THE SCENE WAS A LEATHER SHOP IN downtown Hamamatsu, the city that is to the Japanese motorcycle industry what Detroit is to U.S. car makers. Four Americans were in the spotless, contemporarily styled store, poring over racing suits, jackets and gloves.
WHAT’S THIS? A FEW SCORE CELEBRIties have decided that nose candy is Out and Harleys are In? Harley dealers must be smiling. Not because of the publicity, but because the celebs aren’t leading the trend, they’re following it. The gurus in our game have lavished a lot of word-energy on this, the New-Age Harley Phenomenon, trying to see what it really means.
NOVELIST D.H. LAWRENCE ONCE asked how it was possible that so many young Englishmen were able to leave the green, pastoral beauty of their farms to work in the coal mines, living deep underground for all their daylight hours. His answer? Motorbikes.
I humbly nominate the Honda Hawk GT as the best bike not nominated for Cycle World's Ten Best awards (October, 1989). It is the finest bike I have ever ridden. As a courier, my values are biased toward agility, grunt, high-speed stability and good braking.
ALONGSIDE THE NAMES BENJAmin Franklin and Thomas Edison, add Switzerland’s Hans Walther to the list of men who have accomplished great things with electricity. If Walther’s dream comes true, that is. That dream has nothing to do with stormy-weather kite flying or persuading filament to glow inside a glass tube, however.
COLLECTION, IT SEEMS, has one or two standouts. At the Louvre in Paris, there’s the Venus de Milo and da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. At the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, there’s the Wright brothers’ biplane and Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis. And at the 28th International Tokyo Motor Show this year, there was Honda’s NR and Yamaha’s Morpho.
MOST AMERICAN RIDERS DON'T give a flip about 125cc repli-racer streetbikes. But in Italy, producing the sexiest, fastest, best-handling 125 can make or break a motorcycle company. The fickle fashion-followers who buy these bikes are generally in the 16to 23-year-old age bracket, and, clearly, the most-important thing in their lives is having the trickest 125-brand loyalty be damned.
TIMES HAVE CHANGED IN THE motorcycle industry over the past 25 years. CW's January, 1965, issue, like most motorcycle magazines back then, was illustrated by mostly blackand-white photography. Inside color photos were so rare that running one was a celebrated event.
Bryan, Ohio FOR MOTORCYCLE RIDERS, interstate highways are doubly damned. Not only are these bands of concrete as uncurving as a carpenter’s straightedge, but the food available alongside them is, well, let’s just call it unimaginative.
UP: To Pro Italia Motors, a shop in Glendale, California, that does more than sell new motorcycles and fixup old ones. Owner Earl Campbell runs the tidy Ducati and Moto Guzzi dealership almost as if it were a big clubhouse for fans of Italian motorcycles, with an always-full coffee machine and a VCR cabinet well-stocked with race footage.
There’s nothing like romping on the binders and then worrying if the Peterbilt pilot you just passed will see your brake lights soon enough to avoid turning you and Mr. Bike into a king-sized pancake. To alleviate that fear, Todd Industries has come up with its Safe-Lite. The Safe-Lite attaches to the back of a rider’s helmet via velcro strips, and lights up any time the bike is braked or downshifted. Flipping a switch on the unit puts it into continual-blinking mode for foul-weather riding. The cordless Safe-Lite is powered by rechargeable batteries, and sells for $39.95. To light up your life, contact Todd Industries, 645 Hembree Parkway, Roswell, G A 30076; 800/ 476-TODD.
Sun Mate battery charger
While solar-powered motorcycles are probably a few years off, solarpowered battery chargers are available today. The $29.95 Sun Mate solar-powered battery charger is a compact 3-by-6-inch solar panel that’s supplied with a cigar-lighter plug or spring clips, and is claimed to be able to trickle-charge your 12volt battery anytime the sun is shining. For more information, contact Watersmith Marketing Associates 10909 Sanden #17, Dallas, TX 75238; 800/369-9330.
Works Performance Ultrasport Shock
Works Performance, long known for its off-road shocks, has been working more and more on street suspensions. Now, Works introduces the Ultrasport Shock, a multi-adjustable, lightweight shock for sportbikes. Works sets the damping rates and the spring rates for individual bikes and riders, and equips the shock with an 18-position, rebounddamping adjustment. The Ultrashock is available for all singleshock sportbikes for $489.95. For more information, contact Works Performance, 8730 Shirley Ave., Northridge, CA 91324; or call 805/ 701-1010.
Ontario CARSON exhaust
Honda’s XR250 may be the world’s greatest off-road playbike, but it could use a bit more horsepower. Bolting on a new Ontario Exhaust Systems exhaust pipe for the XR won’t be the same as bolting on a turbocharger, but the company claims that the system will produce more power and weigh less than the standard exhaust pipe. The tunable silencer also functions as a spark arrester. Cost is $207.50 and the system is available through your local dealer or Sudco International, 1824, East 22nd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90058; 213/747-5173.
Performance Machine racing caliper
No matter how fast you go, sometime you’ve got to stop. That’s why Performance Machine makes the 137X4QC brake caliper. The caliper is designed specifically for endurance roadracing, features four pistons and has quick-change mounts for easy wheel removal. This is the same braking system that Team Hypercycle used to win the 1988 AMA endurance championship. Each caliper sells for $232. For information, contact Performance Machine, Inc., PO. Box 1739, Paramount, CA 90723; 213/634-6532.
Suzuki engine-case guards
In this world of good things and bad things, dropping your Suzuki Katana or GSX-R definitely falls into the bad-things category. But by thinking ahead, you can keep a bad thing from getting worse. Suzuki offers guards to keep the asphalt from wiping out a paycheck’s worth of engine cases. Unlike most case protectors, the Suzuki units fit under the fairing so as to be virtually unnoticeable. Suzuki engine-case guards retail for $64.95 per set and are available through Suzuki dealers,
1990 WILL BE A VERY VERSATILE YEAR, IF SUZUKI'S TOKYO SHOWBIKES ARE ANY INDICATION
AS FAR AS 1990 NEW-MODEL announcements go, Suzuki hasn’t just missed the boat, it’s almost forgotten to book passage entirely. Still putting the final touches on some of its 1990 U.S. models, Suzuki is the sole major manufacturer not to show its hand for the new model year.
WHAT THE MOTORCYCLE world needs, we said in our September issue, is an updated standardstyle bike. In “The Cycle World Convertible,” we proposed that one of the Big Four produce a Universal Japanese Motorcycle for the 1990s, one with a four-cylinder engine, no bodywork and a rational seating position.
SOME MOTORCYCLES DO IT ALL. OTHERS ARE CONTENT TO DO A FEW THINGS VERY WELL.
SOMETIME BETWEEN WHEN WE’RE BORN AND WHEN WE first swing a leg over a motorcycle, we learn the disillusioning truth: Life is full of compromise. Especially life in the motorcycle world. The motorcycles we ride are compromised for the sake of price, the sake of government restriction, the sake of mass appeal.
Is Harley’s only new bike a portly pretender or heavyweight hit?
ALONG THE BOTTOM OF A SMALL VALLEY. GOLDEN hills rise sharply from a tight, twisty road. Following a stream, the road climbs and falls as it cuts its way through landscape dotted by oak trees and scrub pines. This is sportbike country, pure and simple.
DRIVING HARD. REGGIE Jackson glanced in his Porsche’s rearview mirror and was greeted by a motorcycle. gaining on him. He stepped up the pace, but the motorcycle zapped past easily. Jackson tried to keep up. but at the next turn, the bike slowed only slightly as the rider slid off the seat, leaned his machine way over, scrubbed a knee on the asphalt and disappeared.
WE ROLLED TO A STOP IN GORDA. A SMALL VILLAGE ON CALIFORnia’s Coast Highway. In a matter of seconds, it seemed everyone in town was around Reggie Jackson, touching him, shaking his hand. He was gracious, soft-spoken and patient, signing an autograph here, answering a baseball question there.
ITS NAME MEANS “THESIS” IN ITALian, but the Tesi could as easily be called the Phoenix, since it’s the symbol of Bimota’s rise from the ashes of threatened bankruptcy in 1985. But the Tesi is more than a symbol of challenges met. It’s also the prototype of Bimota’s road bikes for the 1990s.
WHERES IT’S THE TYMPANIC BOOM OF AN ITALIAN V-Twin or a treble scale from a small-bore inline-Four, the music of a motorcycle shop has a very special appeal. But there's a shop in Long Beach, California, where the music is even more special than usual.
KAWASAKI'S 1989 VOYAGER XII sold for $8699, a bargain in the luxury touring-bike market. If that sum of money doesn’t sound like such a good deal to you, consider this: A Yamaha Venture would have set you back an additional $1100, a Suzuki Cavalcade cost $1300 more, Honda’s Gold Wing was priced $2799 higher and Harley’s Tour Glide Ultra was $4296 farther up the price scale.
A GOOD PAIR OF GLOVES? RIGHT UP there with helmet and leather jacket as the absolute minimum a thoughtful rider should wear. And that rider could do worse than use Tourmaster Roadrace Competition Gloves,which in spite of their race-oriented name, are useful partners for street riding.
FOR RIDERS WHO BELIEVE THE RIDE doesn't end until their motorcycles are clean and sparkling in virgin purity, washing a bike can be one of the most-holy ceremonies of man and machine. But there are those of us who either don’t have the time or don’t want to spend those hours washing when we could be riding instead.
The problem with dreams is that sometimes they come true
LOOKING BACK ON IT NOW, I’LL admit I might have been obsessed. Slightly obsessed, if there is such I wasn’t is such a thing. I wasn’t driven by the type of mad, fanatical obsession that made Dudley Moore fall into swimming pools whenever Bo Derek was around: My obsession was a race.
In America's early Six-Days attempts, even actor Steve McQueen couldn't guarantee a happy ending
ON THE LONG LIST OF Things That Americans Do Well, one entry is conspicuously absent: The International Six-Day Enduro. We've never won the prestigious World Trophy competition. To be fair, we have had our moments. Our first gold medal was earned way back in 1949 by New' Yorker Tommy McDermott, riding a Triumph.
The care and feeling of your best friend during the ISDE
THE THREE UGLIEST LETters in the alphabet are D. N and F. Or at least a “Did Not Finish” entry in the column next to my name on the ISDE roster would be the ugliest sight I had ever seen. I didn t travel all over the U.S. to qualify for the Six-Days, spending an unthinkable amount of my savings in the process, to get to Germany and have my dreams fall into pieces along with my motorcycle.
Spectators at the last national motocross of the year, held at Unadilla, New York, saw two new national champions crowned. In the 500cc class, it was no real surprise: Jeff Ward dominated the series from the start, making up for the injuries that took him out of the supercross and 250 chases.
Synchronizing the carburetors on my 1983 Suzuki GS1100E in hopes of eliminating an off-idle surge, I set them for equal vacuum draw using a mercury gauge. When this didn’t cure the problem, I checked a Suzuki shop manual, and it said that, using a ball-type gauge, the inner cylinders (2 and 3) should read onehalf ball diameter less vacuum pressure than the outer cylinders.
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 853 W. 17th Street, Costa Mesa, CA 92627. To be returned, the photographs must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope.