I TOOK THE LONG WAY INTO WORK, TUESday, December 5. I needed time to think. I had Joe Parkhurst’s obituary to write. Diagnosed with lung cancer last July, the man who founded this magazine in 1962 was fighting the good fight, undergoing aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
WHEN YOU LIVE IN WISCONSIN, YOU CAN never be sure exactly when your last ride of the season will take place. Some years, it snows at Halloween and goes downhill from there. Other years, a strange, soft Indian autumn lingers or reappears well into December and you find yourself riding down roads flanked by stark, leafless trees through balmy air that seems to have been wafted up from New Orleans.
I HAVE ALWAYS LIKED BEING AT THE races, but the experience has changed over time. In 1965 I went as an open-mouthed novice, so everything was brand-new and completely intense. I knew some things about engines because I’d had an indulgent uncle who’d helped me through an overhaul or two.
With the election of George W., we may see a slowing of the loss of off-road riding areas. But the Sierra Club and other evil organizations’ efforts to eliminate all motorcycling on public lands will not end. We must stand together with the snowmobilers, ATVers, mountain bikers, etc.
Although Ducati-mounted Ben Bostrom didn’t win at last year’s Laguna Seca World Superbike round, he was certainly a main attraction. No wonder, then, that artist Tim Berry penned this print of the colorful Californian in his distinctive Captain America livery. Only 200 of the 13 x 21-inch prints are available, and those come with autographs from Bostrom and Berry. Cost is $40, plus $6 shipping and handling. Consider it a little something to hang above the mantel.
Tim Berry Motorsports Art
Alpinestars Vector MX boots
At first glance, Alpinestars’ Vector motocross boots look spacey enough to defy gravity. Unfortunately, they don’t. So why eschew more traditional-looking MX footwear? Because these come with a truckload of hightech, protective features. Most obvious is the unique, contoured rubber sole, which is reinforced with a steel shank and a replaceable footpeg insert. Other items of interest include the company’s patented ankle-support system, calf-protecting rear plate and quick-release buckle system. Cost is $250.
Tim Berry Motorsports Art
Tour Master Jackets
While everybody wants high-zoot gear, not everybody can afford to dedicate their pay-check to apparel. Where to find an inexpensive jacket that isn’t, well, cheap? Try Tour Master. The $150 TM Tech (XS-XXL sizes) is a 600-denier cordura-nylon garment with a zip-out liner, removable armor and a unisex cut that fits men and women. And the $200 Cortech Lite (right), featuring waterproofed cordura-nylon construction, also has a removable liner, armor, plenty of pockets and a built-in fanny-pack. Sometimes, you get more than what you paid for.
Tim Berry Motorsports Art
Bring Colorado Norton Works your poor, your tired, your huddled masses of Commando parts, and this is what you get back-a hot-rod Britbike with more than 30 upgrades in chassis, engine and transmission. Included in the mods are a marine-grade wiring loom, O-ring chain, easy-pull clutch, electronic ignition, sealed wheel bearings and a metric master cylinder said to absolutely transform the usually weak front disc brake. Three versions are available: the CNW Commando, the Low Rider (with seat height reduced by as much as 4 inches) and the stock-looking Original. Base price is $10,950 plus you donor bike/basketcase.
Tim Berry Motorsports Art
MBP Ducati Valve Collets
One gripe Ducati owners have concerning their bikes is the short intervals between valve-clearance inspections—as little as 3000 miles on pre-1998 models. But Canadian company Martin Brickwood Performance claims fitting its valve collets extends that interval to as much as 15,000 miles. Whereas the steel Stockers are the mechanical equivalent of putting a round peg in a square hole, MBP’s titanium-nitride-coated, billet-aluminum collets are L-shaped for a precise fit, thus minimizing wear. Suggested retail price is $150.
Tim Berry Motorsports Art
Mean Street Forks
Why is it that so many cruiser owners are willing to slap on a new set of pipes or modify their engine, but won’t touch the suspension? Well, for those prepared to take a chance, we say trade in that spindly stocker for this beefy-ass inverted fork from Mean Street. CNC-machined from billet-aluminum, it’s equipped with 54mm fork legs. For the metrically challenged, that’s more than 2 inches in diameter. End result is a full-on bruiser-cruiser look, and a tad more stability. The fork comes either polished or with a chrome finish, and pricing starts at $1599
Tim Berry Motorsports Art
Hard Krome Double D Pipes
When the box labeled “Double Ds” arrived at the CW offices, we suspected they weren’t real. As it turns out, they were indeed boltons. Pipes, that is, for most late-model Harleys. Available as a full system or in slip-on form, the chrome-plated steel pipes are made with Hard Krome’s double-wall construction, meaning that each 1.75-inch inner pipe is shielded by a larger, 2.75-inch outer pipe that inhibits bluing. Priorities, say the manufacturer, are to look good, sound good and provide a “decent” power gain. Suggested retail for these S-Bends is $500. Rejetting is urged.
THE BLUE EYES FLASHING inside the nondescript full-face Shoei could belong to almost anyone. Except they belong to "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno. But Leno's eyes don't have your attention at the moment. Rather, your focus is on the big black beast between his legs, the Motorsport Turbine Technologies Y2K-a carbon-fiber-bodied, turbine-engined monstrosity geared to go 266 mph.
Multi-time AMA Supercross Champion Jeremy McGrath made his pavement debut last November during a private test session at Southern California's Willow Springs Raceway. Sporting custom-made RS Taichi leathers with a chrome number one on his back, "SuperMac" circulated the 2.5-mile circuit with Yamaha roadrace regulars Tommy Hayden and Anthony Gobert.
Italian bike-maker Aprilia continues to tweak its RST 1000 Futura sport-tourer. Latest mods are to the seat, which has been pared down to better complement the rest of the bike. Look for the fully faired machine, which is said to produce 113 horsepower and 71 foot-pounds of torque, at dealerships this spring for $12,999 complete with saddlebags.
SACHS WAS A SMALL-engine builder in Germany from early in the last century until recent times. Now, it produces powered bicycles and some motorcycles with other companies’ engines. My jaw dropped when I saw the stunning “Beast” design study wearing the Sachs name at last September’s Intermot Show in Munich.
"Just a honk away from being the world's first perfect motorcycle," was how editors described this month’s coverbike, Yamaha’s RD400C. Seems the two-stroke parallel-Twin’s traffic trumpet “wouldn’t make a hung-over wino flinch.” The mini-Superbike’s ability to loft its front wheel was never in question, however.
IT'S A SAFE BET THAT MOST licensed motorcyclists are at least familiar with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and its RiderCourse. After all, more than 2 million street riders have gone through MSF training since its 1973 inception. What most motorcyclists may not be familiar with, however, is the MSF's Dirtbike School.
She poses majestically, every curve and contour sculpted and polished to perfection. From tires to taillight, ammeter to gas caps, every aspect of Gaétan Page's 1941 Indian Four exudes beauty—except this life-size dream machine is built entirely from wood.
UP: To Universal Studios, for giving Woody Woodpecker a really wild ride. Billed as one of biking’s biggest-ever non-endemic backings, the feisty red-haired cartoon character will adorn Honda motorcycles, personnel and transporters at AMA motocross and roadrace events during the 2001 and ’02 seasons.
WOULDN'T YOU LIKE TO be one of the guys responsible for Yamaha’s current dirtbikes? You’d be sore from all the congratulatory pats on the back. It seems they can do no wrong. From fiery, fun four-strokes to two-stroke motocross missiles, the blue streak is on a real winning track.
Suzuki's all-new GSX-R 1000 Scores a prefect 10—in more ways than one
WHETHER YOU'RE TALKING BEAM, BARS OR BIKES, NEVER underestimate the importance of a clean dismount. Nailing that crucial final element weighs heavily in the overall assessment of any gymnastics routine-or ride. In motorcycling, however, simply deploying the sidestand and casually stepping off earns high marks, despite the apparent low degree of difficulty.
This is your basic Mille, but with special sauce. The spicy tang comes from upgraded Öhlins suspension components, lighter, stronger forged wheels, better Brembo brakes, lots of carbon-fiber bits, racier graphics and more. Aprilia’s been hard at work, tweaking quietly away on what was already a stunning performance package. Styling is massaged, power is up and already excellent suspension settings have been refined. Big news for 2001, though, is that the 60-degree, counterbalanced torque-reactor V-Twin has been repositioned in the frame to improve weight distribution and handling. It needed better handling? All right then, we’ll take it. Standard RSV: $13,899. Pictured Mille R-the only real choice for the well-heeled performance junkie-will run you $17,299.
This is a very special Ducati. For while this 996 is similar in look and almost same in name, it is actually a shorter-stroke, bigger-bore, higher-revving 998cc version called the Testastretta. In simple terms, Ducati smashed more engine into a smaller space and got more power out. How much? A claimed 135 bhp. Talk about more bang! Factor in carbon-fiber bodywork, other lightweight go-fast bits and you get a claimed no-fuel weight of 407 pounds, about 30 lubs lighter than your run-of-the-street 996S. Just what the doctor ordered for this long-running classic. But the good doctor best get his order in (Ducati says just 50 at “less than $30,000” will come to the U.S.), and start renting a racetrack. Because as far as Ducati is concerned, this thing is competition-use only. Nice thing about the Italians, though, is that they seem to subscribe to the trickle-down theory when it comes to performance, so can a mass-produced street version be far behind?
Time was when big bikes were big and little bikes...well, they were big, too. Then little bikes got littler, but big bikes stayed big. Then Honda made the first big bike that really got small. The CBR900RR was born, and it was the most insane game in town. The CBR929RR is so far beyond the old 900 that if we hadn’t flogged the new one on the road and track mercilessly, we wouldn’t have believed it were true. Supple, controlled suspension, impossibly neutral and precise steering and perhaps the most-perfect inline-Four power delivery we’ve ever experienced. And if all that’s not enough for you, have a gander at the limited-edition Erion Racing color scheme (a grand more than standard) pictured here in its blacked-out-frame, custom-painted glory. Either way, what we have here is simply the most versatile, flickable, easiest-to-ride corner-carving liter bike ever made (pre-GSX-R1000, anyway—and, yes, a shootout is in the works). In standard paint, it’s yours for just $9999, making it the lowest-priced bike in the class. Power to the people, for sure.
World Superbike Championship, anyone? Honda took one, to go! And with an all-new Twin, no less. But this RC51 isn’t much like any V-Twin Superbike before it. It’s a bargain, for one-just $10,999. And although it’s got the signature 90-degree Vee Ducati made so familiar to us, it’s had the Honda stamp put on it. Which means right off the showroom floor, some 118 genuine ponies gallop out in a most un-Twin-like way. Sure, it’s perfectly linear power, but this baby screams on top in a way more reminiscent of its four-cylinder brother, the 929, than any street-going Twin before it. As you would expect, this power is carried in a most graceful way by its twin-spar alloy frame and taut, racebike-like suspension. Makes it so easy to go fast it feels like you’re cheating, which is our way of saying Honda magic has come to the V-Twin Superbike.
No, the ZX-9R is not honed to the fine edge of the other bikes here. So maybe the bike makes a compromise or two in terms of absolute flick-it-on-your-knee performance. But maybe this also means you don’t have to make so many compromises using it in real life. For while the chassis is a nominally slower-steering, larger-feeling piece, peak power’s on par with everybody else, as is quarter-mile and top speed, which, for example, is knock-knock-knocking on 170 mph’s door. So, yeah, it’s about 20 pounds up on the other Fours here, and overall damping rates are a little softer. But it’s got the most comfortable seat, most protective fairing and best riding position this side of a sport-touring bike. Sounds great, too. Just think of it as your luxury liter bike for the real world. Bring $10,199 and it’s all yours.
We suspect this was the bike that really set off the alarms in the Honda camp. Stunning, cat-eyed good looks, fabulous, light handling and an unparalleled midrange whack that’s still a thrill. Hell, it’s even pretty comfortable, too, for a bike of its “incredibility.” But it woke the sleeping Red Giant, and brought on the 929. R1 obsolete then? Hardly. That stomping midrange makes the R1 arguably more thrilling than any other streetbike. Wheel up? At will. True, at the limit, it asks for more effort and concentration than the 929, say, but that limit is way, way beyond most other motorcycles. Pictured is the $10,799 Champions Edition, a specially painted version that will run you $500 over standard. Either way, color it fast.
EYEBALLS FLATTENED WHILE YOU WAIT! AND THERE ain’t much of a wait with any one of our little collection of pumped-up, pared-down supermissile liter-bikes gathered here. So, sure, Suzuki’s new GSX-R1000 is a smokin’ fast and surely excellent expression of the maximum-horsepower/minimum-weight theory, but it’s only the most recent addition to an already crowded horsepower party.
NOBODY DOESN'T LIKE HONDA'S CBR600. EVER SINCE THE ORIGINAL HURRICANE blew onto on the scene in 1987, the CBR has been praised for its just-right combination of sporting prowess and general streetability. It has traditionally been a bike on which beginners feel right at home, experienced sport riders find easy to ride fast, and racers can put in the winner’s circle.
"I was just a guy who worked on magazines, loved motorcycles and could never find anything worthwhile to read about them."
ONE OF THE HARD THINGS ABOUT MIDDLE AGE—AND BEYOND—IS watching the people who created the world in which you grew up pass away. For me, Joe Parkhurst was one of those guys. He was editor and art director at the first high-quality karting magazine, Karting World, just as I was stepping into that mania as a 12-year-old, and—as if reading my mind—he invented the first modern motorcycle magazine, Cycle World, at the exact moment I was gripped by an early teenage passion for bikes.
Professor Robin Tuluie's divining rod for better handling
EVERY ONE OF US HAS FANTASIES OF BUILDING wonderful new motorcycles. In the imagination, engines, wheels and chassis morph into fresh and uniquely appealing combinations. The reality of making a living pulls most of us back down to earth, and our prototypes are never built.
WHO IS ROBIN TULUIE? TALL, WITH A READY GRIN, HE speaks softly, his voice marked with a subtle accent. He grew up in Stuttgart, Germany, but his family visited the U.S. while he was still a teenager. He was already a motorcycle enthusiast, busy hot-rodding mopeds in his home country.
HARLEY-DAVIDSON'S DYNA SUPER Glide T-Sport is the most recent addition to the CWlong-term fleet. New for 2001, the Twin Cam 88-engined “sport-tourer” boasts a variable height/rake windscreen and expanding cordura-nylon saddlebags, not to mention triple-disc brakes and damping-adjustable suspension.
WHEN PATRICK Stroupe started this project five years ago, the only thing he knew about BSA choppers is that he wanted one. He was unaware, for instance, that when a so-called friend offers you a 1968 Thunderbolt motor in milk crates and a hardtail frame of suspect ancestry for $100, you are supposed to run screaming in the opposite direction.
TALK ABOUT YOUR DUALpurpose bikes. Last August, Carl Morrow of Carl’s Speed Shop fame set off for the salty expanses of Bonneville, Utah, the souped-up Sportster shown here in tow. With son Doug doing the honors, “Top Gun” sped to a Southern California Timing Association Modified Pushrod Fuel record 163.245 mph.
THIS MOTORCYCLE, A nicely street-rodded Kawasaki Vulcan 1500, is more important than you might think. Explanation to follow, but first a little history would be helpful. Back in the 1940s and early ’50s, America’s motorcycles—Indian and Harley V-Twins—were heavyweight affairs, festooned with fully valanced fenders, fringed saddlebags and all manner of chromed geegaws.
THIS TZ750 STREET-racer owes its life to two separate happenings, the first being my maiden voyage to Daytona in 1985, when I came face to fairing with Yamaha’s fierce Formula One racebike. It was love at first sight. Within two years I owned a ’79 example, but it was a basketcase.
CASUAL DIRT-TRACK FANS ARE LIKELY to glance at this stuff and say something along the lines of, "Gosh, nothing in dirt-track ever changes." Not so. What we see here isn't a revolution, true. The skid shoe is still steel, the boots still lace up, the rider still spends most of the lap turning left, all as it's been for half a century.
FEW THINGS CAN UPSET A SPORT RIDER'S confidence quicker than violent headshake. Accelerating hard over a bumpy road surface or landing a wheelie with the bars turned are common causes of the dreaded steering-stop slam-dance. But a steering stabilizer can help eliminate this tendency, and improve your bike's overall stability at the same time.
The French take a good ol’ American weird idea and make it uniquely their own
AH, THE FRENCH. ALWAYS SO PROtective of their land and way of life. They've resisted importing Hollywood movies, tried to shut out non-French words from their language and pelted Euro Disney with negativity since the day it opened. And the Maginot Line notwithstanding, they've done a pretty fair job of keeping the outside out and preserving their highly cultured culture.
The Dunlop tire test held every winter at Daytona International Speedway has moved beyond just a basic rubber-burning exercise for the giant tire company. Certainly, tire performance is still the principal issue, but with virtually every factory and satellite AMA Superbike team using Dunlops, it also gives us our first glimpse of what the paddock will look like in the coming season.
Terry Vance is no dummy. But sometimes, you have to wonder what he’s thinking. No longer charged with Ducati’s U.S. Superbike effort, the dragracing legend and exhaust maker has shifted his focus to fielding an NHRA Pro Stocker for-drum roll, please—Harley-Davidson.
Americans have tasted ultimate success in most forms of motorcycle sports. Whether in roadracing, motocross, speedway, even observed trials, at least one world champion has regarded the Stars and Stripes as his banner. Not so in the world of enduro racing, and particularly not its premier event, the International Six Days Enduro.
Who among you is old enough to remember Virginia International Raceway-a beautiful racetrack in a beautiful place? The last time I was there was in 1974, at an AAMRR regional race, with a Yamaha TZ750A. Since then, I’ve heard little about it.
I have a 2000 Honda CBR929RR that came stock with Michelin Pilot Sport tires, a 120/70ZR17 in the front and a 190/50ZR17 in the rear. My question is, how do these Michelins compare to the new Bridgestone BT010s? Wear is not a concern for me; I just want to know that I have the stickiest street tires available under me.
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