When I was a wild and feckless youth it seemed as though something new and innovative was appearing in the motorcycle industry almost every week. It was an exciting time, with all the big manufacturers vying to bring the next jaw-dropping BRLA* to the slavering masses.
But all that’s changed. The time of the Universal Japanese Motorcycle came, went…and is now back again. And though nowadays they aren’t all Japanese, there are precious few occasions where I can honestly sit back and say “Wow – that’s different.”
And then I stumbled across a company called Acebikes. And I’d honestly say that at least half their product range is genuinely new and different. But not new and different in the way of bacon and egg ice cream. No, I mean new and different in an exciting, useful way. And that’s good.
TyreFix is a good example. It’s a solution to a problem that has been around since the first time any of us loaded a motorbike onto a trailer, pickup or van and tried to strap it down without breaking anything. The traditional way is to put a strap of some sort onto each handlebar and then pull it down really tight. Tight enough that the forks are fully compressed and it can’t bounce. Then pull the back down using any part of the bike you can get a strap onto. Now apart from the difficulty of getting straps onto a faired bike without scraping, scratching, rubbing or otherwise knackering the bodywork, avoiding trashing the switchgear and so on, there’s the very real risk of pulling the bike down hard enough to damage the fork seals. Indeed, it’s not unheard of for enthusiastic application of a proper ratchet strap to actually blow the seals clean out of the forks. Which is messy and, should you be wanting to use your bike at the other end of the journey, bloody inconvenient.
Acebikes’ TyreFix addresses this rather neatly. Instead of using a vast amount of downward force, TyreFix relies on friction and some clever design. A girdle of a neoprene-like material sits on top of the tyre and is pulled down by the attached straps. Friction stops the bike moving side to side while the design eliminates forward or backward movement. Because you’re ratcheting down on the wheel and tyre itself, there is no way that you can possibly apply enough pressure to do any damage.
Now in fairness it isn’t a completely standalone product – Acebikes say that it needs a front wheel cradle to be safe, though I did try it without and my bike remained upright, but neither I nor the company would recommend that. The true test was simple, though.
I replaced the cradle on my trailer, rolled our track Fireblade on and snugged the front wheel in place. Then I fitted the TyreFix in accordance with the instructions, a very straightforward exercise, put on a couple of other straps for safety (it doesn’t look as though it should work and I love that bike) and then took it for a drive. Roundabouts, speed bumps, national speed limit sections, stop/start driving were all despatched without a grumble. The safety straps I’d out on, which were loose enough to make the test valid but would still stop the bike from falling over completely, remained unmolested. It was a huge test of faith being able to see the bike bouncing up and down as we went over bumps and to be unable to see anything obvious holding it down, but the simple truth is that about half an hour of increasingly provocative behaviour on my part utterly failed to generate any movement whatsoever. Loading and unloading with the cradle are both a one person operation, and an easy one at that.
So here's the thing. The Acebikes TyreFix is beautifully made, comes in a very smart carrying bag and is easy to use. It looks as though it shouldn't work. Seriously, just looking at the thing in use makes me nervous. And yet the bike was at least as solidly strapped on the trailer as with any other method I've used, with no chance of bodywork getting rubbed or suspension being blown. It's not the cheapest product ever made, and indeed you could argue that £60-odd is a lot for straps. But it's a damn' sight cheaper than a set of fork seals and labour or a paint job. And the sheer ease of use means that a real pain becomes a simple one person job. Now I've used it I can't imagine going back to a conventional tiedown system, ever. Because it's simply brilliant.
You can find Acebikes, and a list of local dealers, at http://www.acebikes.com
There is also a video explaining a bit more about TyreFix here.
*BRLA = Bunch of Random Letters Acronym