I CALL THEM WANNABE LETTERS, AS IN “I Wanna Be A Racer.” I’m not sure how many of them I’ve received over the years, but it seems like thousands. And except for the arrangement of the words and the name signed at the end, all have read more or less like this: “Dear Sirs: I'd like to get in to motorcycle racing.
Steve Thompson deserves a standing ovation for his editorial attack in your May, 1986, issue on the prejudice against functional and conspicuous motorcycle attire. I can relate to the bigoted remarks and disapproving smirks Steve has received; I’ve gotten my share for wearing a bright orange hunter’s safety vest over my leathers when riding.
Bell made a name for itself with the slogan, “If you’ve got a $10 head, wear a $10 helmet.” Now Bell is ready to up the ante with its $1000 Ultra helmet. The Ultra features a graphite/Kevlar cloth in its shell for light weight, a pushbutton-operated shield with Bell’s Fog-Pruf coating, air vents, and an interior lined with fire-retardant Durvil. Available in black-and-gold and silver-and-red, the Ultra carries DOT and Snell ’85 certifications, and comes in sizes 6¾ to 7¾. To find out more, contact Bell Helmets Inc., P.O. Box 1020, Norwalk, CA 90650; (213) 9219451.
Bell Helmets Inc.
NRG-Saver tire tool
When you’re changing a tire or tube, sometimes it seems as if the tire irons might as well be switch-blades. But an NRG-Saver can make the task far easier, according to Lazer Helmets, the NRG’s importer, because the Saver uses strategically placed Teflon coatings and high leverage-ratios to break and seat beads without damaging the tire, tube or rim. Suggested retail price is $44.95, plus $5 for shipping, from your dealer, or from Lazer Helmets, 31139 Via Colinas, Suite 302, Westlake Village, CA 91362.
Bell Helmets Inc.
The name might suggest a French dessert, but Michelin’s Bib-Mousse actually belongs in the desert. Indeed, BMW’s team bikes used the Bib-Mousse combination—a Michelin Desert tire and a solid foam-rubber liner that takes the place of an inner tube—en route to three wins in the Paris-to-Dakar Rally. Available in three sizes, the Bib-Mousse retails for $149.95 (90/ 90-21), $164.95 (140/90-17) and $169.95 (140/90-18). Don’t ask a maitre d’, though; contact International Cycle Racing Tires, 1865 Redondo Ave., Long Beach, CA 90804; (213) 597-0339.
Bell Helmets Inc.
Tired of having your bike break-dancing in the back of your van, truck or trailer because a tie-down slipped? Then consider ATK's Bike Shoe, which clamps onto the motorcycle's front wheel and allows the bike's suspension to work over bumps. The Bike Shoe retails for $89, and can be mounted in a vehicle or on a sheet of plywood. For more information, contact ATK Leitner Corp., 723 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651; (714) 497-7525.
Bell Helmets Inc.
Does your dirt bike's fork pump up like a Novice's forearms? If so, let it blow off some pressure with Simons A.P. Fork Caps. According to Simons, a spring-loaded, one-way check-valve in each cap vents air pressure from the fork on full extension, allowing the fork to work consistently throughout a ride. Available for all KYB and Showa forks with 43mm stanchion tubes (except 1986 CR250 and CR500 Hondas), the caps retail for $49.95 a pair. For more information, contact S.W. Simons Inc., 2570 Leghorn St., Mountain View, CA 94043; (415) 962-8899.
Bell Helmets Inc.
Okay; you've tricked out your bike with almost every aftermarket goodie imaginable, but there's still something missing from the picture. Of course; your helmet's appearance is still stock—heaven forbid. Lockhart can handle the problem, though, with its 2-mil-thick vinyl Supershades for your faceshield. Available straight-cut or curved to fit most shields, and with a variety of slogans, the 'shades retail for $1.95. To find out more, contact Lockhart, 15717 Texaco St., Paramount, CA 90723; (213) 630-4621.
IT’S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO MAKE IT through the day without hearing about another incredible liability lawsuit. This should not be news to anyone in the motorcycle business, however, where for years, product-liability problems have been hanging around the neck of the industry like some sort of legal albatross.
It’s no secret here in Japan that the American riders’ dominance of GP roadracing begins on the American dirt-track circuits. So it is no wonder that with its appearance at the last Tokyo Motor Show, the Honda FTR250 has become the bike to lead a new movement in Japan: dirt-track-racing fever.
Cagiva gently shook the motorcycle world with the 750 Paso at last year’s Milan motorcycle show, but when the bike becomes available late this summer in Europe, we may all be surprised once again. During a conversation with Ducati development chief Franco Farne, it became apparent that the Paso will be a departure from previous Pantah-engined models in more than just its Tamburini-designed chassis.
IT’S TOUGH TO STAND OUT IN A CROWD, particularly when everyone in it looks and acts alike. That dilemma seems especially true for tankbags; they all look similar and do the same job, so it’s difficult for one to break out of the boundaries of unvarying sameness.
WINSION CHURCHILL MAY NOT HAVE KNOWN much about motorcycles, but he was a master at motivating people. Once, for example, to rally his fellow Englishmen during the early. leak days of World War II. he told them that they could win the world through sacrifice."
IF EVER A MOTORCYCLE HAD ALL the ingredients for mediocrity. Yamaha's new 600 Radian seems to be that machine. It's a parts-room special, you see, a new model that Yamaha fabricated by merely bolting together a collection of relatively low-tech components borrowed from several of its existing models.
THE NEXT-BEST THING TO A CLOSET FULL OF RIDING GEAR
IDEALLY, THE PERFECT CLOSET OF RIDing gear would contain one of everything. On the shelves would be one of every helmet, boot and glove. And hanging inside there’d be a garment for every season: a lightweight jacket for summer, a lined jacket for spring and fall, and an arctic-proof suit for winter.
"WHY," ASKED THE MARketing expert from another motorcycle company, "would Yamaha do such a thing?" He paused. “Big Singles haven’t sold in the U.S. for over 20 years. Why bring one in now? Who is Yamaha trying to reach with the SRX?” Those doubts aren’t surprising; the recent past has been littered with big, street-going Singles, machines that cluttered showrooms and warehouses.
A look back at the bikes of yesteryear, when men were men and electric starters were years away
IF YOU THINK THAT LARGE-DISPLACEMENT SINGLE-CYLINder motorcycles date back only to the ill-fated attempts launched by the Japanese in the late 1970s, sit down and get ready for a history lesson. Big Singles-thumpers. as many enthusiasts are wont to call them-have been around almost since the beginning of two-wheeled time.
FRANCIS GOLDEN IS A QUIET MAN. GRAYING AT THE temples. who makes wearing spectacles and a satisfied grin look as appealing as an old pair of Levi's. But that's only fitting, considering Golden has most of the things in life a man could want: a wonderful wife, beautiful kids, two playful dogs.
TALES OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION ASIDE. I RODE A Kawasaki Mach III and lived to tell about it. Actually, after a 125-mile ride on our 1969 photo bike, I wondered just how some of the "Killer Triple" rumors got started. I suppose the high-strung sound of the engine had a lot to do with it.
ENDURO BIKES ARE WONDERFUL DEVICES. NOT ONLY are they designed to excel in some very demanding off-road competition, they also make great trail machines, superb cross-country exploring vehicles and excellent all-around playbikes. But, sadly, the number of available enduro models gets smaller every year.
CLEANLINESS MIGHT BE NEXT TO GODliness for some people, but for the rider who pulls his own maintenance, cleanliness can be next to impossible. That’s because there aren’t many choices when it comes to poststripdown cleanup of oily, grimy parts.
Victory isn't everything for Dr John Wittner and Team Moto Guzzi. But it helps.
STEVEN L. THOMPSON
AT LEAST A COUPLE OF INTERESTing things happened to John Wittner at Daytona this year. First, the AMA presented him and his entire team with the Amateur Sportsman of the Year award for their performance in the Association's endurance racing series in 1985.
Those of us who have motorcycles with spoked wheels appear to be at a great disadvantage when it comes to new tires—Michelin Hi-Sports, for instance, may not be used with a tube. Can you tell me if D.I.D., Sun, Akront, or anyone else plans to market a tubeless rim for spoked wheels in the near future?
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.