Early on a frosty morning I walked out of the house, all wrapped up for a brisk ride to work on one of the newest and most advanced motorcycles on the market. (Not named here because this could have happened with most new bikes of the type described.) I turned the key and the lights on the instrument panel flashed on, then went dead.
I read your article in the January issue suggesting some form of vintage machine road racing in conjunction with other race meets and I think it is a great idea. I have 20 or so bikes in my collection, including Guzzi Falcones, Goldies, Velos, Ducatis and a ‘7R’ on its way up from South Africa.
Any book by Geoff Clew is likely to come into the category of what the Poms call "a jolly good read" and this one on Francis Beart, the celebrated tuner, is no exception. Of 202 pp and mighty small print (several illies) the book is the kind that one curls up in front of the fire with when wife and kiddies are all off to the flicks.
Motorcycle insurance has become more like the weather than even the weather. Everybody talks about it, nobody has done anything about it, and when it's bad, we bikers get soaked. American Honda Motor Co. has plans to change that. The problem has been building for a long time.
The image of motorcyclists, particularly those of the chopper persuasion, has been well defined by countless movies, all of which have depicted motorcyclists as hulking mouth breathers with a bent toward raping and pillage. Last December a group (not a mob) of motorcyclists, mostly those of the chopper persuasion, gathered in Pasadena, California to donate thousands of toys to the Salvation Army to be used as Christmas gifts for underprivileged children.
Realizing at long last that their Italian factory was leading to more and more lost money, AMF-Harley-Davidson decided last summer to close the factory. Cagiva, a hardware factory from nearby Varese already involved in GP racing, bought the factory and is beginning production.
Shortly after the Phantom Duck of The Desert was enjoined from organizing his annual Barstow-To-Vegas trail ride and the ride took place in groups small enough to fit the rules, on roads and trails open to public use, as noted last month, New West, a monthly magazine published in California, had an article about off-road vehicles.
Craig Vetter, who began producing motorcycle fairings and founded Vetter Corp. in 1967, has sold his company. Rick Binet, a banker and financier from Rantoul, Illinois, where Vetter Corp. began, bought the company in late 1978. The company headquarters was moved from Rantoul to San Luis Obispo, California two years ago, Craig has built a design studio on a hill behind the new plant and will continue to design new products and work with the Vetter Corp.
This engaging device is Red Rooster II, Mr. Editor Girdler's Honda CB/RC350/400/450/750/163, a humble roadster rigged out as a GP bike years ago, lost and found by the ed. and mentioned in his column. The picture appears here because he tells us, the staff, that vast numbers of readers (three, by our count) have asked to see what the bike looks like.
Enormous Bulk and Steamroller Power Combined Into A New Kind of Motorcycle: the Luxury Superbike
Evaluated on specifications alone, Kawasaki's 1300cc, liquid cooled, shaft driven, 120 bhp, 700 lb. Six would have to be the most out-rageous motorcycle ever built. The specifications alone gave new meaning to the word overkill.
It's really nice to discover a new brand of dirt bike. Competition in the field has been extremely fierce the last couple of years, and some makes have all but disappeared. Only the factories that stay right on top of the market demand have survived.
The Competition Has Had Three Years to Catch Up, But the GS Is Still the Best 750
Suzuki put the motorcycle world on its ear with the introduction of the GS750 three years ago. After years of trying to sell the American public on two-strokes and innovative engineering, Suzuki went back to basics and built what people were buying—750 Fours.
Two Lightweight Four-Strokes That Would Be Good Bikes Even If They Weren’t Four-Strokes.
Don't-We-All-Wish Dept.: You are head of research and development for a large motorcycle manufacturer. You and your team have just finished a major project, a range of dual-purpose bikes into which you put every new idea in the house.
When (and If) Telescopic Forks Reach the End of Their, er, Travel, What Comes Next? The Solutions May Be Waiting For the Problem.
These days, a different front end can be defined as anything that departs substantially from the tried-and-true telescopic fork formula. Ultra-long travel numbers still raise eyebrows, but the process of producing ever-longer telescoping units has reached a point of tarnished newness, if not diminishing returns.
Kenny Roberts Is Cool, Analytical, Confident, Friendly, and a Mean Bastard ... A Real World Champion
Becoming the world champion was an episode in the life of Kenny Roberts. It was no ambition of his to joust with the Europeans, to gird himself about and vanquish their champion on their turf. He isn't a romantic man. He went because Harleys bite better on dirt than the best-prepared Yamahas and he was wasting his time chasing round behind them.
Although we pride ourselves on doing thorough, honest and informative tests, nothing short of living with a machine for several months can reflect things like operating costs, maintenance, and most of all, reliability. Every year we keep some test machines for extended, or long-range testing.
Touring means something different to everyone who does it. In this 27-page special Touring section Peter Egan describes what touring is to him; we have evaluations of touring equipment from Vetter, Craven and Silhouette; some of our favorite chemicals, for all kinds of riding, are revealed; solutions to the hard seat problem are presented; and there's a how-to guide to motorcycle camping.
A Sense of Adventure, a Honda 400 and a Search for Cheap Chicory Coffee
I stared at the top of the coffee can in disbelief. "Five sixty-nine for a pound of Louisiana French Roast Coffee? That's ridiculous!" I exclaimed to my wife, who agreed. "Three months ago it was two ninety-five." I couldn't believe it. My favorite blend of chicory coffee—which everyone tells me tastes like kerosene—had nearly doubled in price.
Motorcycles and camping have enough in common, i.e., low cost, to make the combination just about unbeatable. If a motorcyclist could put aside a dollar a day, he could save up enough money in a year to pay for a three week, 7000 mi. trip across country and back.
Ken Craven is the very model of a modern British entrepreneur: witty, sophisticated, straightforward, and every inch a gentleman. Being an inventive fellow, he developed fiberglass saddlebags, or panniers, about a quarter of a century ago when he wanted a sturdy means of carrying luggage on his motorcycles.
Most fairings available today fall into one of two categories: barn doors or belly button protectors. One rather intriguing variation of the basic barn door-style fairing is the Silhouette. It’s intriguing because from some angles it doesn’t appear to be a barn door-type fairing because it doesn’t appear.
Assorted Cushions to Keep Derrieres From Facing the Harsh Realities of Travel
What makes a comfortable motorcycle seat? Everyone has an answer. Either it takes softer foam or firmer foam or springs or air cushions or water cushions or cloth covers or sheepskin covers or a stepped seat or a backrest or armrests or a narrower seat or a wider seat or a longer seat or a shorter seat.
Soon after we were exposed to Kawasaki's behemoth KZ1300, it became clear that this megalocycle was no hot rod. It was a luxury touring sportster, more a Ferrari Daytona than a Ford Cobra. It had power but it had a lot more, like smoothness, easy shifting, and, we thought, good load carrying capacity.
A Collection of Chemicals Our Motorcycles Know and Love
Available from several companies, we have both PJ1 and Bel-Ray Contact Cleaner in the shop and use both with satisfaction. This stuff is designed to clean off contact points or spark plugs but works great cleaning off oil and grease from any part of a motorcycle. Even works on camera gear, we've found out. It comes in a 16-oz. aerosol can and costs about $3.25.
Comes in a little tube, as a paste, and it looks as if you're paying a lot for not much. Not so. Dab some of this onto a rag and smear it on chrome or polished metal of any kind. It'll remove rust and tar and bugs and film and will leave a coating to keep the crud from collecting there again. Because you don't use much, you don't end up with dried residue in the corners. Especially good on polished aluminum fuel tanks. Most parts stores, $1.85 for 1.8 oz.
ACP TIRE SEALANT AND BALANCER
This stuff took some convincing. There have been sealers and balancers on the market for years and we tried them and didn't like them. Gummed up the tubes or dried out. The men making ACP sealer, though, offered to replace any ruined tubes, so we tried the sealer. It works. Stays fluid so it flows into light spots and balances the tires, and flows into small holes and seals them. We've ridden home after pulling out nails, and we once replaced a worn-out tire with six nails in it. The tube had lost so little pressure that we didn't know the nails were there. ACP sealer in the tires is the first thing done to a longterm CW bike, street or dirt. From most dealerships and parts houses, in 6 and 12-oz. tubes, $2.95 and $3.95.
How'd we get along without this? We didn't. Loctite is a magic chemical that stays liquid when exposed to air. Take away the air and it solidifies. This quality makes it sort of a liquid lock washer. One drop on the threads of the bolt and the nut and when the nut is tightened, the Loctite holds it in place. There are two grades. The blue is semi-permanent. When you want to remove the nut, a wrench will do it. The red is permanent, well, almost, and the red is what you use to fix a loose bearing in a case or on any fastening job that won't need to be undone in normal service. Best fasteners made, which is why before we had Loctite, we didn't get along. We stopped to tighten or replace loose nuts. About $2.95, at most parts stores.
MEGUIAR'S PLEXIGLASS POLISH AND CLEANER
A favorite of the staff pinch-penny. The average rider cleans face shields with window cleaner or worse and the average shield stays clear for a month or so. Our man uses Meguiar's. Apply sparingly and rub it all over and then use a dry rag to wipe it off. Amazing. Gets rid of dirt and the tiny scratches put on the shield when other cleaners are used to get rid of dirt. It'll also keep fairing windshields clear for years, literally. The bottle looks small but because you don't need more than a few drops for most jobs, the bottle goes a long way. Motorcycle, car or aircraft (they first developed this for airplanes) parts counters, $2.75.
Good cure for neglect. Naval Jelly comes in a jelly form, one type for steel or ferrous metals, the other for aluminum. What it does is eat the corrosion and rust on the surface of the metal. Brush it on, leave it for a few minutes and wash off with water. Handy to have if your alloy rims get corroded or your chain rusts after a muddy enduro. Be sure to wash it off quickly, though, because if it sits too long, it eats the metal as well as the rust. Parts and hardware stores, $1.98 for 8 oz., either type.
BLUE DIAMOND CHAIN LUBE
One man's vote. Every rider has his own ideas on how to care for drive chains. One of our men likes to lube every chance he gets. He rides in the dirt and at the end of every ride the chain is coated with dust. Spray that and you get a slurry that looks too much like valve grinding compound for comfort. And the experts say washing a chain merely flushes all the grit inside the rollers. The Blue Diamond lube came in the mail. Our man tried it and was pleased to see that because this spray has a grease base, rather than oil, it dries into a lubricating coating that doesn't retain dirt and dust. The chain is dry and slippery at the end of the day. The rest of us use PJ1 or Lubri-Plate or Bel-Ray or whatever can comes quickest to hand, or they own shaft drive bikes, but because one staffer is sold on the Blue Diamond (actually it's more green than blue) lube, it's included here. $3.98 for a 13-oz. can.
A thin yellow colored gasket glue that we use for holding gaskets in place, use by itself for sealing the center cases on Japanese two-strokes and for gluing handlebar grips on. $1.98 for a 4-oz. can.
MOLYLUBE 6-IN-1 OIL
Made by Bel-Ray, it is a non-sticky lubricant that has a thousand uses; lube a chain, free a bearing, lubes almost anything without attracting dirt. We go through cases of this stuff during the year, not as a lubricant but as a protective film on dirt bikes. After washing, spray a thin layer of 6-in-1 under the fenders, on ignition wires, wheels and hubs, exhaust pipe and the whole engine. It makes flat black surfaces look like new again and won't attract dirt if allowed to sit overnight before use. Especially good if sprayed on before using the machine in mud, as it keeps mud from sticking to engine parts and under fenders. $2.95 for a 16-oz. spray can.
LUBRI-TECH TIRE LUBE
Two functions in one. This sprayed lubricant is intended for tire removal and dismounting. Works fine. Better than soapy water and less mess. Slick when wet, the Lubri-Tech becomes a tacky glue when it dries. For light enduro use, it's as good as sheet metal screws in the tire bead, or as good as rimlocks. The tire won't rotate on the rim even when pressures are down to 10 psi. Just as good at persuading a handlebar grip to slide onto the bar, and then to stay there. Motorcycle shops only, far as we've seen, $3 for 12 oz.
This is the sort of mixture we imagine comes from the space age. Silicone Seal is a miracle rubber-like compound. It's a paste, in a tube, and you squeeze some into and around all the various cracks and holes where water could get into the engine. The seal dries into a flexible solid and keeps the water out. There's a different compound with high temperature resistant ingredients, sold as gasket material. Same procedure, in that you squeeze a thin bead onto the metal surfaces where a gasket would otherwise go. Then you join the pieces. The silicone paste gets squashed down into the microscopic scratches and low spots, forming a better-than-gasket seal. The excess is pushed out, so you can peel it off the outside. And when you need to take off the side cases or whatever, the sealer has dried into gummy material. The parts come apart without prying and the gum peels off the metal. No solvent, no hours of scraping with an old razor blade. From $2.75 up, depending on size of tube, parts stores.
Originally made to seal tire sidewalls against cracking, Armor-All is a mixture that soaks into porous material, like rubber or vinyl. Keeps out air and water and thus gives longer life and a nice shine, brings back color and softens the material so it's not as likely to crack. We use it on tires but most often on seats. One of the guys has a two-year-old cover on his dirt bike's seat, Armor-Alled after every ride, and it looks like new. Do remember, though, that unless you spray it on, leave it for a few hours and then buff with a rag, the seat will be slippery.
BEL-RAY SHOCK FLUID
Right, shock fluid, except that we use it in the forks. It's the same general composition as fork fluid and even comes in viscosity grades, #5, #10 and #20, just like fork oil. But this is the oil used for rebuilding shocks. The difference is first, it's treated to have much less viscosity variation due to heat. Forks with Bel-Ray shock fluid aren't stiff on freezing mornings. And the forks don't fade after a few hours racing across the burning desert. Because it's treated to extra steps in the lab, or has added chemicals, the shock oil costs much more than fork oil, $1.65 for an 8-oz. bottle. And it'll take several to fill a pair of forks. Because shock rebuilding isn't something the average guy does at home, you may have to scout the stores to find this oil. Worth it, though.
One unsung advantage to working for a magazine like this is that because we maintain a dozen or so bikes at any one time, and thus need office (so to speak) supplies, we have charge accounts at every motorcycle store in the neighborhood. On the staff's part, we have the enthusiasm and curiosity natural to any bike nut, that is, we enjoy doing the chores and we're always on the scout for ways to do them better.
As a practical matter, motorcycle covers have a lot in their favor. Even those of us with garage space for the bike have occasional need of protection from the weather, while on tour or parked during the day in the rain, or in climates that don't let you ride all year, which forces the bike into a corner of the garage.
On why he went to Europe last year, and what it took for him to go this year: "There was some confusion last year on why I was going and who was doing what. I went last year because they said I couldn't do it. The Japanese at Yamaha knew I was good, although they wouldn't commit to a full racing program.
A spokesman for American Honda Motor Co., Inc. has denied rumors that the giant Japanese motorcycle manufacturer will not compete in 1979 Coup d'Endurance events in Europe. The Honda RCBs have dominated the series of endurance races for three years.
My 1978 SR500, when subjected to sustained high rpm, will blow large quantities of oil out the crankcase breather tube. Flow as large as a pint in five mi. has been observed. A catch can is used instead of the airbox and no valving is used in the tubing.
How about an exhaust with a pipe and muffler for each cylinder for that Honda Six? Denco claims the system is lighter than stock and ground clearance is improved. Stock hardware is used to bolt the pipes to the engine and full access to the oil drain and filter is maintained.