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Aerostich’s Mr. Subjective once told me that laws only reflect what the majority of the public is already doing. I guess that explains the prevalence of helmet-less riders and modified exhaust systems. Those folks are trying to influence laws regulating motorcycle safety and noise, by risking their skulls and creating a public nuisance. Fair enough.
Some laws, however, don’t make sense regardless of how prevalent common practice may be. Restricting two-wheel vehicles to lanes designed for 4-18 wheel vehicles is one among many such nonsensical laws. Lane splitting and traffic filtering are vital keys to making motorcycles into practical transportation. If any laws are ripe for motorcyclists’ civil disobedience, it would be those that prevent motorcycles and scooters from reducing traffic congestion and optimizing the flexibility of our favorite vehicle. The Oregon Department of Transportation did a detailed study of the available information and concluded that lane sharing appears to be a non-factor in motorcycle crashes and fatalities.
Aerostich has developed a product to assist riders in lane-splitting civil disobedience; the Lane Share Tool (catalog # 3305). This clever electro-mechanical farkle allows the motorcyclist to provide an educational message (instead of a reportable license plate number) with the touch of a button for cagers to contemplate as they are stuck in traffic. The stepper-motor actuated mechanism smoothly swings the license plate holder down and displays a subtle message to the cars you are passing. Momentarily pressing the unit’s push button switch (“standard mode”) opens the message display for 10 seconds, after which the display closes automatically. Or maybe you don’t want to be subtle. Holding the button for 5 seconds puts the unit into “maintenance mode,” which displays the message until you press the button again. Anytime the unit is displaying your message, an LED on the control module flashes to remind you that your license is not legally displayed. When the circuit is disengaged, the unit stops drawing power from your battery.
The Lane Share Tool has been designed for simple, painless installation. The harness includes a couple of connector points to assist in feeding the wires to their designated points. The activation button mounting hardware allows for at least two sensible attachment tactics. All of the hardware appears to be solidly designed and watertight. Installation took me about 30 minutes and I was idiotically anal about cable routing. Thanks to the connectors, I didn’t have to remove the fairing or gas tank.
Remember, lane-splitting and loud pipes are a combination that demonstrates your poor manners and lack of social conscience. Do the rest of us a favor, if you are addicted to a 13-year-old girl’s appetite for attention-grabbing, don’t split lanes. For the rest of you who want to promote lane-splitting as a common, legal activity, the Lane Share Tool is an interesting public education device. Unfortunately, lane-splitting and filtering is legal in only one US state: California. So, if you use it be warned that you may pay a price beyond the Lane Share Tool’s $157 price tag.
|The Lane Share Tool, waiting for disposal after a life on the road.|
POSTSCRIPT: 8/30/2014, after suffering the slings and arrows of mud, chain lube, rocks, and occasional use, my Lane Share Tool bit the dust today. Probably the most common use I’ve found for this device is demonstrating it after an MSF class when someone asks, “What’s that?” Today, the demonstration resulted in a cool downward progression of the “One Less Car” sign, and a couple of hiccups on the upward passage before the motor quit altogether. “It’s dead, Jim.” And it is.
The poor motor was coated in gritty chain lube from a long life lived behind my V-Strom’s rear tire. It made it through 2,700 miles of North Dakota’s backroads and 10,000 miles from here to Nova Scotia and back, plus a couple years of all-weather commuting, local adventure touring, camping, and the misery of being on the ass-end of a motorcycle belonging to me. So ends another product test. I’d done such a slick job of installing the little bugger it could have been a serious pain-in-the-ass to remove it. Luckily, the brilliant engineers at Aerostich put high quality connectors in-line at both ends of the cable harness, allowing me to cut the tiewraps, undo the harness clips, and pull the wiring without bike disassembly.