Mini-Review - Tankslapper Tank Protector
Rob Ortiz - May 29, 2005
After I installed my Cycle Cat clip-ons, I realized the new riding position was likely to result in zipper scratches on the tank. I have always thought the bold, yellow tank on my 2001 M900Sie was one of its most defining features. My approach to customizing the bike has been to emphasize the original bold design, not to add to it. Less is more in my mind. So, when I began searching for a way to protect it, I was reluctant to install one of the large carbon fiber protectors I saw on many Monsters. To me, it took away from design of the tank. This is what attracted me to the Tankslapper. Their web page showed a shiny bike with a Tankslapper supposedly installed. I say "supposedly" because it is invisible in the picture. So, tank protection and invisibility? And, only $15.95. Where do I send the money?
The Tankslapper is a set of three pieces of a clear, thin, flexible, plastic, material that adheres to your tank after wetting the tank and the plastic, and then squeezing out the water between the two surfaces with a squeegee. The three pieces are custom cut to fit the shape of various models of bikes. One piece goes on each side where your knees would make contact with the tank. The third piece goes on top of the tank, beginning where seat meets the tank, and covers most of the area between the front of the seat and just below the fuel filler.
In terms of review, let's do it chronologically.
Ordering: I found the web site to be a little confusing. The company actually sells two products, the Tankslapper, which seems to be their own development, and more expensive (more protective?) 3M product that is similar. In addition to tank protection, they also provide similar protection for headlights. I wasn't clear on exactly what I was ordering. But I figured I would take a chance for the price. Once I decided, the ordering process was flawless. And I received exactly what I was expecting.
Delivery: The delivery showed up right on time. Perfect fulfillment. However, the protector is shipped in an envelope stuck to a paper backing. When I received it, the envelope had been slightly mangled. As a result, the Tankslapper was pretty wrinkled too. I was a little concerned. So, I sent the company an e-mail to express my concern before installing it.
Customer service: I sent the e-mail on a Saturday morning. I received a response by late Saturday afternoon! Excellent service. The representative told me I should not be concerned. He said the folds and wrinkles were normal, and were only the paper backing. When I removed the Tankslapper, there would be no wrinkles in the product itself. He was correct. When I did finally remove it from the backing and install it, there were no wrinkles.
Installation: The cut of the product was perfect. It was well designed to fit the Monster's tank. Installing it was a little tricky, but not over difficult. You wet the tank and the Tankslapper pieces, slide them into place (one at a time) then use a squeegee to flatten them out and force the water out from between the Tankslapper and the tank. I used a soft, flexible Waterblade type squeegee which I normally use to remove the water from my car after washing it. It worked great because it conformed to the curves of the tank. The company has downloadable instructions which were very helpful. It probably took about 45 minutes. And, in the end, I also had to use my wife's blow dryer to heat the product to make it conform to the tank. This is recommended in the instructions, but I did not try it at first. Now that I have done one, I could probably do another in 15 minutes. But, it does take patience and you have to rub it over and over again to get all the air bubbles out of it. You definitely don't just slap it on.
Invisibility: If you are expecting it to be invisible, I think you will be disappointed. The side pieces were very difficult to see. They conform to the shape of the tank perfectly. But the top piece was very visible from all angles. It may just be me being overly critical, but I saw it, and it annoyed me. My eye was constantly drawn to it.
Performance: After having it installed for about 3 weeks, I washed the bike. Cold weather has really limited riding during this period, so it had not gotten very dirty. As I spayed the tank with my hose to wet it before washing it, the water caught the edge of the top piece and peeled it half off the tank. I now had to do the install all over again! Now that I know this, I will beware when washing the bike. But, I found this to be very frustrating. Perhaps some mention of this in the product's documentation may help future buyers.
Even more frustrating was what happened a week later when rolling the bike out of the garage. As I maneuvered the bike out between my cars while sitting on it and pushing it backwards, the tab on my jacket zipper went right through the protector and dug a little hole in the paint on the tank. I was furious. This is exactly what I was trying to protect against. So, I now have a little black hole in my paint.
Conclusion: You get what you pay for. Ordering, fulfillment, and service were excellent. The fit was perfect. But, in the end, the protection this product offered was limited at best. It will likely protect against minor scratches, but my tank is now permanently damaged because it simply does not provide robust protection. And, the claim of invisibility is overblown. If your expectation is to not see it, you will be disappointed. I am in the process of ordering a CF protector. It will hopefully provide a little more protection. And, it will hide the new imperfection I now have where my zipper went penetrated the Tankslapper.
Editor's note: The tankslapper is available in the DML Store, and now ships in a box (to prevent wrinkling described above.)