HAD SOMEONE LISTENED TO BERT Hopwood, Britain’s motorcycle industry, once the world’s leader, might never have suffered its sorry, lingering decline and eventual death. A masterful development engineer, Hopwood worked at Ariel, Triumph, Norton and BSA in a career that ran from 1926 to retirement in 1973.
ON A RECENT TOUR OF NORTHERN Mexico with Pancho Villa Moto-Tours, a bunch of us were sitting around a cantina one night, chasing down the day’s road dust with a few margaritas, when one of the basic questions of motorcycling came up: Exactly how many bikes does a person really need, anyway?
WHEN YOU HIT YOUR BIKE’S STARTER button, odds are that for every cylinder you summon to life, there are four valves, opening and closing in half-time. Yes, there are some interesting exceptions, but four valves per cylinder is the majority choice for new motorcycle and auto engine designs in the current era.
After the Indian fiasco of the past seven years, I was pleased to hear that someone was reviving the Excelsior-Henderson name. Then I read cofounder Dan Hanlon’s comments on “diamonds” vs. “cubic zirconium,” comparing made-in-the-USA cruisers to those from Japanese companies in CW's January “X-Files” article.
Spelling discrepancies aside, No Fear’s Knack was created in homage to nac-nac king and four-time Supercross champ Jeremy McGrath. Constructed from leather and nylon, the high-top shoe features a plastic mid-sole plate, rubber toe guards and a gusseted nylon tongue. Furthermore, its sole sports a moto-style tread design that resembles a knobby tire. Available in gray or black, the Knack comes in men’s sizes 6-13, and costs $80 from motorcycle dealers. No Fear, 2251 Faraday Ave., Carlsbad, CA 92008; 619/931-9550
POLE POSITION SLIP SHIRT
Shrug easily into and out of form-fitting riding jackets and roadracing leathers with Pole Position’s body-hugging Slip Shirt (available in sizes M-L, in blue or black). Lightweight Lycra construction retains heat during winter months and can be soaked in ice water for a cooling, air-conditioned effect come summertime. Suggested retail is $28 plus shipping. Pole Position, 8842 Albatross St., Huntington Beach, CA 92646; 714/965-5983
Next to the word “versatile” in the dictionary should be a photograph of BMW’s Kalahari jacket. Comfortable year-round, the cordura-and-kevlar jacket comes with a zip-in Gore-Tex liner and removable armor in the shoulders and elbows/forearms. Reflective strips illuminate the belt and shoulders, while seven pockets provide plenty of storage space. Offered in women’s sizes 8-16 and men’s sizes 38-56, the Kalahari costs $597 from BMW dealers. Matching pants are also available. BMW, P.O. Box 1227, Westwood, NJ 07675; 201/307-4000
SCREAMIN’ EAGLE CYLINDER HEADS
Designed to increase torque at the rear wheel by more than 20 percent, the Screamin’ Eagle Sportster cylinder-head kit features 10:1 compression, bigger ports and heavy-duty valve guides. Available as-cast or with a black powdercoat finish, the bolt-on kit fits late-model XL 1200 Sportsters and comes with stock or XR750-style valve springs. Price ranges from $700 to $900. For more information, contact your local Harley dealer. Harley-Davidson, 3700 W. Juneau Ave., P.O. Box 653, Milwaukee, WI53201; 414/343-8300
SUDCO RAM-AIR ADAPTER KIT
Installing a rack of Keihin flat-slide carburetors on a Suzuki GSX-R750 or Kawasaki ZX-9R used to require eliminating the stock airbox. Not anymore, thanks to the Ram-Air Adapter Kit from Sudco. Developed specifically for 39-41mm Keihin FCRs, the kit joins the carbs with the airbox. Prices start at $140 for a set of four. For more information, contact your local motorcycle dealer. Sudco, 3014 Tanager Ave., Commerce, CA 90040; 213/728-5407
SCOTT FLITE DELUXE CARRIER
D.J. Scott Mfg. provides a cool, convenient way to transport water with its Flite Deluxe Carrier. Constructed from breathable, open-cell foam and covered with 600-denier cordura, the carrier keeps both its contents and the wearer’s back cool. It comes with a 70-ounce vinyl bladder and bite-actuated valve, and features three exterior pockets and nylon straps for lashing down extra gear. The Flite Deluxe is available in black or camouflage, and costs $50 from motorcycle dealers. A less expensive option is the similarly styled, $30 Flite Carrier, which lacks only the protective cordura cover. D.J. Scott Mfg., 23096 Terra Dr., Laguna Hills, CA 92653; 714/830-3910
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF A new rule allowing a manufacturer a one-shot, single-season opportunity to run a four-stroke prototype instead of a production-based racebike, Yamaha has introduced the OW-H2, a works motocrosser that will compete in the 1997 AMA 250cc outdoor Motocross Championship.
EVER HEARD OF A HIGHmileage, ultra-sticky sportbike tire? Conventional wisdom would suggest this is a contradiction. But according to British tire maker Avon, the unique Variable Belt Density (VBD) construction of its all-new Azoro radial tires will set new mileage standards for sportbike rubber.
Kawasaki’s legendary 1978 Z1-R cafe-racer is back, reincarnated as the 1997 ZRX1100. You may recall the ZRX’s predecessor, the retro-looking 1993 ZR1100. Part of the poor-selling Zephyr family, the big ZR lasted just one year in the U.S.
Cagiva’s path back to profitability in the wake of its spinoff from Ducati may depend on income generated by important new ventures in Southeast Asia and the Czech Republic. The former was inaugurated by the Cologne Show debut of the Stella, a liquid-cooled, 115cc, reed-valve sports moped that will be built in Thailand by a company called Cagiva Asia Pacific.
HONDA CONTINUES TO develop Activated Radical Combustion, the emissions-reducing combustion system that relies on using heat from the previous cycle, retained in the cylinder by a movable exhaust gate, to gradually, knock-lessly ignite the next.
Looking to fill a gap in its V-Twin cruiser lineup, Honda recently unveiled its final offering for 1997, the Shadow ACE 750. Honda’s latest boulevard bike looks long and meaty, with a stretched, 3.4-gallon fuel tank and a fat, 170/80-15 rear tire.
The motorcycle industry has changed a great deal in the past 25 years, and Cycle World along with it. For evidence, check out the March, 1972, issue. Dirtbikes sold in the hundreds of thousands then, and as such, a pair of 360cc dual-purpose bikes from Bultaco and Yamaha adorned the cover.
CONSIDERING THE CURRENT fascination with single-cylinder motorcycles such as BMW’s F650 (see test, page 44), one might speculate that the bike manufacturers’ next step would be to eliminate the engine altogether. Sound impossible? Think about it.
TALK ABOUT SURPRISES. With all the changes the aluminum-framed Honda CR250 got for 1997, you'd think it was the most improved bike of this season. Well, think again, and think orange. Not only is the '97 KTM 250SX much more attractive than its predecessor with its new graphics, it also got a big boost in performance.
UP: To the editors of Elle magazine, for their fine, if confused, fashion sense. In a recent issue, a layout titled "Built for Speed" depicted models in various leather motorcycle jackets, with an introduction that read, "Tough, sleek and aggressively styled, the new hip leathers appeal to urbanites with an active streak.
"Twinning" formula: Italian performance, Japanese price
SO, IF IT LOOKS LIKE A DUCATI AND sounds like a Ducati, it must be a Ducati, right? Not anymore. Owing to the success of Ducati’s 851/888/916 models in World Superbike racing-and, as a result, in the marketplace-three of the Big Four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers have jumped on the twin-cylinder sportbike bandwagon.
The Japanese aren’t the only ones gunning for the 916
SUZUKI’S TL1000 AND HONDA’S VTR1000 clearly are out for Italian blood, and now Triumph wants in. The new T595 Daytona Triple, like the Japanese sport-Twins, has its sights set on Ducati’s 916 as primary target in the sporttbike wars. The T595 is more than a replacement for the existing Daytona 900.
DECLARING THE SUZUKI TL1000S A Ditto-Ducati is about as valid as suggesting that the Suzuki GSX-R750 is a carbon-copy of the Kawasaki ZX-7R. That is to say there are bound to be strong similarities between any bikes of the same vein. With this in mind, I view the TL as an original blend of contemporary technologies that unavoidably must share some basic traits with other V-Twin sportbikes.
FORMER TELEVISION EVANGELIST JIM BAKKER IS out of prison and soliciting donations again, Nissan is resurrecting the sporty Datsun 240Z and bellbottom jeans are back in style. So why shouldn’t BMW try its hand again at single-cylinder motorcycles?
BMW’s F650ST IS THE first of a new breed of European-flavored "enduros” to arrive on U.S. soil. But while this motor-cycling sub-genre appears new and fresh, it has existed in one form or another for more than a decade. It just took such a circuitous route that it’s difficult to retrace.
WHEN I TOLD A FRIEND I REALLY enjoyed riding BMW’s F650ST, he wasn’t surprised. “Of course you like it,” he said. “This bike is made for new riders like you.” He was right. Most of my miles have been accumulated aboard my trusty Honda NX250, which I purchased because of its dirtbike styling, low seating position and electric starter.
A 500-bike concours, an AMA Mile, roadracing and vintage flat-tracking; in other words, a really big show...
WENDY F. BLACK
DEL MAR RACETRACK IS NO STRANGER to legendary competitors. Renowned steeds such as Tinners Way, Best Pal and, most recently, Cigar have all vied for titles at the celebrated track. But last October, a different breed raced at Del Mar. And it was the revving of engines, rather than the pounding of hooves, that reverberated through the autumn air.
IF IT’S TRUE, AS SOME STALWART ONCE SAID, that God is in the details, well I’m here to tell you that the Devil himself is in the detailing-at least when it comes to concours competitions. For this year’s 25th-anniversary Del Mar Concours d’Elegance, I foolishly decided to enter five bikes, which meant I’d be working well past midnight the week leading up to the show washing, waxing and detailing.
IT WAS A ROADRACE UNLIKE ANY I’D EVER RUN. THE KING of Del Mar Shootout was a winner-take-all 10-lap sprint, in which tail-enders were flagged off following each lap until only the top two riders remained on track for a final-lap dash for cash.
"IT’S LIKE SEX AND RIDING A BICYCLE,” SAID BILL Milburn, “you never forget how to do it.” Easy for him to say. I was the one about to compete in my first dirt-track race in more than 20 years, not him. I was the one who had never even seen the bike I was going to ride until minutes before the start of practice.
TRAVEL EAST OF Dayton, Ohio, and venture deep into the Little Miami River Valley. This backwoods hollar is prime hillclimb country. Just up river from Lebanon lies Oregonia, a small hamlet that counts 17 people and 20 pigs among its population.
SKIPPING PAST THE official history for now, the first hill-climb is bound to have been a happy accident. And we know how it started, because we all have a riding buddy who can’t resist a challenge. Say he can’t and he’ll do whatever it takes to prove he can.
Exclusive test of Supersport 600s from Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha on Daytona’s high banks
AN INFORMAL ATMOSPHERE masks the anxiety felt by those who attend Dunlop's annual pre-season tire test. Here, on Daytona's demanding, horsepower-sapping high banks, factory roadrace teams fire their first shots toward next season's championship.
As MORE SPORTBIKES COME STANDARD with easily accessible underseat storage, owners of bikes without this feature are looking for a place to stow their riding necessities. Enter the Tailocker sportbike tail trunk, a vacuum-formed, ABS-plastic storage compartment that replaces the stock rear fender/license-plate bracket on Honda CBR600F2s and 1995-96 F3s (other applications are planned) with six liters of lockable storage.
COLD, SOGGY FEET WILL DAMPEN THE riding experience quicker than a triple-digit speeding ticket. So it’s a good thing Alpinestars’ Tech Road boots feature breathable Gore-Tex liners for added warmth and immunity to the elements. Alpinestars (3860 Del Amo Blvd., #401, Torrance, CA 90503; 310/542-5996) sells eight Gore-Tex boots, the Tech Roads being the premium touring model.
WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT, MOTORcycling is really just one big Kodak Moment. Whether you’re marveling at your brand-new bike, touring the Blue Ridge Parkway or eyeballing the beauties at a concours d’elegance, chances are a camera is close at hand to record the occasion.
WE’RE ALL FAMILIAR WITH POWDER-coating, the baked-on finish often found on engine cases, frames and wheels. How best, though, to beautify and care for it? New to the market, Blue Coral’s Moto Black is formulated to restore the sheen to faded powdercoating, engines in particular.
All the show and go of supercross wrapped in a smaller package
A SHRILL, ENERGETIC VOICE STARTLED ME FROM MY EARLY-morning office stupor. "Hey Jimmy, Lance Bryson with Mike Kidd Promotions here..." It was the pitch of a marketing guy moving in for the kill. He spoke in a rapid-fire succession of multi-syllabic words.
As if news of the Vance & Hines/ Yamaha divorce wasn’t stunning enough, Terry Vance recently confirmed that his company has inked a three-year deal to run a Ducati road-race team. Vance says the Texas Pacific Group, which now owns a 49 percent share of the Italian marque (as well as portions of Continental and America West airlines, Beringer Wine Estates and the Kraft confectionery division), came to him with a proposal last September.
I have a question about street tires. I know that rubber companies have to make tires that are able to handle any adverse conditions that the weather might bring, most notably rain. So, they put grooves in the tires to displace water and keep those happy wet times happening.
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.