I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN SOMETHING WAS up when I went to collect my media passes. No scowling Pen-Pusher From Hell. No need for an FBI background check. Not even a barked demand for a photo ID, business card or letter from my mom. Just a sweet, smiling, “There you are Mr. Edwards.
WITH CERTAIN MOTORCYCLES, THERE IS a defining moment when you know you are going to have to buy one, sooner or later. A gear suddenly locks to its shaft and the two spin as one, idea and destiny together. That happened to me when I was at the Harley-Davidson plant in York, Pennsylvania, last fall, doing a story for Big Twin magazine, our all-Harleys sister publication.
BACK IN 1965, ANY U.S. YAMAHA dealer could order a 250cc TD1-B roadracer for just under $900, and the customer could have it for a suggested $1147. Pistons were $5, rings were $3. In 1972, the TA250 racebike was $1850. And when Yamaha released its famous, epoch-making TZ four-cylinder 750 in 1974, it was $3600.
Regarding Peter Egan’s “Are dirtbikes ugly or is it just me?” column (Leanings, August, 1996): I’ve got to agree. I think the last nice-looking dirtbikes were the Yamaha XT500s of 1979-80. Then there were the old BSA 441 Victors and Triumph Trophys, which bring back memories of Steve McQueen in the ISDT. The BSA 441 with its yellow/aluminum tank, upswept pipe and mini-muffler was a blast to ride just about anywhere.
Buying motorcycle gloves can be confusing, especially when you consider the wide variety of options that are available. With their affordable price and sensible styling, the Mid-Weight gloves from Tour Master (2360 Townsgate Rd., Westlake Village, CA 91361; 805/373-6868) may reduce your purchasing anxiety. Fashioned from premium-grade leather, the cruising-style gloves boast elastic cuffs, snap-down leather wrist straps and double-reinforced palms. Sold through motorcycle dealers, the $34 Mid-Weights come in black only in XS-XXL sizes.
HEADLIGHT AND FORK SHROUD
When an afternoon trail ride inadvertently becomes a night ride, proper lighting is imperative. With a headlight and fork shroud from Cycra Racing Systems (6159 Radekin Rd., Columbus, OH 43232; 614/8669662), converting a stock MXer to enduro trim can be simple. The sleek, one-piece plastic shroud and 55-watt headlight fits most conventional-forked, late-model dirtbikes. The combination costs $99 from motorcycle dealers or direct from Cycra.
BALLISTIC SHOCK BELT
Long days in the saddle can be rough on your spine, which is why EVS Sports Protection (2900 Airport Ave., Ste. F, Santa Monica, CA 90405; 310/390-7343) developed the Ballistic Shock Belt. Fashioned from ballistic nylon, the belt supports the lower back and doesn’t bunch up around the waist and hips. Available for $30 from EVS, it comes in black/black and black/purple, in M-XXL sizes.
Honda’s CBR900RR captured Best Open-Class Streetbike honors in this year’s Cycle World Ten Best Bikes, so, in regard to modifications, it would seem that the adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” would apply. Not according to Two Brothers Racing (1715 E. Wilshire Ave., #701, Santa Ana, CA 92705; 714/550-6070). Designed for 1993-96 models, TBR’s polished, billet-aluminum tripleclamp assembly offers 5mm less offset for improved front-end feedback. Three pounds lighter than stock, it retails for $480.
PRO TOURER TANKBAG
Motorcyclists with a penchant for photography will appreciate the Pro Tourer camera tankbag from Art Express (236 West 27th St., New York, NY 10001; 800/638-7258). Measuring 13 x 11 x 6 inches, the cordura nylon bag accommodates two cameras, six lenses and a small flash. Roomy side pockets hold film and incidentals. A rain cover is standard. Available from Art Express, the Pro Tourer costs $175.
Many aftermarket brake calipers require custom bracketry for fitment. Not so with the latest caliper from Performance Machine (15535 Garfield Ave., Paramount, CA 90723; 310/6346532). Intended for 1984-and-up Harley-Davidson Big Twins, the fourpiston, differential-bore caliper bolts directly to the stock fork. Available for single- or dual-disc applications, the caliper costs $339 from motorcycle dealers.
$329 to $1035
With Honda’s Gold Wing-engined Valkyrie currently in the cruiser spotlight, aftermarket products for the bike are popping up left and right. Take, for instance, the Valkyrie Saddle System from Corbin Pacific (11445 Commercial Pky., Castroville, CA 95012; 800/538-7035). Equipped with the company’s Comfort Cell foam, the all-leather solo seat is styled to complement the Valkyrie’s lengthy lines. Options include choice of passenger pillions, removable backrests and a sissybar pad. Price ranges from $329 to $1035, depending on the order.
X-9 RUSSELL REPLICA
With former AMA and World Superbike Champion Scott Russell making a name for himself in grand prix racing, the appearance of a new Shoei Russell replica helmet is no surprise. Replete with the Georgian’s “Screaming Chief” motif and sponsor Lucky Strike’s signature red-and-white paint, the carbon/fiberglass, injection-molded X-9 features multi-density foam cheek pads, variable ventilation and a handy chinstrap clip. The $635 helmet comes in XXS-XXL sizes and is available from motorcycle dealers. For more information, contact Shoei, 22605 E. La Palma Ave., Ste. 507, Yorba Linda, CA 92687; 714/692-8776.
TRIUMPH WILL REPLACE ITS current Speed Triple and Daytona 900 with two new 1997 models, carrying the suffixes T509 and T595. These will be more exotic than previous Triumphs, with oval-tubed aluminum chassis, single-sided swingarms and fuel injection.
Aprilia is the fastest-growing motorcycle company in Europe, reports Business Week. Sales for the Noale, Italy-based firm are expected to approach $500 million this year, a 400-percent increase since 1992. While the magazine article attributes a portion of Aprilia’s success to the unique design of such models as the Moto 6.5, it suggests that a more substantial reason may be the company’s manufacturing methodology.
AFTER THREE YEARS OF hard work and no small amount of hype, the revived Excelsior-Henderson Motorcycle Company has unveiled its next-generation Super X. Four running prototypes of the new cruiser-style machine were shown at this summer’s Sturgis Rally in South Dakota.
FEW THINGS IN LIFE ARE worse than having your motorcycle stolen. Discovering an empty space where your bike was once parked, that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, the raging emotional battle between grief and fury. Unpleasant stuff.
Had Cycle World gone to the dogs? It certainly appeared that way as this issue contained a tongue-in-cheek road test of a “10-Teat Canis Familiaris ‘Pursuit’ model"-otherwise known as Daisy the dog. “Carburetor intake noise is generally the most noticeable thing coming from the powerplant.
AFTER EIGHT MONTHS OF hunting for an outside investor to prop up its precarious cash flow, Cagiva has finally found a partner. In a July 26th deal brokered by London-based merchant bank Morgan Grenfell (nowadays part of the giant German Deutsche Bank), an American investment house known as the Texas Pacific Group (TPG) agreed to pay $325 million for a 49-percent holding in a new company called Ducati Motorcycles SpA. This will entail splitting Ducati off from the other marques in the Cagiva motorcycle empire (Cagiva, Husqvarna, Moto Morini and MV Agusta), and completely restructuring its day-to-day operation, which will be independent of the remaining 28 companies in the Cagiva Group.
MZ’s management has declared the company bankrupt, but the doors to the factory remain open. The German firm reportedly has stopped building motorcycles, and is producing only spare parts as it awaits investment capital. Like Ducati, MZ is said to owe hundreds of thousands of dollars to its vendors—among them British engineer Al Melling, who designed an entire family of engines to replace MZ’s current Rotax and Yamaha powerplants.
DOWN: To Oregon Congressman Wes Cooley Sr., for getting carried away with his benchracing. According to an Associated Press report, the father of two-time U.S. Superbike Champion Wes Cooley Jr. maintains that he finished ninth in the world on a Manx Norton in 1962.
WHEN IT COMES TO THE 1997 Yamaha YZ125, there's a lot more than meets the eye. Its appear ance and mechanical specifications may be strikingly similar to the '96 model's, but there are a lot of differences that you can't see. Increased power, to start.
THERE I WAS, RADAR GUN IN HAND, WAITING. Waiting for CW's Doug Toland to blast into range on a motorcycle that, quite literally, could be the fastest naturally aspirated streetbike this magazine had ever tested. Talk about anxiety. From the outset, we knew Erion Racing’s modified Honda CBR900RR would be fast.
"TAKE OUR STREETBIKE AND MULTIPLY ITS PERFORmance by 10.” That’s how Kevin Erion describes his team’s 170-horsepower, 339-pound, Honda CBR900RR-based racebike. But don’t take just Erion’s word. CW tester Doug Toland, who holds a narrow, 1-point lead in AMA SuperTeams competition with Erion Racing teammate Andrew Stroud, says, “The racebike feels a lot lighter.
PROGRESS ROLLS SLOWLY IN THE WORLD OF MOTORCYCLES. For evidence, consider how long it’s taken for most manufacturers to adopt fuel injection. Why this reluctance to move onward? A natural, inborn, if-it-ain’t-broke-don't-fix-it manufacturing conservatism is one important reason.
Yamaha’s TRX850 is a worldwide hit. So, when will we see it stateside?
HAVE YOU, FELLOW countrymen, had it up to here with tales of Yamahas You Can’t Buy? God knows Yamaha Motor Corp. USA has. Because with the exception of the made-for-America Royal Star, it seems that every new model the Japanese manufacturer has introduced recently has been offered overseas a full year before being brought here.
SO, YOU SAID YOU WANTED TO KNOW WHERE ALL THE old motorcycles have gone. I thought you might like to see. We could go to the obvious places like junkyards and landfills, but you’ve already savored rotted-out saddles and fuzzy pot-metal. There are better places to look.
FAIRINGS TRADITIONALLY ARL A WHAT-you-see-is-what-you-get proposition: When big enough to give a lot of protection, they’re usually too big for comfort in the heat; and when small enough to be unobtrusive during ideal weather, they’re too small to offer much protection from the cold and wet.
TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS WITH AMERICA’S TROUBLESOME TWIN
Quotes from the logbook
WE LOVE THIS MOTORCYCLE... when it’s moving under its own power, that is. This statement best sums up the past 15 months with our long-term Buell S-2 Thunderbolt. We had our share of good and bad experiences with the bike in sport-touring and canyon-strafing modes.
WITH THE CRUISER MOVEment marching to the “bigger-is-better” tune, and blocklong mega-bikes with exotic monikers such as Valkyrie and Royal Star capturing everyone’s attention, it’s easy to dismiss the diminutive Vulcan 500 LTD. But Kawasaki’s marketing personnel offer up research that indicates the new cruiser brigade isn’t entirely composed of stereotypical burly bikers.
So, WHAT’S THE BEST-SELLING BIKE in Japan’s hotly contested 400cc cruiser class? You’re looking at it: the Yamaha Dragstar. Designed by the same team of U.S. and Japanese stylists who penned the 1300cc Royal Star, the Dragstar was introduced to the Japanese market in January to rave reviews.
DARKNESS CAME EARLY. As the sun ducked under the horizon, visibility was limited to what the thin beam of my Yamaha’s headlight revealed: a narrow road littered with enormous potholes. I turned on the high beam, but clouds of dust shot the light back in my face like a giant strobe.
IT’S BEEN ONE HELL OF A long time since Moto Guzzi took the starring role at a major motorcycle show, but that’s exactly what happened at last November’s Milan Motorcycle Exposition. Italy’s oldest motorcycle manufacturer, bursting with the vitality of new management after more than a decade of slumber, took top billing with the launch of its V10 Centauro.
AFTER 25 YEARS UNDER the penny-pinching control of financier Alessandro de Tomaso, Moto Guzzi at last is receiving the investment it’s been starving for. Finprogetti, the company’s new majority owner, is pushing ahead with new computers, machines and manpower.
HERE’S A CONCEPT FOR you: A motorcycle requires a motor. This is a lesson legendary MV Agusta race tuner Arturo Magni and his son Giovanni have learned in the most difficult and painful of ways. The Magnis, you see, have for the past 19 years busied themselves building and selling some rather nice motorcycles, using their own chassis.
WHEN DAMAGED OR WORN-OUT, NIKASIL-plated cylinders function best as avant garde paperweights, right? After all, the Nikasil process used to line the cylinder bores on most modern dirtbike engines eliminates replaceable liners. There is, however, one aftermarket company that provides a solution.
HEAT IS THE ENEMY. WHETHER YOU’RE talking about a hard-running motor tugging its way up a mountain grade in 100-degree conditions or a leatherclad rider stewing his way to heat stroke in summertime stop-and-go traffic, too much temperature is definitely a bad thing.
THE USGP MAY BE GONE, BUT FOR THE SECOND YEAR IN a row the world came to Laguna Seca, as the California race course hosted round six of the World Superbike Series on a freshly repaved and reconfigured track. In race one, Anthony Gobert pushed and slid his Muzzy Kawasaki into the lead past hard-riding John Kocinski and Troy Corser on factory Ducatis, only to lose the front end and fall shortly afterward.
Colin Edwards scored major points in the international racing community by winning this year’s Suzuka 8-Hours, following in the footsteps of past American winners Scott Russell, Doug Polen and Eddie Lawson. The 22-year-old Texan and his 21-year-old teammate, All-Japan Superbike Champion Noriyuki Haga, won the grueling endurance race in hot, humid conditions by more than a minute.
What is the best way to clean the inside of a helmet? In particular, I’m interested in getting rid of the bad odors that develop in the interior after a season or two of use. Keith P. Nelson Saginaw, Michigan All major helmet manufacturers recommend the same basic cleaning procedure for non-removable liners.
"Honey, I shrunk the cocky, arrogant defending World Superbike champion." 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.