WE’RE LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD readers. One hundred, to be exact. That’s the number of people who we hope will take part in an experiment we’re about to try. It’s called the Cycle World 100 Readers Group, and it’ll be our very own focus group. For those of you who don’t know, focus groups are made up of a cross-section of people and are used by many companies, including motorcycle manufacturers, to sample public reaction to new designs.
NONRIDERS USUALLY THINK THAT the watershed event in a motorcyclist’s riding life is the First Fall. Like many fancies harbored by nonriders, this is wrong. The real watershed event for any motorcyclist is the Cargo Crisis. This particular crisis occurs when you awaken one day to realize that you’re now so deep into motorcycling that you need a vehicle just to haul things associated with riding.
“LOOKS LIKE YOU'VE GOT A COUPLE OF buffalo back there,” my friend Chris Beebe said, peering into the back of my Chevy van. “Are you sure those are motorcycles?” It was hard to tell at a quick glance, but they were motorcycles, all right. Two of them, a Ducati 900SS and a Triumph TR6C, wrapped for transport across 2500 miles of western and midwestern America.
I just finished reading David Edwards’ June editorial, “Conversations,” and I just wanted to say that I think he's right on the money. The hallmark of being a motorcyclist is the ritualistic “talk” we engage in with our machines—washing, tinkering, buffing, polishing—followed by an over-the-shoulder glance as we walk away.
Bimota-Guzzi: High-tech Chassis Meets Low-tech Motor
BIMOTA, ONE OF EUROPE'S PREmier builders of high-quality, limited-production motorcycles, will produce a new shaft-drive sportbike powered by Guzzi's eight-valve, 1000cc Daytona engine, thanks to an agreement signed recently by Bimota's Giuseppe Morri and Moto Guzzi's Alejandro de Tomaso.
IN AN EFFORT TO LURE THE ELUsive new-bike customer back into its showrooms, American Honda has cut the prices of some of its motorcycles. The most-significant reduction is on leftover ’89 Pacific Coasts, the new suggested price for which drops from $7313 to $5998.
EUROPEAN DREAMBIKES HAVE become synonymous with garish colors and eccentric contours, and at first glance, the Yelen would seem no exception. But take a second look. You'll find that the Yelen-the Slavic word for "deer"-grows on you. Because, for all its unorthodox styling, the Yelen embodies a rare combination of aesthetics and innovation, a combination that places it a cut above the usual Euro-customs.
IF IT DOES NOTHING ELSE, LOOKING back at this old issue of Cycle World reminds me of another in a long line of mistakes I’ve made. The bike on the cover was a Norton Atlas. But that’s okay, I’ve never craved Nortons. Ah, but featured inside was a test of a Ducati 250 Mk.III, a jewel-like little production racer.
SOUTH DAKOTA’S THROWING a party, and if you value the camaraderie of other riders, that state will be the place to be August 6-12. That’s the time frame of the Black Hills Motor Classic, a yearly celebration of the motorcycle and its enthusiasts.
DOWN: To Washington Governor Muth Gardner, for striking a small blow against personal freedom. Gardner recently signed into law a bill that makes helmet use mandatory for motorcyclists in his state. While no reasonable person would argue against the use of helmets, the use of helmet laws remains an unsavory bit of intrusion into our personal lives.
Some sportbike seating positions force riders to rub up against fuel tanks, putting scratches in the paint. If you want to protect your bike’s paint from surface blemishes, you might want to check out Napoleon’s foam-and-rubber Tank Pads. Three sizes are available, with the smallest, the Pad 1, available in red, blue, white or black, and the two next-larger sizes coming in black only. The largest of the three measures 5 inches tall and is 3 inches wide at the bottom. Prices range from $12.95 for the smallest to $15.33 for the largest. For more information, contact your local dealer, or FTM and Associates, 1240 Rancho Encinitas Drive, Encinitas, CA, 92024; 619/756-9461.
FTM and Associates
Vance & Hines ZX-7 Supersport Exhaust
Kwasaki’s ZX-7 exploded on the scene last year in a blaze of green-and-white glory. Stock, the bike already is a powerhouse, but can benefit from a better-breathing exhaust system. The $339 Vance & Hines pipe for the ZX-7 is claimed to bolt right on, and when used with a Dynojet carburetor re-jetting kit (recommended by Vance & Hines to get the full potential from the pipe) is claimed to produce 10 more horsepower than the stock pipe. Contact Vance and Hines Racing, 14010 Marquardt Ave., Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670; 213/921-7461.
FTM and Associates
Leisure Components carb-sync gauge
A trip to the dentist can be more enjoyable than trying to adjust the carburetors on a multi-carb motorcycle. A carburetor synchronizer is a necessity for the job, and Leisure Components (16730 Gridley Road, Cerritos, CA 90701; 213/924-5763) has two moderately priced synchronizers intended for the home mechanic. The lowest-priced model, at $49.95, is designed for Twins, while the four-cylinder unit goes for $114.95.
FTM and Associates
You’ll know it’s time to go riding when the clock hanging on your wall delivers the hint as strongly as do these from Lockhart. Battery powered and made from acrylic that’s been screened in two colors, the clocks, which are about 6 inches by 10 inches in size, carry a suggested list price of $19.95 each. Available from any Lockhart dealer, or from Lockhart Sportbike Accessories, 991 Calle Negocio, San Clemente, CA 92672; 714/498-9090.
FTM and Associates
Corbin Katana 750 seat
Suzuki’s Katana 750 is one of the best all-around motorcycles on the market today, but it’s far from perfect. To move it closer to that blissful state, Corbin offers its Canyon Dual Sport seat that features a removable passenger backrest. The mixture of basket-weave and regular cover materials in two color schemes matches the Katana's colors and adds a personal touch for $196. The backrest is a $99 option. For more information, contact Corbin Saddles, 1 1445 Commercial Pkwy., Castroville, CA 95012-0880; 800/ 538-7035 (in California, 800/662-6296).
FTM and Associates
Storz steering damper
If your Yamaha FZR has a case of the shakes, don’t call AA. Maybe all it needs is a Storz steering damper. Storz now has applications for the FZR 400, 600, 750 and 1000. The damper, made by Ceriani, is rebuildable and has 14 damping settings, and Storz claims lock-to-lock steering movement is retained. Kits also are available for Suzuki GSX-Rs and Harley-Davidson Sportsters. Suggested list price is $189. If you have any questions, ask for Steve Storz at Storz Performance, 1445 Donlon St., #18, Ventura, CA 93003; 805/654-8816.
CENSORSHIP, OKAY? So NOT TO OFFEND, WE'LL CLEAN up the act and simply say that what we have here is a J---S! Bike. When I pushed the button and the engine cracked into instant life with the whoop-whoop-whoop of hot cams, high compression and tiny flywheels, I said, "J---S!" When Mr. Editor Edwards rolled the bright blue Buell RS out of the shop and fired it up, he told me later, he exclaimed "J---S!" And when the bike's manufacturer, Eric Buell himself, took the throttle after the RS's owner returned it with a highly un-stocked engine, Buell's astonished reaction was, of course, "J---S!" I bet if old Joe Stalin, who for professional reasons didn't believe in the Father or the Son, had managed to get his hands on this Buell, even he would have called upon a deity.
ERIC BUELL JUST WANTS TO BUILD THE USA’S FINEST MOTORCYCLE, THAT’S ALL
ERIC BUELL'S RS1200 IS THE LATEST EXPRESSION of a very talented man's drive to build an exceptional, state-of-the-art, American motorcycle. His efforts have been heroic. Buell, 36, has, while raising a young family, become an entire corporation.
RACE? OH, SURE, THIS BUNCH has come to Daytona Beach during Bike Week `90 to race. But the division of motorsport this group is interested in is about as far removed from the carefully choreographed competition inside Daytona International Speed-way as chalk is from cheese.
HONDA CBR1000 vs. KAWASAKI ZX-11 vs. SUZUKI KATANA 1100 vs. YAMAHA FJ1200
YOU DON'T NEED A DEGREE IN ROCKET SCIENCE TO figure out what the four Open-class sportbikes assembled here are all about: performance. And not just your everyday "high" performance, either. We're talking pavement-searing mega-performance, the kind that generates blink-of-an-eye quarter-mile times and top speeds more appropriate for vehicles with wings.
SOME HEAD-TO-HEAD CONTESTS ARE IMPOSSIBLE TO forget. Who could forget Ali vs. Frazier in the "Thrilla in Manila?" Or the memorable NCAA and NBA battles between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird? And you surely remember our 1989 shootout between Suzuki's GSX-R1100 and Yamaha's FZR1000, two of the most-potent sportbikes ever made.
Is there a place on the racetrack for a 176-mph streetbike?
Camron E. Bussard
LET'S CUT TO THE CHASE: OUR ZX-11 WENT 176 miles per hour. That's not a calculated speed or some theoretical figure; that's the number that flashed on our radar gun when the ZX went ripping past it, pushing a wall of wind and roaring like a 747 on takeoff.
What happens when you mix the six hottest enduro bikes with six professional story tellers and one of the best trail rides in California?
The humbling ride of David Edwards
The survival of Jon F. Thompson
Paul Dean’s lift for life
The case of the cactus vs. Ron Griewe
Camron E. Bussard in terminal neutral
Ron Lawson and the trail ride that wouldn’t end
BENCH-RACING, AS ANYONE WHO KNOWS ANYTHING can tell you, is as much a part of off-road riding as are knobbies and dirt. In fact, for every 30 minutes of actual riding, you can bet that about five hours of high-quality bench-racing are generated.
IF A THIEF REALLY WANTS SOMETHING, he’s going to steal it, and there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s been a fact ever since Cro-Magnon Man took a loincloth off his cavemates’s laundry line. So, no matter what precautions you take, if you decide to attach your helmet to your motorcycle, you risk losing your hat.
HONDA’S XR600 IS ONE OF THE ALL-time favorite mounts of long-distance off-road riders. The 600 has earned a reputation of being super reliable, often logging more than 15,000 off-road miles before major rebuilding is needed. But there is one problem with a stock XR600, the same one that plagues many dirtbikes: Its 2.6-gallon tank is too small for exploring areas where gasoline isn’t available every 60 to 75 miles.
JUDGING FROM THE STATE OF NEW STREET-BIKE sales, a significant number of us remain happy with the bikes we already possess. But few riders remain truly satisfied with a given level of performance. There is fast, you see, and then there is faster, and the latter always is better than the former, especially if the injection of performance doesn't degrade reliability or practicality.
THE QUESTION IS ONE WHICH HAS DEFINED THE art of the hot-rodder from the very beginning of the internal-combustion age. It is simply this: At what point do you cease developing an engine? Alan Shephard, who owns the 1984 Suzuki GS1150ES you see here, clearly doesn’t know the answer, and neither does John Cordona of Fours N' More (7116 Canby St., Canoga Park, CA 91335; 818/ 996-8109), who built the bike for Shephard.
Taking Formula USA into the big time isn’t going to be easy for WERA. But battling the AMA for control of roadracing in America will be even harder.
CAMRON E. BUSSARD
BARRELING TOWARD WILLOW Springs' infamous Turn Eight at over 140 miles per hour, the pack of 50 motorcycles begins to string out a little. Midway through the long, top-gear sweeper, a crisp, orange-and-white Yamaha TZ250 buried deep in the swarm begins passing heavily modified Suzuki GSX-R1100s and Yamaha FZR1000s on the outside, blowing past the bikes two and three at a time.
I own a 1985 Kawasaki 454 LTD which has two problems that have me stumped. The bike had 5700 miles on it when I bought it and now shows 12,800 miles. Shortly after I purchased it, I noticed a little dark smoke from the right cylinder’s exhaust.
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.