“He was an enthusiastic, fast-moving, ancient old swindler—an irascible pirate.” So says Cook Neilson, former Cycle magazine editor, of one Mr. J. Floyd Clymer. As you can read in freelancer Andy Saunders’ nicely done piece in this issue, Floyd Clymer’s life was an absurd, multi-pronged caper encompassing everything from pre-WWI racing to a stint as jailbird in a federal pokey to almost dragging Indian out of the grave and back into business.
THERE IS A FAMOUS STORY, WHICH I’M told by reliable sources is true, about an upper-class British race driver of the Fifties who came in for a pit stop during the 24 Hours of Le Mans, right at dusk. While the car was being refueled, he retired to the back of the pit garage and began changing shoes, taking off his brown loafers, carefully storing them in his gearbag, and putting on a pair of black Oxfords.
WHEN ELECTRONIC IGNITIONS FIRST Appeared on production vehicles, we all expected to be stranded on dark roads somewhere with mystery failures we couldn’t fix. We knew we could open and clean closed-up points or reconnect loose wires, but those black boxes were sealed units with devils inside.
Congratulations Moto Guzzi on winning CW's March cruiser shootout. When was the last time Guzzi won anything? Probably when Dr. John’s Team Moto Guzzi beat all comers in the 1985 AMA endurance series, followed shortly after by a Number One plate for Doug Brauneck in the now-defunct Battle of the Twins.
With its sleek profile, Kerker’s Performance Series slip-on muffler is an eye-catcher of the highest order. Designed to boost horsepower and increase torque, the bolt-on canister is significantly lighter than stock and fits most late-model sportbikes. It comes with a stainless-steel baffle and choice of brushed-aluminum or carbon-shell. Pricing starts at $200.
Kerker Exhaust Products
After shelling out 15 big ones for an exotic Italian sportbike, you don’t want unsightly key scratches marring the finish. So take preemptive action with European Cycle Specialties’ Key Guard. Made from carbon-fiber, it’s molded to fit the sexy contours of late-model Ducati 916s and 748s. Installation is as simple as applying the included double-sided tape. Suggested retail price is $55.
Kerker Exhaust Products
ROYAL STAR CD-ROM
No, this isn’t the latest release from Yamaha’s new band, the Royal Stars. Rather, it’s an interactive CD-ROM featuring the manufacturer’s megacruiser. Compatible with Windows-95 and Mac System 7.5 and higher software, the $6 disc allows users to fully accessorize their bikes on screen, as well as get the low-down on developmental history, model updates and owner/rider testimonials.
Kerker Exhaust Products
It had to happen sooner or later: carbon-fiber clothing. New from Z Custom Leathers is a leather jacket with carbon-fiber and kevlar inlays. Fashioned from top-grain cowhide, the jacket features zippered vents front and back, two angled pockets and a mesh liner. Closed-cell foam padding in the back, shoulders and elbows/forearms is standard. Available in myriad custom sizes and colors, the jacket can be accented with red, yellow, blue or black kevlar. Suggested retail price is $655.
Kerker Exhaust Products
BIEFFE MAX BIAGGI REPLICA
The Italian compliment que bella describes Bieffe’s Max Biaggi Replica to a “T.” Sprayed in the four-time 250cc Grand Prix champion’s latest graphics, the clear-coated BR16 has a lightweight fiberglass shell, plush interior with adjustable cheek pads and an injection-molded, six-position ratcheting shield. The helmet comes in sizes XS-XXL, and is also available in solid colors and with other graphics. The Biaggi Replica retails for $330.
Kerker Exhaust Products
ENDURO PRO GLOVES
Nostalgia isn’t necessarily limited to road riders. Case in point, the Enduro Pro Gloves from Malcolm Smith Racing. Manufactured from premium-grade deerskin, the old school-style gloves benefit from external seams, kevlar thread, reinforced thumbs and padded palms. The $30 gloves are available in S-XXL sizes.
Kerker Exhaust Products
HARRISON SIX-PISTON CALIPERS
Give your late-model sportbike some serious stopping power with Englishmade Harrison six-piston brake calipers. CNC-machined from T66082 billet aluminum, the compact, lightweight units use standard mounts and accommodate stock master cylinders. Available for front and rear applications, they cost $375 apiece (pads included), and can be anodized in any color.
Kerker Exhaust Products
ALUMINUM THROTTLE PIPE
How to DNF-proof your motocrosser, suggestion #31 : Fit a Fastway aluminum throttle pipe. CNC-machined from billet, it’s lighter and stronger than the plastic stocker, comes with a knurled face to reduce grip slip and has a Teflon inner coating for smooth action. Pricing starts at $40.
HOW'S THIS FOR CUTTING to the chase? Kawi's new-for-'98 ZX-6R is the company's best effort yet and it costs $300 less than last year's model. More for less, a concept that's easy to get behind. Kawasaki engineers set three primary goals when drafting up the new 6R: 1) Make it more compact; 2) make it more tightly focused; and 3) make it more race-oriented.
Watch out, world! Ducati has a head of steam and is piling on the coals. Under new ownership, production is up, spare parts are available, the work force is growing, new models are in the pipeline and a Harley-esque owner homecoming is planned for this summer— heck, there’s even “Ducati Manhattan,” a retail store just off Times Square in New York City.
Is garage fever eatin’ away at your very soul? You want to go for a ride, but OI’ Man Winter (or EI Niño, or that pesky engine rebuild) won’t let ya? Worry not, dear reader, you’ve come to the right place. What follows is Cycle World's handy-dandy, unabridged, unauthorized and eminently arbitrary guide to upcoming motorcycle events.
IF LIGHTNESS MAKES RIGHTness, CarboTech's latest efforts are as correct as they come. The Austrian composites specialist is offering a carbon-fiber frame for Ducati 916s that, at 15 pounds, is 11 pounds lighter than the stock chromoly trellis unit it replaces, yet is stiffer longitudinally and torsionally.
Now, don't go gettin' your lederhosen all in a wad, but those styling stunt pilots at BMW are on the loose again, this time with an R1200C cruiser mit space-age sidecar. And what a rig! Looking like a cross between a canoe and a jet fighter, the 'car is appointed with teakwood and coddles its passenger in an orthopedically designed leather seat.
SO, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS when you let an old hotrodder loose on a Buell S1 White Lightning. Bob Dron is owner of Oakland Harley-Davidson, a forward-thinking dealership complete with its own Design Center. When he’s not overseeing operations, or tooling around in his supercharged Chevy Suburban, or noodling on his latest 1950s lead sled, Dron is the man responsible for some of the country’s most outlandish Harley customs, including his luscious “Royale,” which nabbed topbuilder honors at the 1992 Oakland Roadster Show.
Resting on a pale-blue background, Triumph's latest and greatest Bonneville debuted as this month's coverbike. Proclaimed the best Bonneville yet, the T140V was praised for its incremental updates. Announced editors, “Triumph should have built the 750 Bonnie five years ago.”
So, YOU'VE CAUGHT THE bug to go dirt-track racing—hope you know what you're getting into. Unlike other motorcycles, dirt-trackers traditionally are sold piecemeal: You purchase a frame from one specialty manufacturer, an engine from another, and then chase down all the other components you need to assemble a complete bike.
UP: To Team Obsolete boss Rob lannucci, for giving credit where credit is due. In writing the foreword to Mark Gardiner’s new book, Classic Motorcycles, lannucci claims, “Cycle World magazine ruined my life,” then goes on to explain how an old 1962 Matchless G50 road test inspired his lifelong passion for collecting: “Classic motorcycles are different things to different people...each of us was introduced to the sport for different reasons, under different circumstances.
THE LINE BETWEEN TWO- AND FOUR-CYLINDER SUPERbikes is gradually being erased. Used to be that Twins were light in weight, narrow in width and endowed with prodigious midrange torque, while Fours were heavy, fat and peaky, their power concentrated at the top of the rev range.
SUZUKI's TL1000S IS NOTHING IF NOT CONTROVERSIAL. As evidence, consider the fact that an international panel of magazine editors recently voted it the 1997 Bike of the Year, while simultaneously naming it Dog of the Year! How can a motorcycle that garnered Best Superbike honors in Cycle World's 1997 Ten Best Bikes competition be the subject of such ridicule?
HONDA IS NEVER A COMPANY to be outdone. At a time when other manufacturers are pushing narrowly focused, track-bred repliracers, Honda has created what may be the most versatile, sport-oriented motorcycle ever sold. That bike is the all-new 1998 VFR800 Interceptor.
Expert riders may scoff at LBS, but even early iterations had merit. During 1996’s “Panic Stop Shootout,” I watched car guy Sam Mitani stop an LBS-equipped CBR1000 from 60 mph in 127 feet—11 feet less than Don Canet or I could manage. Neither Canet nor I had applied the brake pedal, focusing instead on the front lever.
TO TODAY'S RIDERS, HONDA'S FIRST V-FOUR SPORTbike, the 1983 VF750F, must seem positively archaic. Its claimed horsepower was only in the mid-80s, and its narrow, bias-ply tires and conservative steering geometry practically are relics from the stone age of high performance.
Riding John Kocinski's World Superbike-winning RC45
MAJOR MAKEOVERS ARE NOTHING new to Honda. In fact, to win the 1997 World Superbike Championship, Honda had to re-invent the RC45: Whereas previous versions of the V-Four racer have been powered-up progenies of the prior year’s model, the ’97 RC45 had a character all its own.
FLOYD CLYMER, MECHANIC, RACER, SALESman, promoter, importer, inventor, writer, editor and publisher, was an American original. A scintillatingly fast dirt-tracker who could run on pure adrenaline, a wild and crazy guy on a motorcycle to the very end, a businessman who loved the limelight, a master at promoting the image of motorcycling.
MEET A MOTORCYCLE THAT NEVER had a chance. Like most of Floyd Clymer's doings, the 1970 Indian Enfield 750 was part dream, part scheme. Today, if the bike is remembered at all (and mostly it isn’t), it’s as the last full-sized motorcycle to carry the famed Indian script logo.
Kicked out of GPs, Aussie Anthony Gobert comes to America and wins
CALCULATING WILD MAN Anthony Gobert won the first Superbike race of the 1998 AMA season, at Phoenix, on a Vance & Hines Ducati. Fellow Australian Mat Mladin, on a Yoshimura Suzuki GSXR750, was second in a race decided by tires and traffic.
KAWASAKI AND SUZUKI HAVE THE NEW BIKES IN THIS CLASS, WHILE HONDA and Yamaha await theirs. Last year, Miguel Duhamel toughed it out to win the class on the aging, chattering Honda. Here at Phoenix, there was no way. Jason Pridmore, Ben Bostrom and Doug Chandler got away first, and there was at least virtual pushing and shoving as Aaron Yates made his way forward to challenge, while Chandler put away the other two.
"SO, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT racing the Husaberg at Daytona?" The voice on the other end of the phone line belongs to Chuck Sun, former 500cc national motocross champion currently working as Husaberg race team manager. “Are we talking the Daytona Supercross or the Alligator Enduro?” I query.
IT WASN'T LONG AGO THAT YAMAHA MADE THE top enduro motorcycle. In 1994, the WR250 won "Best Enduro Bike" in Cycle World's Ten Best competition. But since then, KTM has had a virtual lock on the title, building the off-road bike that CW's editors have found the most appealing every year, save for an interruption by Honda’s four-stroke XR400 in 1996.
CALIFORNIA IS TRYING TO CLEAN UP ITS AIR, AT THE expense of me having fun. Not that I don't appreciate clean air, you understand, but somewhere between environmentalist-wackos suing the Air Resources Board for ever-tighter standards and jetting so lean that my bike won’t start, let alone perform decently, I get a bit confused.
OF ALL THE BIKES I'VE RIDDEN OR WRITTEN ABOUT SINCE COMING To CYCLE World nearly eight years ago, I hold our Project Honda CR500 racebike dearest to my heart. Part of my fondness for the machine stems from the thrill of riding it, but of greater significance, it was through this bike that I got to know Ricky Graham.
THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE WORLD Superbike Championship is marked by publication of the definitive history of four-stroke motorcycle roadracing’s premier series, World Superbikes, The First Ten Years. Penned by English television commentator Julian Ryder and lavishly illustrated with photographs by renowned lensman Kel Edge, this beautiful, soft-cover book covers WSB from its wobbly infancy through the action-packed 1997 season.
IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WAS X-BAND radar, which was thrown at us in the Sixties. (Has it really been around that long?) Then, there was the lower-powered, more difficult to detect K-band radar of the Seventies, and in 1987 came a third frequency, Ka, and then, just three years later, Wideband Ka.
IT SEEMS THAT EVERYONE’S ALWAYS nattering on about keeping your hands warm while riding in the cold. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but what about when the mercury begins to rise? How do you properly protect your hands while keeping them cool and sweat-free in higher temperatures?
Half a world away, an enchanting speed festival embraces the humanity of vintage racing
JOHN L. STEIN
"LEONARD!" A SHRILL, MATRONLY VOICE SPLIT THE BOOMING THUNDER OF RACING SINGLES. "I can call him Leonard," Mrs. Perry shouted of her 86-year-old husband, New Zealand racing legend Len Perry, "because I've been married to him for 60 years!" After a few moments, Perry shuffled out the door of his trailer and stood beaming in the New Zealand summer sun.
Mick Doohan was, as usual, fastest at the first pre-season Grand Prix test session, held in mid-January at Australia’s Phillip Island racetrack. Atypically, new Suzuki signee Nobuatsu Aoki set second-best time, displacing the remaining works Honda riders.
The good news is that I live in Hawaii. The bad news is that when I take my ’88 Suzuki Intruder 750 from sea level to 5000-foot elevations, the final-drive case leaks. And I mean it really leaks. I can do this change in elevation in about 30 minutes at 45 mph.
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.