AN OLD MOTORCYCLE JOKE: Why do the British drink warm beer? Because their refrigerators are made by Lucas. If you aren’t familiar with the legacy of British motorcycles or automobiles, that joke could be meaningless. You probably wouldn’t know that the Lucas electrics once used on most British motor vehicles were shamefully unreliable, so much so that the company’s founder, Joseph Lucas, was often sarcastically referred to as “The Prince of Darkness.” As one motorcycle-industry executive, himself a Brit by birth, once quipped in the late Sixties: “Lucas should give a free bunch of carrots to everyone who buys one of its headlight bulbs.” Since it was almost guaranteed, he reasoned, that either the headlight would burn out prematurely or the electrical system would fail altogether, the improved night vision provided by the Vitamin A in the carrots would help the rider find his way home in the dark.
HAVING FORGOTTEN TO CLICK ON THE Norton’s push-push kill button, I kicked the starter lever fruitlessly, and finally flooded it. I knew, of course, that the Boyer ignition my teammate Dick Tietjen and I had installed on the Commando engine in January of '72 was still so good that whenever the Production Racer didn’t fire on the first or second kick, something was seriously awry.
IT WAS THE DAY I PICKED UP MY brand-new 1975 Norton 850 Commando from the dealership in Madison, Wisconsin. I was filling out the final paperwork, adding sales tax to the whomping $1800 purchase price, and getting ready to take the bike home on its maiden ride.
Do you think anybody gives a bleep about Cycle World's little adventure in Australia (“Thunder on the Magic Mountain,” Oct. ’88)? If you can’t come up with something more interesting, why don't you just pack it up? William Glover San Francisco, California One more peep out of you, Glover, and we're taking your shrimp off the barbie.
Domino’s Pizza might promise quick delivery, but they’ve got nothing on Pizza John Mafaro, who until just recently owned the NHRA Pro Stock elapsed-time record of 7.982 seconds in the quarter-mile. And the same cams he used can be yours, from Web-Cam. They deliver .430-in. of lift and 248 degrees of duration, and they’re suitable for ProStock-tuned Suzuki engines of 1260cc-1325cc; the firm says they’re too aggressive for street use. They retail for $270 a pair from Web-Cam Inc., 12387 Doherty St., River-side, CA 92503; (714) 735-2200.
Enduro 3 Sahara tire
If T.E. Lawrence had had a set of these dual-purpose tires from Metzeler, perhaps he could have ridden his beloved Brough as he led the Arabs into Damascus in 1918. Metzeler claims the Saharas provide excellent performance both on- and off-road, and they’re available in one front and three rear sizes, with prices ranging from $100 to $ 118. To find out more, contact Metzeler Motorcycle Tire, 4520 107th St. S.W., Everett, WA 98204.
Bell Star 5 helmet
When Bell talks about a Star with European lines, it doesn’t mean Marlene Dietrich. Instead, the firm is referring to its Euro-styled Star 5 helmet, with injection-molded shell, six-port vent system and black terrycloth interior. The new Star comes in S-XL, in black, red, white-red-and-black and white-blue-and light-blue. Suggested price is $ 129.95 for solid colors and $ 139.95 for multi-colors. You can find out more from Bell Sports Inc., P.O. Box 927, Rantoul, IL 61866; (217) 893-9300.
Sometimes, not even the latest spray-on wash-day wonders seem to get a bike clean enough. If that’s the case, maybe you need one of Kleer-Flo’s Powermaster parts washers. The largest has a 2000-pound capacity, and internal dimensions of 75 by 48½ by 46 inches; suggested retail price is $ 14,895. Of course, if the Powermaster outweighs your needs, the firm has other, smaller washers, and you can get more information from the Kleer-Flo Co., 15151 Technology Drive, Eden Prairie, MN 55344; 1-800-328-7942.
Dale Walker's Power Shift
Drag racers are wired differently from most people, and so are their shifters. The one Dale Walker sells, for instance, momentarily cuts out the engine’s ignition coils when the shift lever is pulled, allowing full power gearchanges without the clutch. Walker’s arrangement also includes a rev-limiter, and is available for most Japanese bikes’ engines for $ 179.95 plus shipping. To get more information, wire Holeshot Performance products, 311 Chestnut St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060; (408) 427-3625.
Classic Status Stamp
Stamp out classic bikes every-where, with Classic Status’ rubber stamps. Each gives a nicely detailed print measuring approximately 1¾ in. by 1 inch; just right for postcards and letterheads—or foreheads of anyone impertinent enough to question your taste. CS offers seven stamps, from a BSA Spitfire Mk II to an H-D Sportster to a Kawasaki Mach III, and each one costs $7. To lay the rubber of your choice, write to Classic Status Stamp Co., 205 Stover, Charlevoix, MI 49702.
JT Pro Tour Shadow jersey
Lamont Cranston—a.k.a. the Shadow—had the power to cloud men’s minds. JT’s Pro Tour Shadow jersey, on the other hand, could give you the power to cloud men’s eyesight, by making them think they’re seeing double. The four-color graphic is available on the firm’s Pro Tour, Vented and Supercross jerseys, and on T-shirts, in adult sizes S-XL (some children’s sizes are available, too), with prices ranging from $ 10.95 to $37.95. To get yours, see your local dealer, or contact JT Racing, 515 Otay Valley Road, Chula Vista, CA 92011.
Thread Repair Kits
Fleet Street tailors can't help you when your bike needs some new threads; but the Thread Kits Co. can, with its Mechanics Master Thread Repair Kits. The metric kit includes taps, installation tools and 30 Perma-Thread inserts, in 5mm x 0.8, 6mm x 1.0, 8mm x 1.25, 10mm x 1.25 and 10mm x 1.5, for $ 112.54; kits for American thread sizes also are available. To sew up the deal, contact the Thread Kits Co., 2530 W. 237th St., Torrance, CA 90505; (213) 775-3048.
Eurostyle case guards
The yard-wide crash bars popular in the ’60s and ’70s might meet the letter of certain roadrace sanctioning bodies’ rules, but they’d probably inhibit both your lean angle and passing technique. Instead, you might fit a pair of case guards from DPL Eurostyle. The dural guards come complete with mounting bolts for CBR600s, GSX-R750s/1100s, FZ750s, FZR750s/1000s and FJ 1100s for $69.95 a pair. To find out more, contact DPL Eurostyle Inc., 4237 S. Market Court, #B. Sacramento, CA 95834; (916) 9235829.
Moose Power Valve Tuning kit
You can tune an oud, a saz, a bouzouki—and now the powerband to your 1986-’89 Honda CR250. Moose Racing offers a selection of springs that replace the stock unit in the Honda’s HPP governor. The Moose springs allow the exhaust-control gate to operate earlier or later than the stock 7000-rpm setting, so you can pick the power characteristics that best suit the track or your riding style. They’re available for $29.95 from Moose Racing, 6235 S. Santa Fe, Littleton, CO 80120; (303) 794-6367.
Spectro Heavy Duty oil
It’s a commonly held belief that oil is nothing more than dead dinosaurs, and Spectro probably wouldn’t mind if you believed that its heavy-duty oil came from the biggest, baddest of the bunch. Available in 1-quart plastic bottles in 20W/50, 50, 60 and 70 grades, the mineral-based oil retails for $2.45. To find out more, contact Spectro Oils of America, P.O. Box 208, Brookfield, CT 06804; (203) 7751291.
Suzuki service stand
Once you’ve ground the sidestand to a nubbin on your GSX-R750, you’re going to need some way to prop the bike up. One way is with the service stand available from Suzuki. The stand features rollers for easy hoisting, and a padded surface where it contacts the swingarm, to help prevent slippage. It also works on both the 600 and 1100 Katana models, and on the GSX-R1100. Suggested price is $59.95, from your Suzuki dealer.
Domino’s Pizza might promise quick delivery, but they’ve got nothing on Pizza John Mafaro, who until just recently owned the NHRA Pro Stock elapsed-time record of 7.982 seconds in the quarter-mile.
IN MILLIONS OF HOMES ON MILLIONS OF TV SETS, BRUCE Penhall was on the screen, kneeling and looking at some indistinct motorcycle tracks in the sand. “Are they racing tires, Bruce?” his CHiP partner asked. Penhall looked up, and with a straight face replied, “They don’t come any faster.” As soon as that absurd reply was uttered, thousands of motorcyclists in thousands of homes either turned off their TV sets (perhaps with a shoe thrown at the screen from across the room) or walked away, shaking their heads and leaving their 10-year-old sons or daughters to watch the program in peace.
The Cagiva takeover of Moto Morini last year not only assured the future of the Morini name, it also released vital funds for new-model development. The first fruit of that money is the Morini Dart, created by the marriage of two elements of the Cagiva empire.
To FOLLOW THE MISsissippi River is to travel America’s past. That alone is reason enough to ride along either side of the river; but because most of the back roads that follow the course of the Mississippi snake and meander just as circuitously as the river itself, the route is perfect for motorcyclists.
Cycle World’s Senior Editor goes off the deep end. This is what he brings back.
WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO SCREW UP A PERfectly good '88 CR500R like that?" said a bewildered Ron Lawson. "You took the world's best Open-class motocross bike and replaced its light, powerful, two-stroke engine with a Husqvarna 510 four-stroke engine that's heavier and slower.
NOW I KNOW HOW DAN QUAYLE MUST HAVE FELT during his vice-presidential debate with Lloyd Bentsen. Because just as Bentsen told Quayle that he's no Jack Kennedy, so must I tell you that I'm no Bubba Shobert. Not that I ever really thought that I was a Bubba Shobert.
YOU ARE NOT JOHN KOCINSKI. You AREN'T 5-FOOT-5, or 128 pounds, or 20 years old, and you're definitely not the best 250-class roadracer in America. Yet there you are on pit row at Sears Point Raceway, cinching your helmet's chinstrap, preparing to settle your ass onto Kocinski's immaculate, red-and-white Yamaha TZ250.
DAYTONA BEACH. MARCH. 1988: IN A FLASH OF RED and white, Stefano Caracchi forces his 851 Ducati 8-Valve under Roger Marshall's powder blue Cosworth in Turn Two. As the two bikes near collision, the Cosworth bobbles and gives way. The Ducati darts ahead, a lead it will hold through the twisty Daytona infield, then lose on the banking.
SPORTSTERS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THE STUFF THAT dreams are made of. First offered to the American public in 1957, the Sportster was the original musciebike, as cool as Elvis Presley's blue suede shoes and as powerful as a Floyd Patterson knockout punch.
WHEN IT COMES TO PRODUCTS, QUIET, understated competence usually ends up taking it right on the chin. That’s because what often grabs people’s attention is either a flashy brilliance that sets off the hand-to-wallet reflex, or fatal flaws that trigger the gag reflex.
KAWASAKI HAS DONE THE IMPOSSIBLE. IT HAS BUILT A dirtbike with terrific high-speed stability that can still carve figure-8s through tight, tree-lined trails. A bike with a suspension soft enough to pamper its rider over punishing terrain, but stiff enough to absorb high-speed whoops without pitching that same rider on his head.
DO YOU FEEL LUCKY? You'd better if you're buying a new dirt bike. How do you find out about the long-term reliability of a motorcycle that just hit the showrooms, something that'll give you a clue as to how well the machine will hold up and handle its designated tasks?
When Honda introduced the 750 Four in 1969, the British owned motorcycling's high ground. Four years later they were out of business.
EXACTLY 20 YEARS AGO, THE FIRST HONDA 750 FOUR sat on Cycle World's cover, all four exhaust pipes gleaming, that great, wide engine in all its finned aluminum glory perched ready to howl. And howl it would, like only a Four could, with a shriek that sounded like silk ripping, a shriek that a Ferrari V-12 might make.
MR. ALVAREZ WAS NOT HAPPY. FOR THE THIRD time in less than two weeks, he had caught me with a motorcycle magazine hidden in my freshman Spanish textbook. But I really couldn't help myself. After all, it was early 1970, and I just couldn't read enough about Honda's exciting new CB750 Four.
ROBERT POLITZ HAS BEEN riding motorcycles since he was 15 years old. He enjoys modern high-tech bikes, but admits, like many other people. that the new machines come at too high of a price. Nonetheless, he says, "I like all motorcycles, Hondas, Harleys and Ducatis, but collecting old bikes is something else.
You get it best with your coach looking over your shoulder
STEVEN L. THOMPSON
SO, YOU'RE A RIDER WHO WOULD RATE HIMSELF AS "advanced." A rider who thoroughly understands basic motorcycle dynamics, has many years of saddle time and can move along the twisties at a healthy clip before your tilt-o-meter signals the edge of your personal riding envelope.
Golden Spectro Cycle Clean, Maxima Clean-Up, Qromtch Doctr P's One Step Motorcycle Cleaner, Qromtch Custom Finish, S100 Total Cycle Cleaner
Motul Moto Wash
THE SIMPLE, UNADORNED TRUTH OF the matter is that washing motorcycles has all the allure of eating a bug. After stepping in the bucket of wash water, squirting yourself in the face with the hose—twice—and feeling soap suds run down your elbow and into your armpit, you just know there has to be a better way.
"IT'S GETTING TOUGHER EVERY year," said U.S. Team Manager Roger De Coster very matter-of-factly. But he wasn't talking about the competition at the Motocross des Nations; indeed, if any thing, that was getting easier. This year, Rick Johnson, Ron Lechien and Jeff Ward sailed to the easiest U.S.
The very first very first U.S. team to attend a Motocross des Nations wasn’t favored to win. Not by a longshot. The year was 1971, and the riders were Bryan Kenney, Gunnar Lindstrom, Barry Higgins and John Barclay. “We were a joke,” Higgins says today of that initial effort.
In your test of the Yamaha V-Max in the August, 1988, edition, you stated that tougher EPA regulations forced Yamaha to make changes to the engine, but that they were compensated for by increasing the size of the V-Boost valves. Then in the specification chart, you say that the '88 bike’s claimed power is 145 bhp at 9000 rpm, but a very respected drag-bike tuner in the U.K.
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.