Bar Cuffs – Review

It’s time once again for another product review. This time the product is something I purchased when I was preparing for my trek to Sturgis, South Dakota. Since I live in Tampa, Florida the trip to Sturgis was no easy undertaking. 2046 miles each way. Lot’s of preparation went along with the trip. The three weeks prior to departure were spent ordering camping supplies, motorcycle parts, accessories and riding gear.

My plans included loading my highly chromed, customized 2015 Harley Dyna Wide Glide into my 5×8 enclosed trailer and towing it to the campground I selected called Rush No More. I purchased 4 Milwaukee Twins ratcheting tie downs with strong 2″ nylon and 4 Soft loop tie down cinch straps. For the handle bars, when I was browsing tie down stuff on Amazon, I noticed a product called Bar Cuffs. They looked pretty sweet, rubber covered over stainless steel. I figured why not, they are only $19.95 and were even sized for my 1.25″ handlebars. They arrived a couple of days later and were put into my staging spot in the garage.

When the time came to leave Florida, I loaded the bike into the trailer and secured the bars and rear shocks to the anchor points in the floor of my trailer. Checked that the bike was properly secured, loaded the rest of my gear into the back of my tow vehicle and began the long journey early in the AM of July 31st, 2015. It took me 3 days of driving 700+ miles a day, a couple of nights in hotels, lots of coffee and lots of time to self reflect. Which is what the whole trip was all about, time to myself and time to see some of the most beautiful riding spots in the USA.

When I arrived at my campground, I unloaded the bike. This is when I noticed after taking the Bar Cuffs off the handle bars, that they were not all that great of a product. You see after 2000+ miles the stainless steel inner parts of the cuffs had managed to chew through the rubber and in the process had scratched the living hell out of my brand new Tuffy handle bars. I was not a happy camper, not at all.

I took some pictures but its not that easy to get a good picture of the chrome scratches, but you can clearly see from the pictures of the Bar Cuffs that the damage was pretty severe. I really wished I had not used the Bar Cuffs and just went with the simple orange soft tie down loops instead. I had four of them and only used two on the rear shocks. 20160130_08304720160130_083032 (1)

20160130_083533

It’s a lesson learned and a warning to those that might be considering using Bar Cuffs on a long tow trip. Rethink this a tad, this could have been prevented and certainly the I-90 interstate from Sioux City, IA to Sturgis is not one of the smoothest roads in the land. Several times I hit bumps so severe in the road that the trailer tires left the ground and bounced around behind me like crazy. The bike stayed secured the whole time, I checked at every fuel stop for any movement or loosening of the tie downs.

For what its worth, I never went over 65 mph due to the fact that I was towing with a 2010 Chevy Equinox with the 2.4 liter Eco-tech motor. Cruise control was just impossible over 65 mph as every hill I climbed would send the motor to 5000 RPM and it would sit there for miles until the climb was over. Gas mileage averaged around 17 mpg the entire trip.

Chevy Equinox Tow Rig

Reliable United Auto Transport Review – Michael Wallberg

Yes, its that time again. I write reviews based on experiences with companies and products that I encounter along the path I walk in life. Today I had to write this review for a company based out of Boca Raton, FL. The company goes by a few names and there is plenty of bad things to say about them.

As I always do, I start with the facts surrounding my encounter. Recently my daughter moved from Asheville NC to St. Petersburg, FL. She was looking for a fresh start for herself and my grandkids and her boyfriend. They moved here and we were in the process of getting them situated with housing, jobs, school etc. You know all the pertinent details you would come to expect from a major relocation.

Well, after a short time being here, she landed a job and was on her way to work when her boyfriends truck decided to stop running. Long story short, the truck had 340K miles on it. Boyfriend owes more on the truck than its worth. So we decide to ship the truck back to the place he purchased it from. A buy here, pay here lot in Leicester, NC.

I’ve never shipped a vehicle like this, so I start looking for pricing. I submit a couple of requests for quotes and immediately my phone starts going bonkers. Calls from every trucking company in the Southeast I figure. Quotes are also filling up my email inbox. I start contacting these companies and begin talking to Michael Wallberg of Reliable Auto Transport.

The quote from them is a respectable $450 for Insured delivery door to door, with a winch equipped truck. He states that if I am not in a hurry, if I am flexible with my dates that he could have somebody out to pickup the truck by Friday. I had called on Sunday afternoon and agreed to his terms and pricing and timeline. I placed the $450 charge on my Amex card and closed the call out with him.

Friday comes and goes and no contact from anyone. I call Saturday and was berated by Mike stating that I said I was flexible and that he would ultimately have someone out to pickup the truck by Monday. Again Monday comes and goes and no contact yet again. I start to see a pattern here and do a Google search for this trucking company. What I found was not good at all.

Reliable United Auto Transport has multiple scam reports filed with the BBB and ripoffreport.com. It seems that they are not an actual trucking company. They are a broker. That means that they find a carrier to transport your vehicle and charge a fee on top of the trucking companies rates.

Immediately I file a dispute with American Express. Then start the process all over again. I dig through all the quotes I have from other transport providers, research a couple of them, then contact United American transport. FWIW their quote was $350 a full $100 cheaper than the first shyster that tried to scam me. I commit to the deal, they take a $100 deposit and send the contract for acceptance electronically. I am told I will be paying the driver the balance of the fee in cash when the truck is loaded. Perfect.

The next day I get a call from a driver that states they are in the area and would like to pickup the vehicle. I ask specifically if they are with United American transport and the driver says ‘Yes’. I agree to meet him at the pickup location and he arrives about 30 minutes later. I ask to see his paperwork and he shows me his pickup order on an Ipad. He is not with United American, he is with Reliable United and he expects to collect $450 in cash on the spot. I decline and tell him to leave without the vehicle.

A couple of minutes later, my phone rings and its Michael Wallberg asking why I wont let his driver load the truck. I tell him, “You are trying to rip me off, do not call me again. I have disputed the charge you placed on my card. Good day”. He then proceeds to ring my phone several times, I place his number into reject status on my mobile device. He then starts using a block on Caller ID.

Two days later I get a call from the second company. Driver in the area, calling to coordinate a pickup time with me. We setup the time, I get an email with the drivers contact info and an updated price of $420 total. I agree, driver shows up and I help him load the non running truck onto his trailer. Pay the $320 fee, collect my bill of lading and the truck is on its way.

Here is where it gets interesting. I log into my American Express account to check on the status of the dispute. It shows closed and I still have the charge showing as due. Immediately log into chat session with an Amex representative and ask why the dispute is closed. He tells me that Reliable United submitted paperwork that shows the charge as valid.

Dumbfounded I ask the rep how that can be as they showed up the day after I filed my dispute, that I had hired a different company and have paperwork that shows the vehicle being picked up. I also tell him to Google the company in question so you too can see all the rip off and scam reports about them.

The Amex rep, then files another dispute on my behalf, tells me not too worry. They will take care of this for me. He explains how I can upload my actual receipt and within 12 hours of uploading the bill of lading the charge is reversed.

If you are considering using Michael Wallberg to ship a vehicle. Don’t use them. Research them first and see how they have held vehicles hostage and scammed people. If you are looking for a reliable and honest transport company, talk to Robert Santini at United American Transport. Their number is 678-359-3696

1Broker Review

I’ve been using 1Broker.com for around 6 months and felt it was time for a review. First let me point out that I am not an experienced professional trader. I am a Bitcoin enthusiast that would not mind increasing the stash of bitcoins in my wallet. What attracted me to 1Broker was a discussion group in Slack for one of the many alt coins I have been investing spare bitcoins into. Again always trying to increase the value of my crypto wallets.

1Broker is a CFD trading exchange. They accept deposits in Bitcoin to fund your trading account. You can trade with up to 200x leverage on Forex currency pairs. In addition to Forex 1Broker also offers trading in commodities, certain common high volume stock tickers, indices and even Bitcoin/fiat pricing.

Leverage is scaled down on stocks, commodities and indices with some orders being limited to 10 to 20x leverage. Additionally there are some important bits of information that I want to share with you to help you NOT make some of the mistakes I made along the way. Let’s face it, doing something the wrong way because you were unaware of a rule or feature, stings when you take a loss because of it. One of the things that stood out to me, was a movement of 10% in a stocks direction will suspend trading for that stock. I got stuck in a GoPro position overnight that was heavily in my favor at the opening bell. However I could not close the position until the team at 1Broker unlocked the symbol. My profits decreased dramatically as the stock corrected and my profits dwindled.

One of the crucial things to keep in mind is opening and closing of markets. On 1Broker trading on Forex and Commodities you are exposed to the global financial markets swings. London open and close, China open and close etc. Trading on 1Broker Forex pairs is suspended on Fridays at 5pm EST GMT – 5. It resumes again on Sunday evening at 5:15pm EST. It should also be noted that there is a daily break from 5pm to 5:15pm as well.

Similar market hours exist for Commodities and the stock tickers following the opening and closing bell of the NYSE. You can read all about the 1Broker market hours here.

My Recommendations:

  • If you leave a position open overnight you are subject to financing charges if you use leverage. Use leverage only if you apply it judiciously and can keep your greed in check.
  • Close your positions before the market closes for the weekend. You will just end up accruing finance charges for any open positions while trading is suspended.
  • Watch for short term trends for picking your entry and exit points. There is a guy that I highly recommend for Forex signalling and you can find him here.
  • Watch the forex calendar for news and major event signals. The markets tend to move a lot on news. Some traders take advantage of these events. I do as well.
  • Entering a position just before the 5:00 daily break, will incur financing charges at the 5:15 opening. You’re best bet is to wait until after the 5:15 restart. You avoid finance charges this way and you do not risk being caught on the wrong side of a trade when it resumes. You could literally ended up in a bad way. I ALWAYS close positions before the breaks daily and the weekend shut down as well.
  • Conversely you could be rewarded in a big way if the swing or banga moves favorably in your trade.

There is a lot of debate on whether the Forex markets are manipulated and controlled to take your hard earned money. My feelings are this; there is manipulation by central banks in all Forex currency pairs. It’s what banks do, they are in business to make money. Forex is just another method that they employ to increase their bottom line.

The takeaway, if you are brave, have the patience and time to learn about Forex and Commodity trading, go for it. 1Broker is the real deal, there stop loss orders actually execute as well as their limit orders. The interface is clean and easy to understand. They could stand to make a few improvements and over time I’m sure that they will. Recently they have been adding in additional pairs, stocks and commodities. My hope is that they can show a stocks daily up or down percentage along side of the ticker. What do you say 1Broker?