We are today witness to the worst impact on Earth and its resources. And it is only getting worse. Some may even say, “It’s true but what can we do?”
Small changes in your lifestyle and the way you travel can go a long way. Here is what you can do to make travel sustainable.
- Buy Less
- Make a choice to buy less gear.
- The more you fill up your wardrobe; the less you use them
- If you have more than what you need – give it to people who can use them
- Pack Light
- The less you carry, the lighter your load is.
- The more you you leave behind, the easier your journey
- Maintain Your Vehicle
- Service your vehicle at regular service intervals
- Change parts that need replacement
- Use Hi-Quality or OEM replacement parts on your vehicle and good quality fuel and lubrication
- Be Conscious, Dispose Sensibly
- Dispose your waste sensibly
- Carry a trashcan with you at all times in your vehicle to collect your waste
- Anything your throw away is trash – there is no differentiation
- Travel To Beautiful Places, But Stay Local
- You contribute to the local community by staying in smaller places
- When you arrive at your room – make sure you switch off systems like air-conditioner, lights, fans
- Keep showers short and shut off water when you are brushing your teeth or shaving
- if you are staying multiple days – reuse sheets and towels
- When you camp – make sure you pack out all your trash and leave no trace
- There is nothing better than staying with family, friends or friends you have never met
- Talk to your hosts – ask them how they dispose trash
- Spread awareness – Check about recycling programs
- Spread awareness -Do they reduce energy consumption
- Eat Local And Healthy
- Local food is travel’s greatest gifts
- Find places that serve local cuisine
- Eat at simple homestyle restaurants
- Hang out in local bars and cafe’s – its the best way to absorb the pulse of a way
- Most often ingredients used are grown locally and are not carted from big cities far away
- Try and eat vegetarian – smaller destinations most often don’t have poultry farms etc;
- Which means – meat / chicken / eggs travel a long way to reach your plate
- Smile And Respect Cultures
- Smile is traveler’s greatest ally
- Treat locals with respect, make conversations with them – you might just end up having a great experience, get invited to a locals home, get to eat some local fare or you might get to see places that otherwise you would have missed
- You would have ridden or driven to this place – but a walk in town / village is a great way to experience the place
- Walk with that smile on your face. And don’t forget to respect their culture
- Respect Local Wildlife Reserve And Protected Area Laws
- Appreciate the sanctity of these places
- You are a visitor, best said an intruder
- Avoid trespassing into protected areas
- Watch as you pass by – by stopping your vehicles – you are creating nuisance
- Avoid travelling post sunset in protected areas, even if it is a highway
- Besides disturbing wildlife – you miss the chance of seeing beauty
- Don’t touch or collect specimens – besides being illegal, understand that you are behaving like a thief
- Respect local forest laws
- Don’t buy water, carry a water filter or water purification tablets
- Most places offer filtered water – fill your bottles at such station
- Bottle water increases trash
- Offset your carbon footprint: This is a tough one to make small
- There are multiple organizations to choose from to offset your carbon footprint. You can choose to put your money in any one of them. There is nothing like consciously reducing your impact and using your money to offset, by going out there yourself and planting a tree or contributing to a organization locally. The least you can do is to plant trees in your neighborhood.
You may have read the ‘Beginners Guide to Off-Roading’ earlier. You have taken the bite and have the relevant riding gears to start off. Here is a list of things for your motorcycle to get ready for off road use.
- Dual Sport or Knobby Tires
While the knobby tires offer deep square block treads meant for aggressive off-roading, the dual-sport ones are more streamlined, making it usable on both on and off-road conditions. And while the knobbies will offer an advantage in the dirt, a basic set of dual-sport tires will be fine, as long as they have at least half of their tread‐life remaining.
- Bash Plate / Skid Plates
Bash plates protect the underside of your motorcycle, from unexpected contact with rocks. This well-placed aluminium plate is a small price to pay when compared to the powerplant it protects. They are also called skid plates as there are times when your motorcycle would see-saw on a large rock or log and you can slide your motorcycle along without worrying about damaging the engine casing.
- Engine Guards
Falls are inevitable in the dirt. Hence, to keep your worries at bay, you can add a set of robust engine protection bars. These will help you get away with minor or no damage to your motorcycle’s engine.
- Raised Mudguards
It will be a good idea get your mudguards raised. When riding in trails, mud tends to stick and build up on the tires. With regular mudguards, they tend to pile up inside it and cause the wheel to jam up. This can lead to unwanted slides leading to injury.
- Hand Protectors
Most are designed to protect the rider from exposure to the elements as well as passing tree branches and thorny bushes. The more robust versions come with additional reinforcement, to protect the levers in case of falls.
- Wide Footpegs
Most stock footpegs are narrow and slippery, especially in muddy conditions. This makes it difficult to stand on and control the motorcycle when required. Wider, studded or spiked footpegs provide better grip to your riding boot and makes the experience much more comfortable.
- Handle Bar Risers / Taller Handle Bar
When riding off-road, you will eventually learn to stand up on your motorcycle. While this helps navigate much better over rough terrain, it becomes critical for you to have a comfortable reach and grip on your handlebars. Bar risers or taller handlebars help bring the bars closer to the rider, making it easy to manoeuvre the motorcycle.
- Model Specific Tool Kit
Considering you will be riding off-road, there will be times when you are in a remote location. In case needed, you should have some basic tools to take care of punctures, reduce or increase air pressure, adjust control levers etc. You should keep in mind the specific tools needed for your particular motorcycle. Also, the aftermarket accessories you may have fixed, which need to be removed to access something on the motorcycle.
There is a lot more in the matter of modifications one can do and that is each to suit one’s needs. The list above should get you going and you can slowly build on these to make your motorcycle more suitable to your needs while off-roading.
Let me start by telling you something that all of us motorcyclists experience but never could really put a finger on. The most common ways to describe would be a jerky throttle, sudden jumpy acceleration, stalling, or ‘it just doesn’t feel right!’.
This ‘just doesn’t feel right’ is more evident in fuel-injected motorcycles, especially in the lower revs.
Booster Plug claims to fix this problem. And let me cut it short. It Works! Surprisingly well.
And, if you don’t care how it works, just get one. For details to where and how you can get one, scroll down to the end of the post. You can thank me later!
Read on, I know some of you want to, if want to know how this device works. I’ll try and keep it simple.
Nowadays, with electronic fuel injection, you would expect motorcycle throttle response to be smooth as a hot knife through butter. However, most of the new age motorcycles have a jerky throttle response. Especially at low speeds. It feels like one of those fan regulators which is either full speed or no speed. No linear change in speed. Not only is this annoying but also tricky to get a steady throttle input in corners, often becoming a bigger problem in wet and slippery conditions.
The throttle doesn’t just control the acceleration but also has a major influence on our motorcycle’s handling as well as weight transfer, steering, and stability. If it’s linear and smooth, this is reflected in our riding performance. We expect new age motorcycles to have a smooth and accurate throttle response. But, in fact, the throttle response is worse when compared to even the age-old carburetors.
Why? In one word, emission laws. Right, that’s two words.
Engines are far more efficient and powerful than ever before however the ever-tightening emissions laws also mean that engineers have to run the engine lean at certain speeds where emissions are measured in the power curve.
Of all the strategies to clean up emissions, such as air injection and catalytic converters, the easiest and cheapest method is to reduce the amount of fuel injected into the engine or in other words run a lean air to fuel ratio. An ideal air to fuel ratio is around 15 parts of air mixed with 1 part of fuel. Lower the ratio of air, the engine runs rich. Increase the ratio of air and it runs lean. To achieve maximum power and quick speeding/overtaking, the engine needs a rich mixture. However, to achieve emission norms the engine needs a leaner air-fuel ratio of around 16:1 to 17: 1. This mixture burns slowly and irregularly. Thus, it results in power loss and a jerky throttle response.
This fueling is generally controlled using the Lambda, also known as the O2 sensor in your exhaust pipe which measures the air to fuel ratio while a control loop mechanism in the ECU adjusts the engine’s fueling to match the target mixture. Now you might say, won’t the ECU send in extra fuel when you accelerate suddenly to compensate? Well, it does but there is a delay, and is not fast enough to match the inputs of your throttle response. It doesn’t work linearly when you go through multiple changes of inputs like it happens during a low-speed city ride or sudden acceleration. Remember this ‘delay’ for later.
Now that you know how the Air-Fuel ratio is relevant and how a lean or rich mixture can affect the way your motorcycle runs, let me tell you how the Booster Plug fixes the throttle response issue.
The most important data for the Booster Plug is the Air Intake Temperature and the Closed Loop system. In principle, the Booster Plug alters the Air Intake Temperature part of the equation into making the ECU think it is 20 degrees Celsius lower than the actual temperature. Why 20-degree? Because every fuel injection ECU will enrichen the fuel mixture by 3% for every 10-degree drop in temperature. So, a 20-degree drop will result in a mixture that is 6% richer than normal. This proportion is constant for all modern vehicles because it depends on the density of air molecules and uses the same fuel, which is constant for all vehicles. Why only 6%, you might ask? 6% is the sweet spot that the blokes at Booster Plug figured out. The richer fuel mixture makes the engine run smoother and results in more linear throttle response. But any richer, and you will lose those benefits.
Aren’t you forgetting something? That lambda/o2 sensor? When it detects that the mixture is running rich, will it not tell the ECU to make the mixture leaner and thereby undoing everything that the Booster Plug did? You are correct, it would. Did I not tell you to remember the ‘delay’? The lambda/o2 sensor functions best when at a constant speed. The o2 sensor is not fast enough to act against the richness, at the variable response on the throttle, such as acceleration or overtaking. This is a loophole the Booster Plug exploits. In simple terms, it goes dormant and lets the ECU play its role as tuned when at cruising speeds. This even leads to be a good fuel efficiency due to the lean mix while cruising. As soon as you apply the throttle, the Booster Plug input to the ECU is back in action and you get a richer mix, to go booming again.
Installing the Booster Plug is probably the simplest mod you can ever do on your motorcycle. The units sold come specifically for the motorcycle because it comes with the connectors which match those connecting the ECU to the Air Intake Temperature sensor. The unit simply bypasses the signal sent from the Air Intake Temperature sensor to the ECU. The external temperature sensor on the Booster Plug should be fixed away from the engine heat. I fixed it near the air intake duct. In theory, any Booster Plug will work with any fuel injected motorcycle as long as you can figure out the connectors to bypass the connection between the Air Intake Temperature sensor and the ECU. I mentioned the last point for motorcycles, for which, the Booster Plug is not yet available.
The Booster Plug works as it claims, simple to fix, simply smoothens the experience of riding the motorcycle by fixing the one nagging issue with most fueling systems on our motorcycles. I did not find a drastic change in fuel efficiency either, possibly because of its mechanism to go dormant when at cruising speeds. The instant change you will notice on the Himalayan is that it reduces the stalling issue at cold starts. There is no need to pump the throttle to keep the engine at idling speed. Then the whole smoothness and throttle response, in both trails and highway cruising alike. I even managed to cruise at 135-140kmph stress-free, which was unimaginable on a Himalayan earlier. It does feel like a different motorcycle. Who knew a small change in your motorcycle’s throttle response will go such a long way in getting a better experience.
Those of you who want to drown in more technical reading, head over to the manufacturer website here. Feel free to shoot some comments my way, incase you have any questions.