IT IS THE CROWN JEWEL OF THE RETRO movement, the ne plus ultra of yester-bikes. The last American-made Indian motorcycle wheeled out of the Springfield, Massachusetts, factory way back in 1953. Almost immediately, revival attempts were initiated.
PERHAPS I WAS THE VICTIM OF ONE TOO many after-school TV episodes of “Sgt. Preston of the Yukon.” Or maybe I should have paid more attention in Mr. Berhow’s Geography class. In any case, the first time I took a motorcycle trip from Wisconsin to Montreal, in 1967, I was what you might call cartographically naive.
JOHN BRITTEN HAS DIED OF CANCER IN New Zealand at the age of 45. Britten is best known for his V-1000 twin-cylinder racer, designed, as John liked to say, “from first principles.” Not only was this superb machine built by Britten and his small group of associates, but almost everything on it represented important innovation.
I just read October’s Buell Lightning article. It was great! Erik Buell’s previous S2 Thunderbolt was a step in the right direction. Well, it looks like he’s taken an even bigger step with the S1 Lightning. Reginald Brooks Guthrie, Oklahoma They finally did it!
Keihin FCR carburetors for late-model, three-cylinder Triumphs are now available from Sudco (3014 Tanager Ave., Commerce, CA 90040; 213/728-5407). Priced at $870 and pre-jetted for each application, they are said to offer improved throttle response and a 6-horsepower gain when used in conjunction with the stock exhaust.
BRIDGESTONE M78 MOTOCROSS TIRE
Is your off-roader in a rut, slipping and sliding when it should hook-up and roost? Available for late-model 125cc and 250cc motocrossers, Bridgestone’s M78 rear tire is designed to devour hard-to-intermediate terrain. Prices start at $76. For more information, contact your motorcycle dealer, or Bridgestone, One Bridgestone Pkwy., Nashville, TN 37214; 800/543-7522.
ECLIPSE QUANTUM THERMOSTAT
Cold-blooded? Eclipse’s Quantum thermostat heats the company’s electric vest and/or chaps by cycling intermittent current through the apparel. Priced at $50, the wallet-size plastic case has an on/off indicator light, a large adjustment knob, a 5-foot power cord and a handy belt clip. For more information, contact Eclipse, 3771 E. Ellsworth Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48108; 313/971-5552.
RON WOOD RACING MUFFLER
Designed for difficult-to-silence, single-cylinder four-strokes, Ron Wood Racing mufflers are said to improve performance while meeting ever-tightening racetrack noise restrictions. Five inches in diameter, the rebuildable slip-on retails for $175 from motorcycle dealers or direct from Ron Wood Racing, 755 W. 17th St., Suite D, Costa Mesa, CA 92627; 714/645-0393.
BIKERS DREAM BILLET AXLE ADJUSTER KIT
Custom Harley-Davidson parts come in all shapes, sizes and designs. Case in point: the billet axle-adjuster kit from Bikers Dream (1420 Village Way, Santa Ana, CA 92705; 714/8358464). Available for late-model Dynas and FXRs, the $50 kit features recessed Allen-head adjustment bolts and a polished finish.
ACCEL PLATINUM X SPARKPLUGS
Platinum X sparkplugs for most late-model Harley-Davidsons are available from Accel (8700 Brookpark Rd., Cleveland, OH 44129-6899; 216/398-0007). According to the company, the plugs feature copper centers and “X” pattern, chromium-nickel alloy electrodes. They are available in packages of two, which retail for $13 from motorcycle dealers.
AUBURN LEATHER SADDLEBAGS
Auburn Leather’s Daytona Slant saddlebags feature lull-grain leather construction and reinforced handles, felt-lined mounting straps protect fenders, while adjustment grommets accommodate a variety of models, says Auburn Leather (P.O. Box 338, Auburn, KY 42206-0338; 502/542-4116). Detachable, the bags retail for $340 from motorcycle dealers.
BIG BIKE PARTS GOLD WING RECEIVER HITCH
Looking to get hitched? Big Bike Parts makes it easy with the GL1500 Gold Wing receiver hitch. Boasting a one-piece frame said to accommodate mudflaps and saddlebag spoilers, it retails for $170 at motorcycle dealers, or from Big Bike Parts (2300 Pioneer Ave., Rice Lake, W1 54868; 800/826-241l). Mounting hardware and a 1⅞-inch chrome ball are included.
YAMAHA IS BUILDING sportbikes, but not for us—at least not for now. Four new models will be sold in Europe for ’96, while Yamaha USA concentrates its promotional efforts on the Royal Star mega-cruiser. “We have not in any way, shape or form abandoned the sportbike market,” asserts a Yamaha USA spokesman.
HOPING TO KEEP AHESD OF the new Yamaha YZF1000 and the next-generation 750s from Suzuki and Kawasaki, Honda has rearmed its CBR900RR for 1996. Picked by CW's editors as Best Superbike three out of the past four years, the CBR charges into the new selling season with significant refinements, including: A bump in engine displacement from 893 to 918cc, accomplished by a 1 mm bore job.
Considering a custom cruiser? The Hellcat Roadster from Confederate Motor Works (2311 Christian St., Baton Rouge, LA 70808; 504/383-8663) boasts 102 horsepower and 98 foot-pounds of torque at the crankshaft from its 93cubic-inch S&S V-Twin.
Ducati will launch a 750cc version of its best-selling Monster street-rod at the upcoming Milan Show, but in a shock move, this will be the only new model from the Italian marque for 1996. The Cagiva Group has decided to hold back all other projected new Ducati models until 1997, because of pent-up demand for the current desmo range, specifically the 916 and its little brother 748.
YOU SAY YOU HAVE SEEN the enemy, and he holds a radar gun? Rather than preparing for a future of unlimited speeding tickets, try envisioning life without a National Maximum Speed Limit (NMSL). Thanks to a successfully lopsided vote of 419-7, the House of Representatives passed the National Highway System Act (House Resolution 2274), which repeals the 55mph NMSL and empowers states to determine speed limits.
Isn't it bad enough those Kiwis gave our red-white-and-blue behinds a shellacking in the America’s Cup competition? Now, it seems New Zealand can lay claim to being the most active motorcycling nation in the world. In a study just published by the Federation Internationale Motorcycliste, New Zealand leads all countries, with 280 riders for every 100,000 inhabitants.
YAMAHA IS COMING hard after Honda's long-running Helix with a 250cc scooter of its own. Called the YP250 Majesty, it's powered by a liquid-cooled, two-valve, four-stroke Single driving through a fully automatic V-belt transmission.
Drag-race frame design and development can be costly and time-consuming. Start from scratch, and you'll likely spend more time fabricating than racing. Not so with the BT 18 BattleTwin from Kosman Specialties (7706 Bell Rd., Suite E, Windsor, CA 95492; 707/837-0127).
DAN AND DAVE HANLON are $3.6 million closer to realizing their dream of bringing Excelsior motorcycles back to life. That's how much capital the brothers have raised through a series of equity offerings to private investors. According to Dan Hanlon, reaction from the investment community to the Excelsior-Henderson Motorcycle Manufacturing Company has been overwhelmingly positive.
Cycle World took a Teutonic turn with the December, 1970, issue. Praising German craftsmanship for orderliness and precision, we applauded BMW for revamping the 750cc R75/5. Retaining its horizontally opposed configuration, the Slash-5's ohv Twin demonstrated improved cylinder-head design.
HONDA VRX400 Japanese cross between a Norton and a Sportster
CONTRARY TO POPULAR opinion, not all Japanese V-Twins are Harley-Davidson repli-cruisers. Take a look at Honda's VRX400 Roadster, now available in Japan. From its classic styling to its spoked aluminum wheels to its chromed headlight bucket, the VRX's roots are firmly planted in British soil—although a few American sprouts are apparent.
DOWN: To heart-throb actor and Norton Commando owner Keanu Reeves, for being a putz. Good taste in motorcycles notwithstanding, the star of the 1994 smash-hit Speed might want to slow down a bit. To quote a recent Vanity Fair cover story: "Keanu has been known to ride his Norton motorcycles fast, sometimes at night, occasionally with the headlight off, and he has had spills—one in Topanga Canyon that ruptured his spleen and left a long abdominal scar." A most un-excellent adventure.
SUZUKI GOES BACK TO ITS ROOTS TO REINVENT THE SUPERSPORT 750
THE STATELY PROGRESS OF DETAIL IMPROVEMENT MUST, occasionally, be ruthlessly booted forward by bold, wholesale change. You'll never invent the computer by improving a typewriter. Instead of small, safe bets on the familiar, there must come a rash gamble on the farthest extension of knowledge.
IS THIS THE MACHINE TEAM MUZZY NEEDS TO DEFEAT DUCATIS?
KAWASAKI'S 750 SPORTBIKE DEVELOPMENT IS INCREMENtal, not revolutionary, but any update from these masters of refinement is always big news. It brings fresh capabilities to riders, and illuminates the future of motorcycle engineering.
BIG BOOMER FROM LAGO DI COMO: ITALY'S ALTERNATE SPORTBIKE
WHEN SPORTBIKE ENTHUSIASTS WENT SHOPPING FOR a viable alternative to the mainstream during the 1980s, the first stop was most likely the local Ducati dealership. Nowadays, though, the rising red tide of 916s, 888s, SS 900s and Monsters has transformed many a Sunday sportbike hangout into a veritable Duck pond.
MOTORCYCLE STYLING? Forget it. This wonderful art of the possible seems lost, at least as far as performance bikes are concerned, to the expediencies of the wind tunnel. Air, after all, only flows over bodywork in a certain way. So it was inevitable that sooner or later, all sportbikes would be sculpted by air into basically similar shapes.
LONG, LOW AND DRIPPING WITH NOSTALGIA, classically styled cruisers are what's hot. Yamaha's contribution to this newly rejuvenated category is the Royal Star, a 725-pound mega-motorcycle with an eye-popping $13,499 asking price. According to Yamaha, marketing such a machine is not, repeat not, a blind roll of the dice.
VULCAN, THE GREEK GOD OF FIRE, MADE WEAPONS OF war in ancient times. This year, Kawasaki has gone on the warpath with a nine-bike cruiser battalion. Spearheaded by five new models, Kawasaki looks to capture a market that is projected to grow 10 percent by the year 2000.
WITH MOST OF ITS CORPORATE ENERGY TIED UP reinventing the GSX-R750 repli-racer, Suzuki chose the path of least resistance when planning its 1996 cruiser lineup—it left well enough alone. Marketing Director Mel Harris says the company is happy with its 25 percent share of the Japanese cruiser market, and that Suzuki’s pair of Intruders and the Savage 650 are among the company’s top sellers.
OVER THE YEARS HONDA HAS OFFERED UI' A DIVERSE line of cruisers. Parallel-Twins, V-Twins, V-Fours and inline-Fours, running the displacement gamut from 250 to 1100cc. In the early days, there were Customs, Nighthawks and Rebels; now there are three Shadows, a pair of Magnas, a Rebel 250 and an ACE in the hole.
VERTEMATI’S FOUR-STROKE MOTOCROSSER IN SEARCH OF A WORLD TITLE
VERTE-WHATI!?!? YOU'VE NEVER heard of the Vertemati MX bike, but if hard work and desire are any barometer, the lightweight four-stroke will be in the running for the 500cc world motocross title next year. This is a rare piece—there are currently just six examples.
FIFTY YEARS AGO HARLEY-DAVIDSON AND INDIAN FOUGHT WITH (NOT AGAINST) EACH OTHER
BEGIN THIS CHAPTER IN MILITARY AND MOTORCYcling history with a concept as logical, romantic and glamorous as it was hopelessly flawed. You don’t need the mentality of, oh, Jeb Stuart, George Custer or Geronimo to imagine the motorcycle as cavalry, a warhorse that doesn’t eat when it’s not working and won’t run away unless the rider makes the first wrong move.
WATER ACCOUNTS FOR APPROXIMATELY 65 percent of human body weight. Failure to compensate for significant, perspiration-related water losses can lead to cramping, hallucinations, and in severe cases, even death. A recent addition to the successful CamelBak line of hands-free, hydration products, the Go*Be from FasTrak Systems, Inc. (P.O. Box 1029, Weatherford, TX 76086; 817/5941000) is a fanny pack-style drinking system developed for bicyclists, climbers, hikers, runners and other outdoor enthusiasts.
AMA and World Superbike Champion, Schwantz stand-in, America's next GP star?
SCOTT RUSSELL HAS FINALLY made it to the big leagues. His controversial mid-season defection from the World Superbike ranks to the grand prix arena, amidst much smoke-and-mirrors negotiating, sent shockwaves through the sport’s inner sanctums, igniting heated discourse on team rivalry, riders’ contractual obligations and the state of world championship roadracing.
Duhamel takes AMA Superbike, 600 Supersport titles
Despite season-long challenges from fellow Aussie Daryl Beattie, Mick Doohan wrapped up his second 500 GP title with one race to go. Suzuki-mounted Beattie and Italian Luca Cadalora, riding a Marlboro Team Roberts Yamaha, nailed down the second and third spots, respectively.
I’ve owned an ’86 H-D Sportster 883 for quite a few years and have wanted to put rearset foot controls on it for some time. All the examples I’ve seen, however, are of a simple design that merely turns the shift lever around the “wrong” way, which results in a reversal of the shift pattern.
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.