OUCH! SOMEONE GET THE NUMBER OF the truck that just ran us over. Or was it a buzz saw? The perpetrator in this case was the World Superbike Series, which chewed up and spit out the Team Cycle World. Yamaha YZF750 racebike like it was a rancid hors d’oeuvre.
LAST MONTH I FOUND MYSELF OUT IN the garage, doing the unimaginable: lowering the overall gearing on a road bike. Off with the 37-tooth rear sprocket and on with a 39. Yes. My new 900SS SP Ducati, like the old one I had a few years ago, actually came from the factory with gearing a little too tall for my rarefied tastes.
AS SOON AS I ESCAPED FROM FORMAL education, I went to the races. I went to the drags, to the scrambles and to road-races. My bike-enthusiast friends and I did a lot of foolish things then and later, including trying to straighten bent valves, running cracked pistons by drilling the end of the crack, and putting a Triumph engine into a Honda frame (please don't ask; it seemed like the thing to do at the time).
Every once in a while, you read an article that leaves you so satisfied you wonder what it has that much other motojournalism lacks. Tech Editor Kevin Cameron’s piece on the Harley-Davidson VR1000 (“Virtual Reality,” August) was such a story.
NO ONE COMIES TO A Harley-Davidson annual dealer show expecting radical change, and—once again—Harley delivered on that expectation. That doesn’t mean change was absent; it just took the usually subtle Milwaukee form. The flashiest items were the two new big Sportsters introduced for ’96.
So you’ve got the baddest bike on the block, eh? Something that strikes fear into the hearts of sane-minded citizens and sets their hounds to yowling every time you light the mutha up? Well, bring every you light the mutha up? Well, bring it on big boy, it’s time to put up or shut up, run what ya brung and tow what ya blow.
This month marks changes to the Cycle World masthead. Joining the staff as Associate Editors are Eric Putter and Wendy F. Black. Putter, 31, most recently worked for Freeman/McCue, the public-relations agency for Kawasaki. Prior to that, he held several editorial positions, including a stint as managing editor at Sportbike, CW's sister publication.
ESCAPING FROM THE TEEMing madness of Tokyo’s Ueno railway station, a motorcycle nut can’t help but notice the noise. The bustling city square is humming with commuter traffic, but above it all the familiar bark of a megaphoned Hailwood Replica Ducati rings though.
MORE INFORMATION has come to the surface about Yamaha’s big-news bike for 1996, the 1300cc Royal Star cruiser. Apparently concerned about rumors that the bike would be another Harley-clone, Yamaha’s PR department hastily issued a press release saying, “The Royal Star...is designed to have its own character and personality...to provide a uniquely American riding experience in the classic cruiser style with ultimate function.”
Competition for Ducati’s 916 is on the way, in the form of a liter-class Rotax-powered Aprilia V-Twin. The newly developed Rotax motor is a fuel-injected 60-degree Vee with dohc and four valves per cylinder. It will be housed in a frame derived from the all-conquering RS250 roadracer, making for a very compact, lightweight package.
Six speeds and shades of Buck Rogers,” was our depiction of Bridgestone’s twin-cylinder 350 GTO street-scrambler. In creating the GTO, which was based on the 1967-issue GTR, the company did little more than swap the original exhaust system for huge, high-mounted silencers in gun-metal black, tipped with chrome stingers, and add a cross-brace to the handlebar.
1996 HARLEY SPORT SPORTSTER Return of the Fire-Breather?
THE REDUNDANT NAME applied to Harley's new XL1200S tells exactly how far the Sportster had strayed from its performance roots—it originally earned the first five letters in its name, you know. From its introduction in '57 through the late Sixties, the Sportster was that era's V-Max and ZX-11, the meanest and quickest streetbike around, the ruler of dragstrip and stoplight grand prix.
UP: To whoever's responsible for Kawasaki UK's advertising program, for remembering that motorcycles, and the ads that sell them, are supposed to be fun. Appearing in various British magazines, the stark ads are on the ballsy side—and none the worse for it.
THE LITTLE ROAD TURNS OFF TO THE LEFT, TO THE brown California hills that swell as smoothly and sensually as an Edward Weston nude. The asphalt—such as it is—drapes over these mounds like a tattered ribbon, left and up and right and down and then left and right again, undulating continuously, organically.
IF YOU’RE LOOKING HERE TO LEARN the identity of the year's best motorcycle, sorry—you’re out of luck. There are too many riders, too many kinds of riding, and too many types of bikes for such a thing ever to be possible. To honor one machine above the others would be to minimize the validity of all the rest.
Okay, class, here’s the challenge. Make a big, fast, comfortable motorcycle. Give it a bit of weather protection. Give it lots of motor. Make it comfortable for a passenger. Make it handsome. Oh, and one more thing: Keep the price in line. No way, you say? Ah, but Kawasaki found a way, using a retuned ZX11 engine and a chassis reminiscent of the Ninja 900’s.
THOSE OF YOU WHO BELIEVE THAT IT TAKES SPECIALIZED design to come up with a successful roadracing engine, listen up: Though the other Japanese manufacturers build engines suitable for Singles racing, only Yamaha’s five-valve XTZ660 powerplant possesses the potential to beat the Ducati Supermonos and the various Rotax/BMW-engined racebikes that populate the highest levels of Singles racing.
THE STUNT Men & Women WHO DO THE MOTORCYCLE SCENES ACTORS DON'T DARE
IT TAKES MORE THAN GREAT ACTING TO BRING magic to the big and small screens. Movies and television shows—especially ones that feature motorcycles—are about action. And behind every chase and explosion is a man or woman you probably wouldn't recognize on the street.
IT WAS TIME TO GO. WEEKS OF PLANning, more than two hours of setup were over. Flames raged before me, larger than had been expected. They would burn for only a few seconds. No time to think or worry. Gear in, clutch out and my Suzuki GS1100ES was rolling, fat torque pulling me quickly to about 30 mph in first gear, straight for the Wall of Fire.
PHONE RINGS. VOICE ON THE OTHER END SAYS, "GOOD day, this is Jim Bates from American Honda, could you lower the cone of silence so that no one else can hear what I am about to tell you?" A secret meeting is set up at Honda's California R&D facility.
OKAY. YOU’RE GOING TO A PARTY AND it’s a beautiful evening (but cooling off fast) and you want to ride your motorcycle, but you’ll be the only motorcyclist there. You look in the closet at your regular riding jacket, festooned with stiff body armor in the elbows and shoulders.
EVER STORE YOUR MOTORCYCLE FOR THE winter, only to discover it six months later in worse condition than you left it? B.W. Incorporated (316 West Broadway, P.O. Box 106, Browns Valley, MN 56219; 612/695-2891) offers a solution in the form of its Cycle Shield Storage System.
Australian Troy Corser returns to America and wins at Laguna Seca on an Italian motorcycle. They don’t call it World Superbike for nothing.
MERE EXCELLENCE COULD not win the U.S. round of World Superbike roadracing, held at the uniquely difficult Laguna Seca, California, track. The series leader, English Northerner Carl Fogarty, is indeed excellent to the point of dominance.
More than just going round and round, the 1995 AMA Grand National Championship dirt-track series is taking the form of a three-way dogfight. And right in the thick of things is none other than three-time champion Jay Springsteen. Approaching the series’ halfway point, the 38-year-old former champ, number two on the all-time GNC win list, sat third in points (behind Scott Parker and Rich King) and had an overwhelming lead in the 883 National Championship standings after winning six of eight races on the Sportsterbased machines.
I just purchased a new battery, a Yuasa YB18L-A, for my ’86 Kawasaki Concours. This is the bike’s fourth battery, including the original. According to everything I have read, a new battery should be slow-charged at 1/10 of its rated capacity for 10 to 18 hours before use.
We need your photos for Slipstream. We're looking for photos that make us smile because they say something about motorcycling. Submissions should be made to Slipstream, Cycle World, 1499 Monrovia Avenue, Newport Beach, CA 92663. To be returned, the photographs must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope.