IF YOU BELIEVE THE LICENSE PLATES, Minnesota is a land of 10,000 lakes. Probably like most of you, that little factoid plumbed the depths of my knowledge about the state. My handy copy of the Information Please Almanac informs me that Minnesota is bordered by Wisconsin to the east, the Dakotas to the west, Iowa to the south and Canada to the north; that it was the 32nd state admitted to the Union; that its name comes from a Dakota Sioux word meaning “sky-tinted water.” Apparently, the 31 states that came before snagged all the cool animal mascots: Minnesota’s nickname is the Gopher State and the state bird is none other than the common loon.
LAST WEEKEND A MAN FROM CHICAGO came to buy my 1987 Reynard Formula Continental racing car. This is an open-wheeled single-seater with a Ford 2-liter ohc engine, and, although it’s a wonderful-handling car in good condition, I have decided to sell it because a) it is no longer competitive in SCCA national races and b) I want to take a summer off racing and heal the financial wounds of having one too many projects stuffed into my garage.
I’M READING ABOUT FRICTION AND LUbrication, because I’m interested in Rob Muzzy’s view that a “friction barrier” is keeping Superbike engines from making power at higher revs. This means 15,000 rpm and up-still small potatoes compared with F-l racing V-10 engines at their 17-18,000 rpm.
Concerning May’s cover photo with the smoking rear tire on the French-built Ducati 916: Not since Lindbergh landed has a cover made such a statement. Who let you lunatics loose? Jim Jung Hawi, Hawaii Regarding your “French Flyers” feature, the paint scheme on the Overlight II Honda CBR900RR was nasty Thumbs up!
Aftermarket single-sided swingarms are all the rage in Europe. Now, California-based Erion Racing is in on the action, distributing Italian-made RAM magnesium single-sided swingarms for 1992-97 Honda CBR900RRs. Cost for the bolt-on kit-including a five-spoke magnesium wheel, forged axle, aluminum cush-drive flange and brake-caliper mount, 43-tooth rear sprocket, stainless-steel brake line and twin-piston Brembo brake caliper-is $4995. A companion 17-inch front wheel retails for $849.
You needn't be a Paris-Dakar stage winner to benefit from a Global Positioning System, which is why Garmin developed its GPS II. Designed to velero-mount to most MXstyle handlebars, the palm-sized computer weighs just 9 ounces and is powered by four AA batteries. Using the latest satellite technology, the $309 unit plots courses, retraces trails, stores favorite routes and estimates arrival times. Garmin guarantees accuracy within 100 feet-as long as you input the correct coordinates, that is.
Castrol ’s latest engine oils are designed for two-stroke, four-stroke and “V-Twin” applications. Sold in mineral, syntheticblend and full-synthetic forms, the lubricants come in a broad range of viscosities. Pricing starts at $3.50 per quart.
Okay, we admit it: Ninety bucks is a lot to pay for a backpack. But BMW’s Active-Line bag is worth it. Fashioned from polyester and nylon, it has a spacious main compartment secured by a drawstring and quick-release buckle, two smaller zippered pockets and a built-in rain cover. Adjustable, padded shoulder straps and a waist belt anchor the medium-size bag to the wearer, and reflective strips aid nighttime visibility. Color schemes are black/blue or black/gray.
Has wrenching on your bike become a little tough on the tush? Have no fear, Cycra’s Roll Cart is here! Constructed from molded plastic, the 14-inch-tall cart is topped with a vinyl-covered dual-density foam seat and rolls smoothly on rubber wheels, one at each corner. Built-in side scoops accommodate tools, as does the removable underseat plastic tray. Price is $89. Your posterior will thank you.
“Put ’em on...you’ll ride like Jeremy.” At least, that’s what Spy’s catalog says. Regardless of their alleged ability to transform mere mortals into nac-nacing supercross stars, Spy’s $30 off-road goggles feature UV-protective Lexan lenses, an adjustable strap and a choice of black, blue, white or yellow frames. One size fits all, and tear-off systems are available. Amber, Smoke and Silver Flash lenses are sold separately.
SPORT TOURING TOOL POUCH
Comedian Tim Allen claims that choosing tools is as important as choosing a wife. Ergo, picking the proper tool pack is equally imperative. This is where Roadgear’s Sport Touring Tool Pouch comes in. Constructed from 1000-denier cordura nylon, the roll-up pouch has 11 tool pockets, plus space for a can of tire sealant and several smaller items. Two quick-release fasteners hold everything in place. Suggested retail is $22.
EXOFLEX KNEE BRACE
Less expensive than a custom off-road knee brace, Fox’s Exoflex is designed to prevent hyperextension and reduce lateral twisting. Priced at $120, the vented neoprene-and-lycra sleeve comes with aircraft-quality aluminum hinges that duplicate the knee’s natural motion. Both extension and flexion are adjustable in three 10degree increments. A removable plastic patella cup is standard, and velcro straps fine-tune fit. Sizes range from S-XXL.
SHOULD TRIUMPH GO head-to-head with the Japanese in another major streetbike category, and try to match the sales success of the new T595 Daytona by building a 600cc supersport contender using technology derived from the bigger bike?
EVERY SO OFTEN, THE JAPANese domestic market explodes with a specific type of motorcycle. In the past, this has been anything from mini-choppers to repli-racers, but the latest rage is 250cc (and smaller) four-stroke dual-purpose bikes.
Two exciting new single-cylinder motorcycles from Germany’s revitalized MZ factory are scheduled to hit America this autumn. The duo will be powered by the same Yamaha XTZ660 five-valve Single engine employed in the existing MZ Skorpion range, and will be built around an all-new tubular-steel frame.
This Fourth of July will mark the 50th anniversary of the infamous Hollister biker riot depicted in the 1954 film, The Wild One. As portrayed by Marlon Brando and crew, the incident was a black eye on the face of motorcycling. To rectify matters, saddlemaker Mike Corbin will host a blowout at the scene of the crime on July 4-6.
HAVING GONE HEAD TO head in the race for the 1996 European Super-mono Championship, Brook Henry and Kensei Sato could have developed a deep-seated hatred for one another. Instead, they developed a mutual admiration. As a result, their two companies-Vee Two Engineering of Australia and Over Racing of Japan, respectively-are teaming up to construct a sportbike that capitalizes on each firm’s strengths.
Got a few thou left over from your lottery winnings? Then give 30-year-old British sculptor Paul O’Neill a ring. He can rustle up a beautifully carved, foot-long wooden model of a Bimota Tesi, Cagiva V592, Honda NSR500-or just about any other motorcycle-for as little as $2500.
"Is Harley-Davidson’s Super Glide for real?” That was the question Cycle World editors asked on the cover of this issue. The Shovel-head-based cruiser was defined as a “what you see is what you get” motorcycle, and what you got, apparently, was a shortcut to a chopper.
MOST MOTORCYCLE ENthusiasts have fantasized about building their own personal dream machines. Three students from the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan, have done just that. After being challenged by American Honda to create a “two-wheel, on-road motorcycle to attract the next generation of motorcyclists,” Mark Micelli, Christian Dotson and Gabriel Rose designed and built the scale models pictured here.
What looks like a jet ski, works like a snowmobile and costs more than a 500cc Grand Prix roadracer? Honda’s new Moto Sled, that’s what. More than a mere snow-going motorcycle, the Moto Sled combines features of a jet ski and a snowmobile, with the former’s handlepole steering system and the latter’s track belt, and requires a riding technique that falls somewhere in between.
UP: To roadrace guru Keith Code, for being back in business. Following a two-year hiatus during which he campaigned a Yamaha TZ250 as research for his third book, Code has re-opened his famed riding-technique school under a slightly different name, California Superbike Cornering Schools.
IF YOU’RE OLD ENOUGH TO remember Eddie Lawson’s victory in the 1986 Daytona 200, here’s the bike for you-or more accurately, a pint-size precursor to the bike for you. Yamaha’s new Eddie Lawson Replica FZ400 currently may displace just 399cc, but like many other Japanese domestic models-Kawasaki’s Zephyr 400, Honda’s CB400 and Yamaha’s own XJR400, to name a few-it’s likely to double or even triple in size before being offered overseas.
Wherein Cycle World flogs 16 Open-class sportbikes in a valiant attempt to determine the very best
WE HEAR IT ALL THE TIME HERE AT THE Big Book, readers calling in to ask that eternal question, “What’s the best motorcycle?” There’s no easy answer. It’s like selecting your favorite Playboy centerfold; you really couldn’t go wrong with any of them.
EFFICIENCY IS IN, EXCESS IS OUT. YOU OUT THERE in readerland subscribe to this philosophy, don’t say you don’t. Why else would 600cc sportbikes generally be regarded as the most usable, useful all-around sporting motorcycles these days?
BACK IN MOTORCYCLING’S FOGGY PRE-HISTORY, back when “aught” preceded a year’s single digit, the V-Twin engine was born. Then, as now, motorcyclists were greedy. If one cylinder was good, then two cylinders-and twice the displacement-were better.
PSSST... HEY FELLA, INTERESTED IN A STRONG HIT of Open-class performance without the robust weight of a full liter-plus sports machine? Yeah? Well, check out the four Sporting 900s I’ve got stashed in the CW garage. Once you partake of their fine blend of power, handling, comfort and price, you’ll just say no to all that other dope your local dealer is pushing.
REMEMBER THE ISLAND OF MISFIT TOYS IN Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Well, any one of the four motorcycles in this motley collection would feel right at home there. Because while each certainly is worthy of inclusion in an Open-class streetbike comparison, none fits neatly into any of the other sub-categories.
WHEW! NOW THAT THE CW STAFF’S heads have stopped spinning from the rigors of conducting four four-bike comparison tests, let’s get down to business and determine an overall winner. As if! Individually, every one of the 16 bikes in this comparison test is excellent, and could make its owner very, very happy.
IT WAS BRITISH UNDERSTATEMENT AT ITS FINEST. BRIAN Slark is a guy who could stand at the epicenter of an 8.0-magnitude earthquake, with buildings falling and dust rising, and inquire, “Feel that tremor?” Slark, who was national service manager for the Norton Villiers Corporation back in the heady days of the Seventies, closed his fax message from the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum with this line: “Phil, you should stop by this place sometime.” Indeed.
“If you’re going to make a big motorcycle,” Bob Hansen told Soichiro Honda in 1968, “it should be a Four.”
BOLD STROKES IS WHAT DID IT FOR BOB HANSEN. NOT luck, not exactly. Hansen is a bridge, a connection between what motorcycling used to be and what it is. He played his part in history by being in the right place at the right time and not caring much if he said the right thing.
CRUISERS AREN’T JUST FOR CRUISING ANYMORE. No longer relegated to the boulevard, they are becoming regular fixtures on the open road. Granted, Harley-Davidson has been building touring-capable cruisers for years. And now, the Japanese manufacturers are getting in on the action.
DUCATI IS BACK IN BUSINESS. AT A GLITZY PRESS CONFERence near the Jerez race circuit in Spain, the Italian marque’s takeover by American financial giants Texas Pacific Group was sealed with the revamped company’s first model, the ST2.
EVEN BY THE ERRATIC STANDARDS OF ITALIAN industrial management, Cagiva’s recent monetary woes were self-inflicted wounds of mammoth proportion. The financial crisis threatened Ducati’s very existence until a deal was struck with San Francisco-based investment house Texas Pacific Group for a reported $325 million.
LIKE DUCATIS, BMWS ARE NOT RENOWNED FOR THEIR ability to blend in with the crowd. In fact, just the opposite is true. Over the years, the German marque has pioneered such innovative two-wheeled technology as single-sided swingarms, anti-lock braking and Telelever front suspension.
HERE’S A GADGET THAT WOULD HAVE Tim Allen and his “Tool Time” comrades hooting and snorting with glee: a one-size-fits-all socket that works on American nuts and bolts, metric nuts and bolts, even damaged and oddly shaped nuts and bolts.
EVERY SO OFTEN, A MOTORCYCLE BOOK comes along that stands out from the rest as a must-have addition to the serious enthusiast’s bookcase. John Bradley’s The Racing Motorcycle: A Technical Guide for Constructors, Volume 1 is one of those.
THERE WERE FEW SURPRISES IN THE WINner's circle at the season-opening Malaysian Grand Prix, held at the tight, 2.2-mile Shah Alam circuit. In both the 500cc and 250cc classes, defending champions Michael Doohan and Max Biaggi claimed resounding victories.
When Jeremy McGrath left all-powerful Team Honda for the long suffering Suzuki team moments before the kick-off of the 1997 AMA Supercross series, the stage was set for a new era in stadium motocross. The only question was, would it be the Suzuki chapter of four-time champ McGrath’s continued dominance, or would it finally be someone else’s turn?
I’m the proud owner of a ’96 Honda VFR750F, the best motorcycle I have ever ridden! But are the stock tires that come with the VFR “sticky” enough for its torque output? I ask this because when I was leaving work (cold tires) the other day and accelerated out of the parking lot, the rear end slid sideways.
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.