IT WAS ALMOST LIKE HAVING A LICENSE to speed, a get-out-of-jail-free card and a well-versed tour guide, all in one. During CW’s visit with restoration ace Kenny Dreer at his Vintage Rebuilds operation in rural Oregon, a half-day ride was laid on.
SNOW FELL AGAIN LAST NIGHT, SILENTLY and in large flakes, like an airborne invasion coming off the Great Plains. This morning, I made a lone trail through the snow to the workshop with my coffee (Triumph mug), turned the heat up a notch and sat down to look at my bikes.
THE CRANK AND CON-RODS IN MOST modern motorcycle engines are supported by plain, oil-lubricated journal bearings. On the crank, smooth, cylindrical journals are ground and finished, and each of these runs at a small clearance inside a pair of semi-circular metal shell bearings, with oil between
Family and professional commitments have made it difficult for me to purchase a new motorcycle, but when I saw the Kawasaki ZRX 1100 in your December issue, it ignited the fire in me to own another motorcycle. I think Kawasaki is on to something here, the kind of retro-bike that appeals to my Baby Boomer generation: a sane riding position, a torque-monster motor, comfortable, smooth, high-tech and drop-dead beautiful.
First polyester made a dubiously successful comeback, then bellbottoms followed shortly thereafter. What's next—Bob Hannah's 1979 AMA Supercross Championship-winning Yamaha YZ250? Well, sort of. One Industries offers a $249 kit that transforms late-model YZs into Hannah-come-latelys. Included are front fender, numberplate, fork guards, radiator shrouds, graphics, seat cover and decals.
FORK SPRING PRELOAD ADJUSTERS
Easily adjust your front suspension with Two Brothers Racing's Fork Spring Preload Adjusters. Designed for Hondas with cartridge-type Showa forks (CBR900RR, CBR600F3 and VTR1000), the hard-anodized, billet-aluminum doohickeys slip over the stock fork caps. allowing for tool-less tweaking. Suggested retail is $40 per pair.
Settling for a less-than-ideal motorcycle saddle can be a real pain in the posterior. Enter Sargent's World Sport Seat. A replacement seat for late-model Honda CBR600F2s and F3s, the injection-molded plastic World Sport features closed-cell foam, hand-crafted upholstery and four retractable bungee hooks. Options include an under-seat storage container and an electronic seat release. Pricing starts at $240.
MXC/PRO SCOTT SUMMERS REPLICA
For '98, Arai has completely revamped its MXC/PRO Scott Summers Replica. In fact, the two-piece off-road lid received a snazzy new paint scheme, along with a stronger-yet-lighter-weight shell and completely removable lining. Plus, it incorporates Arai's street-style Delta-5 ventilation system with vacuum and exhaust ducts. SNELL-and DOT-approved, the $382 helmet comes in either white or bright silver.
UNOBTAINIUM ELECTRIC VEST
Even Paris' fine couture houses are no match for Aerostich. Check it out: Not only is the company's 45-watt Unobtainium Electric Vest tres chic, it is fashioned from soft Polartec 100 fleece. Furthermore, it features a snug-fitting collar, long trunk, thin liner and two pockets: one for the hookup, and one into which the blue vest can be rolled up and stored. It comes in sizes S-XXL, and carries a suggested retail of $127. Eat your heart out, Armani!
$3 to $25y
To heck with snooty art galleries and uppity objets d’art. Watercolorist Melinda Cowdery knows how to decorate a room. With her new four-painting Route 66 series, she depicts vintage Indians and Harley-Davidsons in settings from the historic thoroughfare. The renderings are available in 5 x 7-inch prints and 19 x 25-inch posters. Prices range from $3 to $25.
STAINLESS-STEEL EXHAUST SYSTEM
Canadian pipe-maker Hindle’s latest 4-2-1 exhaust system offers the strength of stainless-steel without the bulk. Weighing just 8 pounds, it fits most late-model sportbikes and is said to increase horsepower. The system is available in low-and high-pipe iterations, with a choice of an oval or round muffler packaged in a polished-aluminum or carbon-fiber sleeve. Pricing starts at $615, and varies depending upon application. A $285 slip-on canister is also available.
WHAT’S THE MOST ANticipated new sportbike of 1998? Easy: Yamaha’s YZF-R1. Next up? Honda’s redesigned VFR800 Interceptor. Previous-generation VFR750s were praised as among the best all-around streetbikes, possessing a near-perfect balance of versatility and sportiness, and one of the great engines of all time.
ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST RENOWNED ART museums is about to be taken over by motorcycles. New York City’s landmark Guggenheim Museum, usually a showcase for modern masters such as Oldenburg, Warhol and Picasso, will feature “The Art of the Motorcycle,” June 25-September 12.
Mike Hailwood memorabilia recently went under the gavel in England. Jewel of the auction was the late, great roadracer’s RC173 Four, ridden to the 350cc World Championship in 1966. It fetched $250,000, despite a lack of engine internals—which shouldn’t be a problem as Honda Japan is the rumored buyer.
EVER SEEN A GORGEOUS Italian motorcycle in a magazine and just had to have it, but had no idea where to get it? Or dialed the number from an advertisement only to learn that it was no longer in service? You’re not alone. Italian bike importers, it would seem, are predictably unpredictable.
No, Vertemati isn’t some sort of pasta (that’s vermicelli), it’s a small Italian motorcycle manufacturer renowned for its hand-made motocrossers. And now, Vertemati has entered into a joint venture with Bimota to mass-produce its four-stroke Singles in both three-speed MX and five-speed enduro forms.
So, YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTed to showcase your bike on the pages of your favorite motorcycle magazine? A little something to turn the other 310,000 readers green with envy, eh? Well, here’s your chance, the inaugural Cycle World Photo Concours.
Now, now, don’t go gettin’ all misty-eyed at the thought of an updated-for-the-’90s Commando 850. What we have here is a Norton in name only, debuted at last November’s Birmingham Show. Called the 652SM, it uses a four-valve Single for power, the same Rotax-built unit used by BMW in its F650.
What were the “Big Berthas” of motorcycling, circa 1973? The Munch 1200 TTY and Kawasaki Z-1, of course. Described as luxuriously heavy and astonishingly fleet, the TTY, powered by an 1177cc, four-cylinder NSU car engine, was a highly specialized machine handcrafted at Friedl Munch’s 35-employee German factory.
UP: To BMW, for getting into Bondage. In the latest 007 flick, Tomorrow Never Dies, the world’s most famous secret agent jumps on an ivory R1200C cruiser and leads the bad guys on an epic chase through the streets of Bangkok—while he’s handcuffed to a comely fellow spy, no less.
IF YOU WERE TO ASK A roomful of adult motorcyclists how many of them got their start on a Honda Mini-Trail 50, no doubt a bunch of hands would shoot up. But were you to do so 20 years from now, you might have to rephrase the question using the bike shown here, Honda’s new XR70R. Filling the gap between the current Z50 and XR80, the newest, smallest XR is a perfect match-up of size, styling and simplistic operation.
In which we break out the black leather, kick things back a notch, fire up 12 Twins (and a lone Triple) and go off in search of the ultimate Ameri-cruiser
PROPER MOTORCYCLES, THAT'S WHAT WE HAVE HERE. Engines on display, right out in the open. Chrome, and lots of it. Real steel, too—rap your knuckle across a fender and you’re rewarded with a satisfying metallic toll. Paint in primary colors; no wussie neons or nuclear zebra stripes here.
CONVENTIONAL WISDOM HOLDS THAT CRUISER RIDERS don’t care about performance. That’s what various OEM spokesmen tell us in rationalizing their latest 50-horsepower mega-cruisers, and it’s a position that’s supported by recent new-bike sales figures.
IT’S 1946 AND YOU’VE JUST RESCUED THE WORLD FROM the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese. Back in civilization, things are just a little too, well...civil. What to do? For many of World War II's returning servicemen, the answer was motorcycles.
A Goose, a T-bird and a Boxer from across the water
WHEN IT COMES TO CRUISERS, EUROPE HAS NEVER been a serious player. Sure, Moto Guzzi has long produced its Ambassadors, Eldorados and Californias, and Ducati briefly hawked its Indiana, but sales have never amounted to a hill of beans. Which is why the majority of Americans in the market for a cruiser have never looked toward Europe for inspiration.
EUROPEAN CRUISERS ARE NOTHING NEW—IT JUST SEEMS that way. A decade before BMW unveiled the R1200C and Moto Guzzi revamped its V11, another of Europe’s most prominent manufacturers toed the cruiser waters with a V-Twin that looked more like those coming out of Milwaukee than Mandello del Lario.
AS WE HURTLE TOWARD THE MILLENNIUM, WE'RE HAUNTED by the ghost of the ideal past. In our hurried world, with headlines full of crime, downsizing and almost inexplicably rapid change, there's something infinitely appealing about the artifacts of slower, surer days: old Coca-Cola signs, '56 Buick Roadmasters, classic American motorcycles.
New manufacturers Victory and Excelsior-Henderson want to sell you their cruisers in 1998. Victory's 49-state model is now in EPA certification and will, General Manager Matt Parks tells us, emerge to dealers this spring. The California model, because it must scale a taller paperwork mountain, will come in early summer.
IF THERE’S ONE WORD THAT DESCRIBES ALL THE MOTORCYcles in this group, it would probably be, well, old. Or perhaps venerable is a more tactful term. Either way, each of these four bikes was introduced back in the mid-Eighties, which makes them all at least 10 years old.
SURE, THE CLASSIC CRUISER IS PUSHED DOWN THE ROAD by a big-inch V-Twin. But there are alternatives. Honda’s Magna 750 for one. This uses a dohc, liquid-cooled V-Four lifted from the old-style VFR sportbike, though it gets a 360-degree crank, different cam timing and smaller carbs—changes aimed at intensifying bottom-end and midrange grunt.
OKAY, FOUR CLASSES, FOUR winners. Now you want the ultimate decision, right? Which one takes the overall? We thought so. Here goes: The Titan is so stinkin' cool it hurts—quite literally in the case of the saddle, which comes straight from the Spanish Inquisition.
EVEL KNIEVEL IS THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS MOTORCYCLIST. HE WAS also something of a savior, a messiah in an Elvis Presley jumpsuit who raised America up from the gooey social morass of the 1970s. If you have doubts about any of this, just ask him.
READING THE DUCATI STORY IS, IN A way, almost like reading about the life of Frank Sinatra: periods of fame and glory followed by lean times, of being lost in the wilderness, only to come back better than ever (or at least as good as ever), with a new hit or an Academy Award-winning movie.
IT WAS NOT EXactly a high-water mark in the annals of community relations. The Triumph street-tracker, all glossy black and gleaming chrome, was making yet another photo pass, shredding the rural Oregon air with all the sound-baffling of your average 1960s Ascot Park half-miler, which is to say, squat.
PUT POLITELY, YAMAHA’S NEW-FOR-’98 YZ400F motocrosser has dropped a bomb, opened a can of worms, stirred the pot. Put impolitely, it has grabbed its competitors’ trousers, yanked them down to the floor and kicked some bare-naked motocross butt.
IT’S BEEN MORE THAN THREE decades now, but there was a time when Thumpers ruled uncontested in the dirt. “It was the Golden Era,” says Jeff Smith, former BSA works rider, now executive director of the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association.
DOES 126 MIDRANGE-RICH V-TWIN HORSEPOWER IN a svelte, 416-pound Italian package appeal to you? Aprilia’s RSV1000, after five years in the bud, flowered at the last autumn’s Milan Show, revealing even its most intimate details via a disassembled engine under glass.
BIG CYLINDERS EQUAL BIG INTAKE AND exhaust pulses. That simple fact explains why big Twins need big airboxes and mufflers. And even with volume, engineers sometimes have to make trade-offs for Twins to pass noise tests that they’d prefer to avoid.
RACE-READY AT 230 POUNDS. REARwheel horsepower hovering in the mid-80s. Quarter-mile sprints in a tick less than 11 seconds. Top speed of 155 mph. Wheelbase measuring 52.5 inches. Dribbling on your chin yet? I do, every time I think about riding a 250cc Grand Prix roadracer.
Every year for the past many, Dunlop and Michelin have held off-season tire tests at Daytona. During that time, these tests have acquired the status of mini-Bike Weeks, events newsworthy on their own. They reveal much about what may happen later, in the Daytona 200 and in the coming racing season.
I own a 1994 Honda XR650L dual-purpose bike. Although I am 6-foot-1 and can put both feet on the ground when astride the bike, I can’t help but feel that the overall handling would be greatly improved if the bike were about 2 inches lower. Is there any way to accomplish this without spending a small fortune on a new shock and fork springs?
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.