ button activated the tacho/voltmeter in the dashboard and it said just over 14V. What gives? Then another glance of the multimeter channelled my thoughts in a whole new direction – an itsy-bitsy low battery icon was showing. A fresh PP3 and a calming cup of tea later and the Capo was in fact charging at a healthy 14.2V all along ……. So with the stress-monster firmly back its box, I made a note to check/change batteries in all the other tools in the workshop ASAP!
It was heaving with rain and the Capo’s air-temp readout on the dashboard struggled to make 3°C as I rolled off the Dover ferry at just past midnight, welcome back to wintery England! The worn front sprocket I hadn’t replaced before starting the journey was now noticeably noisier with an extra 1,350 miles on it even though I’d ramped up the Scottoiler to keep everything well lubricated in the face of such shitty weather. Overall a good run up, marred only by the small rip in the riders saddle caused by the zip on my Halvarssons trousers when throwing my leg over the bike …… I’m sure this damn bike is getting taller with age! As I left Dover, I flicked the heated grips on and hit the M20 thinking that this is about as bad as it gets – then the sleet and hail started!
14 days later, as I rolled back up the ramp onto the same boat, it was all quite different – a warm, bright morning with the promise of a nice day ahead and the Capo running sweetly with a new Ognibene 7164-16 sprocket. I’d also treated it to a replacement Yuasa YTX14H-BS battery* as the old one was beginning to show warning signs – slightly lower standing voltage and low voltage while cranking. I’d arrived at Dover a bit early and didn’t realise they’d put me on an earlier sailing (fine in principle) but it was one of the boats I hate, with a long curved (wet) ramp up onto the car deck….. never nice on a heavily loaded Capo.
One of the perks of a bike is that folks just wander over for a chat, be it a fuel station in Switzerland or a bike park in Broad Street, Oxford and 99% of the time the experience is enriching …… but as I rode off that damn ferry I could have happily kicked the two wheels from under the overbearing, opinionated plonker who’d happily eaten up 5 minutes of my life telling me everything that was wrong with my bike and how wonderful his was – then he promptly rode off in the ‘trucks only’ lane!
The return leg was as trouble-free as the first, with the Capo rolling into the barn with 97,145 miles on the odometer. Only a near miss with a kamikaze gull which almost took out the windscreen being memorable – that and Swiss road works!
The replacement Ognibene sprocket certainly lives up to its ‘silent’ name. It was noticeably quieter even just spinning the back wheel while on the main-stand; let’s see how much life I get out of it compared to the usual Renthal sprocket I use (avg. 15K miles). It looks well made and the tooth profile is very similar to the Renthal, but only time will tell. Purchased in the UK from: biketorqueracing.co.uk for £27 inc VAT & P&P.
*Special thanks to Jim at Abbey Motorcycle Instructors for getting the YTX14H-BS battery at short notice – you’re a star fella! 😀
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