IN MOTORCYCLING AS WELL AS IN MOST other motor sports, there’s racing, and then there’s racing. The former consists simply of a bunch of riders circulating a track at speed; the latter is what happens when most of the riders in an event engage in knock-down, drag-out, take-no-prisoners dicing for practically every lap of practically every race.
WELLAND, ONTARIO: IT'S A SUNNY Saturday in this quiet corner of the fertile chunk of Canada that kisses the USA at Niagara Falls. Outside the little town of Welland, famous for the canal named in its honor, and known among pilots as the home of the Lazair ultralight, the Welland Motorcycle Club is hosting its annual classic and vintage rally.
Mike Stubblefield (“Books on Bikes,” August, 1986) certainly makes it sound as if the public library and, hence, the public librarian are, at best, the last source to utilize in searching for books about motorcycles and motorcycling.
HAD WE WORLD ENOUGH AND TIME, we probably could find some way to give every motorcycle in existence an award of some kind. But every fall, when we present our annual Ten Best awards, we have to limit the number of winners to, well, 10, obviously.
Honda VFR400R: Designed to race, built for the street
Rain and racetracks don’t mix. That’s what I thought as I stood in the hairpin turn on the famous Suzuka race course. The rain became torrential at points, almost obscuring Honda’s new VFR400R, the latest 400cc sportbike to explode onto the Japanese home market (the VFR400R may well become a VFR600 for the U.S.
Most of the world would be happy with a bike as good as the Yamaha FZ750, but not Bimota chassis designer Federico Martini. The case in point: The FZ750 Yamaha-engined Bimota YB4, as of now, is being developed along the same lines as the DB1 Ducati-engined Bimota.
Normally, a kiwi is a small, flightless bird. Kiwi's K16, though, is a bird of a different feather. This DOT-and Snell-approved fiberglass helmet features separately controlled upper and lower vents in the chinpiece, and a wind flap to help reduce noise. It's available in sizes XS-XXL, in black-red, white-red or metallic gray-red, for $179.95. To find out more, contact Dyna-Tour Corp., 1944 Narragansett Ave., Chicago, IL 60639; (312) 637-5049.
Malcolm Smith utility box
Anyone who's ever grabbed a tube of Brylcream instead of the toothpaste knows the importance of keeping things organized. And to keep your two-wheel-related gear in order, Malcolm Smith Products offers its Utility Boxes, in medium (red) and large (blue). The injection-molded plastic boxes feature two-piece hinged lids, and have a suggested retail price of $16.95 (medium) and $27.95 (large). For information, contact Malcolm Smith Motorcycles, 7563 Indiana Ave., Riverside, CA 92504; (714) 687-1300.
Jones Desert Master goggles
If Rommel had a pair of Jones Desert Master goggles, Monty might have been singing a different tune at El Alemein. And for your desert campaigns, or any off-road riding, Jones goggles offer a gradient-tint, molded polycarbonate lens that's claimed to provide better optical characteristics than glass. Jones Desert Masters have a suggested retail price of $32.95, and are available from motorcycle dealers or through Hallman USA, 315 W. Bradley, El Cajon, CA; (619) 442-0431.
Speed Mode leathers
When you take a high-speed tumble, you want something more than just cow between your hide and the pavement. To that end, Quadrifoglio Inc. offers its Speed Mode Mundial SPR one-piece leather suit. In addition to padding and double layers of leather at the shoulders and seat, the SPRs feature plastic-backed foam pads at the elbows, forearms and knees, and along the spine. The suit is available in sizes 36-42 in red-blue, white-green-blue and red-blue-white color combinations for $524. For more information, contact Quadrifoglio Inc., 5745 N. 11th St., Phoenix, AZ 85014; (602) 265-5846.
Pichler Uni-4 fairing
Your clothes are Martinized, your car's Simonized; now you can Pichlerize your motorcycle with Pichier's Uni-4 touring fairing. The polycarbonate fairing features a quartz-halogen headlight, twin locking storage pockets and flush-mount turn signals; and it's available unpainted for $516, in red, black or white for $556, or in factory-matched metallic for $610. Plus, Pichler claims the Uni-4 will fit almost any motorcycle, from middle-weights to literbikes. To find out more, contact Pichler of America, 824 W. 10th St., Suite 109, Austin, TX 78701; (512) 476-9726.
Vital medical ID
No one likes to think about falling off, but almost everyone does at least once. And if you're hurt in the process, getting special medical information to rescue personnel can save your life. That information can be easily at hand with a Vital microfilm medical ID card, which features a microfilm chip with space for complete medical history and insurance, as well as other information. Vital comes in two sizes: credit card, for $14.95, and key-ring size for $19.95. To find out more, contact Medical Information Systems Div., Lock Box 234, Hummelstown, PA 17036; (717) 566-0468.
Normally, a kiwi is a small, flightless bird. Kiwi's K16, though, is a bird of a different feather. This DOT-and Snell-approved fiberglass helmet features separately controlled upper and lower vents in the chinpiece, and a wind flap to help reduce noise.
Better known for his airships and wizard cameras, boy-inventor Tom Swift made his literary debut on a motorcycle
Albert D. Manchester
TOM SWIFT WAS RIDING HIS BIcycle to town when he saw a great cloud of dust approaching him. At first the boy thought the dust was being kicked up by a herd of cattle coming along the road. But as the dust cloud grew closer, Tom could hear a steady "chug-chug" emanating from it.
THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT KINDS of performance. There’s the type of performance that earns trophies, and then there’s the type of performance that earns sales. Yamaha’s 600 Radian has both kinds. The engine of the Radian is a direct descendant of the all-conquering FJ600, which dominated its class in box-stock racing for two years. Yet the Radian isn’t intended for racers, but rather is for everyone who can appreciate a bargain, with its revolutionary price of $2395. With all that going for it, the Radian is a performer in every sense of the word.
WHEN THE CHINESE BUILT THE GREAT WALL, THEY didn't try to one-up themselves by building a Great Roof or a Great Floor a century later. It's hard to follow up one of the' wonders of the world. But when Honda shocked the world with the VF750F Interceptor in 1983, that was just the beginning, a sneak preview of things to come. Now Honda has given us the VFR750F, and it's even more incredible than its predecessor. The VFR is the fastest and best all-around 750cc sportbike ever made, truly a wonder of the modern-day motorcycle world.
YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO MENTION THE WORD "PERformance" when the conversation turns to cruisers. It's usually a no-no to mention anything about horsepower, torque or speed. Instead, you talk about style, beauty and flair. But with Yamaha's 1100 Virago, you have to talk about how much torque the big V-Twin makes, and how the bike leaps forward with the slightest crack of the throttle. And once you're done marveling over the motor, you might notice something else: The Virago just happens to be one of the most beautifully finished motorcycles Japan has ever produced.
WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT TRUE SUperbikes, you're talking about the ultimate in two-wheel performance. You're talking about enough horsepower to turn a $200 rear tire into clouds of smoke and shreds of rubber in less then 11 seconds. You're talking top speeds that some light aircraft can't manage. You're also talking about light weight and racetrack-caliber handling in a no-compromise performance machine. In other words, you're talking about the Suzuki GSX-R1100. In the literbike category this year, no other machine comes close.
WHEN IT COMES TOURING BIKES, Honda wrote the rules of the game 11 years ago with the first Gold Wing. And the company has been rewriting those rules every year with newer and better models, while the others struggle to keep up. In fact, in the 11-year history of CYCLE WORLD'S Ten Best awards, the Gold Wing has won the Best Touring Bike award six times. This year, the Aspencade SE-i comes out on top once more because it is hands-down the best way to cross the country, as we dis covered in our six-bike touring shootout in the June, 1986, issue.
QUESTION: WHEN YOU TAKE WHAT is already a very good 125cc motocrosser, give it more power than anything in its class, build it lighter than anything in its class, and make it handle better than anything in its class, what do you get?
How MANY MOTORCYCLES CAN YOU name that are capable of exploring terrain so tight and inaccessible that only mountain goats would dare to follow? And how many of those are street-legal for cruising down to the general store or going back and forth to school? Not too many, huh? In fact, there is only one we could think of—the Honda Reflex. This is a motorcycle that marks a new direction in dual-purpose bikes, one that doesn't let its street-legal require ments compromise its ability to crawl around in places where once only a full-fledged dirt bike could go. That makes the Reflex not just the best bike of its kind; in America, at least, it's the only bike of its kind.
THERE'S A REASON WHY HUSQvarna has won so many national enduro titles. There's a reason why Husqvarna has won so many Baja l000s. And there's a reason why most local enduros look like a get-together of several chapters of the Husky owners club. That reason is that Husqvarna makes bikes like the 400 Enduro. It is, without contest, the finest enduro machine made to date. It puts together power, suspension and handling in such a way that lets winning come naturally to its riders. And that's the reason it wins CYCLE WORLD'S Best Enduro Bike title for the second year in a row.
IT DOESN'T HAPPEN OFTEN, MAYBE EVERY DECADE OR two. But once in a great while, a truly special motorcycle like the Honda CR250R comes along. It's a motocrosser so good it not only dominates national and local motocross, but is also winning everything from desert races to enduros. It has the power of an Open-classer, the handling of a 125 and the potential to take virtually anyone into the winner's circle. In fact, the CR250R might just be the best motocrosser ever built, of any size. It's just a shame that we'll have to wait 10 or 20 years for another bike like it to come along.
LAST YEAR, THE ONLY THING THAT KEPT THE HONDA CR500R from winning everything in sight was its unspectacular suspension. This year, Honda has given the big CR excellent rear suspension, plus the best fork ever to come stock on a production bike. Add to that a powerband that is both smooth and potent, handling manners that allow the bike to turn more sharply and easily than any Open bike made, plus near-bulletproof reliability, and you have a bike that just might win everything in sight. That includes the national championship as well as CYCLE WORLD'S award for Best Open Motocrosser.
Everything you've heard is true: Moto-magazine work really is a life of fast motorcycles, endless rides and free gasoline. But there is one time of the year here at CYCLE WORLD when we have to pay the piper. Every fall, all of the editors are locked in a room and made to fight a bike-versus-bike battle of the brands.
Twin and Single: Two different ways to make an entrance
ENTRY-LEVEL-THAT'S A BUZZ word in the motorcycle industry these days, one heard in practically every discussion about why new customers haven’t been drawn into the sport. Since the early Seventies, entry-level bikes of the traditional, small-displacement variety had gotten less and less attention from the manufacturers; and by 1984, they practically disappeared from the U.S.
"THE CLOTHES MAKE THE man," or so goes the old Latin proverb. A bit trite, perhaps, but there's more truth to that little banality than you might expect, especially for motorcyclists. And the time to find out just how much truth is before you get caught in a toad-strangler of a rain-storm, or in a cold snap that'll turn you blue as a druid.
AEROSTICH’S RIDING SUIT IS, WELL, different. It’s neither a rainsuit nor a cold-weather suit, but instead falls into a less-common category of motorcycle gear: the general-purpose coverall. As such, it serves as the outer layer separating a rider from his environment.
Living proof that like the country it comes from, there'll always be a Triumph
WHEN TRIUMPH LAUNCHED THE Bonneville in 1959, the bike had two parallel cylinders, pushrod valve operation, a four-speed gearbox, excessive vibration at high rpm and a top speed of about 110 mph. Twenty-seven years later, after a three-year stint in the morgue, the Bonneville is still with us.
Of James Dean, '51 Mercs, Lucky Strikes and Bonnevilles
OTHER PEOPLE MAY HAVE GONE into the Big City to shop for clothes or books or records, but on those occasions when my parents made the 80-mile shopping run from our small farm town into the state capitol, I had them drop me off on the outskirts of the city.
Designer Ninja: Stop-gap measure or a look at things to come?
IF CALVIN KLEIN OR BILL BLASS were penning a middleweight sportbike for the new fall season, Kawasaki's 1987 600RX Ninja would be it. The 600RX, you see, is the equivalent of a designer motorcycle, a one-time-only, limited-edition version of the standard Ninja 600.
Laguna Seca '86: Damn the wheelies, full speed ahead
THE SETTING WAS ALMOST TOO appropriate. Eddie Lawson, on a one-week hiatus from the world roadracing wars, was staring into the shark tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. As a particularly menacing Sevengill swam smoothly in his direction, Lawson admitted that he had always been fascinated by sharks and their aggressive nature.
I own a 1977 RD400. Does this motorcycle have a reverse gear or something? Today I started my bike as usual and put it into first gear as usual. But I let out the clutch fairly quickly to zip out of my driveway and I went backwards into a wall. This is not a joke.