THERE REALLY IS NO SUCH THING AS A BAD motorcycle these days-the market (that’s you and me) just won’t stand for it. Of course, each year, there are some headand-shoulders outstanding machines. Those are the models we celebrate in our Ten Best Bikes balloting, this year in its 25th iteration.
THE MAN ARRIVED AT THE PEMEX GAS station on a well-seasoned XR600 Honda, wearily deployed the long kickstand and walked over to look at the Harley Ultra Classic Electra Glide and sidecar rig I’d been manhandling over the mountain roads of central Baja for four days.
NOT LONG AGO, I WAS RASSLING UP some burgers and happened to look at the spatula I was using. Where the thin stainless blade was riveted to the handle, a tiny line was visible. I ran a fingernail across it and it caught. Sure enough, a crack. Cracks form where stress is concentrated for any reason.
I’m writing because of your test on the Confederate America GT (CW, April). I have to wonder (and not for very long) if you’d have featured a bike called the Nazi Germany GT, and used a bemused “boys will be boys” tone in describing the founder’s motivation in naming the company.
There’s been some tweaking going on over at AGV. It seems the Italian helmet-maker has poked and prodded its top-of-the-line X-Vent. The result is new Valentino Rossi Mugello graphics, as well as revamped interior padding for a more comfortable fit and a new ventilation system. An antiscratch/anti-fog shield and a removable liner remain standard on the $525 lid. Then there’s the brand-new Bolt model, aimed at the touring crowd. Priced at $350, it incorporates a composite-fiber shell and the X-Vent’s ventilation and shield. It’s available in solid colors only. AGV 7311A Grove Rd., Frederick, MD 21704; 800/950-9006; www.agv.com
The nerve of some people! Implying that just because your pristine, concours-quality motorcycle is stored inside negates the need for further protective covering. Fortunately, Roadgear understands you and your bike’s needs. Hence, the Hibernator, a soft, breathable fleece that blankets your motorcycle. Billed as “ultimate indoor protection,” it is said to prevent condensation buildup and stave off all that pesky dust. It’s available in Regular ($59) and Jumbo ($69) sizes. Roadgear, 206 W. Elgin Dr., Pueblo West, CO 81007; 800/854-4327; www.roadgear.com
Tae Flex SRS motocross boots
While a dirt ’n’ asphalt combo makes for good action in supermotard racing, it’s murder on riders’ boots. Which brings us to Sidi’s Supermotard Kit. Designed to fit the Italian company’s Tae Flex SRS motocross boots, the $20 ensemble protects the rubber soles via six nylon-composite bolt-ons. The sole is saved, ergo, boot life is extended. Neat. Motonation, 14168 Poway Rd., #205, Poway, CA 92064; 877/789-4940; www.motonation.com
Elf Synthese 07 Shoes
Not all motorcycling occasions require Serious Motorcycle Boots. Who needs toe-sliders for running errands? When something more casual, yet still protective, is called for, try Elf Synthese 07 shoes from Japan’s Hiroshima Kasei. Their long list of features includes zip-up, ventilated shoelace guards, arch cushioning, shock-absorbing soles and a whole passel of reflectors. They’re available in several color combos and U.S. sizes. Depending on the state of the yen, suggested retail is approximately $115. Hiroshima Kasei, 2-2-11 Matsuhama-Cho, Fukuyama-City, Hiroshima-Pref, 720-8642, Japan; 011-81-849-227206; www.sky-net.or.jp/tsuhame/elfworld/index.html
Metzeler Custom Tire
Custom cruiser builders, prepare to salivate shamelessly! Tire giant Metzeler has created the ultimate coup de grace with its newest ME 880 radial. The fattest production rear rubber available, the (deep breath here) 240/40 R 18 M/C 79V TL measures 243mm wide and fits an 8to 9-inch-wide, 18-inch rim. Stockers need not apply. The German company also claims a matching front is in the offing, as are other custom sizes. Suggested retail for the current fatty is $268v. Metzeler, 300 N. Potts town Pk., #280, Exton, PA 19341; 610/524-2190; www.metzeler.com
Wiha Insulated Tools
Nothing like new tools to bring out your inner Tim Allen... With that in mind, Wiha Quality Tools has a 10-piece Plier and Screwdriver Set that’s equipped with ergonomically shaped, insulated handles rated up to 1000 volts. For $277, you get combination pliers, side cutters, needle-nose pliers, wire cutters and a wire stripper, as well as different sized Phillips and slotted screwdrivers. Drop-forged construction, chrome and nickel plating, and a glossy polishing job are the norm. Carrying case is included. Wiha Tools, 1348 Dundas Cir, Monticello, MN 55362; 800/494-6104; www.wihatools.com
Hi Point Wheels
Don’t hate us when we say that Japan’s Hi Point Wheels have a revolutionary design. Because, actually, they do. Forged, not cast, and CNC-machined from aluminum, the heat-treated, six-spoke hoops are said to be both stronger and lighter-weight than stock. Plus, they look really cool! Front and rear units are available, the latter with a rubber cush drive. They fit a slew of applications, ranging from late-model sportbikes to Harley-Davidsons. Cost is approximately $2000 per set. PPS, 4065 E. La Palma, #G, Anaheim, CA 92807; 714/630-4777; www.ppsracing.com
THE CURRENT CROP OF 600cc sportbikes are the most versatile, capable motorcycles of our time. Interesting smaller-displacement streetbikes don’t really exist, and bigger machines gain weight and lose handiness. The rockets-Honda’s CBR1100XX, Kawasaki’s ZX-12R and Suzuki's Hayabusa-are more like utility-power stations on hollowspoke wheels, appealing to those who wish to simulate the topend kick of oxy-hydrogen thirdstage engines.
THE ITALIAN MOTORCYCLE industry is at a crossroads-again. Big makes have changed hands, sanctuaries have collapsed and previously unthinkable mergers are being finalized. Greater efficiency will likely be the eventual result, but will the survivors maintain their legendary individualism?
Suzuki's popular Bandit 1200S super-standard will receive a multitude of mods nearly identical to those recently bestowed upon its middleweight sibling, the Bandit 600S. These include a freshened-up fairing with twin projector-beam headlights, modified framework, six-piston front brake calipers and minor engine updates, such as a throttle-position sensor and a new 4-into-1 exhaust system.
Robert Kilpatrick, CEO of Norton Motorcycles, Inc., has been charged with credit fraud and forgery. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Eden Prairie, Minnesota, resident is suspected of filing false tax information in hopes of obtaining more than $860,000 in home mortgages last summer.
Harley-Davidson is out to ensure its future-and the future of motorcycling. Using its beginner-friendly Buell Blast and extensive dealer network, The Motor Company has created a novel new rider-training program: the Harley-Davidson Rider's Edge Academy of Motorcycling.
BUYING REPLACEMENT RUB-ber for late-model sport-bikes can be as daunting as purchasing new sneakers. Wading through the myriad performance claims and trendy tread patterns can leave one longing for simpler times when Dunlop’s K81 and Chuck Taylor-signature Converse All-Stars were status quo.
Greasing the cover with a stylin', Seventies-era berm shot was Kawasa ki’s new KX250, sporting the latest off-road innovation: gas/oil shocks. Because 8 inches of “long-travel” suspension had become commonplace, Kawasaki needed something to up the offroad ante.
AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION, anyone? Motorcyclists thave traditionally answered with a resounding “No,” underscoring the importance of shifting to the two-wheeled experience. Case in point? Back in 1976, Honda’s CB750A had a true, three-element torque converter, which turned out to be the answer to the question no one asked.
UP: To the Three Flags Classic, for 25 years of border-to-borderfun. Established in 1974 by Josef Usatin of the Southern California Motorcycle Association in hopes of rekindling the spirit of early-1900s runs, the annual Labor Day weekend extravaganza attracts entries from around the world.
DUCATI BUILT ITS REPUTA tion on large-displacement sportbikes, but its most profitable models are allarounders, such as the current Monster series. Last year alone, the naked V-Twins accounted for a staggering 43 percent of production.
It’s Europe vs. Japan in a quest for the new Superbike king
DID ANYONE ELSE sense the irony in the opening round of this year's World Superbike Championship at Kyalami, South Africa? Having spent a dozen years fielding 750cc V-Fours in an increasingly unfair fight against the dominant Ducati 851-996cc V-Twins, Honda finally debuted a liter-Twin of its own and won the first time out.
A RGUMENTS WILL BE MADE FOR OTHER TYPES OF SPORTbikes, but nothing expresses pure performance in such raw terms as the lightweight, Open-class four-cylinder. Forget your Twins, your 600s, your Land Speed Bikes, these three liter-class missiles have all the right maxi -mums, all the right minimums, with the essential elements of performance pleasantly pumped up, then stripped bare.
DOES SIZE REALLY MATTER? You bet! Where big is bad, petite can be tough to beat. Imagine if 7-foot, 315pound Los Angles Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal were pitted against pint-sized Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes in a limbo match. Shaq would need a full-court press to pull otia slam-dunk upset.
Georgis to Daytona Beach on sportbikes without boundaries
YOU SAY YOU'RE SUCH A FLAMING BACKROAD ACE YOU CAN FEATHER A CBR929's GUMBALL MICHELINS right to their very edges. . .you can whip on an RSV Mille like some kind of sick, sadistic jockey. . .you can tip a GSX-R750 over 'til the warning stickers scrape...
It's Thumpers versus the best of the 'Strokers for motocross supremacy
THE MOTOCROSS MARKET HAS BEEN about as consistent as gasoline prices lately. At least in the MX world, though, things are on the up and up for the better. Never have there been so many bonafide berm-busters to choose from. First, we’ll admit to being full-on four-stroke fans-pounding thumps, seamless torque and tons of ridable power win us over every time.
KEEPING ABREAST OF PREVAILING TRENDS IN THE fast-paced information age can be downright dizzying. Especially when said trends are headed in every conceivable direction. Just look at pop culture. The public is bonkers over "The XFiles" and the "X Games," NASDAQ stocks an NASCAR stock cars, the Backstreet Boys and the Beastie Boys.
PHIL VINCENT DROPPED OUT OF UNIVERSITY in 1928 to take over floundering HRD, and then proceeded to endow that make with his novel triangulated rear suspension. Just after WWII, Australian engineer Phil Irving drew up the Series B Vincent—a radical concept that all but eliminated the chassis, continued Vincent’s Monoshock-like swingarm and combined one liter of V-Twin displacement with the bare minimum of weight.
IF WE HAD A BEST TWIN CATI GORY, YOU'RE LOOKIN' AT THE WINNER, comin' right at ya with its three headlights blazing. And just how impressive is that, going up against the omnipotent Ducati 996 and Honda’s new Superbike starter kit, the RC51? Pretty damn, we’d say.
Forget what the history books say, Ducati was born in 1957 with Dr. T and his
IF HE KNEW THEN WHAT HE KNOWS NOW... HE still would have done it. Seven years and thousands of dollars ago, Alan Chalk began a journey that veered into an obsession. Innocently shopping for a restoration project, Chalk saw an old single-cylinder Ducati that had been hacked and modified into a dirtbike.
MOST ENTHUSIASTS WOULD DISCOVER A RESTORATION PROJECT LIKE Alan Chalk's about three sizes too larqe. So here's a little guidance for those who have stared into the mirrored finish of celestial handiwork and wondered how ordinary mortals should proceed.
IT'S NO COINCIDENCE THAT AEROSTICH I founder and inveterate tinkerer Andy Goldfine has traveled across Siberia on a BMW GS. It takes a wide-rang ing motorcyclist and adventurer to bring you heavy-duty footwear such as Aerostich's Combat Touring Boots.
Valentino Rossi has frolicked his way to motorcycle racing’s highest level. Will Honda’s NSR500 beat the fun out of the class clown of the GP circus?
THE TRADEMARK CHESHIRE CAT GRIN DIDN'T FADE EVEN though the first race of Valentino Rossi's debut 500cc Grand Prix season ended in a crash after just 12 laps. Nor when the same thing hannened even earlier in the second race. Rather surprisingly, it was the third GP of the year-when Rossi managed his first finish in the 500 class-that ended with an uncharacteristically glum look.
The FIM-ruling body of international motorcycle racing-will for 2002 invite 990cc four-strokes of three cylinders or more to compete in its top Grand Prix roadracing class, joining existing 500cc two-strokes. Including four-strokes provides a “green option” for the FIM and the manufacturers.
Early last spring, I took delivery of my 1999 Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa. By August, I had 3500 miles on the bike and started having problems with stalling, rough idling, dying at speed and coughing. My dealer told me there was some kind of recall on the bike involving fuel filters that were being deteriorated by certain gasolines.
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