Sparks But Does It Bark?
iCAT Spark Booster (for want of a better name) is
a relatively small (about the same size, shape, and
value as a fat hot-dog) and mysterious electronic
device inserted between the stock ignition coil and
the spark plug. It is said by iCAT to be more than
just a simple capacitor device that shortens and/or
increases the spark. Without providing any other input
to the wire, mind you, they claim that the iCAT somehow
electronically alters the spark pulse from the coil,
changing its shape, speed, and strength, the results
of which produce a longer and more powerful spark.
This effectively means that if all the fuel mixture
is burned inside the combustion chamber, we’ll
get more power and fewer (perhaps none) unburned gases
in our exhaust. That’s right, they claim as
much as 100% reduction in noxious exhaust gases, despite
the fact that burning any gasoline always produces
iCAT USA http://www.icatusa.com
Weight Increase:: 3.15oz.
Included: iCAT device only
go on to say that the iCAT is a totally new and revolutionary
approach to spark technology, unlike anything that
has come before. It’s said to be compatible
with all ignitions and spark plug engines, both two-stroke
and four-stroke, in all engine sizes.
iCAT device was born in England, originally designed
to reduce the exhaust emissions for a particular application
(indoor forklifts). It was later discovered, they
claim, to improve performance as well, so it’s
now patented worldwide by Motiv International. Easily
installed on many different engine applications using
spark ignition, the iCAT promises include:
1. Improve throttle response
2. Increased torque under load
3. Provides a cleaner, more efficient fuel burn
4. Increased fuel mileage
5. Reduces harmful exhaust emissions
Frankly, this device and all its promises struck me
as just another worthless product designed to separate
us from 200 of our hard earned dollars, while offering
nothing of value in return. After all, how likely
is it that a company we’ve never even heard
of could come up with something truly revolutionary
and useful, that hugely successful engine manufacturers
worldwide have somehow overlooked? Possible? Of course.
Probable? Hardly. And with all the ongoing research
today seeking better gas mileage and lower exhaust
emissions, why have we not heard about this revolutionary
new discovery on the six-o’clock news? Why hasn’t
Ford or GM bought the design for their cars? Claims
of power increases coupled with cleaner exhaust emissions
have been promoted and advertised for years, but have
come to the market slowly, and usually only at great
expense. A good example of this is variable cam timing,
which effectively offers ever-changing, computer controlled
valve actuation, to provide increased efficiency at
cruising speeds, more torque at low RPM, and more
horsepower at high RPM, high-throttle situations.
It’s effectively like having numerous different
cam profiles in your engine, any one of which can
be called upon instantly. Variable cam timing works
through known and proven technology, but it doesn’t
come cheaply. Nor was it offered to gullible young
motorcycle riders before it came to high-technology
detectable loss of performance.
like intake manifold vortex inducers, magnetic fuel
line enhancers, free-flowing mini-superchargers, and
many similar products are aimed at the blind sheep
among us. Most such products do nothing more than
lighten our wallets, while depending on our human
tendency to believe such claims, and then convince
ourselves that they really work after we’ve
made the investment. It’s a psychological fact
that we hate to admit it when we waste money! Ever
notice how many people go to Las Vegas and then come
home swearing that they won? People buy this junk,
install it, and then swear up and down it works, without
ever really putting it to a valid test. It’s
either that or admit that they’re been duped.
And for better or worse, this is the category for
which I expected the iCAT device to qualify.
at Ken’s request, I accepted the task of testing
two iCAT Spark Boosters, one on a CRF250X , the other
on a CRF230F.
on the CRF230F was very simple. Remove the seat and
gas tank to gain access to the ignition coil area.
Then pull the spark plug cap off the spark plug, and
unscrew the spark plug cap (mine is yellow, but some
may be black) from the spark plug wire. Then, using
the supplied rubber boots to seal the new connection,
Screw the iCAT’s screw-end into the spark plug
wire, and then screw the Honda spark plug cap onto
the other end of the iCAT. Push the spark plug cap
back onto the spark plug, and secure the iCAT to the
frame tube under the fuel tank. Now reinstall the
gas tank and seat., and you’re done.
on the CRF250X is a bit more involved. First you’ll
need to acquire a screw-on spark plug tip from another
spark plug. (The iCAT cost $200, yet they can’t
provide a 2¢ part needed to install the product.)
Then remove the seat and gas tank to gain access to
the spark plug. Clean the area thoroughly before removing
the spark plug cap with its built-in coil. You don’t
want any dirt falling down into the spark plug pit.
Then pull the spark plug cap upward and out of the
spark plug pit. Clean it and then slide off the big
round collar that seals the top of the spark plug
do your best to clean out any dirt that’s down
in the spark plug pit. If you have compressed air
handy, now’s the time to use it. You don’t
want dirt falling into the engine when the spark plug
remove the spark plug, install the screw-on spark
plug tip, and replace the spark plug. Install the
round collar on the iCAT device so that it will seal
the top of the spark plug pit when installed on the
spark plug. Then press the iCAT down into the spark
plug pit, and make sure it snaps onto the spark plug.
Push the other end of the iCAT wire into the end of
the Honda cap/coil. A little spray detergent like
Windex or 409 will help the rubber collars and sleeves
slide into place.
Now you have to secure the Honda coil somewhere down
low so that it won’t interfere with the gas
tank, which pretty much occupies all the area above
the spark plug. I used three nylon wire-ties to secure
mine to the radiator hoses in front of the cylinder.
Once everything is secure and tight, replace the gas
tank and seat.
spent several hours surfing the web looking for other
reviews and opinions of the iCAT. At advertising-hungry
commercial websites and motorcycle magazine websites,
I found several favorable reviews of the iCAT. One
even claimed that the iCAT gave performance improvements
similar to installing a big bore kit, except it worked
even better and cost less. One website said “you
won’t believe how many pro riders are using
it!” Hmm. Don’t pro riders use whatever
they’re paid to use? Where are some testimonials
from regular riders?
I did find one testimonial from an unknown individual,
who said he bought it used off E-Bay. (Now there’s
a great testimonial in itself!) He liked it, saying
that it made the bike feel stronger at all RPM. But
he didn’t say he’d actually tested it
in any way. His opinion was followed by another individual
who said he had tried one and seen no improvement
whatsoever. I didn’t find any more private praise
for the iCAT, but I found a few more riders trying
to sell them.
also visited iCAT USA’s website and found nothing
regarding a return policy. Does it come with a money-back
satisfaction guarantee? If not, why not? If it works
as great as they say, why would they be concerned
about people wanting to return it? Rekluse offers
a money-back satisfaction guarantee on their auto-clutch,
as does Flatland Racing and some others for their
products. Don’t you ever wonder why some companies
have that much confidence in their products, while
other companies don’t?
hauled both bikes out to an inactive airport. While
Mike unloaded the bikes, I marked the start and end
points for a 1/10 mile straightaway on the pavement.
Then we started the bikes and rode them around the
old airport grounds for about fifteen minutes to fully
warm the engines. Okay, maybe we had a little fun
too, but that’s beside the point. Then we stopped
each engine, re-started it, let it idle for a moment
or two, and noted that all seemed perfectly fine.
We logged mental impressions of the starting ritual,
idle, and throttle response characteristics. Then
I made four series of five full-throttle passes through
the measured 1/10 mile, with Mike manning the stopwatch.
Each pass was followed by a slow return to the starting
line to allow the engine to return to normal temperature.
The quickest and slowest times of each five-pass series
were discarded, and the three remaining times were
the iCAT device installed, the 247cc CRF230F averaged
With the iCAT device installed, the Rekluse-clutch
equipped CRF250X averaged 9 seconds.
Then the iCAT devices were removed from both bikes,
and the test runs repeated.
the iCAT device, the 247cc CRF230F averaged 11 seconds.
Without the iCAT device, the Rekluse-clutch equipped
CRF250X averaged 9 seconds.
enough, Mike and I both agreed that the CRF230F seemed
to idle better with the iCAT installed. I don’t
know why, but I do know that this bike needs re-jetting
since the big bore kit was installed, so that may
have something to do with it.
for grins, I even tried one iCAT on my home lawnmower.
It was just as hard to start, it still smoked badly,
and it didn’t win any races!
also polled the local dirt bike club email group,
asking if anyone else had tried an iCAT Spark Booster.
The typical response was, “What’s an iCAT?”,
but there were others. “If
you try one and like it, I have two gallons of horsepower
I’ll sell you.”
“You need more than an iCAT, Banks, you need
read about it, Banks, but I’m not that stupid.
You, on the other hand...”
detectable improvement in performance.
that’s just how I feel after spending two full
days cleaning the bikes, installing the devices, taking
the photos, editing the photos, testing the devices,
and then writing, editing, and re-writing this review.
If it helps any of you avoid wasting your money, then
fine. I’m glad. Otherwise, it was just a waste
of good riding time. And yes... that’s stupid!
I then took the #02015 unit apart.
Inside the plastic and rubber wrappings I found a
hard plastic tube with another label on it reading:
“GBsixT Electron Catalyst”, a serial number,
and the words “Patent Pending”. At this
point I turned to the internet again and looked up
“GBsixT”. The one and only entry I found
was the following, from an English club for the Pan
European Honda ST1100 touring motorcycle: “GBsixT
Electron Catalyst is the first fundamental change
to the spark ignition in the last 90 years and is
now available for the Pan-European. Tests prove that
with GBsixT units fitted to a Honda Pan-European,
fuel figures of up to 350 miles per tank can be achieved.
The Pan-European requires two units, one for each
coil, at £150 each. Available from (a local
dealer’s name) with excellent discounts to Pan-Clan
members. Full technical article in the January 2001
tells me that the iCAT device, originally called the
“GbsixT Electron Catalyst” has been around
at least since early 2001. Now maybe it’s just
me, but wouldn’t a product that was known to
improve engine performance and reduce exhaust emissions
at the same time, have made a bigger impact on the
automotive world by now? Nevertheless, I called an
automotive engineer at the University of Alabama and
asked if I could bring in the device to be analyzed.
When I explained the whole deal for him, and described
the “GbsixT Electron Catalyst”, he declined.
“Don’t bother. We’ve seen those
things before. They’re just big, useless capacitors.”
Then I had to endure a five-minute lecture which I’m
sure should be entitled, “How can you be so
What was I thinking?
Only Review By Gordon Banks, June 2005
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