ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, IT WAS A legitimate question. The Austrian journalist, an informed, thoughtful man who'd traveled halfway around the world to be in Milwaukee for Harley-Davidson's 1998 new-model intro, leaned across the press bus aisle and almost in a whisper, asked, "Do you know why Harley invited all of us here?
JUST GOT BACK FROM EUROPE ABOUT 1 a.m., after 10 days on the Cycle World Dutch GP Tour (extensive, carefully punctuated story to come). We rode from Munich to Assen, Holland, and back to Munich, then spent 27 hours in six airports getting home to Wisconsin, where our survival on the cab ride home from the Madison airport proved that my wife Barbara and I lead a charmed life and caimot be killed by normal bad luck.
THE SUZUKA 8-HOUR IS THE MOST IMportant single roadracing event of the year, displaying the sharpest part of the Japanese cutting edge. But in the U.S., the top equipment appears either at Daytona, where the factories break the bank within AMA Superbike rules, or at the Laguna Seca round of World Superbike.
I was very pleased with Brian Catterson's Roundup article in the August issue, "Japan Waxes Nostalgic." The latest retro bikes from Japan seem to be sweeping the globe, though it appears all the really cool ones are going everywhere but here.
No matter the location or the weather, Clover's Blackfire jacket is sure to please. Fashioned from water-resistant cordura, the thermal-lined jacket features adjustable collar and cuffs, snap-in sides and removable sleeves. Furthermore, four zippered pockets, including one on the right arm for small items, provide plenty of storage space. Available in sizes S-XXL, the Blackfire comes in a variety of color combinations, and costs $280. Zero Gravity, 5312 Derry Ave., Unit D, Agoura Hills, CA 91301; 800/345-9791
DYNOJET POWER COMMANDER KIT
WORKS CONNECTION FACTORY PERCH
Unfortunately, even a minor offroad tumble can ruin a perfectly good clutch lever. So what's a crash-happy trailrider to do? Why, invest in the Factory Perch from Works Connection, that's what. Designed to rotate upon impact, the nylon-sleeved, machined-from-billet perch comes with an adjustable Honda CR clutch lever and mounting hardware. The perch fits most late-model dirtbikes and costs $60. Works Connection, 6070 Enterprise Dr., Ste. K, Diamond Springs, CA 95619; 916/642-9488
Here's a product to spark your interest: a line of motorcycle plugs from Denso Sales, née Nippondenso. Original equipment for the Japanese manufacturers, they incorporate alumina-powder insulators and copper-cored center electrodes, and are available for most applications. Per plug prices range from $1.50 to $12. Denso Sales California, 3900 Via Oro Ave., Long Beach, CA 90810; 310/834-6352
HARLEY-DAVIDSON HERITAGE SPRINGER CONVERSION KIT
Give your late-model Softail a facelift-Heritage Springer-style-with Harley-Davidson's Heritage Springer Conversion Kit. The FLSTS Front-End Kit shown here consists of the distinctive Springer front-end, horn and front fender. Its price? $2995. The FLSTS Rear Fender Kit, just $275, includes both fender and tombstone taillight. Fenders are available primed or painted in factory colors. Harley-Davidson Motor Co., EQ. Box 653, Milwaukee, WI 53201; 414/343-8300
WILEYCO SLIP-ON MUFFLER
"The first carbon-fiber muffler guaranteed for life," is how Italy's Wileyco describes its new slip-on. The military-grade carbon-fiber canister has hand-polished aluminum end caps and fits most late-model sportbikes. A screen-type, straight-core baffle is standard; a quieter, reverse-cone baffle is optional. Pricing starts at $599, and varies depending upon application. Wileyco USA, 4354 US. Highway 12 S.E., Delano, MN 55328; 612/972-2677
Despite what some people say, coffee table books shouldn't be restricted to historical figures or the French Impressionists. Case in point: Supercross, by Joe Bonnello. Loaded with dynamic color images from supercross and outdoor motocross nationals, the glossy, 96-page book includes a brief history of the sport, behind-the-scenes glimpses of factory operations, trivia and more. Yours, for $13. Motorbooks International, P.O. Box 1,. Osceola, WI 54020; 800/826-6600
THURLOW LEATHERWORLD 512G GLOVES
Thurlow Leatherworid handcrafts its gloves from deerskin because the hide is "warmer when it's cold, cooler when it's warm." The gloves feature seamless palms and nylon stitching, and are said to provide better grip than cowhide. In cedar, dark brown, saddle or black, the $89 mitts come in sizes XXS-XXL. Custom sizing costs $50 extra. Thurlow Leatherworld, 4807 Mercury St., San Diego, CA 92111; 619/279-9004
IF IT'S SUMMER, THEN IT MUST be time for new Harley-Davidsons. Traditionally the first to pull wraps off next year's models, Harley held a world press intro in Milwaukee to show off three new-for-'98 models that will head up a 30-bike lineup.
Big news from Buell for 1998 is the addition of a special-edition, hi-po version of the S1 Lightning. Done up in pearl-white bodywork, white-painted frame and white Marchesini wheels, the new bike is dubbed, appropriately, the White Lightning.
Ever tried to adjust the valves on your desmoquattro? Bet you wish you’d had professional training. Well now, thanks to the American Motorcycle Institute’s new Ducati Certification Schools, you too can learn to maintain your Italian V-Twin.
WITH SO MANY NEW V-Twin-powered motorcycles bursting onto the scene this year, can any really be called a surprise? It can if it comes from France! As previewed in the May, 1996, Roundup, a new company called Voxan plans to put France on the world motorcycle map.
The rebirth of Italy's historic Benelli marque in the hands of wealthy former Supersport racer Andrea Merloni is right on schedule. As detailed in the July, 1996, Roundup, Merloni plans to generate the needed cash flow to restart manufacture of Benelli motorcycles through sales of a new range of scooters.
"55 Cubic Inches!" shouted this month's cover blurb, in reference to Kawasaki's then-new big Four, the 120-mph Z-1. In previewing the bike, Editor Ivan Wagar told readers of his secret conversations with Sam Tanegashima, Kawasaki's "007 Agent."
IF YOU RECALL PRAGA MOTORcycles, you're one of two things: 1) a very, very old refugee from the Eastern Bloc, or 2) lying. Absent since 1935, the Czech-built bikes are now back in production, with a range of dirtbikes slated to begin rolling off the assembly line in January, 1998.
KIM is set to "shock" the motorcycle world by disposing of the rear suspension linkage on its 1998 two-stroke models. Finally developed to the company's satisfaction, the so-called Progressive Damping System (PDS) mounts the newly developed dual-piston WP shock directly to the swingarm.
UP: To Titan Motorcycles, for its admirable product placement. That's a $40,000 Gecko V-Twin, replete with Rabbit's Head tank logo, perched between covergirl Nikki Ziering's legs on the August Playboy. The bike is the grand prize in an ongoing sweepstakes, and will be given away at Daytona Bike Week 1998.
IT'S PERKY. IT'S USER-friendly. It says, "Fireroads are our friends." It's Suzuki's DR200SE, and this spunky little dual-purpose motorcycle is apparently here to stay. After replacing the DR250SE in Suzuki's 1996 lineup, the 200 has influenced plenty of buyers and made loads of friends-particularly those in the new-rider category.
SPARE YOURSELF COMPARISONS BETWEEN Bimota's new 500 Vdue and any Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki or Yamaha 600 sportbike. Bimota's two-stroke V-Twin is not another chapter in the history of high-performance middle-weights, it's an all-new book.
ARRGGUH! ONGOING RAINSTORMS IN Italy killed any chance of getting meaningful performance numbers for the Bimota. What was to have been the world's first instrumented road test of Bimota's star sportbike suddenly was downgraded to a long riding impression.
MIDDLEWEIGHT CRUISERS ARE THE Rodney Dangerfield of the bouleyard set-they get no respect. It's true. Cruising is grounded in pavement-peeling torque, and most middieweights have less of that heart-pounding commodity than their larger-displacement counterparts.
PENTON SPORTCYCLING, LIMITED ONLY by your imagination," reads the brochure for the 1972 Penton 175 Jackpiner. But could John A. Penton himself ever have imagined a liquid-cooled, powervalve-equipped, hydraulic-clutch, disc-brake, single-shock Jackpiner like the new anniversary-edition KTM 200 E/XC LE? “No, none of that, except maybe the single shock-that was something we tried,” laughs Penton, the one-time U.S.
THIRTY YEARS AGO, JOHN Penton discovered a motorcycle factory in the Austrian mountains. Called KTM, the tiny company mostly manufactured bicycles and scooters, until Penton talked the bosses into producing a lightweight, Sachs-powered 125cc two-stroke.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: RIGHT UP FRONT IN this review, we should make some disclosures. Allan Girdler, who penned this enjoyable overview of the fabled Harley-Indian rivalry, is regularly seen on the pages of Cycle World. He's listedon the masthead as Contributing Editor, which means he's sort of an in-house freelancer, and if you deduced that this means we like his work, you'd be right.
CONTRARY TO POPULAR OPINION, BOLT-ON BILLET parts and splashy paint do not a custom make. Just ask Mike Maldonado, owner of Heavy Cycle Customs in San Clemente, California. A virtual unknown in the custom world, he created the elegant hot-rod pictured here, the antithesis of the overdone creations recently seen on the showbike circuit.
SOMETIMES, YEARS PASS BEFORE you're able to repay the favor of an old friend. Such was the case with my 1988 Suzuki GSX-R750J, a faithful steed that carried me through many high-speed racing adventures around the country. Fact is, I owe my career in motojournalism to this very motorcycle.
How the classic four-strokes lost their race against time
JON F. THOMPSON
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR A REVOlutionary force to overthrow the status quo and establish a new order? Forget e-mailing bearded old Fidel Castro for the answer to this one. Instead, point your nostalgia browsers to roadracing, where revolution required precisely the amount of time it took for a piston in a 125cc cylinder, paired with another one exactly the same size, to complete a two-stroke power cycle at 11,000 rpm.
What's "old" anyway? That's the question when a veteran roadracer goes vintage racing and discovers he's still a "kid"
IT WAS A CLASSIC CASE OF youth and enthusiasm versus old age and treachery, except that for the first time in a long time, I was representing the younger side of the equation. You see, I was minding my own business, out lapping Willow Springs Raceway aboard a 1962 AJS 7R while David Dewhurst snapped some photos, when all of a sudden, Jody Nicholasyes, that Jody Nicholas, former AMA fast guy and CW staffer from the 1970s-smoked past me on the front straightaway.
JOHN KOCINSKI WON BOTH WORLD SUPERBIKE RACES AT Laguna Seca. On a Team Castrol Honda RC45. this eccentric genius fought off a stalking challenge from a determined Carl Fogarty in race one, then won again on stamina in race two. Fogarty and Miguel Duhamel were second and third, respectively, in both events.
There are six brands in the running in AMA Superbike, which is grand. Unfortunately, only three of them-Ducati, Honda and Kawasaki-are steadily competitive. Of the others, Harley-Davidson can afford success but chooses not to seek it very hard.
When Cycle World does a road test, how do you calculate the engine speed at any given rpm? For example, in the BMW K1200RS test in the August, 1997, issue, you show engine speed at 60 mph as 3393 rpm. Is there a formula I can use to figure this spec?
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.