AROUND HERE, IT’S ONE OF THE RITES of Spring. First comes Daytona, always in the June issue, then the Ten Best Bikes voting in time for the July issue, which thanks to the vagaries of modern magazine publishing is put together the third week of April.
SPRING RAINS HAD NOT YET WASHED all the salt off our Wisconsin roads, but I had to go for a ride anyway. “I can go over the mufflers and wheels with some Windex and a rag later,” I reasoned aloud. “I’m sure that will get all the salt off. In the meantime, I must take this new motorcycle for a ride!” My voice rose in a crescendo of near-madness from cabin fever.
A MAJOR THEME AT THE RECENT DAYtona event was the problem of evaporating fuel fully in the short time available between the departure of gas spray from the injector tip and the occurrence of the ignition spark. At the 15,000 rpm now typical in 600cc Supersport bikes, this time is less than 4 milliseconds!
As validation of Peter Egan’s contention that the $25,000 Harley is a myth (“Egads, Egan!” Hotshots, May), I did in fact buy a 2003 Electra Glide Standard for $13,900 from Monty’s Cycle Shop in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts (that’s $13,700 list plus $200 for setup).
Reigning AMA and World Superbike Champions Nicky Hayden and Cohn Edwards may have moved on to MotoGP, but artist Alan Jones has forever immortalized their title-winning efforts in full color Printed on heavy stock and signed by Jones, "The Kid" and "Relentless" go for $50 each.
Going up? Give your back a break and your dirtbike the top-floor treatment with the Moto Lift. At its lowest level, the stand puts your bike at milkcrate height. Using the foot-actuated hydraulic pump raises it up to 35 inches, or waist-high. Pre-drilled for floor mounting, the powdercoated, all-metal unit comes with anodized frame downtube adaptor clamps and all necessary hardware. Suggested retail price is $570.
Master Lock Street Cuff
If you love it, lock it! Yes, thieving scumbags want to steal your motorcycle. Perhaps the Street Cuff, with its all-steel construction, nine-link chain and 3-inch shackles, will keep your ride safe. Rubber trim protects paint and brightwork, and should someone break the chains of love, the cuffs come with an up-to-$4000 guarantee. Get ’em in standard black ($100) or metallic “SS” finish ($180). Add a leather belt holster for $15.
Hydrapak Air Scoop and Hip Sip
Stave off dehydration with the latest from Hydrapak. Just two of the company’s 14 products, the $50 Air Scoop and $50 Hip Sip hold up to 70 ounces of fluid, and feature such innovations as the EasyFlo shut-off bite valve and reversible EasyClean reservoir. Made from the same material used to produce baby bottle nipples, the former can be oriented in your mouth at any angle and still provide high water flow. The wide opening provided by the latter greatly aids cleaning and filling.
Never heard of Corsa? Nor us, but the Maryland-based outfit is ready to make its mark alongside the major players in the dead-cow biz with a line of roadrace-inspired jackets for both men and women. Sold in a variety of colors, some with licensed race-team logos sewn on, all jackets are constructed of 1.4mm grade-A leather, and feature padded armor and kevlar inserts. Pricing starts at $399. Pants and one-piece leather suits are also available, of corsa.
Vance & Hines Power Shots
When it debuted two years ago, Harley-Davidson’s V-Rod rocked the motorcycle universe with its cool metallic styling and liquid-cooled V-Twin engine. But that muffler! Retailing for $589, V&H Power Shots feature slash-cut styling, removable baffles and 360-degree heat shields. Slip-on design makes for an easy installation.
TOUGHEN UP! OR BETTER YET, BE SMART AND AVOID INJURY BY wearing protective gear from SixSixOne. Makers of all things padded, the company sells a broad range of chest/back/shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand and knee/shin products, all engineered to meet your crashing needs. The Defender roost deflector, for example, is molded with pockets that stand away from the body for enhanced protection and airflow. It’s available in yellow, red, blue or clear/black for $125. Look cool and be even cooler in the $50 Half Jacket, a gray/blue version of the under-jersey Straight Jacket roost guard. Boasting bio-foam construction and lycra-covered neck and arm openings, it has adjustable straps with quick-release buckles. For a mid-priced glove with many top-level features, look no farther than the Comp with its embossed, top-of-hand Thermaweld padding, synthetic-leather-and-mesh palm and velcro closure. Get ’em in red, blue or black in XS-XL sizes for $20.
NAKED BIKES ARE ALL the rage these days, but what might the future hold for this exciting niche? Most of the top bike-makers already produce at least one high-handlebar, minimally faired model. But all-around competency may not cut it in a class clearly defined by inyour-face aggression-witness the Aprilia Tuono, BMW Rockster and Triumph Speed Triple.
The bluest of blue-chip collector bikes? If the results of an April auction are any indication, you’re lookin’ at it, an older-restoration 1907 HarleyDavidson that hammered down at a staggering $310,000, a world record for any bike at auction.
If riding Harleys with CW staff members on a backroads-America tour to Milwaukee for The Motor Company’s big 100th-birthday bash sounds like your kind of party, well whattaya waitin’ for, an invitation?! Find out more about the August 20September 1 run by logging on to www.lotustours.com or get ’em on the blower at 312/951 -0031.
WHEN THE JAPANESE outdoor motocross nationals start up, the trick machines roll out. As expected, two (or one, depending on how you look at it) of this year’s most anticipated models were there: the jointly developed Kawasaki and Suzuki 250cc four-strokes-the green KX250N1 and the yet-to-benamed yellow version, which is coded XRMO. Exactly who developed what is still a mystery, but from what we were able to gather, Suzuki penned and bench-tested the motor, while Kawasaki developed the chassis and will build the entire machine.
Famed automotive stylist Franco Sbarro, for whom “nothing is impossible,” unveiled his radical “motorized wheel” at the Geneva International Auto Show this past March. One of several recipients for this amazing creation, which somehow fits a 160-horsepower Yamaha YZF1000 engine and transmission, airbox, gas tank, radiator, disc brake and suspension within a 22-inch wheel, was a recumbent called the “Monotrace.” Working with wheel-maker O.Z., the 64-year-old Italian combined the comfort of feet-forward sportscar seating with a motorcycle’s unique ability to lean into corners.
"GS750, XS750E, CB750A, R80/7: At the end of the trip, which of these bikes would you kill for?" That was the question editors posed to readers on this month's cover. The answer, discovered on a route that took staffers from CW's editorial offices in Newport Beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean to the desert landscape bordering the Salton Sea and back was the "seductive" Boxer Twin.
MAKING NEW FROM old is not always easy. It’s important to retain the soul of the bike, to preserve its cultural legacy and still leave the door open for current thinking. Working on a Honda CBX more than two decades after it was launched, Dais Nagao, a designer at American Honda, retained only the most magnificent element of the original: its monstrous aircooled six-cylinder engine.
Not so many months ago, Piaggio looked set to steamroll the entire Italian motorcycle industry. Having already bought Derbi and Gilera, it went after the Cagiva Group and legendary holding MV Agusta. That buyout failed for several reasons, but Europe’s largest maker of two-wheeled motor vehicles is still turning out new product.
UP: To Ducati, for a half-century of winning. Brit Neil Hodgson’s victory on the Team Fila 999 in round two of the World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island, Australia, came on the 50th anniversary of the Italian firm’s first-ever race win.
IF HONDA WANTS TO BREAK cruiser ground with exotic styling statements such as the Rune, Kawasaki offers an alternative approach with its Vulcan 1600 Classic. Instead of blazing trails, Kawasaki is content to make the closest replica that trademark law will allow of a Harley-Davidson Road King, but with traditional Japanese cruiser features, such as shaft drive and a price one-third lower than The Real Thing.
IT WAS HARD NOT TO FEEL SORRY FOR THE OLD SHEPHERD TENDING HIS FLOCK near the winding road on the south coast of Sardinia, a large Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea. He was just minding the herd, as he's probably done for the past 50 years or so, smoking a mangled, hand-rolled cigarette and holding his wooden staff, surveying the rolling hills and lush greenery that his beasts wandered through and fed upon.
As surprising as a gourmet meal in a brown paper bag
ARE YOU BROWN-BAGGING IT AGAIN while your co-workers head off to some trendy new restaurant where the drinks are cold and the waitresses hot, their favorite “dish" the one in the short skirt? They leave mocking you, but you know that inside your unassuming paper sack is a smorgasbord of favorite vittles, packed by your one-and-only true love.
REACHING OUT TO ITS RIDER LIKE A handshake from an old friend, the SV650 is like someone you’re meeting for the first time, but you swear you’ve met before. I liken it to the original Volkswagen Beetle: It’s a bike for the people who ride bikes for all the good, simplistic reasons people ride motorbikes.
Does Triump's late middleweight have what it takes?
TRIUMPH IS COMPLETELY off its nut, 100 percent whacked. Non-Japanese factories just don't take on the Big Four head to-bead. Ducati doesn't do it, Aprilia doesn't do it, BMW doesn't do it, nobody does it. And yet, here is Triumiph, the restarted upstart that's been rebuilding the.
AS PARTY FOULS GO, THIS WAS a classic. In the midst of the press luncheon for the new Moto Guzzi Breva V 750 IE, International Marketing Director Roberto Mucci knocked over a pewter sugar bowl, spilling its considerable contents across the table.
ROAD TESTS ARE NOT IN THE OFF-ROAD Editor’s job description. If a bike rolls through the CW offices without knobbies or a spark arrestor, it doesn’t really register on my radar screen. But you-know-who was first in line when the new KTM 950 Adventure showed up.
A LOT OF THE 950’S INTERNATIONAL press kit was devoted to the “TravelEnduro” segment of the market, some 40,000 units strong in Europe, all multi-cylinder bikes from the Suzuki V-Strom to the Honda XL650V Transalp to the BMW R1150GS. To me, KTM’s Adventure seems built as well as the best of them.
Some love it, some hate it, but all have to admit the new Ducati 999 deserves an Honorable Mention. It was never going to be easy to replace the iconesque 916 and its successors, the 996 and 998, but Ducati designer Pierre Terblanche deserves credit for creating an entirely new look-one that is sure to be imitated in the future. The fact that the 999 ushers in a number of technical innovations while being a functionally better and easier-to-maintain motorcycle only makes its inclusion here that much more deserved.
Last year’s Best Open-Classer and winner of last July’s “World’s Best Streetbike” shootout, the ultra-refined Honda Interceptor wowed us with power, poise and-finally!-available hard luggage. This year, Big Red made no changes to this capable all-rounder, save for spraying the anti-lock-brake version a stunning shade of silver. Though consigned this year to Honorable Mention status, the VTEC-equipped V-Four continues to blur the line between sport and touring with an ease not duplicated by any other motorcycle.
Quad stainless-steel pipes jutting skyward like mortars, a throaty growl therefrom that’s been heard and relished for decades: the high-performance wail of a Kawasaki inline-Four. But that sound is about the only traditional thing on the new Z1000. From it edgy naked styling, compact stance and big-bang motor, the big Zed is an impressive ride. Not quite up to the standards of a certain Aprilia, mind you, but neither does it drain your bank account as badly. Think of it as furious fun at a fabulous price.
HARLEY-DAVIDSON Screamin' Eagle Road King
Around here, it’s known simply as “that engine.” As in, “That engine ought to be in every Harley-Davidson,” or “Put that engine in an Electra Glide, and Honda’s Gold Wing might have something to worry about.” Said powerplant is a fuel-injected Twin Cam 88 that’s been treated by H-D’s Custom Vehicle Operations to a big-bore kit and stroker crank, bumping displacement to a very healthy 103 cubes. Fifty-state legal for sound and emissions, and carrying a full warranty, it’s only available in one model for 2003, the $28,000 limited-edition Screamin’ Eagle Road King. That is just wrong...
HONDA CRF 150F
Based on the shear number of vehicles sold and the multitude of people these bikes are bringing to our sport, there really ought to be a category for the Best Playbike. Out of the bunch of players in the market, Honda’s new CRF150F is about as well-rounded and multi-tasking as a playbike can be. It’s powerful enough, tough enough, suspended enough and fits plenty of folks, large or small, skilled or not. You can’t help but have fun on one!
FOR CYCLE WORLD'S MUCH-LIKED long-term F650GS Dakar, one last ride turned out to be exactly one too many. With 10,000 mostly happy miles on the clock and all spiffed up for its last photo shoot before being returned relatively unscathed to BMW, one of the magazine’s marketing guys borrowed the Beemer for a run up the coast.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM SPORT RIDING TECHNIQUES, CW Contributing Editor Nick lenatsch’s first book? The subtitle sums it up well: “How to develop real-world skills for speed, safety and confidence on the street and track.” A longtime street rider and championship-winning roadracer, lenatsch addresses many subjects within this largeformat, soft-bound volume.
IN THIS BOOK’S INTRODUCTION, TITLED “GRIND THEM into Dust,” author Darwin Holmstrom makes the point that BMW riders are “different.” He’s right. Or rather, his friend whose quote he used is right. The Bavarian bikes’ ability to endure has attracted a durable people who simply want to ride a very long way.
STRANGE CAT, RIN TANAKA. NOW 33, IN A FRUITFULLY misspent youth he journeyed from his native Japan to Mississippi to attend college and immerse himself musically in the Delta Blues. Somewhere along the line, the man got all freaky about skid-lids, as evidenced by his new book, The Motorcycle Helmet: The 1930s to 1990s.
WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE, HURRYING to get somewhere in the predawn darkness, f-f-freezing. Speeding up to get out of the cold sooner, realizing that the faster we go, the colder we get. Not helping one bit is that nasty blast of icy air that finds its way down the neck, no matter how tightly jackets are cinched.
Team Cycle World takes to the Daytona high-banks in the BMW BoxerCup
THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING. I'M SITTING on the 11th row of the starting grid at Daytona International Speedway, in the 43rd position, and Jimmy Lewis is just to my left. What this means-and prompting the endless ribbing I've had to endure over the past couple of days-is that Cycle World's Off-Road Editor has out-qualified me, a supposed roadracer, for the inaugural American round of the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup Series.
The 2003 MotoGP season had been heavily hyped, for many reasons. This year had all the hallmarks of the greatest Grand Prix season of all time. We had the greatest ever number of factories-with Japanese stalwarts Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha joined by Kawasaki; and now-and-then Italians Aprilia joined by none other than World Superbike series big-timers Ducati.
I am trying to understand how a 1987 Suzuki GSX-R1100 (Cycle, November, 1987) could produce almost identical numbers at the strip as the latest FZ1 (CW, April, 2003). The Suzuki ripped off a 10.82-second, 123.40-mph run, while the Yamaha is unsignificantly quicker and faster at 10.70 and 125.82.
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