NOVELIST CHARLES DICKENS, IN HIS Pickwick Papers, talked of “the great art o' letter-writin'.” Well, Victorian England’s got nothing on present-day North America, if the correspondence we receive at Cycle World is any indication.
FOR SOME PEOPLE, MOTORCYCLING isn’t just recreation, it's all there is, both the means and the ends all wrapped up in one two-wheeled package. It's an obsession. Motorcyclists thus obsessed are a lot like bush pilots. Those pilots are usually people whose communion with airplanes is so profound that they've been able to cut loose from most of what we’d call normal society in order to maintain the communion as long as possible.
IT'S ONE OF THE SIMPLE FACTS OF LIFE that no two gears on the Big Clock will ever mesh exactly when they should. If your long-lost pal from high school finally drifts in for a visit, he will probably arrive at exactly the same moment the pipes freeze and the in-laws show up for a family re-union.
Okay, you win. I’ll subscribe forever, just in the hope that you will put out more issues like November’s. I admire the effort that it takes to produce a new superbike, and I enjoy riding them, but they have lost so much character that they are easily forgotten.
Look, if you're going to tour in style, you've got to pack threads and equipment sufficient to see you through any contingency, right? For those who can't get all they need in their bikes' stock luggage, Willie & Max offer the Tour Trunk, which attaches to any trunk-top luggage rack. Made of “synthetic leather,” the trunk comes with a zip-close nylon liner just right for your tux, or perhaps for your sweetie’s electric hair curler set. Suggested list price is $79.95 from motorcycle dealers and accessory shops.
Just as motorcycles have become more specialized in recent years, so have tires. Manufacturers now produce sport, sport-touring and touring rubber, each with special tread patterns, compounds and characteristics. The latest entry into the touring-tire sweepstakes is from Pirelli. Called the MT68 and MT69 Tour-Ams, this pair of tires uses a four-ply design claimed to minimize the center wear that results in a squared-off tire. The tires have a C load-rating index, the highest offered, and are available from Pirelli tire dealers in sizes to fit most touring bikes. Prices start at $116 for the MT68 rear tire and $89 for the MT69 front tire.
CR fuel tank
It’s a little-known fact that Little Red Riding Hood rode a Honda CR500R back and forth to Grandma’s house. The problem was that it was a 45-mile round trip and the stock CR tank is only good for 40 miles. Thank goodness she had an Acerbis 3.3-gallon fuel tank, or the Big Bad Wolf might have been flossing with what was left of that red hood. The Acerbis tank is as slim as the Stocker, but extends the CR's range well out of harm's way. It's available for the '88 and '89 CR250R. as well as for the ’89 500, at $149.95. For more information, contact Acerbis, 10911-H Wheatlands Ave., Santee. CA 92071: 619/562-1440.
The Stealth Bomber depends heavily on carbon fiber, a strong, lightweight material that’s just starting to be used in motorcycle components such as Kerker's Karbon Silencer. Made of a carbon-fiber/ kevlar weave, these silencers are lighter than aluminum and several times stronger than steel, according to Kerker. You can have this bit of techno-magic for your bike for $199.95, with either a competition or street baffle. The silencer is available through Kerker dealers, or contact Kerker at 818/999-3060.
Fork Tuning Kit
What do Reggie Jackson and Kenny Roberts have in common? Absolutely nothing, besides motorcycles. And yet, on many sportbikes with non-adjustable front suspensions, 230-pound Reggie and 140-pound Kenny would have to ride around with the same settings. Unless, of course, they each get a Works Performance Pro Series Fork Tuning Kit. With the kit, they could adjust their forks for whatever firmness and anti-dive characteristics they desire. There’s the Standard Kit for $65.95 and the Deluxe Kit for $89.95. To learn which one you need, contact Works Performance, 8730 Shirley Ave. Northridge, CA 91324; 818/701-1010.
Ferracci Cagiva piston kit
Tired of having other bikes fly by you and your Cagiva 650 Alazzurra like they were F-18s and you were a Cessna? Now you can even the score, or at least come closer, with a Fast By Ferracci 785cc piston kit. The kit comes with 90mm forged pistons, rings, pins, clips and cylinder sleeves. Turning your puddle-jumper into a top gun will cost $400 for the parts kit, plus labor. But that’s still only a fraction of the cost of a real jet fighter. Kits are available through motorcycle dealers or from Fast By Ferracci, 1641 Easton Rd., Willow Grove, PA, 19090; 215/657-1276.
Look, if you're going to tour in style, you've got to pack threads and equipment sufficient to see you through any contingency, right? For those who can't get all they need in their bikes' stock luggage, Willie & Max offer the Tour Trunk, which attaches to any trunk-top luggage rack.
IT PAYS TO EXPECT THE UNEXpected from the Italians, and the 1989 Milan Show reinforced that lesson. Motorcycles that seemed likely candidates for show space—the new Cagiva-Ferrari Four and the Mamola-replica Cagiva, for instance—were not on display.
WHEN IS A CAGIVA NOT A Cagiva? Right now, because as of the 1990 model year, Cagiva no longer sells motorcycles under its own name in the United States. During the 1980s, the Italian conglomerate purchased both Ducati and Husqvarna—moving the latter from Sweden to Italy—on its way to becoming the fifth-largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world.
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 black-and-white photography. Inside color photos were so rare that running one was a celebrated event.
FOR MOTORCYCLE RIDERS, interstate highways are doubly damned. Not only are these bands of concrete as uncurving as a carpenter's straight-edge, but the food available along-side them is, well, let’s just call it unimaginative. Should you find yourself droning along Interstate 15 near the Ohio-Indiana border when hunger pangs strike, do yourself a favor.
UP: To Pro Italia Motors, a shop in Glendale, California, that does more than sell new motorcycles and fix-up 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, GA 30076; 800/ 476-TODD.
Sun Mate battery charger
While solar-powered motorcycles are probably a few years off, solar-powered 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 12-volt battery anytime the sun is shining. For more information, contact Watersmith Marketing Associates 10909 Sanden #17, Dallas, TX 75238: 800/369-9330.
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 sport-bikes. Works sets the damping rates and the spring rates for individual bikes and riders, and equips the shock with an 18-position, rebound-damping adjustment. The Ultra-shock is available for all single-shock sportbikes for $489.95. For more information, contact Works Performance, 8730 Shirley Ave., Northridge, CA 91324; or call 805/ 701-1010.
Ontario XR250 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.
No matter how fast you go, some-time 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., P.O. Box 1739. Paramount, CA 90723; 213/634-6532.
Suzuki engine-case guards
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.
THE RETURN OF McBIKE OR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT?
WE ASKED FOR IT. MANY of you asked for it. Well, here it is. In the responses we received to a story titled “The Cycle World Convertible," in which we called for a modern version of the standard-style motorcycle, and in the hundreds of letters bemoaning the fact that motorcycles have become too specialized that were mailed-in to our recent “What's Wrong?" survey, one thing came through loud and clear.
IT'S ALMOST UNANIMOUS AMONG dirtbike riders: A 350cc four-stroke is a good thing. Unfortunately, in recent years, that kind of dirtbike hasn't been a saleable thing. Suzuki, with its 1990 DR, thinks it has the cure. But so did Honda in 1983 when it introduced the XR350, still held by some as the best Honda off-road four-stroke.
BEING THE PUBLIC-RELAtions officer for a major motorcycle company is no stroll through the park. Like snake-oil salesmen hawking cure-all elixirs, PR guys are paid to show off their boss’s bikes in the best light possible, then fend off volleys from an unbelieving press corps.
LONG KNOWN AS A CONSERVAtive, even staid, company, BMW is coming on strong for 1990. The German company’s big news for the new-model year, the K1—a space-age sportbike with wild graphics, a four-valve-per-cylinder engine and anti-lock brakes—was featured in the August, 1989, issue of Cycle World.
You don't have to be a mad dog or an Englishman to be the world's best motorcycle messenger. But it helps.
UH-OH. BUSTED. FOR AN INFRACTION WHICH COULD result in a ticket and penalty points that might cost the rider his license. And his job. Richard Desouza, you see, is employed as a dispatch rider in London, England, and he stood by in his helmet and leathers while his 250cc Honda was comprehensively examined by a sharp-eyed British cop.
RIDING A MOTORCYCLE IN LONDON TRAFFIC ALL day long might be better than growing fat sitting behind a desk, but it’s not the safest job in the world. The Dispatch Association has figures which it claims show that messengers have fewer accidents than ordinary motorcyclists, but even so, the casualty rate is high.
ONE OF MY RIDING COMPANIONS, HIS GRIP ON REALITY as warped by jet lag as mine, is trying to order a cup of coffee. He is, for reasons not entirely evident, speaking to our hostess in Spanish. But we're in Switzerland. The German-speaking section of Switzerland.
THIS WAS ONE RACE I DIDN'T MIND SITTING OUT. FROM my vantage point beside my broken-down Ducati in Daytona’s pit lane, I had a superb seat for the final dash to the flag in the most-exciting race of Cycle Week ’89, the Pro-Twins final. The race-long, three-way battle between the Eight-Valve Ducatis of Dale Quarterley and Jimmy Adamo, and the Commonwealth Flonda special of diminutive Aussie Paul Lewis was coming down to the wire.
WHEN RANDY RENFROW wrapped up the 1989 AMA Pro-Twins championship at Topeka, Kansas, last fall, climaxing a season-long duel with Ducati-mounted Dale Quarterley, it marked both a beginning and an end for the Commonwealth Honda team.
THIS IS WHAT I'M SAYING: HERE IT IS, THE WORLD’S fastest 1969 Honda. It's back.” That's what Mad Mel Mandel is saving, all right kind what he's also saying is that after a long recuperation from an accident that crushed both him and his motorcycle, he's back, too, as obsessed with speed as ever.
WITH PRICES OF SOME NEW SPORTbikes nearing $8000, and with upper-end helmets bumping against $400, there usually aren't many dollars left in a rider's budget for stylish, high-buck, leather riding suits. But there are a few reasonably priced, sport-oriented leather suits available.
Moto Guzzi to Ducati: "We'll see your 851 Sport, and raise you one Dr. John's Replica."
THE WORST OF THE RUMORS INsisted that Moto Guzzi, that venerable Italian company, maker of quirky, affable V-Twins so loved that their owners affectionately refer to the bikes as “Gooses,” was in danger of going out of business. Evidence was out there for all to see.
HONDA CR vs KAWASAKI KX vs KTM vs SUZUKI RM vs YAMAHA YZ
In the 1990 motocross wars, can refinement take the checkered flag over all-out change?
IN THE WILD AND WACKY WORLD OF MOTOCROSS. CONstant change isn't an option; it's a necessity. The factories never stop developing new technologies to help their latest MX wonders deal with the lumps, bumps and jumps of motocross more effectively than the previous models.
The care and feeding 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.
The European press calls Eddie Lawson arrogant and aloof; everyone else calls him the greatest roadracer in the world
CAMRON E. BUSSARD
FOLLOWING THE ROAD OUT OF town and up toward the mountains. I begin to get a better feel for four-time Grand Prix World Champion Eddie Lawson. He has backed himself up against California’s San Gabriel Mountains, living in a large, ranch-style house set near the top of a small canyon overlooking a desert valley.
In drag racing, it's hard to beat the first guy out of the gate, whether you're talking about one race or a season-long championship chase. That was exactly the situation in the 1989 NHRA Pro-Stock drag-racing championship, as John Mafaro— known as “Pizza John" due to his owning a pizza shop—jumped ahead of the rest of the field at the very start of the season and held his points lead throughout the year.
I own a 1978 Honda Gold Wing that has 60,000 miles on it, of which I am responsible for the last 40,000. The bike is a super ride, but for the past two years, the points have only lasted 500 to 1000 miles before the engine develops a miss and begins to sputter at lower rpm.