WITH PENCIL POISED ABOVE NOTEPAD, I pressed the BMW engineer about the new R1100RS. It was one day before the Boxer Twin’s official unveiling, and I was trying to get a jump on the rest of the journalists on hand for the bike’s introduction. “So, what’s the frame made from, steel or aluminum?” I asked.
TOUCHY BUSINESS, THESE HARLEYS. I have discovered since buying my new FLHS Electra Glide Sport that owning a Harley has exactly the same effect on people as professing an interest in country music or opera. Mention Hank Williams or Giacomo Puccini in mixed company and you will find the group immediately cloven into those who are enthusiastic, or at least sympathetic, and those whose eyes glaze over, hoping for a quick change of subject.
IN AN IGNITION SYSTEM, A SPARK PULSE is produced in either of two ways: in the traditional Kettering ignitions of old (the kind you could work on and actually hope to fix), or in modern capacitive-discharge systems. In the Kettering systems, primary current in a coil, wrapped around an iron core, creates a magnetic field.
My husband and I have been reading with great interest the unfolding saga of the Springfield, Massachusettsbased Indian Motocycle Company and its president, Philip Zanghi. We were die-hard proponents of Indian’s revival until Zanghi took us for a ride.
Designed for off-road and dual-purpose use, Sinisalo’s new Flexguard riding jacket is made in Sweden of water-resistant Belcord nylon and features windproof zippers, a rear storage pouch, padded back protection and stretch-Kevlar panels at the shoulders, elbows and forearms. The Flexguard is available in sizes MXXXL in blue/pink/purple, black/red or blue/black color combinations. The Flexguard carries a suggested retail price of $185 and is available from your local dealer or direct from Sinisalo Pacific (2781 Avenue Hopkins, Suite 10, Valencia, CA 91355; 805/257-3386).
If you hate conventional methods of bleeding hydraulic brake and clutch systems, the Eze Bleeder may be the tool for you. Rather than try to pump air down and out the bottom of a hydraulic system, the Eze Bleeder pushes the trapped air up-the direction it wants to go naturally. The Eze Bleeder is a one-person tool that greatly reduces the time it takes to bleed a hydraulic system, claims its maker. The Eze Bleeder sells for $20 and can be ordered from Sport Trucks of Connecticut (95 Tolland St., East Hartford, CT 06108; 203/528-1990).
Most modern motorcycles don’t leak oil, but if you own a dribble-prone vintage machine, you might want to buy a Mighty Mat from the Green Company (9811 Owensmouth Ave., #1, Chatsworth, CA 91311; 818/7018881). Said to prevent oil and other fluids from bleeding through to other surfaces, the Mighty Mat is claimed to absorb 10 times its weight. Recommended for tool chests, garage floors and shelving, the Mighty Mat, in a 24x36-inch size, retails for $15 at motorcycle dealers.
MMF Racing Soft Ties
Soft Ties are the kind of products that are so useful that we often wonder why their invention took so long. MMF’s Soft Ties are just like a normal tie-down except for an additional loop of nylon webbing that wraps around the handlebar and is secured in place by a coated-steel hook, so the Soft Ties won’t mar your handlebar’s finish. Soft Ties are sold by the pair and retail for $15 from MMF Racing (11783 E. Slawson Blvd., Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670; 310/693-9096).
I.S.R. six-piston brake calipers
Do you need additional stopping power for your Honda RC30 or Suzuki GSX-R? Slater Bros. (P.O. Box 1, Mica, WA 99023; 509/924-5131) has the solution in the form of Swedishmade, six-piston I.S.R. brake calipers. These lightweight calipers are machined from solid billet and feature an individual brake pad for each of its six pistons, which, according to the maker, insures a more even grip on the brake rotor. Prices, which include pads, start at $455 per caliper.
Not happy with your K-bike’s rear suspension? Then check out Works Performance’s replacement shock, a steel-bodied assembly that features a gas-charged remote reservoir and Works’ innovative ARS adjustment system for varying loads and/or aggressive riding. The BMW shock is available for all K-bikes and retails for $350 from your local dealer or direct from Works Performance (8730 Shirley Ave., Northridge, CA 91324; 818/701-1010).
MOTORCYCLES HAVE TO start somewhere, and usually that somewhere is the imagination of a designer. He devises a concept, and if corporate brass likes the concept, the bike is built as a one-off showbike. The enthusiast public usually doesn’t get to see concept bikes before they receive the corporate thumbs-up, and that’s why news of this bike, presented in the Italian magazine Moto Sprint as the Yamaha FR-Z900, is so surprising.
Yamaha’s first aluminum-framed dirtbike is the TY250Z. It uses a Deltabox frame made of a combination of internally webbed, castand extruded-aluminum. Dry weight is a claimed 169 pounds. A three-quart fuel tank snuggles between the frame’s side rails.
IN A WORLD ENMESHED BY global economics, the notion of producing a Japanese motorcycle in some country other than Japan is not too far-fetched. For an example, check out Honda’s new NSR125R, a motorcycle designed in Japan but built in Honda-Italia’s Atessa manufacturing facility.
HOT ON THE HEELS OF THE introduction of a radical front suspension system for its revised Boxer Twin comes news that BMW is developing a single-sided-swingarm front suspension system for its four-cylinder K-bike line. According to a BMW spokesperson, the company’s engineers have not yet solved problems associated with use of a single-sided front swingarm, and therefore are not yet ready to fit the system to the K-bike line.
School-age buyers of Suzuki RM motocross bikes are eligible for a $500 savings bond. To qualify, candidates must purchase a 1993 RM80, RM125 or RM250 from an authorized Suzuki dealer, and complete and return the application form. They then must compete in at least five motocross events and maintain a 3.0 grade-point average throughout the school year.
HONDA MOTOR COMPANY of Japan and Piaggio of Italy have signed an agreement that underlines the growing trend in international joint ventures. Under the terms of the agreement, Honda will provide key components-motorcycle engines, for instance-to Gilera, one of the marques owned by Piaggio.
AN ALL-NEW V-TWIN engine, weighing 83 pounds complete and mildly tuned to produce 100 horsepower, is set to go on sale in Britain. The engine is called the Folan V-Twin and will be sold by Colin Hill Racing ( 197 Godstone Road, Kenley, Surrey, CR8 SBN England; phone 011-44-81-660-3728).
EVERY COUNTRY HAS ITS own special brand of hardcore enthusiasm, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a harder-core, more enthusiastic bunch than the Italians. The Yamaha TT600 is evidence of that. It is, strangely enough, a street-legal, dualpurpose Yamaha that has never seen the inside of a proper Yamaha factory.
AN ARMY MAY MARCH ON its stomach, as Napoleon once said, but it also gets around on motorcycles. Britain’s Ministry of Defense knows that, and recently turned to Harley-Davidson to build 1570 military motorcycles for the Royal Corps of Transport and the Royal Corps of Signals.
Lyndon Johnson was president, the war in Vietnam was going badly, and the so-called Summer of Love was blooming in San Francisco. Like the country, motorcycling in America was experiencing a host of changes, many of which were being written about in the pages of Cycle World magazine.
THE BIG YELLOW MACHINE cruises smoothly and easily at 90 miles per hour, feeling relaxed and longlegged. There’s so little vibration that you might guess you’re coasting. But you’re not. This is the Norton Interplus, built not by Norton but by a small firm in England called Classic Plastic (Ashwellthorpe Industrial Estate, Ashwellthorpe, Norwich, Norfolk, England; phone 011-44-50841-8366).
UP: To AAA World magazine, the voice of the American Automobile Association, for its informative article on sharing the road with motorcyclists. In the article, author Jim Bennett recommends that motorists should “look for motorcycles, make sure the motorcyclist sees you, treat the motorcycle with the respect it’s due, see the road from the motorcyclist’s perspective and steer clear of the reckless.” DOWN: To syndicated advice columnist Abigail Van Buren, for her negative reference to motorcycles.
BMW GOES FOR BROKE WITH THE NEW R1100RS SUPER TWIN
THE MAKING OF THE R1100RS
AT LEAST ONCE DURING BMW’S LONG HISTORY, LEGend has it, management has proposed giving up motorcycle production altogether. When that happened, we are told, elderly stockholders came down from the hills and voted solidly to continue the two-wheel tradition no matter what.
Just another old crock that’s too valuable, and too maintenance-intensive, to ride? Take another look. This is the BMW R32. It is more than a motorcycle. It is an internal-combustion cornerstone of one of today’s most significant and influential companies, and in its own way it is a two-wheeled bookmark in the volume of 20thcentury time.
The next new-style BMW Twin to hit the streets will most likely be the R1100GS dual-purpose bike, shown here in an artist’s design sketch. Also look for an RT version, tailored for long-distance riding, and perhaps a standard-style model.
Better to fit machines to people than for people to fit themselves to machines. After all, people were here first. Yet how many 1971 Triumphs went unsold because few riders were tall enough to find comfort on their towering saddles? What about the sportbikes with pegs so high, and bars so far away, that they seemed built for 6-foot riders with 18inch inseams?
BMW’S new R1100RS is the second mass-produced motorcycle to use an unconventional front end. Yamaha’s innovative GTS1000, with its swingarm front suspension designed by Sante Fe, New Mexico’s James Parker, was the first. Although his allegiance lies with true swingarm designs, Parker feels that the BMW effort has potential beyond the new Boxer.
AHEM. DON’T LOOK NOW, BUT BAVARIAN MOTOR Works may just have skunked the rest of the motorcycle world. BMW’s new R1100RS, it wouldn’t be too hard to argue, is the most advanced streetbike ever made, despite using an engine design that first saw the light of day during the time Warren G. Harding occupied 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
WHEN THE NEW TRIUMPHS were released at the 1990 Cologne Motorcycle Show, they received almost immediate and universal acceptance. All did, that is, but one model. The top-of-the-line Daytona 1000, the company’s defining sportbike, was a flop.
THE MEN WHO OPERATE TRIUMPH MOTORcycles Ltd. say the company hopes to begin selling motorcycles in the United States in 1994. “We looked at the U.S. situation very seriously with a view to doing something in ’93,” said Triumph Marketing Manager Mike Lock.
WHEN SIEGFRIED BETTMANN CHOSE THE name Triumph for his 1886 line of bicycles, he did so for the most pragmatic of reasons: “Triumph” had the same meaning, and almost the same pronunciation, in the various European countries in which he hoped to market his product.
TRIUMPH IS CONCERNED. AREN'T FOUR-CYLINder motorcycles, well, Japanese? And aren't Triples undeniably British? Rather, old chap. Just ask any enthusiast who witnessed the sales strife, and resulting enthusiast blather, in the late 1960s when Triumph's Trident competed against Honda's 750 Four.
THE WORD “STANDARD” MEANS SIMPLY A MEASURE OF comparison, a degree or level of excellence. It’s an upbeat kind of word. In the world of motorcycling, however, the word is somewhat less upbeat, having come to denote not a machine that sets a standard, but one that is ordinary, or basic.
THE LAST THING ON YOUR MIND WHEN you shell out big money for new leathers is that you’re going to fall off in them, which is really pretty dumb because that’s exactly the reason for buying them in the first place. Judging from a lot of club racers we’ve seen, though, not everyone is aware that trashed leathers can almost always be repaired.
THERE ARE SOME MOTORCYCLING TRUTHS THAT JUST can’t be argued. One of them is that when it comes to luxury touring bikes, Honda’s GL1500 Gold Wing is hard to beat. It’s got comfort, power, carrying capacity and protection from the elements.
IF HONDA WERE TO IMITATE TOYOTA’S ADVERTISING campaign, where the ordinary consumer expounds on the virtues of his high-mileage vehicle, Charlie Sento would be a prime candidate for commercial stardom. Sento, a 52-year-old semi-retired telephone engineer, owns a meticulously maintained 1984 Honda GL1200 Aspencade with nearly 93,000 miles on the odometer.
REDISCOVERING ROUTE 66 ABOARD THE MACHINES THAT CHANGED MOTORCYCLING FOREVER
SCRAPE! THE CYLINDER HEAD CAME OFF with a minor yank. “There’s your problem,” said Jerry Post, the baby-faced mechanic at Farr’s Kawasaki/Suzuki shop who had pulled the engine from my sick CB750 just minutes before, “that piston is about to come apart.” He was right.
SIXTEEN YEARS BEFORE HONDA’S MIGHTY CB750, THERE WAS THE LOWLY 3E
Jon F. Thompson
THE JEWEL-LIKE MOTORCYCLE IN THE BACK OF JEFF Lloyd’s pickup, parked in Cycle World's parking lot, looked oddly familiar. It was a 1953 Honda 3E Dream, perhaps the only one in the country. We had seen it before, almost two years ago, in its original condition (see “California Dreaming,” CW, December, 1991).
SUPERCROSS SENSATION JEREMY McGRATH TAKES HIS FIRST RIDE ON HONDA’S 1974 CR125 ELSINORE
JEREMY McGRATH, AMERICA’S HOTTEST NEW motocross star, was only a year old in early 1973 when Honda announced its new 125 and 250cc Elsinore MX racebikes. Advertised as a ’73 model, the CR250 was at dealers by early summer, where it readily sold out despite skepticism concerning Honda’s ability to produce a two-stroke powerplant.
BACK IN 1974, FACTORY MOTOCROSS BIKES HAD LITTLE in common with the bikes on the showroom floor. Only the fuel cap, shift lever, hand levers, control cables and seat base were production parts on Honda’s factory motocross bikes back then. The example shown here belongs to American Honda and was used by teenage sensation Marty Smith to win the ’74 125cc national championship.
IF YOU LIKED THE OLD 1974 Elsinore 125, you’ll love the new 1993 CZ 125. When motocross bikes started evolving at a blistering pace back in the mid-Seventies, CZ’s once-ultra-competitive air-cooled 250s and 400s got forward-mounted dual shocks-just in time for the singleshock rear-suspension revolution.
WE COMMUTE, MOSTLY ON MOTORCYcles. When we do, we haul wallets, glasses, checkbooks, magazines, press materials, lunches, spare gloves, tools, parts, puncture-repair kits, letters from our moms, excuses from our doctors, and lots of other really important stuff.
FOR SOME RIDERS, THE COST AND COMplexity of installing a complete replacement exhaust system just isn’t worth it. Slip-on mufflers address this very issue and offer a viable alternative that still gives your bike a visual snap and an authoritative sound.
LEARNING THE FINE ART OF MODERN sport riding can be a long and difficult task if you should decide to go it alone. Heck, something as pedestrian as programing a VCR is a perplexing problem for those who don’t consult the technical manual, so why would mastering a sportbike be any different?
Sidetracked by bad luck and personal demons, two-time Grand National champ Ricky Graham is fighting back
MAY 26, 1991. JUST ANOTHER SUNDAY in late spring for most folks, a day for early-morning motorcycle rides, cookouts and afternoon naps. But for two-time AMA Grand National Champion Ricky Graham, May 26, 1991, will forever be special. It was on that sunny afternoon at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Illinois, that Graham won his first dirt-track national in nearly five years.
Two-time World Superbike Champion Doug Polen began his quest for the 1993 AMA Superbike title in high style by winning the season opener at Phoenix International Raceway. The Phoenix finish was extremely close, with Polen, who qualified fastest aboard the Fast-by-Ferracci Ducati, finishing .01-second ahead of teammate Pascal Picotte and ’92 Superbike Champion Scott Russell aboard the Team Muzzy Kawasaki ZX-7R. Vance & Hines Yamaha’s Superbike rookie Colin Edwards ended up fourth after leading part of the race, with Team Muzzy Kawasaki’s Miguel DuHamel, who campaigned 500cc GP bikes in 1992, rounding out the top five.
I own a 1991 Yamaha FZR1000 with 16,000 miles on it. Rick Tomicic (the chap who built Reuben McMurter’s RC30 engines) has given it a full-ra-dius valve job, cleaned up the ports and degreed the cams. I then installed a Dynojet Stage 3 kit and a Yoshimura carbon-fiber exhaust canister.
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.