THE SCENE IS A MOJAVE DESERT DRY lake bed, looking much the same as when the primordial oceans rolled back a half-million years ago. On its caked surface sits the world's most famous Vincent V-Twin, Rollie Free's Black Lightning, a.k.a. The Bathing Suit Bike.
IT STARTED FOUR YEARS AGO AS AN IDEA kicked around at one of our casual monthly Slimey Crud Motorcycle Gang meetings. And by "casual" I mean these meetings are nothing more than a bunch of guys in leather jackets standing around in someone's garage or driveway, alternately gazing at motorcycles and examining the labels of the beer bottles they're holding.
EVERY TIME I BOIL SPAGHETTI, I THINK about rubber. Rubber is a mass of writhing, whirling, tangled long-chain molecules, and the spaghetti strands in the pot look like my imagination's picture of rubber. The analogy needs help because, in a finished rubber product, the rubber molecules are pinned to each other—cross-linked in many places by chemical bonds.
How come nobody is making a nice laid-back cruiser with a kick-ass in-line-Four? I like the styles everyone is putting out, but I'm getting really sick of these damn V-Twin clones! So, here it is, my concept bike for the cruising future: Why doesn't Suzuki yank that Vee motor out of an Intruder 800 and slap in the Bandit 1200's fire-breathing Four?
Okay, so the Bike Barn from Cool Ride isn't really a barn. It is, however, a convenient way to protect your bike from dirt and debris. Designed for indoor or outdoor use, it comprises a waterproof nylon cover and folding galvanized-steel frame. Approximately 10 feet wide and 5 feet long, the lightweight unit accommodates even full-size touring bikes. Available in blue or black, the Bike Barn carries a suggested retail of $399. Locks and a low-wattage heater are offered as options.
Cool Ride Products
MOTORCYCLE CARE PRODUCTS
After years in the bicycling industry, Finish Line has dipped its proverbial toes into the waters of motorcycling. The result is a full line of user-friendly maintenance products ranging from a portable parts washer to bio-degradable degreaser and detailer to synthetic chain wax, plus all points in between. Prices range from $3 to $30.
Cool Ride Products
So, you mistook this Honda CR250R for your old Schwinn Stingray? Easy to do, what with Stiffie's Old School metallic vinyl seat cover. Available in white, blue, green, gold and black, it fits most late-model dirtbikes, and costs $60.
Cool Ride Products
MICK DOOHAN WATCH
With the Mick Doohan Limited Edition, Swiss watchmaker Certina provides the GP champion's fans with a stylish way to tell time. Based on the company's chronograph-style DS model, the $1500 Doohan-signature timepiece incorporates speed-, distance- and time-control systems. Plus, the stainless-steel watch is shock- and water-resistant. Unfortunately, only 1000 were manufactured, so act now.
Cool Ride Products
No, you haven't suddenly developed X-Ray vision. The CR250R pictured here is decked out in Acerbis' new Ghost Plastic. Designed not to crease when bent, the transparent parts fit most late-model dirtbikes, and are available in red, green, yellow, blue and orange tints. The five-piece set includes front and rear fenders ($27 each), sidepanels ($50) and radiator shrouds ($50).
Cool Ride Products
1998 MIKUNI CALENDARS
With the holidays past and the new year beginning, it's time to preview the '98 Mikuni calendars. Choose from Garage Girls, Iron & Lace, Fast Dates, Berm Busters and Ripped Pavement, and cover your walls with scantily clad lovelies draped across dirtbikes, Superbikes, GP roadracers or custom Harleys. Featuring photography from Kinney Jones, Gold & Goose and Jim Gianatsis, the calendars sell for $15 each.
Cool Ride Products
Fashioned from 1.3mm cowhide, Bell2's Force jacket was crafted with warmer climes in mind. Perforated across the chest and arms, and with zippered vents in back, the mesh-lined jacket has removable dual-density armor in the shoulders and elbows, and a sewn-in backpad. Additional features include zippered and snap-down cuffs, an elasticized waist and three pockets. Available in black only, the jacket carries a suggested retail price of $290.
Cool Ride Products
BMW R1100RT AEROSCREEN
If you need a bigger, more protective windscreen for your BMW R1100RT, look no farther than Aeroflow's $175 Aeroscreen. Constructed from machine-cut heat-molded polycarbonate, the adjustable screen is 3.25 inches taller and 4 inches wider than stock. It's flared at the top and sides to redirect airflow, and features a larger intake scoop.
LAST MONTH'S RUMOR mill was bumping hard against redline with news of a two-stroke stunner from Honda, a 500cc V-Twin sportbike patterned after Mick Doohan's GP racer. A perfect birthday present on the occasion of the company's 50th anniversary, it was to be a showcase for Honda's much-ballyhooed, clean-burning ARC technology, the supposed savior of the sordid, smoky two-stroke engine.
FRANCE IS GETTING TRÈS serious about its V-Twins. We already knew about the Voxan Roadster (Roundup, October, 1997), a 1000cc banana-yellow streetfighter; now comes the company's next two efforts, the Cafe Racer and the Scrambler.
Trail riders rejoice! Yamaha will offer an enduro version of its recently announced YZ400F, itself based on the Supercross/MX GP-winning works YZM400 four-stroke. Powered by a more versatile version of the MXer's dohc five-valve Single, the '98 WR400F is equipped with a larger 3.2-gallon gas tank, enduro-spec lighting, trip-meter, wide-ratio five-speed gearbox and trail-tweaked Kayaba suspension.
Vintage bike fans looking for a well-kept 1940s BMW with sidecar would do well to forget the used-bike market and place a call to...China! Much like the Russian Ural, the Chinese GOTO resulted from copying one of the many BMWs left behind by the German army during WWII.
IT SEEMS THAT SUZUKI ISN'T the only company getting serious about the high-performance possibilities of the TL1000's V-Twin motor. At the same Milan Show where Suzuki pulled the tarp off its racy, beam-frame R-model Twin, Bimota rolled out its own version.
For anyone who thinks all Harley-Davidsons are heavy-metal boat anchors, bike-builder Arlen Ness has the answer: an H-D custom built almost entirely of aluminum. Except for the few items that had to be made of ferrous metal—things like the crankshaft, transmission gears, wheel axles, fork tubes, etc.—the latest Nessbike is alloy from stem to stern, including its frame, swingarm and all body parts.
Even in the early '70s, we were nothing but a bunch of gearheads. Why else would the editors have dedicated five full pages to charts and graphs detailing the delicate science of gearing? The article, titled "Gearing: How and why gear ratios are chosen, and what you can do to improve the situation," explained how changing sprockets is a viable way to distribute power the way you want it.
IF THE UBIQUITOUS VOLKSwagen Beetle was the "people's car," then meet the people's trike and the people's scooter. Frankfurt's Motor Show was the location for the debut of two concept vehicles from German auto-makers MercedesBenz and BMW.
UP: To photographer Mark Mclntyre, for shutter service above and beyond the call. Mclntyre is responsible for the art in the "Classic Motorcycles 1998" calender. His shots, masterfully lit and with sepia-toned old-timey photos as backdrops, make this the class calender of the new year.
REMEMBER IN SCHOOL when you could miss a test and get a make-up? Well, that's what the professors at Cycle World magazine have arranged for the 1998 Suzuki RM250, which arrived too late to be included in last month's 250cc motocross comparison.
IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE THAT SIX YEARS HAVE ELAPSED SINCE the introduction of Honda's CBR900RR, a landmark sportbike that rewrote the definition of "lightweight" and "powerful" in Open-class terms. Perhaps even more unbelievable is that until now, no other major manufacturer has invaded the CBR's domain.
IN SUPERSPORT ROADRACING TRIM, SUZUKI'S GSXR750 exhibits few—if any—weaknesses. It's fast enough to have made the Muzzy Kawasaki team quit the class, light enough to make 600s jealous and quick enough to make full-blown Superbikes nervous.
EVER SINCE ITS DEBUT FIVE YEARS AGO, THE LAVERDA 650 has been a motorcycle in search of an engine to complement its acclaimed Nico Bakker-derived aluminum twin-spar chassis. Now at last, Laverda has that motor. The fuel-injected, liquid-cooled 750 is the first all-new (well, 90 percent new) engine to come on-line after the takeover of the company by wealthy industrialist Francesco Tognon three years ago.
ONCE IN A WHILE, WE MAGAZINE ROAD-TEST TYPES COMplain about something vehemently enough that the manufacturer takes action. Case in point, the Triumph T595 Daytona. Last year's road tests of the new-generation three-cylinder sportbike all read pretty much the same: "Gorgeous motorcycle...giant leap forward for the revitalized British firm...shame about the flawed fuel injection, spongy suspension and the exhaust header that grounds in right-hand turns."
IT WAS EARLY ONE SUMMER'S DAY 50 years ago, and Roland Free was slow. With sunlight reflecting up from the Bonneville Salt Flats harshly enough to toast the skin inside one's nostrils, Free was stuck at 148 miles per hour. Free figured his Vincent, owned by a writer/enthusiast named John Edgar, could do 150.
IT'S A CRUEL TWIST OF FATE that the most famous photograph of Rollie Free, which shows him roaring across the Bonneville Salt Flats on his Vincent, does not show his face. The photo is taken from the left, and Free, prone on the bike, has his head tucked down to the right of the fuel tank, watching the black line that marks the racecourse.
BZZZZZ! IT'S SIX O'CLOCK IN the morning, and as on every other day of the week, I'm awakened by the incessant buzzing of the alarm clock I spring—tumble, anyway—from bed, grapple in the darkness for the alarm-clock button and mindlessly start toward the bathroom...where I suddenly remember that it's Sunday.
WITH ONE FOREIGN MOTORCYCLE MANUFACTURER after another jumping on the touring-cruiser bandwagon, it's easy to overlook the original. Harley-Davidson originated the category with its Electra Glide three decades ago, and has never stopped refining the art.
Call it the "euphoria button." Many two-wheel word jockies get their jollies by pushing it. Instead of dialing up the endorphins by going out for a jog or loading up on Prozac, we push the feel-good buzzer by writing up a motorcycle race, the same as the unknown scribbler quoted above.
MY, HOW TIME FLIES WHEN you're having fun. From high-speed racetrack lapping to backroad blasting, our long-term Suzuki GSX-R750 certainly fit the bill of "Best Superbike of 1996," as crowned in that year's Ten Best Bikes balloting.A stunning performer in the canyons, our long-termer was also subject to plenty of commuting and errand-hopping.
ALL RIGHT, SMART GUY, HOW MUCH AIR pressure is in your motorcycle's tires right now? You don't know, do you? Sure, you could grab a gauge and find out, but if your bike was equipped with a Kisan TireAlert system, you wouldn't have to—a simple glance at the dash would tell you.
REMOVING GUNK AND GRIME FROM A motorcycle drive chain—any motorcycle drive chain—can be an unpleasant, time-consuming task. Whether the chain in question belongs to a streetbike or a motocrosser, what should be a simple chore can quickly escalate into a full-blown project.
WHEN MAX BIAGGI LEFT THE APRILIA GP SQUAD FOR TEAM HONDA, the big question was this: After three successive 250cc world titles on the Italian bikes, could he confound his rivals as easily on another brand of machine? Did the championships stem from Biaggi's brilliant machine control, or were they merely the result of Aprilia's mature 100 horsepower and elegant chassis?
Once a year, the baddest street racers in the country put their egos on the line at Cycle World's Quickest Streetbike Shootout, held during the AMA/ Prostar Pingel Thunder Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park. There are three classes at the Shootout: Unlimited, for turbos, nitrous and extended swingarms; Modified, which allows extended swingarms but prohibits turbos and nitrous; and Stock, with no turbos, nitrous or extended swingarms.
I've put an entire '97 Suzuki GSXR750 six-piston front-brake setup on my '94 GSX-R1 100, and I'm having problems getting all of the air out of the system. I've been using the standard bleeding method of pumping the lever and opening the bleeders on the calipers, but the brakes still don't work until the lever is almost to the grip, and they're really mushy.
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.