FOR MY MONEY AMERICAN MOTORCYcle dirt-track racing is the most spectacular motorsports show in the world. It’s also dying at its roots. Every year there are fewer events, and fewer riders choosing to enter the sport. The fading of amateur and low-buck semi-pro races is reflected in the top professional ranks: Even though there are more American Motorcyclist Association dirt-track Nationals than ever, the number of riders with AMA professional licenses is at its lowest in several decades.
“HOW MANY GUITARS DO YOU HAVE now?” I asked my old friend David Rhodes this summer when I dropped by for a visit. David is a writer who lives on a farm in Wisconsin and collects vintage electric guitars. “About four dozen,” he said. David and I get along pretty well, probably because I'm one of the few people he knows who doesn’t bat an eye at the idea of owning four dozen electric guitars.
After reading “The Bike That Buell Built” in the November issue of Cycle World, I began to dream, as I often do, about the day when an American company will produce a genuine sportbike. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Harley-Davidson, but to put a Sportster engine and transmission onto a bike that is to compete against inline Fours is a little far-fetched.
EVER WISHED FOR THE PERFECT MOTORCYCLE. ONE THAT did everything you asked of it, no matter what the task? If you’re anything like all of us here at Cycle World, you’ve thought about such a mythical motorcycle quite often. But again, if you’re like us, you usually end up believing that your perfect bike will forever remain a figment of your imagination, that you’ll never experience the unspoiled joy of riding a motorcycle custom-built to your exact wants and needs.
Italy’s bi-annual Milan show clocked up its golden anniversary when the doors opened last winter. The European counterpart to the glamorous Tokyo Motor Show, the Milan exhibition is a showcase event for the European motorcycle manufacturers.
AT FIRST IT WOULD SEEM that motorcycles don’t have much in common with hot-air balloons, those romantic bags of heated air that hang serenely from the sky. But don’t tell that to Chuck Foster, who runs Adventures Aloft, a ballooning company that gives aerial tours of California’s wine-growing Napa Valley.
IT WAS THE DAY AFTER THE 600 SHOOTOUT SIX VERY tired and cross editors huddled around a conference table, one of them scratching out figures on a piece of paper. “Okay, I think I’ve got it," he said. “Using an Olympic-style scoring system, we’re finally starting to get somewhere.
The best production roadracer in America picks the best 600cc production roadracer in America
Since competition is so intense in 600cc production-class roadracing, and since a winner on the racetrack is usually a winner in the showroom, we would set-up the four class contenders for 1988—the Yamaha FZ600, the Kawasaki Ninja 600, the Honda Hurricane 600 and the Suzuki Katana 600—according to production-racing rules, bring in the most accomplished rider possible who could evaluate the bikes at winning race speeds, and find out which machine will make the year’s best 600cc production roadracer.
THE 9TH CAVALRY RIDES AGAIN. AND HOW! History books provide only a glimpse of the illustrious past of the 9th Calvary. Organized shortly after the Civil War, this unit consisted entirely of black enlisted men led by white officers. The prevailing prejudices of the day overshadowed their extensive accomplishments during the Indian Wars of the late 1800s; but from their adversaries, they earned the nickname “Buffalo Soldiers," in tribute primarily to their tight, curly hair, and secondarily to their tenacious fighting spirit.
IN 1898, A MILITARY VISIONARY BY THE NAME OF ROYAL Davidson built one of the earliest motor vehicles designed exclusively for military service. A professor of military tactics, Davidson modified a three-wheeled automobile by mounting protective armor plating and a 45-caliber machine gun.
SOME IDEAS ARE TOO GOOD TO DIE. THE BMW 1000cc opposed-Twin is one of them. This year sees BMW’s resurrection of the 1000cc Boxer, in RT (touring), RS (sport-touring) and GS (Paris-Dakar dual-purpose) guises. They’re not bikes that BMW intended to produce even a few years ago; the liter-size Boxer was to have been made obsolete in 1985 by the K100 flat-Fours.
THE BOOK ON YAMAHA'S YZ125 HAS BEEN THE SAME for a long time: a perennial mid-pack runner. But the YZ will quickly earn a new image during the upcoming season. Gone is the slow-running, poorly suspended YZ125 of years past; the ’88 model has a potent engine with a wide powerband, and excellent suspension.
I'M RIDING AGAIN. I’M ON MY WAY ACROSS THE coastal mountains to the high bluffs overlooking the Pacific. The road switchbacks wickedly, and my motorcycle revs with no complaints as I downshift into a left hairpin. Aiming for the cliff ahead, I slide my gaze up to the left and countersteer: the bike leans over hard.
SUPERMAN MIGHT BE MORE POWERful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but when it comes to staying warm and dry, all he’s got is a glorified leotard and a cape. A smarter choice would be Belstaff’s XL500 Trial-master suit.
MOTORCYCLING’S UBIQUITOUS BUNgee cord and the cockroach have two key points of similarity: They’ve both survived through generations, intact and almost totally unchanged; and they’re both basically omnivorous. A bungee’s plastic-covered hook-ends can devour OEM paint and bodywork with the same gusto a roach has for the glue on a canned-good wrapper.
THEY SOUND LIKE A SNAKE-OIL SALESMAN’S MOST OUTrageous claims: A high-performance motorcycle tire that improves handling and stability and comfort and ease of steering; a tire that achieves superior grip through the use of soft tread compounds but that doesn’t wear as quickly as other tires will with comparable rubber; a tire that performs consistently throughout its entire life, even when effectively worn-out.
The English are at it again, this time with a rotary-engined Norton racer
TWELVE YEARS AGO, ON AN OTHERWISE PLEASANT June day, I witnessed the death of Britain’s last real works racing effort. The event was the Isle of Man TT, the place Glen Helen, the bike the Norton Cosworth. Rider Dave Croxford pulled into the marshall’s post, inspected the oil all over the rear of the bike, then discovered with disgust that the cause was a missing oil-filler cap.
It may be too little and it’s definitely too late, but Norton’s Rotary streetbike just might be the start of a revival for British motorcycling
IT WAS 13 YEARS AGO THAT NORTON PULLED THE wraps off a promising, Wankel-powered prototype. And the few journalists who rode that prototype liked it. It was fast, smooth and much lighter than Suzuki’s ill-fated RE-5 Rotary, also introduced in 1975.
It’s Us against Them again. But for the first time in 14 years, we have the home-field advantage
MX Mix And Match
CAMRON E. BUSSARD
BEFORE THE CHAMPAGNE HAD dried on the leathers of Wayne Gardner, the newly crowned 1987 500cc GP World Champion, eyes were on the 1988 season. Already, the individual racing teams were locked in negotiations for new riders, new equipment, new sponsors and more money, all fueled by hopes of replacing Gardner on the top of the champion's rostrum come the end of the year.
L ast year, Suzuki’s GSX-R Cup roadracing series was a big hit, so for 1988 it’s back. And it’s got company. Now there’s a Suzuki National Motocross Series, as well, in which amateur motocross riders will duke it out for prize money and savings bonds.
I have some questions concerning Honda’s oval piston technology: 1) Does the oval-piston NR750 produce more torque than the round-piston RVF750? 2) Does Honda have plans (besides endurance racing) for oval-piston technology?