HAVING YOUR NAME SITUATED AT THE TOP of the Cycle World masthead has certain privileges, but multiple votes in our annual Ten Best Bikes balloting ain’t one of them. Sadly, it’s therefore possible that my innate good taste and unerring sense of style in all things two-wheeled can be cancelled out by the wayward vote of one capricious staff member or another.
NEVER A BIG FAN OF CONSPIRACY THEOries, I nevertheless reached an alarming conclusion sometime yesterday afternoon, after making no fewer than four long-distance phone calls concerning an old 1964 Ducati Mach 1 motorcycle seat.
As A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT, YEARNING for something beyond pep rallies and spelling disguised as English Literature, I hit upon grand prix auto racing. I dug out precious info on supercharging and I listened to recorded sounds of Mercedes-Benz’s prewar Eights and Twelves.
The article about Easy Rider's Billy Bike and Captain America (CW, June) was spectacular! I’ve always felt the same way about the importance of those two motorcycles. Moreover, I believe that the Billy Bike has had more of an impact on today’s cruisers than any other so-called chopper.
With apologies to the late Jim Morrison, Acerbis wants to light your fire with its Dual Halogen Headlight. Intended for most current dirtbikes, the rally-style setup utilizes two 12-volt, 35-watt halogen bulbs mounted in a plastic shell. The smaller “pencil” beam focuses on a narrow, 10-degree arc, while the “flood” illuminates a broader, 38-degree span. The DHH comes in various colors, and costs $79.
CARBON-KEVLAR PIPE PROTECTOR
While carbon-fiber is a regular sight on sportbikes, it’s only recently gained popularity among off-road riders. Taking advantage of this trend, E-Line has introduced its Carbon-Kevlar Pipe Protector. A combination of hand-laid kevlar and carbon-fiber, the molded cover eliminates power-robbing exhaust pipe dents and dings. It’s available for most late-model two-stroke dirtbikes. Suggested retail is $78.
The Cordura Avenger-a new ’90s superhero? Not quite. After all, nobody wears a mask anymore. This Avenger is a mid-weight, ventilated riding jacket from Vanson Leathers. Fashioned from cordura and cowhide, it has a mesh liner, two inner pockets, a waist zipper for attaching leather pants and reflective 3M piping across the front and back. Armor is optional. No, the $375 Avenger isn’t faster than a speeding bullet, but it is available in men’s and women’s sizes in red, black or blue.
DESIGNER SERIES HELMETS
Wintune’s ventilated Designer Series halfhelmets are manufactured using the company’s patented color-embedding process, which sandwiches silk-screened, scratchproof graphics between a polymer layer and the fiberglass shell. Removable snap-on visor and padded leather neck-warmer are included. The $156 helmet is available in 48 color combinations, in sizes XXS-XXL.
While basic black is no fashion faux pas, it can be a bit boring. So it’s no wonder that AXO’s Mechanix Gloves, previously available in black only, now also come in blue, purple, red and yellow. But new colors aren’t all these gloves have going for them: Note the elasticized wristbands with velcro closures, anatomical thumb design, heat-resistant palms and fingers, and padded mesh tops. At $30 per pair in sizes XS-XXL, these gloves will get the job done in style.
ROYAL STAR CARBURETOR COVER
Nothing spiffs up a cruiser like chrome, and coating your Yamaha Royal Star with the shiny stuff is now a cinch, thanks to Aeromach. Like the carb covers ($108), the company's other bolt-on accessories are machined from 6061-To aluminum, and then chromed. The lineup includes covers for the waterpump, brake calipers, master cylinder, horn and more.
Respect’s cordura-nylon LapPack converts from backpack to briefcase in seconds. Billed as a “portable workstation,” it has two large storage compartments: One holds a laptop computer, cellular telephone, pager and AC cord; the other accommodates manila folders, 3.5-inch floppy disks, pens and assorted office supplies. The water-resistant pack costs $98 and is available in red/silver, matte black/silver, black dimple vinyl and black patent vinyl.
Chippewa has been building biker boots for more than half a century. The company’s latest offering, the 12-inch-high Rally Boot, boasts full-grain leather construction, a reinforced kickpad, velcro closures and cushioned insole. Available in three widths in sizes 6-13, the boot carries a suggested retail of $135.
Stop the presses! BMW is offering cutting-edge tricycle technology with its “twin-leg, 10-toes, muscle-driven motorcycle.” Created in the image of BMW’s dual-purpose R1100GS, the 10-pound Junior Bike has an 11.8-inch seat height, nifty graphics and fits most late-model toddlers. It’s made mostly of plastic, though the wheels incorporate a hard rubber running ring for traction. At $139, it’s the least expensive BMW yet.
WHAT’S BIG IN JAPAN, you ask? If you read last month’s Roundup, you know that rally-style dualpurpose bikes are all the rage. Well, that was then and this is now; the latest craze is “retro” streetbikes that harken back to the glory days of the ’70s, the ’60s and earlier.
After reading the “French Flyers” story in our May issue, you already know that France is home to some serious custom motorcycles. Well, add one more to that list: French magazine Moto Journal recently built a sport special that really flies!
No, Erik Buell isn’t giving up the fight-he’s just inviting his customers to attend an owners retreat. On July 31 -August 1, Buell fans will assemble in rural Wisconsin for a four-day rally that includes tours of the Buell and Harley-Davidson factories, spectating at the NASB roadraces at Road America and plenty of riding.
FIVE YEARS AFTER BEING rescued from near-death by a partnership consisting of four of its overseas distributors and Swiss investment house Exantra AG, Austrian off-road specialist KTM is making inroads into the streetbike market.
It’s no secret that Italians have a strong sense of style, but did you know that’s true for the country’s law-enforcement officials, too? No garden-variety Kawasakis for Italy’s polizia; they ride bikes like the Ducati Monster and Cagiva River shown here.
The 1970s are often referred to as The Golden Age of Motorcycling. The decade deserves this moniker, too, considering the huge number of motorcycles that were imported into the U.S. from Japan. As such, it’s no surprise that this month’s cover featured a Honda-the then-new CB350 Four, to be specific.
BEFORE THE TRANSVERSE inline engine format was invented in the 1930s, most four-cylinder motorcycle engines were set lengthways in their frames. This was particularly true of the American Fours built by Henderson, Ace, Excelsior and Indian.
The venerable Vespa two-stroke motorscooter first buzzed onto the Italian scene in 1946, and hasn’t changed a whole lot since. Until now, that is: Parent company Piaggio recently introduced a new Vespa model called the ET4, and it’s a clean-burning four-stroke!
UP: To Jason Bonham, son of legendary Led Zeppelin drummer John Henry Bonham, for doing good deeds in his late father’s name. Proceeds from The Jason Bonham Band’s live Led Zeppelin tribute album, In the Name of My Father-The ZepSet, and the accompanying tour, will benefit the John Bonham Memorial Motorcycle Camp and the California Police Activities League’s OffRoad Pals program, which lets underprivileged youths try their hands at motorcycle sport.
SEVENTY-FIVE-HUNDRED dollars might not seem like enough money to purchase a Ducati, but it is. That sum won’t buy you a 916, or even an M900 Monster, but it will get you a new M750. A Mini-Monster, if you will. A bike that’s so close to its bigger brother, you could take the emblems off the sidepanels and few would ever notice the difference.
SOMETIMES A SINGLE CHARACTERISTIC DEFINES A MOTORCYCLE, AND A SINGLE change changes everything. When BMW introduced its first K100 laydown-Four back in 1983, it buzzed annoyingly. At one rpm or another, you felt that electric vibration in the handgrips, the tank, the seat, the pegs—everywhere you touched the bike.
TIME FOR A LITTLE TRIVIA, FOUR-CYLINDER-STYLE. THE world’s first production Four? Simple, that would be the 1905 FN from Belgium; bonus points if you knew that FN stands for Fabrique Nationale D’Arms De Guerre—when it wasn’t making motorcycles, the company turned out rifles, bombs, grenades, cannons, etc. America’s first four-cylinder?
AH, TEN BEST. THAT TIME-HONORED RITE OF SUMMER wherein the hard-working editors of the world's largest motorcycle magazine assemble at a posh Newport Beach eatery to select the 10 most outstanding models of the year. Between nibbles of garlic bread and sips of sparkling spring water poured by virgin handmaidens, we take turns presenting our cases, nominating this bike or that for this reason or that.
Dismissing Ducati’s 748 as a downsized 916 does it a great disservice. We know; we did just that before we rode it. Ride the 748 once, however, and you’ll be amazed at just how different it feels. There’s been a lot of talk about how easy the 916 is to ride, but you know what?
Quirky, crude and obsolete from the outset, H-D’s KR750 ushered in racing’s modern age
IT'S PROBABLY THE LEAST LIKELY RACING ENGINE EVER built. Imagine Briggs & Stratton at Daytona or San Jose and you wouldn't be far off. But Harley-Davidson's KR750 not only defined grass-roots racing in the U.S. for nearly two decades, it changed the face of the sport in the process.
I WAS STANDING IN THE SHOP AT STAR CYCLE IN TUCSON, Arizona, listening to Mick Frew, proprietor and friend, explain Frew’s First Law Of Restoration. “There are three ways to do this: good, fast and cheap. You can have any two of those three,” explained Mick.
HE’S FRENCH. HIS NAME’S Dingo. He’s done time for his work. Call them exotic, even erotic, but note that these images take direct aim at PC-muted senses. In France, mention of the word “Dingo” brings expressive talk of deliciously avant-garde photographs.
IF BEAUTY IS ONLY SKIN DEEP, CAN the same be said for ugly? After spending a year with our less-than-alluring long-term BMW R850R, we’d have to answer in the affirmative. Let’s be honest: The new-generation Boxers look a lot better fully clothed (R1100RS/RT) than they do “naked” (R850/1100R).
THE NEXT TIME YOU FALL OFF YOUR dirtbike and hear a loud crunch!, and you’re certain the noise wasn’t your collarbone breaking, take a good look at your motorcycle’s radiators. Granted, their location-tucked-in behind protective plastic shrouds adjacent to the steering head-renders them fairly impervious to damage, but they are not invincible.
125 vs. 250 vs. 500 vs. Thumper in a quest to find the top berm-buster
WE'VE HEARD IT ALL before; so have you: "There's no way a 125 can compete with a 500..." "A 250 is always the best..." "Five-hundreds are pigs, they'll kill ya..." "Thumpers are underrated, they never get a fair chance..." "In supercross, Kevin Windham on his YZ125 turns faster lap times than most 250 guys..."
DIRT RIDING IS ONE OF THOSE ACTIVITIES where a spiffy pair of Michael Jordan high-tops simply won’t suffice. You’ve gotta have the right tools, er, boots, for the job. Which is why Fox created the Forma, an Italian-made boot hailed by its designers as “revolutionary.” Construction is certainly noteworthy.
THE RICKY CARMICHAEL ERA OF MOTOCROSS WAS supposed to begin September 1, 1996, in Delmont, Pennsylvania. Instead, the highly touted Amateur legend crashed repeatedly and struggled to a respectable. but unspectacular, eighth overall in the 125cc class.
Through the first and second rounds of the 1997 World Superbike Championship, Honda-mounted John Kocinski was the series leader. This was a novelty because, in recent seasons, Ducati has dominated the series. At the third round, in England, matters reverted nearly to norm, with Ducati pilot Carl Fogarty winning one leg, and Honda’s Aaron Slight the other.
Is there any way I can retune the engine on my 1993 Kawasaki KX250 motocrosser to give it more midrange power? It sometimes gets me into trouble when I’m hillclimbing. It either delivers way more power than needed or it bogs out and leaves me screwed in the middle of a hill.
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.