FIFTEEN SUMMERS AGO, THE NEW KID on the masthead, I was assigned to road test the very first Harley-Davidson FXST Softail, its frame stuffed full of then-new V2 Evolution motor. I had about as much Harley experience then as Tipper’s hubby has raw animal magnetism now, which is to say, bupkis.
“THIS IS THE LAST STRAW,” I SAID, hopping up and down while exhaling deeply and trying to zip up my racing leathers. “I gotta get in shape and lose some weight.” It was a pretty pathetic sight. There I was at Willow Springs last winter, taking part in a 600cc sportbike comparison test, trying to shoehorn my 6-1, 192-pound frame into a set of leathers once sold to a guy who looked just like me but weighed 172 pounds.
YOU BRAKE, YOU FLICK OVER INTO THE turn, and next you have to get your machine “gathered up”—set at the angle you want, on the trajectory you’ve chosen for the corner and on the throttle—all in one fluid action. Why not just coast around the turn and get on-throttle when you’re ready?
I just read the August issue, best one yet! A few comments: David Edwards’ observation that if you can’t or won’t start a motorcycle, it’s just a work of art (“Go Show,” Up Front), is right on the mark. I probably get more pleasure riding my R69S Beemer than the owner of that concours Triumph gets from his room full of trophies.
Inspired by a certain Indian bob-job we know of, Harley dealer Mike James built this Bomber Bike. The first in a limited-edition series, the Softail-based custom was torn apart and rebuilt by hand. It boasts special paint, a distressed-leather saddle, a cleaner-looking frame and extensive engine mods. Plus, everyone’s airbrush artist of choice Dawne Holmes provides the pin-up gas tank art. Her talent is also seen airbrushed on a matching leather bomber jacket that accompanies each bike. Pricing starts at $35,000. Santa Cruz Harley-Davidson, 1148 So quel Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95062; 831/421-9600
Mechanix Wear’s M-Pact Gloves are not for the faint of heart. Designed for hard-working mechanics, the machine-washable gloves are constructed with flexible yet abrasion-resistant material. They have padding at the palms, thumbs and index fingers, molded Thermoweld over the knuckles and reinforced fingertips. Available in a host of colors and sizes, they cost $35 per pair. Mechanix Wear, 24950 Anza Dr., Valencia, CA 91355; 661/257-0474
R SERIES SHOCKS
Fox Racing Shox is celebrating its silver anniversary in style. The firm is commemorating the event with its new R Series Shocks. Designed to fit Honda’s CBR600F4 and Yamaha’s YZF-R6 models, the $735 shock features a billet-aluminum body and a titanium/aluminum ride-height adjuster. R6 applications come with horizontal piggy-back reservoirs. Fox Racing Shox, 3641 Charter Park Dr., San Jose, CA 95136; 408/269-9201
IPF WHITEMAX BULBS
The IPF Headlight Replacement System could be called an enlightening product... Okay, sorry. Overt wordplay aside, IPF’s Whitemax Bulbs are designed to burn brighter than stock, but without drawing additional amps. They fit most streetbikes, use existing wires and plugs, and cost $42 apiece. ARB USA, 20 S. Spokane St., Seattle, WA 98134; 206/264-1669
Fulmer has revitalized the appearance of its venerable AF-300 helmet. While the company’s popular lid retains its standard padded interior and adjustable chin-and-forehead ventilation, it’s gotten some extra oomph for its clear-coat, fiberglass shell. In other words, new graphics. Four funky color combinations are now available for the $99 helmet, which comes in sizes S-XXL. Fulmer Helmets, 122 Gayoso Ave., Memphis, TN 38103; 901/522-1222
$189 to $249
When it comes to tricking out sexy Italian sportbikes (read: Ducatis), the folks at Fast By Ferracci have a stellar track record. Take, for example, their billetaluminum flywheel. Said to aid engine acceleration, it’s lighter than stock and fits most late-model Ducatis. Suggested retail price ranges from $189 to $249, depending on application. Fast By Ferracci, 1901 Davisville Rd., Willow Grove, PA 19090; 215/657-1276
ALPINESTARS DYNO JACKET
Leave it to Alpinestars to provide protective motorcycling apparel that doesn’t incur the wrath of the fashion police. Case in point, the Dyno Jacket. Available in four color combos, the full-grain leather wrap comes with a nylon liner, polyester padding and armor at the elbows and shoulders. The Dyno comes in men’s sizes 36-46, and its suggested retail price is $450. Alpinestars USA, 3860 Del Amo Blvd., #401 Torrance, CA 90503; 310/542-5996
KX60 GRAPHICS/SEAT KIT
Berg Racing just can’t leave Kawasaki’s KX60 alone. First the firm offered up a nifty automatic clutch for the mini, and now it’s put together a Graphics/Seat Kit to give the little KX big-bike sizzle. Available in Factory or Automatic versions, the $130 kit comes with stickers for the front and rear fenders, swingarm and fuel tank. Number-plate background and grippy seat cover are also included. Berg Racing, 2291 1/2 S. Grand Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92705; 714/754-1918
HOT ON THE HEELS OF MV Agusta's recent revival comes evidence of yet another new motorcycle bearing the name of a once-famous Italian marque. Long-dormant Benelli has resurfaced with an all-new, three-cylinder, 900cc sportbike named after the 1970s Tornado 650 Twin.
Italian scooter-maker Italjet is set to re-enter the motorcycle market with a rakish streetfighter powered by a 900cc Triumph Triple. The design is the work of company founder Leopoldo Tartarini, whose portfolio includes such works of art as the original Ducati 750SS and Darmah 900 Sport.
More than 1000 Harley owners joined together last May to set a world record for the longest motorcycle parade on the same brand of bike. The 14.2-mile ride took place in Dothan, Alabama, at the conclusion of the state’s H.O.G. rally. Besides setting the record, the purpose of the event was to improve community relations.
YAMAHA IS ENJOYING ITS most successful sales period in recent years. Thanks to its stunning YZF-R6 and YZF-R1 sportbikes, hugely popular YZ400F Thundercrosser and ever-broadening range of cruisers, the Japanese bike manufacturer now sets the standard in several market segments.
LOUIS VUITTON, PURVEYORS of exquisite luggage to the gentry, recently hosted its annual concours d'elegance at London's exclusive Hurling ham Club. On 40 acres of greenwood beside the Thames, 53 automobiles and 19 motorcycles competed for awards donated by Connolly Leather, Sotheby’s and Christies auctior houses, Veuve Clicquot champagne and Parfums Givenchy.
Six-time Supercross Champion Jeremy McGrath was unavailable for comment today, because he was taping a Mountain Dew radio spot. He was unavailable yesterday, because he was hosting a segment of ESPN2's "X Games." These activities follow closely on the heels of McGrath's starring role in Mazda's new B-Series pickup truck TV commercial, and an interview on the "Late Show with Craig Kilborn."
The cover photo of Roger DeCoster stylishly wheelying his factory Suzuki at the 1974 U.S. Grand Prix must have had motocross fans roosting to their local newsstands for a copy of this month's issue. If that exciting image wasn't enough to bait mud-minded readers, then perhaps the "Win A Bike!" cover blurb set the hook.
2000 KTM 400 & 520 E/XC Four-strokes of the future
"SORRY, SIR, YOU CAN ONLY have one: lighter weight or electric starting." If you're tired of hearing all the old excuses about four-stroke dirtbikes, wait 'til you see what KTM has on tap for the new millennium. By starting over from scratch, the Austrian company has engineered an all-new Thumper that is so small—no, make that tiny—that it's even thinner than current two-stroke engines.
DOWN: To fate, for robbing us of Rastus the riding cat. The famous feline, his owner Max Corkill and Max’s girlfriend Gaynor Martin all tragically perished in a motorcycle/car collision in New Zealand earlier this year. Rastus and Max were well-traveled, a fact recognized by the BMW Owners Club of America, which presented Rastus with an award for traveling 100,000 miles on a BMW K75RS. In remembrance, the Mainland Motorcycle Club is offering commemorative badges; to purchase one, send $20 and a selfaddressed stamped envelope to Max and Rastus Remembrance Appeal, P.O. Box 12-246, Beckenham, Christchurch, New Zealand.
It only took the biggest project in The Motor Company's history to produce the best Softail ever
Harley-Davidson Motor Co. Inc.
Harley-Davidson Motor Co. Inc.
FXSTF FAT BOY
IT LOOKS LIKE A HARLEY, BUT YOU KNOW THERE'S SOMETHING WEIRD THE first time you fire it up. It just sits there and idles smoothly—really smoothly. The engine doesn't jump around at low rpm the way those of the rubber-mounted Big Twins do.
WE HERE AT CYCLE WORLD HAVE developed a fondness for the frolic factor of Buell sportbikes. Having gotten our share of kicks aboard the raw-edged S1 Lightning, however, we've come to appreciate the well-rounded versatility of the softer-focused M2 Cyclone.
GOD’S VOICE THUNDERED ACROSS THE OWENS Valley, reverberating off the Sierras and filling the narrow, two-track sandwash with His presence. What our crack tester couldn’t figure out was the bad, Hollywood German accent He was using."Vaht ah you, schtupid?"
WITH ENOUGH WORK, ANYTHING is possible. Take, for example, BMW's 1999 Dakar Rally-winning F650 Funduro. Judging by all the Paris-to-Dakar Replica GSs out there, there's a reason BMW returned to Africa, and made it a point to come home a winner.
MOTO GUZZI IS NO LONGER Moto Guzzi. The legendary Italian bike-maker is now Moto Guzzi Corp., a publicly held and traded company headquartered in New York City—far from the famous (and still functioning) factory in Mandello del Lario.
IF YOU WANT TO BE remembered, be different. Be both different and handsome, and you have a chance for fame. Be handsome, different and effective, and your fame could rise to legend. It happened to Moto Guzzi’s V7 Sport. Its origins made the V7 Sport a long-shot for sporting fame.
How HAVE TWINS returned from oblivion to center stage? Their era seemed to end with the British industry in the early 1970s, giving way to endless elaboration of the four-cylinder engine. Now, everyone has a Twin. Twins are chic, almost reaching the status of art. Twins win races.
IN MY FAMILY, MY MOTHER WAS THE HANDY ONE, AND I learned from her that tools were the key to power over interesting things. A small child can accumulate quite a few things from indulgent adults, and I had a small chest, full of projects, parts and tools.
TRADITIONALLY, HARLEY-DAVIDSON’S fashion oeuvre has been somewhat limited to leather. After all, the stuff is stylish and a good safeguard against road rash. But times change, motorcyclists evolve and The Motor Company has added synthetics to its Motor-Clothes lineup.
FLATS SUCK. ACTUALLY, TECHNICALLY speaking, flats blow. Either way, the result is the same, and it ain’t good. Especially when you’re out in the sticks and the glue in your patch kit has dried up. Even when the gooey stuff works, sitting around waiting for it to cure really bites.
IT IS SOMETIMES SAID THAT MOTO GUZZI V-TWINS EXIST in a niche halfway between Harleys and BMWs—more sophisticated than the former, and more charismatic than the latter. Author Greg Field has already tackled Harley history in two excellent books, Harley-Davidson Panheads and Harley-Davidson Knuckleheads, and has now turned his full focus on Moto Guzzi.
Honda's V-Force, The Four-Stroke V4s on Road and Track
IF THERE IS AN ENGINE DESIGN THAT IS NEAR AND DEAR TO Honda's corporate heart, it is the four-stroke V-Four. And Honda's V-Force, written by motojournalist/race commentator Julian Ryder, is a balanced tribute to the Japanese company's long-standing commitment to that particular engine configuration.
Power Tech, Engine Science at the Track and on the Road, Part I
DETERMINED TO LEARN THE BASIC THEORY OF THE internal-combustion engine, you sit down with one of the standard textbooks. Twenty minutes later, you’ve gotten nowhere and are thinking about cleaning up the shop instead. You know you’re not stupid.
THE WORLD SUPERBIKE ROUND AT LAGUNA SECA IS AN anomaly. Although we Americans love to see our national stars win and place well there, it is all but irrelevant to the World Superbike Championship. Our riders contest only this one race, as wild-card entries, and are not in the title chase.
In a shock move, Kawasaki has decided not to renew its contract with supertuner Rob Muzzy. This calls for some explanation, because Muzzy is Mr. Superbike, the architect of many AMA Superbike titles and countless wins for Kawasaki.What’s going on?
I recently bought a brand-new, ’99 Honda VFR Interceptor 800, and I’ve found it to be even more wonderful than all the motorcycle magazines have claimed. Except for one thing: the constant whine that comes from the engine. I’ve already taken the bike on a couple of weekend trips, and by the time I got home, I had Excedrin Headache No.
Editorial offices are located at 1499 Monrovia Ave., Newport Beach, CA 92663. Editorial contributions are welcomed, but must be guaranteed exclusive to Cycle World. We are not responsible for the return of un-solicited material unless accompanied with a self-addressed, stamped envelope.