At my dealership, Malcolm Smith Motorsports, I sell products that I truly believe in.
I created this blog to test and showcase products that standout to me in some way. I appreciate products that demonstrate unique design, quality craftsmanship, and superior functionality.
As an avid rider it is important to me that my gear, parts and bikes work perfect and as an industry professional I am able to offer my insight to fellow riders.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bullet Proof Designs Radiator Guards

If there is anything I have learned from all my years of riding, is that there is nothing worse than being stranded in the desert or mountains with a broken bike. I do whatever I can do to minimize the potential for damage to my motorcycle, and my many years of riding bikes has shown me the weak points on each motorcycle. My current Baja motorcycle, a KTM 400 XC-W, is as close to perfect as I have found, and yet there are weak point that need to be addressed before trusting it to get you home after a crash or gnarly trail.

My first focus was to protect the radiators, a vital part to any motorcycle especially when riding in Baja where the temperatures sometimes get a little “warm”. Bullet Proof Designs out of Harrison, Missouri make the finest radiator guards I have ever had the pleasure of using. At first I was worried that their non-louvered design would affect the cooling but after countless hours I have yet to see any significant difference in cooling properties from stock louvers.

When you first hold one of these guards in your hands you can immediately see the quality of machine work, which I would expect of a product made entirely in the USA. They mount up cleanly and don’t affect the tank mounts. The install took me about 20 minutes and doesn’t require removal of the radiators or even draining the coolant. It can be done with basic hand tools and only requires you to remove your seat and fuel tank, all of which can be accomplished on a KTM with a 8mm T-Handle and a pair of pliers. All necessary hardware is included in the kit.

Once the guards are mounted you can tell that it will take an act of God to bend your radiators. I have these guards on each of my motorcycles and have yet to bend a radiator. You might tweak some of the mounting hardware in a bad wreck but a few bolts are better than an entire radiator. It seems like a small investment to ensure that you will never again have to replace a bent radiator.

Bullet Proof Design’s Radiator Guards pass the Malcolm Test.

Click Here To Purchase the Bullet Proof Designs Radiator Guards

Alexander’s Take

I have been running these guards even longer than my Dad. Fall after fall these guards stand up to whatever you have to throw at them. I should have spent a fortune on replacement radiators, instead I have replaced the mounting bolts numerous times and never bent a radiator. It is important to inspect the frame mounting hardware after a hard crash because while the radiator and guard will not bend, the hardware takes quite a beating and sometimes bends. I used these guards while racing Red Bull Romanaics, if they can stand up to that race they will be able to take whatever you can throw at them.

I have some really cool black anodized "Malcolm Smith Motorsports" guards. I really like the fact that you can get guards personalized with different logos and different anodized colors.

You really can’t argue with a company that backs all of their products with a Lifetime Warranty. Five stars!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

KTM 250 XC-W

Driving home from my dealership the other night I was as giddy as a schoolboy, I had a brand new KTM in the back of my truck and all I could think about was that first ride. "I'm going to ride the wheels off my shiny new KTM 250 XC-W," I kept telling myself, "I'm going to take afternoons off work and make it a point to ride every weekend."
Two weeks later and I have kept that promise to myself. My son and I have ridden almost every weekend at our secret riding area and I have taken a few afternoons off work to go riding. I couldn't be happier with my KTM. The power it makes is easy to use across the entire powerband, allowing me to lug through the tight stuff but still ring it out on the fireroads and open trails. The lightweight and electric start make it an even easier choice for me, I don't have to fight a big four-stroke on my favorite trails and when I stall the bike I can just push the magic button and it comes back to life. You don't realize how useful this is until you are stuck on the side of a hill, just barely able to stay upright and instead of trying to kick-start your bike you simply push the button and away you go!
The handling and ergonomics suit my riding style just perfect. It turns quick but doesn't get too unstable in the harsh chop. The suspension comes a little on the stiff side for me but after taking a little preload out of the shock and a few clicks out of the fork compression I'm ready to ride. My only complaint is the seat height, my legs are too short to reach the ground with the stock seat height. I would never let it keep me from riding so I developed a lowering process that maintains travel and geometry similar to stock yet lowers the seat almost 4 inches! Email for information regarding my lowering system, the work takes my dealership about a week but it is well worth it.
Like all KTMs the build and parts quality are second to none, those Austrians really pay attention to details. From the hardware to the works-like parts a stock KTM can be compared to a semi-works bike from any other brand. This quality makes wrenching on the bike a breeze.
The KTM wheelies right through 'The Malcolm Test'

Alexander's Take:
I too ride a KTM 250 2-stroke but I opted for the 250 XC. The close ratio transmission and upgraded forks make a great bike even better. Technical trails and gnarly special tests are where you can really appreciate the close ratio transmission, the next gear is always exactly where you need it without the big jump between gears. The closed-cartrage forks eliminate the harsh 'spike' sometimes felt on the open-cartrage forks when absorbing big square edge hits. Other than these two difference the XC and the XC-W are largely the same motorcycle. The fact that two totally different riders with different needs can ride such similar bikes speaks volumes for the brand and the bike itself.

Monday, February 1, 2010

FMF Q-Stealth Silencer

My son has recently taken to wearing a t-shirt that says "I (heart) two strokes" and I couldn't agree more, the KTM 250 XC-W is my favorite bike that I currently ride. The mechanical simplicity and weight difference make it an easy choice for me when I'm loading up to go riding, and one of the only aftermarket companies still developing two stroke technology is Southern California's FMF Racing.
FMF has been in the aftermarket exhaust game since 1973 and make some of the very best two stroke exhaust systems on the planet. From their highly tuned and developed pipes to their titanium mufflers, everything is made in their Southern California factory and shows real dedication to quality.
The FMF Q-Stealth is my silencer of choice for my two stroke because of five key features:
1. Quiet: this muffler is the quietest in the FMF line up, keeps my secret trails secret and my favorite riding areas open
2. Spark Arrestor: the built in spark arrestor is USFS approved, meaning I don't get hassled by 'The Man'
3. Large Canaster Volume: more packing = less repacking and more riding
4. No power loss: my bike is quiet but it doesn't feel like I'm riding a 125
5. Light Weight: okay, so it's not as light as the Titanium 2 silencer but its a small price to pay for a quiet muffler
With riding areas being shut down every day, it is important that we all do what we can to prevent any further closures. This includes making your bike as quiet as possible, so listen to your bike next time you go riding, if you cant hear yourself think when you rev it up chances are it's too loud.
The FMF Q-Stealth Silencer is available for most two strokes and is a breeze to install. The Q-Stealth earns straight A's in 'The Malcolm Test'.
By the way.... I want one of those t-shirts...

Alexander's Take
I couldn't agree more with my dad on this. Just looking over the Q-Stealth you can see the attention to detail and dedication to quality that FMF prides themselves on. My KTM 250 XC is set up with a FMF Gnarly pipe and a FMF TurbineCore 2 silencer, I really like this configuration and the Gnarly pipe gives the bike great bottom end (but we will save that for another test). The TurbineCore 2 has similar qualities to the Q-Stealth but features a 'straight-through' design that acts as a spark arrestor but performs like an unrestricted pipe, it is only slightly louder than the Q-Stealth.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A second opinion...

I'm not always the most fashionable, hip or trendy guy. I know that there are plenty of young riders out there with different tastes than me. In an effort to address these differences of opinions, I will be adding a second opinion to my product tests. My son, Alexander Smith, will be chiming in on the products I test. He is more than qualified to offer to his opinions and I believe will be a helpful addition to the readers. While we more often than not agree on what makes a product good and what makes a product bad, our opinions do differ. You can expect to see his opinions in each test from here on out.

I hope this will make for more informative test and appeal to a wider range of readers. After all, we all ride motorcycles....

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pro-Taper Tie-Down

I truck my bike to a lot of remote riding areas, be it my home in Mexico, the mountains or the desert. Most of my favorite places to ride are at the end of dirt roads or twisty pavement, making it important that my motorcycle is well secured. I have seen what happens to an unsecured motorcycle after it has bounced out of a truck or trailer and more importantly I would never want to be responsible for causing an accident. I have seen new tie down systems come and go with very few improving on the old tried and true tie-down. Pro-Taper approached the problem with the idea of improving the tie-down itself without complicated mechanism and gimmicks.
The Pro-Taper tie-down has four neat features that really make it stand out in my mind:
1. The carbineer type lower clip makes for a bulletproof attachment that I don’t have to worry about disconnecting and dragging my bike down the pavement.
2. The built in swivel at the bottom of the strap means no more twisted tie-downs. The strap automatically un-twists itself, preventing jams in the mechanism.
3. The loose end of the strap has a Velcro loop to secure the slack and prevent the strap from flapping in the wind as you speed down the freeway.
4. The strapping itself is extra wide (1.5”) and features a “soft-tie” on the business end, so you wont scratch your nice new Pro-Taper Evo Handlebars on the way to your favorite riding area.
I own more sets of tie-downs than I care to count but if you see me trucking my KTM 250 XC-W, you can bet that I’m using my Pro-Taper tie-downs. If it’s good enough to secure my beloved motorcycle, it’s good enough for ‘The Malcolm Test’. Five Stars!