A CRUEL, UNFORGIVING MISTRESS, THE Bonneville Salt Flats. She breaks far more hearts than she allows land-speed records to be broken. Bonneville always liked Jack Wilson, though. Wilson died last month, aged 73, but will always be remembered as the man who helped give one of the world’s best-loved motorcycles its model name.
THERE ARE, AS FAR AS I CAN TELL, ONLY two fixed rules in the universe: One is that pouring milk on your cereal will make the phone ring, and the other is that making any major purchase will trigger the immediate availability of something else you’ve always wanted.
ALL MOTORCYCLE ENGINES ARE AIRcooled. Some are directly so by air passing over extensions of engine surface called fins. Others are indirectly air-cooled-their heat is carried away by a liquid-phase heat exchange medium (water or water/antifreeze mixtures) to a liquid-to-air heat exchanger called a radiator.
I just finished reading June’s ZX-12 test and want Kawasaki to know how disappointed I am. Ever since I heard about the impending release of this machine-and the surrounding rhetoric regarding its top-speed ability—I have been gathering my meager finances in hopes of procuring one of these supposedly faster-than-fast motorcycles.
Topping any off-roader’s laundry list of new gear would have to be, both literally and figuratively, a helmet. In this case, it’s the Procross Glitter MX40 from Italian company-come-lately Suomy. Now available stateside, this carbon/kevlar/fiberglass lid has a removable liner, wire-mesh mouthpiece, adjustable venting at the forehead and funky metalflake graphics-hence, the name. It comes in XSXL sizes and costs $280. Gearbox, 2236 Mariner Sq., #200, Alameda, CA 94501; 800/799-9444; www.gearboxinternational.com
Nothing like a smashed knee to ruin a perfectly good trail ride. In an attempt to prevent such a rude buzzkill, the good people at HRP have introduced the XT2000 Shin/Knee Guards. Featuring an abbreviated shin design that better accommodates today’s more protective MX boots, the skateboard-inspired, flexible pads are made with impact-absorbing foam and feature Coolmax liners on one side and molded, heavy-duty plastic on the other. Neoprene straps secure at the shins and under the knees. Suggested retail price is $40. HRP Products, PO. Box 190, Somersworth, NH 03878; 603/692-2118; www.hrpsports.com
Acerbis Sphere Boots
ICeeping your off-road self safe from flying roost is no easy task. Fortunately, Acerbis’ designers live for facing down challenges. For the upper body is the $119 Zoom 2 Chest Protector. Made from injection-molded plastic, it has a reinforced back, adjustable strappage, removable kidney pads and all sorts of extras for deflecting debris. For down under are the $229 Sphere boots, fashioned from top-grain leather and equipped with breathable calfskin liners, injection-molded plastic at the calves, toe and instep, and more. Acerbis USA, 13200 Gregg St., Poway, CA 92064; 800/205-8874; www.acerbis.com
Oyvay, what will those crusty demons of dirt come up with next? Well, try this on for size. The latest in off-road fashion comes from avant-garde Fleshgear in the form of $125 Stealth Cargo MX Pants, in camouflage no less. Cut from 500-denier Cordura, they’re the ultimate in ventilation with knee-high zippers that convert the multi-pocketed pants into insta-shorts. But the piece de resistance? A zip-out pouch thatPresto! Change-o¡-becomes a drink-holder for your post-ride beverage of choice... Fleshgear, 7711 Woodwind Dr., Huntington Beach, CA 92647; 714/596-7660; www.fleshgear.com
Just because you’ve bought a bike that isn’t brand-spanking-new doesn’t mean you don’t want dish on your wheels. Where to look for dated material? Why, Ian Smith Information. The eight-yearold company provides laser-printed reports on all motorcycles sold in the U.S. since the 1960s. The collections include all available magazine articles on specific models, ranging from comparisons, to road tests to modification stories. Cost is $19 per, plus $4 shipping and handling. fan Smith Information, P.O. Box 9440, Denver, CO 80209; 303/777-2385; www.mcreports.com
Veteran seatmaker Mike Corbin is reaching out to the new motorcycle enthusiast by making a version of the venerable Gunfighter saddle for Buell’s entry-level Blast. Newbies near and far will rejoice over the leather-and-vinyl seat’s ergonomic, bucketshape design, its supportive Comfort Cell foam and the racier-than-stock styling cues. Order yours today so you won’t “BeLast” to get one of the $349 seats! Corbin, 2360 Technology Pkwy., Hollister, CA 95023; 800/538-7035; www.corbin.com
For more than 20 years, Nichols has built products for the aerospace industry. Now, the company has turned its corporate attention to Ducatis. Newest bit o’ goods are these lighter-than-stock, CNC-machined-from-aluminum flywheels. By removing 4 pounds of rotating mass, they’re said to give your late-model Due snappier throttle response. Available for both carbureted and fuel-injected models, they cost from $130 to $295 depending on application. Nichols Manufacturing, 913 Hanson Ct., Milpitas, CA 95035; 408/945-0911; www.nicholsmfg.com
Personalizing your cruiser doesn’t always necessitate a complete rebuild. In fact, small bits like Jardine’s Drag Bar and Mirror 51 are just the chic items for giving your ride more personality. CNC-machined from billet-aluminum, both share sleek lines and fit Harley-Davidsons and “metric” cruisers. Suggested retail for the mirrors is $136, while the handlebar rings-in at $284. Different-height risers are available and sold separately. Jardine Performance Products, 1220 W. Railroad St., Corona, CA 92882; 909/3711744; www.jardineproducts.com
THIS PAST MAY, I FLEW TO Italy to visit Aprilia. This company began in 1972 and now produces 300,000 two-wheelers each year, one-third of them motorcycles. Their 125 and 250cc Grand Prix bikes have won several world championships and racing permeates Aprilia.
Look closely. Study the rear-fender decal. That’s right, what appears to be an ’01 YZ426F is actually Yamaha’s latest four-stroke motocrosser-the liquid-cooled, titanium-valved, 13,500-rpm YZ250F. Eligible for the 125cc class at AMA Nationals, the mini-Thumper is essentially a shrink-wrapped version of the YZ426F, right down to its dohc, five-valve cylinder head.
CBS will televise the fifth round of PACE Motor Sports’ Formula USA Wrenchead.com National Road Race Series on Sunday, October 1. The broadcast will include Unlimited Super Bike and Sportbike classes, plus rider profiles and a season re-cap.
WHO'D HAVE THOUGHT Harley-Davidson, that pillar of bike-building conservatism, would embrace technology? Well, it has-and in a big way. Not that you can see it, of course. “We want to keep the essence-the look, sound and feel-that our customers desire, adding new technology when and where it’s needed,” explained product-development head Bill Davidson at a recent 2001-model press luncheon.
Can-Am’s “ultra-potent” 125 MX2 was pictured full frame on this month’s cover. “Once you get into third gear,” testers wrote of the Bombardier-built, rotary-valve two-stroke, “it’ll eat anything short of a full-blown 250.” • Buried within the pages, however, was the ultimately more significant debut of Suzuki’s RM125.
TIME TO REPLACE YOUR bike’s worn-out skins, but can’t afford to shell out big bucks for premium sport rubber? With Continental’s new ContiForce radials, deal-shopping doesn’t mean settling for cheap. The affordably priced ContiForces are ideal for sport-tourers, standards and older sportbikes.
Yowza, yowza, yowza! And you thought the stock ZX-12R was a sleek sight to behold. Well, get over your bad self, because Canadian Cliff Randall has done Kawasaki a big-ass one better. He of the bucks-up Vulcan 1500 (CW, January, 2000) is now the proud owner of a $30,000, 178-horsepower ZX-12.
UP: To “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” for goin’ the extra mile. Not enough to merely host supercrossers Jeremy McGrath and Travis Pastrana, show producers brought in 175 truck-loads of prime hardpack to turn the NBC-TV lot into a mini-racetrack, complete with a triple-jump, whoops and a rhythm section.
IN THE OXYMORONIC WORLD of production customs, having “$20,000” and “moderately priced” in the same sentence isn’t altogether wacko. After all, adding performance, custom paint and billet parts to a stock Harley can easily push the price of ownership past $30K. Titan’s Phoenix ZRM is a bargain, then?
Present and past collide (in spirit, anyway) at the Fastest Road in the West
IT’S TRUE WE’RE ALL DYING. THE ONLY WAY TO GO ON LIVING IS TO FORGET THAT. WITH YOUR mortality hung in front of your face, fear of death will cloud the ability to live. If you let it, fear’s long, black claws will grip you deeply, and you’ll never do anything.
THE SEEMING LESSON OF THIS YEAR’S ROADRACE SEASON is that Twins are in. After Ducati’s long dominance of World Superbike racing with its 90-degree V-Twin, and Honda’s switch from persistent V-Fourism to a 90-degree V-Twin of its own, do inline-Fours have any reason to live?
"CYCLONE," IT READ ON THE GAS TANK, and a cyclone it truly was. On the evening of June 21, 1914, rider Jock “Demon” McNeil rolled this new motorcycle to the starting line of the Twin City Motordrome in St. Paul, Minnesota. Straddling their tried-and-true Indian and Excelsior works racers, other riders must have snickered at Demon’s oddball, home-brewed machine.
Turning Suzuki’s little playbike into a big-time racebike
HOW DO YOU TAKE A GREAT TRAILBIKE AND BUILD IT INTO A national-caliber cross-country racer? Suzuki started by asking Mike Kiedrowski, semi-retired motocrosser with championships in 125, 250 and 500cc outdoor nationals, to try his skills at off-road racing.
WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT AN XR650 WITH even more power? After all, in stock form, the hulking alloy-framed Thumper shreds with wild abandon. Maybe to win off-road races? Good answer, as the breathed-on, Baja 500-winning XR650R of Team Honda’s Jonah Street and Steve Hengeveld proved.
IT’S THE MEMORIES OF THE PLACE THAT NEVER REALLY LEAVE YOU. How could they, because the memory is given something of an annual overhaul each time any motorcyclist, from any of our communal obsession’s many factions, is fortunate enough to converge on the Isle of Man while the TT is on.
TO CALL JOEY DUNLOP A TT legend would be like calling the Grand Canyon a big hole in the ground. Undeniably true, but a long way short of the real scale and breadth of the subject matter. Dunlop is possibly the greatest true roadracer who ever lived.
GROWING UP IN THE MIDWEST, I SPENT MANY COLD winter days poring over my parents’ encyclopedias. The big, thick volumes were chock-full of fascinating information, and captured my interest for hours at a stretch. I certainly would have enjoyed Tod Rafferty’s latest work, itself an encyclopedia.
THE MOTORCYCLE IS NOW 114 YEARS OLD. GIVEN THAT HISTORY OF DEVELOPMENT, IT’S NOT SURPRISING that it has reached a high degree of technical excellence. But the motorcycle has also matured in other ways. It has evolved into many forms to serve everyone’s particular uses.
WHILE LOTS OF RIDERS DREAM OF owning the workshop from heaven, many have to make do with the garage from hell. With cars, toolboxes, bicycles, lawnmowers, barbecue grills and boxes of old bowling trophies consuming most of the floor space, there’s practically no room for your motorcycle.
"I MAKE PEOPLE NERVOUS,” JOHN KOCINSKI SAYS, STARING EARNESTLY into im my face. “I radiate energy. People can feel it.” Kocinski has just emerged from semi-retirement. Having not ridden a motorcycle in the nine months since his 1999 Grand Prix season finale on a Team Kanemoto Honda NSR500, he was “called up” to ride the Vance & Hines Ducati 996 in the AMA Superbike series.
I just bought a 1996 Harley-Davidson Road King with about 5000 miles on it. It has had one of Harley’s Screamin’ Eagle EFI Stage II kits installed, and the heads have been modified to raise the compression. My problem is that engine oil is blowing through the air cleaner.
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.