Alien Faces Review

Alien FacesAnother review for you today! Introducing Alien Faces Custom Speedo Faces for Your Road Star. This review has been a little while coming, but it is here now and I think it has been worth the wait. These things are just awesome and can make a real difference to an otherwise plain area of your bike.

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Review remains posted for historical content

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Product Information

  • Ease of Installation: 7/10
  • Installation Time: Thirty to Fortyfive Minutes
  • Mechanical Aptitude Required: Beginner
  • Tools Required: 5mm Allen Key, Medium & Small Phillips Head Screwdrivers
  • Quality of Instructions: Very Good
  • Quality of Product: Very Good
  • Contact:
  • Website: recentAbstract
  • Reviewed by: RoadStarMagazine.com ( this review is subject to the following disclaimer)

Product Overview

While a lot of us do various things to customise our bikes, there typically isn’t too much you can do with the speedo area which is quite dull and boring. Thankfully you don’t have to put up with it anymore, and for very little money you can add a very nice custom touch to your bike which will be a sure-fire conversation piece. Introducing Keith “Alien” Meurer’s, Alien Faces which are printed replacements for your stock speedo face. Along with a piece of Lexan cut to size, you are supplied with the goodies you need to alter your speedo to either a simple colored face that is better suited to your bike’s overall color scheme, or you could go for a completely different image to follow a custom theme you may be applying to the entire bike. Now to really go for some wild speedo faces, Keith has teamed up with graphic artist, Randy “The White One” from recentAbstract, who not only provides more artwork to choose from, but if required he can also take a design to a truly awesome custom level. As part of the review, I got Randy to design for me a custom image based on my request for, “a Dream Catcher motif that will match the color’s of my bike, being pearl and olive green” and as you can see by the title image above he didn’t disappoint! Lastly, if you pay a little extra when you order your kit, Keith will also send a CD with your chosen design on it PLUS a template so you can make and print your own faces (click here to see what just a few minutes of playing around can do!).

Product Quality

Out of the box the first thing I noticed was what appeared to be a small nick out of the edge of the Lexan (the Lexan is what will hold your printed face in position), and I also noticed that the paper the new faces were printed on were not cut particularly round. After a little more study I came to the assumption that these outer edges were going to be covered by the speedo bezel anyway so it probably wouldn’t matter. Still, to be on the safe side I double-checked with Keith regarding the nick in the Lexan and he told me it will happen on all the Lexan to a varying degree as that is where the final cut is done at the manufacturer. Plus he assured me it would be covered by the bezel anyway and you wouldn’t see it once installed.

In regards to the printed image, Keith Facesdoes use plain paper because after trials with other types (coated, glossy, etc) he found that the ink from a bubble jet printer adhered best to plain paper and the quality was quite acceptable. You may be tempted to print an image yourself on glossy paper from an inkjet printer but it is very ill advised, under a hot sun the ink will actually separate from the paper and ruin your Lexan, so don’t do it. I also noticed that on the back of each face there was some marks that could be best described as “smudges” which had me scratching my head a little, but I later found that these marks are an attempt to lessen the light that shines through the paper once installed, and these same marks are on the stock face anyway.

Because I got Randy to do a custom image for me, and because I was so impressed with it, I actually had mine printed out on proper photographic paper by a photo lab and the image quality is unbelievable. This isn’t to say the plain paper is bad at all, but it doesn’t touch the photographic paper’s quality and I was more than happy of going to the extra cost and effort myself to get it done in that fashion. To be safe I also covered my image in clear contact (like you used to put on school books) just to be sure no damage can occur to the Lexan at a later date.

For the record, only my Dream Catcher image is on the photographic paper from a photo lab, all the other images were supplied by Keith on plain paper. Most photolabs will allow you to take a digital image from a computer to them using memory cards found in devices like digital cameras or MP3 players, which is what I did. Don’t try to squeeze three images onto one piece of paper either, it just doesn’t fit, instead play it safe and only do two images per sheet.

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Review remains posted for historical content

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Appearance

Once installed the new face looks GREAT and you will have a real talking point on your bike wherever you stop. Keith does have a fantastic selection of faces on his website, and there is heaps on the recentAbstract site as well, so you will be pretty hard pressed to NOT be able to find an image you like. But just in case you can’t find that special something, you can talk with Randy at recentAbstract to see if you can’t nut out that true one-off design. Randy is very enthusiastic about getting the right image for your bike so don’t be afraid to give him some feedback.

With the following part I should point out that two of my speedo lights had blown PRIOR to doing this modification, which is why half the face appears black in the dark shots.

Bit of lightOne of the most common questions I see asked about the Alien Faces is, “how well can you see them at night?” I tested out a variety of faces from Keith to see how the different images fared in nighttime riding and as it is the lights that illuminate your speedo are more than powerful enough to shine through the paper, in fact are almost a bit too bright. The predominately white images let through almost too much light but even so the speedo is still very readable. Something I also noticed with the lighter images is that your indicator, neutral and other “idiot lights” shine through the paper very strongly and are all the more noticeable because they are actually squares behind the face instead of small circles of light. You can notice these same lights during daytime riding as well, but it doesn’t affect anything other than how it looks when you are waiting at an intersection. Photographic paper at nightThe darker images do fare better, but still during nighttime conditions you will still see lights showing through the paper such as the idiot lights as mentioned earlier. When it came to the Dream Catcher image on the photographic paper I was a little concerned if I would be able to see it at all during night riding, but I was actually surprised to find that, despite the thickness of the photographic paper, the lights behind the speedo was still showing through quite brightly.

Now don’t be put off by my talk of the printed images allowing too much light through from behind, because you have to remember that when you are out on the road with the wind in your face you are not staring at your speedo (although I find it hard to tear my eyes away from my Dream Catcher), so although you will notice it, it won’t be an issue. The look of the custom speedo face is going to be turning heads when the bike is stationary and not switched on, and that is when people will be seeing it the most and telling you how great it looks.

Functionality

Speed MarkingsThe thing you probably should be most worried about with any new speedo face is just how accurate is the speed markings are, because no one wants a speeding ticket! Keith’s faces do include accurate speed count positions based on a template from the stock speedo face, but they only have the major mile per hour numbers on them (20, 40, 60 etc), Speed Markingsso an accurate speed reading while on the road is a little difficult (see the image to the left). Randy’s recentAbstract images, on the other hand, include more detail with the individual speed notches similar to the stock face, so a quick glance at the speedo is all you need to know how fast you are going. This may or may not be an issue for you, and there are those who would no doubt prefer a less cluttered face and will certainly say, “less is more”, but it is still something for you to consider. I’ll also admit I was a bit concerned after installing the face as to just how accurately I had replaced the speedo needle, but after a few runs in traffic I am pretty confident it is about bang on the mark and this is mainly thanks to the speedo’s auto calibration that occurs each time you turn your Road Star on. All the same you may still want to exercise some caution in known radar hot spots.

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Review remains posted for historical content

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Installation Process

The installation proved to be pretty fiddly at times, but with a bit of patience you will get through it. Keith provides good instructions for the installation process, although he does not mention to undo bolt that holds the fuel tank in position, because I found it easier to remove the bolt so you can move the tank back just a tiny bit to more easily get the speedo’s cords from under the tank. Another tip for you is that before you go to install your speedo face, do it on a full tank of fuel, allowing enough miles that your fuel indicator has moved completely to the full position, as this makes for more confidence you have repositioned the fuel needle correctly later.

  • After undoing the three screws that hold your tank console in place, flip the console over and place it on a towel over your tank. There are three screws holding the speedo to the console and these undo quite easily. The bottom most of theses screws go through a metal sleeve in the speedo housing, be sure to remove this sleeve as it is easier to split the speedo housing after you have done the next step. Once undone, place the chrome console out of the way.
Remove the sleeve
  • More screwsThere are another four screws that hold your speedo housing together, undo those and with a little prising you should be able to open the housing.
  • Removing the needlesYour speedo face should be exposed now and you need to remove both the speed and fuel indicator needles. Keith recommends a small set of computer tweezers that most of us should have lying about the place for the job. My speed indicator needle came off without too many dramas, but my fuel needle was a lot more stubborn and it actually pulled out the pin it attaches to as well (all went back with no problems later).
  • Sorry for the lack of pictures here on in
  • Now you just need to remove the two very small Phillips head screws that are holding the stock face in position. Be really sure to use a well fitting screwdriver because if you strip out the top of the heads, or if the screwdriver slips, you will ruin the look of the area (especially if you scratch your replacement Lexan later).
  • Take your new speedo face and put it carefully in position followed by the Lexan over the top. Take care that the image doesn’t move under the Lexan before you put the two small screws back in place, you don’t want to finish the job later only to find that everything is a bit off center.
  • Give the Lexan a gentle wipe over to remove any of your grubby fingerprints and be careful not to bend the needle guides that help the speedo calibrate itself later. Now you can put the indicator needles back in position. Try to put them in so they are resting up against the calibration guides if you can, then turn your bike on (without starting it) and watch the needles arc back and forth. If either needle does a little jump and “click” at the end of its final arc, turn your bike off and reposition them again. This is the fiddly part but it is worth spending the time getting it right.
    • Careful with your battery too when you are adjusting the needles. The amount of times I turned my bike on and off without actually starting it had me getting worried if I was draining the battery. As it so happened the first time I did start the bike it sounded a little weak, but after a good ride all subsequent restarts have been fine.
  • Once you are happy the needles are in the correct position put your speedo housing back together (after giving the inside of the housing viewing window a good clean). The most frustrating part now is where you need to pull the little rubber grommet through the area where you pulled out the metal sleeve earlier; you’ll see what I mean. I put my computer tweezers to good use getting it back through again, and although you could probably leave it as is (and I was tempted) I don’t know if your speedo would seal adequately to keep all moisture out if you did. When you have that grommet back in place put back the screws that holds the two halves together.
  • Now you can re-attach your speedo housing to your chrome tank console and re-attach the console back to the tank and you’re finished!

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OUT OF BUSINESS/OUT OF BUSINESS/OUT OF BUSINESS
Review remains posted for historical content

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Concluding Opinion

Make Your Own Custom FaceFor the price, the Alien Faces are one of the best looking additions you can make when customising your bike, and I think it is a great product despite the one or two shortcomings at night. Your basic kit gets you the clear Lexan face and your chosen image, that will see you $40US. For an extra $5US, Randy will also supply you with a CD that has the face of your choice plus the base template image so you can make and print out your own faces if you wish, like the one on the right (although you do need a graphics program that can read .psd files to do so). If you want a face that is completely original and something extra special you can talk to Randy from recentAbstract who charges around $20US an hour for his time, but I have to tell you that is money well spent too! Send Randy an email or go visit the Alien Faces Website for more information.