FOR WHAT SEEMS LIKE THE UMPTEENmillionth time, someone has asked me, "What did you think of the USGP at Laguna Seca?" Well, my answer now is the same as it was when I was first asked that question a few minutes after Eddie Lawson took the checkered flag to win America's first GP roadrace since 1965: I was thoroughly impressed.
MIKE SAYS HE WASN'T THINKING much about the traffic as he accelerated his K100RT up the on-ramp. He could tell at a glance that Interstate 280 was sparsely populated in the early afternoon of that sunny February Thursday in Daly City, California.
We MADE AN ODD PICTURE, I SUPPOSE, and that's why the local cop kept cruising by for another look. It was a hot summer night in the little town of Quincy, Florida, and my wife Barbara and I were sitting on a park bench in front of the courthouse, eating fried chicken in the dark.
I have to disagree with Paul Dean's April Editorial, "No bikes, m'lady?" when he says that "most women don't like motorcycles at all." The majority of women I know and associate with love their men on motorcycles. I don't know where you cycle magazines get your info from, but if you would have done some research over my way, you would have soon found out that some of us women get turned on by seeing our men straddling their bikes in a nice set of leathers.
The chain gang at Tsubaki has been busy in the lab breeding the 530HQR Super Series. No chain of fools, the HQR Super offers greater tensile strength and longer service life than some 630 chains, Tsubaki claims. In fact, the firm says the through-hardened pins mean stretch due to bending won't be among the HQR's chain of events. Prices start at $70 for 100-link HQRs. To find out more, send a chain letter to UST Inc., 12275 E. Slauson Ave., Whittier, CA 90606.
AGV Doug Polen replica
Club racers: Tired of mid-pack finishes? Want to win for a change? Well, with AGV's Doug Polen replica, victory's in your grasp: Just put him on your bike and turn him loose. He even wears a replica of Polen's AGV helmet, with Kevlar and fiberglass shell, vents in the crown and chin bar, and a 2mm-thick Lexan shield. Production of the replica of Polen himself is extremely limited, but replacement helmets are easily available in red-black-white and blue-white in XS-XXL for $189.95 from AGV-USA Corp., 4626 Wisconsin Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016.
MS Tool Pak
Packing tools for a trail ride is like eating prunes: Are six enough? Is one too many? Whatever you decide to take, though, there's probably a place for it in the MS Tool Pak. The 1000-denier Cordura bag features several pouches and elastic straps to keep your tools in place, while the adjustable belt (fits waist sizes 28-42) keeps the Pak in its place. Available in red or blue, the Pak retails for $34.95. To find out more, contact Malcolm Smith Motorcycles, 7563 Indiana Ave., Riverside, CA 92504; (714) 687-1300.
Cagiva Pro Enduro jacket
Despite its elephant logo, Cagiva didn't make the Pro Enduro jacket from pachyderm cloth. Instead, Cagiva used Magnum One, a urethane-coated polyester-type material, then built in pre-curved arms, a zippered vent in back, clear-plastic card pocket—but no trunk. The red-and-silver Pro Enduro is available in S-XL for $89.95 from your Cagiva dealer, or contact Cagiva North America, 700 W. 190th St., Torrance, CA 90248.
Spectro Cycle Clean
"Criminy," thought Ted, "my scooter's filthy. How can I ever hope to get it clean?" There, there; try Spectro's Cycle Clean. Spectro claims its detergents dissolve road dirt, grease and wax build-up; just spray it on and hose it off. It comes in a 1-qt. plastic bottle for $7.95. You can find out more from Spectro Oils of America, P.O. Box 208, Brookfield, CT 06804; (203) 775-1291.
If cold, frosty mornings suck the life out of your battery, give it an electron infusion overnight with Acme's Super-Charg-Em. The 12-volt charger starts at 1.5 amps, and a P. C. card inside reads the battery's vital signs; as they improve, the charge rate slowly drops to about 0.5 amp. Suggested retail price is $29.95, and you can get more information by contacting Acme Electric Corp., 20 Water St., Cuba, NY 14727: (716) 968-2400.
The TALKING IS OVER. FOR MORE THAN TEN YEARS, VARIous motorcycle manufacturers have discussed the possibilities of anti-lock brakes on motorcycles. Many prototypes have been demonstrated, and numerous articles have appeared touting the safety potential offered by anti-lock.
Bimota has followed up its success in snatching the World TT F1 title from Honda by launching a street replica of Virginio Ferrari's championship-winning YB4. Powered by a Yamaha FZ750 like the one in the racebike, the YB4EI is a replica with a single exception: Fitted with Weber/Marelli electronic fuel injection, it actually produces more horsepower than Ferrari's title winner, and that’s in street-legal form with airbox, muffler and milewide powerband.
SO, YOU MISSED THIS year’s Grand Prix at Laguna Seca? If so, and if you have any interest at all in motorcycle roadracing, you should consider building next year's vacation around 1989's mid-April GP. The exact date and ticket information will soon be available by calling (408) 373-1811.
THE TWO MARINESSTOOD ON THE FUSELAGE OF THE overturned, crashed helicopter, watching the rocky dirt road leading uptotheir encampment at Margarita lookout station. For about 15 minutes, they had been following the progress of a lone rider as he climbed the twisting mountain path on what seemed, through binoculars, at least, to be the most enormous motorcycle on earth.
IT'S ABOUT TIME. THIS PARALEVER IDEA OF BMW's. After all, motorcycle engineers have known for decades how to design a shaft-drive bike that doesn't pogo up and down on its rear suspension every time the throttle is opened or closed. Indeed, back in 1950, the first MV Agusta Four GP racebike had such a shaft-drive design; and more recently, the 1987 Pro-Twins class-winning Moto Guzzi racebike built by Dr. John Wittner used a shaft-drive setup that virtually eliminated those undesirable suspension antics.
THEY ALL LAUGHED AT DUNLOP’S pneumatic tire, telescopic forks and several other technical innovations that broke free from constraints of traditional design. Or, at least, people regarded them with much the same mirth born of skepticism they would later turn toward things like Sam Popeil’s Veg-O-Matic.
With 10 laps to go in the United States Grand Prix, Eddie Lawson began talking to himself. "Ed, don't screw up," he thought. Ed didn't.
EDDIE LAWSON SAT IN HIS motorhome, one day before the running of the first United States motorcycle Grand Prix in 23 years. Minutes before, he had been practicing aboard his Yamaha YZR500, and he still wore the sweat and exhaustion that comes from trying to persuade 150 horsepower that it really doesn't want to send 280 pounds of works GP racebike skittering off a tight, bumpy race course.
AUSTRALIA'S WAYNE GARDNER, the current 500cc World Champion, strolls through the pits just like any other racer, stopping here and there to talk about the track or to share a humorous story. But once aboard his NSR 500 Honda, Gardner transforms into rolling, high-speed violence.
AT THE START OF THE USGP, Scotsman Niall (pronounced "Neal") MacKenzie jumped out in front on his Honda NSR500 and quickly ran away from everyone else on the track. In the first stages of the race, it was clear that he had the fastest bike, and he wasn't looking back.
ONCE WAYNE RAINEY SLIPS ON his leathers, he stops smiling. Being a rider on Kenny Roberts' team is serious business, and if Rainey doesn't keep his Yamaha YZR500 on the pace, the King just may dust off his own leathers and go out and set faster times.
IN SOME PEOPLE'S MINDS, KEVIN Schwantz was the odds-on favorite to win the USGP. He was, after all, on a roll, having won the Daytona 200 before scoring a stunning, almost wire-to-wire victory in the GP season opener at Suzuka two weeks before Laguna.
GREAT BRITIAN'S TOP-RANKED GP rider is Ron Haslam, who finished fourth in last year's point standings. Sporting the finest set of mutton-chop sideburns since the King (Elvis, not Kenny), and encased in nearly all-black leathers, Haslam at first seems a throwback to golden days of John Surtees and Mike Hailwood.
GOING BY PAST PERFORMANCES, Mike Baldwin should have been one of the favorites at the USGP. After all, here's a guy who is a five-time U.S. Formula 1 champion, who was the fourth-best 500 GP rider in the world two years ago, and who won the 1986 Laguna Seca F-1 national after an epic knock-down-drag-out with Randy Mamola.
FOR FANS OF UNDERDOGS, ITALian motorcycles and Randy Mamola, the USGP at Laguna Seca was a letdown. Their cause, their motorcycle and their man were taken out in a practice crash two days before the race when Mamola was high-sided off the new Cagiva V588.
GREGARIOUS AND BEARDED Eugene Brown put it this way: "If I had an hour head start, Lawson would catch me, but it would be close." The 41-year-old Brown qualified dead-last for the USGP, almost 12 seconds a lap off the pace. But while most riders would find being in that position discouraging, Brown was happy just to be on the track.
FIRST, PICTURE A HILLY ROADRACE COURSE. MAKE IT challenging, fast and technical. Then place it in one of the most beautiful settings in America, with cool ocean breezes stirring the branches of craggy, ancient oak trees. Within 10 miles, build a modern, oceanside resort town with some of the best dining and hotel facilities in the world.
THOUGH ALL FOUR OF THE MACHINES CONSIDERED major contenders in 500 GP racing are described as having V-Four, reed-valve, two-stroke engines, they have more differences than that simplistic description implies. For one thing, the Honda NSR500 has the only engine that uses a single crankshaft.
LIKE THE HONDA, THE YAMAHA YZR500 IS SAID TO have a V-Four engine. Again, that description is not entirely accurate. Instead, picture the YZR engine as a square-Four formed by two parallel-Twins that have their individual crankshafts geared together, one crank above the other, with their cylinders all on a horizontal plane and facing forward.
LAST YEAR, THE SUZUKI RGV500 WAS HOPELESSLY slow, down 15 or 20 miles an hour in top speed to Wayne Gardner's Honda. This year it carried Kevin Schwantz to a win at the Japanese GP, and fifth place at Laguna Seca. The differences between last year's slug and this yea's rocket are mostly hidden away in cylinder and exhaust-port details, and in Suzuki's newfound determination to field a competitive 500.
IN CONCEPT, CAGIVA'S NEW V588 (1987'S MODEL WAS the V587, of course) is very similar to Yamaha's YZR500. For one thing, both use V-Four engines with twin, counter-rotating crankshafts. The Cagiva's V-angle is slightly narrower, but not so much so that a set of four front-facing Mikuni carburetors can't fit between the cylinder banks.
Everyone knew an American could win, but nobody thought it would be this American
WAYNE RAINEY NEVER DID IT. RICHARD Schlachter, though he often set fast lap times, never tasted the champagne. These champions of American roadracing both tried to win a 250 GP. Neither ever succeeded. In fact, during Kenny Roberts' entire European career, even The King won but two 250 GPs.
"THIS," SAID THE RIDER AS HE CLIMBED OFF THE modified KTM 250, "is a totally different bike. It's neat." He was right. The KTM felt completely different from the stock bike that finished dead-last in Cycle World's recent six-way 250 shootout (April, 1988).
AS A CLASS, THE HIGH-PERFORMANCE 250CC ATVs cause a problem for the thinking rider. On one hand, these particular ATVs are terrific play vehicles, but on the other hand, they also are the best racing machines. With two-wheelers, the best racebike is not necessarily the most fun to ride or even the best allaround motorcycle.
THE CENTRAL PROBLEM IN RIDING two-up on a modern sportbike is the noise: an almost uninterrupted stream of chin music from the passenger, in the form of bitter complaints about the quality of accommodations and piteous entreaties of, "Can we stop soon?" And rightfully so.
A tale of survival in the world's shortest six-days
IT WAS BOUND TO BE A STRANGE event, right from the start. First of all, it was an International Six-Day Enduro that only lasted four days. Second, it was a world competition that could not crown a world champion. And strangest of all, it was Australian.
The AMA's 600 class opens the door to a new age in dirttrack racing
Ducati at Donington
Grand Prix Notes
Ride To Win
HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION Number One: You're a promising young dirttracker looking for a sponsor. You can offer name exposure all across the country in the national dirt-track series, and possibly earn a top-twenty number for next year in the national standings.
I would like information on how to make my 1988 Harley Sportster 1200 ride smoother. I need to have the smoothest ride possible because I have a kidney condition. I love the Sportster very much except for the rough ride. I read your article, “Project Sportster 1200," in the February issue, and I would like to know if those shocks and springs from Progressive Suspension would give me the softest ride, or is there something better yet?