LETTERS, BOY DO WE GET LETTERS. Lately, it seems everybody from greasy one-percenters to button-down CPAs wants to weigh-in on le subjet du jour, Harley-Davidson’s new V-Rod power-cruiser—which, judging from the pros and cons arriving here almost daily, should have been named the "Lightning Rod." One especially insightful e-mail got my attention.
"I'VE DECIDED TO GET A MOTORCYCLE again," my old buddy Jim Wargula told me over the phone one Saturday morning last month. "I was wondering if I could come over and take a ride on your Ducati 900SS. It's one of the bikes I'm considering, but I've never ridden one." "Sure," I said, "come on over.
EARLY INTERNAL-COMBUSTION ENGINES weighed a hundred or more pounds per horsepower. Reasons? They resembled the dominant power source of 1860, the steam engine. Major parts were cast in gray iron, cranks turned once or twice a heartbeat and combustion pressure was feeble.
I really need a Suzuki B-King ("Supercharged," CW, February, 2002). How much more American can you get? Too much power, too much rubber, too many gadgets. Mahlon Pitt Tulsa, Oklahoma Other than Yamaha's MT-01 concept bike, there haven't been many motorcycles I would classify as a must-have.
HIKE UP YOUR LEDERhosen, Beemerphiles, BMW is readying a retro-style touring version of its popular Boxer-engined cruiser, the R 1200C. A pair of lightly camouflaged prototypes of the fairing- and saddlebag-equipped machine was recently spotted undergoing testing in Europe, along with a street-fighter version of the current R1150R roadster.
Is this Yuppie Heaven or what? A Bimmer towing a Beemer on—get this—a BMW trailer? Hey, if Munich included a trophy wife as part of this package, the Silicon Valley would be overrun with the things! What we have here is BMW's new Multi-Trailer, all Euro-chic'ed out with color-matched molding and cool wheels.
Last year at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez, Ducati announced that it would join the MotoGP fray sometime in the future. Naturally, everyone expected the nine-time World Superbike Champion to do so with one of its trademark desmodromic V-Twins.
IF YOU'RE GOING TO JUMP THE Grand Canyon, you might as well do a few tricks while you're at it, right? Unlike Robbie Knievel's 231-foot hurdling act from several years ago, which ended with the daredevil over-jumping his landing ramp and cartwheeling through the weeds, factory Suzuki motocrosser and freestyle champ Travis Pastrana wasn’t trying to clear the Little River Gorge near Cameron, Arizona.
What with all the how-to articles in this issue, the pages were destined to collect more than their fair share of greasy fingerprints—at least from gearhead readers. If the seven-page section covering the basics of fine-tuning vacuum-, fixed-venturi and Lectron-type slide carburetors wasn't rich enough, then perhaps "Showdown for Shocks" suitably fattened the mix.
"WE MADE THIS CAR because we wanted to show people we were capable of producing a high-performance four-wheeled machine," explained Suzuki's Toshimi Hashimoto as he strapped me into the Formula Hayabusa, a race-ready open-wheeler that combines the fruits of the company's motorcycle and automobile programs.
Is the third time 'round a charm for Triumph's TT600? Despite a year's worth of updates, the '02 TT costs the same as it did last year—$8299. The Caspian Blue paint returns, too, though the bike is now also available in yellow or black with color-matched air-intake snorkels.
UP: To us, for not killing ourselves anymore. During a four-year period in the late 1990s, Angeles Crest Highway, the popular stretch of Southern California blacktop known officially as State Highway 2, saw 24 deaths and 285 in juries, most of which were reportedly motorcyclists riding beyond their abilities.
AS A HARDCORE SPORTbike type, I’ll own up to having limited saddletime on cruisers. But if the latest iteration of Honda's piston-pounding VTX1800 offers any indication, I apparently jumped in at the right end of the spectrum. In recent months, I’ve spent quite a bit of time aboard both the original VTX1800C, which was unleashed on the public late last year, and this new model dubbed the "R" for, you guessed it, "Retro." It's exactly that—a retrofitted C, which by no means is a bad thing.
LAS VEGAS REPRESENTS A pretty safe bet as the site for a new sportbike introduction. Aside from its state-of-the-art motor speedway and abundance of luxury casino accommodations, there's the famed Vegas Strip. In the land of liberal drinking laws and round-the-clock entertainment, how can a moto-journalist be entirely certain it was, in fact, a bike's handling that was shaky?
CAN’T BE RIGHT. SIMPLY DOESN’T make sense. How can this motorcycle, Honda’s thoroughly reworked 2002 Interceptor, excite beyond belief all those who throw a leg over it, yet appear on paper to be only mediocre, at least when judged against other Open-class sportbikes?
AS AN ENGINE REVS UP, TO FILL ITS CYLINDERS IN THE shortest time available, it needs either more valve area or longer valve timing. At low revolutions, large valve area and lengthened timing result in low intake velocity, poor fuel mixing and weak torque.
PICTURE, IF YOU WILL your favorite sportbike backroad. Twisting, perfect pavement, not a ripple, sealer stripe, pothole or bump to be found. Are you with me? Good. Now take a deep breath, we are going to our happy place, where there’s no traffic to slow us down, not even an oil stain on the perfectly manicured macadam that stretches to Never-Never Land...
TIME TO CHECK SENSIBILITIES AT THE front door. See, I happen to own a 1948 Chief, a "real" Indian, apogee of marque, possessed of the most distinctive silhouette in all of motorcycling. Skirted fenders, doughnut tires, girder fork, sprung solo saddle, robust sidevalve V-Twin—arguably the ultimate American highway cruiser.
AFTER A LONG RIDE ON THE ZX-9R AND A thoughtful look at the performance numbers, a liter-class sportbike fan is left with a lot of questions. Like, where’s the fuel-injection? Where’s the inverted fork? Why is it that while competing manufacturers add horsepower and shave pounds off their big-bore flagships, Kawasaki lays a heavy massage on its Niner and ends up with a bike that is heavier and produces nominally less horsepower than the previous model?
THE ETV1000 CAPONORD HAD TO come sooner or later. Long before Aprilia was known for supersport machines, its road-going "enduros" were famous. After all, BMW based its first 650cc Single closely on Aprilia's own single-cylinder design, and the Germans even pragmatically let the Italian company build the F650 for the first several years.
ENJOY RIDING YOUR DIRTBIKE WHILE YOU STILL CAN, ’CAUSE our time is limited. From land closures to noise restrictions to emissions standards, your buddies the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Coalition and the Center for Biological Diversity are working overtime to erase off-road fun from your agenda.
HE WAS THE MAN IN BLACK. He was an icon in the high-powered world of automobile racing, a seven-time Winston Cup Champion considered the point man in NASCAR’s growth from a redneck wreckfest to a runaway sports-entertainment vehicle. He possessed the most fierce desire to win of anyone who ever strapped into a racecar, a drive that helped him become the most respected and admired, the most feared and hated competitor in his sport.
AS WE WATCH THE LATE DALE Earnhardt ascend into the Elvisland of fable and legend, I keep trying to recall if the great race driver spent a whole lot of time on a motorcycle. I'm sure he owned some—no doubt Harleys, because he was an All-American kind of guy—but I tend to think of him more behind the wheel of a Chevy pickup with a gun rack than hauling ass on a big humper from Milwaukee.
"IT'S SO MUCH easier now," laments renowned custom-bike builder Denny Berg. "Back in the ’70s, we had to make everything ourselves. These days, people say they 'build' bikes, but they’re really just assembling them from aftermarket parts." Berg, for his part, still builds bikes the old-fashioned way.
NOISE IS A BIG PROBLEM THESE DAYS, particularly off-road. Do not be fooled into thinking less sound equals more ground, but becoming a better neighbor will help in the fight to keep what little land we still have open. FMF Racing’s new Q four-stroke muffler is paving the way.
Before aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss took to the air, he showed Harley and Indian how it was done
SUCH IS THE PACE AND PATH OF TECHNICAL progress that if this 1906 Curtiss V-Twin was presented to a modern-day motorcyclist, most of what was conventional on this machine-as in atmospheric intake valves, no suspension, total lack of clutch or gearbox-would be baffling, if not quaint.
Glenn Curtiss: inventor, manufacturer, racer, pilot
GLENN CURTISS, BORN IN 1878, rode four career waves, put huge energy into everything he did, and died at age 52. Motorcyclists link his name to the frightening V-Eight land-speed-record bike he built using one of his 264-cubic-inch aircraft engines in 1906-’07.
Outlaw stunt riders gain mainstream recognition. The question is, do they want it?
WHACKED-OUT PSYCHOS WITH A DEATH WISH? Or two-wheeled gymnasts forging new ground in an evolving dance between man and machine? Either way, pavement-based sportbike stunt riders are making a mark on motorcycling and, slowly but spectacularly, creeping into the mainstream.
How much better could the start of a guy’s professional Supercross career go? Not much better than it’s gone for Kawasaki’s latest 125cc phenom, James “Bubba” Stewart, who in his second Pro race became the youngest main-event winner in supercross history.
I recently installed a digital temperature gauge on my '99 Harley-Davidson Twin Cam Ultra Classic, which has 64,000 miles on it. The gauge is from Harley's Parts & Accessories catalog, and it's a replacement dipstick that has an LCD temperature readout in the cap.
When adjusting or replacing a drive chain, it's easy to get the wheel to move rearward; turning the adjuster bolts literally forces it to slide in that direction, even against considerable resistance. But sometimes, moving the rear wheel forward can be difficult, either because of a tight fit or dirt and grime that has accumulated around the parts that have to slide against one another.
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