Value Proposition: BMW OEM Performance Intake:

 

With E46’s majorly coming down in price, we’re starting to see performance products made for the car do the same.  From overstocked items that need moving to used items coming off old e46s, now is the prime time to make a bid on certain parts that used to cost much more when the e46 was in its prime popularity.

For example, take this awesome oem performance intake made for the M54 engine.  10 years ago it would have cost $1,000 and that’s for some extra noise and 3 more horsepower.  Hardly worth the $1000, but I was able to score one for only $300 off of a used 3 series that was being converted back to stock in preparation to be sold.  For this low amount, the extra grunt the engine made and the smoothness and extra refinement in throttle response was well worth the price.

For anyone who is interested in this modification.  GET IT.  You will not regret it.  The car now has a very mean and deep growl to it especially from 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear.  There is a very slight woosh! noise that sounds really cool and very different from the high pitched whining noise that come from cheaper after market cold air intakes.  Usually it’s pretty vague what kind of power aftermarket intakes produce, but the oem BMW one makes a verifiable 3 horsepower which, of course, can’t be felt at all but it’s nice to know that it’s an actual quantifiable result. 187hp > 184hp am I right?  Add some headers, an exhaust, a larger Dinan throttle body and this car could produce just about 200hp which would basically make it keep up with modern day entry level sport sedans.  The difference is that this engine actually sounds good, and not like a turbo 4 cylinder 😉

Newish Ride. 325i 5-spd MT. No options.

A pure driving machine. I’ve always wanted one of these and found a bare bones no option 2003 model with only 85,000 miles on the clock.  One requirement though, it had to be a stick shift.

The E46 chassis of the 3-series is by far and will always be my favorite iteration of the famed sports sedan.  One doesn’t need a ton of power to how fun in a 3er.  The engine, despite only being a 2.5 liter putting out 185 horsepower and 176 lb ft of torque, sings as it screams towards red line in each gear.  Making trips to the gas station more frequent unfortunately.

Compared to the 4 cylinder turbocharged models of today, which sounds like listening to Taylor Swift on a pair of shitty Jawbone bluetooth speakers, the snarl of the M54 inline 6 sounds like a tube amp producing the warm, thick but raucous guitar notes of a Rolling Stones anthem.  Sure the 4 cylinders produce power, but it’s not all about power.  Sure you might get to the next stop light or on ramp 1 second faster than me, but it’s not about the destination.  It’s about the journey.

It’s 1am in the morning as I write this, but I think I’ll go take it for a spin one more time before having to think about all the preventative maintenance I’ll have to do on it to keep in tip top shape.

Cycle Centric

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My Bianchi Pista enjoying a beautiful Carolina sunset

I used to have a 10 mile round trip commute from apt to school.  I was in great shape, I mashed up and spun down hills all with a single speed with a ratio of 47×15, which was a pretty tall gear.

It built my calves, my quads and my glutes without the need for really going to gym and kept me in trim shape.  I miss those days.  My studio is too far for me to bike to and Charlotte just doesn’t have the infrastructure to support it at the moment.

Writing it down enables action.  Writing down that I will begin to bike again will jump start it.  Not to work or school, but around town, on purposeless trips from point A to point B just to soak up the views of the city and gain inspiration.  Your brain is working faster, your adrenaline is going and you’ll see things that wouldn’t have been seen otherwise without having to find a parking spot.  You can just go directly to it.  I for see discovering a lot of new locations for test shoots using this method.

 

Seiko SKX007

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Isn’t this one of the most beautiful watches you’ve ever seen?  At a sub $200 price tag, it is a bargain for the features and quality it possesses.  Shot with a Canon 6D, 50mm f2.5 Macro and 2 softboxes left and right.

The Wonders of Tritium Gas Tube Lume

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I wish more watches would incorporate this type of lume in their dials and bezels.  I love the soft warm glow of the gas tube that can do this without the need for charging.  I was shooting an opera performance in a very dark venue and while moving up and down behind the stage and along the pitch black peripheral hallways on the side of the theatre, it really helped to be able to tell time and the remaining time of the piece by using the watch.  This allowed me to time different angles during different parts of the performance.  Tritium gas tubes make a truly functional time piece.  Although they don’t glow as brightly as a fully charged Super-Luminova dial marker, they glow much longer a lower intensity which allows the eyes to adjust much quicker to them at night versus being blinded by Super-Luminova (which only lasts a couple hours anyways when charged).

At this stage, gas tube lume technology is still not advanced enough for them to create non-linear tubes so from a design perspective, using this as lume is very limiting as there cannot be curved or rounded markers which is requisite for many different styles of dial markers.

I would love to see this technology used in the Speedmaster’s though as it has a linear dial markers anyways.  Maybe in the future Omega?

Chrome Industries 37L Rolltop Excursion Backpack

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An Excellent Urban Alternative to Your Standard Dry Bag

I wanted a dry bag that looked a little more sleek than your average sports outlet offerings.  I’m glad Chrome came out with a the Rolltop Excursion because it’s a hell of a bag.  The materials are top notch, it’s lighter weight than a lot of the laminated and plasticky feeling bags out there on the market and it looks so sleek.  You can kayak in style with one these, this isn’t just a waterproof bag to get you through those downpours on your bike.  Let’s take a look some of this bag’s features.

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The main weight saving feature this bag has is the knurled Welded seams which truly makes the bag water tight even at the seams where most bags suffer from water penetration.  With Knurl Welded seams, it looks like the sides and edges of the bag aren’t sewed together, but pressed together extremely tightly with an interlocking pattern which utilizes the 50% more surface area between the 2 meeting fabrics.  This saves material which saves weight, but also creates a bong between the two fabrics that’s 1.5x stronger than your usual seams.  I guess the saying “becoming undone at the seams” will never apply to this bag.  As Chrome says, this bag is bombproof, waterproof and overall, life proof.  I would have no qualms taking this bag to go kayaking and even dropping it in the water because I know nothing inside will get wet.  Additionally, the inside of the bag is lined with a rubbery material.

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Here’s a closer look at what Knurled Welding looks like.  There are 2 types of fabric used to create this bag.  One is your standard 600 Denier Cordura fabric that is also TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) coated.  This treatment makes the back more abrasion and heat resistant than non-TPU treated bags.  In other words, you can drag it across the ground and it will be really hard to to tear this type of fabric.  The Cordura makes up the upper half of the bag.  As you can see from the photo, the bottom of the bag is made with a different type of material with slightly more sheen to it.  This is Hypalon which is a really cool water proof, heat proof and UV resistant material that is used in US Coast Guard life rafts, kayaks and even in roofing.  It stays a deep black no matter how much you’ve used it or exposed it to sun.  You can let the bottom sit in water for years and water will never get through.  I really like the feel of Hypalon because its texture is smooth with just the right amount of roughness to give your finger some resistance if you slide it along the fabric.  It’s a little bit tacky to the touch.  I can’t really explain it, you’ll just have to try out the bag yourself.  In a way I wish the entire bag was made out of Hypalon, that’s how cool the material is.

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We’ve got the iconic Chrome logo at the bottom for good measure the white on black is a very sharp and gives a the bag a nice edgy look to it.  It’s a lot cooler than some dry bags out there that have really bright colors and the name and logo of the company splashed across the entire bag.  Chrome Industries is subtle and understated, giving it just the right amount of cool.

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The back of the bag is padded and it seems like there is a sheet on the back which keeps the bag flat and items from poking into you.  The padding on the back is comfortable and the raised areas on the padding I assume are for airflow to prevent my back from getting too sweaty.  I hiked a few miles to the location I needed to be with the bag fully loaded and the straps were relatively easy on my shoulders.  I wish the straps were slightly more wide, they just seem a little bit narrow for a bag this wide and large.  The miniature seat belt buckle for the chest stabilizer works like a charm as well and adds a really cool artistic touch to the entire set up.  Even the adjusters for the shoulder straps are metal.  I forgot to take a picture of them, but they sort of resemble a metal claw clamp that bites down onto the fabric in order to prevent it from moving at all.

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I think the only gripe I have about this bag are these wannabe “MOLLE” loops in the front.  I’ve used real military MOLLE loop bags before and I don’t know how this even resembles one of those legitimate tactical MOLLE systems.  A true MOLLE system has interlocking straps that let you cross weave other MOLLE system bags very securely together with the existing bag.  I don’t know how these supposed MOLLE loops on the Chrome Roll Top Excursion are to work with existing MOLLE bags.  These are just some random loops where you can put a bike look through or something.  There is no way to attach another bag onto the Rolltop Excursion via these loops.  They do seem pretty strong though so putting a bike like into between them and perhaps a carabiner with your keys is an effective way of using them on this bag.  Other than that, they are just for show.  I guess they needed some texture in the front to break up the front of the bag a little bit.  If Chrome is planning to develop some smaller bags that will allow you to use the Roll Top Excursion like a modular bag, that would be awesome!

So what can it carry?  This thing is a beast and will swallow your kitchen sink and a couple small children.  The bag can hold a whopping 37-43 liters worth of gear.  There is also a slot inside where you can fit a 13inch laptop, a notebook and some pens/calculator.  The top of the bag rolls down and on the sides of the top, there are 2 plastic fasteners that let you pull the top tight once you’ve rolled it down to ensure maximum waterproofness.  So what did I decide to put in it?

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An entire reflecting telescope system that weighed 35lbs.  The Chrome Roll Top Excursion was able to hold the tripod, counterweights and the main telescope easily.  That’s how incredible this bag is.  I only wish they made a size that was in between the only 2 sizes they currently offer which is a 18L and a 37L.  The one that I bought for this review is much to big for my daily purposes.  It’s not like I go camping in the woods every single month or need to carry this much gear on a weekly basis.  Perhaps this bag is good for someone who does that, but until then and for the price, I’d be better suited to the cheaper 18L version, which I’ll be returning this one for!  I hope this review helps you make a decision in your quest for a dry bag.  Give the Chrome Roll Top Excursion a try, you won’t be disappointed!