CAN IT REALLY BE TEN BEST BIKES time again? Man, how times flies when you’re flogging other people’s motorcycles. In fact, it has been 12 issues (or 70 testbikes, 1816 pages, some 2000 rolls of film, two crunched GSX-Rs, a broken clavicle, a cracked navicular, a screwed-and-glued fibula, a van engine rebuild and a fuel tab that would do a B52 proud, if you’re counting) since the staff sat down over a good lunch and tallied up votes for Ten Best Bikes 2000.
DURING THE GEOLOGY 101 COURSE I took at the University of Wisconsin, I was always a bit disconcerted by the similarity between the shape of the last great North American glacier and the big blue peninsula of cold temperatures depicted on the Midwestern weather map during the winter months.
As LONG AS THERE HAVE BEEN RUBBER tires, the hardness of tread rubber has been an important variable. In pavement tires, tread rubber must be soft enough to take a full impression of the road surface, ensuring maximum engagement and grip.
I just had to write about May’s Honda VTX1800 test. I don’t think you quite realize the importance of the beautiful, powerful beast Honda has treated us to. What I see is art, art that rumbles and hauls butt. The sound, the seat-of-the-pants feel—a lot of soul and passion went into this bike.
How’s this for the ultimate in adaptability? Diadora’s 2 Fit System Boot employs adjustable, removable plastic armor over a perforated neoprene “sock,” which in turn incorporates gel padding at the shin. The result is a protective boot that not only fits practically any size calf, but can be worn over or under jeans, a riding suit, leathers, etc. Additionally, the boot is equipped with a full-grain leather upper and ankle protection. Available in black, red or blue and in a range of sizes, they cost $250.
Discomfort in the nether regions can be a nasty byproduct of an otherwise-pleasant, high-mileage motorcycle ride. How to prevent this? Why, with Aerostich Riding Shorts. Made from stretchy lycra, they’re padded like bicycling shorts. Only instead of a chamois, they use fleece to soften your ride. At $27 a pop, they come in black only, and in sizes S-XL. Good riddance, then, to monkey butt!
Yuasa Jumper Cables
Most motorcycles have limited storage space, so riders are picky about what they carry along. Bulky jumper cables don’t usually make the cut. But sometimes you need them, which is where Yuasa’s new Jumper Cables come in. Developed with compactness in mind, the 8-gauge cables are tangle-resistant and are equipped with small alligator clips designed specifically for bike batteries. A handy carrying case is included in the $15 price.
Buell Radical Paint Set
Want to individualize your Buell X1? Try the appropriately named Radical Paint Set. The “Liquid Lightning, Yellow Scalloped Flames over Burgundy” paint scheme adorns the front fender, fairing, fuel tank, front spoiler and tailsection. But act fast, as only 100 of these handcrafted sets are available. Suggested retail price is $2299.
MSR 30th Anniversary Jacket
Malcolm Smith Racing is celebrating its 30th birthday in style, by offering this limited-edition leather jacket. The retro-looking wrap features embossed racing patches, an embroidered collar and a lightweight taffeta lining. It comes in black-and-gray, and in men’s sizes M-XXL. But the real news is that each jacket is signed by Malcolm himself. That alone is worth the $300 asking price!
Liquid Bar Snake
Granted, the Bar Snake is nothing new. In fact, it’s been used to rid handlebars of buzziness for years. But the Liquid Bar Snake, well, that’s new. Designed for Pro-Taper-style handlebars, it’s said to reduce vibration just like the original product. Only this newest iteration comes in liquid form, and it solidifies after being poured into any tube-type handlebar up to 52 inches long. It costs between $40 and $50.
Infinity Task Lights
Motorcyclists should carry a flashlight, period. Two good examples to consider are the infinity Task Light and the 0-4 Mini Task Light. Both are equipped with high-intensity LED bulbs that cast a bright 10-foot beam of light, and boast 100,000 hours of life. At $16, the waterproof 0-4 has a plastic body with rubber overgrip, and is about the size of a quarter (it comes with a battery). Its larger, $20 counterpart features an aircraft-grade-aluminum shell and runs on AA batteries (which are not included).
Factura proforma Terramaster II Tripmeter
Rally racers aren’t the only off-roaders interested in high-zoot tripmeters. Which is exactly why Spain’s Factura Proforma is offering the Terramaster II. This compact, easily installed unit fits most late-model dirtbikes, and features a bunch of, well, features: An odometer, adjustable tripmeter, a clock and peak-speed readouts are standard fare. The nifty, battery-operated gadget is programmable in both kilometers and miles, and costs $193.
EXCELSIOR-HENDERSON, re-born eight years ago as a challenger to Harley-Davidson, may be down for the count. EH Partners, the Florida-based investor group that once claimed it would re-start production, has done little but sell off assets since it took control of the company last fall in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding.
CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF big-bore retro-bikes? Ditto Suzuki, it would appear. The Japanese bikemaker recently unveiled a pair of sporty Open-classers, at least one of which appears to be tailor-made for the U.S. market. Powered by a beautifully detailed, fuel-injected, 140lcc inline-Four, the GSX1400 super-standard is physically similar in size to the current Bandit 1200.
Swiss specialist-firm Sauber, together with Malaysian sponsor/partner Petronas, revealed its contribution to the dawning new era of four-stroke 500cc Grand Prix roadracing the day before the Japanese GP at Suzuka. Costing $2.3 million to date, the engine, described as either having been designed by the peripatetic Osamu Goto or a team of Malaysian engineers, is a 989cc inline-Three with pneumatic valves, likely derived from the Sauber-Petronas Formula One autoracing engine.
After nearly six years as a CW staffer, Associate Editor Wendy F. Black has gone on to greener pastures—literally. Now employed at Freeman/McCue Public Relations, Kawasaki’s PR agency, Wendy generates press for Team Green’s dragand roadracing efforts.
HONDA’S CRF450R is a go, and we’ve got the inside line! Big Red’s long-awaited four-stroke motocrosser will hit dealer showrooms in October and cost $6299. Boasting all kinds of techotrickery, including a tiny gear-driven counterbalancer, the 65-pound, wet-sump powerplant reportedly puts out 55 horsepower at 9000 rpm and 36 footpounds of torque at 7000 rpm.
French bike-maker Voxan alleges its new Scrambler is “the Yamaha XT500 of the 21st century.” Those are big words, given the single-cylinder XT was famously user-friendly. Styled by Thierry Henriette, the Scrambler is a simple, straightforward machine that should indeed prove versatile.
This issue was so vintage1970s, I swear it got me high! The cover story was an off-road comparison between a pair of two-stroke enduro models, Hodaka’s 250ED Thunderdog and Honda’s MR250. What were they smoking? Pre-mix, apparently...
SCOOTERS ARE ON THE move-again. Not since 1987, when annual sales maxed out at 153,000 units, have the small-tired urban trawlers shown such growth. Chalk up the increase to a stream of new imports, plus a budding youth movement. “Young people are into scooters,” confirms industry-analyst Don Brown.
DOWN; To the crass commercialization of Ducati. Following in the footsteps of that “other” American-owned motorcycle manufacturer, Ducati is branching out into all sorts of nonmotorcycling products, such as toys, watches, perfume and now that last bastion of decency, underwear!
SO THERE I WAS, BEING interrogated by the police for the third time in as many hours. What was up with that? Apparently, the cops had issues with my bike-Suzuki’s GS500. Now, this entry-level middleweight has hardly changed since 1989. And even then, its air-cooled, dohc, two-valve-percylinder, 487cc parallel-Twin borrowed heavily from the earlyEighties GS450.
ELECTING THIS YEAR’S BEST SUPERBIKE FOR Cycle World's annual Ten Best Bikes couldn’t have been easier. Over lunch, Mr. Moderator Edwards said something like, “I nominate the Suzuki GSX-R1000, all in favor?” Yeah, yep, sure, right, burp, came the unanimous grunts of editorial staff approval.
IT SEEMS APPROPRIATE that a man who works for toy giant Mattel would build himself a giant toy. And if this stretched 1971 Moto Guzzi Eldorado’s flamboyant paint and flathead V-Eight powerplant suggest Hot Wheels, well, that’s probably not an accident.
ARLEN NESS HAS HIS eye on sportbikes. and he really likes what he sees. The king of motor cycle modifiers is in no way done with "traditional" cus toms, but he's certainly thinking more about corner carvers. He even has a Kawasaki ZX-12R on order.
ORDINARILY, THE SIGHT lof an original Ferrari Testa Rossa going down the road would make me drop whatever I was doing to look. But on this particular occasion I didn’t dare drop what I was doing, because I was helping Pete Bothwell unload his immaculate Kawasaki ZRX1100.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE important. Homer Knapp, owner of these two Ariels, arrived at the CW photo studio with the periodpiece customs lashed into the bed of a well-faded 1959 Ford Ranchero, held tight with lovely mil-spec tiedowns that may or may not have been lifted from the cargo deck of a C-124 Globemaster bound for the Korean War.
Riding the 996R, MH900e and Monster S4, when not eating paella with sea creatures
ON THE IBERIA AIRLINES FLIGHT TO SPAIN, I WAS sitting in a coach-class seat with my lanky frame compressed into the folded mousetrap position, reading a magazine article about Basque separatists and their terrorist bombing campaigns.
It's different strokes for different folks as the KTM 520 E/XC takes on the Suzuki DR-Z400E, Gas Gas XC300, Yamaha WR25OF, KTM 200 E/XC and TM 125E in a battle of strange-displacement enduros
520 E/XC RACING
PROBABLY THE WORST PART OF MY JOB AS OFFRoad Editor is getting sucked into a conversation with a rabid off-road rider contemplating a new purchase. Lately, they’ve all started out the same: “So, Lip thinking ,about getting one of those new Yamaha WR250Fs.
SOMETIMES, PICKING THE TEN BEST BIKES OF THE YEAR IS EASY. Other times, it’s hard. Sometimes, shootouts in each and every one of the categories give us clearcut winners, so deciding the Best Bike is a simple matter of re-reading the last paragraph of each.
IF IT WEREN’T FOR THE AMAZING NEW GSX-R1000, THIS BIKE would have had a serious shot at recapturing the Best Superbike title it won last year. Not only was the GSXR750 deemed the best Gixxer for the masses in our April issue’s “Family Feud” cover story, it also set third-quickest time in this issue’s “Master Blasters” shootout.
WE’VE ALL BEEN TEMPTED TO RIDE naked. No? Right, too cold if it’s cold, and if it’s hot, well, think of the sunburn. Really, though, it would be amazingly convenient, except for the lack of pockets. So it’s better to wear something. Versatility is the key: cool when it’s hot, dry when it’s wet, and warm when it’s cool.
HERE WAS MY DILEMMA: LONGTIME industry-guy Gary LaPlante called to ask if I would be interested in attending his MotoVentures Dirtbike School. Now, I love riding dirtbikes. But I hate school. Such were the seemingly conflicting thoughts running through my head when Mr. LaPlante unknowingly closed the deal with, “You know, Wendy, the better dirtbike rider you are, the more fun you’ll have.” Never one to turn down a good time, I asked, “When should I be there?” “There” turned out to be LaPlante’s 400-acre spread, which includes hundreds of miles of single-track, doubletrack and fireroad.
ONCE AGAIN ABLE TO RESIST THE temptation of getting trashed on tequila and jumping a flight to Mexico, ghost writing the story from a hotel in Guadalajara as Mexican prostitutes took unreadable lap charts from the Speedvision satellite feed of the 2001 Le Mans 24-Hour, laptop and I actually made it to France.
For a guy nicknamed “Mr. Daytona,” Scott Russell sure has been unlucky there. Forget for a moment his record five Daytona 200 victories, or the time he got punched in the face in a nightclub, and focus instead on this year’s starting-line melee, and of the similar incident that occurred a dozen years earlier.
I want to retrofit a working kickstarter to the Twin Cam 88 engine in my stock Harley-Davidson Dyna Wide Glide, but I’ve heard that it can’t be done. I’ve been told that a new bracket has been developed that will allow an H-D fourspeed kicker transmission to bolt up to the Twin Cam engine, but that it requires some frame modifications.
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