l.GO FOR A LONG RIDE WITHOUT A helmet. 2. Go for a short ride without any clothes. 3. Attend the Isle of Man TT at least once, say hello to the fairies. 4. Attend Daytona Bike Week at least once, say hello to the strippers. 5. Attend the Sturgis Rally at least once, say hello to the trailer queens.
"No, I DON’T NEED TO BORROW ANY off-road riding equipment,” I told my friend Gary Elmer over the phone. “I haven’t ridden a dirtbike since I did the Barstow-Vegas dual-sport ride 11 years ago, but I still have all the gear from my desert riding days in California.”
SOMETIMES I WONDER ABOUT BEING interested in things. What if I awoke one morning and didn’t care any more? When I was heavily involved in racing, I discovered that this is a more serious question than it at first seems. It can happen, and when it does, it’s very puzzling.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love every picture and article in the January issue, but what gives with these prices? Victory V92SC: $14,399. Cobra Titan: a “heart-stopping” $48,250 (your words, not mine). Yamaha “Rogue Star” custom: “30 large” (large to me is $100, but I’m sure it’s $1000).
Got some extra coin to invest in your sportbike? Then check out Öhlins’ high-end hydraulics. The inverted fork ($2495), shock absorber ($1041) and steering damper ($572) use technology derived from the company’s more pricey racing components. Hence, they're endowed with high-tech features such as friction-reducing coatings, lightweight metals and CNC-machined bracketry. All three are externally adjustable, and available for select late-model sportbikes.
PRO PAD TOP PAD
Taking care of your tush doesn't necessarily mean buying a new saddle. Rather,it can be simple as strapping on a Pro Pad Top Pad. Designed to reduce vibration and therefore increase comfort, it fits cruisers, standards and touring bikes. The polymer-infused pad is covered with black leather or quilted fabric, and has a non-slip bottom. It secures with an elastic strap and adjustable clips. Price ranges from $40 to $110, depending on saddle size.
DP BRAKES HH+ PADS
Stop the presses! DP Brakes’ newest pads are said to have the highest friction rating available for street use. Designated Supersport HH+ (as opposed to HH), they fit front applications only. Their “extreme” stopping power is due to new sintered-metal compounding. The pads also contain graphite to reduce rotor wear and noise. Suggested retail price is $37 per set.
Every little bit helps when you’re touching up your motorcycle. Which is where Iso-Grips from KuryAkyn come in. Designed to inhibit vibration, the chrome grips incorporate black rubber for a soft, non-slip surface. Bonus is that recessed areas between pads allow for cooling during warmer weather. Colorful inserts add flair. They cost $50 per set, and are available in both 1-and ⅞-inch versions to fit most cruisers.
Moisturizer is necessary for keeping skin—any skin—supple. Just ask your wife. And since leather is cowhide, enter Leatherem, a liquid enrichener that’s been in the works for 10 years. Said to contain 70 percent more natural oils than its competitors, it applies easily, penetrates deeply and dries quickly. Plus, its scent is supposed to mimic that of, well, leather. Leatherem is available in 8-ounce bottles for $24, or 4-ounce containers for $12. A plastic scrub brush is also included.
Off-roaders everywhere, rejoice, because the Motorax makes it easier and safer to haul dirtbikes. Constructed from sturdy but lightweight steel tubing, the powdercoated rack locates up to three dirtbikes. It also accommodates two 5-gallon gas containers. Easy to install, it fits any size pickup, van or trailer. Available in red, red or red, the Motorax costs $250.
Considering how pricey one-piece leather suits are, post-ride posturing while the sleeves drag the ground is criminal. A cure comes in the form of Helimot’s Heli-Belt. Simply doff the upper half of the suit, then secure the 1.5-inch-wide leather-and-elastic strap at your waist via velcro. No more droop! XXS-XXXL waist sizes are available, as are a variety of colors. Suggested retail price is $15.
JARDINE TITANIUM SLIP-ONS
Love the look and weight savings of a titanium exhaust, but can’t cotton to the cost of a complete system? Jardine offers a more affordable alternative with its titanium RT-One slip-ons. Fitted with stainless-steel cores, the mufflers are available for most late-model sportbikes (Honda VTR1000F shown) and mount in minutes. Prices start at $436, and hardware is included. For best results, Jardine recommends also installing a Dynojet carburetor-recalibration kit.
HO-BOY, THINGS ARE rockin' at Harley these days. First comes the stellar Twin Cam 88 Big Twin, then the Buell Blast beginner bike, and now this. What these murky, shot-on-the-fly spyshots depict is the first visible evidence of a linkup between German automaker Porsche and Harley-Davidson.
Alan Forbes spent the past 25 years pushing Indians overseas. Figuratively speaking, of course. Now he’s built a bike, the $33,000 Dakota. Forbes’ impetus? Ten years ago, when told he owed now-jailed con-man Phillip Zanghi 25 percent of all Indian-related earnings, he applied for and was granted U.K. rights, which encompass England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Sothebys is looking for a few good bikes—50 to 100, to be exact—for its September motorcycle and bicycle auction in Chicago. Besides concours restorations, authentic originals and racebikes with history, the auction house is especially desirous of “high-end consignments, anything from the pre-’16, brass & gas era,” says event consultant Mike Fitzsimons.
MOTORCYLING'S TRAVeling road show is at it again. Following record-setting runs in New York and Chicago, “The Art of the Motorcycle” exhibit went international last November, opening at the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum in northern Spain. Before it closes this April 23, more than a half-million people are expected to attend.
This month’s issue was loaded with surprises. On the off-road side of the fence, Bultaco’s 250 Pursang was credited as the Spanish bike maker’s first attempt at a mass-produced, forward-mounted-shocks motocrosser. It also came with a reversible rear hub and a through-the-cases shift shaft, allowing the rider to choose on which side of the bike he wanted to select gears.
WHEN PERMISsion was finally granted to reinstate “open pipe” historic racing at Goodwood’s World War II airfield circuit, it was never Lord March’s intention to simply promote another retro-meet for kindred spirits. After all, “Gooders” had been Britain’s favorite post-war racetrack 'til noise issues forced closure in the late Sixties.
Faced with the task of topping the trio of custom FXRs it introduced last year, Harley-Davidson’s Custom Vehicle Operation group looked to the 'strip, specifically Lori Francis' NHRA Pro-Stock dragbike with its Willie G.-penned styling cues.
UP: To Los Angeles-based New Times magazine, for its entertaining cover story on the 1999 Willow Springs 24-Hour. Typical was author Michael Gougis' description of a nighttime pit stop: "Fresh riders, anxious to rejoin the fight, pin their throttles open leaving the pits; bikes with their blinding racks of headlights slam past just a few feet away in a mechanical crescendo that drowns out the incessant jackhammer sound of the generators powering the pit lights.
YAMAHA IS LEAVING NO stone unturned. When it sees an opening in the market, it attacks with gusto. If a competitor's bike is merely adequate, company engineers build something better. The booming playbike market is the explanation for the new TT-R125L, which is designed to fit aspiring off-roaders who are too small for a 200cc Thumper, or are in the size/experience gap between 80 and 125cc two-strokes.
Take away what isn’t necessary and you’re left with Yamaha’s year-2000 YZF-R1
I FELT LIKE HAMLET’S FATHER. MULTIPLE TIME zones, awake when I should be sleeping, sleeping when I should be awake, too much rioja on too many flights that lasted too long, fish eyeballs served on a cracker as an appetizer to a main course of “steak” that seemed more likely to have been a flambéed slice of Franco’s thigh, all whipped itself into a cocktail of nondescript pain and low-grade suffering that conspired to make me feel like a victim.
EXITING THE LONG, FAST RIGHT-HANDER, I PIN THE THROTTLE and drift onto the paint at the track's edge. The tach needle blurs as the engine screams toward redline. Down two gears, skim the brakes. Set up for a fast right followed by an uphill left.
STOP TOYING WITH OUR EMOTIONS, ALREADY! THE LAST Aprilia CW reviewed ("Mighty Mille," November, 1998) got everybody's blood boiling, only to have the bike's stateside arrival meet with uncertain delay. The initial enthusiasm for the ultra-sexy, high-tech Italian-built Twin began to wane with time, replaced by growing doubts as to Aprilia’s commitment to the American market.
A French dealer builds the bike the factory was afraid to
VOXAN WENT TO LAST FALL'S PARIS SHOW TO DEMONSTRATE TAHT ITS French-designed-and-built machines were reaching production. They were upstaged by an unofficial prototype on their own pavilion—the Voxan Boxer VB1. This machine was created by Boxer Design, a group directed by Thierry Henriette, himself a Voxan dealer, with consultation from British stylist Glynn Kerr.
TWo years ago, the French said we'd have bikes by now. So where are they?
FRANCE IS A NATION INTENSELY conscious of its own history and importance—where laws are made to prevent foreign words and usages from creeping into the language. Imagine, therefore, the position of French motorcycle enthusiasts. A pioneer of motoring at the turn of the century, France evolved a strong, multi-brand domestic motorcycle industry only to lose it all to economic depression and war.
Ducati will produce the MH900e, but you can’t have one
FIRST YOU LUSTED FOR HER, THEN she became available, now it's too late. Ducati chose the 1999 Bologna Motor Show to unveil the highly anticipated production version of the Mike Hailwood 900 Evoluzione, and to announce the revolutionary e-commerce marketing plan through which the bike would be sold.
WHEN ERIK BUELL AND COMPANY SET OUT TO BUILD THE ideal entry-level motorcycle, they knew that first and foremost, the bike had to be a kick to ride. Sure, focus groups and marketing studies unearthed key design elements aimed at seducing non-riding Gen-Xers into the two-wheel fold, but does the bike’s performance and fun factor live up to its name?
It's all new, but it's rooted in the machine that is Milwaukee
WHEN BUELL DESIGNED THE Blast, the company had a shopping list of characteristics and goals: The Blast should be inexpensive but not cheap. It should be fun to ride but not an intimidating rocket. It should be stone-ax durable, because as Erik Buell says, it’s important that a machine designed to expand the number of motorcyclists "be passed on and used for years and years."
Small, economical motorcycles have been a tough sell, but Buell and Harley think they have some answers
ENRTY-LEVEL MOTORCYCLES haven't exactly leapt from showrooms in the past decade,but Buell and Harley-Davidson are planning to reverse that trend with the Blast. How? To start with, the two companies worked hard to understand who their potential customers are.
THE YEAR WAS 1975,BUT THE SETTING was smack-dab mid-Fifties. The charismatic Arthur Fonzarelli, resplendent in white leather for once, prepared to jump his silver Triumph over 14 garbage cans in the parking lot of local hangout Arnold’s.
WHILE FONZIE'S BIKE MAY HAVE BEEN THE ESSENCE OF COOL TO tHOSE GROWing up in the 1970s, his Trophy is something of a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to famous Triumphs. There were many that came before it, and they were often ridden by larger-than-life characters who were more than figments of some Hollywood scriptwriter's imagination.
AS WITH MOST OF MY MOTLEY CREW of collectibles, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I'd bought the mongrel Triumph—seized of cylinder, leaky of lubricant, fading of paint—with plans of returning it to its former dirtbike glory. Five years later, I was still tripping over its sorry carcass in the garage.
IN CASE YOU HAVEN'T NOTICED, now is the time for the rebirth of the four-stroke off-road bike. Latest of the Y2K Thumpers? The Suzuki DR-Z400, which replaces the outdated DR350, and on paper at least, appears ready to do it all. Inside the compact engine are all the right ingredients for performance and pleasure.
WHILE A MOTORCYCLE JACKET CAN’T halt a speeding bullet, the Force Four Ballistics Jacket from Marsee Products offers plenty of protection and comfort for the high-energy rider. Representing the fourth generation of the original Marsee ballistics jacket, the new Force Four is loaded with updates.
A FULL DAY OF ROOSTING IS OVER, AND your dirtbike is a mess. What do you do? If you own a RecTek DirtWorker, you simply tidy it up right there on the spot. The portable pressure washer is made from high-impact plastic, weighs 17 pounds empty and holds 5 gallons of water.
IF YOU'VE EVER SEEN A TOP ROADRACER’S hands, you’ll know why Spidi's Carbo 1 gloves exist. That is, to prevent the kind of soft-tissue damage that many racers have endured during their multitudinous crashes. The Carbo 1 gloves are the next step up in both cost and protection from the popular Carbotech gloves.
WITH THE POSSIBLE EXCEPTION OF rodeo cowboys and B&D queens (now there's a pairing!), nobody spends more time in boots than the dedicated motorcyclist. A good boot can be a rider's best friend, fending off tire-tossed rocks and exhaust-pipe burns while keeping the tootsies warm and dry.
WANT A SOPHISTICATED OVERVIEW OF GRAND PRIX motorcycle roadracing, but don’t know where to start? Dorna, which handles GP media distribution, and Hazleton Publishing, which issues the beautiful GP annual Motocourse, have collaborated to produce a fine coffee-table volume commemorating the 50th anniversary of FIM GP racing.
A WISE MAN ONCE SAID THAT KNOWLEDGE ISN'T KNOWING the answer to a question, but knowing where to find it. And when it comes to questions about Bimota motorcycles, the answers can all be found in Bimota, 25 Years of Excellence. Author Giorgio Sarti is vice president of the Bimota Club of Italy, so he's well versed in the history of the legendary Italian coachworks.
POST-RIDE BENCHRACING IS ONE OF LIFE'S MORE ENJOYable little pleasures. Which is most likely why it's the catalyst for B.T. Bullet's Tales from Over the Edge. And no doubt why the book is such a fun read. All about motorcycling adventures on Highway 1 in Northern California’s Marin County, the softbound 527-page (!) tome is more like a journal than a literary work.
Will Grand Prix racing survive without Mick Doohan?
ENTERING ITS 52ND YEAR,GRAND PRIX MOTORCYCLE roadracing is posied somewhere between castastrophe and paradise. Shackled to a dated, multi-class displacement format and running unfashionable and exclusive two-stroke engines, it has become out of touch with real motorcycling.
December is Dunlop tire test time. Most teams bring last year's bikes for this three-day session because the machines are ready. The goal is not quick lap times, but to discover how the new tires fit into existing chassis setups, and to make necessary adjustments.
I have a 1997 Harley-Davidson Dyna Wide Glide. About two months ago, I had a local Harley mechanic install a Crane cam, a Mikuni carb and a set of Vance & Hines pipes. The bike ran okay for a couple of hundred miles, but then it started making mechanical noises that kept getting worse.
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