JOHN BLOOR, TRIUMPH’S TOP MAN,R does not give interviews-well, not very often, anyway. I’ve just spent a half-hour on the phone with him. He called from Georgia, where he was visiting Triumph’s U.S. office just outside Atlanta. Interesting bloke, Mr. Bloor.
NEVER HAVE SO MANY MAGAZINES, buyer’s guides and sales brochures surrounded the old reading chair, nor the lamp oil burned so late on so many nights. It must be spring. Every year about this time, one of several revolving instincts rises out of the psychic mud like an alien space creature that never dies but keeps reinventing itself.
STAND ASIDE, TITANIUM AND CARBONfiber, beryllium is here. High-end racing engineers are fascinated with this silvery metal (symbol Be) because while it’s almost as light as magnesium, beryllium is one-third stiffer than steel.
Your treatise on BSA (“Come-Lately Classics,” CW, February) was the very definition of damning with faint praise. Hidden among Kevin Cameron’s otherwise accurate, if abbreviated, history of the marque were the jabbing needles of disdain passed down from the erroneous folklore of yore.
“The King’s Ride” (CW, April) was a wonderful piece. It took me back to 1974 when I was living in Ireland and feeding off the words of Motor Cycle News and Motor Cycle, two weekly tabloids, along with as many magazines as my 13-year-old’s allowance would afford me.
For the really, and we mean really, ambitious gearhead, Custom Chrome is offering the Fat Tire Motorcycle Kit. Essentially, it's a complete custom in a box. What you get for your $16,995 is almost everything but the paint and labor. Included are an unassembled 1340cc Harley-clone engine, a five-speed transmission, a full chassis setup that allows for a 180-series tire, and an abundance of nuts, bolts and washers, plus much, much more. Think of it as the ultimate do-it-yourselfer!
MICHAEL SAVAGE KEVIN SCHWANTZ LITHOGRAPH
Art, schmart-we say the best way to brighten up a room is to deck the walls with renderings of 500cc Grand Prix roadracers. This Michael Savage lithograph is a perfect example. It depicts 1993 World Champion Kevin Schwantz aboard his Lucky Strike Suzuki. The 20 x 26-inch piece even has autographs from both Schwantz and Savage. But act fast, because only 200 of the $70 lithos are available.
TAG T2 HANDLEBAR KIT
Upstart TAG Metals is awfully proud of its new T2 Handlebar, and claims that it is 20 percent stronger than similarly styled bars. Designed to fit late-model Japanese twostroke dirtbikes, it's made from aircraft-quality aluminum, and is thicker through the middle for added strength. Tapered ends accommo date stock grips and controls. Anodized in gray or gold, the $160 kit comes with barpad and mounting hardware.
ALPINESTARS SNAP SHOE
Can’t resist the latest and greatest in motorcycle-related footwear? Then make room in your closet for Alpinestars’ Snap Shoes. Trendily casual, they feature suede-andcanvas construction, nylon lining and a padded tongue and heel. They also have what Alpinestars calls an “aggressive sole,” which is PR-speak for textured molded-rubber. The $60 shoes are available in blue and black, in men’s sizes 3 to 12½.
AMSOIL MOTORCYCLE LUBRICANTS
Motorcyclists now have yet another option when it comes to lubricants. Venerable Amsoil claims to have reformulated its synthetic oils to cater specifically to bikes. Both 20w50 and 10w40 weights are available, and the benefits touted by the company include improved cold-weather starting, reduced engine wear and corrosion protection. Pricing starts at $6 per quart.
SMITH CRUISER GOGGLES
Ah, the romantic image of the motorcyclist in helmet and goggles, leather jacket, the open road unfolding up ahead... Melodrama aside, you can tap into this with Smith’s new Laguna or Ortega street goggles. Both come with black urethane frames, lexan lenses and hypo-allergenic foam. Differences are that the $33 Laguna has a nose guard, and the $31 Ortega has a larger frame to fit over glasses.
Leave it to The Motor Company to ensure that the Harley faithful don’t end up all wet. Ever. Enter the Storm Cycle jacket and pants, H-D’s own raingear fashioned from breathable, waterproof nylon. At $190, the stylishly versatile jacket has a reflective back panel, cinched waist and rainskirt. The $165 pants come with zippered ankles and front bib, elastic boot straps and Nomex heat shields.
CRUZ CONCEPTS WHEELS
For those easily distracted by shiny objects, Cruz Concepts wheels are definitely things that make you go hmmmm... Christened the Centaur, the machined-from-billet-aluminum hoops fit latemodel Kawasaki Vulcan 750, 800 and Classic models. Both are bolton applications, and are available in front and rear sizes. Suggested retail price is $1820 per set.
THINGS ARE HEATING UP AT Victory Motorcycles, Polaris Industries’ bike division. Just last year, the ATV, snowmobile and watercraft manufacturer launched its first two-wheeler, the V92C. Now, blurry spy photos culled from Victory’s California proving grounds have surfaced.
EXCELSIOR-HENDERSON stock dropped 23 percent in early April following the start-up company’s announcement that its losses for 1999 will be significantly higher than expected. Per share price fell from $7.69 to $5.69 before rallying to just under $6.
Whatever happened to legendary German marque Maico? A few months ago, the newly Dutchbased company appeared to be on track, producing 250 and 500cc enduros and motocrossers. Recently, though, the factory has gone bankrupt, and anyone associated with the company has been served papers.
BMW’s oldest U.S. retailer, AMOL Motorcycles in Dumont, New Jersey, is no longer affiliated with the German marque. AMOL was founded in 1950 by Alfred Matzner and Oscar Liebmann, and its employees have included Udo Gietl, who built the Butler & Smith R90S that won the inaugural AMA Superbike Championship in 1976.
THE AUTOKRAFT COLLECtion-101 bikes in all, including five KTT Velocettes, four Manx Nortons, four AJS 7Rs and 20 speedway machines-recently went under the gavel at the RAF Museum in Hendon, England. Under the wings of Tiger Moths and Spitfires, 600 dealers, private collectors, museum owners and restorers gathered to bid against absentee buyers telephoning from the U.S.
Borrowing its moniker from Michelin’s popular car tires, the all-new Pilot Race combines a radial casing and zero-degree belting with opposing 45-degree cross plies. The result, company spokesmen say, is remarkable grip and stability.
"Trippy” is the word that best describes this issue’s cover. To illustrate CW’s 125cc motocross comparison, the four Japanese bikes in question were depicted through a fisheye lens shot from-really-a hole in the ground. Oohh, the Seventies!
IN JAPAN, TWO-STROKE STREETbike emissions have become prohibitively strict. While Suzuki and Yamaha will likely make small-displacement twostrokes well into the next millennium, Honda has announced that it will cease two-stroke production in 2002.
UP: To London’s Ace Cafe, for keepin’ on. Last March, an underground water main located just below the cafe’s parking lot exploded. Several bikes were thrown skyward and then buried under more than a ton of asphalt. The ruptured pipe caused 25 feet of water to flood traffic on busy North Circular Road, submerging dozens of cars.
WITH AN AGGRESSIVE moniker, knock-out paint and its own roadrace series, MZ’s Skorpion Sport Cup is oozing with potential. Or so it would appear. Confused? Consider the bike’s MSRP: At $6695, the Sport Cup is MZ’s least expensive sportbike (the dual-purpose Mastiff and Baghira retail for $6595 and $6195, respectively).
GO ON, ADMIT IT: You want this bike, you neeeed this bike. What’s the bottom line, you say, where do I sign? Hey, whoa ’er down there, Mr. Trump. Having the cash is not always enough. Particularly when demand exceeds supply and a qualified race resume is a prerequisite.
DURING MOST OF THE 1970S, IT APPEARED that Honda was switching to the car market and de-emphasizing motorcycles. First the Civic and then the Accord autos achieved major success. On the motorcycle side, the models were unexciting if reliable.
AT FIRST GLANCE, MARK NORRIS’ DUCATI MONSTER doesn’t look that trick. Then, you look closer-and there goes the afternoon. “This particular Monster is probably the most modified of any, anywhere,” boasts the proud owner. “Truly, there are few original parts left.
WHERE CRUISERS GO, CUSTOMIZERS ARE SOON TO follow. For evidence we present the very first chopped Victory, brought to you by acclaimed mod-man Denny Berg. Commissioned by Cobra Engineering, the Victory started life as a standard-issue V92C. Not for long with Berg spinning the wrenches.
WHAT’S THE WORLD COMING TO? THESE DAYS, YOUR dentist probably trolls Main Street on a custom Softail fergawdsakes! How to stand out in a sea of me-too Hogs? Meet Tom Shiffilea. “I got tired of everybody having a Harley,” explains the 60-year-old.
IF PERSEVERANCE IS A VIRTUE, THEN BILL JONES IS A CANDIdate for sainthood. The New Jersey advertising manager owns one of the finest street-going Harley-Davidson XR-750s we've laid eyes on. Only problem, it's taken Jones the better part of a decade to make the bike right.
SURE, THE HARLEY WORLD IS KNOWN FOR OUTRAGEOUS CUSTOMS. SOME ARE beautiful, some humorous and a few are even obnoxious. But they all have one thing in common: They didn’t come from the Harley-Davidson factory. Until now. Behold what The Motor Company can do when it sets its mind to it.
THE COWBOY MIGHT BE THE MOST CAPTIvating image that America has ever created. He is lonesome, yet gallant. Romantic, yet masculine. Sitting high in the saddle astride his regal-looking steed, he embodies rugged strength, fierce independence, and all that is pure and good in the world.
YEARS AGO, A NON-MOTORCYCLING FRIEND OF MINE said he was able to get through only half of Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance before he threw the book on the floor, jumped out of his reading chair and said, “Okay! Where’s my bike?" Melissa Holbrook Pierson’s The Perfect Vehicle may have a similarly enlivening effect on initiates to the sport, because the book presents such an engaging and intelligent look at the motorcyclist’s world.
CONTRARY TO THIS BOOK’S TITLE, NOT ALL OF DUCATI’S 50 years have been golden. The Italian manufacturer’s history is pockmarked with dubious marketing decisions, dark periods under state ownership and money troubles. During WWII, when the Ducati factory made electronics, it literally was reduced to rubble by Allied bombers.
WHEN THIS TWO-VOLUME SET OF HARLEY-DAVIDSON coffee-table books showed up at the CW offices, it was with great ceremony. These books are B-I-G, as in 11 x 12½ inches and a combined 706 pages. Suffice to say that Ride Free Forever is no small read.
BY NOW, YOU’VE PROBABLY HAD it up to here with this new-millennium thing. God forbid the Y2K bug shuts down the world’s computer-based infrastructure, where will we be then? If we’re smart, we’ll be heading north at 20 per on a Rokon Ranger.
WE HERE AT CYCLE WORLD TAKE THIS TEN BEST BIKES THING PRETTY darn seriously. To commemorate the 24th anniversary of what has become the motorcycle industry's most prestigious awards. we, the editorial staff, sequestered ourselves in the wine cellar of the Lido Shipyard Sausage Factory, and like bishops electing a new pope, vowed not to come out until we'd reached a consensus.
Cagiva’s funky-but-fun, Ducati 900-powered Gran Canyon is a shoo-in for a Ten Best award. Only problem is, in which class? Is it the Best OpenClass Streetbike? The Best Dual-Purpose Bike? The Best Standard? Suffice to say, it’s the Best OpenClass Dual-Purpose Standard. And one of our favorite rides-regardless of class.
If the Suzuki SV650 had come out in 1994, it would have been named Best Bargain Bike, no contest. And if the SV had come out in 1988, it would have been named Best 650cc Streetbike. This year it’s a strong runner-up for Best Standard. Light, agile and eager with maybe the best-ever middleweight V-Twin motor, all yours for a mere $5699. What are ya waitin’ for?
Bargain Cruiser of 1999? You’re looking at it: The $7799 Yamaha V-Star 1100 offers all the chrome-plated, teardrop-tanked, lowriding, piston-pounding appeal of other V-Twin mega-cruisers, but costs literally thousands of dollars less than its Japanese contemporaries-not to mention about 60 percent of the price of a Twin Cam Harley...
What kind of world would we live in if Yamaha’s YZF-R1 went away empty-hando ed from Ten Best? Not one that we would A want to live in, anyway. Suzuki’s ^ GSX1300R Hayabusa is the fastest thing on two wheels, and a worthy winner of this year’s Best Superbike honors. But when it comes to laying waste to a wriggling ribbon of road, the R1 is still Cycle World's weapon of choice.
Go ahead, push the button. Isn’t that a lot easier than kickstarting? Even purists agree the magic button is a wonderful addition to a dirtbike-particularly an entry-level dirtbike-as long as it doesn't add much weight. And that’s exactly the case with Yamaha’s new TTR250. The only question is, where’s the dual-purpose version?
FILE A POLICE REPORT! OUR LONGterm YZF-R1 is missing from the moto pool. Wait! Call off the bloodhounds. Turns out, the culprit is Andy Leisner, a CW ad guy with “ex250cc Grand Prix roadracer” stamped on his resume. During the past few weeks, Leisner, who makes his home at the base of SoCal’s famed Angeles Crest Highway, has been accruing lots of miles-and burning up Bridgestone BT56s.
WHETHER OUT OF NECESSITY OR vanity, billet-aluminum tripleclamps have become quite fashionable in the off-road scene. In addition to providing that “works” look, they can reposition the stock handlebar mounts for improved rider comfort.
IT TAKES MOXIE TO NAME YOUR RIDING jacket after a tropical cyclone, but the folks at Belstaff have faith in their product. Well-placed, we'd say, after sampling the Typhoon. Better known for its traditional waxed-cotton riding jackets (still sold 40 years after their inception), U.K.-based Belstaff has been reorganized and now offers a complete line of leather and nylon gear, too.
IN TERMS OF COMFORT, WHAT YOU WEAR under your riding gear can prove a critical addition to your wardrobe. Oakley’s new long-sleeve undershirt can make nearly any protective garment more pleasant to wear. Called the Polypro Jersey, it is made almost entirely (92 percent) of polypropylene, a silken synthetic fabric commonly used in ski socks, among other products.
MODERN RACING, AS HARD AS IT IS TO ADMIT, is not driven by passion or competitive spirit or technology. It's driven by money. The ultra-exotic Grand Prix machinery circulating the world's road courses are billboards for sponsors who have provided money-and lots of it.
Carl George Fogarty, Member of the British Empire, family man, resident of the Mellor Parish in England’s rural Lancashire, also happens to be the winningest World Superbike racer in history-a point he underscored convincingly at the 1999 WSB opener at South Africa’s Kyalami circuit.
I own a 1995 BMW R100GS and am in search of a K&N air filter element that will fit in the stock airbox. I’ve had no luck in locating one, and when I called K&N, they told me they had no listing for any R100 model of 1990 or newer. I find it perplexing that K&N makes air filters for bikes like a 1985 Cagiva Elefant or a 1955 BMW R500 or a 1971 Honda SL70 but does not have something for my bike.
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