Truxedo Lo Pro QT roll-up truck bed cover

After having a Truxedo Lo-Pro on my Sport Trac pretty much the whole time I owned it, I knew I wanted to put one on the F150.  They’re not cheap by any means, but quality products seldom are.  And the Truxedo covers are definitely high quality!  The fit is perfect, installation is quick and painless, and the materials are all top notch.  The new cover looks great and works exactly as it should.

I ordered mine from Mechanics Warehouse and got it the next day — they shipped it from a warehouse in Kansas City via FedEx ground that day.  I chose them becuase their price was the same as the lowest I found anywhere else, they also had the rubber bed mat I wanted, and they threw in some goodies for free.  Lots of them.  There is a ratcheting cargo bar, a telescoping retriever hook (for stuff that is up in the front of the bed), a tailgate weather seal, and a set of four Bull Ring tie-downs.  I can’t use the Bull Rings, but will either sell them or give them away.

If you’re looking for a soft tonneau cover for your truck, I can recommend the Truxedo line without reservation.  I like the Lo Pro QT because of its automatic tension adjustment and the single release on the rear bar.  You won’t be adjusting the cover when the weather changes, and getting it rolled out of the way to load stuff into the bed (and putting it back in place afterward) is quick and easy even for one person.

Fusion Hybrid, 3 months in

Well, we’ve had the Fusion Hybrid for roughly 3 months now, with a little under 3600 miles on the odometer as I recall.  This car continues to perform extremely well.

Saturday we took it to Hastings to watch the Broncos soundly defeat Briar Cliff (34-20, and the game was not as close as the score would indicate).  From Omaha to Lincoln we were in heavy Husker football traffic, moving at a steady 65 MPH.  I think we were in a pretty constant slipstream with the solid line of cars and trucks, we got 43 MPG between our Omaha fill-up and the far side of Lincoln!  Amazing.  Our overall mileage for the 299 mile round trip, including some in-town driving in Hastings after the game, was 38.6 MPG.

I wasn’t exactly nursing it along; we drove at the same speed we normally would have, other than the Omaha-Lincoln stretch.  There we drove as fast as possible, which was 65 MPH.  After we cleared Lincoln, I had the cruise control set for 70 for the rest of the trip out and back.  We stopped at the Stangs’ house to pick up Buddy on our way home.  I figure we used less than $19 worth of gasoline for the trip, and less than half of what my truck would have used.  In fact, we probably got almost the mileage we would have gotten on the Harley.

As for the features other than fuel economy, the car is still impressive.  Lisa likes the rear view camera and early warning system when backing out of places; it’s pretty nice that the car will pick up approaching vehicles and warn you before you’re able to see them in a crowded parking lot.  The sound system is great, and we’re even getting used to using the Sync system occasionally.  The hands-free Bluetooth is nice.  We’ve loaded several CDs into the car’s internal jukebox hard drive; my only gripe there is that while you can play music from a USB drive, you can’t transfer the files to the jukebox.  Oh well.

It’s a keeper.

Ford Fusion Hybrid

Well, we’re now the proud owners of a Fusion Hybrid.  Nice car!  The highway mileage is around 35-36 so far, and about the same in town.  It’s supposed to get better as the car breaks in, we’ll see how that goes.

the new car...
the new car...

All the toys; heated seats, LCD for the nav, radio, backup camera, and other displays.  The sound system is pretty good, sounds great – but no HD radio?  What were they thinking?  That’s really pretty much my only complaint, though.

Lisa at the wheel
Lisa at the wheel

Smooth, quiet, adequate power and then some.  500+ mile range on a tank of gas, so far (we haven’t filled it yet).  10,000 mile oil change interval.  Plenty of room for even tall people in the front and back.  Looks good.  Drives quite well, and they didn’t skimp on anything that we’ve found – right down to the fatter-than-expected Michelins.

Lovin’ my LG Dare

So a couple of weeks ago I traded my Motorola Razr for an LG Dare (VX9700).  Suh-weet.  It’s a touch screen phone with all the toys — micro SD card memory slot, 3.2 megapixel camera with auto focus, video, flash (kind of), MP3 capability, full HTML web browser, accelerometer for detecting screen orientation, you name it.  Of course the coolest part is the whole touch screen thing; it’s nice having a huge LCD that for the most part does what you want it to do.  The fact that it’s supported by BitPim makes it even more usable.

It does have a few shortcomings, but they’re minor and geeky.  I can’t send a wallpaper as a pix message, for whatever stupid reason.  Handling of MP3 playlists — well, it’s buggy as a roach motel, and basically unusable with anything I’ve tried (Windows Media Player, Rhapsody, or just transferring files in USB mode).  The web browser is a little lacking, but usable for the occasional gotta-have access.  It’s got handwriting regocnition, but like the Palm you’ve got to learn the oddball way of entering text to use it — and no, of course it’s not the same method the Palm used.  Still, though, it’s really nice to be able to turn the sucker on its side and see the QWERTY keyboard pop up on the touch sensitive LCD!  I can even type with my thumbs, making text messaging super easy.

All in all, I’m happy with it.  I’m looking for hacks to be able to change the theme and do some of the other little things that you presently can’t do, for whatever reason.  Support on the web seems to be pretty good, and there are a lot of people hacking away at it — so I’m sure things will continue to get better.

The Sy-Max 2 Redux

Well, after a number of delays and false starts, we now have a pair of very nice looking, pearl white Sy-Max 2 helmets with J&M headsets installed.

I ended up having to do some serious but not overly complicated surgery to get the headsets installed.  The Sy-Max 2 has expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam between the side of the fiberglass shell and the cushioned cheek pads.  This reduces the depth of the cheek pads, meaning  if you just drop the speakers into the cheek pad cavities like you’d normally think, they’ll crush your ears.  I had to remove the cheek pads, then remove the EPS side pads – fortunately, they are separate pieces that snap in and are secured with one screw on each side.  Some X-Acto knife work made some nice cavities for the speakers.  The mic boom exits between the front edge of the side module and the shell.  All in all, they fit great and sound even better.

Lisa has plenty of room between her face and the chin bar, but mine was right up against my chin.  Pretty annoying, and a non-starter for longer rides for sure.  I knew I had to do something about that, and toyed with the idea of warming the chin bar to give it a little more pointed shape.  Tonight I found I could remove the plastic inner shield behind the vent and latch; there’s a chunk of EPS about 3/4″ or so thick behind that.  With the shield completely removed, I have plenty of room but the vent won’t do much good to keep the shield from fogging.  I ended up trimming it to about 2/3 its original thigkness and re-installing it without the foam block.  I may do some further modification, but as I type this I’m wearing the helmet and it’s not bad.  It’s still contacting my chin, but I think I’ll let it break in before doing any more chopping.

All in all, they look great, feel great, and I find there seems to be a lot less wind noise – as I had hoped all along.  I’d like to keep the intercom VOX from tripping in crosswinds and when passing semi trailers; we’ll see how it all shakes out this season.  Hopefully between the new helmets and the new headsets, it will be a little more comfortable on the road.

Chevy HHR… well, it just sucks.

Hertz gave me another HHR yesterday. I should have made them take it back.

I can really find almost nothing to like about this thing. It’s butt-ugly, for starters; this one is far uglier than most, with a very unfortunate muted greenish-bluish color that looks like something you’d see on a 60s-vintage drafting board. The thing is a pretty blatant attempt to cash in on some imagined nostalgia craze that has people snapping up Chrysler PT Cruisers by the million (which doesn’t seem to be happening, thankfully). It looks like a copycat, plain and simple.

It’s got blind spots the size of Rhode Island – the most disturbing of which is right in the center of your field of view while driving!!  The rear view mirror is smack in front of your eyes when taking a ramp or turning right.  The engine is more or less adequate for a commuter car, but buzzes like mad when you push it – like on an entrance ramp. Controls are inconveniently placed, and the narrow slit of a windshield is far enough in front of the driver’s seat to ensure you’ll strain your neck trying to see the traffic signals on your way to work.  If you roll down the rear windows at anything much over parking lot speed, you’ll be treated to a pulsating wind buffeting that threatens to pop your eardrums until you roll them back up — ALL the way up.

All in all, this thing is a POS.  It’s a bad idea poorly executed, and GM should hang their heads in shame for not only copying Chrysler (bad enough to begin with) but doing it this badly.

HJC Sy-Max II helmet review

Mine arrived today… and went back today, but that’s a whole different story.

The Sy-Max II is brand new from HJC, one of the nicest flip-front modular helmets I’ve seen anywhere. These are really nice buckets. The liner pops in & out easily for cleaning, as do the cheek pads. Unfortunately it was raining all day and the helmet wasn’t the right size, but I’d still have taken it out for a quick ride if I could have. Looks like there is pretty good ventilation with one chin bar vent and one near the top, both of which can be opened or closed. There’s also an integral retractable tinted sun shield inside, which slides down into one of 3 positions so you can ride without shades. I’m sure the tinted shield isn’t polarized, but it ought to be just the ticket for those days when you don’t need really dark glasses, or are in and out of bright areas. I can see taking the shades off during the last gas stop of the day, so I can retract the tinted visor when the sun starts to go down. The J&M headsets look like they’ll fit with no problems, plenty of room for the speakers.

Unfortunately, while the CL-Max I tried on locally fit me fine in XL, the Sy-Max II was tight – so it’s on its way back to exchange for an XXL. We’re definitely getting the pair. Last time we got silver helmets to match the bike, this time they’ll be pearl white. I was a little leery of the color choice, but I think Lisa liked it better… once I got it out of the bag, I lost any reservations I had. It’s beautiful (and not girly).  And, kudos to New Enough!  Their customer service is earning their pay on this, I love these guys already.  Not to mention, their prices are the best I found anywhere.

My latest rental car

Avis was nice enough to give me a 2008 Mustang coupe with less than 3 miles on the odometer. Nice car. My last Mustang was a 1998 V6 5-speed coupe with a few very minor modifications to the intake & exhaust. Ten years later the parts of the car that needed refinement have been refined, and the parts that could use some “de-refining” have been addressed (for the most part) as well. Continue reading “My latest rental car”