Fantastic! “Memories of the Mile” (Race Watch, January) completely took me by surprise and blew my ridin’ boots off. I knew Speed Channel’s Dave Despain had a motorcycle background, but I never realized how extensive it was. His writing style is so smooth and easy to read, I could almost smell the castor oil and race gas.
I sure hope we can look forward to more articles by him; the guy is good. It’s because of stories like this that I’ve been a CW fan for so many years.
Paul Garstka Sherwood, Oregon
What a great read! My home state is Michigan and I grew up on flat-track racing in the ’60s and ’70s, so the part about the “Michigan Mafia” brought back some great memories. Dave Despain did such a great job it makes me want to plan a vacation around a race weekend. Dave May
Corpus Christi, Texas
Great story on the Indy Mile. I can remember being at the race when Kenny Roberts rode that TZ750. It was the first time I had ever been hit by a clump of dirt that came over (or through) the catch fence. What a race!
Joe Zuppardo Lima, Ohio
Good to see CW staying loyal to flattrack racing and educating younger riders about that golden era. To this day, I am haunted by a quote I heard at the San Jose Mile decades ago. Famed announcer Bill Spencer held up the microphone to one rider and asked how he thought he was going
to do in the main. The lad replied loudly into the mic, “Well, I’m either going to win, break or blow a hole in the fence!” The San Jose crowd went crazy!
Am I correct? Was it Ricky Graham who said that? Brian Halton
Editor, City Bike San Francisco, California
Sadly, both “Big Bill ” Spencer and Ricky Graham are no longer with us, but Graham pretty much lived his life by that motto, yes.
Despain’s “Memories of the Mile” brought back a lot of memories for me, too. During my tenure as sport editor at Cycle Guide magazine back in the ’80s, I covered quite a few mile races, but the most memorable was certainly the ’84 Springfield Mile that Dave mentioned. One of the best race quotes I ever got came from that era, too.
Recalling Ricky Graham’s record-
setting 100-mph lap at Springfield, tuner Sparky Edmonston said, “He rode it the whole way with his feet on the pegs. It was the most beautiful thing I ever saw.”
The following year, with Graham sidelined by a broken leg, Honda flat-track manager Gene Romero allowed me track time during a test session at San Jose for a story on Graham’s RS750. Sparky was “my” tuner that day, and he gave me another colorful quote when I finished my ride.
“You did okay,” he told me. “You walked away with your health.”
My success as an amateur roadracer opened a lot of doors for me in this industry, but if I had it to do over again, I’ll admit that strapping on a steel shoe for real would have been tempting. Flat-track racers are my heroes; the heroes who master the mile are like gods. Dain Gingerelli Editor, Ironworks Mission Viejo, California
ILLUSTRATION BY HECTOR CADEMARTORI
New for 2009
Based partly on Blake Conner’s review last August, partly on its sheer good looks and mostly on my desire for a more street-friendly ride than my Ducati, I just took delivery of a new Harley-Davidson XR1200 streettracker, my first Harley. Yes, fellow sportbikers-for-life, it is heavy and it is crude. But it is also gorgeous and a total blast to ride. The handling is good, the brakes are fine and when you roll on the gas out of a bend, the torque hurling you forward will feel wonderfully familiar, in a Bologna sort of way.
I almost bought a Sportster way back in 1968, but I was in the throes of my
English-bike period and wrestling in the dark with the progeny of Joseph Lucas. Forty years later, I am glad I waited. Thanks, CW, for getting the word out on this beautiful beast of a bike. Ted Costantino
I can see the Suzuki ad copy now: “Set your gluteus on our Gladius.”
Doak Smaller Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Great coverage of the new BMWs.
Your delight, however, in the changing of BMW’s superb turnsignal controls to archaic UJM-style controls bothers
me. For years, magazines staffed with Japanese bike fans have complained about the BMW switches. How about asking BMW owners? I have owned many BMWs, sometimes at the same time as Japanese bikes, and I am here to tell you that the BMW switches are far better. I only hope that this change to UJM switchware is limited to the S1000RR sportbike. Craig Littlefield
BMW must have confusingly named the 800cc F650GS so the press would talk about something other than how truly ugly it is. Wilson Walthall
So Ducati finally comes out with a hooligan machine to compete with the Tuono, Speed Triple, etc., and it leaves off its signature element, the underseat exhaust! What the heck, Ducati? The back end of your 1098 Streetfighter looks like an MV Brutale. Will there be an accessory kit, or will we have to rely on the aftermarket to make it look like a true Ducati? RUSS Hoppner
Elk Grove, California
I’m a big fan of Honda innovation and a long-time owner of a 1995 Honda Pacific Coast, to which the new DN-
01 will be compared. Like the Pacific Coast, the DN-01 is intended to attract customers new to motorcycling, and it may do that. My guess? Like the Pacific Coast, the majority of its potential customers will be those who already ride, and the DN-01 doesn’t offer much to this group besides a fancy transmission. Meanwhile, Honda continues to refuse to bring great bikes like its Trans Alp, Varadero and Deauville to the U.S. Joel A. Kopp
Posted on www.cycleworld.com
So Honda decides to offer something new in the U.S. to spark sales and interest, and the best it can come up with is the DN-01, a $14,599 beginner bike? Adam Peirce
Posted on www.cycleworld.com
My take on the DN-01 : An $8000 motorcycle with a $6000 transmission. Joe Kuhn
Posted on www.cycleworld.com
Way to go Honda! It’s about time someone built a cool ride for the elderly. John Cleveland
What the Forums at cycIeworId~ corn are saying about the 2009 Honda DN-01 I predict the Honda DN-O1 will eventually grow on everyone-the shock is still new and lots of us don't take well to change. Looks comfortable, too. The price is going to be a problem, though. iztommy Sure, they'll sell a few, but I don't see it really taking off. We "bikers" seem to like to categorize our bikes, and this one doesn't fit anywhere. Gojira The DN-O1 will have a niche, and I truly hope it does spur some interest from people who may not have been interested in rid ing before. It is one of those machines that looks best in motion. I like it because it is different and looks cool in its own right. It is not a clone of anything, that is for sure. UJ~vt Loaded it s almost at Gold Wing money and higher than any comparable "automatic" bikes. The Yamaha FJR1 300AE is only $1 K more and you can ride an Aprilia Mana out the door, TTL paid, for under $1 OK. Wake up, Honda! silverwirig