WE MUST DRIVE THE JAPANESE CRAZY. Here’s a country that 40 years ago couldn’t make a decent transistor radio, yet today is the world’s leading industrial power. Some 75 percent of all motorcycles made come from Japan, each a model of refinement and dependability.
THIS PAST WEEKEND I CONFESSED TO my friend Tom Quatsoe that I have recently become intrigued with the idea of someday owning a Kawasaki ZX-11, partly just for the fun of having a really quick two-up sport-tourer, and partly to cast my vote for any motorcycle that can crank out 132 rearwheel horsepower and a top speed of 176 mph while remaining civilized and ridable around town.
IT’S POSSIBLE FOR THE WHOLE TO BE less than the sum of its parts. My favorite example comes from the jet-engine business, but the concept is applicable to everything from marriage to racing teams to politics. Here it is. Back around 1970, Rolls-Royce was developing the big RB-211 engine for the Lockheed L-1011 aircraft, but this advanced engine persistently failed to meet design goals.
Mitch Boehm, David Edwards and illustrator Robert Waldmire did a great job on May’s “West by CB750” story about touring Route 66 on old Hondas. Give ’em all a pat on the back for a job well done. And don’t let those CBs leave Cycle World. Annually, the two bikes should be taken down old highways and backroads.
PUBLIC RESPONSE IS A wonderful thing, especially when it results in better motorcycles, and more of them. That, apparently, is the case with Ducati’s new single-cylinder Super-mono racer. The company has been working on a street version of the machine, intended as a limited-production piece built to occupy a very small niche market.
TRIUMPH BOSS JOHN BLOOR OWNS THE REPUTATION OF BEING the most elusive of the motorcycle business’s high-rollers. Nothing he’s done lately will change that impression, but Bloor, 49, who remains steadfast in his refusal to talk to members of the British press, recently granted an interview to Germany’s Motorrad magazine.
AH, ’TIS A VEXING QUEStion: How to have two motorcycles when you’ve only the garage space-not to mention the clean-up-time-for one. You could follow the example of Harley-Davidson customizer Arlen Ness, who thought the problem over for about 1.5 seconds, and then created this (un)dresser, which he calls The Sled.
Aftermarket entrepreneur Steve Storz is at it again. Already known for his dirt-track-replica Harley Sportsters, he now is marketing a line of parts that transforms H-D’s cruiser into something that resembles a British café racer of the Sixties.
When it comes time to start making motorcycle travel plans, one of the handiest reference books we know is Motorcycle Touring: An International Directory, 1991/92, from Whitehorse Press (154 W. Brookline Street, Boston, MA 02118; 617/241-5241).
HEREWITH, CONFIRMATION not only of the machine Yamaha is scheduled to introduce as a 1994 replacement for the long-in-tooth FZR600 (see Cycle World, July, 1993), but also, some other new-for-’94 Yamahas. According to reports in the European motorcycle media, the all-new YZF600RR, currently undergoing final testing in Europe and Japan, draws in equal measure from the YZF750R and the beautiful little FZR400RR. The engine abandons the old 600’s long-stroke philosophy in favor of a short stroke that reportedly yields a rev limit of 14,000 rpm-good for a claimed 100 horsepower.
THE MOTORCYCLE-PARTS business is booming in a big way, thanks in part to renewed interest in vintage Hondas, according to American Honda’s parts division. The division expected to see its best sales month ever in April-fairly amazing, considering that Honda has been doing business in the U.S.
Ah, to be young in the summer of ’68, when love was free, Cycle World cost 50 cents and a brand-new BSA 650 Thunderbolt could be all yours for about $1350. If that was too much, two bucks got a set of four “groovy” BSA posters liberally sprinkled with girls in mini-skirts and go-go boots.
AMERICAN have to be MOTORCYCLES powered by V-Twin engines, right? And their styling has to be nostalgia-oriented, right? The good folks at Harley-Davidson would agree, and so, apparently, would the parties behind the various schemes to revitalize the fabled Indian motorcycle.
We don’t very often get to see new dirtbikes before their official press introductions, but recently Kawasaki’s 1994 pre-production KX250 was spotted at a nearby racetrack, where it was undergoing final testing. Changes in the frame revolve around connecting the shock linkage directly to the frame, eliminating the suspension link plates used on previous models, and the subframe is now steel instead of aluminum for improved strength.
HEY, WE ADMIT IT: ONE OF the greater joys derived from riding small-displacement sportbikes is the satisfaction of whipping the big-bore boys down a tight stretch of road that by all rights they ought to own. Suzuki’s Bandit 400 makes an ideal partner in crime when committing such weekend canyon capers, but don’t get the wrong idea that the Bandit is just another narrow-focus motorcycle.
UP: To those who participated in the Jimmy Adamo Benefit Auction at Laguna Seca Raceway during the recent AMA races. Organized by Cycle News Associate Editor Paul Carruthers, the event raised $16,600 for Adamo’s family. Wayne Rainey’s Marlboro Yamaha leathers brought the highest single bid: $3100.
BMW'S NEW R1100RS IS LIGHTWEIGHT, LEADING-EDGE AND LOVELY TO LOOK AT. HOW DOES IT STACK UP AGAINST THE ESTABLISHED STARS OF SPORT-TOURING?
DAY ONE: LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS
DAY TWO: EUREKA SPRINGS, ARKANSAS
DAY THREE: KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
DAY FOUR: TUCUMCARI, NEW MEXICO
DAY FIVE: SEDONA, ARIZONA
MAY WE HAVE THE ENVELOPE PLEASE?
CONSIDER THE CASE OF OLD GENERAL COUNT Dietrich von Hulsen-Haeseler, in 1900 chief of the German military cabinet. At a soirée, he appeared before Kaiser Wilhelm II dressed in a pink ballet tutu and rose wreath. “The general’s ramrod back dipped low in a swanlike bow.”
THEY SAY THE AIR-COOLED BMW TWIN’S DAYS ARE numbered, its neck held firmly on the chopping block of ever more stringent noise and pollution controls. They say that without a thorough redesign to squelch its clattery engine, without fuel injection to clean up its emissions, the old Boxer is going down for the count.
NOT EVERY MOTORCYCLE MEETS THE CYCLE WORLD DEFInition of a sport-tourer. Take Kawasaki’s ZX-11, for example. With a top speed of 176 mph, the big Ninja is blazingly fast. It’s also a very competent sportbike, even if its limits aren’t as lofty as those of front-line repliracers.
WHEN WORD LEAKED OUT IN OCTOBER ’91 that Triumph was developing a Paris-Dakar repli-rallybike powered by the 900cc Trident motor, there were plenty of observers who caught a whiff of hoax. An all-new Tiger, after all-an echo of the famed Triumph Trophy scrambler of yesteryear-smelled too good to be true.
IN THEORY, DETACHABLE HARD SADDLE bags have always seemed the ideal way to convert practically any motorcycle into a long-distance packhorse. Just stuff the bags full of gear as though they were conventional suitcases, snap them on the bike and hit the road.
ONE OF THE PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED with many motorcycle-oriented security locks/chains/cables is their immense proportions. They may do a good job of protecting your bike from thieves, but they’re not very portable. With its Evolution 2000 Disc Lock, Kryptonite has bridged the gap between size and security.
FRANKLY, MY DEAR, I DON’T GIVE A DAMN.” ARE THESE the most famous words ever spoken in a motion picture? Most likely. It was Clark Gable speaking Rhett Butler's final line in the 1939 MGM classic, Gone With the Wind, as he walked away from Vivian Leigh's vixenish Scarlett O'Hara.
OPEN-CLASS TWO-STROKE DIRTBIKES HAVE always been about horsepower. Forget versatility and all-around ridability, it’s knob-shredding, rock-chucking, suck-your-breath-away acceleration that appeals to the riders of these 500cc rocketsleds.
STEVE POSSON EXAMINES THE MINIATURE BRONZE EXHAUST PIPE, THEN DUNKS THE torch-heated piece in a bucket of water. A sputter of steam rises, and Posson tries the pipe against the side of a one-tenth-scale 1961 Harley-Davidson roadracer. “Hmmm,” the sculptor says, and reaches for a pneumatic grinder fitted with a tiny abrasive wheel.
LIKE MOST ARTISTS, BRUCE Hebron is a romantic. The difference is that modes of transportation are what set his creative juices flowing. Hebron, 48, creates metal miniatures of everything from ships to locomotives fighter planes to fire engines to motorcycles.
Indoor trials is hot in Europe and Japan. Will it make it to the U.S?
THE LIGHTS GO DOWN, PLUNGING THE ARENA INTO darkness. The crowd roars. Rock music thumps from the P.A. system. Fireworks paint the black air in red, blue and yellow starbursts. Ear-busting cannon shots vibrate the roof. The riders are then introduced one by one, each wheelying the length of the arena floor, and finishing with a massive bunny-hop or a lurid nose-wheelie, tricks designed to ignite the crowd.
Rainey/Schwantz take Japanese, Spanish and Austrian GPs
1993 Supercross title to McGrath
Kiedrowski, Henry lead outdoor MX series
Just as they did in the late 1980s aboard AMA Superbikes, Wayne Rainey and Kevin Schwantz are pushing each other to the limit in this year’s 500cc GP series. After splitting wins in the opening two races in Australia and Malaysia, Schwantz and Rainey again traded victories in rounds three, four, and five, with Rainey winning in Suzuka, Japan, and Schwantz taking top honors later in Jerez, Spain and in Salzburg, Austria.
I own a 1979 Yamaha 650 Special and am at my wit’s end trying to find the cause of a constant battery drain that has been going on for two years. It started in June of 1991 when I installed a new battery because the existing one wouldn’t take a charge.