FOR A MAN WHO MAKES HIS LIVING critiquing other people’s motorcycles, I own a quartet of collectible machines that’s a pretty sorry lot. Oh, they’re great fun, all right, but not one is suitable for everyday use. My 1946 Velocette GTP has no rear suspension, a top speed of 45 mph and a propensity for seizing.
WHILE NOT MOTORCYCLING THIS WEEKend because of a blinding snowstorm, I decided to reorganize my record collection. Or I should say my record/CD collection, now that I’ve been replacing old battle-damaged vinyl classics with compact discs.
IRON CYLINDER BORES HAVE BEEN WITH us a long time, and with good reason. Iron is a well-loved cylinder material because it is cheap, easily cast and machined, and naturally self-lubricating. The structure of cast iron is full of tiny pores containing graphite.
I read with interest the “Sectional harassment” editorial in the January issue. I ride a Honda XL600 and a Harley 883 Sportster, so I am used to the double standard that David Edwards writes about. Over the years, I have had a 1956 BMW R/60, a 1946 Indian Chief, a 356 Porsche S90 roadster, a Mercedes, an Alfa, a Rolex watch, a Luger pistol, a Leica camera, a Winchester 52 rifle, a Vassar girlfriend and a Yamaha DT-1.
BIMOTA, THAT TINY ITALIAN SPEcialty firm noted for building high-quality racebikes that spawn high-quality streetbikes, has turned an important corner. It recently completed the very first test outing of its all-new two-stroke 500cc GP bike, the Tesi 500.
HEY, YOU, THE GUY with the Rolls, Rolex and Bimota, the guy who thinks he's got everything? There's bad news, and there's good news. The bad news? You don’t have everything. The good news? Samuel Klambaur, a 26-year-old Swiss artist, will be delighted to sell you that last artifact to add to your collection of ultimate artifacts.
WHEN THE YAMAHA SEROW XT225 first arrived at Cycle World, the skeptics among us took a quick look at the little dual-purpose motorcycle and immediately proclaimed it a fraud. How could a bike this cute and this slight, with its non-adjustable fork, tiny drum rear brake and bantam frame tubes, be anything but terrible in the dirt?
IT WAS THE YEAR THE JUSTICE Department indicted Muhammad Ali for refusing to enter the armed forces, the year revolutionary leader Che Guevara died, the year U.S. Air Force B-52s bombed Hanoi. Quintessential ’60s stuff, right? So how is it possible that this edition of Cycle World carried on its cover the words, “Antique Bike Auction”?
IT'S ABOUT THIS TIME OF YEAR WHEN every dreamer's thoughts turn to Hawaii. At least they do if the dreamer is sick and tired of winter weather. When my wife Michelle and I honeymooned there, we chose the "Big Island" of Hawaii. What we found was warm, balmy weather perfect for motorcycle riding, a terrific stretch of road that begged to be ridden, and, right across from our hotel, Ciao!
UP: To Harley-Davidson of Glendale, California, for sponsoring “Love Ride 8,” the nation’s largest motorcycle fund-raising event. This year, the annual ride raised $850,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and attracted more than 8600 riders, including actor Peter Fonda, country singer Dwight Yoakam and rocker Billy Idol.
Tuning your bike’s exhaust may seem like a futuristic idea, but Competition Werkes (P.O. Box 5233, Rosberg, OR 97470; 800/736-2114) claims to have made it a reality. Any Kerker, Vance & Hines or Yoshimura exhaust system with a 3.5-inch silencer can be converted to the adjustable Rat-Kit system. By using an exhaust valve located in the center port, back pressure can be adjusted in seconds, according to Competition Werkes. The Rat-Kit comes with a fully packed replacement baffle and retails for $90.
There comes a time in most riders' lives when a windscreen seems like the thing to have. But it’s got to be right— it can’t be too big and it’s got to have style. The Ranger, from National Cycle (P.O. Box 158, Maywood, IL 60153; 708/343-0400), fills those requirements, and is made from GE-Lexan polycarbonate for use on all Japanese custom and standard-style bikes, and on most Harley-Davidsons. Coated for scratch resistance, the Ranger comes with four-point mounting hardware that attaches to your bike’s fork. Available from dealers for a suggested retail price of $132.
Unfortunately, there are some times when it just isn’t practical to be out riding your motorcycle. One of the next best things, then, is to read about motorcycles, something the 1991 A to Z Motorcycle Book Catalog (Hosking Book Works, 136 Hosking Lane, Accord, NY 12404; 914/626-4231) will help you do. The catalog lists more than 1000 titles, which range from the history of Ariel motorcycles to a parts book for the Zundapp Super Sabre. It also includes a computerized magazine back-issue service and gift section. To get your catalog, send Hosking a buck to cover postage and handling. They’ll send you your wish book.
Soft Cross tire
Everyone has a cross to bear. Metzeler’s, at least, is the Soft Cross, a new knobby tire. According to the company, the Soft Cross offers improved traction over Metzeler’s old MXR199 and 299 models, and the new tire also works well in a wider variety of terrain. The tire is meant primarily for sand and mud, but when the ground gets harder, the Soft Cross is said not to break knobs as other soft-terrain tires commonly do. The tire is available in a 90/90-21 size for the front ($80) and in five different sizes for the rear, covering both 18-and 19-inch rim sizes ($77 to $88). The Soft Cross is available at most motorcycle dealers.
For a safe and comfortable ride in the wet, a good rainsuit is almost as important as having sufficient tread on your tires. The Bali one-piece rainsuit from Motoport (Suite 504, 7720B El Camino Real, Rancho LaCosta, CA 92009; 800/777-6499) retails for $50 and is available in three tri-color combinations. The suit features a high mandarin collar with velcro closure, an extra-long front zipper for easy entry, elasticized wrist cuffs, reflective leg stripes and welded seams.
Riders who are hankering for more boom from their Big Twin Harleys usually start with a camshaft transplant. Five years of R&D were required to develop the Bartels’ Street Sweeper cams for Harley-Davidson’s 1340cc Evolution engines. Two levels of this $165 cam are available: a mild, midrange performer or a higher-performance, top-end-heavy version. For information, contact Bartels’ Performance Products (9461 Jefferson Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232; 213/842-8081).
UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF NOSTALGIA? NOT US. For we have seen the future—at least a compelling bit of what we strongly suspect will be the future—and it, in the form of Kawasaki's alt-new Zephyr 1100, looks a whole lot like motorcycling's past.To understand how nostalgia is driving at least a part of the motorcycle market, a review of recent motorcycle history might be instructive.
DANG FOREIGNERS, THEY HAVE ALL THE FUN. ESPEcially the Europeans and the Japanese They get these two 1992 motorcycles We don't. They are Kawasakis, both of them. One is the ZZR250, a jewel-like miniature ZX-11 powered by the same four-stroke Twin used in this year’s Ninja 250.
THE LIGHT FLASHES GREEN AND DOUG POLEN ACCELerates away from the line, his bright-red Ducati barking its familiar bark, its clutch plates howling as they strain to harness the big Twin's prodigious power. Polen's teammate, Pascal Picotte, mirrors his actions from behind, and the two begin to pull away from the pursuing pack, leaving a field of less-talented riders in their wake.
IT'S THE SOUND THAT GETS TO YOU first. Under acceleration, the exhaust note is a murderous rat-tat-tat, battering its way into the rider's consciousness from double-barrelled silencers that end somewhere behind his right boot. Click up a gear and the bike leaps forward with renewed fire as its big engine sucks and rustles and blows with a distinctive and deeper-still voice.
Gloves deserve full representation on anybody’s list of basic, gotta-have-it riding gear, right alongside the helmet and the leather jacket. But which gloves to buy? We’ve been riding for a couple of months now with a pair of Deer Traks, from Z Custom Leathers (7501 Slater, Unit R, Huntington Beach, CA 92647; 714/848-5285).
TRADITION IS A FUNNY THING WHEN IT COMES TO MOtorcycles. Some of it is good, imparting a sense of history and substance. Rely on tradition too much, though, and you're in danger of living in the past, with a product line that appeals to a rapidly shrinking audience.
Honda CR25OR vs. Kawasaki KX250 vs. KTM25OSX vs. Suzuki RM250 vs. Yamaha YZ250
FIVE 250cc MOTOCROSS BIKES, THROTTLES TO THE stops, engines screaming, rear knobbies clawing at the hard-packed starting hill, charged toward Turn One. Forty-five minutes-and innumerable starts-later, there still wasn't a clear-cut winner in the drag-race portion of Cycle World's annual 250cc motocross comparison.
Bred for the boulevard, but ready to roll anywhere
"MADE IN USA." A FAMILIAR PHRASE, ONE THAT sends a patriotic message to most red-blooded Americans. It's easy to understand, then, why some people are surprised to see those words proudly displayed on the seatback of a Japanese motorcycle, the 1992 Honda Shadow 1100.
IN THESE TOUGH ECONOMIC TIMES, IT DOESN'T PAY TO take chances. That explains the relative lack of new motorcycle models for 1992. Indeed, one company, Kawasaki, chose not to introduce a single new model (though the slick 250 Ninja is back after a year's rest, and at a reduced price).
FIRST KNOWN MOTORCYCLE: Daimler, late 1885. First known motorcycle drag race: sometime in early 1886, immediately after Gottlieb Daimler built the second motorcycle. Actually, no one is certain that such a race ever took place, but common sense suggests that it probably did.
UNTIL THE 1991 MODELS came along, Suzuki's GSX-R engines employed the same valve-actuating system originated by the GS1100 back in 1980: a single cam lobe operating each matched pair of valves via a forked rocker arm. Valve lash was set with adjusting screws located over the valve tips.
SUZUKI GSX-Rs OFTEN SUFfer from identity crises. Though stunning performers, the racetrack-bred sportbikes look incredibly similar. For many owners, the solution is a slick paint job an aftermarket pipe and a color-matched windscreen.
YAMAHA'S FIRST-EVER SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS FROM FINE-TUNING-OF BOTH MOTORCYCLE AND RIDER
Stevens to Kawasaki, DuHamel to Europe
"What's your best lap time at Willow Springs?" Thomas Stevens asks me on the phone a few days prior to Cycle World's scheduled test of his championship-winning Superbike. “Uh, a 1:32 and change,” I reply. “Good,” Stevens says, “we’ll get you doing 27s.” “Ummm, uh,” I babble, aghast at the thought.
Cutting a few exploratory laps aboard a current factory racebike like the Vance & Hines Yamaha OW01 ranks at the top of the wish list for many sportbike enthusiasts and privateer roadracers. Unfortunately, landing a full-time ride on a bonafide works racer can be as difficult as hitching a lift aboard the Space Shuttle.
My 1983 Yamaha Venture Royale starts with extreme difficulty, bogs when the engine is cold, hesitates when accelerating and has a flat spot at about 55 mph. To date, I have taken the bike to three dealers. They have adjusted and synchronized the carburetors, put new ends on the sparkplug wires—maybe even changed the air in the tires, for all I know.
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, 1499 Monrovia Avenue, Newport Beach, CA 92663. To be returned, the photographs must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope.