THEIR DISPARAGERS CALL THEM BY names that alliterate: Jap junk, rice rockets, Tokyo toys. And those are the nicer epithets many people use when referring to Japanese motorcycles. Some of the others are ones you don’t repeat in polite company.
ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS HAS WHAT can best be described as a love-hate relationship with motorcycles. He loves how he feels when everything is working fine, when the weather’s nice, the roads are dry and he can kiss the tarmac with his pegs. He hates the Fear.
ALL I CAN SAY IS I'M GLAD THERE'S no such thing as a surprise psychiatric inspection. You know, an unannounced raid on your home, a Freudian version of what the fire inspector does when he suddenly drops in on your place of business and writes you up for having oily rags smoldering in uncovered cans.
“Motorcyclists,” according to your February Editorial (“Bad raps and bad reps”), “have done more over the years to further their bad image than anyone or anything else.” Really? It is generally agreed that those who fall into the category of “ruining the sport” are no more than the oft-quoted one-percenters.
IF YOU’RE NOT A FOLLOWER OF PRODUCTION-CLASS ROAD-racing, you may not realize that there’s a revolution going on. Lap times are dropping like they've never dropped before: At our local track. Willow Springs, a good 750 production bike two-and-a-half years ago might have turned a 1:35 time; in the last month, production 750 lap times have dipped into the 1:29s, six seconds faster.
Kawasaki’s ZX-4 is a good news/bad news machine. The good news is for Japanese motorcyclists: Unlike previous Kawasaki GPz and Ninja 400s, the ZX-4 was designed exclusively to be a 400. That makes it smaller and lighter than its predecessors, which were built around 600cc-size engine cases.
Many people fantasize about building their ideal motorcycle, but engineer and racer John Britten of Christchurch, New Zealand, is a man in a million: He actually turned his dreams into reality. The result is certainly one of the strangest-looking motorcycles the world has ever seen: the Denco-Britten 1000.
Bisbee, Arizona AROUND THE TURN OF the century, the copper mines of Arizona recklessly spawned boom towns all around the state. Today. most of those towns are the habitats of ghosts and hermits; but in Arizona's southeast corner, just north of Mexico, the town of Bisbee continues to be home to a large, thriving copper mine and 8500 devoted residents.
IT HAD BEEN A GOOD DAY OF RIDING. A VERY GOOD day, a day to remember. Morning had been filled with nothing more than a lazy, meandering exploration of the AnzaBorrego Desert State Park, a 600,000-acre plot of land 50 miles east of San Diego.
WHAT IF HONDA WERE TO TAKE A 1977 SOHC CB750, update the suspension and running gear slightly, then put this machine back in production? Would anybody possibly buy one? Can you imagine a Japanese company even considering such a move? Well, Honda has not resurrected the CB750.
NOVEMBER 1985, AND AS WE PREPARE TO LEAVE LOS ANGEles, we receive many dark and ominous warnings about this, the final section of our ’round-the-world journey, through South America and Africa. On Halloween, returning from a friend’s house on a borrowed bike, we almost take a tumble when we hit something on the freeway.
DID YOU FEEL IT? WE CERTAINLY DID. WE FELT THE world suddenly get a little smaller. It happened just recently, at the precise moment Honda announced the availability of its latest ultra-tourer, the GL1500 Gold Wing. Because as soon as that roaddevouring luxo-bike became a you-can-buy-one reality, all distances, between all places, instantly grew noticeably shorter.
JUST ABOUT EVERYONE HAS HEARD THE CATCHY SLOgan Honda uses in its car advertising: “We make it simple.” Apparently, the word “simple” means something quite different in the automotive world than it does in motorcycling. Because while designing the GL1500’s six-cylinder engine, Honda’s motorcycle division borrowed considerable technology from Honda's car division.
RON HUSSEY MORE THAN 90 PERCENT NEW.” IT SAYS, RIGHT ON Kawasaki’s brochure for the 1988 KX125. But it doesn’t really say why the bike is more than 90 percent new, or why that’s a good thing. These days, newness simply is expected in 125cc motocross bikes.
When the light of the silvery moon just isn't enough
TRAVELING AT NIGHT HAS ITS OWN REwards. Cruising along a moonlit coastline or up a mountain road under a sky full of stars can be a memorable experience. Those memories won’t be such pleasant ones, though, if you get lost. And even carrying a map isn’t much help if you have to fumble for a flashlight or fry your retinas in front of a headlight every time you want to read the thing.
DRAG RACING IS EASY. SURE. You JUST HOLD THE THROTtie on and shift gears. Easy. Anyone can do it. If you find someone who believes that, you can be sure he's never made a half-decent pass down a drag strip. In practice, drag racing can be the most frustrating of all motorcycle sports, punishing the smallest imperfections of technique.
Maintenance aid for the da Vinci with a touch of Visigoth
AN ARTFUL MECHANIC ALWAYS PULLS the gas tank before doing even the simplest of engine work. That way, a bobbled wrench can’t carve a divot in the tank's finish, dirt on the tank's underside won’t plunge down a sparkplug hole, and maybe he can actually see the plugs.
The ultimate adventure turns into a North African nightmare
IN TEN YEARS. THE PARIS-ToDakar Rally has grown from an obscure North African adventure for a few crazy Frenchmen to the toughest and bestknown motor rally in the world. In Europe, the event is like the Superbowl. the Indy 500. Daytona Speedweeks and the presidential elections all rolled into one.
There was only one American entered in this year’s Paris-to-Dakar rally: Malcolm Smith. Only he wasn’t on his familiar Husky—in fact he wasn’t even on a motorcycle. Instead, he was part of the Range Rover factory effort, eventually finishing fourth overall.
I own a 1984 Yamaha Virago 1000 with about 18,000 almost trouble-free miles on it. I say “almost” because the bike has a peculiar problem that is slowly becoming an expensive one. Since the bike was new, I’ve had problems with it backfiring and popping through the rear carburetor.
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, CA 92663. Only black and white prints, 8 by 10 inches, should be sent.