TRUE TO FORM, ED KRETZ DID NOT GO gentle into that good night. This past February, after Kretz's casket had been lowered into the ground, son Ed Kretz Jr. romped down on the kick-starter of a familiar Indian Sport Scout racebike. Kretz Sr.'s beloved blue-and-chrome number 38, the machine that carried him to so much glory, erupted into life, the sound from its twin open pipes sweeping over the memorial service.
IN THE CORNER OF ONE OF OUR UPSTAIRS bedrooms is an old steel file cabinet that is neither green nor brown, but one of those indeterminate colors that suggests it was invented by the government sometime before WWII for use by the FBI. I keep expecting to find the Alger Hiss files every time I open it.
JUST A FEW YEARS AGO, WHEN WAYNE Rainey was ready to leave for Europe and grand prix roadracing, fellow-racer Mike Baldwin said privately that he believed Wayne had a major quality that would ensure his success “Over There.” Just what that quality was, he didn’t explain.
Finally, a Japanese cruiser that may be “honest.” The Honda Valkyrie 1500 displays its radiator and hose proudly; it doesn’t have bolt-on fake fins; it didn’t blatantly copy Harley-Davidson styling; and it wasn’t detuned just to give a certain sound.
Upgrading your Honda CBR600F2’s or Yamaha FZR6OO’s rear suspension is easy with a 420 Series shock from Progressive Suspension (11129 G Ave., Hesperia, CA 92345; 619/948-4012). Equipped with an internal nitrogen bladder rather than a more traditional remote reservoir, the anodized aluminum shock absorber boasts spring-preload and rebound-damping adjustment, and costs $395 from motorcycle dealers.
Spectacular, high-speed motorcycle and sidecar action make up most of the footage featured in “Smokin’ Joey,” a new video documenting the 1995 Isle of Man TT race. More than two hours in length, the tape also contains celebrity and rider interviews, and a tribute to multi-time winner Joey Dunlop. Available from Halmar Video (PO. Box 474, Lewiston, NY 14092; 905/356-6865), the video carries a suggested retail price of $38, plus $3 shipping.
Doss air-cleaner cover
If aesthetics are a priority, you might consider a Doss air-cleaner cover from Custom Chrome (16100 Jacqueline Ct., Morgan Hill, CA 95037; 800/729-3332). Designed to enhance S&S Super E and Super G filter assemblies, it slips-on and secures with silicone. Finished in a glossy black gel coat, the one-piece fiberglass cover costs $88 from motorcycle dealers.
Alpinist Powerstretch Suit
Staying warm during winter rides may no longer be a challenge, thanks to the Alpinist Powerstretch Suit from Marmot Mountain Ltd. (2321 Circadian Way, Santa Rosa, CA 95407; 707/544-4590). Constructed from stretch fleece and fitted with lycra cuffs, it’s sleeveless and won’t bunch up or interfere with other riding apparel, says the company. Unlike most fleece products, the water-resistant garment is slick to the touch, not fuzzy. Priced at $149, the suit is available from Marmot.
Held roadracing glove
Additional protective features augment the #273 Held roadracing glove from Helimot European Accessories (1141 Old Bayshore Hwy., San Jose, CA 95112; 408/298-9608). New this year are Suprotect-and-Kevlar palm protection, an additional layer of leather between the thumb and palm, and a snap-down velcro wrist strap. Kangaroo leather and hair sheepskin construction are standard, as is foam padding on the back of the hand and thumb. Available in a variety of popular colors in XXS-XXXL sizes, the German-made gloves retail for $130 from motorcycle dealers or direct from Helimot.
tri-spoke aluminum sport wheels
Increased strength and durability are the benefits of tri-spoke aluminum sport wheels from RC Components (140 Hunters Ct., Bowling Green, KY 42103; 502/842-6000). Designed for most late-model sportbikes, the lighter-than-stock wheels use original-equipment brake rotors, says the company. Starting at $575 per wheel, they come in 17 x 3.5-inch front and 17 x 6.25-inch rear sizes from motorcycle dealers or RC Components.
FCR 4lmm smoothbore carburetor
Keihin’s FCR 4lmm smoothbore carburetor provides precise mixture control and instant throttle response, says distributor Sudco International (3014 Tanager Ave., Commerce, CA 90040; 213/728-5407). Developed for large-displacement four-stroke Singles like Honda’s XR600, KTM’s LC4 and Kawasaki’s KLX650, it costs $420$500, depending on the application. Pre-jetted, the carb uses the stock airbox and intake manifold, and comes with throttle cables and optional jetting. For ordering information, contact your local motorcycle dealer.
TROY LEE DESIGN STICKERS
Glamorizing your helmet or motorcycle with caricatures of roadracers Norifumi Abe, Daryl Beattie, Troy Corser, Wayne Gardner, Pascal Picotte or Scott Russell can be as simple as contacting Troy Lee Designs (1821 Wild Turkey Cir., Corona, CA 91720; 909/371-5219). Penned by Lee himself, the decals are an inexpensive way to show your rider allegiance. Suggested retail price is $2 each from motorcycle dealers or direct from Troy Lee Designs.
TRIUMPH IS DEVELOPING A Superbike that could put Britain back on the world roadracing map, reports English tabloid Motor Cycle News. Sources inside the factory in Leicestershire, England, have told the paper that the so-called Project T509 is up and running, and scheduled to complete testing later this year in preparation for an assault on the 1997 World Superbike title.
HONDA HAS RELEASED YET another in its series of novel braking systems. Soon to be available on the 1996 ST1100 sport-tourer, it has the giant name “LBS-ABSTCS.” Decoded, this means “Linked Braking System/Antilock Brake System/Traction Control System,” and marries the linked-brake setup of the CBR1000F with the ABS-TCS of the ST1100.
Given France’s healthy automobile industry and the high profile of French companies in F-1 racing, it’s always seemed strange that the country didn’t have a motorcycle industry of its own-especially as France is Europe’s number-two bike market behind Germany.
AHUSQVARNA-POW ERED Ducati Single and Yamaha-powered Bimota Twin are set to debut later this year, if you believe reports in England’s Motor Cycle News. Trouble is, neither rumor is true. Not completely, anyway. Here’s the real deal: Cagiva is indeed working on a Husqvarna-powered Single, but it uses the chassis from the 125cc Mito rather than the Ducati Supermono as MCN suggests, and will be badged as a Cagiva, not a Ducati.
Morbidelli's long-awaited V-Eight has finally commenced testing, as this spy photo taken during its maiden voyage through the factory gates in Pesaro, Italy, proves. According to Italian photojournalist Fermino Fraternali, the 850cc machine was expected to commence testing in December, 1995, but didn't hit the streets until January.
IF TWO WHEELS ARE FUN, then three or four must be even "funner," right? Perhaps not, but if you're into alternative modes of travel, here are a couple of machines worthy of your attention. BMW is proud of its sporty image. “Mercedes makes trucks, BMW makes motorcycles,” company spokespersons proclaim.
What's this, Honda's latest IndyCar? Not quite. Intended as a budget racecar, Honda's prototype Formula E racer is powered by the liquid-cooled, six-valve, 650cc V-Twin engine from a Bros motorcycle (a Japanese-market Hawk), with power transmitted to the rear wheels through a five-speed sequential gearbox and shaft drive.
Had Triumph gone too far with the revised styling of its T-120R Bonneville, this issue’s cover subject? A full road test of the then-new 650cc British Twin suggested just that: “The Bonnie has always been a status cycle,” wrote the author, “the understated stud machine, representative of real motorcycling.
UP: To San Jose, California’s Heritage Bank of Commerce, for its art exhibit entitled “Hit the Road.” Complementing the work of artist Patricia Sherwood, who often includes a streak of asphalt in her landscape oil paintings, were 10 classic motorcycles owned by shareholder Dave Scoffone.
LOOKING TO BOMB A FEW corners, BMW-style? If so, what you definitely need is Dutch chassis specialist Nico Bakker’s Bomber, which mates a stock R1 lOORS drive-train to a very special chassis. The result is the best-handling BMW you’re likely to find.
Ducati 916 vs. Honda CBR900RR vs. Kawasaki ZX vs. Suzuki GSX-R750 vs. Yamaha YZF750R on the track, street and strip
WHAT is THE ULTIMATE SPORTBIKE? WHAT qualities should such a machine possess? Is it a Superbike starter kit. a bare canvas on which to lavish $50,000 worth of factory roadrace parts? Or is it a Superbike for the street, whose worth is judged solely by its ability to connect crooked corners?
JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO VISIT YOUR local Yamaha store without being tempted by a new sportbike... Unveiled recently to the European press, the YZF1000 Thunder Ace and the ram-air YZF600 Thunder Cat are on their way to the U.S. Expect them here sometime late in '96 as 1997 models.
PLEASE, LET THIS BE THE ONE. I squint my eyes, trying to find the original motorcycle in this thicket of junk. Someone has taken a 1974 Norton Commando and outfitted it with apehanger handlebar, lowrider seat and sissybar. When I jump on the kickstarter, though, the engine roars to life.
HISTORY: The Norton Commando, arguably the world’s first superbike, now more frequently cited as the “most practical British Twin for regular use,” was Norton’s first commercial success in North America. More than 80 percent of the 57,000 produced between 1968 and 1975 were sold here.
WHEN KAWASAKI'S JOHN HOOVER took a nostalgia-styled, scallop painted Vulcan 1500 to Daytona Bike Week three years ago, he had no way of knowing the modified machine would spark the company’s next mega-cruiser. People fell in love with the customized Vulcan, some even offering to buy it on the spot.
SURE, THE VULCAN’S NO CRUISE MISSILE. But for me, its smooth-running motor offers more than enough power to fulfill its mission of Main Street profiling. If I need a bit more motor-vation to get around a four-wheeled obstruction, I simply kick it down a gear and gas it up.
THESE DAYS, IT'S THE CULMINATION OF COOL TO RIDE an American-built Big Twin. They're so hip, in fact, that king-of-cruisers Harley-Davidson can't keep up with the demand for its bikes. This has spawned a growing number of Harley-clone builders.
Nine days in the life of the world's roughest off-road rally
AS THE DOCTORS PINNED ME DOWN, I caught a glimpse of the IV line and pencil-sized needle about to be shoved into my arm. I was 150 miles from nowhere in Mauritania, North Africa, struck down with an epic attack of the dry heaves. A classic case of dehydration, the medicos said, with perhaps a touch of food poisoning thrown in for good measure.
No DOUBT ABOUT IT, LEATHER IS IN fashion from Hollywood to Paris. It has always been a favorite of motorcyclists, the epitome of protection and style. But there are alternatives to leather, such as Kevlar, as used in the Marsee Ultra Stretch Kevlar jacket, which delivers top-rate protection in a comfortable, snug-fitting package.
SWAPPING YOUR TWO-STROKE DIRTbike’s worn-out piston for anything other than a factory slug might be an expensive mistake, right? Maybe not. Wiseco’s latest Pro-Lite pistons are claimed to be more durable-and lighter-than their OEM counterparts.
TECHNOLOGY IS A WONDERFUL THING, but there’s a lot to be said for old-world craftsmanship, too. Take Bates' Fast Lane riding boots, for example. Available in standard and custom sizes for men and women, the boots are constructed from 3-ounce top-grain cowhide, lined for comfort and stitched with quality nylon thread.
Is King Kenny at the end of his reign or just starting anew?
KENNY ROBERTS IS A TRUE RENEGADE. Flying by the seat of his pants in the face of adversity, Roberts has always taken on new challenges without flinching. Usually, he comes up smiling. When Yamaha’s aging vertical-Twin was outclassed by the dominant Harley-Davidson XR750 flat-trackers, Roberts showed up with a howling TZ750 tracker that promptly smoked the chucklers and was banned by the AMA.
“Any world championship-winning bike racer who moves to cars has every prospect, absolutely, to become a champion in cars,” is how Mario Andretti puts it, and following in the grand tradition of Joe Leonard, John Surtees and Mike Hailwood, “our” champions are flocking to car racing at the sport’s highest levels.
I have a 1980 Honda CB650 Custom that has a lot more miles on it than the 12,000 that show on the odometer. The speedometer broke back in 1981, when I was riding the bike every day to and from the White House and Capitol Hill. I did that for several years, and would also ride home to New Jersey every other weekend.
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.