GET 16 MOTORCYCLE MAGAZINES worldwide to agree on the best street-bike of the past year? Ain’t gonna happen, Bubba. Doesn’t stop us from electronically casting ballots for our top-three choices, though. Scores tabulated, the machine with the most votes is named International Bike of the Year.
IT RAINED ALL NIGHT THE DAY I LEFT The weather it was dry. And cold, apologies to “Oh Suzanna” songwriter Stephen Foster. Unseasonably cold, and windy. One of those late October days when the dark mood of the sky tells you the party’s over, chum.
NOW THAT FOUR-STROKES HAVE BEEN put back into Grand Prix roadracing, the subject of pneumatic valves keeps popping up. People automatically expect that MotoGP four-strokes must adopt Formula One car technologies. Yet, only Aprilia has employed pneumatic valves, so far without visible advantage over those who remain with metal springs.
ILLUSTRATION BY HECTOR CADEMARTORI David Edwards “Beginner’s Luck” editorial (Up Front, December, 2002) was succinct and to the point. If more parents would get their kids riding in the dirt and learn the physics behind this wonder we call motorcycling, then maybe there would be fewer accidents such as he describes.
Get The Look in the latest sportswear from Alpinestars. With its spring/summer collection, the Italian apparel-maker has the entire family covered kids included. Choose from hats, belts, dress shirts, sweaters, pants, shorts and even shoes. Prices start at $20. Alpinestars USA, Inc., 2780 W. 237th St., Torrance, CA 90505; 310/891-0222; www.alpinestars.com
Alpinestars USA, Inc.
Omar’s Ice Fender
Save yourself-and your buddies-from a potentially painful run-in with the razor-sharp screws commonly used to up traction on ice racing tires. Omar’s universal Ice Fender ($69) fits conventional forks where the space between the legs is 5 to 7 inches. Best of all, because the fender is fiberglass, crash damage is easily repairable. Sold with black gelcoat finish. Instructions and heavy-duty plastic tie-wraps included. Omar’s Dirt Track Racing, Inc., 14475 23rd Ave. N., Plymouth, MN 55447; 763/745-2255; www.omarsdtr.com
Alpinestars USA, Inc.
Aerostich Sport Bike House Slippers
Cute and cozy, these $23 padded slip-ons are fully homologated for ’round-the-ranchhouse running. Reinforced sole enhances traction. Two warm men’s sizes: 7/8/9 and 10/11/12. Hey, race ya to the fridge... Aero Design & Mfg. Co. Inc., 8 S. 18th Ave., W. Duluth, MN 55806; 218/722-1927; www.aerostich.com
Alpinestars USA, Inc.
Go big! Designed to fit most custom cruisers, Harley-Davidson Softails in particular. Mean Street and Street Smooth billet inverted forks boast beefy 56mm cartridge-equipped stanchions and oversized triple-clamps. And dig the hidden axle! Choose from a brilliant-chrome ($2144) or mirror-polish ($1599) finish in standard or extended lengths. Stainless-steel hardware included. Mean Street Products, 8785 Castner Dr., El Paso, TX 79907; 915/592-6887; www.meanstreetproducts.com
Alpinestars USA, Inc.
Goldfren Brake Pads
Alpinestars USA, Inc.
New to the U.S. market, Goldfren produces brake pads and discs for a broad range of street and off-road motorcycles. Featuring the Czech Republic manufacturer’s long-lasting HAD compound, the sintered-metallic pads are said to enhance the feel and stopping performance of any original-equipment brake system. Prices start at $27 per caliper. Euroline Inc., 16 Manchester Rd., Carmel, NY 10512; 845/228-0145; www.eurolineusa.com
Alpinestars USA, Inc.
Avon Azaro AV45/AV46 ST
WE'VE ATTENDED A LOT OF TIRE INTRODUCTIONS OVER THE years. And while each event is unique, the end result is usually the same: performance that is nothing short of impressive. Without the benefit of a head-to-head showdown, then, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to pinpoint how one tire differs from another. Avon shook things up recently when it introduced not one. not two. but three new Azaro radials, which led to an interesting comparison opportunity for Road Test Editor Don Canet. Both the SP (for "street sport”) and more track-oriented SP Pro-Series delivered all of the grip, stability and light, predictable handling that he’s come to expect from current sport-spec radials, even when pressed beyond their traction limits. It was the sport-touring AV45/AV46 ST, however, that impressed him the most. This particular tire features a longer-wearing, silica-enhanced compound and a more extensive tread design for added confidence in wet conditions. Nev-
Alpinestars USA, Inc.
ertheless, it offers really good grip and stability during dry running. Canet's pace around the 2.2mile Spring Mountain Motorsports Park located outside of Pahrump, Nevada, was decidedly faster than he would dare to ride on the street, yet the STs proved sure-footed, making a Yamaha FZ1 and even a Ducati ST4S feel cornering-clearance challenged. It wasn't until the end of the day, though, when aboard an ST-shod Aprilia Mille, that he was able to gain full appreciation for the tire’s high level of performance. The point is, not everyone, including repli-racer riders, needs the enhanced grip provided by soft-compound race tires. For a lot of riders, mileage and value matter, too. It sure is nice to have so many good choices these days. Prices start at $124 for fronts, $156 for rears. Avon, P.O. Box 336, Edmonds, WA 98020:800/624-7470; www.avonmotorcycle.com
THESE ARE GOOD TIMES TO be a “tiny” motorcycle-maker from Mattighofen, Austria. Last year, KTM moved almost 62,000 bikes worldwide, a whopping 36 percent growth in sales. The company’s race teams nabbed a World Enduro crown, the new Supermoto World Championship, the World Rally title, not to mention running away with the first 11 places (!) in the Paris-Dakar Rally, only the world’s most prestigious off-road event.
What’s this, a ZX-6R-based spinoff of Kawasaki’s new-for-’03 Z1000 nakedbike? Such a machine could compete with the Ducati M620i.e. and Suzuki SV650-not to mention the Honda Hornet 600 in Europe. In this artist’s conception, similarities to the Z are many, from the wind-deflecting flyscreen to the sculpted gas tank and tailsection.
No, Moto Guzzi will not build the Munich show-stopper MGS/01 and Griso-not yet, at least. The Italian outfit will, however, put the Breva V750 I.E. into production-and it’s coming to the USA. The standard-style machine is powered by a 744cc version of Guzzi’s classic air-cooled 90-degree V-Twin.
ELECTRONICALLY ASSISTED braking has come to Italy in the form of the ABS-equipped 2003 Ducati ST4S. Based on the Bosch/Brembo system used by BMW since 1989, Ducati’s version has been fine-tuned so that it in no way impedes the bike’s sporting capabilities.
Nice bike, Triumph’s TT600, but never a contender for top supersport status. Well, how ’bout this, then? New for ’03 is the Daytona 600, a sharply styled, stem-tostern rethink that looks to be a serious player in what is rapidly becoming the “Year of the 600.” Triumph goes up against Japan’s Big Four with a thoroughly massaged motor boasting twin-butterfly fuel-injection, head-work and grams of weight shaved from many components.
The older you get, the harder it is to write one of these “25 Years Ago” blurbs. Increasingly, I’m inspired to blurt out, “Hey, I had one of those!” The 1978 Honda Elsinore CR250R on the cover of this issue, for instance. I was 16 at the time and a faithful Popular Cycling reader, but if I’d read CW, I’d have agreed with the editors’ proclamation that, “The praise could go on all day.” At my house, it did.
THERE HAVE BEEN LOTS OF fireworks within the Italian motorcycle industry during the past few months-and a few mortar rounds, too! In recent court actions, both Piaggio and MV Agusta’s Claudio Castiglioni claimed the other party torpedoed the deal in which Piaggio was to take 100 percent control of Cagiva and Husqvarna, with Castiglioni collecting enough money to forge ahead with MV. Trouble is, Castiglioni was relying on those funds.
What do you get when you combine a BMW R1150GS with a sideways-sliding rally car? Gruter+Gut’s Boxer-engined Quad. Best known for its BMW R1200C-based Cruso and Moto Guzzi 1100 Sport-based Spartaco custom cruisers, the Ballwil, Switzerland-based engineering outfit (www.gg-technik.ch) knocked bike/car nuts to their knees at last September’s Munich Show with this disc-braked, differential-equipped, 85-horsepower street-rod.
PHOTO BY WALLY KRAINER UP: To the Travel Channel, for its American Icons-series documentary, “Vietnam Memorial: Wall of Courage.” Part of the special focuses on the museum where thousands of gifts and artifacts left at the wall have been catalogued and carefully preserved.
WITH OBSERVED TRIALS as popular as it ever was, rivaling, oh, say, sidecar motocross for percentage points in the overall motorcycle market, it’s easy to let something as small as Gas Gas’ latest trialer blow right by. At 156 pounds full of gas, it wouldn’t take much wind either!
A NEW KIND OF MOTORCYCLE has taken over Grand Prix roadracing's top class. Ending 26 years of 500cc two-stroke rule are today's 990cc MotoGP four-strokes, which won every event of the 2002 season. Preeminent among them is Honda's V-Five RC211V, the machine ridden to the title by Italian superstar Valentino Rossi.
Honda’s MotoGP star talks about winning world championships on two-strokes and four
Q. At the beginning of the year, you said the two-stroke was more fun and more exciting than the four-stroke. Do you still think that now? A: This bike is great fun-riding it at 100 percent is like...sex, I think. But for me, the two-stroke was better.
FROM MOTOGP CIRCUIT TO STREET MACHINE, WILL that be the course of the all-conquering RC211V? While we don’t know the answer to that question yet, there are plenty of hints and reasons to believe that Honda will replace the RC51 with a V-Five GP replica.
IT WAS NEARLY MIDNIGHT BY THE TIME I’d checked into the Suzuka Circuit Hotel and my head hit the pillow. Exhausted from a long day of travel, I needed sleep, but my mind was racing. Back home in the Pacific Time Zone, the workday had just begun as I tossed and turned, the jetlagged hours creeping past.
In the first year of GP four-strokes, Honda’s was best. Here’s the rest.
HONDA’S FOUR-STROKE RC211V DOMINATED THE NEW MOTOGP CHAMPIONSHIP THIS PAST SEASON, with Yamaha showing flashes of developing speed, good enough for two GP wins. Yet if you struck Honda’s RC-V from the results, two-strokes would still be the dominant motorcycles.
RIDING THE APRILIA TUONO R is like setting your driver’s license on fire. While your wallet is still in your pants. Dangerous, yet somehow stimulating, and quite possibly a threat to your riding privilege. No streetbike provokes you to and break the law so shamelessly and relentlessly.
ROUND ABOUT THIS TIME LAST year, Feature Editor Mark Hoyer, cold and wet, was sloshin’ his way through the English countryside aboard the newly released Triumph Speed Four, naked sister to the TT600 sportbike. Hey, the nasty weather served Hoyer right, seeing as how he’s always hogging the hooligan bikes.
WHICH CAME FIRST, THE FALCO or the egg? Impossible to say, but over the past 18 months we watched our long-term Aprilia SL1000 evolve from a standardish sportbike to a sporty sport-tourer and, ultimately, to a track-day weapon rivaling the Mille R. We’d been asking Aprilia for a longterm testbike ever since the company entered the U.S.
Rush's Neil Peart: Rockin' and rollin'...rollin'...rollin'...
IT’S SEVEN MINUTES ’til sound check at Salt Lake City’s Delta Center Arena and Neil Peart is on the phone with Ride West BMW in Seattle scheduling a service appointment for his R1150GS. Liam Birt, the rock band Rush’s long-suffering tour manager, had poked his head through the tour bus door a few moments ago to make sure the band’s drummer was “coming along,” but the service manager just transferred Peart to the parts department, and now he’s on hold pending word on whether the taller windscreen and driving lights he desires are in stock.
Experts focus on the human side of the motorcycle performance equation
WHAT A DIFFERENCE 20 years makes! The best bikes of 1983, when seen with the CAD/CAM clarity of 2003, appear severely limited. And they were. Limited in lean angle, in stopping ability and in chassis rigidity. Ride the Eighties bikes hard and those limits would warn you of impending disaster with wobbles, dragging parts and fading brakes, the mechanical equivalent of a tap on the shoulder and the admonition, “Any more and you’ll crash.” Fast forward two decades.
SCHOOL HAS NEVER BEEN SO cool. “TM125?” The sound of a quick stab on a kickstarter. Once, twice, followed by the crisp shriek of life that only a 125cc motocrosser makes, as if to say, “Present.” “KTM 525?” Muffled thunder signifying “Here.” And so on, ’til all 17 of our Class of 2003 motocrossers make morning roll call.
ASK ANY VETERAN TRACKMEISTER and he'll tell you: There’s nothing better for protecting your butt in a high-speed tumble than a top-quality set of roadracing leathers. When it comes to street riding, though, a tight-fitting, knee-slider-equipped one-piece suit can be overkill, particularly if you just want to cruise over to your buddy’s house or catch a flick at the local multiplex.
BACK IN THE DAY, YOU COULD PERsonalize your helmet with a simple, down-the-middle racing stripe. These days, though, such an uninspired effort would get you laughed off Racer Road. Custom paint has changed all that, upshot being noggin protectors more akin to art than crash gear.
Who is Mike Metzger, and why is he doing those awful things on his motorcycle?
MY 8-YEAR-OLD BOY KNOWS ABOUT MIKE METZGER: “HE’S only the Tony Hawk of freestyle motocross, Dad. Duh...” Tony who? They’re just two of the brightest stars in the extreme-sports galaxy, is all. 1 lawk rides a skateboard, and Metzger is the first man to master the backflip on a motorcycle, one result of which is that his phone never stops ringing.
It was not the dream drive he had hoped for. When reigning MotoGP champ Valentino Rossi recently tried his hand at the World Rally Championship, his debut in the Rally of Great Britain was shockingly brief. The Italian slid his works Peugeot 206 off the road, glaring winter sun and a tree stump bringing his much-hyped drive to a somewhat embarrassing and premature end in just the second stage.
I own a 2001 Suzuki 1200 Bandit that has a small problem. Actually, it has about 32 ounces of problems in that it uses a quart of oil every 500-600 miles. After talking to my mechanic, people on the internet and a few friends at MMI, there evidently is an ongoing struggle for the truth behind Suzuki’s doors.
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