Thursday, April 24, 2008

Flat Panel TV Buying Guide:

* Plasma vs LCD *

comparing plasma vs lcd Flat screen technology offers basically two types of displays LCD (Liquid crystal dispaly) and Plasma (a gas charged method of lighting pixels). They look, alot, alike and sound alike... so what is the difference when plasma vs lcd? We have selected some of the main plasma vs lcd differences to help you navigate between the two. In this comparison page you will take a look at both technologies side by side, from screen size to shipping, so you will be able to determine which will work for best you.

Plasma vs LCD ...

Screen Size
LCD sizes start in the widest range. Typically 13 to 45 are the most common but some manufacturers offer LCD displays in up to 100 sizes. Plasma screen sizes, typically, range from 32 to 63. However, like with the LCD, some manufacturers are offering much larger sizes up to 103 if you can afford them.

LCD TVs are most versatile, and look better, in the typical viewing situations because they do not reflect light like the Plasma screens do. Because LCD TVs are backlit they naturally block outside light in order to create blacks and therefore fare better in natural lighting situations. Plasma pixel, technology produces a much brighter picture with more contrast between the blacks and whites (blacks are blacker and whites are whiter) than LCD technology because the pixels are either all off or all on. However, because of screen reflection, ambient light can nullify all the advantages Plasma has to offer. So consider where you will be viewing your display and the lighting situation that exists there.

Viewing Angle
LCD TVs have viewing angles of a few more degrees than Plasma. A typical LCD viewing angle is 175 degrees. That means you can view the picture from, dead center, up to 87 degrees on either side. The typical plasma viewing angle is 160 degrees. So the viewing angle is slightly less than the LCD.

Screen Refreshing Rates
Remember, LCDS were used, initially, for data display. The newest technology with LCDs have typical refresh rates of 16ms or less (the lower the number the better). This means that LCD TVs refresh as well as Plasma Tvs. Plasma TVs have been known, from the beginning, to have excellent refresh rates and, in the past, significantly outperformed the LCD TVs. However that has changed with newer technology and refresh rate differences for Plasma and LCD TVs are negligible.

Screen Thickness
LCD screens can be as little as 2 deep. Plasma can get as thin as 3 in depth>

Life Span
Life span for TVs are measured in half life hours. Your typical CRT TV(the ones we used before LCD and Plasma) has a half life of around 25,000 hours. Most LCD TVs have a half life of over 30,000 hours. Plasma TVs also have a half life of 30,000+ hours. That means: if you watched TV for 6 hours each day – it would take over 16 hyears to reach a half life of 30,000 hours.

Pixel Quality (or burn-in)
Newer technology LCD TVs do not have a problem with burn-in. But sometimes still have a ghosting effect because of abnormal pixel charge. Newer technology has reduced the burn-in effect of plasma TVs very significantly by use of “pixel orbiter. However, it is recommended that this be one of the issues you discuss with the retailer you purchase your set from.

LCDs are fairly durable sets, weigh less than Plasmas and are easier to install or mount than plasmas. Plasma screens are fairly fragile and very heavy compared to LCDs. If you are planning to mount a plasma on the wall – have plenty help or hire a professional. You will need it.

High Altitude
High altitudes do not affect LCD TVs because they do not have a gas that changes pressure with altitude. if you live at a higher altitude be sure to check that your TV is designed with high altitude specifications. Because Plasma TVs are gas charged significant change in altitude can affect the pixel performance because of the differing pressures in different altitudes.

LCD TVs are fairly simple to ship. They are lighter than Plasma and do not require the same care as plasmas. So expect to pay less for shipping with a LCD TV. Plasma TVs are fragile and damage easily. Expect to pay more for shipping a Plasma because they, typically, have to be shipped by specialty carriers. If you are picking up your own Plasma set and installing it. Have plenty of help when handling your set.

LCD TVs are quite a bit more pricey than Plasma when it comes to big screen (42 and larger). However, if you are looking at the smaller sets (13 to 32) then LCD is your best (and perhaps only) choice. Plasma TVs give you more “bang for your buck. But if any of the other considerations above are insurmountable, or if money is not an issue and you want the best possible picture, then LCD is the way to go.

Better Gearing

Dynamic Bicycles shaft drive bikes feature the Shimano Nexus family of advanced internal gear hubs. These are the world’s best performing and most reliable family of internal gearing. Here are 3 Things You Need to Know About Internal Gear Technology:

1. Where are the gears?

Internal gear hubs are an advanced gearing technology, whereby all the gears are fully enclosed within the rear axle of the bike. These hubs are called planetary gears - much the tranmission on a car - giving a wide range of gearing in a compact space. So unlike chain bikes that have fully exposed (external) sprockets and derailleurs, internal gear hubs compress all of this gearing into a compact, highly efficient cylindrical component (hub) inside the rear axle. This internal gear hub integrates seamlessly with our shaft drive to create incredibly efficient shifting and smooth speed changes. Shimano’s internal gear hubs are designed to require very little maintenance and are sealed to safely protect them from dirt, debris and damage.

Bicycle Internal Gear Hub

2. How do you operate an internal gear hub?

Our bikes are infinitely easier to operate than chain bikes. Our internal gear hubs are controlled using a twist grip shift located between your right thumb and forefinger so gear changes are fast and smooth. Internal gear hubs are designed to require fewer gears to cover a wide range of gearing. For instance, each gear change on our bike is like changing 2-3 gears on a chain bike - so you can transition quickly from hill climbing to cruising with a quick twist of the wrist. These twist grips also feature a gear indicator that tells you what gear you are in at all times. In addition, with the internal gear technology, the gearing is independent of pedaling. So unlike chain bikes that require you to pedal through a gear change, you can change gears on our shaft drive bike any time, even at a complete stop; so you are always in the right gear for any situation.

Advantages of Grip Shifts:
• Gear changes are fast and smooth
• Change to any gear at any time
• Easy-to-read gear indicator
• Gearing is independent of pedaling
Internal gear Hub

3. How many speeds do the bikes have?

Dynamic Bicycles shaft drive bikes are available in 7-speed and 8-speed models that offer a surprisingly wide range of gearing without all the messy external moving parts.

Think about it – how many gears do you really use? Shimano’s internal gear hubs merely spread out the gears for you, giving you tremendous gear range with just a few simple twists of the wrist.

Gear Comparison: Speed Chain Bike vs Dynamic Shaft Drive BicyclesDynamic 8-speed Bicycles

This performance-oriented hub was designed to keep up with your riding ambitions. With a high torque rating and a wide gear range, the 8-speed premium (identifiable by its red stripe) is our most rugged and versatile gear hub. The planetary gears are cold forged and heat treated to take long term abuse, and the hub internals are designed to handle inputs that would exceed what could be exerted by most any rider. Dynamic Bicycles 8-speed bikes offer a gear range comparable to 20 gears on a 24-gear chain bike, including multiple climbing gears for exhilarating off-road performance. From rapid uphill climbing to aggressive downhill riding, you’ll appreciate the smooth transitions and rugged reliability of this premium 8-speed hub. We can also adjust the final gearing of the bike depending on the type of terrain you ride on. All our 8-speed bikes come standard with our Street Shaft Drive; however we can exchange this for a Sport Shaft Drive to lower the gearing of the bike for even more hill climbing power. View a detailed gear ratio chart.

Dynamic 7-speed Bicycles

This recreational hub is a proven workhorse featuring smooth, easy gearing for worry-free, everyday riding. Featuring its smooth, responsive shifting, these bikes are super easy to operate and fun to ride. Our 7-speed bikes offer a gear range comparable to 17 gears on a 24-gear chain bike. This provides cyclists with a wide range of gearing to cruise along roadways and pathways as gracefully as it conquers hilly roads.

Shaft Drive Bicyle (Chainless)

Shaft Drive

What are the advantages of shaft drive bicycles versus chain bicycles?
How long have shaft drive bikes been around?
How durable is the shaft drive?
How much do shaft drive bikes weigh versus chain bikes?
How will the shaft drive effect or enhance riding performance?
Can existing bikes be retrofitted with a shaft drive?


Where are the gears?
How many speeds do chainless bicycles have?
How do you shift gears?
What are the gear ratios for your bikes?
Do all the bicycles use the same shaft drive?
How fast are your bikes?


Where can I test ride the bikes?
What is the right bike size for me?
How does Dynamic Bicycles package and ship its bikes?
What assembly is required when I receive the bike?
How are Dynamic Bicycles guaranteed?

Care and Maintenance

What maintenance is required for the shaft drive and internal gears?
What happens if I have problem with the shaft drive?
Where can I get the bike serviced if needed?
How do you remove the rear wheel if you get a flat tire?
What if the gears are slipping - how can you adjust the gears?
How do I adjust the brakes?

Shaft Drive

What are the advantages of shaft drive bicycles versus chain bicycles?
Easier to operate: Simple twist grip shift is convenient, responsive and operates independent of pedaling so you can shift gears anytime, even at a complete stop.
Safer: No chain to fall off; no chain bite on clothing.
Cleaner: Axles and gears are fully enclosed - no grease/oil exposure to get on hands or clothing.
Lower maintenance: Fully enclosed, durable bevel gears are protected from impacts, debris and the elements.
Smoother ride: Fluid shifting and mesh gearing combine to create smoother pedaling and shifting.
Easier to transport: Easy loading and unloading without getting chain grease on hands and clothes.
Lower cost of ownership: Increased durability and drastically decreased maintenance schedule means fewer service and repair costs.

Also see Top 10 Reasons Shaft Drive Bicycles are Better

How long have shaft drive bikes been around?
Shaft drive bikes actually date back to the early 1900's. However, our modern shaft drive has been in production for nearly 10 years. We are currently on our third generation shaft drive. However, until the last several years, shaft drive bikes were limited in popularity due to the limitation of gearing available. Now, with Shimano's advanced 7-speed and 8-speed internal gear hubs, our bikes offer a very wide gear range without all the external moving parts.

How durable is the shaft drive?
Our shaft drive is designed to have twice the life expectancy of a chain under comparable riding conditions. Our shaft drive is made of the highest grade components, is assembled by hand in our own factory, and has been rigorously tested for strength and durability. Our shaft drives are made with:

  • Heat-treated, hardened chromoly spiral bevel gears
  • Heat-treated, hardened chromoly spindle
  • Carbon steel shaft rod
  • Sealed internal precision bearings
  • Precision machined aluminum housing
The shaft drive is also resilient to impacts and is weather resistant for all-season use. Its sealed design makes it better protected from adverse conditions such as sand, dirt, water, salt and grime than any chain bike ever could be.

How much do shaft drive bikes weigh versus chain bikes?
Our mountain, hybrid and road bikes weigh approximately 26-33 lbs. depending on the model. Most people who ride our bikes comment how light our chainless bikes feel, especially compared to other internal hub bikes. In fact, our bikes weigh less than one pound more than a traditional chain bike of the same configuration. In other words, if our same bikes were configured with a chain and sprockets instead of our shaft drive, our shaft drive bike would be less than 1 pound heavier than the chain bike. That means for all the added advantages of our chainless bikes including a smoother ride, smoother shifting, less maintenance, fewer repairs and greater safety, the trade-off is less than 1 pound!

How will the shaft drive effect or enhance riding performance?
Testing has shown that the efficiency of our shaft-drive system is about 92%-94% without regular maintenance. According to Dobrovolsk and Others' "Machine Elements Textbook", the peak efficiency of very expensive chain systems ranges from 95% to 97% (chain-rings in same diameter, chain in perfect alignment and chain in permanent ideal tension). However, typical, averagely maintained chain-derailleur bikes range in efficiency from 75% up to 85%, and can often skip and/or jump gears. This means that for every pedal stroke, shaft drive bicycles will perform more consistently and shift gears more smoothly than a chain bike that is not meticulously cleaned, adjusted and lubricated. This translates into more consistent performance without worrying about adjusting chain tension, aligning chains and derailleurs, and regularly cleaning and lubricating the chains and chain-rings.

Can existing bikes be retrofitted with a shaft drive?
No. The shaft drive requires a specially designed frame. This frame is engineered with a wider and narrower bottom bracket shell and special dropouts where the shaft drive connects to the rear wheel. All of our bicycle frames were designed specifically for use with the shaft drive, ensuring the highest levels of performance, safety, comfort and durability.


Where are the gears?
We use Shimano's advanced Nexus internal gear technology. The gears are all neatly tucked away inside the rear wheel axle, These types of internal gears are called hubs. Because all the moving parts are sealed inside the hub, there are no external moving parts to maintain, adjust or clean. Shimano's hubs are sealed and lifetime lubricated to provide many years of worry-free riding.

How many speeds do chainless bicycles have?
Dynamic Bicycles uses the Shimano Nexus 8-speed and 7-speed internal gear hub technology. However, don't let the number of speeds mislead you. With Shimano internal hubs, our bikes provide bigger "steps" between the gears, so a single gear change on our bike is like changing 2-3 gears on a chain bike. In turn, our 8-speed bikes provide the same gear range as 20 gears on a chain bike, and our 7-speed bikes offer the range of 17 gears. This gives you a very wide range of gearing for climbing hills or cruising streets without all the messy, noisy, clumsy external gear components. In essence, internal hubs just eliminate all the redundant, unused gears inherent in chain bikes and provide you with much simplified, more consistent and more reliable gearing. Plus, these hubs are virtually maintenance free, and are integrated directly with the shaft drive.

With chain bikes, changing gears is done by moving derailleurs to manipulate the position of the chain on both the front and rear sprockets. By changing the position of the chain on the sprockets, you change the gear ratio (i.e. the number of rotations of the rear wheel for each rotation of the pedals). For instance, in 4th gear on a 24-speed chain bike, the gear ratio will be about 1.1, which means that for every one full revolution of your pedal, the rear wheel will turn 1.1 times. In 21st gear, the gear ratio is 2.9, which means that for each complete revolution of your pedal, the rear wheel will turn 2.9 times. The downside of gearing on bikes with chains and sprockets is that in order to create the range of gearing for both climbing hills and cruising along on flats, you end up with many, many redundant gears in between. This is why you often times have to switch 2, 3 or 4 gears at a time on a chain bike in order to feel a difference in pedaling. Also on a chain bike, if you want to know what gear you're in, you have look down at the position of the chain on the sprockets, which is awkward and dangerous.

With Dynamic Bicycles' shaft drive and Shimano's internal gear hub, we have a more natural separation between gears so you get a very wide gear range without all the superfluous gears as on chain bikes. Each gear change on our bike provides you a smooth transition to the next speed. We also provide plenty of gearing for climbing hills, cruising on flats and many gears in between. The gear shift indicator tells you what gear you are it at all times, and the single shifter makes it much easier to operate that having to fumble with multiple shifters on each hand.

With shaft drive bikes, one gear change is like changing 2-3 gears on a chain bike. Our 7-speed models offer the range of 17 gears of a chain bike and our 8-speed models offer the range of 20 gears. The 7-speed gear range is our recreational range, giving you the ability to climb hills on paved or packed surfaces with ease, while giving you the high end range to cruise at about 15-20 mph. With the 8-speed, we offer even more flexibility, giving you the ability to nearly match a 24-speed chain bike for high or low end depending on the kind of riding you do most. For a detailed comparison of our gear ratios to that of a chain bike, view our Gear Ratio Chart.

How do you shift gears?
The gearing on our chainless bikes is simpler to operate than a chain bike. All the gearing is controlled with a single shifter on the right hand. Most of our bikes come standard with the twist grip shifter. To change gears, you simply rotate your thumb and forefinger. The gear indicator tells you what gear you are in all the time - no more guess work or looking down at your chain to see what gear you are in. Plus, with our bikes, the shifting is independent of the pedaling, so you can shift at anytime - while pedaling, coasting or even at a complete stop. You can even shift the entire range of gears in a single movement to adjust for changing terrain or respond to road situations without worrying about dropping a chain.

What are the gear ratios for your bikes?
Dynamic's bicycles use the Shimano 7-speed and 8-speed internal hubs to give them a surprisingly wide gear range from a very compact space. Our bikes can offer a gear range comparable to 20 gears on a 24-speed chain bike -- a gear range wider than most traditional 10-speed bikes. For a complete gear ratio chart, please view our Gear Ratio Chart.

Do all the bicycles use the same shaft drive?
Dynamic Bicycles shaft drive is available in 2 different fixed gear ratios: Sport and Street. These fixed gear ratios combine with the Shimano internal gear hub to create the final gearing of the bicycle. The Street shaft drive provides the best gear range for street/path riding with moderately hilly terrain and off-road riding on less aggressive terrain. The Sport shaft drive provides a bit lower gearing which provide the best gearing for steeper uphill and off-road climbing. Most of our bikes are equipped standard with the Street shaft drive. If you would like to order your bicycle with a different shaft drive than what is standard on the bike, please call us to place your order - we will be happy to make this change for a small additional charge. If you would like to replace the shaft drive on one of our bicycles after you have received your bike, you can purchase an additional shaft drive directly from us. Replacement of a shaft drive takes approximately 30 minutes and does not require any special knowledge or skill.

How fast are your bikes?
Dynamic chainless bicycles are not designed for racing or competition. However, they can offer quick cruising speeds for fitness and exercise riding, commuting, and recreational touring. For our 700C hybrid, cross and road bikes, a rider pedaling at 70 rpms in the top gear will cruise at 18-20 mph.


Where can I test ride the bikes?
Because we sell primarily direct, our bikes are not readily available in bike shops for test rides. This is why we offer our 30-day money-back guarantee. If after you receive the bike you are not satisfied, you can return it to us for a full refund, minus the shipping charges.

What is the right bike size for me?
Dynamic Bicycles come in multiple frame sizes to accommodate riders of different heights. Frame sizes are based on the length of the seat tube – measured from the center of the bottom bracket (where the pedal crank attaches to the bike) to the top of the seat tube. All of the other dimensions of the bike are proportioned based on this measurement, ensuring that the rest of the bike will be properly proportioned for your body size. For more information, see our Bike Sizing Guide or review our Frame Geometry Chart.

How does Dynamic Bicycles package and ship its bikes?
When you receive the bicycle, it is 90% assembled in its shipping carton. All you need to do is attach the front wheel, handlebar, seat, pedals, and any accessories. Average assembly takes less than 20 minutes. Dynamic Bicycles ships all of its bicycles by UPS Ground. All shipments are insured and require a signature for delivery confirmation. Shipping times within the continental US are between 2 and 5 days. The package weighs approximately 35 pounds and measures 52"L x 9" W x 30" H.

What assembly is required when I receive the bike?
Our bikes are 90% assembled in the box. Final assembly takes about 20-30 minutes. When you receive the bike, you will need to attach the pedals, attach the handlebar to the stem (handlebar already has brakes and shifter attached), insert the seat post (quick release lever) and attach the front wheel (quick release lever). Once this is done, you just need to put air in the tires. Setting up the bike is a great way to admire and get familiar with your new bike. The only tools required for setup will be a 15mm wrench (or adjustable wrench), 4mm, 5mm and 6mm Allen wrenches, and a pump for the tires. For assembly instructions, click on either the Hybrid-Comfort Assembly Instructions or the Mountain-Road Assembly Instructions.

How are Dynamic Bicycles guaranteed?
Dynamic Bicycles come with our 100% satisfaction guarantee. If for any reason within the first 30 days you own the bike, if you are not satisfied and we are not able to address your concern, you can return the bicycle for a complete refund minus shipping charges. In addition, we warranty the shaft drive for 2 years, lifetime warranty on the frame, the rear hub for 2 years, and all other parts for 1 year.

Care and Maintenance

What maintenance is required for the shaft drive and internal gears?
With our shaft drive, the only maintenance required is grease added to the front and rear gearboxes on a periodic basis - typically every 600-1000 miles. The frequency of this lubrication will depend on the amount and type of riding you do. More aggressive riders and heavier riders may need to add grease every 1-3 months, while more recreational or occasional riders may only need to add grease every 6-12 months. Grease is added to the front gearbox through a standard grease nipple (zerk fitting) on the underside of the gearbox using a grease gun. Grease is added to the rear gearbox simply by removing the rear plastic dust cover and applying grease right to the gear teeth. Typically, greasing the shaft drive takes less than 1 minute each time -- without getting grease on your hands or clothes. For best performance, we recommend Finish Line Synthetic grease with Teflon (tan color) which is available in most local bike shops. We also sell this grease as part of our Grease Gun Kit. You might also have good success with Park Tool Polylube 1000 or similar greases.

The Shimano internal gear hub is sealed and lifetime lubricated. It does not have a maintenance schedule. However, we recommend you periodically check the gear alignment (from cable stretching). See the instructions below for adjusting your gears at home without any tools.

What happens if I have problem with the shaft drive?
The shaft drive is likely the most durable component on the bike. However, if you believe there is a problem with your shaft drive, call us first. If we cannot help you readily correct it over the phone, we can offer you repair or replacement parts. The shaft drive is covered with a full replacement warranty for two years. After this period, a replacement shaft costs $89.95 - which is often times less than the cost of chain components such as a derailleur, crankset or rear cassette. Plus, the shaft drive can be replaced by non-mechanics in about 30 minutes with just two tools (a crank puller and an Allen wrench).

Where can I get the bike serviced if needed?
Our bikes can be serviced at any reputable bike shop. Aside from the shaft drive, every component on our bike is industry standard - from the brakes, tires, spokes, rims, seat and handlebar to the Shimano internal gear hub. So if you ever need service done such as brake adjustments, repairing flat tires or adding accessories, rest assured you can go to your local bike shop for help. As far as the shaft drive, this unit does not require adjustments or tune-ups of any kind, and is made of high grade components designed to last for many, many years. The shaft drive only requires grease to be added to the shaft drive periodically.

How do you remove the rear wheel if you get a flat tire?
In many ways, changing a flat tire on our chainless bikes is easier than it is on a chain bicycle. You simply remove the black dust cover from the rear gearbox and loosen the axle nuts on both sides of the rear wheel. The wheel slides straight off the back of the bike. You disconnect the shifter cable (quick-pull lever) and the wheel is completely free of the bike. To put the wheel back on, you reverse this process; re-attach the shifter cable, and slide the wheel right onto the bike. The washer on the shaft drive side is keyed so it only goes on one way - this ensures that when you tighten the axle nuts, the gears and wheel are aligned. No special tools or skills are needed.

For complete instructions for changing a rear wheel or repairing a flat tire on our bikes, you can download our instructions for Removing the Rear Wheel. Removing and re-attaching the rear wheel takes less than 1 minute.

What if the gears are slipping - how can you adjust the gears?
Shimano hubs are designed to be adjusted without tools and without needing to touch the hub itself. This makes adjustments fast and simple. If the gears feel like they are slipping or not shifting smoothly, this is usually due to a stretching of the shifter cable, which is normal (same as with brake cables). To re-align the gears, you use the barrel adjuster on the handlebar where the cable connects to the shifter to tighten to the cable and compensate for this cable stretching.

For complete instructions on using the barrel adjuster to adjust your gears, you can view our instructions for Gear Adjustment. Gear adjustments take less than 1 minute.

How do I adjust the brakes?
Most of Dynamic Bicycles bikes come standard withhigh quality linear-pull brakes (sometimes called V-brakes). These style of brakes are standard across the bicycle industry because they provide excellent stopping power and are easy to maintain. Linear-pull brakes work using independent brakes arms on either side of the rim of the wheel. When the brake lever is squeezed, the brake pads on each side of the wheel squeeze against the rim together to stop the wheel. If the brake pads are not squeezing evenly or if one pad needs to be adjusted, you can do this yourself using a screwdriver in just a few minutes. For complete instructions on brake adjustment, you can download our instructions for Adjusting Brakes.

Many of our bikes now also come with disc brakes standard or as an option. Some of our models are available with front disc brake, rear disc brake or both (dual disc brake). Disc brakes are intended to provide improved stopping performance in wet, icy and muddy/slick conditions. Disc brakes work much like brakes on your car, using a stainless steel rotor attached to the wheel and a caliper with metallic/ceramic brake pads that squeeze onto this rotor to stop the wheel. See bike model specifications to see if disc brakes are available on the model you have chosen.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Honda Engines Background Information

Honda is the world's largest manufacturer of engines, producing and marketing nearly 21 million units globally for automotive, motorcycle, marine, and power equipment products. Honda Engines offers a complete line of small, general purpose engines for commercial, rental industry, and consumer applications. Honda engines supply smooth, low emission, dependable power for more than 3,000 different product applications including pressure washers, lawnmowers, rescue and construction equipment and recreational go-karts.

In addition to low levels of pollution, Honda engines are some of the quietest, easiest to start, most fuel-efficient, and most durable of their kind, even in harsh commercial and construction environments. Such attributes have made Honda engines the popular choice for original equipment manufacturers looking to add value to their own brands.

One Engine for All

Honda Engines will certify to the new, lower CARB 2007 and existing EPA Phase 2 emission requirements by offering 50 state compliant engines only beginning January of 2007. New Honda overall emission levels will be reduced by more than 37 percent. This means that in addition to meeting California emission requirements, Honda engine emission levels will be well below the EPA 2007 requirements. The development of one engine for use in all 50 states continues to reflect Honda's forward thinking with regards to emission regulations, air quality and the needs of our customers.

Product Line

Honda produces 37 models in four basic series:


Primary Uses

Mini Four-stroke - 2 models

Hand-held portable

GX (Overhead Valve) - 21 models

iGX (Overhead Cam)- 1 model

Commercial and rental equipment

Commercial and rental equipment

GS (Overhead Cam) - 2 models

Premium residential and
light-duty commercial markets

GC (Overhead Cam) - 9 models

Home use power equipment

Starting with these 35 basic models, Honda offers more than 400 variations to meet a wide variety of needs and applications.

Mini Four-Stroke Technology for Better Performance, Cleaner Air

Honda was the first to incorporate quiet, low-pollution four-stroke technology in engines , which makes them ideal for applications such as trimmers or small tiller/cultivators that previously could only be powered by two-stroke engines. Honda's GX25 360o inclinable four-stroke engines can be used and stored in any position through an innovative design that keeps oil in a completely misted state, lubricating moving engine parts and ensuring that oil cannot accidentally flow into the combustion chamber.

The advanced design of these engines, including an overhead valve (OHV) cross flow combustion chamber, provides a wide, smooth range of torque unique to four-stroke technology. State of the art design and manufacturing techniques have reduced the number of moving parts. Examples include the use of a single camshaft that actuates both the intake and exhaust valves and the integration of the engine cylinder head and upper crankcase into one piece. The result is reduced weight, smoother operation and improved reliability, as well as twice the fuel efficiency and approximately one-seventh the hydrocarbon emissions of a comparable two-stroke engine.

The all-new GX35 mini four-stroke engine is Honda's most powerful engine for handheld applications. Based on the same Honda 360-degree-inclinable mini four-stroke technology as the GX25, the 35.8cc GX35's oil-immersed timing belt and overhead-cam (OHC) architecture makes it possible to incorporate the valve train into the oil reservoir. This results in a substantial reduction is size and weight over the GX31, making it comparable to a competitive two-stroke engine in those areas.

Unlike many two-stroke competitors, the GX35 delivers powerful output across a wide range of operating speeds with ample low-speed torque, which means that it does not always need to be operated at wide open throttle. This reduces noise and operator fatigue, while substantially increasing fuel economy and decreasing emissions.

Honda GC Series of Overhead Cam Engines

The GC series is Honda's solution to the need for quiet, efficient, and low emission engines specifically designed for home-use power equipment applications that require more power than the mini four-stroke. The dry weights of these models range from from 21.7 to 67.2 lbs. Honda's innovative design features - including the world's first internal timing belt on an engine of this kind, a tough nylon overhead cam, and uniblock construction - make the engines lighter and more compact than any other engines in their class with significantly reduced noise and vibration levels and reduced fuel and oil consumption.

Combined with Honda's innovative DuaLube™ lubrication system, the result is a simple, sophisticated design that minimizes the number of parts and reduces many potential maintenance needs.

The GC series includes the GC160 (horizontal shaft) and the GCV160 (vertical shaft). Honda GC Series engines are designed specifically for premium, high volume residential power equipment applications. Horizontal shaft models are ideal for a variety of consumer products, including pressure washers, water pumps, compressors and portable generators. Vertical shaft models power devices like lawnmowers and pressure washers but also find applications in other residential uses.
Additionally, Honda also has introduced electric start options on the GC160, GCV160, GC190 and GCV190 models, available nationally through Honda Engine distributors and to OEMs.

Rounding out the GC series is the V-twin GCV530. This 530cc engine combines the space-saving OHC design with 90o V-twin cylinders to power larger residential equipment like lawn tractors. The V-twin design is ideal for canceling vibration, and its high-strength sintered-aluminum connecting rods minimize cylinder offset and reduce overall vibration to some of the lowest levels in its class.

The GCV530 features Honda's most advanced lubrication technology. The QuadraLube™ system efficiently lubricates critical engine components using both pressure and splash, and the two timing belts carry oil to the valve area. This advanced oil delivery system provides the GCV530 with superior lubrication at a reduced weight and with quieter operation and a more compact design.

Noise also is controlled by the two Honda-developed built-in OHC timing belts, lightweight resin cams, and an extra-quiet turbo cooling fan. The combination of advanced technology, simplified design and world-class manufacturing provides a reliable engine with superior power.

Honda GS Series of Overhead Cam Engines

The recently introduced Honda GS series is positioned squarely between the GC series premium residential and the GX series commercial engines.
The GS190 horizontal shaft and GSV190 vertical shaft models are designed to serve both premium residential and light-duty commercial markets. Intended for use on such popular applications as pumps, blowers, mowers, and tillers, these Honda models satisfy the homeowner seeking ultimate performance, and the contractor seeking a lightweight, compact package.

Capitalizing on the same basic overhead cam (OHC) architecture as Honda's extremely popular GC engines, the GS features uniblock construction and a unique internal timing belt design that results in the lightest and most compact package in its class. With 187 cubic centimeters of displacement, this efficient design also delivers an unparalleled power to weight ratio and quiet operation, and easy starting.

To further enhance performance and durability, the Honda GS engines incorporate a cast iron cylinder sleeve and a redesigned piston with a three-piece oil control ring. Adding to the engine's commercial character, the GSV190 features ball bearings on the flywheel side of the crankshaft, while the GS190 utilizes ball bearings at both ends of the crankshaft. A dual stage air filter with an oiled pre-filter enhances engine performance in the dusty environment often created by mowing or tilling, and a cast aluminum valve cover rounds out the package.

The Honda GS engines exemplify Honda's fundamental design philosophies of durability, quality, reliability, ease of starting, high fuel economy and low emissions.

Honda GX Series of Overhead Valve Engines

The GX series offers reliable, easy starting and fuel efficient power for a variety of commercial applications. Its rugged OHV design ensures a high level of durability and reliability for construction, maintenance and premium power equipment and makes the engines ideal for the rental market. This market relies on Honda OHV engines to ensure customer satisfaction with a minimal level of maintenance and repair.

Honda produces 21 models in the GX series, which are available in either horizontal or vertical shaft and in either single cylinder or V-twin versions. The single cylinder, horizontal shaft models-GXH50, GX100, GX120, GX160, GX200, GX240, GX270, GX340, and GX390-power a variety of commercial equipment from small pumps and generators to cement mixers, pressure washers, trenchers, concrete saws and construction equipment. The single cylinder vertical shaft models-GXV50, GXV140, GXV160, GXV340, and GXV390-perform similar functions where a vertical shaft is required, such as in commercial lawnmowers, power turf equipment, and floor buffers.

The GX OHV V-twins are available in three horizontal shaft models-GX610, GX620 and GX670-and four with vertical shafts-GXV530, GXV610, GXV620 and GXV670. The GX V-twins offer the same advanced technology found in the single cylinder GX engines, adding commercial-grade features such as a high capacity, automotive style air cleaner, high pressure lubrication system, and a forced-air oil cooler on the 670 models that constantly maintains optimum oil temperature during prolonged operation.

The Honda iGX: a New Generation of Intelligent General Purpose Engines

Honda's newest addition to its engines lineup is the iGX, the revolutionary intelligent computer controlled general purpose engine that sets an even higher standard for ease of use, value fuel efficiency, and quiet operation. For the first time in power equipment history, the all-new iGX features an integrated electronic control unit (ECU) that delivers complete drive-by-wire remote control capability and controls key aspects of engine operation. While the iGX 440 overhead cam (OHC) engine features all-new architecture, it actually serves as an extension of Honda's legendary GX series of commercial grade engines.

Benefiting both consumers and the environment, iGX technology results in lower fuel consumption, lower emissions, and lower noise through reduced total engine running time and engine speed that can be lowered based on power demands. This intelligent technology works in conjunction with the new engine's V-type valve layout and sparkplug-center combustion chamber to yield a fuel economy increase of approximately 15 percent compared to a similar conventional engine.

Additionally, the iGX is easier for inexperienced users to operate, eliminating the need for manual manipulation of the choke and throttle and making it ideal for rental applications. Honda's newest model debuted nationally through Honda engine distributors during the summer of 2005.

Investment in America

Honda manufactures engines and other components around the world and maintains assembly plants at locations that best serve its customer base. Honda's Swepsonville, North Carolina, Power Equipment plant employs 550 U.S. workers, and represents an investment of more than $140 million in domestic manufacturing capabilities.

Editor's Note:

Honda Power Equipment, a division of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., manufactures and markets a complete range of outdoor power equipment, including outboard marine engines, general purpose engines, generators, lawnmowers, pumps, snowblowers, tillers and trimmers for commercial, rental and residential applications. Its comprehensive product line is powered exclusively by environmentally advanced 4-stroke engines.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Honda OHV and OHC Technology

OHV (Overhead Valve) Engines are commercial grade and are used on commercial mowers. Following are some of the benefits of OHV technology

  • Greater power output

  • Smoother Fuel mixture intake

  • Quicker & more complete exhaust

  • Excellent thermal balance

  • Decrease in oil consumption

  • Increase in service life

OHC (OverHead Camshaft) Engines are often used on less commercial and/or residential mowers. Benefits of the OHC technology include

  • More Compact & lightweight Overall

  • Engine height could be reduced

OHV - Overhead Valve: These engines have the valves located above the combustion chamber, in the roof of the cylinder head.

The OHV layout permits smoother fuel mixture intake, plus quicker and more complete exhaust. This increased combustion efficiency, in turn, enables a higher compression ratio to be used in this way it is possible to obtain greater power output and to avoid the build up of carbon.

The OHV-design gives also an excellent thermal balance, which contributes to reduced cylinder distortion, a decrease in oil consumption and an increase in engine service life.

The OHV Engines are Commercial Grade while the OHC are generally used for domestic use.

OHC - Overhead Cam: OverHead Camshaft engines (OHC) have their camshafts positioned in the cylinder head above the combustion chamber. Valves are located in the roof of the combustion chamber to offer the same combustion related advantages as OHV engines.

The OverHead Camshaft layout builds on these advantages by reducing the number of valve train components and allowing them to be lighter and stronger, thereby making the engine more compact and lightweight overall.

By combination of an L-shaped rocker arm and single-cam camshaft, it has become possible to locate the cam pulley on the side of the cylinder head so that the overall engine height could be reduced in comparison to a conventional OverHead Camshaft engine.

By the use of an OHC mechanism and a timing belt in oil configuration, lubrication around the cam and the valves is done by the oil rotating with the belt.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Motor Oils - Fuel Economy vs. Wear

Conventional wisdom states that engine oils that increase fuel economy allow less friction and prolong engine life. The purpose of this article is to challenge conventional wisdom, particularly concerning modern (GF-3 ILSAC/API Starburst) engine oils.

Fuel Economy: Does Anyone Really Care?
First, we should face the fact that the American consumer does not appear to care too much about fuel economy. The No. 1 selling passenger vehicle is the Ford F-Series Pickup. Five of the top 10 best-selling vehicles are trucks, and trucks outsell cars. Some of the trucks are called sport-utility vehicles, otherwise known as SUVs, because their owners don’t want to admit they are trucks. The mass (size, weight) of these vehicles is not conducive to great fuel economy.

Figure 1. Bearing Wear

Additionally, consider how most vehicles are driven. Anyone accelerating slowly or driving at the speed limit to conserve energy is a danger to himself and other drivers who are in a much bigger hurry.

Auto manufacturers, on the other hand, are concerned about fuel economy. The manufacturer faces big fines if the fleet of cars it produces falls short of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements imposed upon them by the federal government.

The March to Thinner Oils
Thinner oils are being used these days for three reasons: They save fuel in test engines, the viscosity rules have changed, and manufacturers are recommending thinner grades.

The Sequence VI-B is the test used to evaluate fuel economy for the GF-3 specification. The VI-B test engine is fitted with a roller cam where the old Sequence VI test used a slider cam. The old Sequence VI test responded well to friction modifiers, but the Sequence VI-B responds to thinner oils.

The test oil’s fuel efficiency is compared to the fuel efficiency of a reference oil in the Sequence VI-B test. To pass, the test oil must improve fuel economy one to two percent, depending on viscosity grade. SAE 5W-20 must produce higher relative fuel efficiency than SAE 5W-30.

It is interesting to note that the reference oil is fully PAO synthetic SAE 5W-30. To qualify for the GF-3 Starburst, ordinary mineral oils had to beat the fuel economy of the full synthetic reference oil. (It seems there is more to fuel economy than a magic base oil.)

Another factor in fuel economy is temporary polymer shear. These polymers are additives known as viscosity index improvers (or modifiers). Polymers are plastics dissolved in oil to provide multiviscosity characteristics. Just as some plastics are tougher, more brittle or more heat-resistant than others, different polymers have different characteristics.

Polymers are huge molecules with many branches. As they are heated, they uncoil and spread out. The branches entangle with those of other polymer molecules and trap and control many tiny oil molecules. Therefore, a relatively small amount of polymer can have a huge effect on oil viscosity.

As oil is forced between a bearing and journal, many polymers have a tendency to align with each other, somewhat like nesting spoons. When this happens, viscosity drops. Then when the oil progresses through the bearing, the polymer molecules entangle again and viscosity returns to normal. This phenomenon is referred to as temporary shear.

Because the Sequence VI-B test responds to reductions in viscosity, oil formulators rely on polymer shear to pass the test. A shear stable polymer makes passing the GF-3 fuel economy test much more challenging.

New rules defining the cold-flow requirements of SAE viscosity grades (SAE J300) became effective in June 2001. The auto manufacturers were afraid that modern injection systems might allow the engine to start at temperatures lower than the oil could flow into the oil pump. Consequently, the new rules had a thinning effect on oil.

The auto manufacturers now recommend thinner oils for their vehicles than in the past. Years ago, SAE 10W-40 was the most commonly recommended viscosity grade, later migrating to SAE 10W-30. SAE 5W-30 is most popular now, but Ford and Honda recommend SAE 5W-20. It is likely that more widespread adoption of SAE 5W-20 and other thin oils may occur to help comply with CAFE requirements.

Because of the change in cold-flow requirements and the fuel economy test pushing formulators toward the bottom of the viscosity grade, today’s SAE 10W-30 oils are more like yesterday’s (GF-1 spec) SAE 5W-30 oils. On top of that, there is a trend toward auto manufacturers recommending thinner grades. This seems ridiculous. SUVs and trucks, with their inherently less-efficient four-wheel drive and brick-wall aerodynamics, need powerful, gas-guzzling engines to move their mass around in a hurry. In response, auto manufacturers recommend using thin oils to save fuel. Incredible!

Viscosity and Wear
Thinner oils have less drag, and therefore less friction and wear. Right? Perhaps in the test engine or engines that experience normal operation. But somewhat thicker oils may offer more protection for more severe operations such as driving through mountains, pulling a boat, dusty conditions, short trips, high rpm, overloading, overheating and overcooling.

Any abrasive particles equal to or larger than the oil film thickness will cause wear. Filters are necessary to keep contaminants small. The other side of the equation is oil film thickness. Thicker oil films can accommodate larger contaminants.

Temperature has a big effect on viscosity and film thickness. As a point of reference, one SAE grade increase in viscosity is necessary to overcome the influence of a 20°F increase in engine temperature. At a given reference point, there is approximately a 20°F. difference between viscosity grades SAE 30, 40 and 50. SAE 20 is somewhat closer to 30 than the other jumps, because SAE 30 must be 30°F higher than SAE 20 to be roughly the equivalent viscosity.

In other words, an SAE 20 at 190°F is about the same kinematic viscosity as an SAE 30 at 220°F, which is about the same viscosity as an SAE 40 at 240°F. This approximation works well in the 190°F to 260°F temperature range. One might be surprised at the slight amount of difference between straight viscosity vs. multiviscosity oils with the same back number (for example, SAE 30, SAE 5W-30, and SAE 10W-30).

If an SAE 50 oil at 260°F is as thin as an SAE 20 oil at 190°F, imagine how thin the oil film becomes when you are using an SAE 5W-20 and your engine overheats. When an engine overheats, the oil film becomes dangerously thin and can rupture.

Ford is bumping up against its CAFE requirements and recommends SAE 5W-20 oil for most of its engines in the United States. It claims SAE 5W-20 is optimal for fuel efficiency and wear.

To determine if SAE 5W-20 oils provide the same level of protection as SAE 5W-30 oils, Dagenham Motors in England, one of the largest Ford dealers in Europe, was consulted. SAE 5W-30 is required for warranty purposes in England, and SAE 5W-20 is not even available. If SAE 5W-20 were better for both fuel economy and wear, why would Ford not recommend it for its same engines in Europe?

Antiwear Property Changes
Another change that occurred in passenger car motor oils with GF-2 and GF-3 is a more stringent limit on phosphorus, which is part of the zinc phosphate (ZDDP) antiwear additive. The auto manufacturers are concerned that phosphorus will deposit on surfaces of the catalytic converter and shorten its life.

This is a complicated issue, and the deposits depend on the specific ZDDP chemistry and the finished oil formulation. The industry was unsuccessful in designing an engine test for an oil’s catalytic converter deposit forming tendencies. Therefore, the auto manufacturers set an arbitrary limit for motor oil of 0.1 percent phosphorus.

Antiwear additives are important in the absence of a hydrodynamic film, such as in the valve train. The antiwear additives are activated by frictional heat, which causes them to react with the hot surface and form a chemical barrier to wear.

The mechanism by which phosphorus deposits form on catalytic converter surfaces is not fully understood. It does not correlate directly with oil volatility or oil consumption. On the other hand, if engine wear causes oil consumption to increase, the risk of forming phosphorus deposits in the converter would increase dramatically. It seems that preventing wear and oil consumption should be a priority.

In the past, oil formulators could make a premium product by simply adding more ZDDP. A similar move today would result in an oil formulation that would not support new car warranties.

Short-term Thinking
As wear increases, the efficiency of an engine declines. Valve train wear slightly changes valve timing and movement. Ring and liner wear affect compression. The wear hurts fuel efficiency and power output by an imperceptible amount at first, but then the difference in fuel economy between an SAE 10W-30 and SAE 5W-20 is hardly noticeable. Efficiency continues to decline as wear progresses. Perhaps optimizing wear protection is the way to reduce fuel consumption over the life of the engine.

Certainly engines that have experienced significant ring and liner wear benefit from thicker oils. Thicker oil use results in compression increases, performance improvements and reduced oil consumption.

High-mileage oils are a relatively new category of passenger car motor oils. These products typically contain more detergent/ dispersant and antiwear additives than new car oils. They typically contain a seal swell agent and are available in thicker viscosity grades than most new cars recommend. “High mileage” seems to be defined by “as soon as your car is out of warranty.”

Figure 2. Ring Wear

What To Use
Although thinner oils with less antiwear additive outperform more robust products in the 96-hour fuel economy test, it is not clear that such products save fuel over the useful life of the engine.

Every fluid is a compromise. Oils recommended by the auto manufacturers seem to compromise protection from wear under severe conditions to gain fuel economy and catalyst durability. It is important to recognize that to use a product that offers more protection from wear will most likely compromise your warranty. Thicker oils also compromise cold temperature flow, which may be of concern depending upon climate and season.

The best protection against wear is probably a product that is a little thicker (such as SAE 10W-30 or 15W-40) and has more antiwear additives than the oils that support the warranty. The best oil for your vehicle depends on your driving habits, the age of your engine and the climate you drive in, but it is not necessarily the type of oil specified in the owner’s manual or stamped on the dipstick.

SAE 10W-30

What does SAE 10W-30 actually mean?

We all know to check the owners manual to find out which weight oil should be used in the engine of a vehicle, and also generally know to only use motor oils with American Petroleum Institute Certification, designated by the starburst displayed clearly on the container, in most vehicles. But what really is the difference between a SAE 10W-30 and a SAE 10W-40, or for that case, SAE 0W-20 motor oil?

To better understand the numerical code used, a brief explanation is in order. When referencing motor oil weight, you are actually referring to the viscosity grade or the tendency of a liquid to flow slowly or quickly. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) developed a grading system to designate the viscosity level of single grade and multigrade motor oils.

In single grade oils, the lower the number, the better it flows at cold temperatures. Likewise, the higher the number, the thicker the oil. In regard to multigrade oils, the first number in the code, such as 10W in SAE 10W-30, means that the oil can still be pumped by the engine at a temperature as low as a single grade 10W oil. A 5W, like in SAE 5W-30, can be pumped at an even lower temperature, and a 0W, like in SAE 0W-30, will pump at the lowest tested temperatures. The W in the designation is commonly thought to represent weight, but in fact stands for Winter. The second number, 30, indicates how well the oil will flow when heated to 100C/212F or higher.

As engines have become more technologically advanced, engine clearance levels and viscosity grade recommendations may have been reduced, hence the reason your father swore by SAE 20W-50 and your engine calls for SAE 5W-30. If a thicker oil is used in some of todays high-tech, small clearance engines, oil pressure may increase, but the possibility of improper lubrication can result if the oil can not adequately flow through the engine.

Engine manufacturers carefully select the recommended motor oil viscosity grade for each specific engine, which is why the owners manual recommended viscosity should always be used.

Courtesy of Quaker State

Steering Truck Drivers in the Right Direction
Steer tires typically receive a lot of attention from drivers. These tires usually carry more load than any other tire on the vehicle. An individual drive or trailer tire may carry less than 4,500 lbs., while a steer tire is usually asked to carry 5,000 to 6,000 lbs. While the steer tire has to be strong enough to carry the weight, it also has to be tough enough to handle scrubbing. Every time the driver turns the wheel, the steer tires encounter significant lateral forces as they fight the tendency of the trucks tandem rear axles to go straight ahead. These forces are at their greatest during hard cornering or in an emergency turning maneuver.

Rubbing the Wrong Way
Side forces away from the direction of the turn cause scrubbing across the tread surface, which leads to rapid tread wear, particularly on the outer rib. Since drivers tend to turn more sharply to the left (sight side) rather than to the right (blind side), the right steer tire tends to get scrubbed the most.

Setback front axles, typically 13 inches to 15 inches back from the standard position, are designed to improve weight distribution as well as the trucks turning circle. But, that also increases side forces on tires during turns.

One H-D truck tire manufacturer said their studies have shown that tires on a tractor with a 140-inch wheelbase must generate about 65 percent more cornering force to slide the tandem drive axles around a corner than steers on a 210-inch wheelbase tractor.

The setback axles also incorporate increased wheel cut angles, which add to steer tire scrubbing when turning. For many years, the standard industry wheel cut angles have been between 32 and 34 degrees. Setback axles are typically at 42 to 44 degrees. While side forces on steer tires can accelerate tread wear, higher loads on steer tires can actually help even tread wear by providing a larger, squarer footprint where the tire contacts the road surface.

The tiremaker also said tests have shown that vehicles with lightly loaded steer axles (10,000 lbs. or less) are more prone to irregular steer tire wear than those with heavily loaded front ends. With light loads, the tires contact area is quite long in the area of the center tread rib and much shorter toward the shoulder rib. Since the footprint is uneven, there is more scrubbing and wearing away of the shoulder rib.

It should come as no surprise that the most frequent steer tire problem is fast shoulder wear, which can lead to cupping and early removal of the tire. Instead of running steer tires down to 6/32 of remaining non-skid, and more than 100,000 miles before removal, you might get only 70,000 miles out of them before you have to remove them for worn shoulders, while the center portion of the tread may have more than 10/32 of remaining non-skid. Two other significant threats to steer tire performance are misalignment, which results in uneven wear, and under inflation, which causes excessive casing heat, thus reducing the tire's retreadability or possibly leading to something far more serious: an on-road failure. Unlike a failure on one of a pair of dual tires, there is no support when a steer tire fails, and the driver may struggle to keep control of the vehicle.

The bottom line if you service these rigs is to install quality steer tires.

Educating Future Service Professionals on Ride Control
The Tenneco Technology Tour including the Monroe Ride & Drive training experience will visit more than 30 cities in North America during 2007 to help thousands of automotive service professionals and future technicians explore premium ride control products. Designed to explore the advantages of premium ride control technologies for domestic and import vehicles, the new Tenneco Technology Tour is expected to attract more than 5,500 professional technicians throughout 2007 for in-depth technical training and ride control test drives.

The Technology Tour is a conduit for Monroe to educate current and tomorrows technicians about the true performance differences of its premium products. A ride and drive experience is a hands-on illustration of our ride control technologies. The Tour also gives techs a wider perspective of Tennecos broadmarket and specialty products.

The Technology Tour gives technicians an opportunity to compare the steering, stopping and stability characteristics of vehicles featuring worn original equipment ride control components and identical models equipped with premium Monroe replacement products.

This years Ride & Drive fleet features 2003 BMW 325i and other popular domestic and import vehicles. The Tours ASE-certified instructor will then help participants learn how to better communicate the need for ride control and brake replacement to vehicle owners.

For more information regarding the Tenneco Technology Tour, or for instructors interested in signing up their class to attend an upcoming Ride & Drive session, contact T.J. Fontana, manager of training and operations at Tenneco at 800-843-4169, ext. 8072.

Electrodynamic cycling LEDs


Strobing electrodynamic cycling LEDs


I was going to go with Pedalites, a previous Cool Tool, but I didn't want in-pedal generators that add resistance to your effort. These front/rear-mounted strobe lights add very little unsprung weight to both wheels and work via magnetic induction, so there's very little additional weight and no added rolling resistance. The initial ride takes about a mile to bring the front (white) LED up to a full charge, while subsequent rides have me fully lit in about fifty feet of pedaling. The rear (red) LED gets flashing in about half the time and stays flashing longer during any stops (it also flashes more regularly). They both flash for at least two minutes after stopping, which is ideal for early AM rides and for any stopovers where you're basically waiting for traffic.

I put about 400 miles on my SL120s last season. They worked terrific. After storing my bike for four months -- no activity -- they worked perfectly again on our first ride of the 2008 season, a "Midnight Madness" run at midnight, followed by a post-ride trip to the bar. The lights recharged within half a mile (white always takes longer than the red). 6.97 miles, 35 minutes, and the red kept flashing the whole time I was in the bar (15 minutes -- we were tired!).

The caution here is they mount on your axles, so you're not flashing "high" as you might with saddle lights or a headlamp. They do not effectively illuminate the road. These are not overnight travel lights. They're safety lights, a smart pickup for any lowlight rides. A great investment for me: increased safety, no more batteries, and definitely the best "green" investment I've made for training. Short of breaking in a crash, these lights will last me decades. The LEDs are not likely to burn out for at least ten years and you can measure the magnets' lifecycles on a geological scale.

Bonus tip: The instructions stink, so you might be tempted to mount it outside the fork, because it's easier and does not involve removing the wheel (my buddy mounted his incorrectly). Don't be tempted, you cannot move the bracket close enough to the pickup magnets unless it is mounted inside the fork -- wheel has to come off. Not a big deal up front, but could be axle grease messy for the rear. Once it's on, though, you'll be within 3mm of the pickup magnets and generating nearly-free electricity.

-- Christopher Wanko


(SL 120)
Available from Chain Reaction Cycles

Manufactured by Reelight Aps

Pedalite Bike Pedals

Self-generating LED lights for urban cycling


I have been using my Pedalites the last couple of years for short-range commuting up and down an unlit, rural county road, and would indeed recommend them, $75 price tag and all. They work just as advertised: pedal for 20 seconds, and the dynamos charge up and power flashing LEDs with a resulting effect similar to marker lights on a truck. The pedal incorporates both a white "front" and red "rear" LED. You never replace batteries. They have held up to rain, though I haven't done an extensive amount of rain riding with them.

I would say they are really best for a city commuter (I recently transplanted them onto my city bike), because the dynamos do add resistance to the system. However, I don't mind having to work a little harder for that extra light. Note: a charged set will flash for over five minutes after you finish pedaling, which means that after you chain and walk away from your bike, it's still there flashing "look at me! look at me! (steal me!)." Of course, "Look at me" is exactly what you DO want while riding. The LEDs don't emit enough light to navigate, so you still need at least a headlamp -- certainly while rural riding -- but their side flashing is especially valuable for urban riding.


-- Ben Goetter

Pedalite Bike Pedals
Available from and manufactured by Pedalite Ltd