IT’S JUST LIKE THE ISLE OF MAN TT, but without the seasickness and the two weeks of bad British food. It’s the Isle of Vashon TT, a one-day IoM in microcosm, except instead of racing there’s a poker run, and instead of three hours’ plowing across the Irish Sea aboard a heaving ferry, Vashon-goers only have to contend with a 15-minute milk run across Washington state’s Puget Sound.
I SHOULD HAVE BEEN PULL-STARTING the Homelite rather than kickstarting a motorcycle on Saturday morning, removing the box elder that fell on three sections of wood fence in our yard last week. One of the unheralded joys of living in the country is that you become a nearly full-time unpaid forest ranger.
CONFUSION CAN ARISE AS TO WHETHER an unconventional engine is two-stroke or four-stroke. The big example is the Wankel engine. What’s a stroke? In a piston engine, a stroke is a piston movement, from one end of a cylinder to the other. In a Wankel, which has no cylinder, we need another definition; a stroke becomes a cycle of volume change, either increasing or decreasing.
The Guggenheim Museum must have moved heaven and earth to assemble "The Art of the Motorcycle" exhibit ("Works of Art," CW, October). I have no adequate words for how much I enjoyed the show and learned from it. Although I’m glad Peter Fonda’s "Captain America" chopper was included, I do think the show missed Harley customs, particularly Evos, which have cultural and artistic significance for their resurrection of The Motor Company, plus fueling the Rolex-rider lifestyle movement, the parts aftermarket and the emergence of third-party manufacturers such as Titan.
Spy is spiffing up off-road eye protection with its new Pro MX Goggles. Featuring a flexible polyurethane frame lined with absorbent foam padding, the $43 goggles incorporate a snazzy, silicone-ribbed strap and accommodate lenses in a variety of shades. The finishing touch is a glossy finish in a host of colors, such as Electric Blue and Burgundy Red.
KINNEY JONES AUTOGRAPH SERIES BOOK
Ditch that Ansel Adams coffee-table book, because a more suitable replacement is here. Famed dirt photog Kinney Jones has published his Autograph Series book, a compilation of color photos of today's top off-road riders. Depicted on the heavy-stock pages are Jeremy McGrath, Jeff Emig, Ezra Lusk and others. Furthermore, Jones has left enough space around the images to accommodate even the most sprawling of autographs! Suggested retail is $10.
S100 TOTAL CYCLE PRODUCTS
If you're of the mindset that it's impossible to get a motorcycle too clean, then S100 Total Cycle products are definitely the cleansers for you. Stashed conveniently in a handy carrying case, the $50 package comes complete with cleaner, detailer/wax, finish restorer and corrosion protectant. The company will even throw in a chamois for good measure. Now, you can't beat that with a stick!
SENNA REPLICA HELMET
Want to get a truly unique racer-replica helmet and do something good for humanity at the same time? Then purchase one of Bell's new Ayrton Senna Replica M3 motorcycle helmets. Not only will you get a DOT- and Snell-approved lid attractively emblazoned with the late Formula One car racing world champion's Brazilian-flag motif, proceeds from the $425 sale will benefit the Ayrton Senna Foundation for needy children.
The more ornate the wheel, the cooler the custom, right? Banking on that belief, RC Components developed its Slash wheels. Machined from billet aluminum, the sleek, one-piece rims require no additional mounting hardware. Sold chromed or polished, they are available in a range of diameters and widths to fit late-model Harley-Davidsons. Prices start at $795 per wheel.
CASTROL HONDA SUPERBIKE GAME
When even Speedvision can't provide enough motorcycle racing, what's a competition junkie to do? Fortunately, Castrol Honda Superbike World Champions can ease your jones with virtual racing. This CD-Rom is billed as a "blistering racing simulation that allows garners to race the 1997 Superbike Champion Honda RC45 on actual championship race courses around the world." Serious hype, indeed. Available for Windows '95 applications, it costs $50.
Need a hand protecting your mitts? Then have a look at FirstGear's new glove line. For the touring crowd comes the $45 Cheyenne, with top-grain leather construction, articulated palms and precurved fingers. For high-performance applications, there's the Winter Race Pilot. Also fashioned from top-grain leather, the $88 gloves incorporate polyurethane at the knuckles, waterproof lining and Thinsulate insulation. Both are available in S-XXL sizes.
HOW BIG WAS THE MUNICH Show? New motorcycles, accessories and clothes filled seven great halls of the new convention center, each big enough to house two or three 747s. Amidst hundreds of scooters (our favorites: the trellis-framed Italjet Dragster and the alien-themed Aprilia Area 51), there were a number of new motorcycles that we may never see in this country, no matter how attractive they are.
Styled similarly to Cagiva's Gran Canyon and Moto Guzzi's Quota, Laverda's striking TTS 800 fuses a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, 800cc parallel-Twin with beefy brakes, sport-oriented suspension and a relaxed seating position.
Miguel and Valerie Asensio have published a motorcycle ride guide devoted to the Texas Hill Country. Titled, "The Best Little Roads in Texas," the soft-bound book features detailed ride routes, color-coded maps and area attractions.
IF YOU THINK DIRTBIKE RIDers are going to miss out on the current trend toward big, four-stroke V-Twins, think again. If CCM, KTM and up-start bike-builder Highland have their way, the throaty roar of twin-cylinder motorcycles will soon be accompanied by clouds of dust.
Captain America, an objet d'art? Why not? The Harley chopper from the cult-classic Easy Rider has been immortalized in a museum-quality lithograph. Titled, appropriately, "Captain America," the $200 rendering depicts the infamous bike over an unfurling American flag, and is signed by Peter Fonda and artist Harold James Cleworth.
A changing of the guard in this issue, as Editor Ivan J. Wagar stepped aside to make room for new man Bob Atkinson. An engineer and AFM roadracing champion, Wagar took over the editorial reigns late in 1963, but by 73 had become so involved in industry affairs that the job was suffering.
WHILE THE WORLD'S major motorcycle manufacturers were busy weighing the advantages of two-stroke versus four-stroke engine technology, 47-year-old Australian wheat farmer Malcolm Beare designed and built a unique powerplant that combines a little bit of both.
Los Angeles resident and CW reader Kevin Muhilly took his hometown's air-pollution problems into his own hands, fabbing this zero-emissions chopper. The basis for the one-off hybrid is a 26-inch mountain bike—with 21 speeds, of course.
UP: To the San Diego Antique Motorcycle Club, for taking a step back before moving forward. The club’s long-running Concours D’Elegance, arguably the best in the U.S., didn’t come off this year for a number of reasons, including increased fees levied by the Del Mar Fairgrounds, site of the show for the past eight years, and a lack of space for swapmeet vendors and company displays.
I SUPPOSE YOU OUGHT TO BE dressed correctly to ride a motorcycle that costs $45,000, especially if it’s made in Italy, the home of designer chic. Except Giancarlo Morbidelli had a different reason for insisting that I not wear a set of leathers for my spin down the Italian coast on his 850 V8 prototype.
Suzuki unleashes a slippery new sportbike in search of effortless speed
SUZUKI CALLS IT THE HAYABUSA—AFTER A FALCON THAT IS Japan's fastest indigenous bird—and has created a new category to define it: "Ultimate Sport." The new-for-'99 GSX1300R Hayabusa ($10,499) was created with acceleration, "nimble" handling and "world-class fit and finish" in mind.
No kitchen sink, but BMW adds just about everything else to its most luxurious touring bike ever
AN 833-POUND WET WEIGHT IS THE FIRST CLUE, THE electric reversing mechanism the second, but it’s the optional refrigerator that gives the show away. With its new K1200LT, BMW is aiming at the living heart of the American luxury-touring market—a market where more is always better than less, bigger better than smaller, and you can’t have too many amenities.
AERMACCHI. APRILLA. BENELLI. Bianchi. Bimota. Cagiva. Ducati. Garelli. Gilera. Guzzi. Laverda. Linto. Paton. Malanca. Minarelli. Mondial. Morbidelli. Morini. MV Agusta. Villa. Phew! There are—and have been—so many Italian motorcycle manufacturers that even the most passionate tifosi aren’t exactly sure which ones are still in business.
IT'S ENCOURAGING TO HEAR THAT Laverdas are once again being sold in the U.S., but for long-suffering fans of the marque, the appointment of a new importer isn’t really news. Like many Italian motorcycle—nay, motor vehicle—manufacturers, Laverda has a checkered past, with periodic profitable production foiled by financial faux pas and a revolving door of importers.
NO, IT’S NOT FUEL-INJECTED. THE 1999 REPLACEMENT for Honda’s lineup-critical 600 sportbike is the new CBR600F4 (not Fi). But even though the new F4 is carbureted, its evolutionary changes are the most radical in the CBR’s history. The new F4 has been Honda-ized, with the latest design and manufacturing techniques from Big Red’s most recent engineering exercises (RR, VFR, VTR, XX) applied while staying true to the CBR’s mission: exceptional all-around sporting capability.
VOLKSWAGEN HAS ITS NEO-BEETLE, MAZDA'S Miata is a Lotus lookalike, the Plymouth Prowler is a way-cool retro roadster. Now comes Kawasaki with, hey what's this!?!, a new-for-’99...Indian Chief? If old is in, then meet the heppest cat in cruiserdom, the Drifter, basically a 1500 Vulcan with sweeping, skirted fenders added.
WOW! HANGING LIGHTS ON A DIRTBIKE never looked this good. For 1999, KTM called in an industrial designer to rework its dual-purpose Thumper, then someone in the engine department slipped in a few changes...and whammo! the result is the 640 LC4, a milestone in the evolution of D-P bikes.
HOOPLA OR HYPE? THAT’S THE QUESTION SURROUNDing Harley-Davidson’s first all-new Big Twin motor in 62 years. We’ve already detailed the inner workings of the new Twin Cam 88 (CW, August). An impressive design, for sure, but final judgment was reserved until we could sample a “Fathead” on our home turf.
A YEAR AGO, CW INCLUDED TRIUMPH'S T509 SPEED TRIPLE IN our "Hell-Raisers" streetfighter shootout. Armed with a chassis lifted from the sporty T595 Daytona, the Speed Triple possessed all the right moves in the curves, but its liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, 885cc, three-cylinder motor lacked the punch needed to gun down its opposition.
IN AN ATTEMPT TO MAKE THE retro Thunderbird 900 more accessible in both price and saddle height, Triumph has created what may be its best "classic" machine yet. Thanks to lowered top frame rails and a 17-inch front rim, the Legend TT's 27.5-inch seat height is a full inch lower than the T-bird's, with sidepanels tucked in an extra 2 inches to give your legs a straighter shot at the pavement.
IT'S COMMON PRACTICE FOR auto makers to offer different engine packages for the same vehicle, but it's almost unheard of in motorcycling. Yet Ducati has done just that with the new-for-’99 ST4. Because aside from its 916-derived, four-valve-per-cylinder engine, the ST4 is exactly the same as the two-valve-per-cylinder ST2; the only visible difference is the numeral “4” at the end of the “Sport Touring” logo on each side of its tail.
WHEN YAMAHA DEBUTED ITS V-STAR 650 LAST year, we posed this question: "Will Americans go for a moderately priced mid-displacement cruiser that offers the appearance—if not the performance—of bucks-up megacruisers?” The answer, it seems, is yes.
YOU COULD CALL HARLEY-DAVIDSON’S FLH touring bikes many things, but none of them is likely to involve the word fast. By the time you burden a stock FLH with you, your passenger and everything the two of you can cram into its luggage, you can expect all the acceleration of an out-of-tune Yugo.
LET'S BE HONEST. A pig farm in rural Kansas is the last place you'd expect to find a vintage motorcycle collection, much less a particularly praiseworthy one. In fact, it’s almost impossible to imagine pristinely restored Vincents, MV Agustas and Ducatis in an environment where swine are bred.
It’S BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE Thumper fans and serious motocross racers have marched to the beat of the same drum. Yamaha’s lightweight, revolutionary YZ400F, though, has set a new tempo and changed the way offroad enthusiasts view four-stroke dirtbikes.
PERHAPS $160 IS A BIT MUCH FOR A pair of motorcycle gloves. After all, the market is rife with comfortable, relatively protective mitts costing less than half that, and they usually resemble something other than welding wear. Held’s Profi 2277 gloves may be pricey and a bit bulky, but they were developed to safeguard delicate digits at high speeds, over unforgiving surfaces, amidst conditions most motorcyclists likely will never suffer.
Cycle World's own Backyard Supercross Champion reigns again!
YOU WON'T FIND BOB LANGIN's PLACE IN BETTER HOMES & Gardens. That's not surprising, considering that the backyard of his typical Southern California tract house is home to a shrink-to-fit Supercross track. Langin was a pro BMXer in the early 1980s.
The racing was outrageous, the payout unparalleled and the attendees—competitors past and present—unprecedented. Motorsports personality Dave Despain’s dream of creating a dirt-track homecoming at the sport’s mecca in Springfield, Illinois, materialized this past Labor Day weekend.
I’m trying to install a centerstand on my Yamaha Seca II. The stand bolts up just fine, but I can’t get the return spring in place. There isn’t a lot of room to work down there, and the spring is pretty stiff. I tried bolting the stand on first and then attaching the spring, and also attaching the spring first and then bolting on the stand.
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.