Funny HOW THINGS WORK OUT, AIN'T it? Eight months ago, a band of misbegotten zealots tried to strike fear into American hearts with terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Like Hitler and Hirohito found out after December 7, 1941, it did not work.
As A MOTORCYCLE MAGAZINE GUY, I am occasionally singled out as a lightning rod for complaints—generally couched in the form of questions—about the state of the bike industry, motorcycle design, new technology and so on. Usually, of course, I have no good answers to these questions because I'm wondering about them myself.
REMEMBER THIS FROM PHYSICS 101? Aerodynamic drag is the transfer of energy from a moving vehicle to the air through which it moves. Let's build upon that. A simple measure of the air accelerated by vehicle motion is given by "frontal area." This is measured by pointing the vehicle straight at a distant light source (for example, the sun, just after dawn) and then tracing around its shadow, cast onto a large piece of paper hung behind it.
I've been reading CW for nearly 30 years, but nothing has ever matched the pure entertainment of David Edwards' May Up Front colunm, "Mad Max found!" If, however, anyone be lieves a nearly stock Yamaha V-Max with a slick and wheelie bar will run deep into the 9s, then this feat should have been repeated hundreds of times by other very talented, lightweight riders.
Too steamy to ride, at least while togged up in your favorite leather jacket? Here's an option: Kushitani's vented summer riding wear. Made mostly of lightweight, ventilated nylon, the leather-trimmed E-2025 Mesh Riders ($240), K-2007 Paddock II ($299) and K-20 17 Full Mesh ($199) all feature tip-over-absorbing padding at the back, elbows and shoulders, plus plenty of zippered pockets. Pair `em with the Japanese apparel-maker's latest vented gloves, the K-5022 Master Mesh, K-5019 Air GPS or K-5023 Bikers Mesh II.
Plug and play! That's the concept behind the Wolf CDI. Dyno-tuned and track-tested, the "most advanced multi-curve engine-management system" provides motocrossers with two pre-programmed maps. It's like having two pipes at your disposal with the touch of a handlebar-mounted switch! Wolf CDIs come with a lifetime warranty and retail for $449. They're available for most Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki and Yamaha dirtbikes. Berg Racing plans to offer a street-bike version, too.
Big-jump landings got your feet feelin' beat up? Slide a set of Shoxx gel soles into your boots, and take the trauma out of triples. Each full-length slip-in combines a ventilated, anatomically correct foam footbed, "Micro Sorb" gel arch/heel support and molded plastic insert for the perfect balance of bump absorption, comfort and feel. Four patterns cover shoe sizes 5-14. Yours for $25 per pair.
Grip and mileage? Absolutely, says Metzeler. Developed specifically for the American market for use on Honda's GL1800 Gold Wing, the German tire-maker's new "G-spec" ME880 Marathon runs so cool that durability isn't compromised by the use of a relatively soft tread compound. What's more, the cross-belted radial's higher "turn-up" and rigid bead-fillers make for more precise steering and increased stability during cornering. Suggested retail prices are $225 for the front and $243 for the rear.
Go, Ben! If you somehow managed to attend Ducati's World Superbike test session in Monza, Italy, earlier this year, this image of American standout Ben Bostrom is already permanently etched in your memory. For the rest of us, there's Florida-based artist Michael Savage's limited-edition illustration. Each 20 x 26-inch print is hand-signed, numbered and dated by both Bostrom and Savage. Price is $70.
Double-Bell Alarm Clock
Wake up, sleepyhead. Time to ride! What better way for a Harley-Davidson buff to greet the a.m. than with the time-honored clanging of the Motor Company's Double-Bell Alarm Clock? Manufactured by Bulova, the old-fashion-style, wind-up timepiece features large numbers and an antique-metal finish. Yours for $30.
Want to shave a few pounds from your `02 Yamaha YZF-R1? (After all, tipping the scales at 412 pounds dry, it's such a lump...) Hand-bent from lightweight, strong and exotic-looking titanium, the TiForce high-mount exhaust boasts model-specific CNC-machined spigots and tapered headers. Importer Orient Express claims gains of 6-10 horsepower, and no-mod installation. Noise? A max of 98 decibels with just the right deep, mellow sound." Suggest retail price is $1195. A "rainbow" muffler finish is a $100 option.
IT'S A RAMP! IT'S A BED extender! No, it's ReadyRamp! Created by Cordesign, maker of various unique automotiveand motorcycte- related accessories, the patented, 35-pound aluminum fold-out fits most compact ($250) and full-sized ($280) pick-ups—no mods needed. Laid out in ramp form, it'll handle two-wheelers scaling up to 1000 pounds. Mounting hardware is included.
FIRST SIGHTING OF KAWAsaki's fledgling MotoGP entry came this past February in Sepang, Malaysia, with veteran World Superbike competitor Akira Yanagawa at the controls of a ZX-7RR-based development mule. Thus began a plan to contest some MotoGP races later this season with a 990cc four-stroke, and the whole series next year.
Ducati has released the first photograph of its new Desmosedici (16-valve desmo) MotoGP racer, and it's a beaut! Shot from the right rear of the obviously slim machine, the photo plays up the massive Termignoni exhaust with dual-outlet underseat muffler, which Ducati claims was chosen for its aerodynamic efficiency rather than any resemblance to a 996.
Cycle World is looking for a few good bikes...make that a few good cheap bikes for an upcoming feature story. We want interesting up-and-running rebuilds, restorations or wheeler-dealer finds that total less (the lesser the better) than $5000 including purchase price, parts and outside labor.
TIRED OF MISCREANTS trashing "your" trails? Think environmental extremists are over the top? Well, the situation may soon change, and likely for the better. This past March, Colorado Representative Scott McInnis, chairman of the House Sub-committee on Forests and Forest Health, introduced legislation intended to bolster enforcement laws on public lands under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service.
So, what do you think of this? That's the question Yamaha Motor Europe is posing on the "design café" portion of its website, www.yme.com. Using styling cues from the YZF-R1 repli-racer and FZ1 super-standard, the computer-generated image of a WR426-engined supermotard-style streetbike is based on one of five design drawings posted on the site.
Remember Can-Am? If not, perusing this issue will bring you up to speed on the now-defunct Canadian brand. On test were not one, not two, but three different versions of parent company Bombardier's Rotax-powered 175cc two-stroke dirtbikes.
THE ROCKEFELLER CENTER Motorcycle Show, featuring 40 bikes from the post-war era to today, was unveiled this past April in New York City. The three-week-long exhibit, which was free and open to the public, opened with a live television segment on NBC's "Today Show."
Would you send a kid out on a crate like that? Well, first off, Simon Milward, a 37-year-old Brit, is no kid. He'd also tell you that his mount, a one-off Rotax-powered adventure-tourer, is the perfect bike for the task at hand-that being to ride around the globe raising awareness and money for "Health For All," a program that uses motorcycles to provide primary healthcare services to rural Asia.
DOWN: To Theodore M. Aguilera, publisher of the "California's Glamour Girls" calendar, for not knowing what day it is. Okay, no one buys a pin-up calendar to look at the dates, but that doesn't mean they should be wrong! In the Glamour Girls calendar, both March, 2002, and January, 2003, are off by a day.
"I LOVE YOUR HARLE" gushed my hair stylist, her comment accompanied by a wide, toothy grin. "It's a Yamaha." "Oh." Embarrassing opening lines aside, the fact that the V-Star 1100 Custom looks a lot like a made-in-Milwaukee Big Twin—at least to most folks—is a compliment to Yamaha's stylists.
UP AHEAD, A BEAUTIFUL SIGHT. Ten good riders on 10 good motorcycles, nose-to-tail, fanning through a series of ess-turns alongside the Kern River. An 80mph conga line, bathed in the purple-orange light of a setting sun. Is this a great job, or what?
"A real-world handling course, that’s what we need, Don. Keep speeds under 100, no knee-on-ground heroics, leave that supermotard skiddin’ stuff in your gearbag. Ride ’em like a real person.” That was my mission statement, as delivered by the Editor-in-Chief.
TRUE CONFESSIONS: A YEAR AGO, I DIDN'T KNOW A DUCATI from a doorstop. Then I meet this Cernicky character and I am immersed-our first date, he takes me to Ken Maely's short-track for an XR100 riding lesson. A real romantic, huh? Anyway, I'm addicted, whether it's riding trail bikes, flying along curvy mountain roads holding Mark tight or dragging knees (both of us!) at a Club Desmo track day.
THAT'S RIGHT, THE CYCLE WORLD IS A NICE PLANET TO INHABIT in this amazing and expanding universe. For proof, look no farther than the faces of the 10 other riders embarked on this most recent voyage. Except for the addition of young Cernicky and the lovely Megan, they're all the same mugs as when I left CW eight years ago—quite amazing in this racket.
Inspired by 1960s "rail-jobs," a car guy builds one of the year's most memorable customs
TRAGICALLY, COLE Foster is cooler than you or me. It's not just the Rockabilly wardrobe, the Persol shades or his everyday drive, a chopped '54 Chevy pickup, either. Look at the man's motorcycle... A rhapsody in candy-apple blue, it's an unlikely cross between a Harley dragster and a Jawa speedway bike, with more than a touch of Schwinn Stingray thrown in for good measure.
LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT NITROMETHANE. IT IS AN industrial solvent, clear, not particularly odorous in its unburned state, reluctantly flammable. It weighs 9½ pounds per gallon-about 60 percent more than gasoline—and it is 49.5 percent by weight pure oxygen.
Yamaha’s sport touring missile finally lands in America
WHEN I FIRST GOT BACK FROM THE ALPS LAST year after riding Yamaha’s then-for-Europe-only FJR1300 sport-tourer, people around the office wondered if I was stoned, insane, severely jet-lagged or perhaps suffering from a combination of all three.
GONNA LET A LITTLE RAIN GET IN THE way of a good ride? Not if you're wearing Alpinestars' RJ-3 jacket and RP-3 pants. Designed for street and off-road use, these generously cut pullovers are as waterproof as anything we've tried, shedding precipitation like a freshly Rain-Xed windscreen.
HERE'S THE DILEMMA: YOU'VE RIDDEN your motorcycle to, say, the races, found a parking spot and dismounted. What to do with your gear? You could continue to wear it, haul it around in a backpack, or cram it in a top trunk or saddlebags—if your bike is so equipped and the bags aren't already jampacked with other items.
What has 20 wheels, 29 cylinders and puts out 873 horsepower?
BEST DUAL-PURPOSE BIKE
BEST ENDURO BIKE
BEST MIDDLEWEIGHT STREETBIKE
GL1800 Gold Wing
THERE WASN'T MUCH MOVEMENT IN THE TOURING CATEGORY this year, unless you were aboard a Honda GL1800 Gold Wing, which returns to collect its second consecutive Ten Best trophy. Then, there was almost perpetual motion. The bike that coined the term "luxury tourer" received a stem-to-stern makeover for 2001 with a new aluminum chassis and larger-displacement, fuel-injected flat-Six engine, and returned this year largely unchanged. As reported in our original 12-day, 12,000-mile test, how the GL manages to be so large and luxurious yet feel so small and sporting is beyond us. We're just glad that it does. As are the tens of thousands of owners racking up hundreds of thousands of trouble-free miles per year.
THE TROUBLE WITH THE TERM "STANDARD" IS that the manufacturers keep redefining it. Case in point is Suzuki's new V-Strom. While the Paris-to-Dakar-inspired styling, longtravel suspension and Bridgestone Trail Wing tires hint at it being an adventure-tourer, the DL1000 has no off-road pretenses, and with power from the potent TL1000 Twin, it'll flat smoke any BMW GS, Cagiva Gran Canyon or Triumph Tiger. Throw a leg over the tallish saddle, grasp the widish handlebars and close your eyes, and visions of Universal Japanese Motorcycles dance through your head. It's just that this UJM was designed for an imperfect universe populated by rough roads with gravel- and sand-strewn corners, all of which the V-Strom takes in stride. If American Suzuki would only do something about the ridiculous name (V-Storm, anyone?), it just might be the perfect motorcycle.
MAYBE IT'S GOT SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE HYPHEN, but the Sport-Touring category tends to vacillate between extremes. This year, the pendulum swung away from last year's sporty winner, the Aprilia RST 1000 Futura, and back toward the touring side of the spectrum in the form of the Yamaha FJR1300, a 2003 model that will go on sale later this year. As you'll read in this month's road test, the FJR combines cruise-ship comfort with a motor that would probably propel an ocean liner at a good clip, all wrapped in a classy-looking silver package. Best of all, its price undercuts its competition by many thousands of dollars, making it a real money-saver. Hey, that's hyphenated, too!
IT'S NOT EASY BEING KING. THOUGH THE MIGHTY GSX-R1000 CAME OUT OF THE BOX A WINNER IN 2001, ALL MANner of pretenders to the throne have been trying to knock it off ever since. Honda went back to the drawing board to bring out a revised version of its CBR-RR, Kawasaki tweaked its ZX-9R, Yamaha fuel-injected its YZF-R1 and still the GSX-R rules! It's not just the 145 horsepower arriving at the 190mm-wide rear Bridgestone that gives the big Gixxer its advantage-though that certainly helps. No, it's more the way in which the long-stroke motor puts the power to the ground that lets it consistently turn quicker lap times and quarter-mile times (in the high 9s!) than its competition. It'll probably take a street version of one of the new 990cc four-stroke Grand Prix bikes to dethrone King GSX-R. And Suzuki's got one of those, too.
SOME BIKES YOU have to adapt to, others adapt to you. The Honda Interceptor is definitely one of the latter. As you'll read in this issue's "World's Best Streetbike" comparison, the fuel-injected 781cc V-Four is the embodiment of the term "user friendly," seemingly greeting all who ride it with a welcoming handshake. New on the VFR this year is VTEC, which employs two valves per cylinder below 7000 rpm for maximum midrange torque and four valves above that for maximum top-end horsepower-the best of both worlds. As before, the Interceptor is equipped with Honda's Linked Braking System as standard, and options include anti-lock brakes, a remote shock-spring preload adjuster and-praise the Lord and pass our overnight bags!-hard luggage. So the Interceptor finally makes good on its promise as a sport-tourer. This marks the record 13th time that the VFR has copped Ten Best brass. Lucky us.
TWO YEARS AGO, SUZUKI'S THEN-NEW DR-Z400S nabbed Best Dual-Purpose Bike honors, only to be unseated by the Husqvarna TE 610E, whose legendary offroad capability was enhanced by electric starting for 2001. This year, the dayglo-yellow (or blue) Suzook is back on top. In the past, the DR-Z400S was distanced from its dirt-only brothers, the kick-start DR-Z400 and electric-start DR-Z400E, by three things: its street equipment, emissions-friendly CV (rather than flat-slide) carburetor and softer, street-oriented suspension. This year, the S-model gets the dirtbikes' fork and shock, greatly improving its off-road worthiness while retaining its street capabilities. See you at the trailhead; we'll be the ones riding up, not unloading from a truck.
THE LAST TIME WE HELD A BIG ENDURO shootout, we included two KTMs: the Goliath 520 E/XC Racing four-stroke and the Davidesque 200 E/XC two-stroke. And, in true Biblical fashion, the little guy won again. This year, though, we stumbled upon a third KTM that strikes a perfect compromise: the 400 E/XC-G. This Racing four-stroke produces power close to that of the explosive 520, but is notably more usable. And despite weighing almost as much as the 520, the 400's lesser crankshaft inertia lets it handle almost as nimbly as the 200. Most of all, the E/XC-G is California green sticker-legal-which is good news for everyone, as the Feds consider adopting Golden State emissions standards nation-wide. If EPA-friendly dirtbikes are this good, we say, "Bring 'em on!"
EVER SINCE 1998, WHEN YAMAHA released its YZ400F, motocrossers have accused Honda of letting the Four-Stroke Revolution pass it by. But no, Big Red was just studying the competition, and preparing to unleash the best MXer ever. The same thing happened in 1973, when Honda produced its first two-stroke, the CR250 Elsinore. And, like history repeating itself, Honda's 2002 CRF450R sprung from the drawing board a winner, edging out the KTM 520 SX and Yamaha YZ426F to win our January issue's "Main Event" four-stroke MX comparison, and then topping last month's "3x3" shootout against the Yamaha YZ250 and YZ250F, as well. In case there were any doubts, Nathan Ramsey's win in the Pontiac, Michigan, Supercross proved just how good the CRF is.
THE CBR600F4i RETURNS FOR AN encore appearance this year, due to the fact that—for once—there wasn't much change in the highly competitive middleweight class. The CBR wins again because, like its bigger brother the Interceptor, it manages to be all things to all people. On the one hand, it's a haul-ass sportbike, capable of winning 600cc Supersport nationals in the right hands. On the other, it's an accommodating streetbike, content to commute to work, school or the mall. Honda has been accused of producing bikes that are so seamless, they're a bit boring. And in general around-town riding, the CBR only reinforces that impression. But point this wrist-rocket down a twisty backroad, yank the throttle cable and the CBR says, "I'll show you boring!" After that, you'll never utter the b-word again.
FUNNY THING, BUT IT TOOK MILWAUKEE TO SHOW JAPAN THAT WHAT AMERICANS REALLY WANTED WERE FRESHLY STYLED HOTrod cruisers, not Big Twin clones with comparable looks and performance. The irony is that after years of the Big Four producing ever-more American-style V-Twins, Harley-Davidson itself built a cruiser around its high-tech VR1000 Superbike motor, a path that any one of the Japanese makers could-and, in retrospect, should-have chosen. It didn't hurt that the V-Rod was slammed to the ground and clad in attention-getting aluminum bodywork. In the process, the venerable American manufacturer created a new, more youthful image for itself, and became the undisputed leader of the burgeoning Power Cruiser class. It's a script so unlikely, you'd think it came from Hollywood—except it happened in Milwaukee.
If there were an award for the Best Air-Cooled, Belt-Driven, Pushrod Twin-Cylinder Sportbike, the cool new Buell would be a Ten Best shoo-in. Unfortunately for Erik Buell and Co., those sorts of contrived categories are the domain of our friends on Wilshire Boulevard, thus the Firebolt only merits an Honorable Mention here. The fact that it was one of the 10 bikes chosen for this month's "World's Best Streetbike" comparo is pretty high praise, though.
Road Star Warrior
Mad Max's new ride, the Road Star Warrior finished second in our March issue's "Super Cruiser" shootout, edged out only by the Harley-Davidson V-Rod. Yes, it's ironic that Yamaha built an air-cooled, ohv, 1600cc V-Twin with an aluminum frame only to get tromped by a liquid-cooled, dohc, 1130cc, steel-framed Harley. So what? The Warrior still kicks ass, and you can buy two of them for what your Harley dealer gets for a V-Rod.
YZ250 & YZ250F
Take your pick, two-stroke or four, Yamaha's pair of YZ250s are the tops of their respective heaps. These were two of the three bikes chosen for last issue's "3x3" MX showdown, and one of them would have won Best Motocrosser if it hadn't been for a certain four-stroke Honda. If it weren't for a photo shoot gone awry and that pesky Ricky Carmichael kid, Yamaha's David Vuillemin might even have been Supercross Champion!
Last year's Best Open-Class Streetbike and third place in this issue's "World's Best Streetbike" comparison are testimony to the FZ1's wide-ranging appeal Add to that the fact that the Yamaha was the second least expensive bike in that comparo (edged out only by the $300 cheaper Honda CBR 600F4i), and you've got the bargain of the century. Never mind that the century is only a couple of years old...
Kawasaki can again lay claim to the title of the World's Fastest Streetbike. The 176-mph ZX-11 reigned supreme from 1990'99, when it was unseated by the 194-mph Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa. But in the wake of a recent manufacturers' pact to limit top speed to 300 kilometers per hour (186 mph), our 2002 ZX12R went exactly that fast while our '02 Busa went "only" 184 mph. If top speed is your bottom line, Kawasaki rules!
EVER SINCE THEY ANNOUNCED they were building a motorcycle, the folks at American bicycle manufacturer Cannondale have been fighting an uphill battle. Make that climbing an icy cliff. But instead of jumping off, turning around or running away, they fought it out, sticking to their guns and making incredible headway in a very short time. If ever there were an underdog, Cannondale has been it.
TRUE CONFESSIONS TIME: I DID NOT read all of this book, an exhaustive study of Edward Turner, the bloke who brought us the timeless Triumph Speed Twin, among many others. Not that I didn't try (several times) and not that I don't have an affinity for the man and his creations—being the owner of a 1950s Tiger 100 desert sled myself.
MEMORIES OF A MOTORCYCLE DYNASTY" IS HOW the subtitle puts it, and it's a fair description. This book was written by Jean Davidson, yes of the family whose name is on the factory. Her grandfather was Walter Davidson, one of the four founders, her dad Gordon was a vice president and Willie G. is her cousin.
The new era begins with four-strokes-and Rossi-at the front
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE? THAT'S WHAT Yamaha's new YZR-M1 four-stroke had been unkindly nicknamed after it was beaten twice by old-guard 500cc two-strokes at preseason tests. It was a play on "Mission 1," the meaning for M1 purveyed by Yamaha's PR machine, that number-one mission being winning the MotoGP World Championship.
A funny thing happened to Doug Chandler on the way to retirement. Just when he'd come to grips with the fact that he'd missed the Daytona 200, and was unlikely to land a ride for the remainder of the season, the phone rang. It was Mitch Hansen, owner of the HMC Ducati team, offering him a ride on the 998 Testastretta that Pascal Picotte had raced at Bike Week.
In the May, 2002, Service, you answered a letter ("Wheeler or dealer?") from a reader who was upset with derogatory comments you've often made about motorcycle dealers. Your reply was good, but why not be fair and ask dealers to write and tell about all the schemes, lies and outrageous tricks that some of their customers have tried to pull?
If you've ever done much mechanical work, you've no doubt faced the challenge of loosening a fastener that’s almost, but not quite, inaccessible. They’re usually found in narrow openings or shallow recesses that won’t allow an open-end or box wrench to fit cleanly on the head of the nut or bolt, and a ratchet-and-socket combination is too tall to fit in the available space, even if you use a short socket.
Editorial/Production: Offices are located at 1499 Monrovia Ave., Newport Beach, CA 92663; 949/720-5300. Editorial contributions are welcomed, but must be guaranteed exclusive to Cycle World. We are not responsible for the return of unsolicited material unless accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope.