NEXT TIME YOU RUN INTO A MOTORCYclist from the old days-that’s anytime BDB (before disc brakes)-shake his hand and thank him profusely. As late as the 1960s, motorcycling was a difficult sport that demanded a huge commitment. I was reminded of that recently while talking with my Great Uncle George, a wry 74-year-old Englishman currently leading a very active retirement.
WHEN THE CARD CAME AT CHRISTMAS, I could see from the return address it was from David and Lucy, our friends in Florida. My parents’ friends, really, but we met them years ago on a winter trip to Boca Raton and immediately hit it off. David and Lucy are a retired couple, but they both have that special ageless quality you see in people who don’t know how to quit having fun.
AT ONE TIME, MOTORCYCLE ENGINES led the world in four-stroke design, but Formula One car engines have now taken that role. Because car and bike engines alike are encountering the same problems, it’s useful to look at F-l car engine development.
I was extremely pleased to see the “Killer Z of ’73” on the cover of your January issue. And as an owner of an old Kawasaki Z-l, I was knocked off my feet when I read Pete Lyon’s accompanying “Revolution!” article on the first superbikes. I’m happy to see that in this age of high-tech motorcycles, old classics like my Z-l are cheerfully remembered.
IT'S NO SECRET THAT 500CC GRAND prix grils have dwindled over the past few years. Trouble is, there aren’t enough competitive motorcycles around to fill them up. A number of potential solutions-customer versions of Bimota’s V-Twin and Yamaha’s YZR500, to name two-are said to be forthcoming.
THE LAST FEW MONTHS HAVE been tough for tiny KTM, one of Europe's most illustrious, but financially hard-pressed, producers of motorcycles. But company spokesmen now say KTM has a new lease on life and will continue building its line of dirtbikes under new ownership.
TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY CUBIC centimeters isn't a heck of a lot. Seven-point-five fluid ounces, to be precise, little more than half a pint, smaller even than a soda can. Yet engines with that little displacement are judged sufficient to power some of the world’s fastest grand prix motorcycles.
IS TRIALS THE FORGOTTEN EVENT? Maybe so, now, but it hasn't always been that way. As evidence, we offer the fact that the April, 1967, edition of Cycle World contained a special section devoted exclusively to observed trials. This section was composed of an interview with trials legend Sammy Miller, three trials-riding features, and tests of a Greeves Anglian, Bultaco Sherpa T and Cotton Trialer, all in a memorable review of this interesting little corner of the motorcycle sport.
NICE HOTELS, GREAT ROADS AND locations that stay warm even during the winter months aren’t all that uncommon, by themselves. Finding them all rolled into one, however, is very uncommon. The Palm Canyon Resort is such a place, a comfortable and modern hotel, complete with full-service restaurant, that’s located smack at the base of State Route 22, in Borrego Springs, California, in the heart of that state’s Low Desert region.
UP: To the Shell Oil Company, for including motorcyclists in its Shell Motorist Club. According to club Vice President Melvin Evans, “We believe motorcycle riders face many of the same troublesome road situations as drivers of other vehicles.
THE QUESTION, POSED AROUND A CHARACTERISTICALLY UNRULY CW LUNCHEON table, was this: What’s our favorite category of streetbike? Speaking strictly as private citizens and enthusiasts, what’s the displacement we’d want to own if we were sentenced, in contravention of laws against cruel and unusual punishment, to life with a single motorcycle?
Best Bike To Be Embarrassed On When You Kill The Engine At An Intersection:
Best 750-class Value:
Best Bike To Make You Glad It’s 1992:
Best 750 To Pick Up Women On:
Jon F. Thompson
THE MAIN OUESTION IS SETTLED. WHICH IS THE BEST 750cc motorcycle? The Honda VFR750 is. But which one is the best sportbike? The best standard? The best value? The best in other categories? Read on, read on. Unanimous. The Suzuki GSX-R750. So well developed, so refined, that it puts its competition right on the trailer, even before the flag drops.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS, THEY SAY, ARE THE ONES THAT last. But not this time. Your first look at the custom Harley-Davidson on these pages is likely to make you think your eye-balls have completely freaked out. That's wrong. Your eyes have it. What showing you is an outrageous stack of motorcycle that’s as long as a semi and too low to slide a cigarette pack under.
Increasing valve-spring pressure is standard procedure when building high-performance Harley engines. This increased pressure helps prevent valve float, but it also increases the wear rate of the valve train. Feuling Engineering (2521 Palm Drive, Ventura, CA 93003; 805/650-6799) has a kit that lets 1966 and later H-D Shovelhead and Evolution engines rev higher without valve float or increased wear. Called the Rev-Kit, this 32-piece, $473 kit includes springs, lifters, and Feuling’s unique lifter blocks and lower springs that are responsible for transferring the extra spring load to the lifters, thus reducing wear, according to the manufacturer.
Storm Rider rainsuit
Every motorcyclist should own a lightweight rainsuit. This two-piece suit from Nelson-Rigg USA (507 W. Coast Hwy., Suite 203, Newport Beach, CA 92663; 714/645-4383) costs $43 and is available in red, yellow or blue. The Storm Rider is made of PVC and features heat-sealed seams, nylon lining, reflective arm bands, corduroy-lined neck and velcro closures at the wrists, neck and storm flap. Boot straps keep the pant legs from riding up, and a high, elastic waistband helps keep weather away from the rider.
RKAccessories Expandable Tankbag
Made of heavy-duty coated Cordura and foam, this RKA tankbag is usually 9.5 inches wide, 13.5 inches long and 6 inches deep, for a total capacity of 13 liters. But when expanded, via zippered panels, it offers 23.5 liters of space. Optional side bags increase the bag’s total volume to 26 liters. A removable hard-plastic map holder is standard, as is a synthetic-fleece bottom that prevents scratches to the bike’s fuel tank. Available in 16 colors, the basic Expandable Tankbag costs $105. More information is available from RKAccessories, 2175 B Bluebell Dr., Santa Rosa, CA 95403; 707/579-5045.
Sims & Rohm titanium rods
Tuners after every last bit of power from Suzuki GSX-Rs or Yamaha FZRs can improve engine response and power with Sims & Rohm’s lightweight titanium connecting rods, according to the manufacturer. As always, getting that extra power isn’t cheap: Prices for a set of four titanium rods start at $2100. Still interested? Contact Sims & Rohm, 3265 Industrial Dr., Yuba City, CA 95993; 916/671-2947.
IN LATE 1959, A GROUP OF NERVOUS executives from Johnson Motors, Inc. gathered around a conference table with Hirobumi Nakamura, then director of sales for the newly created American Honda Motor Corporation. The Johnson group had heard rumblings about this new Japanese importer, and of its wild claims of expected sales in an American motorcycle market just starting to blossom.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT ITALIAN motorcycles? This Aprilia AF-l 250cc roadracer is surely one of the most beautifully made motorcycles ever. It has function, it has organic, sensuous design, and it has craftsmanship. Run your eye over those flowing frame beams; examine the CNC-milled bridgework of the rear suspension linkage; give more than a glance to the flawless carbon-fiber-reinforced bodywork.
AS APRILIA'S GORGEOUS AF-1 SHOWS, there’s no time to rest on past glories in 250cc roadracing. After decades of incredible success, Yamaha seems to be learning that the hard way. Last year, Yamaha’s long series of liquid-cooled TZ250 two-stroke production racers finally took the leap to V-Twin engine architecture.
HE WAS A SHOOTING STAR, an incandescent flash across the sky of the public's consciousness. He sprang to the very top of Hollywood’s pinnacle, a slight figure with a torrid screen presence and a smile that seemed to signal understanding of a joke that nobody else had heard.
YAMAHA'S 1968 DT-1 DUAL-PURPOSE BIKE WAS responsible for introducing a lot of people to motorcycling. With the 250cc DT-1, a rider could experience the exciting worlds of onand off-road riding with a single motorcycle. The DT-1 sold so well that by the early 1970s, every manufacturer had a series of dual-purpose bikes, and the category was the best-selling one in America.
I WASN’T AROUND FOR THE INTRODUCTION OF Yamaha’s DT-1 or, for that matter, the Beatles or JFK (facts that staffers Griewe and Thompson remind me of on a daily basis), but that doesn’t mean 1 haven't enjoyed my share of dual-purpose riding. Due to the recent sale of my trusty Yamaha XT350, I’ve been searching for a worthy D-P replacement.
THE CONCEPT OF PROPELLING A vehicle via electric current is nothing new. Under the direction of Thomas Edison, the first battery-powered car— appropriately named the Edison Electric Runabout—was built about 1889. And up until the early 1920s, electric automobiles represented a sizable portion of highway vehicles.
ELECFRIC DRAGBIKES ARE EXCITING, but not really all that practical. If electric vehicles have a place in our future, they will be used for basic transportation as short-haul people movers. But that doesn’t mean electric vehicles have to be boring.
GP roadracing is at a cross-roads. And none of the signs point to Laguna Seca.
THERE WON'T BE A 1992 UNITED States Grand Prix. Never mind that the best motorcycle roadracers in the world are Americans, and would like nothing more than to display their skills to a home crowd. The reasons leading to Laguna Seca’s cancellation are many fold.
The FIM has faced a takeover bid before, but the outcome was much different. When, during the winter of 197980, Kenny Roberts and British journalist Barry Coleman, along with many other top riders including Barry Sheene, Franco Uncini, Kork Ballington and Greg Hansford, actually attempted to steal the world championship series right out from under the FIM’s autocratic nose, the “pirates” were simply overpowered.
Over its 13-year history, the Paris-to-Dakar Ra6lly earned a reputation as the world’s most grueling off-road event. Among its many obstacles was a particularly nasty stretch of sand called the Sahara Desert. So what did the race organizers do for 1992?
My 1980 Yamaha XS400G has what I call a “buzz band” in the 4000-to-5000-rpm range, which translates into considerable vibration throughout the bike. The carbs are synchronized, timing is dead-on, engine mounts are tight, plugs are new, good grade of gas and so on.
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.