IT WAS EIGHT YEARS AGO THAT I FIRST laid eyes on Ascot Park, there to cover my first dirt-track national as a fledgling reporter for Cycle News. And was I ever disappointed. Not in the race. Jay Springsteen won going away, his 34th career victory, riding so hard, banking over so far, I remember, that he was damn near dragging his muffler-mounted, left-side numberplate in the clay.
MOTORCYCLING AND POPULAR MUSIC have never been particularly successful together. We've had pop songs which portrayed the motorcycle as escape vehicle (Roy Orbison's "Ride Away" comes to mind), assault weapon ("Born to Be Wild"), sales object ("Little Honda"), and sociopathic outlet ("Leader of the Pack").
WHILE UNPACKING THE LAST OF OUR moving containers a few weeks ago, I found an old saltine cracker box made of tin. filled with letters sent to me while I was in Vietnam, 29 years ago. They were addressed to a Sp/4 Egan, MAC V Advisory Team 45, Phan Rang, APO San Francisco, Cal. 96381. Naturally. I stopped unpacking and started re-reading the mail, most of which I hadn’t looked at since the day it was first opened.
I have read and re-read the story on the Russian motorcyclist who visited America (see “Riding with Oleg,"CW, December, 1990). As I read between the lines of what Peter Egan wrote about Oleg’s impressions of America, my heart was touched in empathy for the situation that so many people around the world live in on a daily basis.
CAN IT BE THAT TIME MOVES more slowly in Bavaria than elsewhere, or is it just that Munich's motorcycle mavens march to a different mazurka? Whatever it is, 1991 for the proud old firm of BMW isn't much different from 1990, with pretty much the same motorcycles on offer this year as last.
LIFE IN THE EAST BLOC HASN'T been easy, but in spite of all the difficulties experienced by Czechoslovakia during its march towards democracy, tiny Jawa not only has persisted in its efforts to build motorcycles, it has continued to develop new ones. Or at least, sort-of-new ones. For evidence of that, look no farther than the Jawa 250.
A NEW CHASSIS KIT HAS BEEN developed Down Under which offers owners of bevel-drive Ducati Twins the opportunity to exchange the rangy handling of their twin-shockers fora more modern feel. Vee Two Engineering (Unit 1/108 Beechboro Road, Bayswater, WA 6053 Australia) offers its Alchemy chassis kit in two versions—SV-1 for street use and RV-1 for the track.
LUXURY TOURING BIKES DON'T get any belter than Honda’s top-of-the-line, $13,998 GL 1500 Gold Wing Special Edition. But a motorcycle that costs more than many cars, and has every possible gizmo, isn’t for everyone. The standard Gold Wing Aspencade sells for $2000 less than the SE and offers the same level of performance for those who can live without illuminated switches, adjustable passenger pegs, rear spoiler, high-zoot radio and a saddle rain cover.
CLEARLY, WHAT’S NEEDED here isa time machine, one big enough to bri ng back some quarter-century-old motorcycles. Let’s start with this issue’s main test bike, a Velocette Thruxton 500, resplendent in blue-painted frame, with silver fuel tank and fenders. (Whatever happened to traditional Velo black and gold?) Costingall of $ 1240, theThruxton confounded the editors with its reluctance to be brought to life, but they called the bike a “ play racer’s dream.
THESE DAYS IT’S A SLEEPY LITtle town high on the bluffs above the east side of the Mississippi River, but for 47 days during the Civil War, the eyes of the world were on this place, as Union armies put Vicksburg to siege. Capture of the town’s rail and river links was a critical element in what Union General Winfield Scott called “The Anaconda Plan,” designed to squeeze the life from the Confederacy.
UP: To the good folks at HarleyDavidson of Glendale (California) for raising $825,000 on its Love Ride 7 Muscular Dystrophy benefit. An estimated 9000 riders, pledging a minimum of $40 each, showed up at the Calamigos Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains on about 7500 bikes to hear David Crosby and Jackson Browne sing, ogle a variety of Harley women, wolf down ribs and potato salad, and just generally bask in a gorgeous Southern California afternoon.
IT’S A CONVENTIONALLY ACCEPTED RULE OF LIFE THAT A wise workman selects the proper tool for the job he’s about to undertake. The same goes for motorcycle riders. If you plan on making sport-touring your primary type of riding, you select a sport-touring bike as your primary mount. But doing that requires that you sort through a conundrum, as few styles of transport are farther apart than "sport” riding and "tour” riding.
JUST MAKE SURE YOU KEEP IT out of the freakin’ wall.” That earthy advice was administered in 1977 by one Jay Springsteen to then-Test Editor Ron Griewe, just before Griewe climbed aboard the Springer’s Harley-Davidson XR750 dirt-tracker. Springsteen was not smiling, nor did he use the word “freakin’.
WHEN AND IF SCOTT Parker wins his fourth grand national championship, he’ll share the record with a racer who’s both a legend and a fan. First, the legend. Carroll Resweber was a tough kid from the tough seaport town of Port Arthur, Texas. He liked machines and built his own stroked Big Twin Harley, which he rode to watch his first race.
REPUTATIONS ARE HARDearned, harder to amend. Never mind that White Bros, is best-known as a supplier street and motocross accessories: Brothers Dan and Tom White were once card-carrying Expert dirt trackers, and the bike on th pages is proof that their enthusiasm continues unabated.
A bike whose time has come and gone. And come again. "THIS DOESN'T LOOK LIKE A `91 MODEL TO ME SAID the Mobil.station a baby-faced kid wearing a faded Yoshimura T-shirt and a grease-stained GSX-R baseball cap. He stared blankly at our 750 Nightawk test bike shook his head in bewilderment. "It look more like a bike Dad had when I was in grade school.
The original four-piper, the Japanese bike that rocked the foundations of motorcycling and ushered in a new era of sophistication. “The very best road bike in the world,” said the admiring editors of Cycle World. That first year, more than 20,000 buyers agreed.
WHEN LAST WE SAW A HONDA NIGHThawk. Freddie Spencer was riding it off into the horizon of a TV commercial. threatening never to return. It’s been five years since the last of those, the tariff-beating 700cc Nighthawk S, rolled off the assembly line, but Honda has an uncanny ability to transcend time.
PROGRESS ISN'T ALWAYS MEASURED IN LEAFS AND bounds. Sometimes, subtle refinements are as effective as sweeping change. Renovation, as opposed to innovation. Not that the Suzuki GSX-R750 and 1100 needed many changes. Since 1986. when the original GSX-R ushered in a new era of sportbike design.
HAVING THE VERY BEST OF something is always appealing. From 1988 through 1990, the best-handling sportbike sold in America was Yamaha's FZR400, a small-bore slingshot that on a tight and twisting road could dishonor bikes with three times its displacement.
WHEN REGGIE JACKSON WANTED to personalize his Yamaha FZR 1000, there was only one limit: He wasn’t out to increase the machine’s performance. “The bike is already better than I am,” he explains. Still, the former baseball superstar had a lot of room to make a styling statement.
WHAT? ACTUALLY keep something, anything, beyond its projected design life? Care for it, polish it. maintain it, use it long after it has been superseded by newer, prettier, more sophisticated designs? Outrageous, you say? A blow to the fabric of modern consumerism, a concept sure to send shivers through the bones of those charged with the sacred responsibility of selling us More Cubic Stuff? Maybe.
TELEVISION CAN MAKE YOU AN instant celebrity. Just ask any politician, Hollywood starlet or pampered pro-athlete. But what the Nielson ratings give, they can also take away. For proof, look no farther than The Superbikers. During the late 1970s and early ’80s. motorcycle racing was maturing, and ABC’s “Wide World of Sports" rode the crest of the sport’s growing popularity by featuring an annual event called The Superbikers.
Team Suzuki Endurance had two reasons to celebrate following the WERA Grand National Finals at Road Atlanta: The team had won its 13th race of the 15-race series and earned its sixth national endurance title, and its number-one rider. Mike Smith, became the new Formula USA Champion.
I have a 1 990 Suzuki GSX-R. It has plenty of power and good suspension, but considerable vibration at certain rpm levels. For hard charging, it’s not so bad, but I would like to do some long-distance riding. Any suggestions? Michael Watts Shreveport, Louisiana As Cycle World has pointed out in various tests, the GSX-R 1100 does indeed, at times, produce annoying levels of vibration.
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.