THIS JANUARY ISSUE MARKS CYCLE World magazines’s 32nd birthday, and as the locomotive of 1994 bears down on us all, now is a good time to retrace the happenings of the past year. As always, there’s some good and there’s some bad, but for 1993 the UPs far outnumbered the DOWNs.
THE BIKE SITS THERE WITH ITS FOR SALE sign every time I drive into the big city, parked in a farmyard on the corner of Old Stage Road and Highway 14, rain or shine. It’s a 1974 Honda CB500T. Not one of the great bikes; a heavier, more conservative development of the earlier and more sporting CB450.
IN THE EARLIEST DAYS OF MOTORING, gasoline was not “made” in the sense that modern fuels are, but was simply a volatile fraction of crude oil, separated from it by simple distillation. They heated up a batch of crude until a range of molecular weights boiled off, then collected it in a condenser.
When I read David Edwards’ “Back to the Future” column in the November issue about bringing back an updated Yamaha XS650, I immediately thought of the XS’s 1982 road test in Cycle World: “Cynics might ask (and occasionally do) how a vibration-prone vertical-Twin with no counterbalancer, considerably less performance than the average 550 Four and only a single overhead cam can continue to sell in this age of multis, turbos, computers and digital everything.
IF YOU'RE A PRODUCT PLANner, a gap in your product line is a bad thing. It seems that a recent review of Honda’s European model lineup by the company’s product planners revealed just such a gap. There was no Honda motorcycle to slot in between the 250cc tiddlers and the performance-oriented CBR600F2.
Yamaha's got a new 600cc sportbike (see "Preview '94: YZF600,"Cycle World, December, 1993), Kawasaki's ZX-6 was new last year. What does this mean for Honda, with its CBR600F2, new for the 1991 model year and essentially unchanged since then?
FOUR-STROKES RULE? THEY CERTAINLY DO IN THE WORLD 500cc Motocross Championship. For the first time in 28 years a big four-stroker—the FIM allows them an extra 150cc to help maintain parity with the two-strokes—has taken home all the marbles.
SUZUKI CHOSE THE PARIS World of Two Wheels motorcycle show, held in late September, as launch pad for its GSX-R750 SP (see Cycle World, November, 1993), the bike that will carry the company's flag in World Superbike and Endurance racing.
TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES Limited will have its eagerly awaited U.S. distributorship up and running by September 1994, according to a company representative manning the Triumph booth at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September. He revealed that the U.S.
Commuters in Hartford, Connecticut, have an innovative new service to help them grind through their daily commutes. In an effort to unravel congested roadways, radio station WTIC-FM and traffic reporter Roger Stafford have established the Traffic Patrol on Two Wheels, wherein Stafford furnishes the station’s listeners with traffic updates from the saddle of a 1990 Honda Pacific Coast.
REMEMBER THE FERRARI-engined Cagiva superbike (see Cycle World, January, 1993) tipped by some pundits to serve as a flagship for the reborn MV Agusta marque? Development of the bike continues, but in great secrecy. It was a surprise, therefore, when a photo of the engine was released—inadvertently, supposedly—at a Ferrari press conference.
WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU live and ride in Western Australia a long, long way from your nearest dealer? If you ride a Harley, you call Fraser Motorcycles, a distributor based in Sidney. Fraser services Harley-Davidsons throughout the 1.5-million-square-mile expanse of Western Australia—big enough to contain Texas and Alaska, with a lot of room left over.
IN 1971 AND '72 COLIN Seeley built seven motorcycles and then went broke. The bikes were powered by Matchless G-50 engines, were called Seeley-Condors, and because of their speed, handling and finish, became the stuff of legend. Now, more than 20 years later, the first Seeley-Condor replica has found its way into the hands of its Japanese owner thanks to British bike specialist TGA Classic Motorcycles, near Liverpool, England.
IF, ALONG WITH HARLEY-DAVIDSON MOTORCYcles, rock-and-roll happens to be your bag, the Fender Custom Shop, which builds special-edition guitars for Fender Musical Instruments, has introduced an old/new design that may interest you.
The 1960s were special years for many Americans, and 1969 offered hope for an even brighter future. As the decade came to a close, we saw the first U.S. troops withdraw from Vietnam, with 75,000 returning home by year’s end. Several other unforgettable events were in store for us in 1969, including the Woodstock Music and Art Festival in the New York countryside and the launch of Apollo 11, which delivered American astronauts in a giant step to the moon.
UP: To Damon Bradshaw, for being honest. The 21-year-old factory Yamaha motocrosser recently announced that, due to personal reasons, he will stop racing motorcycles for an indefinite period of time. “I'll be back when I can earn my paycheck and not one second before,” Bradshaw said.
SOME THINGS NEVER change. Day still follows night. Henny Youngman still tells the world’s worst oneliners. And the Venture Royale still is the most entertaining turn-key touring bike ever to head on down the highway. On this tourer, though, the entertainment value isn’t derived from an AM/FM/cassette sound system with CB and intercom, or from air suspension regulated by on-board compressor; the Venture has these amenities, of course, but so do other touring bikes.
AFTER 8128 MILES ON THE NEW R1100RS Boxer, we've come to the conclusion that BMW has created its best-ever flat-Twin. Some imperfections remain, but the eightvalve Type R259 engine is a big improvement over the old design. We also like the Telelever front suspension, which continues to amaze us with its compliance.
SUZUKI HAS SEEN THE FUTURE OF THE 600 CLASS, and it has nothing to do with checkered flags, sprayed champagne or well-endowed trophy queens. The company's new RF600R will do battle in the showroom sales wars without benefit of a factory-backed supersport roadracing effort, previously thought to be all-important in the marketing of a 600-class sportbike.
EUROPE'S MOTORCYCLE MANUFACTURERS ARE ON A ROLL. In spite of the shadow of massive change created by the approach of European unification, and in spite of a deepening economic recession, European motorcycles are in the midst of a renaissance.
WHEN THE WRAPS ARE FINALLY PULLED OFF 1994's lineup of motorcycles, dealers and consumers alike will note the absence of more than a few machines. Suzuki has dropped five models—the Bandit 400, GSX-R600, VX800, Katana 1100 and DR250. Honda will not have a ’94 version of its 750 Nighthawk, and Kawasaki has ceased production of its ZR1100.
IN MOTORCYCLE ROADRACING'S HIGHEST FORM, THE 500cc GP series, competing factories often roll out all-new machines at the beginning of each race season. Despite the astronomical cost, they do so in the name of research and development, to demonstrate their mastery of technology, and, of course, for the marketing value that winning a world title brings.
Changes to Suzuki's '94 GSX-R750 center around weight reduction, in both the chassis and the engine. As noted previously (see Roundup, CW, December, '93), claimed dry weight has been reduced to 439 pounds, 24 less than last-year's model.
WHILE THE AMA 750 SUPERSPORT CROWN has remained the joint property of Suzuki and Kawasaki over the years, the 600 class has been an open playing field where, at one time or another, each of the Japanese Big Four have had their turn holding the number-one plate.
Last year, our pick for Best 600cc Streetbike went to Kawasaki's ZX-6, a powerhouse of a machine that, besides being a wonderful streetbike, cleaned up on the racetrack. Celebrating that success, the '94 version returns fundamentally unchanged, save for a racy white, green and blue paint scheme.
FIVE 250s, FIVE TRACKS, 20 RIDERS AND THE CLOSEST FINISH EVER IN AN MX SHOOTOUT
RIDERS IN TUE MARKET FOR A NEW 250cc MOTOCROSSER, GOOD luck. First, plan on shelling out almost five grand for 1994's latest, greatest dirt-slingers. Second, this is the most competitive crop of MXers ever to roll off Japanese and Austrian assembly lines—picking the best between Honda's CR250, KTM's SX250, Kawasaki's KX250, Suzuki's RM250 and Yamaha's YZ250 is no easy task.
IT WON THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP IN 1949, BUT AJS's PORCUPINE 500 COULD HAVE DONE SO MUCH MORE
BRITISH MOTORCYCLE HISTORY IS FULL OF SAD tales, poor timing and botched opportunities. For illustration, consider the all-but-forgotten AJS E90S Twin, nicknamed the Porcupine. With a little luck, this racebike might have been remembered as one of the world's great motorcycles.
VELOCETTE'S GTP WAS ANOTHER GREAT BRITISH IDEA THAT WENT NOWHERE
AT FIRST GLANCE the Velocette GTP 250 two-stroke runabout would seem to have no more in common with AJS’s Porcupine racebike than black paint and gold pinstripes. But like the star-crossed E90, the GTP had features that were ahead of their time.
The new world roadracing champion talks about victory, crashing and Wayne Rainey
IT'S ODD, BUT IN GRAND PRIX RACING THERE IS SOMETHING more important than winning races. That certainly wasn't the way Kevin Schwantz understood it when he arrived, aged 24, fresh from a swashbuckling rise through the U.S. Superbike ranks and only four years after his first-ever roadrace.
Barros wins first GP, 125 and 250 world champs crowned
Martens, Albertyn and Tragter take MX titles
After four years of trying, Alex Barros won his first grand prix at the season-ending event in Jarama, Spain. In doing so, he became the first Brazilian to win in roadracing’s premier class. The Lucky Strike Suzuki rider inherited the race lead after USGP winner and fast-qualifier John Kocinski collided with Hondamounted Shinichi Itoh.
The factory service manual for my 1982 Kawasaki KZ1000 recommends tightening the four handlebar clamp bolts to 13 foot-pounds of torque. The bolts screw into threaded holes in the bottom halves of the clamps. I first attempted to tighten the rearmost two of the four bolts, but both of them twisted and broke at their approximate center point before reaching the recommended torque level.