THE SUBJECT FOR TODAY IS STANDARD-style motorcycles; more precisely, the U.S.’s lack of same. Five years ago, this magazine called for a new kind of standard, a bike that had a powerful engine, modern suspension, front-line brakes and suitable sticky tires, but one that wasn’t as intense-in riding position, amount of bodywork or purchase price-as a repli-racer sportbike.
WELL HERE WE GO AGAIN; ANOTHER complex and difficult psychological exam. Some readers may remember a couple of previous columns from recent years, provocatively titled “Should you buy a British bike?” and “Should you buy an Italian bike?
WHY DO WE CLASS MOTORCYCLES BY engine displacement? Easy answer: It lets advertisers say things like “Fastest (or Lightest, Sweetest-Smelling, etc.) 600 on the market.” Historically, we might find the importance of displacement derives from the weakness of governments for taxation.
One big reason Yamaha’s innovative GTS 1000 sits on the shelf (see “Brilliant But Unsold,” CW, February, 1993), at least in the U.S., is because it looks silly. Many riders in the 35-and-older age group who may have reached the income level where they can contemplate sinking $15,000 into one motorcycle remember when Triumphs, Nortons and other bikes were styled around their essential mechanical components-not an added-on plastic skin.
Customizing your Harley-Davidson? Why not try a set of Akront rims and wheel assemblies from Custom Chrome (16100 Jacqueline Ct., Morgan Hill, CA 95037; 800/729-3332)? The polished, 6051 T-6 aluminum rims are laced to steel hubs (aluminum is also available) with either stainless-steel, polished-stainless or chromed-steel spokes. Various rim diameters are available, with widths ranging from 2.15 to 5.5 inches. Prices for the Custom Chrome Akront rims and wheel assemblies start at $350.
AUTO METER TIRE PRESSURE GAUGE
One of the most important, and often overlooked, elements of motorcycle maintenance is tire-pressure adjustment. Auto Meter’s model 2343 tire-pressure gauge reads up to 60 psi and retains the last measurement taken until the pressure is manually released, says the manufacturer. It costs $18 and can be purchased from Cycle Performance Products (2724 Spring Garden Rd., Winston-Salem, NC 27106; 919/722-1407).
SHOEI VF-X FLASH
Shoei’s premier off-road helmet is the VF-X Flash, a Snell M90-approved fiberglass/Kevlar/carbon-fiber design with a Troy Lee visor and graphics. Two versions are available: The TC-1 is blue with yellow-and-orange graphics, and the TC-2 has an orange shell with yellow-and-blue artwork. The VF-X Flash is available in XS-XXL sizes and retails for $570. For more information, contact your dealer or Shoei (333 S. Hope St., Suite 2550, Los Angeles, CA 90071; 213/628-0275).
GENUINE FISHER VIBRATION DAMPER
If you love your Big Twin-powered Harley-Davidson’s appearance, but find its engine vibration bothersome, Genuine Fisher (2900 Bristol St., Suite G-107, Costa Mesa, CA 92626; 714/751-6723) might have a solution. The company claims its engine-vibration damper reduces vibration by 60 percent, thereby improving component life. On certain models, minor modifications to the primary case may be required. The CNC-machined billet dampers are manufactured in the United States and retail for $415.
HIGASHI SLIP-ON SILENCERS
Italian-made Higashi silencers are now available in the U.S. from Indigo Sports (12405 Unit J, Slauson Ave., Whittier, CA 90606; 310/945-8149). Each slip-on unit features a carbon-fiber body and mounting bracket, and an aluminum end cap with a rolled tip. According to the Higashi, the silencers are completely rebuildable and fit without other modifications. Both two-stroke and four-stroke versions are available. Prices range from $165-$290, depending on the application.
GERARD DESIGN HELMET STICKER KITS
Gerard Design, best known for its custom helmet painting, offers a line of sticker kits designed to enhance the look of any solid-color helmet. Available in red/yellow/gray or pink/purple/black, the Gerard Design Helmet Sticker kits are said to fit all popular helmets, including off-road models with chin guards and visors. They cost $24 from Gerard Design (7103 Unit B, Owensmouth Ave., Canoga Park, CA 91303; 818/703-6589) or from dealers. □
COULD IT BE THAT SOMEthing of Harley’s new VR1000 (see “America’s Superbike,” CW, March, 1993) might leak onto the street? Could it be that, as the machine becomes real and visible, even the most confirmed traditionalists at the Motor Company will be swept along in the enthusiasm of the moment, and will begin to expect a street version?
VR1000 ENGINE TECHnology for the general public remains just a tantalizing possibility, but suspension and brake components based on the H-D Superbike will be available as early as 1995, according to sources at Penske and Wilwood.
THE BRITTEN V-1000 NOW holds four world speed records, and plans are moving rapidly for a high-power, low-weight Britten Single. About the only thing not moving quickly in Britten’s Christchurch, New Zealand, shop is production of 10 customer bikes.
Love Ride 10, an annual Muscular Dystrophy Association fund-raising ride in Southern California raised more than $1 million for the MDA, and attracted 17,000 riders. The 50-mile ride has become the world’s largest one-day motorcycle fund-raising event.
DICK MANN TOOK THE 1971 Daytona 200 on a BSA with a Rob North frame. Now you can take a North frame home. North had an independent bike shop in England, when, in the late 1960s, Triumph racing engineers asked him to build a frame for the team to test.
Riding a crest off popularity, Triumph will introduce its line off motorcycles to the U.S. starting with the 1995 model year, said Michael Lock, Triumph export manager. Triumph sold 6000 units in Europe in 1993, reported Lock, and the entire 1994 production run is already spoken for.
Some things don’t change much. With the introduction of the 500 Mach III, Kawasaki strengthened its name as a maker of very fast motorcycles. Sounding like we were reviewing a ZX-11, we said, “It’ll raise the hairs on the back of a rider’s neck, or turn them gray in 13 seconds flat...yet is as docile as a kitten.” The Mach III put out a claimed 60 horsepower and hit the scales at 415 pounds.
THE FIRST HARLFY-DAVIDson Cafe is open in New York City, with splashy displays and special effects. It’s not all glitz though, they take the food seriously there. Owner Marc Packer brought in chef Jay Lippin, who worked at Montrachet, one of the city’s best French restaurants.
MOTORCYCLE SALES IN the United States climbed 6.4 percent in 1993, with cruisers leading the sales charge, according to Don J. Brown, a long-time industry analyst. Sales of street, dirt and dual-purpose motorcycles reached 276,559 in 1993, up from 260,056 in 1992.
ITS FLASHY BRIGHT BLUE wheels and glaring, neon-like graphics make the 1994 Suzuki Katana 750 look as if it would fit right in on the Las Vegas Strip. But this time-tested bike, with only a few styling changes for the new season, is no gamble.
UP: To Magnolia Publishing, for printing Take a Ride: A Motorcycle Adventure, a children's book telling the story of a boy who spends his day on a motorcycle. Author Donna Keegan said, "We have attempted to show motorcycling as an integral part of a happy, active life, including the excitement of travel, the camaraderie of new friends and a successful conclusion to every ride."
WHEN THE CRUST WAS COOLING IN 1980 and bell-bottom riding leathers were just going happily extinct-flapping all the way-big Japanese transverse-Fours ruled the Earth. Heavy, simple bikes, with two-sided swingarms, twin shocks, two wheels, a gas tank and hefty dohc engines.
A HONDA CB1000 IN THE SPIRIT OF FREDDIE SPENCER'S DAYTONA WINNER
PUT “SUPERBIKE” AND “Freddie Spencer” in the same sentence and for me, there’s an instant recall, an image sharp and quick as summer lightning. It’s Daytona, 1982, early in the Superbike race and I am standing outside the turn where the infield section of the roadcourse jinks left to zoom up onto the west banking.
BARRUPPP! YOU THUNDHR AWAY FROM A LIGHT, TRYING hard to keep your good-citizen badge (and license), but the front wheel ignores your noble intentions, rising so high and so quickly you have to chop the throttle. You thumb a signal and flick the bike left onto a side street, marveling at the ease with which you achieve a silly lean angle.
PROJECT CBR900RR: A CURE FOR THE SUBSTANDARD STANDARD
NEARLY FIVE YEARS HAVE PASSED SINCE WE PROPOSED THE CYCLE WORLD Convertible, a provocative concept that mated Suzuki’s air-and-oil-cooled GSX-R750 engine with a GS500-style chassis and Katana-like ergonomics. We called it a modern standard.
A CUSTOM WITHOUT CHROME? YEP, BUT THE PRICE IS GENUINELY GLOSSY: $47,000
SURE, HIS FUNNY CARS BROKE just about every drag record possible, and, yeah, the first race car he built went straight to the Indianapolis 500, but John Buttera is not one to brag. Ask him what he does for a living, and he mutters, “I make stuff.” As for his latest stab at “stuff,” a hot Harley custom that will set you back a cool 50 grand, “Aw, that’s a plain ole’ motorcycle."
IF THERE WERE A CUSTOMIZING COMPETITION IN THE Olympics, Arlen Ness would surely carry home more gold (or would it be chrome?) than anyone else. Using an agile and active imagination-and lots of built-from-scratch parts-the acknowledged King of Customs has been muscling motorcycles into the shape and style of his dreams for 25 years now.
THE EMERGENCE OF DIRT-ORIENTED dual-purpose bikes has resulted in many products tailor-made for the D-P market. One example is the Thor Explore line. Manufactured entirely in Italy, the line consists of a traditional enduro jacket, old MX-style pants and off-road oriented boots, all of which are devoid of the wild colors and graphics currently associated with most off-road gear.
A NUMBER OF CHANGES HAVE GONE DOWN since Cycle World's, last budget-bike shootout. Unfortunately, one thing that hasn't is the price of the participants. Yet these five bikes still represent the most sport for the least spent in today’s market.
PROTECTING YOUR HANDS and their complex collection of bones, ligaments, muscles, nerves, tendons and skin is serious business, which makes choosing a pair of motorcycle gloves an important decision. The Dainese Set gloves tested here are produced in Korea and distributed by, among others, Lockhart-Phillips, U.S.A. (991 Calle Negocio, San Clemente, CA 92673; 714/498-9492).
A QUALITY KIDNEY BELT IS AN ESSENTIAL part of the off-road rider’s wardrobe. Most kidney belts, however, are nothing more than constrictive elastic devices that support your stomach and lower back at the expense of squashing your insides.
CYCLE WORLD HAS JUST DONE A FULL ROAD TEST on a dirtbike. It was even taken to the dragstrip and the dyno just like all our test streetbikes. What’s going on? Well, this particular dirtbike comes with just enough lights and switches, along with a mirror and a horn to justify a license plate-barely.
GIVEN THE HISTORY OF motorcycle manufacturers in the U.S., starting a motorcycle company is a notion that ought to be worth, at the very least, several bad cases of ulcers. After all, lots of Americans have done it. Most of them failed. Only Harley and the Davidsons have made a continuing impact.
HEAVEN FORBID THAT I SHOULD HAVE only one motorcycle to ride. My list of riding requirements for that poor bike would be difficult to fill. It would have to be a tough trail bike. It would have to be capable of doing well in enduros and hare-and-hounds, maybe even the occasional motocross.
IN THE WORLD OF MOTORCYCLE modeling, smaller is definitely better, a maxim that Russ Schwenkler has taken to an extreme. In his effort to pump big detail into tiny packages, he typically builds his replicas with more than 150 individual pieces of custom-milled hardware.
YOU MIGHT IMAGINE IT’S AFTER hours in a long-lost garage of the world's foremost cycle collector. Go ahead, check the supple suspension on that screaming-green Moto Guzzi V-Eight. Finger the delicate details of the 500cc Gilera Four.
Putting controversy behind him, John Kocinski takes aim on life, and on a 500cc GP world championship
JON F. THOMPSON
JOHN KOCINSKI IS LIVING, BREATHING EVIDENCE OF THE danger of getting what you wish for. “No question about it,” he says, “I wanted to be in Europe racing for a world championship.” Kocinski has his wish, but it was granted at immense personal cost.
Veteran drag-racer Dave Schultz scored his fourth NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle championship with a win at the season-ending Winston Finals in Pomona, California. Schultz, riding his Sunoco-sponsored Suzuki, beat Byron Hines with an elapsed time of 7.752 seconds at 167.22 mph.
I own a 1990 Yamaha FZR1000 that is very sound mechanically and has just 15,000 miles on the odometer. It’s a dream to ride in the canyons, but during freeway-type riding, the throttle-side clip-on has a vibration that puts my hand to sleep after about 20 or 30 miles.