SEEMS YOU CAN’T SWING A KICK-starter these days (you do remember those, don’t you?) without bumping into a motorcycle awards ceremony. We’re all for giving out gold, but c’mon, Best Normally Aspirated Middleweight Nostalgic Cruiser, Three Cylinders Or Less...?
ABOUT A MONTH AGO, I WALKED INTO A southern Wisconsin motorcycle shop, Mischler’s BMW/Harley, just to look around, and immediately noticed a beautifully restored Norton 850 Commando parked among the usual lineup of used Harleys and BMWs.
THE NUMBERS TELL US THAT THE INternal-combustion piston engine is a friction-ridden device, its mechanical efficiency about 85 percent. That means, roughly, that for every 100 horsepower we get from it at the crankshaft, about 15 horses are being consumed in friction.
I just mailed in the check for my Cycle World subscription renewal, but after reading the January issue I think I may have been a little hasty. I was seriously miffed by your “American Flyers” feature on custom cruisers. I don’t think many CW subscribers want to read about lumps of iron that could have been put together by a talented 19th-century black smith.
Here’s proof positive that if it’s a cruiser, it can be customized. Although this R1200C was once standard-issue Beemer, it’s now full of vim and vigor via Ride West BMW. All together, it would cost approximately $25,000. But take each way-cool part individually, and things become more affordable. Fancy the funky floorboard kit? Yours for $760. Or that stylish caliper cap? A mere $300. And who says a $1500 paint job can’t be shipped UPS? Ride West BMW, 8100 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115; 888/527-7433; www.ridewest.com
Ride West BMW
Crushable Cowboy Hat
Helmet hair really is the worst. And while this Crushable Cowboy Hat won't prevent a bad hair day, it will camouflage one. Fashioned from 100 percent wool, it can be rolled up to fit into a gearbag or fannypack. Plus, it's so resilliant that it retains its original shape when removed for post-ride wearings. Available in brown or black in men's sizes SXL, the western-style hat costs $60. Iron Horsemen, 1821 Boston Ave., Longmont, CO 80501; 303/684-9682; www.ironhorsemen.com
Ride West BMW
Pro Series Connecting Rod
$65 to $90
Show us a two-stroke engine in need of overhauling, and we’ll show you an IMS Pro Series connecting rod. Billed as “the best connecting rod available,” it’s forged from chromoly-steel, and comes highly polished. Also included are a forged crankpin, double-silver-coated bearings and silver-plated thrust washers. Suggested retail price ranges from $65 to $90, depending on application. IMS, 6240 Box Springs Blvd., #E, Riverside, CA 92507, 909/653-7720 www.proseriesrods.com
Ride West BMW
Even American-made motorcycles can benefit from Italian craftsmanship. Case in point, two new Ceriani forks for Harley-Davidson Evos and Twin Cams: the $2550 Conventional 45mm Wide Style Chrome Fork and the $2010 Black Satin Finish 55mm Inverted Fork. Both replace the stock 43mm Showas, and are designed by renowned forkman Enrico Ceriani; hence, features such as chromoly and aluminum construction, cartridge-style damping and optional lowering kits. Storz Performance, 239 S. Olive St., Ventura. CA 93001; 805/641-9540; www.storzperf.com
Ride West BMW
Star Wars Scooter
And now for something completely—and we mean completely—different. The newest electric scooter from Zapworld.com comes in the guise of a battle droid from Star Wars: Episode 1 The Phantom Menace. The 35-pound sci-fi scoot is powered by an electric drive system with a rechargeable 12-volt battery. Top speed is said to be approximately 13 mph, and price is $1000. May the force be with you... Zapworld.com, 117 Morris St., Sebastopol, CA 95472; 800/251-4555; www.zapworld.com
Ride West BMW
Motorcycle disc locks are a convenient form of theft prevention. But forget one’s on your wheel, and say good-bye to your front fender, speedo cable or whatever else the lock might hit. Designed to remind you that the lock is there, Lock!Block is a velcro-backed swatch of fabric that fits over your motorcycle’s ignition keyhole. It does this with easily attachable velcro tabs that are included in the $8 price. Sapphire Design Industries, 505 B Divis adero St., San Francisco, CA 94117; 415/440-3992; www.sdi@ sapphiredesign.com
Ride West BMW
The latest and greatest from Shoei is a mid-priced lid that borrows from its more costly counterparts. Dubbed the X-tec, it has a slew of innovative features including a removable and washable molded-foam liner, a ventilation system with an adjustable two-way upper vent, inside air-routing channels and rear exhaust vents, and an anti-fog setup at the chin and forehead. It’s available in solid colors, graphics and racer-replica versions. Pricing starts at $444. Shoei Safety Helmet Corp., 371 Elizabeth Ln., #100, Corona, CA 92880; 909/520-0500; www.shoei-helmets.com
WELCOME TO THE FUture, when innovative and often surprising new designs leap to life with the wave of an artist’s paintbrush—or more appropriately as we enter the third millennium, the click of a computer mouse. Such is the case with this curvaceous trio: the much-anticipated replacement for Kawasaki’s ZX-7R, a possible Open-class Suzuki GSX-R and—hold on to your clip-ons, British sportbike fans—an outrageous four-cylinder from Triumph.
DOES the world need another 400cc four-stroke motocrosser? TM apparently thinks so. Best known for its world championship-winning go-kart engines, the Milan, Italy-based manufacturer already exports a slew of MXand enduro-spec two-strokes, their displacements ranging from 80 to 300cc.
Portrayed as the “tough guy/girl ride to the end of the Earth,” the dual-purpose Alaska Expedition 2000 combines 3600 miles of mostly gravel roads with in-the-wild camping. “There will be no chase van, no guides and no motels,” says event organizer R.C. McQueen of Great American Motorcycle Adventures.
WITH THE REFLEXES OF a feline, Laverda has reacted to the success of Ducati’s best-selling Monster 750 and created a V-Twin naked bike of its own. Called the Lynx, the Suzuki SV650-powered machine is meant to fill a perceived void in the Italian company’s lineup.
Achin’ for a street-goin’ two-stroke? Walter Roehrich feels your pain. Which is why the Illinois machinist designed and built his homespun Bimota Vdue. Created by grafting two YZ250 motocross cylinders onto a common crankcase, the liquid-cooled, 60-degree V-Twin makes 102 horsepower at the rear Dunlop.
"Honda l000cc Four, The Gentleman’s Choice" was the cover headline enticing readers to purchase this month’s issue. Buyers weren’t disappointed either, as a comprehensive road test of the then-new GL1000 spanned 10 full pages. The bike’s opposed-Four was the main attraction, taking center stage in photographs of the unfaired machine.
AUTOMOTIVE LEASING, while not exactly the rule, is still more than just the exception. According to the people at Kelly Blue Book, car leasing has been on the increase for the last eight years or so. In 1999, approximately 30 percent of the cars on the market were leased.
Forthcoming MZs will be powered by a supercharged 750cc parallel-Twin capable of making 128 horsepower at the crankshaft, reports England's weekly Motor Cycle News. Germany's Weber, which teamed with Swissauto to develop MZ's pole-position-winning, 500cc, two-stroke V-Four GP racer, is be hind the new powerplant.
DOWN: To our pals at Premiere magazine, for giving an old up-pipe Triumph a fate it didn’t deserve. Initially employed as a sit-on prop for a cover shoot with actor Ben Affleck, the time-worn machine was later chucked on its gearcase with the leather-trousered star chest-down—faux crash—on the tarmac.
NEVER LET IT BE SAID THAT Yamaha doesn’t have a cruiser for everyone. Situated amongst the Road Stars and Royal Stars, for example, is the V-Star line, which is largely oriented toward newer, less-experienced riders. The hope, of course, is that buyers will embrace the motorcycling lifestyle, and eventually upgrade to the bigger, more costly machines.
Honda's CBR929RR uses EFI, HVIX, HTEV and a pivotless frame to put pressure on Yamaha's YZF-R1
SEE THAT BOXY, TITANIUM THING located between the header pipes and collector on Honda's all-new CBR929RR? It's an exhaust valve that, depending on engine rpm, rotates into one of two positions, effectively altering exhaust volume to best suit bottom- or top-end performance.
HOW YOU LOOK AT HONDA’S ALL-NEW RC51 V-TWIN depends upon which side of the World Superbike wars your allegiance lies. For reigning series champ Ducati, it’s the classic, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” argument. The small Italian manufacturer has humbled the Japanese giant and forced Honda to play by its rules.
WITH THE SWEET TASTE OF VICtory fresh in its mouth, Kawasaki is anxiously anticipating this year’s World Supersport Championship. Scotsman Iain MacPherson won the final two rounds of the 1999 season, placing him second overall for the year.
Spirit and performance to nourish the soul and tear up the road
DARKNESS BEGINS TO SEEP INTO YOUR spirit. The usual benign indifference of the universe suddenly looks pregnant with malice, as if at every turn all the great forces of chaos suddenly organize and rally to frustrate your every move. You know litany of pain: Bad work schedule gets worse, flat tire, broken-down truck (keys locked inside!), each difficulty coming at the most awkward time and compounding the next until you come to a point where a snapped shoelace just might push you over the edge.
SAVANNAH, GEORGIA, IS A WONDERFULLY CHARMING CITY SO blessed with colonial and antebellum architecture that Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman spared it from his troops’ torches after setting the rest of the South ablaze. Legend holds that he presented the city to his wife as a gift.
IT’S ALWAYS THE SAME,” SAYS Shin Kondo. “A customer crashes his bike, then brings it to me to be repainted. I ask him how he wants it to look, and he says, 'I'll fax you a drawing.' But the drawing never comes. Finally, when I call him a month later, he asks, 'Can you paint it like your racebike?'" Sure, he can.
IN MOTORCYCLING, THE LINE BETWEEN high-tech and romance can get pretty mixed up. To the point, even, where one aspect influences the other well beyond its natural boundaries. Bimota’s two-stroke 500 V-2 Trophy (previously known as the Vdue) is just such a machine.
BAD ENOUGH THIS TWEAKED 900SS Duck was built by a Norton guy, but did he have to go and paint the blinkin’ thing a blasphemous yellow and blue? Looks like a two-wheeled sidekick of Mark Donahue’s old Sunoco Special Camaro, ferchrissake! Kenny Dreer of Vintage Rebuilds is like that.
GREAT WORKS OF ART REMAIN GREAT EVEN AFTER they’ve traded hands—possible, exception of Liz Taylor. And so goes the legend of the Lutz Laverda. Ed Lutz made his fortune in the computer network security business and squandered it on a garageful of European motorcycles.
MOTO PARILLA CAME AND WENT IN A HURRY. Beginning in 1946, the Italian manufacturer made motorcycles for about 20 years. In the United States, Parillas arrived in the late Fifties and disappeared shortly after production in Italy wound down in 1964.
LIKE A ROCK BAND THAT JUST LOST ITS FRONT MAN, PRO ITALIA MOTORS IS A shop in need of a new hit. For the last decade, Southern California’s premier European motorcycle establishment was managed by Earl Campbell, a man known for his mouth-watering customs featured in magazines worldwide.
OWNERS OF MODERN, TELELEVER-equipped BMW Twins are either blessed or cursed, depending upon your perspective. Blessed, because the Telelever replaces the traditional fork with a sort of semi-automotive “A-arm” setup that uses a single, centrally located coil-over shock.
HUMAN BEINGS, ON THE WHOLE, ARE A FICKLE lot. Always wanting what we can’t have. Desiring something bigger, something better, something other than what had kept us quite content up until now. And when, by chance, we do get that which we covet, we are by nature suspicious.
ONE OF THE MORE DELICIOUS aspects of Honda’s Valkyrie is the way it hurtles its immensity down the road. Trouble is, after a while you tend to take all that six-carb flat-Six force for granted, like gravity. Even the good-sounding stock exhaust note becomes aural wallpaper after a while.
Exploring the Best of the Old West aboard an Aprilia Pegaso, BMW R1150GS, Cagiva Gran Canyon, Honda Varadero, Moto Guzzi Quota and Triumph Tiger
Aprilia Pegaso 650 In the land of giants
BMW B1150GS Built like a Panzer
Cagiva Gran Canyon Sportbike in dirt duds
Honda XL1000V Varadero Land yacht
Moto Guzzi Quota 1100 ES Mulo Meccanico
Triumph Tiger Range Rover syndrome
QUOTA 1100 ES
T’WAS NEARLY CHRISTMAS, WHEN ALL THROUGH THE CABIN, not a creature was stirring, not even that rat-bastard Jimmy Lewis, who nestled snug under his electric blanket. I’d been awakened by an outside clatter, and when I sprang from my bed, tore open the shutter and all that, I saw what was the matter.
Retiring Mick Doohan reflects on what it takes to win five World Championships
AUSTRALIAN MICK DOOHAN HAS RETIRED AFTER WINNING FIVE CONSECUTIVE 500cc World Roadracing Championships on Honda NSR500s. His has not been an easy career. Beginning as a Grand Prix rookie on the Honda team in 1989, he took the usual three years to master the machine, the circuits and the unusual life.
From the very first heat race of the AMA EA Sports Supercross season, there was a visible difference. Through all the doubles, triples, diabolically spaced whoop-de-doos and whacked-out step-up jumps, one rider floated above the rest: Jeremy McGrath.
I own a 1997 Yamaha YZF600, and my wife loves riding on it with me everywhere I go. She wants to ride on her own, but she’s only 4-foot-10 and finds that even a bike like the Kawasaki Ninja 250 is too tall for her. The closest things I’ve been able to find that might fit her are an Aprilia RS50 and a Yamaha YSR50.