EVERY TIME I HEAR THE EXPRESSION "mixed emotions," I can't help but think back to one of the most frustrating but rewarding times of my life: when I was teaching rank, I've-never-done-this-before beginners how to ride a motorcycle. By my best guess, I've given maybe 200 people their first riding lessons, most of them while I was involved with a couple of motorcycle dealer ships in Pittsburgh during the late Sixties.
DESPITE THE STICKY HEAT. WHEN I ARrived for my check-out in the North American AT-6 “Texan” advanced trainer, I was wearing my Air Force Nomex flight suit. So was my flight instructor, a Royal New Zealand Air Force wing commander. We sweated together.
Steve Thompson’s At Large column (February, 1986) on the comfort of motorcycle seats hit me like a brick. He is so right that he may not even know just how right he is. Now, this is coming from me, a guy who seven years ago started on a moped commuting four miles to work, and who has only graduated three years ago to a used Honda CL360.
Any roadracer can tell you that nothing sticks like slicks. But because most production-class rules require DOT-approved tires, Metzeler offers the ME1, which is real racing rubber with the DOT stamp. The ME1 shares the same dual-aramid-belt construction found in Metzeler's high-performance street tires, but uses softer rubber and a different tread pattern. Only one size is currently available, a 170/60 VB 18. For more information, contact Metzeler, 144 Railroad Ave., Suite 215, Edmonds, WA 98020, or call toll-free 1-800-824-0313.
You say your shock’s damping has gone south and transformed Old Faithful into Old Wobbler? Take heart; White Brothers has a White Power Super Adjuster Superbike shock just for you. The remote-reservoir shock features separate adjustments for compression and rebound damping, and there’s a full range of spring rates available to suit your bike and riding style. And each shock comes with this 60-day set-up guarantee: If the shock doesn’t perform correctly, White Brothers will alter it for free. White Power Superbike Shocks are available for all late model, single-shock sportbikes, and have a suggested retail price of $395. To find out more, contact White Brothers, 11750 Seaboard Circle, Stanton, CA 90680.
Husky Products pipes
These replacement pipes are said to be less prone to denting, provide better ground clearance and improve performance. They are available for all 1985 model 250, 400 and 500cc two-stroke Huskys for $129.95 at Husqvarna dealers.
Thermotex heated suit
Designed to be worn as an outside garment or under a rainsuit, the Thermotex suit generates 48 watts worth of warmth when connected to a 12-volt battery. A supplied extension cord connects the suit to the motorcycle’s battery, or an optional cigarette-lighter cord plugs into the lighter socket. Other options include glove liners that connect to plug-ins on the suit’s wrists ($37.95); foot warmers that plug into receptacles on the lower legs of the suit ($37.95); and a temperature control unit that goes for $29.95. For more information contact Centurion Ltd., 18146 Sherman Way, Bldg. 5, No. 22, Reseda, CA 91306; (818) 348-9880.
CLP’S full-coverage ceramic helmets might not meet Snell standards, but that’s not the point. The CLP hats are small helmet-replicas complete with flip-up faceshields, suitable for use as ashtrays, paperclip holders or what have you. They’re available in Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha team colors, and they retail for $16.95, plus $3 for handling, from CLP, 27 Warren St., Hackensack, NJ 07601; (201) 487-5577.
Motorcycle Publications catalog
Try—just try—to find books about motorcycling at your local Top-40 bookstore. At best you’ll find old Clymer manuals for CB350 Hondas, and little else. For a larger selection, though, browse through Hosking Cycle Works’ 1986 catalog, which boasts more than 500 titles, covering motorcycling from Ace to Zundapp. Hosking’s even has "Tax Guide for Racers," to help privateers keep more of their hard-earned money, and the guide itself is tax-deductible. To get your catalog, send $1 to Hosking Cycle Works, RFD#1 Box 136, Accord, NY 12404.
EVERYONE WHO BUYS A HARLEY-Davidson can look forward to the excitement of rolling down those long, lonesome highways, seeking out new thrills and high adventure, right? Not really. Surely, then, every Yamaha owner has tasted the joy of riding on a clear day, with nothing but the road, the sky and a throaty motorcycle for company, right?
In the last several years, clothing manufacturers in Japan have become more and more involved the sport of motorcycling. This involvement has taken several forms, the most obvious being an increase in clothing-oriented race sponsors. Even the prestigious Suzuka 8-Hour race had a major sponsor from the garment industry.
Australia is the prime candidate for the title of God’s Own Motorcycling Kingdom. I discovered this on a recent trip there, and I also found out that the people in Australia, like the people in Europe and other parts of the world, don’t always appreciate their good fortune.
DO YOURSELF A FAVOR: BEFORE passing final judgment on Yamaha's new Fazer, ride one. Because if you've decided you don't like the bike based solely on its appearance, chances are you'll change your mind by the time your ride is over. And if you already like the bike before you get on it, you're absolutely going to love it by the time you get off.
A 10-day sprint on Kawasaki's sport-touring missile
"WHERE DO YOU COME from?" asked the soft-spoken, middle-aged Italian man wearing a Firestone cap. "California," I answered. "I don't believe you," he replied in a disbelieving but non-threatening tone. "Where have you been?" "We started in Genoa," I explained, "up in the northwest part of Italy, headed south to the end of the mainland, took the boat across to Sicily where we rode around on the winding mountain roads for a couple of days, and now we're headed back to Genoa, trying to sample as many twisty roads as possible along the way.
CLICK. Fifth gear, front straight. Engine speed climbs as Turn One grows larger in the distance. The first marker blurs past. Glance down—135 mph on the speedo—then hard on the brakes. Click. Fourth. A hard dive into Turn One, the needle nudging 100 mph, then back on the gas.
Honda's new VFR750 ought to be good. Its parents are world champions.
GOOD BREEDING. THEY SAY, tells. And if that is so, the new Honda VFR750F road bike may well be in for a charmed life. The racebike from which it is derived, you see, is one of the most impressive pieces of race track hardware ever. Known as the RVF750, the liquid-cooled V-Four racebike was a testbed for ideas that are now in production on the VFR750F.
For little more than a dollar, you can own a 1908 Wanderer
THE BEST MUSEUM OF HISTORIC motorcycles, from the very First contraption Gottlieb Daimler devised 100 years ago to the shiny, streamlined lasers purring down the highway today, isn’t housed in any building. In fact, you can pack the whole kit and caboodle into one room, or more specifically, into a single notebook.
OVER THE PAST COUPLE OF years, picking the most competitive 125 motocross bike has been a fairly easy job. Kawasaki’s KX125 has been the most powerful and best handling bike in the class, and in stock form it was the one most likely to win. The KX has been so good that our test riders usually were able to detect its superiority early in the first day of testing.
DON'T LOOK NOW. BUT THERE’S A CENtury-old bit of motorcycling antiquity trying to stage a comeback. It’s not the rigid frame, the hand-operated oil pump or anything else too hopelessly outdated for even nostalgia to revive. The item in question hails from the same era, however, and it seems downright practical by comparison.
I WAS NERVOUS; MORE SO THAN usual. I'd ridden factory roadrace bikes before, but this one—Freddie Spencer's world-beating NSR500 GP racer—was somehow different. As I stood in the pits at Japan’s Suzuka race circuit, waiting anxiously for a Honda test rider to finish scrubbing in the tires, I remembered the first time I saw the NSR.
Before Freddie Spencer made the NSR500 go, Yoichi Oguma made it happen
Trans Americas Rally
When it comes to discussing their racing motorcycles, the Japanese are unusually close-mouthed. You never know when one seemingly insignificant piece of trivia will be a key that unlocks a mystery for one of your opponents—or, that's how it has been explained to me.
Fun and games are in store for motorcyclists on April 29 in Long Island, New York. The Cross Island Motorcycle Club hosts a scenic road run with “carnival” fun at each checkpoint. Sign up begins at 10:00 a.m. at the clubhouse, 548 Peninsula Blvd., Hempstead, New York.
In early June I am making a cross-country trip on my 500 Interceptor. Since my bike has such a high-revving engine, I wanted to install a much larger front sprocket to lower my engine speed. I want to make the trip as easy as possible for my machine. Is this advisable? How much larger should I go? I would like to drop my engine speed from about 5600 rpm at 60 mph to about 4500 rpm if possible.
We need your photos for Slipstream. We’re looking for photos that make us smile because they say something about motorcycling. Submissions should be made to Slipstream, Cycle World, 1499 Monrovia, Newport Beach, Calif. 92663. Only black and white prints, 8 by 10 in., should be sent.