UP: To NEW-BIKE BUYERS, FOR MAKING 1998 a banner year. Overall, sales were up 16 percent compared to 1997, which translates into an extra 56,000 new bikes in owners’ hands. Better news is that the increase is across the board—dirt, sportbike, touring and cruiser.
PEOPLE ARE FOND OF SAYING THIS IS THE Golden Age of Motorcycling, and maybe they’re right. For evidence, we have such wonders as the Guggenheim show, the resurgence of traditional or nearly lost brands such as Triumph, Ducati, Guzzi, MZ, etc.
I’M REALLY PLEASED WITH THE NEW 600s. To me, they represent a desirable move away from the giant locomotive concept. Years ago, when I was first involved with racing, bikes were lifted into the truck. Two people whisked the front wheel onto the bed, then lifted the back on as well.
Peter Egan’s column, “The nearly lost art of the kickstart,” (Leanings, December) couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for me. This past Sunday, the battery on my ’97 Suzuki TL1000S suddenly gave up the ghost. Not more than 15 feet away, my friend Kenny’s Vincent Rapide sat with this beautiful kickstarter lever.
Ducatisti worldwide must be positively giddy with delight. After all, the motor-sports-oriented Bullivant Gallery has just released Sognare en Rosso (that’s “Dreaming in Red,” for you non-Italian types). Measuring 4 x 6 feet, the glossy full-color poster depicts a Ducati 996 SPS being uncrated. Suggested retail price is $40, plus shipping and handling.
For the 500cc Grand Prix fan who thinks he’s getting the short end of the aftermarket stick, we give you Arai’s RX-7RR3 with John Kocinski graphics. One of Arai’s more popular models, the lightweight fiberglass lid comes with standard RX fare, such as a free-flowing ventilation system, optically correct faceshield and removable, washable interior. Kocinski’s colors will set you back $595.
SOFTAIL TOOL KIT
The Motor Company is at it again. Digging itself ever deeper into that American-made niche, that is. This time, Harley-Davidson is including in its accessories lineup a tool kit that specifically caters to all Softail models. The $170 kit includes Allen wrenches, sockets, axle wrench, screwdrivers, pliers and more. Also available is a larger, multi-fit version of the kit for $190.
The best ideas are usually simple ones. Combining protection with storage, for example. Why hasn’t anyone thought of that? Fortunately, someone has. Dainese’s $199 Techno Backpack mates the company’s articulated, plastic back protector with a cordura backpack. The adjustable ensemble incorporates three compartments, the largest of which will accommodate a full-face helmet, and comes in black only.
TOUT TERRAIN JACKETS
Here’s the skinny on what's hot on the Continent: rout Terrain jackets. Looking about as retro as your favorite cafe-racer, the coats are fashioned from top-grain Spanish cowhide and feature quilted liners, snap-down collars and a second layer of leather at the elbows. Attention-getters without a doubt, the jackets cost $550 each.
Junk those girlie pin-ups and add a touch of class to your workshop with a Snug Harbor 1999 calendar. Choose from the black-and-white Classic Moments or the full-color Boxer Lust. The former measures 20 x 20 inches, depicts 1960s Grand Prix racing and costs $30. The latter incorporates a host of BMW shots, natch, and measures 16 x 17 inches. Price is $35. Both require $5 shipping and handling.
SPEED EQUIPMENT RACEGEAR
Speed Equipment Racegear is the latest in a long line of motocross attire that designer Troy Lee is, well, designing. Included in Lee’s new lineup are cotton jerseys with underarm mesh and raglan sleeve design, plus matching ballistic-nylon pants with kevlar and a stretch waist. The $50 available in S-XXL, while the $148 pants come in men’s 26-38 sizes.
No we’re not talking about “The Avengers,” that campy Sixties television program. More like the VSR-7, a 7-foot-wide trailer that accommodates two full-size motorcycles. Compatible with half-ton pickups, vans and SUVs, it has an aluminum-framed sidedoor, plywood floors and wall liners, and interior lighting. Plus, the $6000 trailer comes with a slew of options like adjustable, flush-mount tie-downs, crank-up roof vents, ladder racks and more.
QUESTION: WHAT DO YOU call a boatload of Indian revivalists at the bottom of the ocean? Answer: A good start. We know, we know...you’re fed up to your fedora with all these Second Coming of Springfield shenanigans. Us too, but here comes another chapter.
Where would Indian be today if the company hadn't been mismanaged to death back in the Fifties? James Parker thinks he knows. The man who penned Eller's up-in-the-air neo-Chief (and before that the Yamaha GTS1000 front end) also has plans for an all-American repli-racer bearing the famed Indian script logo.
Got a tale to tell? Well, here’s your chance: Suzuki is inviting motorcycle-and ATV-riding internet surfers to enter its “Tell Us Your Favorite Ride Contest.” Every month, Suzuki will select its favorite fable, with winners receiving $50 and a Suzuki hat.
HAVING MANAGED THE initial media hoopla, Cannondale is gearing up to produce what has become a rather unique dirtbike. The four-stroke, 397cc motocrosser will be the prominent bicycle maker’s first foray into motorcycling. From the outset, engineers have utilized a Honda CR-style, aluminum perimeter frame.
Submitted for your approval, a dog-eared, yellow-tinted edition of Cycle World magazine. Turning the pages reveals a breach in the space-time continuum, as foresight and hindsight collide to yield remarkably similar views. File these under the heading, “Timeless.”
HONDA'S GOT ITS COLLECtion Hall, Ducati's got its museo, now Yamaha's got a gallery to call its own. Only the new Communication Plaza at the company’s Iwata, Japan, headquarters, isn’t really a museum; it’s a meeting place where employees can exchange ideas while surrounded by Yamaha products past, present and future.
DUNLOP IS MOVING DIRT in a different direction. As such, two new knobbies, the intermediate/hard-terrain D739 and intermediate/ soft-terrain D756, are slated to replace the popular K490, K695 and D752. Offered in 18-, 19- and 21-inch sizes, the D739 has already made a stateside appearance as original equipment on 1999 Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki motocrossers.
UP: To MBNA, for believing in bikes. Not only does the Delaware-based bank sponsor the AMA Superbike series, but it recently donated prime NASCAR advertising space to the AMA free of charge. During last October’s Winston Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, spectators were treated to a giant AMA logo on the hood of Ward Burton’s No. 22 Pontiac Grand Prix.
MAGNI-GUZZI SFIDA 1100ie Old world meets future tech
Bruno de Prato
WHEN ARTURO MAGNI retired from MV Agusta's legendary race shop, his only purpose in life was to perpetuate MV’s image of technical supremacy. He did this by creating a series of “specials” powered by an array of engines. Magni swore by a traditional, double-cradle steel-tube frame, 28-degree steering-head angle, twin shocks, 18-inch wheels and bias-ply tires.
PULSE RATE AT RED-line, my breath. casts a haze onto the tinted Arai faceshield. I crack open the visor for defrost and pre pare to apply the Brembo binders as the Ducati 996 Superbike rockets toward a first-gear hairpin at more than 160 mph. Steady respiration is essential in any high-pressure situation, and turning hot laps aboard a works racebike on a chilly November day is no picnic.
DUCATI'S 916 SUPERBIKE HAS BEEN a tremendous hit since day one. Its soul-stirring sound and impressive engine performance, combined with telepathic handling and gorgeous styling, give it all the makings of a true sportbike icon. When you’ve got something this good, why mess with it?
SO, EDWARDS-SAN, PLEASE TELL US what you think of the Road Star." Lord love a duck...nothing like being put on the spot. After an enjoyable all-day bop around California’s wine country aboard the 1602cc V-Twin, I was seated at the dinner table with the very men who’d birthed Yamaha’s newest baby, including project leader Mason Hashimoto.
World's tallest sportbike or swoopiest dual-sport? Whatever it is, it's grand!
THE INTREPID CYCLE WORLD ROAD TESTER WAS MINDING HIS OWN BUSINESS AT A TRAFFIC light when up pulled a kid on a GSX-R. The youngster flipped up his faceshield, looked down at the testbike, up at the rider, then down at the bike again. What ensued next was entirely predictable.
No losers, only winners as Honda’s CR250R, Kawasaki’s KX250, KTM’s 250SX, Suzuki’s RM250 and Yamaha’s YZ250 duke it out for motocross supremacy
A Final Word
WHEN THE BULLETS HAD STOPPED FLYING AND the dust had settled, one motorcycle stood tall amidst the carnage of worn knobs, tattered graphics on scarred plastic, bent rims and the lingering smell of spent premix. For that sole survivor, victory was assured-until you considered that there was another moto to be run, with the potential for a different victor.
LIGHTNING CLUBMAN...SPITFIRE MK II SPECIAL...650 LIGHTNING. THESE 1960s BSA TWINS strike many chords in memory that I didn't know I had. My eyes alight on their bulging and distinctive Gold Star-style primary covers, their wobbly-web rear hubs and all the textures-chrome, cad plate, painted steel, the soft luster of Dunlop alloy rims.
YOU REALLY OUGHT TO FIX UP THIS BIKE AND RACE it," said Bob Cawood, gesturing toward a wrecked, fairly grungy BSA Spitfire Hornet 650. Though barely a year old, the 1965 Hornet was languishing on “Death Row,” the designated area in the service shop where all terminally crippled bikes got parked to await being stripped of every usable piece.
YEAH, WE’VE GOT MIXED FEELINGS ON the camouflage design, too. But if you can get past a graphic scheme that seems counter-intuitive for conspicuity on a motorcycle, you’ll find a sporty, light and protective cordura coat. Manufactured in the U.S.
IF YOU'RE NOT A CARL FOGARTY FAN—OF WHICH there may be few in the U.S.-you might argue there was a helluva lot of luck involved in his recapturing the World Superbike Championship. Fogarty’s Ducati teammate, Troy Corser, who was leading the 1998 title chase going into the final round at Sugo, Japan, took himself out on the warm-up lap.
It was a show of strength for Honda, led by none other than five-time 500cc World Champion Mick Doohan. With the Grand Prix season over, the Australian was high-speed window dressing for the Sugo MFJ GP, final round of the All-Japan National Championship.
In a motocross crisscross, two Americans will swap spots on the international scene. After seven years in Europe, Tallon Vohland, 26, will return to the U.S. with the Honda FMF team to contest the AMA 125cc Supercross and national titles.
I own, among several other bikes, a 1996 Suzuki Bandit 600, and I love it except for one annoying characteristic: the lengthy warm-up period. No matter what the ambient air temperature, the bike always requires a minimum of five miles of riding before the choke can be switched off and the idle speed returns to a reasonable rpm.
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.