IT’S A CHARACTER FLAW, I’M SURE. LIKE the little boy who’s always finding stray dogs, I attract oddball motorcycles in need of a good home. I just can’t seem to help myself. As already chronicled on these pages, I own a 1946 Velocette GTP 250, a two-stroke model even most Velo experts don’t know about.
YESTERDAY AFTERNOON I TRIED SOMEthing I’ve never done before. I took my new black Kawasaki ZX-ll out for a two-hour ride during which I attempted to stay within the speed limit. Okay, I didn’t stay strictly within the speed limit. Nobody, I discovered, goes exactly 55 mph on the highway, except for older folks who appear to be driving themselves to the emergency room because they’ve forgotten the exact order of the digits 9-1-1.
THERE IS GRACE IN THE BEST MECHANIcal design, but it is usually there not because of human aesthetic taste, but because nothing else will work. In 1971, Kawasaki equipped its H1R road racers with the same cylinder studs as on the street H1.
After reading August’s “Wild Blue” about David Edwards’ joy ride with the Blue Angels, I came away disgusted. This is a very thinly disguised endorsement of possibly the worst president in U.S. history. Edwards managed to endorse everything from homosexuals in foxholes to Hillary’s investment skills.
Mike Corbin’s latest catalog features replacement seats for more than 120 late-model motorcycles. The 224-page, full-color catalog has applications for cruisers, sportbikes, tourers and even customs. Prices start at $199. For a free copy of Corbin’s 1994 Motorcycle Saddle Encyclopedia, contact Corbin (11445 Commercial Pky., Castroville, CA 95012; 800/538-7035).
WORKSLITE TYPE II SPROCKETS
AFAM says its WorksLite Type II sprockets are the lightest off-road sprockets available. Manufactured from 7075 T-6 aluminum, the sprockets are hard-anodized for durability, feature a patented self-cleaning, “snowflake” design and are available for most popular applications. Retail price for AFAM WorksLite Type II off-road sprockets is $60 from dealers or direct from AFAM USA (5953 Engineer Dr., Huntington Beach, CA 92649; 714/379-9040).
SUPER SYSTEM IGNITION KIT
Accel Motorcycle Products has introduced its Super System ignition kit, designed specifically for Harley-Davidson Evolution Big Twins. The kit retails for $264 and includes Accel’s Super Coil, U-Groove spark plugs, programmable MegaFire ignition module and plug wires. According to Accel, a conversion harness, part number 35408, is required for 1884-90 engines. For more information, contact your local dealer or Accel Motorcycle Products (8700 Brookpark Rd., Cleveland, OH 44129; 216/398-8300).
HARLEY-DAVIDSON’S NEW Springer Softail Bad Boy might be the hottest-looking new Harley, but the Ultra Classic Electra Glide 30th Anniversary Edition has the hottest technology. The bike features a Weber sequential-port fuel-injection system run by an electronic control module (ECM), both firsts for H-D production bikes.
HONDA REPORTEDLY WILL unleash a lightweight, high-performance CBR600RR in 1995 to stave off the challenge of Kawasaki’s anticipated ZX-6R (see Roundup, July, 1994). Careful attention to making the CBR600RR lighter could result in the new Honda tipping the scales at just 355 pounds-a decrease of about 50 pounds-according to England’s Motor Cycle News.
INDIAN MOTORCYCLE MANufacturing Inc. promised a summer of exciting events involving running prototypes of its Century V-Twin Chiefs, but the bikes have been plagued by teething problems. IMMI did unveil two Chief prototypes at an Alburquerque, New Mexico, rally in June, but the bikes were not ridden and ran poorly.
Performance Scooters, a Canadian company, says it will import Lambretta scooters to the U.S. in 1995. The GP200, powered by a 200cc two-stroke, will retail for $1700. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation testing will begin later this year.
HONDA AND YAMAHA ARE making just enough changes to their 1995 off-road lines to make the '94s seem outdated. Though neither company took radical steps, both claim significant improvements through small updates. Except for the graphics, Honda’s XR line is unchanged, dispelling rumors of an all-new mid-sized XR. Of changes to the CRs, most noticable are purple seats and shrouds on the 80, 125, 250 and 500.
Flat-track racer Neil Keen, profiled in the October, 1969, issue, had the pieces of the equation that later became Supercross racing, but didn’t put them together. Keen discounted the potential of motocross racing, saying, “The American doesn’t want to traipse around in the mud and watch it.”
NEXT WORLD DESIGN says its Highlander is the dual-purpose bike of the future. Included on the bike is the V-Tex exhaust system that is said to control the bike’s power and noise levels. The system is a response to pressure on off-road riders to keep noise to a minimum, says Next World’s Glen Laivins.
WHAT HAS MOTOCROSS retiree Damon Bradshaw been doing with his free time since walking away from the sport last September? "Flying airplanes, working with horses and working on Harleys," says the enigmatic Bradshaw, a 21-year-old resident of Mooresville, North Carolina.
WHEN YOU THINK Kawasaki Ninja, what comes to mind? Probably the ultra-fast ZX-11 or Kawasaki's latest addition to its sportbike line, the ZX-9R. Perhaps the ZX-7 or ZX-6 grabs your imagination, and you remember what a great bargain the EX500 Ninja represents.
UP: To the Airheads Beemer Club, for having a sense of humor while not being swayed by the latest in techno-wizardry. Billed as an “Unpretentious BMW club for classic Boxer owners,” the group has several rules, including, “Airheads appreciate function over form, fact over fiction and friendship over friction” and “Airheads like to share time, knowledge, parts and beer with other Airheads.”
WHEN HARLEY FIRST INTRODUCED THE Softail Springer, George Bush had yet to be elected president, Saddam Hussein was just another desert dictator, and-to the relief of map makers everywhere-the Soviet Union was still a single country.
BY DEFINITION, EXOTICA IS THAT WHICH IS striking and unusual in appearance-exciting, glamorous, strange. Looking for an example? Consider the Vee Two Alchemy SV-1, a tiny, tube-framed roadster powered by, of all things, a hotted-up 1970s beveldrive Ducati motor.
BROOK HENRY BUILDS HOT-ROD Ducatis. His efforts have produced, among other things, a raft of engine components, a chassis-complete with rising-rate rear suspension-and numerous race wins. During a recent trip to the U.S., the 40-year-old New Zealand native sat down with us for an insight into the passion that has consumed the better part of his adult life.
LIFE IS HARD IN THE NICHE-BIKE MARKET, AND NOBODY knows that better than Bimota. But like other specialist builders, it still manages to come up with stunning equipment that competes, as the Brook Henry Alchemy does, for the exotic-bike dollar.
HOW TO TAKE home a Ten Best medal: Start with the engine that has won three World Superbike titles. Enlarge and refine it. Install it in a clever and unique chassis equipped with top-quality suspension. Cloak the result in avantgarde bodywork that displays all the best of the Italian passion for line, shape and proportion.
We know, some of you think only a pack of lunatics would pick anything but the Gold Wing as Best Touring Bike. Up to a point, we sympathize. We will at least concede that the Wing is worthy of honorable mention. This, friends, is a macro motorcycle, Kong of the motorcycle world. If you must have a fully equipped touring bike, it is the only logical choice. The reasons for that are manifold: The GL1500 is true to its name, a two-wheeled wing that transports its riders, and every accouterment they could hope to haul, anywhere they might want to go. It does so in style and comfort. It’s very powerful, extremely well developed, and, for its size, surprisingly nimble. Lastly, the excellence of the bike’s components, and the way they all fit and work, is such that the bike sparkles with quality. If luxo-touring is your thing, this is the bike to do it on.
Building a sportbike is no easy matter, not if the machine in question has to pass muster in real-world use. For what works well in the curves often doesn’t work quite so well in civilization’s concrete canyons. But Yamaha’s YZF750R does pass muster. And most everything else. Using engine architecture roughly comparable to that of the other Japanese 750s, the YZF makes lots of horsepower and torque, and does so smoothly, over a wide rpm range. So you keep an eye on the speedometer. You’re going a lot faster than you think you are. No matter where it’s being ridden, the bike’s balance of handling, nimbleness and power shines through. The YZF was our choice for competing in the Daytona 200, and it’s also our favorite 750cc repli-racer of 1994.
This motorcycle is a revelation. It launches like a 30.06 round, handles like a GP racer, and it has top-shelf fit and finish. Most importantly, it costs about nine grand. We recognize that $9000 is an important chunk of loot. But it buys an important chunk of motorcycle. Don’t be put off by the smoothness of the bike’s controls, or the tractability of its engine. The CBR is as much a commuter as a Team Penske Indycar. Nothing about this bike coddles the rider. It is demanding and uncompromising, and will reward the rider that is equally uncompromising and demanding, especially if he has the skills to extract all of the CBR’s performance. With the possible exception of the Ducati 916, this is as close as you can get to a GP bike for the street. If that doesn’t earn an honorable mention, we don’t know what does.
Everybody, it seems, has his favorite from Harley-Davidson’s bounteous stable. This one is ours. The Road King is the latest H-D retro warrior, a machine made to mimic not only the style, but also the substance, of Harley’s 1950s dressers. This bike mixes yesterday’s style with today’s technology, and the result is entirely salubrious. The lazy lope of the big V-Twin engine carries the bike effortlessly down the road, with the quick-release windshield providing just enough relief from wind, rain and bugs. The seats are comfortable, the saddlebags fairly roomy and the vibration almost nonexistent. Yep, we can imagine Elvis aboard this bike. We can imagine ourselves aboard it, too, traveling for the sake of traveling. It brings out our wanderlust, and any bike capable of doing that is worthy of an honorable mention.
With a top-flight chassis that includes absolutely terrific suspension, the KLX250 fell out of the running for Best Enduro Bike only because of one detail. That detail, not really a minor one, involves its engine. The little KLX uses a four-stroke engine. The most competitive enduro bikes use two-strokes. That’s important because two-strokes make more power than Thumpers. This bike nevertheless gets mentioned honorably not only because of what it is, but because of what it represents. Sad to say, but it’s only a matter of time before two-stroke trailbikes become illegal to sell in the U.S. It could happen as early as 1997 in some states. When it does, off-road riders will need to recalibrate themselves to accommodate what’s available. What’s available now is the KLX250, and that’s a pretty good start.
HONDA GL1500 GOLD WING SE YAMAHA YZF750R HONDA CBR900RR HARLEY-DAVIDSON ROAD KING KAWASAKI KLX250
20 YEARS AGO, TRIUMPH’S X-75 OFFERED A GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE
WITH THE FUSS AND FANFARE usually reserved for royalty, Triumph is finally on its way back to the colonies. A fleet of new Triumphs fitted with proper Anglo attitude is scheduled to hit American shores later this fall. If history is any guide, the impact could be significant.
MY ORDERS CAME across the desk: I was to pilot the X-75 Hurricane and submit a written eval to Feature Editor Brenda Buttner. Having never seen one of these vehicles, I naturally visualized the X-75 in the same vein as other historic experimentals such as the Bell X-l rocket research plane-which broke the sonic barrier in 1947-or the Mach-6 capable North American X-l5.
No X-75 HURRICANE SIGHTINGS, but 80 other classic, custom and collectible motorcycles were on display at the inaugural Cycle World Concours d’Elegance, held in conjunction with the CW-sponsored L.A. Superbike race last April. Engraved glass-and-marble trophies were awarded in each of 14 classes after a final judging session during which participants were asked to start their machines.
CHOOSING SUZUKI'S RMX250 AS our long-term dirtbike was a logical decision. The RMX finished second to KTM's racier 250 E/XC in last year’s annual enduro comparison (CW, June, 1993) and in race trim, is a common sight in the winner’s circle at national-level events.
MOVE OVER, UNSERS. IT LOOKS LIKE CLINT Vahsholtz is laying claim to your mountain. Vahsholtz staked that claim by winning, for the second straight year, what might be the most difficult and demanding motorcycle race in the world-the 1994 running of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.
If Mick Doohan would like to forget his 1993 GP season, he most surely will want to remember 1994. For if Doohan marks 1993 as the year in which his career was on hold as a result of a 1992 leg injury and its subsequently botched medical treatment, he’ll also mark 1994 as the year he won six straight grands prix, bringing his season total to seven wins.
I have a 1990 Kawasaki ZX-11 that I purchased brand-new. I am experiencing a problem with the battery boiling dry on extended rides, especially in warmer weather. This has occurred with both the original battery and a replacement.