CURIOUS BUSINESS, THIS PICKING OF THE year’s Ten Best Bikes. 1993 marks the 18th year that Cycle World's staffers have come together to bestow the editorial thumbs-up on the 10 finest motorcycles sold to the American public. Yet that doesn’t tell the whole story.
WHILE VISITING CALIFORNIA LAST month, I borrowed a bike (Harley Wide Glide) from Cycle World and went for a day ride into the mountains with my old friend John Jaeger. John’s had a lot of different bikes, but his latest acquisition is a lowmileage 1976 Honda CB550K, the four-pipe model.
PUTTING MY LEGS AND BACK INTO IT, I pushed the motorcycle down my dusty driveway. We were protected from the sun’s heat by a spring-green canopy of new leaves, but that didn’t mean I was cool. First start-up of a freshly completed racebike is always tense.
I must complain. In your July issue, European Editor Alan Cat heart blames Norton’s financial troubles on greed created in the “make-a-buck Thatcher-Reagan ’80s.” Since when is it a crime to make money, prosper and live well? Why is it Reagan’s fault that Norton’s board of directors could not control their own company?
Budget-conscious riders might want to consider Lazer’s new DOT-approved LZ4 street helmet. The all-new LZ4 features chin and brow vents, an extra-wide eyeport and an anti-allergic cotton jersey liner. Both the tri-color LZ4 Sport and the more conservative LZ4 Legacy are available in S-XL for $130 from motorcycle dealers or from Lazer (P.O. Box 279, Bellvue, CO 80512; 303/482-6623).
HOGLIFT HYDRAULIC JACK
Maintenance chores can be greatly simplified with a high-quality hydraulic jack. The Hoglift from OCI (17662 Sampson Lane, Huntington Beach, CA 92647; 714/842-6094) is manufactured from high-quality steel components and has a 1250-pound lift capacity. According to OCI, the Hoglift will work with any brand of motorcycle that has an unobstructed area below the frame. Suggested retail is $415.
Need a break from the elements? Try a Plexifairing 3 from National Cycle (P.O. Box 158, Maywood, IL 60153-0158; 708/343-0400). The Plexifairing 3 uses National Cycle’s patented no-hole Ball Socket mounting system which allows perfect alignment even on adjustable handlebars, claims the manufacturer. Available in clear or DOT-approved solar tint, the Plexifairing costs $140.
SUPERTRAPP E.A.R. SERIES EXHAUST
Does your Thumper’s exhaust note give you a headache? If so, call White Bros. (24845 Corbit Place, Yorba Linda, CA 92687; 714/6923404) for one of its new SuperTrapp E.A.R. series exhaust systems. According to White Bros., the E.A.R. system is lighter and quieter than stock, and increases horsepower. Available for most off-road and dual-purpose motorcycles in addition to four-stroke ATVs, E.A.R. exhaust systems retail for $200-$230, depending on the application.
MONACO WATERPROOF RIDING SUIT
BMW’s Monaco riding suit is designed to combine the protective benefits of leather with the breathability and moisture protection of Gore-Tex. The two-piece suit is tailored from 1.2mm vat-tanned cowhide, specially treated so that it does not become saturated by water, and is fitted with a removable Gore-Tex liner. Removable padding is provided at the shoulders, elbows and knees. A back protector is optional. The Monaco leather riding suit is available from BMW dealers at a suggested retail price of $1800.
SADDLEMEN DRIFTER SADDLE
Customizing your Harley-Davidson is easy with a low-profile Drifter seat from Saddlemen. The Drifter is built by hand with an emphasis on styling and comfort. It comes in three distinctive designs and retails for $170. For more information, see your dealer or contact Saddlemen (6325 Alondra Blvd., Paramount, CA 90723; 800/397-7709).
NEW CONVERTIBLE, TOURING BIKE LEAD '94 HARLEY LINEUP
Jon F. Thompson
HARLEY-DAVIDSON MARKS 1994 by continuing its philosophy of slow, careful evolution. For the coming year, that process is evident in two new models-both to be introduced next spring as ’94½ bikes designed to use the motor company’s latest hardware while staying in step with the demands of Harley traditionalists.
Kawasaki will use this year’s Paris Motor Show as the launch pad for a new 900cc sportbike to be sold in the U.S., starting in January, as the ZX-9. A Kawasaki spokesman confirmed that the ZX-9 is on its way here, but said that so far, none of the bike’s specifications have been made available.
Planning on attending one of the wonderfully festive and interesting Foreign motorcycle shows this fall? Here’s when they happen: The Frankfurt show-Germany’s major exposition this year-takes place September 9-19; the Paris show occurs September 24-October 3; the Milan show takes place October 18-24 and the Tokyo show happens October 22-November 5.
GIANCARLO MORBIDELLI has a motorcycling fantasy. He’s also got the loot to make it come true. Morbidelli's fantasy is limited production of a high-performance sport-touring bike styled by Pininfarina and powered by an 848cc V-Eight engine.
SWISS SPECIALIST BUILDER Fritz Egli has just delivered his first-ever EgliHarley. This is a machine built to order for a client in Missouri. It uses a 1340cc Big Twin that’s been punched out to 1600cc to deliver a claimed 119 horsepower at 4000 rpm.
APRILIA HAS ENJOYED considerable success in Europe with its line of beautiful little 125cc repliracers, and after the company’s show of GP strength last year, it seemed only a matter of time until a street replica of the company’s 250 grand prix racer was introduced.
Two of Yamaha’s dirtbikes are all-new, two receive minor changes and two are missing altogether for 1994. The YZ80 and YZ250 get detail improvements, while the YZ125 and WR250 receive major changes. The 125 is different from the ground up with a new frame and suspension components.
Warren Samuel’s studio photograph of Triumph’s all-new Trident 750 stood alone on this month’s cover of Cycle World. The image focused on the bike’s most important feature, its heavily finned three-cylinder powerplant. The Triple cost $1765, broke the 100-mph barrier with ease and emitted an ear-bending exhaust note from its so-called “Ray-Gun” mufflers.
IN A STARTLING DEPARTURE from tradition, BMWfamed for its multi-cylindered, shaft-drive, made-inBerlin motorcycles-will sell an all-new single-cylinder, chain-driven dual purpose motorcycle that is built in Italy.
HERE S A TWO-WHEELED time warp, a bike so classically ’70s that you can almost feel the wind flapping at the legs of your bell-bottoms. Its instruments and the sweep of its tank are pure air-cooled Kawasaki, and the engine’s slight harshness hints that it’s a real, live Z-1.
UP: To roadracer Joey Dunlop, for scoring his 15th win at this year’s Isle of Man TT. With his victory in the 125cc class, the 41-year-old Englishman broke the long-standing record held by the late Mike Hailwood. Dunlop’s 1983 win in the Formula One class was documented in “V-Four Victory.” The video is available from Motovideo (27121 Aliso Creek Road, Ste.
SURPRISE! HARLEY-DAVIDSON GETS INTO THE SPORTBIKE BUSINESS
THE NEW, 1994 BUELL Thunderbolt promises to be the best handling, most exciting, most livable sportbike ever built by an American company. When it goes into production early this winter, it’ll be priced to offer more value than any previous Buell motorcycle.
Road tests of four early-release 1994 models from Honda and Yamaha
WHEN YOU HAVE SOMETHING THAT sells like hot cakes, why raise the cost by adding more syrup? Consider the case of Honda’s CBR600, which according to an American Honda spokesman is currently the company’s best selling bike and has sold in excess of 50,000 units since its 1987 inception as the 600 Hurricane.
WHAT GOES AROUND, WE'RE TOLD, comes around. That must be true, for the Honda Pacific Coast, which went around in 1989 and 1990, has come around again, absolutely unchanged except for color and price. When the PC first appeared in 1989, enthusiasts didn’t know quite what to make of it.
YAMAHA’S SECA II TEETERS ON THE brink of compromise. On one hand, it’s an affordable full-size motorcycle that performs well as a daily commuter, and light-duty tourer. It’s also a surprisingly agile canyon carver. Some contend that the bike, although stylish and reasonably priced, lacks the dazzling acceleration and precise handling of its more technically advanced 600cc classmates.
WHEN YAMAHA'S DESIGN TEAM undertook creation of the first Viragos, there was plenty of styling to be done, but the bike’s basic format already was set. This bike was going to be a Japanese version of the timeless American classic, the cruiser.
NOTHING IS FOREVER. HONDA’S RC30 V-Four, such a revelation in 1987, winner of two World Superbike titles, has been left behind by the newer designs of other makers. Although a classic design, the RC can no longer win titles in World or AMA Superbike roadracing.
WHEN DUCATI’S 851 MADE ITS debut at the 1986 running of the Bol d’Or endurance race, nobody could have guessed that this unheralded machine from a company so recently at the financial brink would recast the way enthusiasts thi about big-bore sportbikes.
DUCATI’S HARD-BOILED M900 DOES L.A. ON $25 A DAY PLUS EXPENSES
I NEEDED A DRINK. I NEEDED more life insurance. I needed a long vacation in the country. What I had was a helmet, a black leather jacket and a new Ducati M900 Monster in need of a story to match its personality. Writer Raymond Chandler’s tough-guy L.A. detective Philip Marlowe came to mind.
SOME ARE GOOD, OTHERS ARE BETTER, BUT ONLY A FEW ARE THE VERY BEST
BEST SUPERBIKE HONDA CBR900RR
BEST OPEN STREETBIKE BMW R1100RS
BEST 750cc STREETBIKE HONDA VFR750F
BEST 600cc STREETMIKE KAWASAKI ZX-6
BEST BARGAIN BIKE YAMAHA SECA II
BEST TOURING BIKE HONDA ST1100 ABS-TCS
BEST STANDARD BIKE DUCATI M900 MONSTER
BEST DUAL-PURPOSE BIKE HONDA XR650L
BEST ENDURO BIKE KTM 250 E/XC
BEST MOTOCROSS BIKE YAMAHA YZ250
BEST MEANS BETTER THAN GOOD. IT MEANS BETTER, EVEN, THAN BETTER. IT means Wayne Rainey. Nigel Mansell. Joe Montana. Michael Jordan. And it means these 10 motorcycles, each of which is at the very top of its game in its own respective league. For perspective, think for a moment in etymological terms: The word "best" is an adjective that is the superlative of the adjective “good."
This is an Open-class sportbike that isn’t exactly a sportbike. What it really is, is an iron fist in a velvet glove. The big CBR’s very smooth, very powerful engine and its extraordinary linked braking system—a system that gives new urgency to the “Stop!” command—make up the fist. The bike’s plush suspension, its cushy saddle and its comfortable, upright seating position are the velvet glove. The CBR100F is a terrific all-rounder that, at $7500, also qualifies as an Open-class bargain buy.
With its flowing bodywork and lustrous paint, the ZX-11 looks much like any other Open-class sportbike. It isn’t. It’s been endowed with That Motor, an engine that turns this innocent burgundy bike into a land-based, land-bound missile capable of 176 miles per hour. But the ZX-11 is more than a road-hugging rocket. It’s also quite happy to potter around town or to indulge in comfortable sport-touring. All in all, the ZX-11 is a considerable engineering achievement, and for it, Kawasaki’s engineers have CW's congratulations.
GL 1500 GOLD WING
This is a touring bike. Doesn't matter if your tour takes you on a Sunday-morning breakfast ride or to the four corners of the U.S.A., Honda has shown how it’s done, to the extent that most other manufacturers—willingly or unwillingly—have all but ceded this market segment to Honda. Must be nice. The bike certainly is. It’s incredibly plush, and is laden with commodious luggage compartments, cruise control, stereo and the best full-coverage fairing anywhere. Ultra-sporting, it isn’t. Incredibly capable, it is.
Behold, an example of what can happen when a Japanese engineering giant throws aside its innate institutional caution and decides to build what it can build, instead of what it perceives as safe to build. The result is the GTS 1000A, a technological tour de force that blends a computer-managed engine with a very stiff chassis and a swingarm front suspension. Whatever you think about the GTS's bulgy, avant-garde form, it’s tough to fault its function. The bike works. We applaud Yamaha’s boldness.
HERITAGE SOFTAIL NOSTALGIA
You’ve got to love a bike that goes by the unofficial moniker “Cow Glide.” Mostly, it’s a Harley like any other Harley, riding a Softail frame and a fat, 16-inch front wheel, powered by a V-Twin engine much like all Harley V-Twins. What’s different is this bike’s blatant Holstein look—its black-and-white paint accented by whitewall tires, and the outrageous patches of black-and-white calfhide, complete with hair, that grace its saddlebags and seat panels. Only thing missing? A horn that says “Mooo.”
WORKING IN A VACUUM IS NOT GOOD. IN RECOGNItion of this, the staff of Cycle World, having chosen its own list of 1993’s Ten Best Bikes, wondered which bikes editors of other motorcycle magazines around the world would include in their lists.
ON MAY, 23, 1993, HUSQVARNA ACHIEVED SOMEthing that had not been done in world championship motocross for more than a decade: It won the Finnish 500cc GP. Big deal? Sort of. The Husky in question was a four-stroke amid a sea of two-strokes, marking the first time in 14 years that a Thumper had won an MX grand prix.
WEIGHT IS A BIG DEAL when it comes to four-stroke Singles. Price seems to increase exponentially as pounds diminish. At $6195, the Swedish-built Husaberg 600 is expensive, but it weighs 30 pounds less than anything in its class, and gives Open-class two-strokes shivers on the scales.
IT’S A FACT OF LIFE THAT SOMETIMES the simplest tools are the most satisfying. A good, solid front work stand fits into this category, and really comes in handy for any work involving the removal of a front wheel. It’s also a useful item just to have around to ease clean-up chores.
THERE IS A SIGN ON A WALL AT Nelson Ledges Road Course that reads “America’s Toughest Race.” You would have a difficult time finding doubters among the many competitors and spectators who attended the 25th-annual 24 Hours of Nelson Ledges.
Former 250cc World Champion John Kocinski was fired by the Lucky Strike Suzuki team following the 25year-old’s third-place finish at the Dutch TT. Reportedly, the dismissal was sparked by Kocinski’s failure to attend the obligatory podium celebration in Assen.
COMPUTERS, 10 YEARS AGO THE PLAYthings of engineers, statisticians and other academics, are now an integral part of everyday life. You can even use a computer to help your motorcycle last longer. Eastbay Softworks (P.O. Box 501, Acme, MI 49610; 800/968-3292), has created WHEELbase, a computer database that enables any vehicle owner to use his computer to keep track of maintenance, repairs and upgrades.
I own a 1986 Honda VFR750 and would like to install some additional accessories in the electrical system, such as a radar detector, extra running lights and an electric vest. How do I know when I’m overloading the system? Is there an easy way to tell how much extra juice any given bike can put out?