CALENDARS DON’T LIE, BUT CAN IT REALly be 14 years since I bought my 1979 Yamaha RD400F Daytona Special? Seems like just yesterday I was salivating over the magazine road tests about the bike. These were strange times for motorcycling.
A FEW YEARS BACK WHEN I WAS FEELing a little uneasy about buying my first BMW because I was afraid that personal neatness, orderly thinking or some other dread compulsion might rub off on me, I was reassured by my friend and longtime fellow Norton rider Bill Getty, who owns a British parts business.
VISCOSITY—THE INTERNAL FRICTION OF fluids—is a very convenient phenomenon. With good alignment, smooth surfaces and adequate cooling, an oil-lubricated plain bearing can carry several thousand pounds per projected square inch.
Please tell me how I can get one of the new “eight-liter” Honda NSR 125Rs as shown in May’s Roundup section. An 8000cc, 280-pound bike that costs $4400 is a bargain in my book. And I thought my CBR900RR had a great power-to-weight ratio! I figure that since the Dodge Viper also has an eight-liter engine, the NSR 125 should at least equal the Viper’s 400 horsepower.
Though expensive, carbon fiber has many motorcycle uses. One of the latest is in reinforced swingarms from Air-Tech (3052 Industry, Suite 109, Oceanside, CA 92054; 619/757-3366). For $800, Air-Tech will wrap virtually any swingarm with aerospace-quality carbon fiber. The result is increased strength and rigidity, says Air-Tech. The process, which includes sandblasting, prepping and curing, requires four days, with a one week turnaround.
DUAL-STAGE SUPER FILTER
Chrome Specialties’ new Dual-Stage Super Filter incorporates two oil filters in one. Under normal operating conditions, a low-restriction paper element catches damaging particles that the stock fiber element can miss, claims the maker. When the first filter reaches the end of its service life, a by-pass valve diverts oil to the second filter for reliable protection until the next oil change. The Dual-Stage Super Filter fits 1953-82 Harley-Davidson Big Twins and costs $6.70 from Chrome Specialties (1218 Corporate Drive East, Arlington, TX 76006; 800/527-1635).
X-8 AIR BEATTIE REPLICA
Shoei’s latest helmet, the X-8 Air, is now available in the multi-color paint scheme worn by grand prix racer Daryl Beattie. The helmet features Shoei’s new Dual Liner Ventilation system-a special shock-absorbing liner that channels fresh air around the wearer’s head. The standard X-8 Air is priced from $395, with the Beattie replica retailing for $550. All models are available in XXS-XXL sizes at motorcycle dealers. For more information, contact Shoei (333 S. Hope Street, Suite 2550, Los Angeles, CA 90071; 213/628-0275).
CYCLE ALERT MOTORCYCLE ALARM
Designed to be a simple and effective deterrence to motorcycle theft, the Cycle Alert motorcycle alarm from Brio (233 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 325, Santa Monica, CA 90401; 310/917-5557) combines a sturdy U-lock and a locking 8-foot cable with a motion-sensor-equipped security alarm. Moving the unit for more than 4 seconds or cutting the steel cable activates a piercing 107-decibel siren. The Cycle Alert motorcycle alarm retails for $80 and can be purchased from Parts Unlimited (608/758-1111).
Designed to mount quickly to a motorcycle’s seat or rear rack, the Rumble Pack from Eclipse (3771 E. Ellsworth Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48108; 313/971-5552) can expand to accommodate a full-size helmet. The poly-lined cordura pack features an adjustable four-point bungee mounting system, a convenient front pocket for storing gloves, sunglasses or keys, a raincover, reflective striping and a nylon carrying handle. The Eclipse Rumble Pack comes in black, with red, blue, gray or purple sidepanels. Suggested retail price is $100 from the manufacturer.
Avon has introduced a tubeless version of its popular AM24 Gripster for BMW’s R100GS. The DOT-approved tire features a special neutral-stress casing with two nylon plys for strength, and another nylon ply for tread stabilization and cool running. A directional arrowhead tread pattern offers optimum off-road traction and a quiet pavement ride, says Avon. Available in 90/90-21 front and 130/80-17 rear sizes, the Gripsters retail for $79 and $107, respectively, from motorcycle dealers.
IN WESTERN MOTORCYCLING countries, not much attention is paid to Japan-market 400s, but that could change. Both Yamaha and Suzuki are poised to release new equipment in this category, and from each could spin off bigger machines that will reach the U.S.
Sharp-eyed observers curious about Honda’s all-new RC50 repli-racer, conceived as a replacement for the now-out-of-date RC30, would have done well to have been on hand for the opening round of the All-Japan F1 championship in early March.
NEW ZEALANDER JOHN Britten has good cause to be satisfied with the way his summer has gone. His avant-garde V1000 racer logged more than 2000 racing miles in the hands of rider Jason McEwan and won 20 consecutive races in New Zealand’s hotly contested F1 series.
Cycle World’s Don Canet did not have the best of Daytonas. First, the Team Obsolete Matchless G50 he was to ride in the vintage races that kick-off Cycle Week came down with a bad case of separated flywheels. Then, riding his own Suzuki GSX-R in the 600 supersport final, he performed this textbook high-side while running in the top 10.
After 13 seasons and more than 25,000 students, the California Superbike School has closed its doors. “Basically, I went from being an instructor to a full-time businessman,” said Keith Code, the school’s founder. “I feel that we accomplished our mission, but I just don’t want to be a businessman anymore.”
HOLDING YOUR BREATH for the release of the rumored neo-Bonneville from the reborn Triumph Motorcycles Limited? It’s time to exhale. Triumph spokesmen, once happy to entertain rumors of the bike without specifically commenting on them, now say there’ll be no such bike.
A MERE 10 YEARS AFTER the XT250, Yamaha is back in the lightweight four-stroke wars with the TT250R. This bike will take the load off the XT225 Serow by competing directly with Kawasaki’s new KLX250, Suzuki’s DR250S and Honda’s longstanding XR250L. The idea here was to build a bike that would not intimidate the average rider.
This issue was highlighted by coveragė of the annual Cycle World Motorcycle Show, held at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. In his description of the event, Editor Joe Parkhurst wrote that “Ol’ P.T. (Barnum) couldn’t have predicted the 108,000 paying customers who spun the turnstiles to view the 400 private entries—from super chopper to sleek streetster—and 44 commercial entries from throughout the world, a number that makes CW's show the only truly international event of its kind in the U.S.” • Four motorcycles were tested in this issue.
JAMES PARKER, THE NEW Mexican engineer who designed the forkless front suspension used on Yamaha’s GTS1000, is set to strike again, this time with a single-sided rear swingarm he says is superior to designs currently being marketed by Honda and Aprilia.
REVERBERATIONS OF bankruptcy proceedings filed in Tokyo last year by Shoei Kako Co. Ltd., manufacturer of Shoei helmets, have reached the United States. As a part of the corporate restructuring resulting from these proceedings, the Tokyo district court appointed the Mitsubishi Corporation and the Bank of Japan as trustees to oversee Shoei’s reorganization.
MANY RIDERS CONSIDER 600cc sportbikes the ideal backroad performance machines. This isn’t surprising, considering 600s offer a fine balance of size, weight, power and handling while yielding, in most cases, a performance-per-dollar ratio unmatched by larger-and smaller-displacement sportbikes.
UP: To Sports Illustrated For Kids magazine, for its feature on three-time AMA National Cross-Country Champion Scott Summers. In addition to chronicling Summers’ rise to off-road stardom, author Pohla Smith detailed the 26-year-old’s favorite hobbies and training techniques.
IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN EASY TO FALL IN LOVE WITH THE bikes of Italy. They’re all about excitement and emotion. Unfortunately, too many times in the past enthusiasm for Italian motorcycles has needed excuses. Excuses for inadequate reliability, paltry performance, inferior build quality, crude carburation, evil electrics, shoddy suspension.
WHEN A EUROPEAN MANUFACTURER LAUNCHES A SMALL-bore version of a large-displacement model, it does so for only one reason: to increase sales in Japan, where a tiered licensing system based on engine size makes riding any bike with an engine bigger than 400cc an expensive endeavor.
SAD PROOF THAT NOT ALL EUROPEAN BIKE-MAKERS ARE DOING WELL
IT’S HARD TO REMEMBER A TIME WHEN NORTON WASN’T suffering financial problems, but now the patient has taken a turn for the worse. Death appears nearly certain, and the financial vultures stand by, ready to pull the cash plug. It’s too bad, because one result of Norton’s financial mess is that the F2 rotary-engined prototype shown in non-running form at last December’s Birmingham Motor Cycle Show probably will never see production.
ORIGINALITY IS AT LEAST AS MUCH AN ART AS IT IS A science, especially when it comes to designing motorcycles. The problem is that until you’ve translated your ideas for the latest two-wheeled World Beater from brain waves into metal, you never really know if it’s all going to work out right.
THE PURSUIT OF INDIVIDUALITY TENDS TO PUSH PEOPLE to extremes, but for some people only the unthinkable is good enough. Fujio Watanabe, president of Daishin Industry tuning company in Japan, belongs in the latter category. Having waited a decade for Honda to put the finishing touches on its $60,000, oval-piston NR750, the first thing Watanabe did when he got his hands on one was rip it to pieces.
OF ALL THE MOTORCYCLES Cycle World has tested since 1991, Suzuki’s GSX1100G was probably the least likely candidate to become a long-term testbike. The reason? Despite its smooth, powerful engine and high level of comfort, the 1100G rolled off the assembly line with a few niggling faults in stock condition, and, with more exciting machines in the CW garage to choose from, it would be tough for the G to rack up the kind of mileage a long-term testbike must have.
IT'S A STORY WORTHY OF A HOLLYWOOD script, so pat and corny it could never happen in real life: Established racing hero crashes, is injured. Unknown takes over his bike, wins. A star is born, a new career is made. Sounds unlikely, doesn't it, especially against the context of today's complex, competitive racing world?
IN THE PAST FEW YEARS, KTM HAS taken pride in building odd-sized dirtbikes. The firm’s 540 and 550 Open-class two-strokes pushed the limits of the class, while a 300 was developed to satisfy those on the other side of the spectrum. With the release of the 1993 400 LC4 four-stroke, KTM once again has taken a chance on a bike without a class.
INTERESTED IN A MID-DISPLACEMENT FOUR-STROKE playbike, but not in the KTM 400’s $5429 price tag? Likewise, do you find the Husqvarna 350, the Husaberg 350 and the ATK 350 beyond your budget? Suzuki has an alternative in its DR350, which retails for $3599.
A GOOD LEATHER JACKET NOT only is one of motorcycling’s essentials, it also can be one of life’s great joys. But sometimes jackets dedicated solely to riding are limited by that dedication, and are less than suitable for casual or street wear.
NO ONE SAID THAT QUALITY RIDING gear was inexpensive. Take the street-riding boots displayed here, for instance. Interstate models from Sidi, distributed by Acerbis USA (9402-A Wheatlands Ct., Santee, CA 92071; 619/562-1440), they cost a pulse-quickening $210, but, as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for.
NEW SUSPENSION MEANS A NEW LEASE ON LIFE FOR THE CBR
ANY DISCUSSION OF SIGNIFICANT SPORTbikes of the last 20 years has to include Honda’s CBR600. Since its release in 1987 as the Hurricane, and the introduction of the second-generation F2 in ’91, CBRs have pretty much dominated the hotly contested 600cc sportbike class.
HOT ON THE HEELS OF THE REVISED CBR600 COME SIX NEW 1994 HONDAS
SHADOW VLX DELUXE
GOLD WING SE
Yes, it’s true. The Pacific Coast is back after a three-year layoff. You might wonder why, considering the cool sales reception the bike received when it debuted in 1989. Interest in the PC has grown steadily since then, a trend that has Honda dealers cautiously asking for the bike’s return now that ’89 and ’90 leftover machines are gone. Honda apparently agrees, and has responded with the 1994 PC800, identical to the original except for its black paint scheme. Because of the fluctuating dollar-yen relationship, Honda had not set prices for any of its early-release ’94s as of presstime, but expect the PC to be priced quite a bit lower than the original’s $7200-perhaps as low as $6000. Release is scheduled for early July.
The fast and featherweight CBR900RR-voted Cycle World’s Best Superbike last year-will return unchanged for ’94 except for a pair of all-new color schemes-white/red/black and a more-jarring black/violet/yellow combination. Release is scheduled for early June.
SHADOW VLX DELUXE
Honda’s middleweight cruiser returns for ’94 with a couple of refinements. First, the bike’s fuel tank was enlarged from 2.7 to 2.9 gallons. And the polished air-cleaner cover on the ’93 VLX Deluxe has been replaced by a chrome cover for an extra bit of aesthetic appeal. Two two-tone color combos will be available on the Deluxe-red/white and blue/white. The standard VLX, which also gets the larger fuel tank, will be offered in red or black. Both machines are expected to be released to dealers in early June.
GOLD WING SE
No mechanical changes for the top-of-the-line version of the bestselling touring machine available. Two new two-tone color schemes-a candy red and a pearl green-will be available, along with last year's solid white and two-tone metallic teal which was, according to Honda, the most popular SE color last year. Release date is mid-June for the SE, as well as for the lower-priced Aspencade and Interstate Wings.
Honda’s big-daddy dual-purpose bike returns for ’94 with new graphics and what Honda calls a “dynamic seat-height reduction of three-quarters of an inch.” For the inseam-impaired, that should help, though it turns out the drop in height stems exclusively from a small shock springpreload reduction. Still, the XR-L is the most dirt-worthy dual-purpose bike going. Expect an early-June release.
Folks looking for an all-new, thoroughly modern, super-lightweight XR600R might be disappointed. For years, rumors have suggested a revised machine, though with Honda selling every current XR it makes, that may not happen anytime soon. Honda’s Open-class XR for ’94 remains one of the best all-around dirt Thumpers on the market. Graphics are the only change. The XR600, along with the entire XR line, is expected in showrooms by early June.
STAYING ON TOP OF today’s 600cc sportbike market is tough business, and you need look no farther than Yamaha’s track record to see why. Its FJ600, FZ600 and FZR600 models each ruled this division at one time, only to be bested in the showroom and on the racetrack by newer, more competent offerings from its competitors.
IN 1973, $839 PUT YOU ASTRIDE A BRAND-NEW YAMAHA RD350. WHAT WERE YOU WAITING FOR?
HISTORIANS ONE DAY WILL footnote 1973 as a year of anomalies and contradictions. Still reeling from the free-love Sixties, still stuck in Vietnam, still stoned, America was trying to regain its grip on semi-normality. Then came Watergate.
YAMAHA’S LITTLE TWIN CAST A LONG SHADOW IN COMPETITION
You CAN’T TALK ABOUT THE RD350 without addressing its racing successes. More than a few aspiring GP and Superbike stars cut their teeth on Yamaha’s little Twin. Wes Cooley and Mike Baldwin raced RDs, as did a bushy-haired Louisiana kid who went by the nickname “Fast Freddie.”
OBSERVATIONS AND ANALYSIS FROM THE FIRST GP OF THE YEAR
ONE RACE DOES NOT A SEASON MAKE. BUT IF THIS year’s 500cc GP opener at Eastern Creek, Australia, is any indication, 1993 will be a year of technological drama in the quest for the world roadracing championship. Kevin Schwantz, a man many regard as the fastest 500cc rider, won the Aussie GP on a Suzuki that performed superbly.
FREDDIE SPENCER IS ON A YAMAHA France-backed YZR500 for 1993. He has worked hard to achieve this. After three world championships—the 500cc title in ’83 and both the 500 and 250cc titles in ’85—Spencer was obliged by a variety of problems to leave the sport.
Former class title-holder John Kocinski got off to a good-but not over-whelming-start in his bid to capture the 1993 250cc GP world championship title. The Team Lucky Strike Suzuki rider finished second at the Australian GP, but had to settle for a disappointing fifth in Malaysia.
WANT A GUARANTEED SYSTEM FOR shortening the life of your motorcycle battery? Just park your bike in the garage for a month or two. Storing it all winter is an even surer way to kill a battery that would otherwise last another season or two. Unless a battery is charged at regular intervals, it will sulfate and short-out the battery plates.
ANYONE WHO HAS TRIED TO CARRY A business suit on a motorcycle knows the problem: How do you get one of the damn things to the office? Wearing it while riding the motorcycle doesn’t work, and trying to attach a regular garment bag to a motorcycle is a great way to raise your blood pressure.
I took my ’90 Honda CBR600 in for a tune-up a few weeks ago and the dealer said he probably would have to “sink” the carbs. When I picked it up after the tune-up, the service manager said they had to “balance” the carbs. When I asked him if sinking and balancing were the same thing, he said, “Well, sort of.”
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.