I BLAME THIS ON PETER EGAN—ALTHOUGH an IRS refund check and a chance parking-lot encounter had a lot to do with it, too. Every Saturday morning up the coast in Huntington Beach a loosely knit collection of hot-rodders called the "Donut Derelicts" meets at a small strip mall to swap lies and ogle the hardware.
WELL, I HAVE TO ADMIT IT: I SOLD MY Ducati 996 late last fall, after a summer of backroad riding and one weekend of memorable track time at Elkhart Lake with the Team Hammer Racing School. I loved the engine, the craftsmanship, the handling and the bike’s overall personality—and I think it is easily one of the 10 most beautiful motorcycles ever built—but I could not get comfortable.
IN HIS ROLLICKING R&B SONG, "JOHNNIE B. Goode," Chuck Berry describes his subject sitting by the railroad tracks, "strummin’ with the rhythm that the drivers made." Because steam locomotives are gone now, few people today even know about "drivers." They are the long, heavy connecting rods of those big, old steam engines.
Editor-in-Chief David Edwards started the summer off with an environmental bang! His June editorial, "The Great Clinton Land Grab," caught me completely off guard. I'd been resigned to the belief that Edwards was hopelessly liberal.
What to do when the irresistible lure of a cafe-racer is only a little less overwhelming than the cost? Why, cheat a little, of course! Omar’s Dirt Track Racing has a Norton Manx Conversion Kit that fits 1970-78 Yamaha 650cc Twins. What you get (and it’s quite a lot, actually) is a bikini fairing with windscreen, fork boots, clubman handlebar, a 3.6-gallon fiberglass gas tank, one-piece seat/fender complete with numberplates, taillight, 2-into-2 exhaust system, rearsets and graphics. Installation is up to you. The kit costs $2695, but the price of a used Yammie varies. Obviously.
Omar’s Dirt Track Racing
Marsee Cooling Vest
When the mercury rises, lower your body temperature with Marsee’s Cooling Hydroweave Vest. The lightweight, breathable garment works like this: Soak it in cold water for 5 minutes, wring out extra water, then put it on and wear it against your skin (you know, under your gear). According to Marsee, cooling time ranges from 4 to 6 hours, depending on temps and humidity. Available in sizes XS-XL, it costs $125.
Omar’s Dirt Track Racing
Moose Mud-Proof Solid Rotors
On the one hand, roosting through wet, sticky mud can be Big Fun. On the other, it can muck up your bike’s brakes. Unless you’ve fitted Moose’s Mud-Proof Solid Rotors. Manufactured from high-carboncontent stainless steel, the laser-cut discs are sold minus those infuriating, mud-attracting holes found on other rotors. The angle here, you see, is less wear on your pads. They fit most late-model dirtbikes, and cost $130 per rotor.
Omar’s Dirt Track Racing
The latest in cool cowhide comes in the form of England’s BKS Leathers, now available stateside. Shown here is the GP100. Featuring top-grain leather construction, the water-resistant suit has the company’s adjustable Suproflex armor throughout, an elasticized waist, hip and back protectors, and double leather at impact zones. The one-piece garment is available in sizes XSXL. Suggested retail is $1999.
Omar’s Dirt Track Racing
D&D Show And Go Exhaust System
Exhausts don’t get much showier than D&D’s appropriately named Show And Go system. For the Triumph Thunderbird Sport owner who wants to spice up his steed, the 3-into-3 full system benefits from the company’s 28 years of building racing exhausts. It’s said to add horsepower, reduce weight and look damn fine while doing so. Chrome-plated steel headers, reverse-megaphone pipes, and all bracketry and hardware are included in the $811 asking price. Rejetting isn’t necessary.
Omar’s Dirt Track Racing
Maxima Synthetic Racing Oil
Two-stroke lubricant... Sounds naughty, doesn’t it? Well, it ain’t. Maxima’s new Formula K2 two-stroke lube draws on more than 20 years of the company’s racing experience. The synthetic racing oil was designed to be smokeless and clean-burning, and to extend engine life. The result is an environmentally friendly package that’s loaded with high-quality synthetics and additives. It’s intended for premix use only, and pricing starts at around $7.
Omar’s Dirt Track Racing
Diadora Rainbow MX Boots
Let’s hear it for Diadora, back in the U.S. after a 15-year absence. Among other things being imported from the Italian manufacturer are the Rainbow motocross boots. Dubbed such because of their interchangeable, different-colored buckles, the full-grain-leather boots are rigged with molded armor at the heels, calves and shins, gel and air padding, a replaceable sole and more. Suggested retail price is $280.
ALL NUDE! ALL THE TIME! That is the theme for September’s Munich Show, where Aprilia, MV Agusta and Yamaha, among others, will unveil all-new entries in the blossoming naked-bike category. MV’s brawny Brutale is based on the sexy F4 Strada sportbike tested elsewhere in this issue.
In a marvelous, cacophonic uproar, a half-dozen Indian Scouts descended upon the sleepy central California town of Carmel. For lunch. The view was glorious, the tarmac sweeping and the sandwiches tasty. Such was the stuff of the recently rejuvenated Indian press launch.
IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNment’s latest move against the use of off-highway vehicles on public lands, the National Park Service has placed limits on the operation of both personal watercraft and snowmobiles in its protected areas.
Southern California-based Galpin Motors has inked a deal with 1998 AMA Supercross Champion Jeff Emig to produce a signature-model Ford F-150. Featuring N-Style graphics, custom wheels and tires, a 3-inch suspension lift and spray-on bedliner, the 5.4-liter Triton V-Eight-powered truck will be known as the "Jeff Emig Signature Series F-150." Price is $31,995.
THE ROADS WERE MAGNIFIcent, the racket glorious, the company grand. That pretty much sets the scene for the second-annual Cycle World Classic, a rolling concours through Sonoma Valley backroads. The idea was simple. Rather than put on yet another soundless static display of old motorcycles, we’d zing the old dears along wine country roads, then do the judging, bug splatter and all.
Cycle World traditionally has presented a microcosm of motorcycling in every issue, and this edition was no exception. Road tests ran the gamut from a streetbike to a dirt-tracker to an enduro to a motocrosser. Editors enjoyed the Honda CB550 Super Sport’s "ponycar" approach to midsized performance; said there was "no question" the Bultaco 360 Astro could win short-track races; acknowledged that the Montesa 250 Enduro "required fiddling"; and christened the Yamaha YZC125 monoshocker "the best Japanese 125 motocrosser currently available." • Competition coverage was no less diverse, with everything from motocross and roadrace reports to a Can-Am desert-racing project and a trials-riding-technique feature.
WHAT TO GIVE THE Indian collector who already has everything? How about an overhead-valve conversion for the old flathead Chief motor? That’s the idea behind Wigwam Engineering’s "Tomahawk" kit. Peter Arundel, a wealthy Australian building contractor and certifiable Indian nut (last count he had 65), funded development of the kit.
Triumph’s new Bonneville retro-Twin, which is slated to debut in September, is nearing production. Factory-goers have even reported seeing various components, including cylinders and crankshafts, scattered around the Hinckley, Leicestershire, facility.
UP: To the Duluth Trading Co., for putting motorcycles up front, where they belong. The mail-order company, catering to tradesmen, features a late-’40s Indian Chief on the cover of its latest catalog. Moto-art notwithstanding, this is a great little catalog, nicely illustrated and with brightly written descriptions, full of all kinds of bags, pouches, tool rolls and trick doodads you didn’t know you needed.
SOME MOTORcycles are born attention-getters. Pull up to a stoplight aboard an MZ Black Panther, for example, and you’re guaranteed slackjawed reactions from bewildered motorists. Is it a dirtbike, streetbike or some sci-fi movie prop?
Italian exotica, American muscle, a rebuilt Britbike, a Winged road tool or a round-the-world Beemer? That's the $20,000 Question
YOUR WONDERING EYES HAVE GOT IT right. These five motorcycles—Big Dog Husky XT, Norton SS880, MV Agusta F4S, BMW R1150GS and Honda Gold Wing SE-do make for strange company. Strange, but by no means incomprehensible. The connection begins with the Almighty Dollar.
Dakar-bound? Apart from Off-Road Editor Jimmy Lewis, us neither. But that didn’t deter our quest for a BMW R1150GS loaded with ’round-the-world add-ons. All the better for reaching far-off locales like the company picnic, right?
The main thing you need to know about the Husky XT is 107 cubic inches. That’s the S&S V-Twin’s displacement, and that giant lump of ore solidly mounted in its raked-out chassis never stops asserting itself. Your whole riding experience is colored by it, and after one twist of the fat, rubber-ribbed chrome throttle, nothing else matters anyway.
Ouch! Twenty large for a clanky old Norton? Don’t pretty good Commandos go for about $5000? Yeah, but this Vintage Rebuilds SS880, commissioned by yours truly, is several big-booted strides beyond merely good, and there’s nothing even remotely clanky about it.
If you’ve been to a Gold Wing gathering, you’ve seen the lights, the murals (Hey, nice eagle!), the stuffed animals. Not our cup o’ tea. In fact, prior to this tour, the CW staff had little interest in CB radios and chrome accent packages, let alone trailers.
The sportbike world is a fast-moving place. Ho-ho! Seriously, would you have thought three years ago that today we’d have a Suzuki GSX-R750 that’s lighter than a 600 and as fast as a 900? MV Agusta probably didn’t either. True, they probably had their F4 Strada crosshairs set on the Ducati 996.
IMAGINE A BICYCLE MANUFACTURER PREPARING TO JUMP INTO THE motorcycle market. Even with considerable financial and technical wherewithal, it wouldn’t be easy. And in the case of the new Cannondale MX400, it’s even more difficult, because in typical fashion, the forward-thinking American company is bucking the technical norm, breaking rules along the way.
American bicycle-maker Cannondale gears up for motorcycle production
THE CANNONDALE OFF-ROAD MOTORCYCLE HAS EMERGED! Over the past year it has seemed near enough to touch, but has slipped away. Rumors have flowed. Now we’ve seen it and CW's Off-Road Editor Jimmy Lewis has ridden it. The new MX400 four-stroke bristles with innovation.
Years before Yamaha, BMW was developing an R1 superbike of its own
CONSIDER THE PLIGHT OF BMW. In the car world, its products are considered racy and exotic while its motorcycles are seen by some as staid two-wheeled Volvos. Cadillac would love to have BMW's four-wheeled image, which is why it’s going racing at Le Mans.
DON’T MOURN THE BMW R1. All manufacturers prototype their ideas constantly. Not only are most of these never produced, they are usually destroyed in the bargain. Dick O’Brien, for many years manager of racing at Harley-Davidson, once showed me drawings of a two-stroke 750cc racer that his team had planned.
HOW TO STAND OUT IN A SEA AWASH WITH GLITZY V-TWIN CUSTOMS? First, don’t use a Harley. That’s the concept behind "Lo-Star," the first bike built by Cobra’s Special Projects Division, the aftermarket company’s newly formed "skunk works" charged with product development, including the design and construction of showbikes.
The only Commando ever to win a Half-Mile National has been rescued from the attic
WE’D LIKE TO TAKE most of the credit, but we can’t. The reason this piece of dirt-track history currently exists in this pristine, raceable form isn’t just because Cycle World ran an article on it last year. “No,” says owner Ron Wood, “the article inspired me, but it was more the people who’d ask, ‘Whatever happened to your Norton?’ I’d tell them it was in a box, and they’d ask, ‘Why don’t you put it back together?’ ” It was a good question, and this past fall and winter Wood set out to answer it.
YOU EVER NOTICE HOW, well, odd BMW people can be? Maybe it’s the bike, maybe it’s something inherent to them, a deeply buried predisposition toward all that which is Boxer, and therefore different. For Gregor Halenda, professional photographer and owner of the Team Incomplete Boxer pictured here, predisposition turned into full-blown megalomania, a righteous nut-bag obsession with building a Better Boxer.
THERE ARE FEW BIKES MORE DOWN-right fun to ride than Suzuki’s SV650. Which explains why we’ve racked up almost 5000 miles on our long-term testbike since the last installment. The upgraded suspenders from Progressive Suspension resulted in what ad guy/former 250cc GP racer Andy Leisner calls, “a huge improvement in sporting situations...though it seems to have too much rebound damping in the fork.” A fix is in the works.
Tracking down the world’s most collectible motorcycle, Lawrence of Arabia’s Brough SS100 death bike
IT IS THE SILKIEST thing...and at 50 mph she is a dream...if only the RAF gives me time enough...to use the poor thing...I am grateful for the care taken...to make her perfect.” Thus wrote Thomas Edward Lawrence, forever known as “Lawrence of Arabia,” to bikemaker George Brough in March, 1932.
YOU SAY IT’S CHILLY OUTSIDE, BUT YOU don’t want the added bulk and limited mobility of a jacket? Or it’s freezing out, and you just need an extra layer? Malcolm Smith Racing has you covered-literally-with its Windstopper Jersey. Like a vented soccer shirt, it looks light and airy.
IT’S SUNDAY NIGHT AND MONZA IS QUIET. THE AIR IS SOFT. THE SWEAT, the adrenaline, the acrid tang of exhaust fumes and rubber, the immediacy and tension of so many unknowns being determined, fates decided, has all passed. It feels like an empty church at sunset.
Although You Know Who clinched the EA Sports AMA Supercross Series one round early at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois, the seasonending Las Vegas event still held significance for many competitors. Take David Vuillemin, for instance.
I finally took delivery of my Kawasaki ZX-12R after a very long wait. My dad owns a Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa, and we thought it would be fun, once I got my bike fully broken in, to dyno them back-to-back. My question is, does running a bike on a dyno hurt the engine or any of its components?
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