Opinion: Keeping it simple

So the new Arc Vector concept motorcycle includes a “sensory riding suit” that buzzes to relay information, and an “innovative heads-up display helmet” that shows a rider even more information on the inside of the visor. It may be the way the world is headed, but whatever happened to Keep It Simple, Stupid?

These days, everybody wants to reinvent the wheel so they can sell you something you don’t know you want, but there are some good ideas out there that are pretty simple. The quick release buckle on a Shoei helmet, for example, is just as strong and easier to use than the traditional Double-D clasp; gloves are better with a little rubber wipe on the left index finger for cleaning your visor; and the interior sun shields on many helmets these days are a considerable help riding into the sun. Why’s it taken till now to think of these? Duh!

But when a company named Wraptie offered me a chance to try out a new strap that can replace good old bungees, I was skeptical. How can anyone reinvent the bungee cord?

Mark’s motto: Never use one bungee when a dozen will be better. And yes, that’s Famous Author Ted Simon and friend David Stafford in the main picture with Mark’s horribly overloaded bike.

I have a love-hate relationship with bungee cords. I lose them, or they get tangled up in a drawer or a saddlebag like King Rat. I never take Kawasaki’s advice and wear my helmet for eye protection while tying them down. One day years ago, riding my motorcycle on the interstate near San Jose with a passenger and almost 20 separate bungees pinning our massive clump of luggage in place, one of the cords snapped that was being used as an anchor for several other cords, and half our stuff went all over the asphalt. That taught me to tie things independently but even so, I still lash luggage to the back with a network of taut bungees, and can never remember how I did it for the next day.

Wraptie, however, claims to be a better alternative. A Wraptie is basically a length of very strong and stretchy flat cord, with short lengths of Velcro stitched to it every few centimetres. One end has a permanent loop and the other end is split into three pieces that attach to themselves to create a very strong loop.  Essentially, it’s the same principle as one long length of stretchy Velcro. Wherever you want to stick the cord to itself to make sure it’s tight, you can do so. All that Velcro means it’s very sticky.

To be honest, I didn’t think I’d have much use for the Wrapties. They sat in my saddlebags, nicely rolled up, for probably a month while I rode around with stuff neatly bungeed to the rear seat. Then I needed to carry a small, reasonably heavy suitcase on the rear of a BMW, so I took along the Wrapties just in case. I took along a handful of bungees as well, also just in case.

Now doesn’t this look a lot neater? It did the trick, too – that case never shifted. The black parts are stretchy cord, the orange parts are Velcro.

I needed a hook or a rail to wrap the Wrapties around – a bungee cord hooks itself to pretty much anything, but the Wraptie needs to loop itself around something to close the circle. The BMW had grab bars, though, and everything worked perfectly. The case seemed so secure and immoveable on the seat that I didn’t bother with the extra security of the bungees, and sure enough, an hour later, the case hadn’t budged. If a bungee was stretched that tight to hold the case in place, it may well have threatened to snap, and I’d have needed some extras, for redundant safety. Nothing got scratched, and no, I didn’t need to wear the helmet while fastening them.

A few weeks later, I packed up my own motorcycle for a longer ride, which means putting everything in either the saddlebags or a large rear bag that attaches to the back rest. That large bag will slide around, though, if it’s not lashed into place, so again, I dug out the Wrapties and held it tight with only two of them. Usually, it takes six bungees to hold down the bag, plus a separate bungee net for the cushion I place in front of it to rest against. The real advantage was that I could still get into the bag easily by just unclasping one sticky cord.

So sure, I’ll recommend Wrapties as a smart solution for carrying stuff on a motorcycle. They’re made in three different lengths and I was sent a pair of 180-cm long cords, which are the middle length; they’re not cheap at $49 for the two, but they’re well made and work well and, like bungees, I can use them around the house and yard, too. I’ve used them many times since for tying up larger stuff.

The company is based in Taiwan and only sells online. They’ve kept it simple, and in some circumstances, they really are a better alternative. They’ll probably last forever if I don’t lose them first, but at least I won’t spew my cargo all over the interstate again.

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