I NEVER GOT A CHANCE TO RIDE WITH Malcolm S. Forbes. Multi-millionaire Forbes—a man who won the Bronze Star and Purple Heart while fighting in World War II, a world-record balloonist who survived several crack-ups, an avid motorcyclist who occasionally took tumbles—died of a heart attack while taking a nap at his New Jersey home.
YOU'RE ON YOUR FAVORITE BIT OF two-lane, early in the morning. The road’s dry and deserted, the needle is deep into the top quarter of the tach, and the bike is doing its job sweetly, going where you want it to when you want it to. It's just you and the road and the bike.
IT WAS AN INVITATION MADE IN heaven, or at least in New Jersey. BMW's Rob Mitchell called up and asked if I would like to sample the company’s 1990 bikes on a two-day ride from San Antonio through the Hill Country of Texas. For a person of my particular weaknesses, this was a triple-threat offer.
Your story on the Suzuki VX800 in the February issue was very timely. My wife wants to ride, and is taking the MSF course. I think the Suzuki will be ideal for her, and if she ever gets it away from me, I'm sure she'll love it. Cliff Beasley Jacksonville, Florida In regards to the resurgence of standard bikes, thumbs up to the manufacturers for listening to the people.
A WHEEL IS A WHEEL. ROUND, rimmed in black and supported by a few spokes, right? Well, not when Franco Sbarro gets his whimsical hands on one. Basically, as motorcycle wheels have developed, the number of spokes found in them has dropped from countless thin wires to a few alloy arms, but last year, Sbarro went even farther.
YOU WANT TOUGH? CLEM Cykowski and his riding pals are tough. This gang of 20-or-so Denverites have for the last two Februarys gone looking for, in Cykowski’s words, “somewhere where there’s snow, somewhere where it’s a little tough to traverse, somewhere where we might have some excitement, some fun.” They call the gathering “The Elephant Mountain Ride.” The ride, about 100 miles in length, “is in the spirit of getting across the Alps,” says Cykowski.
OKAY, FIRST THINGS FIRST. Yes, Honda's Pacific Coast, now in its second year of production, is still controversial. Yes, some people will still think of it as a scooter with an overactive metabolism. Yes, even though its price has been held at last year's level ($7698), the PC will still be seen by many as obscenely overpriced.
THE HOT STORY IN THIS ISSUE was titled, “Exclusive Details: Honda 450," and told of the unveiling of an eagerly awaited new Honda which featured a two-cylinder engine with double-overhead cams, torsion-bar valve springs, electric starting and a claimed output of 44 horsepower.
IF EVER THERE WAS A HIGHWAY TO motorcycle heaven, the Angeles Crest, with its twists, loops, ups, downs and multi-radius curves snaking through the steep terrain of the San Gabriel Mountains just north of Los Angeles, would have to be it.
UP: To Joe Minton, for finding gainful employment. This month, Minton joins Cycle World as a contributing editor, and will be in charge of our monthly Service section, answering your questions about bike problems. He'll also contribute feature articles, specializing in stories about modifying and updating a wide range of motorcycles.
KENNY ROBERTS WANTS TO WHIP THE WORLD. WITH THIS TEAM, HE CAN DO IT.
CAMRON E. BUSSARD
WHAT HAD I GOTTEN MYSELF into? Here I was in in Goiania, Brazil, of all places, wedged into a tiny, tin Fiat between Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey and John Kocinski, hurtling through narrow, labyrinthian streets. Our maniacal driver pinballed into traffic circles at top speed, all the while jabbering hilarious nonsense about the local scenery.
"RIDING THE HONDA WAS LIKE RIDING DEATH.” Exclaims Eddie Lawson. “In every corner on every track, when I would flick it in, I didn't think I would make it out. It just doesn't compare with the Yamaha." Lawson makes no bones about how thrilled he is to be off of the Honda he rode to the 1989 world championship and back on a Yamaha.
WAYNE RAINEY PULLS OFF HIS HELMET AND reaches for a cold bottle of water. His leathers are soaked with sweat from his last session on the track. The hundreds of vent holes Kenny Roberts had crudely punched in them earlier in the day help dissipate some body heat, but with the asphalt temperature at the Brazilian racetrack nearing 150 degrees, there is only so much Rainey can do to remain cool.
STANDING IN THE BACK OF THE TEAM MARLBORO truck, John Kocinski throws up his hands. “They’re everywhere, and they won't leave me alone,” he complains as he looks down on the horde of fans and photographers watching him change into his riding gear.
OUR MAN IN EUROPE RIDES THE MEANEST GP BIKES IN THE WORLD AND LIVES TO TELL ABOUT IT
Eddie Lawson's Honda NSR500
Wayne Rainey's Yamaha YZR500
Kevin Schwantz’s Suzuki RGV500
Randy Mamola’s Cagiva V589
Honda regained the 500cc world crown in 1989 thanks to a bullet of an engine and to the sheer riding brilliance of Eddie Lawson. Handling didn't have much to do with it. I became acutely aware of this fact when I attempted my first flying lap on the number-one-plate NSR500 at Japan's Suzuka circuit.
Would you bid $55,000 sight unseen for the last Gold Star? Nobody else would either—at least not yet.
JON F. THOMPSON
THE LETTER, THUMBTACKED to the top of a weathered pine crate, dated June, 1964, and authenticated by its factory letterhead, reads, “... we are shipping you the last of a great breed ... beyond this, there are no more Gold Stars in existence.” The crate contains a 1963 BSA Gold Star All Sport.
NEXT TIME SOMEONE TRIES TO TELL YOU MOTORCYcyles have become too specialized, direct their attention to Kawasaki’s Tengai. The Tengai (“Horizon,” in Japanese, and pronounced “10-guy”) is based upon the familiar KLR650 dual-purpose bike.
THE TENGAI? MOBY BIKE, IS ALL, Monstro the Whale. That’s what I thought the first time I clamped my eyes on it. Then I threw my leg over it, finally making it on the second try, and rode it. You know what? Give it half a chance, and this thing'll grow on you.
IF A TYPICAL PARIS-DAKAR REPLICA LOOKS BIG AND IMposing, the Cagiva Lucky Strike Explorer seems positively life-threatening. When I first see the bike I am to ride, I get the distinct feeling that it’s waiting patiently for a victim—any victim—and I just happen to be convenient.
Crossing boundaries with the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic and the Honda Gold Wing SE
DAY ONE, 9:30 P.M.
DAY TWO, 7:45 A.M.
DAY TWO, 11:30 A.M.
DAY THREE, 10:00 A.M.
Harley-Davidson Motor Co., Inc.
Harley-Davidson Motor Co., Inc.
ELECTRA GLIDE ULTRA
Harley-Davidson Motor Co., Inc.
“It occurs to me that this sure isn't Switzerland.” Jon Thompson was right. It was Gila Bend, Arizona, not the most-glamorous place to find one’s self at the end of a long day of riding touring bikes. “This is more like Yuma, but without the glitter,” he said sarcastically while poking at a plate of refried beans.
WHAT'S MOST SURPRISING ABOUT THIS pair of motorcycles is that though ostensibly designed for the same purpose, each is very different from the other. I'm glad of that disparity, because while I find the Wing a perfectly fine motorcycle, if things came down to the ultimate either/or proposition, I'd have the Harley in my garage.
CLEARLY, ANYONE SPENDING the number of greenbacks required to buy a GL1500 Gold Wing these days will feel compelled to ride the thing. Tour? Sure. But also, commute. Haul groceries. Visit the in-laws, even. How does a Wing cope in everyday use?
JUST AS OUR MOTORCYCLES HAVE BEcome more sophisticated, so has our riding gear. That certainly is the case with the suit you see here, the Mistral jacket and pants, by Fieldsheer. It may at first glance look like the usual, black leather two-piece suit, but this street-dedicated outfit has a number of features more usually found on gear designed for racetrack use.
IT WAS HALFWAY THROUGH THE first Supercross of the 1990s. Jeff Ward, one of the winningest riders of the 1980s, had just moved into fourth place, and about 63,000 of the 64,000 spectators in Anaheim Stadium started searching for their car keys.
Roadracer Doug Polen suffered a serious injury when he crashed during a practice session at Willow Springs Raceway in California. Polen, who won the 1989 Japanese F-1 and F-3 national championships, lost four toes on his left foot in the crash, and spent a week in the UCLA Medical Center before returning to his home in Texas.
What is the expected mileage/life of a street-ridden telescopic front end, mainly the stanchion tubes and aluminum slider assemblies? I have read just about every bike publication for the last 15 or so years and can’t recall ever seeing an article dedicated to this issue.