I WAS MORE THAN A LITTLE NERVOUS going into the first meeting. I mean, I’m in the magazine publishing business, not market research or product development, yet here I was about to meet with high-horsepower officials of a motorcycle company and tell them what they were doing wrong.
LURAY, VIRGINIA: IT IS NOT THE OPENing day Joe Harty had in mind. The vendor tent is up. The event tent is spread, the many rows of comfy haystack seats neatly arranged, the hardwood floor ready for the clog dancers and the disco. The registration center is staffed and organized.
“WE ARE A CURIOUS SPECIES,” I MUMbled to myself, pausing by the front door to pour sand out of my shoe. “We sandblast in order to ride.” There was sand everywhere. Each of my ratty Brooks Chariots contained enough fine silica to fill a good hourglass, while my ears, hair and pockets held three-minute-egg-timer quantities of the stuff.
Regarding your article on the Honda CBR 1000 (“A Bike We Deserve,” CW, July, 1989), are you sure that we deserve or even need a 998cc, four-cylinder, 16-valve, liquid-cooled, 556-pound, 132-horse-power motorcycle? Five days a week, I fire up my 1965 BMW R 50 and commute to work.
Singer Joe Walsh said you can tune a piano, but you can’t tune a fish. Well, with Mikuni’s pocket tuner, you can at least tune your carburetor. You use the Tuner to determine the correct jetting, taking into consideration the altitude and temperature. You can use the Tuner on two-stroke or four-stroke engines, and on single-or multi-cylinder engines. Suggested price is $2.95. For more information, see your local dealer or contact: Mikuni American Corporation, 8910 Mikuni Avenue, Northridge, CA 91324; (818) 885-1242.
Mikuni American Corporation
H20 Helmet Visor
There you are, closing in on the leaders, but you’re hot and thirsty. You can’t stop for a drink, but at least with the H20 visor, you can take in energy-producing liquids without stopping or even slowing down. Designed to hold up to 10 ounces of liquid, the visor has a clipon siphon tube that allows the wearer to sip without stopping. The $29.99 visor mounts to any style open-face or full-face helmet, and is available in team colors. For more information contact Uncle Moon Designs, P.O. Box 2089, Redondo Beach, CA 90278; (213) 533-1849.
Mikuni American Corporation
No, it’s not a drink, it’s a special, high-viscosity suspension fluid designed specifically for cartridge-type forks. Claimed to reduce wear, improve oil-seal life and reduce stiction, this new Bel-Ray suspension fluid comes in a one-quart bottle for $6.95. It’s available at Bel-Ray dealers or get more information from Bel-Ray, P.O. Box 526, Farmington, NJ 07727: (201) 938-2421.
Mikuni American Corporation
Anyone who has tried to use most motorcycle tool kits knows about the poor quality of the tools. But quality aftermarket tools are usually too big to fit into a bike’s toolkit space, so the small Lowell T-Torker just might be a wonder device for motorcyclists. This compact T-handle torque wrench features a self-locking, reversing collar to disengage the ratchet mechanism for conventional loosening, and it can be supplied with a hex socket set and various screwdriver bits. Priced from $24, depending on the shaft length, drive type and socket set, the T-Torker is available from Lowell Corporation, 97 Temple St., P.O. Box 15053, Worcester, MA, 01615; (508) 756-5103.
Mikuni American Corporation
Motorcycle Touring: An International Directory
If you love motorcycling, if you love traveling to the far corners of the globe, then you might want to leave room in your saddlebag for this directory. The 328-page, softbound book is packed with valuable information, including: major U.S. and international motorcycle rides and rallies; where to rent motorcycles; motorcycle transport companies; and a useful international weather chart. The directory also provides information on 145 different trips and gives background information on 33 tour operators. To order a copy of the $19.95 directory, contact Whitehorse Press, 154 West Brookline Street, Boston, MA 02118; or call (800) 842-7077.
INSISTENT RUMORS COME FROM JApan that Honda will launch an oval-piston, 16-valve, l000cc, V-Twin, called the NRV 1000, in street form at the Tokyo Show this fall. Scuttlebutt says the NRV engine will be housed in no-frills, Ducati-style chassis and bodywork, and will be fitted with carbs rather than electronic fuel injection to make sure that the viability of the oval-piston concept isn’t clouded by cantankerous electronic problems.
THE INEVITABLE HAS HApened. Private cars are being banned from the central areas of some of Italy’s most-crowded cities this summer. City officials, though, are recognizing the implicit advantages of two-wheeled transportation by permitting motorcycles and mopeds to circulate on an unrestricted basis on roads otherwise closed to all but emergency vehicles and delivery trucks.
WHILE THE REST OF AMERica discovers itself through memories of the Sixties, motorcycling seems to be in the midst of a full-blown Seventies revival, with standard-style motorcycles cropping up all over. In the last couple years each of the Big Four manufacturers have trotted out a Seventies retro-bike.
WHEN A MOTORCYCLE REmains unchanged four model years in succession, it means only one thing: That model is selling well. Even the technology-minded Japanese, who have been accused of outdating their latest, greatest new model before an owner has made his second loan payment, seldom make radical changes to a well-received model like the Radian, one of Yamaha’s top sellers since its introduction in 1986.
IF A MAD SCIENTIST INVENTED A time machine and on his first test he blasted back to a newsstand in 1964, he might think his invention a total failure. That’s because the September, 1964, issue of Cycle World reads very much like a modern motorcycle magazine.
JUST NORTH OF FLATHEAD Lake and a little to the east, if the one stoplight is green, you can zip through a town by the name of Big Fork, Montana, without even noticing it. From the highway, it has nothing to offer other than the obligatory roadside cafés, convenience stores and gas stations.
UP: To the Route 66 Association, for refusing to forget. The association is a group of volunteers that is trying to revitalize fabled Route 66 to at least part of its former glory. The road once was one of the best and most-traveled paths across America, but in later years it deteriorated as the interstate system grew.
FOR TOO MANY YEARS IN THE U.S., full leather riding suits have been held hostage on racetracks. While European riders have been willing to wear racing suits for street riding, most Americans have been content to ride with less than full protection, opting for leather jackets and Levis.
TO A DIRTBIKE RIDER, A WELL-STOCKED fanny pack is more valuable than an American Express gold card. The problem is that when you try to put everything you need into one, things can get mixed up or lost, especially if you try to empty the contents of your roll-away tool chest into a tiny pouch strapped around your waist.
Exploring one of the best roads in America on the best sportbikes in the world
CAMRON E. BUSSARD
ACK IN 1911, Louis WARREN HILL DREAMED things would turn out like this. He, more than any other man, put the then-newly established Glacier National Park on the map, and with his power as president of the Great Northern Railway, made it accessible to the hundreds of thousands Americans he attracted to the park with the now-classic slogan, “See America First.” Today, two million vacationers pass through the park annually, but Hill probably never envisioned the spectacular Going-to-the-Sun Road, the only paved road traversing the park, nor could he have imagined the four 600cc motorcycles that on this fine, spring day were gliding upward to Logan Pass.
IN A PERFECT WORLD, WE’D ALL HAVE FOUR-BAY GArages stocked with every manner of motorcycle— linked by driveways to Montana’s Going-to-the-Sun Highway. We’d get up early on Sunday mornings, pull the wraps off 600cc sportbikes and let their engines warm as we zipped into jackets, fastened helmets and wiggled into gloves.
ROB MUZZY, RACE TUNER EXtraordinaire, is doing the talking. The subject is John Kocinski. More specifically, John Kocinski—up-and-coming GP great and an avowed non-fan of production-based racebikes—riding a Muzzy-prepped Yamaha FZR600 in last March's Daytona 600cc Supersport race.
DON’T LET IT GET AROUND, BUT RUMOR HAS IT THAT some people out there secretly believe that motorcycles are impractical. These people—some of them motorcyclists themselves—think that bikes are too expensive, lose their value too quickly, are too specialized and too inconvenient.
WE THINK HARLEY-DAVIDSON'S CONVERTible is one of the better ideas to come along in a while. And like all good ideas, it has spawned others, among them, this one: One of Japan’s Big Four ought to build its own version of the Convertible, one based upon the once-endangered, and now re-emergent, standard chassis, but with a sporting flavor.
NOT MUCH CAN HAPPEN IN A quarter of a second: an eye blink, maybe, or a muscle twitch. In the grand scheme of things, a quarter of a second just doesn’t amount to much. But a quarter of a second is longer than most riders can hold the throttle of a 500cc motocrosser wide open.
YAMAHA JUST ISN'T INTERested in producing a liquid-cooled, 500cc production motocross bike. And for good reason: The air-cooled YZ490, updated very little since 1982, is still selling well. Not to motocross racers, but to trail riders.
GREAT IDEAS SOMETIMES have odd beginnings. Take Klemm Research’s Kawasaki KX285, for example. One day Bill Keefe at Klemm was talking to Kawasaki Team Green Manager Mark Johnson on the phone, discussing the reasons why an American had never won the ISDE. Johnson mentioned that the overall winner of the 1988 event was riding an Öhlins-kitted YZ360—an Open-class enduro bike that was based on a 250 and was easier to ride than a 500cc bike.
IT CAME TO BE KNOWN, SIMPLY, AS THE DBFH, SHORThand for the Dirt Bike From Hell, the title bestowed upon Cycle World's test Yamaha YZ490 thanks to its devilish handling and diabolic power curve. Though air-cooling diehards still relish it to the point where Yamaha sells every one it imports, the YZ490 is, when compared to more-modern, liquid-cooled Openclass motocrossers, as difficult to enjoy as a dirtbike can be.
Automobile racing has the Unsers, the Allisons and the Andrettis. Now with legendary Yvon du Hamel and son Miguel, motorcycle racing has a father-son team, too.
THE BOL D’OR 24-HOUR ENDURance race, 1988 edition, was drenched by a rain that locked participants in a race that was as much for survival as it was for victory. Among the dozens of rain-soaked racebikes that completed the French ordeal was a near-stock Honda RC30 ridden by a trio of Canadians who finished seventh overall.
Motocross superhero Rick Johnson spent much of the winter recovering from a broken arm at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. But even though he’s been sidelined, he still wins whenever he rides a motorcycle. Just to stay in shape, Johnson entered a local supercross (and won) and a local enduro (and won).
I am having a problem with unwanted acceleration on my 1983 Yamaha XT550. On several occasions, the bike has suddenly accelerated rapidly while in low gear— without my input! This heart-stopping maneuver occurs only after the bike has been restarted after a long ride on a hot day.