WHAT MAKES A MEMORABLE MOTORcycle tour? Well, strange birds that we are, it seems misery has a lot to do with it. I think back almost 30 years to my first long-distance jaunt on a bike, in this case my trusty 1971 Honda CB350, candy-apple gold with rustedout baffles that-I thought-bellowed with the deep, authoritative air of a factory racebike.
WHEN I RODE INTO TOWN ABOUT TWO hours before sunset, it occurred to me that Jackson, Wyoming, had everything a touring rider could want at the end of a long, hot day. Motels, movie theaters, Mexican restaurants, invitingly cool bars with invitingly cool drinks, camping and fishing stores to browse in, bookshops full of books on Western history and a large number of mixed tourists to gaze upon while eating an ice cream cone on a park bench.
GORDON JENNINGS, PRICKLY GRANDDAD of American motor-journalism, has died of cancer at age 69. Gordon did everything in his life. He was a technician in the Navy. He raced on two and four wheels. He built racing motorcycles of original design, both two-stroke and four-stroke.
A few years ago, I traveled through Norway on a Yamaha XJ900S Diversion. A great bike! Couldn't wait to get back to the U.S. and buy one. Not available here! Now I see Yamaha has another new bike, the FJR1300, but says the U.S. sport touring market is flat, so it won't be coming here either.
Well-known for its high-quality one-piece roadracing suits, Japanese leather-maker Kushitani offers an alternative look with its Real Ride sport-touring leathers. More conservatively styled, the Korean-made two-piece suits still incorporate some of the features found in the company's racier garments, such as top-grain-leather construction, polyester mesh liner, and shoulder, elbow and back armor. Available in XS-XXL sizes, the $820 suit can be purchased whole, or separately with the pants costing $328 and the jacket $492.
Harley-Davidson Hard Saddlebags
How's this for a sport utility? Harley-Davidson is offering a soft-luggage alternative for cruisers with these sporty-looking hard saddlebags for Sportster and Dyna models. Available in primer or painted to match specific factory colors, the injection-molded plastic bags are lockable and are said to be spacious enough for a weekend's worth of packing. Reflectors, a turnsignal-relocation kit and mounting hardware are included in the $860 asking price.
Dunlop Arrowmax GT501 Tires
It just goes to show that no matter how good a thing is, it can always be improved upon. That said, Dunlop is replacing its venerable K591 tire with the new Arrowmax GT501. Like its predecessor, the new Vrated tire features bias-ply construction, only it also has a more modern tread pattern. Improvements include a larger contact patch, increased wear and superior grip. Prices range from $108 to $131 for front applications, and $141 to $184 for rears.
Black Widow Venom Slip-Ons
How cool are Black Widow's Venom Slip-Ons? To paraphrase the recently reunited Spinal Tap: none more, none more sexy. Not only are the pipes drool-inspiring, they're also said to increase power throughout the rev range. Available for most late-model sportbikes, the unique twin-tip, cam lobeshaped carbon canisters feature stainless-steel innards and polished, billet-aluminum endcaps. Although they're currently available in slip-on form only, full systems are in the offing. Suggested retail price is $1035.
Racing Optics Speedstack
Here's a little gem for all the racers in the house: Racing Optics' Speedstack, a stack (duh) of seven tear-offs laminated together. The result is said to be so optically correct that it's possible to layer multiple Speedstacks. In fact, the family-run firm claims that wearing as many as 35 tearoffs at once still provides a crystal-clear view. Did we mention that the lamination is said to prevent fogging and dust from collecting between layers? Get a package of five for $25.
Acerbis Blitz Headlight
This is the Honda CR250R that CW's Off-Road Editor Jimmy Lewis rode to second place in last October's Glen Helen 24-Hour. Not quite stock, is it? Most noticeable is the Acerbis Blitz Headlight: Designed to brighten the darkest of nights, the dual halogen lights put out a whopping 70 watts. And because the 38-degree flood beam and 10-degree pencil beam are stacked, it looks tricker than the usual side-by-side arrangement. The $82 setup comes in bike-matching hues, and fits most latemodel off-roaders.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO WARP wide-open across desert roads as wide as Southern California's 10-lane 1-5 freeway? Or roost through arid golf course-like sand dunes trying to milk the last ounce of life from a foam tire insert? Or navigate your way via satellite through the "Empty Quarter" of a country called United Arab Emirates?
Okay, old-style stuff is in, but this is ridiculous! Or is it? Set to go on sale in January, the 2001 Suzuki GS1200S is the latest addition to Japan's popular retro-sportbike category, joining the similarly modernized GSX1100S Katana and Kawasaki GPz900R Ninja.
Here's your chance to cop a $20,000 Vintage Rebuilds Norton for five measly bucks. The VR880 "Cycle World Special" is a collaborative effort between VR's Kenny Dreer, this magazine and the Ride for Kids charity.
SOTHEBY’S ANNUAL MOTORcycle auction is fast becoming a fall rite of passage for classic-bike enthusiasts. Held this past September at the same two-story, timbered gallery in downtown Chicago, the second-annual event caught the eye of high-end collectors around the world, due in part to a 190-page catalog that included about 100 motorcycles dating to the beginning of the last century.
No serious motorcycle manufacturer would dare follow in quirky Rokon's footsteps, but that's just what Husqvarna did in introducing the 360 Automatic featured on this issue's cover. Where the Americanmade Rokon RT 340 used an infinitely variable torque converter, however, the Swedish Husky boasted an honest-to-goodness four-speed automatic transmission.
WHILE IN GERMANY last September for the Munich Show, I visited toolmaker Rupert Baindl, whose shop is located about 40 minutes outside of town. Baindl is a bearded man in early middle life who alternates between boyish enthusiasm and a kind of Viking-like impassivity.
Piaggio, creator of the classic Vespa, has produced a stylish scooter-based machine the look and feel of a modern motorcycle. Similar in size to a Buell Blast, the Gilera DNA 180 is propelled by a four-valve, liquid-cooled, sohc Single that makes 20 horsepower at 8500 rpm-enough to push the 275-pound bike to nearly 80 mph.
UP: To Dave Schultz, for fighting back against the Big C. At last October's Matco Tools SuperNationals in Houston, Texas, Schultz's first race back after being diagnosed with colon cancer, the six-time NHRA Pro Stock Champion qualified sixth, then outran three-time series champ Matt Hines and Joe DeSantis before gunning down Geno Scali in the final.
PUT YOURSELF IN CLAUDIO Castiglioni's shoes: His company, Cagiva, needs an entry-level sportbike to boost its bottom line. Suzuki has a nifty 645cc V-Twin that will slot right into the existing Raptor 1000 chassis. What would you do? Castiglioni went for it.
Four Corners Tour of these United States aboard Honda's new GL1800 Gold Wing
LEG 1: 1150 miles
LEG 2: 985 miles
LEG 3: 995 miles
LEG 4:1080 miles
LEG 5: 875 miles
LEG 6:1040 miles
LEG 7:1050 miles
LEG 8:860 miles
LEG 9: 950 miles
LEG 10:870 miles
LEG 11: 960 miles
LEG 12: 600 miles
HONDA HAS A NEW FLAGSHIP, THE GL1800 Gold Wing. That fact will be cause for celebration among fans of the long-running model, which has dominated the luxury-touring class since its 1975 inception, yet has soldiered on unchanged since 1988.
Asleep at the Wheel How good was Bob Wills, King of Western swing and the subject of this 1999 tribute album? Try this, pardner: Wills was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year, along with a few guys you may have heard of-Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel.
SINCE ITS INTRODUCTION IN 1987, THE CBR600F HAS been the darling of the 600cc sportbike class. Its popularity is based on a convincing recipe: successful suitability as both an everyday commuter and a titlewinning racer. Now, however, for the first time in the bike's decade-plus existence, Honda Europe will offer two versions: the standard CBR600F and racier CBR600F Sport.
I HAD A HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH WHO STRESSED the importance of working proper muscle groups when pumping iron. "Enough curls, Canet," he'd shout, "you're only building beach muscles!" In a sense, show boat biceps are what Honda's Shadow Spirit 750 is flexing.
IT WAS WINTER, WHICH WAS DISCONTENT. THE KIND OF WEATHER THAT could make motorcycle riding a mild form of hardship,_something you felt like you were endure, not enjoy. But life is usually a question of attitude. And riding the 2001 Triumph Bonneville in England made me feel so cool my nipples were hard.
A trio of True Believers comment on the new British Standard
IF YOU'RE A PETTY BASTARD LIKE ME, YOU PROBABLY WANT to punch "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno on the chin. But you can't, because you know that he's a sicko gearhead just like us, only with enough money to do it right. And perhaps a better sense of humor.
SNEAKY YAMAHA. JUST WHEN MOTOCROSS TRACKS WERE RECOVERING FROM FOUR-STROKE Fever, the Tuning Fork Company went and did it again, re-reading the AMA ru1ebook and redefining what Thumpers are capable of. And with a 250 of all things! We've heard all the chatter, the skeptics' contention that there is no way the new YZ250F will be competitive against 125cc two-strokes, and even if it was, who’d want to ride it?
UNLESS YOU DIRTBIKES IN THE 1960s and '70s, you've probably never heard of Hodaka. After all, the company hasn't made motorcycle in more than 20 years. But Hodaka's is an interesting story, noteworthy now because the first-ever Hodaka Reunion was held last summer, and because the marque has managed to generate a loyal following among people who owned the bikes when they were new, as well as those caught up in a fresh wave of enthusiasm.
"SO, WHAT ARE YOU STILL WAITing for?" That was the question KTM asked in its brochure when it introduced the LC4 620 Adventure in 1998. We needed no such prodding, falling Arai over Alpinestars for the flagmanorange, semi-knobbed, electric-start rally replica and its go-anywhere versatility.
OKAY, SO YOU JUST BOUGHT AN Aprilia RSV Mule and you're looking for a way to add a little oomph, both functionally and visually. Ordinarily, a slip-on muffler would increase flow, but how are you going to improve upon the Mille's silencer, which sets new standards for length and width?
IT WOULD BE AN UNDERSTATEMENT TO SAY THAT MIKE Hailwood was one of the greatest roadracers in history. In 23 years of racing, he was a World Champion nine times, won 76 Grands Prix and was first to win three Isle of Man TT races in one week, thus becoming the stuff of which legends are made.
Outlaw Machine: Harley-Davidson and the Search for the American Soul
Outlaw Machine: Harley-Davidson and the Search for the American Soul
CRIPES, NOT ANOTHER HARLEY BOOK! BOOKSHOP shelves are thick with the blinkin' things, hacked out to make a quick buck while the Milwaukee Marvel is hot news. Happily, Outlaw Machine: Harley-Davidson and the Search for the American Soul is not just another Harley book.
Our man sees Phillip Island from the sharp edge of Suzuki's RGV500-and it scares him!
HALFWAY THROUGH MY 14 LAPS ABOARD KENNY ROBERTS JUNIOR'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP-WINNING Telefonica MoviStar Suzuki RGV500, Roberts himself gave me a little insight into 500cc Grand Prix racing by sliding past my left shoulder while exiting fourth-gear Turn 12.
World Superbike bugout? At the end of last year's race season, Yamaha pulled a shocker and disbanded its World Superbike team. Star rider and 2000-season number two Noriyuki Haga will ride a Red Bull Yamaha YZR500 Grand Prix bike in 2001. Meanwhile, Jan Witteveen, longserving racing chief at Aprilia, has announced he may seek other employment because of issues with that company’s race policy.
I have a 1993 Kawasaki ZX-6 which, according to the owner's manual, the magazine tests and the dealership, is supposed to have a 4.8-gallon gas tank. But I've never been able to put more than 3.8 gallons in it. On a couple of occasions, I've ridden the bike until it began to sputter and almost die, then switched to Reserve and ridden another 20 miles to work, yet 3.8 gallons was still the most gas it has ever taken.
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