Monday, May 10, 2010

2008 SML Radar Detector Shootout

Originally posted 7/11/2008

Me and my new friend, Fat Bob!

A couple of weekends ago we went out to El Paso for Speed Measurement Laboratories' 2008 Radar Detector Shootout. Speed Measurement Laboratories, or SML for short, is the leading independent radar and radar detector evaluator in the country. They have over 20 years of experience in radar and radar detection technology, and is the leading expert in providing independent analysis and research to the radar and radar detection industries and government agencies. Their Shootout follows strict and rigorous guidelines in evaluating radar detectors in the marketplace today and provide unbiased results for everyone to see. They don't sell any of the products that they test, so there isn't any incentive for them to askew any of the results.

This year, SML wanted to really test the TPX, as it is the first true motorcycle radar detector to participate in the Shootout, and had arranged for a Suzuki Hayabusa and a BMW R1150RT for testing. They couldn't get their hands on a Harley to round out the three street segments (sport, touring, and cruiser) for the Shootout, so they asked us if we can somehow get a Harley to the event. Using all the resources that I had, I was able to get a 2008 Harley Davidson Fat Bob, but it was out in Phoenix. No biggie, it just meant that I get to ride it from Phoenix to El Paso!

What's the TPX doing on a cop bike?

Now, I haven't been on a cruiser in a while, and believe it or not, I was excited about the opportunity to ride the Fat Bob. Not that I don't love my SV anymore, it's just that I've ridden it for about 6,000 miles this year already and I'm looking forward to a change of scenery.

So on Thursday I got into Phoenix and picked up the Fat Bob. First thing that I did was to install the
TPX onto it. The installation was simple and took me about 20 minutes. Once it was installed, I was on the road! I was decked out in my full face helmet and sportbike jacket, and I was thinking to myself I must've looked real funny on the Fat Bob with what I was wearing. But who cares, I'm on two wheels and that's all that matters.

TPX on the Fat Bob.

The weather in Phoenix on that day was a warm 107, without a single cloud in the sky. I was thinking that I'm in for a warm ride all the way to El Paso. Not so. The ride was one of the most interesting rides I've ever had.

The ride was nice and toasty for the first hour or so, then, as I got close to Tucson, I start seeing dark rain clouds on the road ahead. Sure enough, before I knew it, I was riding in a severe rain storm. Not only was there rain, but also thunder and lightening all around me. I know it's always a bad idea to ride in a lightening storm, but the Shootout was the next day and I couldn't miss it, so I braved my way through the storm.

About an hour later, I rode out of the storm. I was soaked from head to toe and believe it or not, cold. But the weather warmed up quickly and soon I was dry again. The
TPX? Weathered the storm like a champ. Now that the road is dry again, I decided to see if the Fat Bob was capable of reaching the 120mph mark indicated on the speedometer. Yeah, it's capable of doing 120. Took a while to get there, though, but it did. After verifying the top speed, I settled down at around 95, as it felt like it was a speed that the Fat Bob was "comfortable" with.

And this is where Wayne thought he was going to get his first ticket of the year. How is it possible if he was riding with the TPX you might ask? Here's what happened. So I was cruising at around 95. The traffic was light with a vehicle here and there. I was cruising along, catching up to vehicles ahead and passing them. The road was long and straight so that I could see vehicles up ahead from ways back, and I'm sure they can see me catching up on them from their rear view mirror. So I was passing and passing vehicles, then, as I was catching up to this one particular vehicle, I started to realize that it was an Arizona DPS. The DPS was doing the speed limit of 75 and I'm sure that he saw me catching up to him from way back. Of course, I once I realized that it was a DPS I just hung back and maintained distance. Even though the DPS wasn't running radar, I'm sure he could've still giving me a ticket for going faster than he was. So I was hanging behind him and just waiting for him to pull over on the side of the road, let me pass, then pull me over, but he never did! He went off the freeway right before we reached New Mexico and I was thanking him in my mind for not pulling me over.

By now, it's late in the afternoon and with the remaining rain clouds in the sky, it started to get dark. A few miles into New Mexico I see signs on the road reading "Severe Dust Storm Possible". Oh really, I thought to myself. How severe can it get? Well, it got pretty damn severe. Shortly after, the wind started to blow, and the wind got stronger and stronger, and along with the wind came dust. It got so dusty at a few points that I couldn't see more than 25 feet in front of me. Needless to say, I wasn't doing anything near 95 on the Fat Bob. I went across the entire state of New Mexico seeing mostly dust, and nothing else. And literally, as I got to Texas, the du
st storm ended, but the wind was still there.

At this point, I was tired and it was getting late, and the fact that I had to fight the wind didn't help the matter much. But, all rides must come to an end, and I did finally reach El Paso. The next morning, under daylight, I realized that the Fat Bob had a healthy tan from the dust storm the night before.

Things didn't get much easier the next three days. The Shootout was a grueling process that involved a lot of patience and standing under the El Paso sun waiting around. But it was well worth it. I'm not at liberty to discuss the results until they are officially
released by SML, but what I can tell you is that the TPX performed really well and we are pleased with the results. As soon as the results are ready, I will post them here.

During the Shootout we also had several photo shoots of me on the Fat Bob and the Hayabusa. We'll see where those pictures end up.

TPX and the Hayabusa, a match made in heaven.

After the Shootout on Sunday, I rode off in the Fat Bob back to Phoenix. The trip took two days as I didn't leave El Paso until late Sunday afternoon and finished off the ride the following morning after spending a night out in Benson, AZ. It was a beautiful ride back, as I had perfect weather with not a rain cloud in the sky.

Total tally for the trip: 1,526 miles on the Fat Bob, a thunder storm, a crazy dust storm, numerous passes on the El Paso desert, and no ticket!

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