AIN’T IT NICE TO HAVE THE BAD-ASS motorcycle back among us? After years of dumbed-down standards and tepid, cookie-cutter cruisers, bikes with balls are on the rebound. Witness the latest examples in this issue, Yamaha's FZ-1, MV Agusta’s Brutale and Honda’s whacking great VTX1800.
SO THERE I WAS ON SUNDAY NIGHT, working quietly in my garage and wondering if I would, at any moment, go up in a big orange ball of flame. The problem was, I'd just dumped a full gallon of gasoline into the tank of a newly acquired green 1973 Honda CB350G and I'd forgotten these things have underslung crossover hoses to equalize the fuel level in both sides of the tank.
STOPPING POWER OF STREETBIKES IS not really an issue these days. Production brakes work so well now that they can remain functional while becoming part of styling-disc carriers have swoopy cut-outs and the rotors themselves display eye-catching waves, holes and slots.
It's bizarre that a twist of fate or a chance meeting with a person can affect the outcome of your life and help chart your future. While languishing in a London hospital bed during the early Sixties, nursing self-inflicted wounds related to ambition over talent between my BSA Gold Star scrambler and terra firma, I decided to recuperate by hitching a ride with BSA works rider Jeff Smith and become a journalist for six months.
Children aren't the only ones who appreciate new toys. Which explains why the filter folks over at K&N are offering a 1/9-scale version of Steve Johnson's K&N Pro Stock Suzuki. The nifty little machine's handlebars move, wheels roll and the bodywork can be removed to reveal the dragbike's complex innards. Only 1500 of these limited-edition models are available, so order one for your inner child at $119 a pop.
Joe Rocket Jackets
Textiles are no longer limited to the touring guys. Even the sportbike-apparel guys at Joe Rocket are embracing non-leather. Two such heavy-duty polyester wraps include the $200 Meteor and the $240 Ballistic jackets. The former is waterproof, cinches at the waist, and has zippered vents and removable armor, back padding and liner. The three-quarter-length latter is also waterproof and has a slew of pockets inside and out, plus removable armor and insulated liner. Both jackets come in a host of colors and sizes.
Sportbike riders interested in customizing their motorcycles need not settle for faux carbon bits. Now they can get the real deal from North Carolina's TNT, which manufactures its add-ons from 100 percent aerospace-grade carbon-fiber. With seven years experience making NASCAR race-car parts, the company is now doing fuel-tank inserts, chain guards and ram-air covers for Kawasaki's ZX-12. C-F components for other latemodel sportbikes are in the offing, and pricing starts at $73.
Aerostich Titanium Tire Irons
Murphy's Law means that off-road motorcyclists should be equipped to change a flat. But, you say, schlepping heavy steel tire irons can be cumbersome. Well, try these Titanium Tire Irons from Aerostich. Each 2.2-ounce bar is 9.25 inches long, and curved spoon ends are said to easily separate tire from rim, and inhibit pinching of tubes. Put a pair in your fannypack for $47, or go for a set of three for $67
Sometimes, everybody needs cool stuff. This is one of those times. From Oakley for '01 are this medium-sized duffel, Chop Saw shoes and Straight Jacket shades. For $120, the ballistic-nylon-and-mesh gearbag has nine spacious compartments for hauling moto-wear and such. And for après-moto the funky Chop Saws, for $90, come in several colors and have Oakley's patented sole and aggressive tread pattern, as well as breathable uppers. Finally, the $180 sunglasses come with bug-blocking fire-iridium lenses that look way wild while being optically correct. Lightweight, flame-emblazoned frame is the clincher.
Harley-Davidson Antiqued Clock
Harley-Davidson owners are always looking for the ultimate accessory. Well, now they can even accessorize their living rooms. From The Motor Company comes this Antiqued Cherry Clock. The wood timepiece features a sleek cherry finish (duh...) and sports an illustration of a vintage Harley K-model on its face. The analog clock measures 14 inches in diameter, and runs on AA batteries that aren't included in the $80 price.
Schuberth Concept Helmet
Leave it to the Germans to come up with a better flip-up lid. Manufactured by Deutchiand's Schuberth, a.k.a. maker of BMW helmets, the newly imported Concept starts with a carbon-fiber-composite shell and incorporates intake and exhaust vents, an anti-lift spoiler in the rear and a built-in retractable sun visor. Not to mention the one-touch flip-up chin bar that's activated by a button on the helmet's side. DOT-approved, it's available in solid colors and costs $399.
AXO MMzero Jersey
While there's plenty of motocross apparel out there, tracking down gear that looks good and lasts isn't always so easy. AXO wants to change that, which is where the MMzero Jersey comes in. The breathable, stain-resistant shirt is made from double-stitched polyester, and features injected graphics instead of screen-printing to reduce fading. V-neck collar, seamless raglan-cut sleeves, loose cuffs and an extra-long tail contribute to a comfortable fit. Available in five color combos and in sizes SXXL, the jersey costs $50.
THIS IS HONDA'S NEW Grand Prix roadracing engine, the V-Five RC211V. Designed to suit the FIM's generous 2002 offer of 990cc for four-stroke GP engines, this is the first of the projected next generation of engines to see the light of day.
When it burst on the scene in 1997, the 1595 Daytona was the first Hinckleybuilt Triumph designed to go head to head with repli-racers from Japan and italy. Now, the British bike-maker has unveiled its next-generation flagship sportbike, the 2002 Daytona 955i.
Honda has released more details on its four-stroke motocrosser, officially known as the CRF450R. The liquidcooled, four-valve, 449cc Single has a 96.0 x 62.1mm bore and stroke, and uses a single overhead camshaft, which acts directly on the intake valves and, via a forked rocker, also controls the exhausts.
HOT OFF ITS EIGHTH CONsecutive year of record sales, BMW has cut loose with a boatload of mods to two of its more popular models. This is no biennial deckswabbing, either. In the case of the R11150RT, it's all but a stemto-stern re-do.
Two-stroke fever seemed to be this issue's theme, at least according to the cover, with new motocrossers from Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha going head to head. Twenty color and black-and-white pages were devoted to the "Japanese 250 MX Comparison," in which editors considered the four two-strokes' pricing, lap times, dyno testing and more.
AT DUCATI's WINTER TEST sessions in Valencia, Spain, and Kyalami, South Africa, the factory 996Rs ridden by Troy Bayliss, Ben Bostrom and Ruben Xaus were mules for ideas perhaps soon to be seen in Grand Prix racing. The bikes carried Marelli's Selespeed automated clutching and shifting system developed from those used on Formula One cars, and now appearing on certain Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin and Ferrari production models.
UP: To the Winter X Games, for adding motorcycles to the mix. A spin-off of ESPN's popular Summer X Games, the winter sports festival this year rolled out "Moto X Big Air," a freestyle jump competition using snow-covered take-off and landing ramps.
JUST WHAT IS IN the water-cooler over at Yamaha? Lately, these cats can do no wrong. R1 and R6 sportbikes? Tape-measure home runs. YZ-F moto-Thumpers? Two more dingers. And after a so-so showing with the retro Royal Star V-Four, Yammie crunched another one into the cheap seats with the Road Star V-Twin, maybe the best of the "metric" megacruisers (apologies to Kawasaki's Vulcan 1500).
SO, WHAT'S YOUR TASTE IN BURNOUTS? YOU LIKE THE FRANTIC, pitched screech that comes from full-throttle, dump-the-clutch-start-grabbing-upshifts burnies? Or do you prefer the lazier part-throttle churn that makes the rear tire groan as the bike lunges forward?
CALIFORNIA'S Low DESERT IS BEAUTIfully breathtaking in a desolate sort of way. The arid space is solitary and never-ending, and seems just the slightest bit dangerous. Hunkered down in the San Jacinto foothills is Palm Springs, home to ritzy resorts, high-dollar spas and posh retreats that house Hollywood starlets in need of "a short rest."
PITY THE POOR F6 VALKYRIE, ONCE THE SIX-CYLINDERED flagship of Honda's cruiser line, now relegated to bitplayer status by the bad-boy VTX1800. Or maybe not. The PR crew at Big Red was very antsy to get these photos into our hands. What they show are a trio of spectacular concept bikes all based around Honda's signature flat-Six powerplant.
MUCH CAN BE SAID FOR LEAVING A LITTLE SOMETHING to the imagination. Whether you're gazing at an exotic dancer or a luscious naked bike, a bit of cloak and cover can bounce your libido against the rev-limiter. It's the simple suggestion of what lies beyond.
SO THE FZ-1 SUPER-STANDARD PACKS A REAL PUNCH. IF you're Yamaha, why not make it a 1-2 combo, with the knockout blow coming by way of the FJR1300 sporttourer, SO far a Euro-only device? "We've had tremendous response to the FJR1300," admitted a Yamaha U.S.
THE EARTH TREMBLED, BOULDERS TUMBLED, STEAM BILLOWED FROM THE MOUNtaintop and then it exploded, shooting flames a thousand feet high. Brimstone rained down from the heavens, lava flowed in crimson streams, and when the smoke finally cleared, there amid the jagged black volcanic rock stood a vision in shimmering silver: The Aprilia RST 1000 Futura was born.
APRILIA'S RSV MILLE HIT AMERICAN SOIL LAST YEAR, and wasted no time winning our Sport-Twins comparison test. Shortly thereafter, the Italian bike-maker unleashed the even racier Mule R, which came standard with race-spec Ohlins suspension, lightweight forged-aluminum wheels and various carbon-fiber bits.
MV AGUSTA PICKED THE PERFECT NAME FOR THE stripper version of its F4 sportbike. The raw forcefulness with which the limited-edition, carbon-fiber-and-magnesium Serie Oro Brutale accelerates-not to mention the breathtaking exhaust note that accompanies that acceleration-can only be described one way: Brutal.
WHEN DUCATI CHIEF DESIGNER PIERRE TERBLANCHE got the green light for the MH900e, he didn't realize the resulting machine would be regarded more as an icon of past glories than as what it actually is: a simple, stylish motorcycle. Oldsters were reminded of the original 900SS-based Mike Hailwood Replica, one of the hottest mounts around, but Terblanche himself sees the MH900e as a modern interpretation of the old thunderer with a couple of common landmarks to signify the passing of the torch.
IF A DIRTIBIKE FALLS IN THE FOREST AND NOBODY else hears it, did it fall at all? I ask this because I'm deep in the woods of South Carolina, deeply embarrassed that the other guys are having to wait for me, I'm sweating bullets, my goggles are completely fogged over and if I have to kickstart this friggin' diesel one more time, I'm gonna kill someone!
THOUGH MOST OFF-ROAD RIDERS CONTEMPLATING A small-bore Thumper will probably run out and buy a new Yamaha WR250F, there are those for whom a TT-R250 might be a better bet. The TT-R's electric starting and torquey power output are much easier to deal with than the WR's kickstarting and rev-happy engine.
FAITHFUL READERS ARE FAMILIAR with our Cagiva Gran Canyon. We gave it a glowing review in our February, 1999, issue, awarded it an honorable mention in that year's "Ten Best" and included it in our April, 2000, "Ghost Town Tour." Since then, we've been piling on the miles.
CARBON-FIBER, ONCE AN EXCLUSIVE material rarely seen on anything not bearing the NASA moniker, is weaving its way into the hands of the common motorcycle rider. Quite literally, in the case of the Carbontec gloves from German leather-maker Büse.
CARL FOGARTY REGARDS HIMSELF AS "A FAR BETTER rider than Barry Sheene ever was." Same goes for other British roadracing legends such as Geoff Duke, Phil Read and John Surtees. Only the late Mike Hailwood "was any good—and he was brilliant."
THIS IS THE HISTORY OF RACING ON THE BONNEVILLE Salt Flats, and a rich volume it is, full of the names that created hot-rodding, and full of the simple, powerful enthusiasm that drives such people. Bonneville is an otherworldly place, the bed of an ancient salt lake, rimmed by faraway mountains that float between salt and sky.
ALLEN NOREN HAS THE ADVENTUROUS heart of a motorcyclist. From his home in California, he has traveled by foot, airplane, bicycle, train, automobile and kayak through some 40 countries, though before the trip described in Storm, his first book, he had never ridden a motorcycle.
HERE'S A NOVEL CONCEPT: HOW ABOUT boots that separate above the ankle, so that you can wear just the lower part on hot days or while walking around off the bike? Okay, so maybe it isn't as clever an idea as feeding tuna fish mayonnaise, but it's pretty witty, huh?
THIS THIRD-MILLENNIUM THING IS turning out to be pretty complicated. Take riding jackets: Time was, you bought something in black leather and had at it, but today's high-tech textiles are enough to make your head spin! One such jacket we've tried recently and liked is the Sprint from Teknic (say “technique”).
Can America finally build a competitive Superbike?
BIG THINGS ARE HAPPENING WITH THE HARLEY-DAVIDSON VR1000 Superbike. After seven seasons of operation by a separate racing group within the company, the work is being taken back in-house by an expanded new team. In the 13 years that the VR project has existed, Harley's engineering department has been transformed by manager Earl Werner.
You’ve got to hand it to Noriyuki Haga. He doesn’t mince his words. This, for example, shortly before the 2001 roadracing season officially got under way: “Of course, 1 plan to get some wins. If possible, the world championship.” Haga was outlining his aims for his first year in the Grands Prix, riding the Red Bull Yamaha YZR500 that has taken the place of his YZF-R7 World Superbike.
I have a 1996 Kawasaki ZX-9R that I bought brand-new. I've always treated the bike properly and serviced it according to the manual in regard to things like valve adjustments, carb synchronization, etc., but it has begun to vibrate badly.
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