“When are you going to grow up and get a real job?” My highly successful and learned uncle had asked me that question before, but this time was different. The last time he had made that inquiry, some 18 years ago, I was a $1.75-an-hour Honda mechanic and probably deserved to have my maturity and choice of occupations challenged.
This letter concerns your test of Harley-Davidson's FXRDG, their demonstration ride program, and my impressions after riding an FXRS and a Softail. Over the last 20 years I've owned and ridden an unbroken string of Hondas, but I really began to wonder what it would be like to ride a big Harley Hog.
First things first: This evaluation of Bell's Moto-4 helmet is, er, not an evaluation. Not in the usual sense of the word, at least. See, we can tell you all about fit and finish and features, but when it comes to a helmet's primary reason for being—which is to protect the wearer’s head in the event of a fall—we can’t offer much of an evaluation.
If late summer brings out thoughts of next year's motorcycles, early fall starts us thinking further down the road. And so, using a combination of rumors, inside information and educated guesses, we sketched out in last month's Roundup what we thought the 1985 motorcycles would be all about.
This small, handlebar-mounted sport fairing has universal mounts to fit any bike. Its tinted, space-age design adds a different look to any bike for $66.95. For more information contact: Silhouette, P.O. Box 1672, Martins-ville, IN 46151. Phone (317) 342-2300.
Tuned exhaust for GPZ550
The Champion Moriwaki USA exhaust system has gradually bending header pipes, a merge-type collector and an aluminum silencer. Champion claims more power, reduced weight and improved ground clearance. Price is $299 from dealers or Champion Moriwaki USA, 1980 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92627. Phone (714) 642-2040.
Custom Dressers has an extra-wide, wraparound replacement windshield for Hondaline and Vetter fairings. The claimed benefits are reduced air turbulence for rider and passenger. The shield is made of 3/16-inch acrylic in clear or smoke, and it sells for $145.37. It's available from local dealers, or contact Custom Dressers, 2702 South High Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73129. Phone (405) 672-7564.
Hitch Co. has custom-fit hitches for all models of motorcycles. They are designed to be an extension of the motorcycle frame and come with a 17/8-inch ball in chrome or black. Chromed models go for $89.95, gloss black costs $59.95. To order or get more information contact Hitch Co. USA, 12151 Saticoy St., North Hollywood, CA 91605. Phone (818) 897-7956.
Silkolene lubricants, made by one of Europe's largest and oldest specialty lubricant companies, are now available in the USA. Answer Product is the exclusive importer of seven Silkolene lubricants: Pro-2 Racing Synthetic Two-Cycle Oil with octane booster; Comp-2 Two-Cycle Oil; Castorene R30 and R40 Racing Oil; Pro Suspension Fluid; Racing Gear Oil; Rac-ing Chain Lube; and Foam Filter Oil. These lubricants are available at dealers who carry Answer Products, or you can get more information from Answer Products, 27967 Beale Ct., Valencia, CA 91355. Phone (805) 257-4411.
Maxon Mega II helmet
The Mega II features added styrofoam in the chin guard and a .090-inch faceshield with spring-loaded positioning device. The Mega II is available in black, white or red, and in sizes Small, Medium, Large or Extra Large for $79.95. Contact Land Tool Co., 650 Gilbert, Wichita, KS 67211.
Set against the jet black of the newly paved parking lot, the Virago 1000 stood out like a silver-and-gold-sequined sore thumb. A bystander—spectator might be a better description—moved thoughtfully around the bike, letting his eyes wander from one sparkly detail to another.
CYCLE WORLD'S NINTH ANNUAL TEN BEST MOTORCYCLES OF THE YEAR CELEBRATION
UNDER 600cc STREET KAWASAKI GPz550
600-TO-800cc STREET HONDA NIGHTHAWK S
SUPERBIKE KAWASAKI NINJA
CRUISER HARLEY-DAVIDSONFXRDG DISC GLIDE
TOURING HONDA ASPENCADE
DUAL-PURPOSE HONDA XL350R
ENDURO KTM250 MXC
125cc MOTOCROSS KAWASAKI KX125
250cc MOTOCROSS HONDA CR250R
OPEN-CLASS MOTOCROSS HONDA CR500R
Confused? That’s understandable, seeing as how just two months ago, Cycle World declared Honda’s 500 Interceptor as “the middleweight bike to have when it comes time to blast down a winding country two-lane.” But fate hasn’t smiled on the VF500F since then, for the early models have developed a tendency to break their crankshafts and spin their rod bearings—not the kind of credentials likely to get any bike voted Best In Class. That honor therefore falls to the what would have been the first runner-up, Kawasaki’s GPz550. The GPz is practically unbeatable in box-stock racing, even against the likes of VF500s and FJ600s, and yet it’s more comfortable than either of those bikes around town. By any standards, the GPz is light, fast and impeccably mannered. And it’s something else, as well: It’s proven.
In the future, 1984 will be remembered as the year in which government wrapped its cold, unsympathetic hand around the motorcycle industry and squeezed so hard that the sport was reshaped for years to come. This is the year that a stiff tariff on imported motorcycles larger than 700cc caused the 750cc streetbike to all but disappear. Honda not only survived that change, but brought us the Nighthawk S, a monument to the industry's ability to find a bright spot even under the darkest bureaucratic cloud. The Nighthawk S breaks a lot of rules: It's a 700 that can run with or ahead of the remaining 750s; it's a shafty that handles like a chain drive sportbike; it's an air-cooled inline Four that gives up nothing to the liquid cooled V-Fours. And it's clearly the surprise streetbike of 1984.
There's no roor for compromise when it comes to Superbike performance. Especially now, ith an armada of Superbikes deceding on motorcycling with all the subt y of a World War III.One motorcycl though, has come streaking throug with more clarity of purpose than any ther Superbike ever to wear a made-in pan label: the Kawasaki Ninja. This n’t your usual Japanese sportbike t has been compromised by the d to appeal to the masses; this is a ard-core performance motorcycle aime directly at the hardcore performanc rider. There are oth '84-model Superbikes that have a er scope, that are smoother or mor comfortable or faster in a straight line. But the Ninja is without equal when comes to generating excitment on a wisty backroad. And that's what a Sup rbike is all about.
FXRDG DISC GLIDE
Any machine dubbed Best Cruiser is going to be judged according to how it compares to the original. Unless, of course, it is the original. And the Harley-Davidson FXRDG is the prototypal American cruiser, the machine with the magic that all the others are trying to master. The Disc Glide even has more of the Harley-Davidson look than most other Harleys. That translates to more chrome, more shine, more made-in-Milwaukee Harley-Davidson appeal than just about any motorcycle made. But the Disc Glide goes beyond having just another pretty case. It has the V2 Evolution engine, the first truly new powerplant that Harley-Davidson has produced in years. Still, there's enough tradition left in the FXRDG to secure its position as the original. But it's also new enough to be the best.
Honda's Aspencade is more than just a touring big-rig; it's an establishment, a two-wheeled monument to The Long Run, a bike that is as much a part of American motorcycling as open-road touring itself. But just because it's a Gold Wing doesn't automatically qualify the GL as the best. In 1983, Honda's dominance of big-wheel touring was interrupted by Yamaha's Venture Royale, a bike that was a vast improvment over the barely changed Aspencade. This year the tables have turned once again, and now it's a redesigned Honda shooting down a virtually unchanged Yamaha. The 1984 Honda is smoother, more sophisticated and as easy to manage as a bike half its size. In fact, it's a better-handling machine than any full dress touring rig in the history of motorcycles. And that does automatically qualify it as the best.
To work flawlessly both on and off the road, a dual-purpose bike would have to rewrite the laws of physics. The XL350R doesn’t go that far; it simply makes use of the laws of common sense. The size of the machine most clearly demonstrates that point. Taking a full-size, 600cc dual-purpose bike on a trail ride can be enough to intimidate the Incredible Hulk; but anyone who tries to merge on the freeway with a 250cc tiddler quickly learns that you need more. The XR350 is a middle-ground machine, combining near-250-class weight with near-Open-class horsepower. The end result offers the best combination of talents yet to tickle the fancy of the go-anywhere gang. The XL simply splits the difference and doubles its usefulness. It’s just a matter of common sense.
Choosing the best enduro bike is just as hard as choosing the ultimate riding place. The emphasis could be on woods, desert or mountains, but the very best riding area would have it all. And the very best enduro bike would be able to do it all. That’s why the KTM 250 MXC ranks as the top enduro bike of 1984: There’s virtually no two-wheel dirt endeavor beyond the KTM’s scope. The machine handles high speeds over puckerbush-dotted landscape with faultless desert savvy. And when the trail gets tight, the MXC’s steering and agility are above reproach. This doesn’t mean the MXC can transform you from a Bob Hannah to a Dan Ashcraft and then to a Mike Melton over three consecutive days of riding. It does, however, mean that a 250 MXC can take you more riding places faster than any other machine you can buy.
Kawasaki’s KX125 just ruined a lot of sales pitches. In a year when Yamaha refined its Power Val Suzuki reinstated its Power Reed, and onda introduced its ATAC, the K 25 calmly went about producing m power than any production 125cc otocrosser ever made, without the p of any tricks or miracle motor bre throughs. If you look up the KX12 sleeve you'll find nothing but an ordinnary ports produ g extraordinary amounts of power. In handling, too, awawsaki tops the 125cc field with tec logy that is up to date, and nothing re. The Uni-Trak rear-suspension syst hides no new innovations, and the me is nothing out of the ordinary. The X simply proves that there’s no trick winning races.
Success is a fragile and temporary commodity in the world of motocross. A company can build the world’s hottest MX bike, then before the decals wear off the tank, that bike might be left coughing in the dust left by something newer, faster and better. Honda wouldn’t let that happen to the CR250R. Last year the CR was the newest, the fastest and the best, and this year it continues to be the machine making the dust. Before any other company could even retaliate against the old CR, the bike was redesigned from the knobbies up, getting a new engine, frame and suspension. The end result is a new CR250R that is much faster and slightly lighter than last year’s model. But one very important aspect of the CR hasn’t changed: It’s still the best 250 you can buy.
Horsepower means nothing in Open-class motocross. Controllable horsepower, on the other hand, is everything. The amount of power the CR500R makes doesn’t set it apart from the bigger-is-better school of muscle-think that dominates today’s Open-class start lines, but the personality of that power does. The CR’s horsepower manifests itself as acceleration, not wheelspin; confidence, not intimidation; wins, not middle-of-the-pack finishes. Even in the peak output wars, the CR holds it own. This year the bike is bigger and stronger than ever before, and very few machines can keep pace when a CR500R reaches its stride. Still fewer can stay with a Honda through the turns and across the rough stuff. And none are even close at the finish.
Each year, there comes a time when the staff of This magazine has to hold its collective breath for an instant, to slow its ongoing charge into tomorrow just long enough to take a brief look at where it is today. And that momentous occasion is marked by what has become an institution in the motorcycle industry: Cycle World's Annual Ten Best Awards, this year in its ninth celebration.
But “almost any sportbike” translates to “any sportbike other than a Ninja."The Kawasaki clearly outranks the FJ as an asphalt-assault weapon, which is why the Ninja took top honors in the Superbike category, where performance is all. But in no way does that detract from the Yamaha. And no matter how many racetracks the Ninja dominates, it can’t blemish the FJ’s unofficial title of Best Streetbike of 1984.
No motorcycle available in this country is quite like the Yamaha RZ350. It’s a two-wheeled rocket aimed right at the garage of the two-stroke street enthusiast who was left bikeless five years ago when the EPA made two-stroke performance a crime. Now the two-stroke returns in a big way; the RZ350 has more horsepower than any production bike of its displacement, and it weighs less than any bike in its class. Its class, unfortunately, is quite large, and as significant as the RZ is, it can’t compete with the likes of the GPz. The Yamaha is limited by a pipey engine and the fact that it isn’t available everywhere in the country. But the fact that Californians can’t get the RZ seems a small price when you consider that for the last five years nobody could get one, or anything even close.
There’s no doubt about it: Honda’s VF500F Interceptor is the best-performing middleweight motorcycle of all time. Sure, there are other motorcycles, like the Kawasaki GPz550, that are close, but the Honda is in a league of its own when it comes to straightening the bends in a winding road. The VF is powerful, magnificent-handling and fun. But it isn’t the class winner. That bike, as you’ve already read, is the Kawasaki GPz550, for one reason and one reason alone: It’s a known quantity. The Honda, however, is unknown, and the early reports on its reliability are disturbing. We have no doubt that most VF500Fs, will never have a significant mechanical problem, and their owners will happily go about blowing the sidepanels off of GPzs. But other VFs seem likely to have big trouble. It’s just a case in which being the best is not quite good enough.
Mention four-stroke enduro bikes and not everyone will listen. Mention 250cc four-stroke enduro bikes, and you’ll be talking to a crowd about the size of a pro-Reagan rally in Cuba. In the past, XR250s have been little more than Open-class clumsiness teamed up with 200-class power. That’s because previous XR250s have been based on the XR500R, and that formula gave them the power-to-weight ratio of a moped engine in an Aspencade chassis. But that’s changed now. The new 250 is based on Honda’s XR200R, resulting in the lightest and most powerful 250cc four-stroke enduro bike yet. But it is, nonetheless, a 250cc four-stroke enduro bike, and as such it gives an advantage to bikes like KTM’s 250 MXC. But that gap is getting smaller all the time; and now, people are at least listening.
If the name on the category were 800cc-And-Over Street-bike, the Yamaha FJ1100 would roll away as the winner, not the runner-up. As an overall streetbike, the Yamaha is without equal in its class, combining the low-end power and easy-going manners that are essential for around-town riding, with enough hard-core performance to beat almost any sportbike on a twisty road or racetrack.
AN AMERICANIZED AND GALVANIZED BRUTE FROM THE BOYS IN BREGANZE
Truly distinctive motorcycles are hard to find these days. There's no question that the Japanese build motorcycles that are unmatched for variety and unequalled for cold, calculated performance; nonetheless, there's a generic similarity about all of them, a certain antiseptic, fault-free sameness that is absent of any discernable character.
EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED IN A FOUR-STROKE DIRT BIKE-AND LESS
Riders of modern two-stroke dirt bikes are lucky: They get to ride motorcycles that are extremely powerful, superbly suspended and, best of all, light in weight. But fanciers of four-stroke off-road machinery aren’t so fortunate. Because even though there are a lot of reasons to like four-strokes, an absence of weight isn’t one of them.
Trying to milk more power from the XR500R engine can be a frustrating process. And time-consuming. And expensive. A couple of simple modifications, like bolting on a megaphone exhaust and rejetting the carbs, can result in a noticeable increase in power; but going beyond that—experimenting with cams, head work, compression ratios and different carburetors—can be a real headache.
"Shafts suck! They're heavy and they make the bike go up and down like an elevator." "No, I think you've got that back-wards— chains are the worst. They leave a greasy stripe down the back of your jacket, and they always seem to need lubrication or adjustment or replacement or something.”
On Sunday, September 23, 1984, the North Coast Touring Club will be hosting its second annual AMA poker run. The event will cover many scenic roads in four Northern Ohio counties and is opened to both AMA and non-AMA members. Trophies, awards and refreshments will be available.
It was a glorious end to the most celebrated career in the history of motorcycle roadracing. A record crowd of 82,000 showed up to witness the brilliance of King Kenny Roberts one last time. And, as always, The King was cool, confident, friendly, determined and captivating.
My Honda CB750K has a small rust hole through one of its four mufflers. I try to keep the bike clean, but trying to get into all the nooks and crannies around four mufflers is time-consuming at best. The bike is covered and stored in an unheated garage during the winter months.