GOOD THING I’M BOSS ’ROUND HERE—otherwise I’d have to issue myself a severe reprimand, maybe dock myself a couple of days’ pay. This column is hopelessly late, see, but like any good deadline journalist I have an excuse-actually 499 of ’em.
IT IS ONE OF THE PARABLES OF CHAOS Theory that the mere whisper of a butterfly’s wing in the rain forests of Brazil can set off an unpredictable chain of wind currents that may eventually cause a typhoon in the South China Sea. If that’s true, the early spring wind that was raking through my friend Rob Himmelmann’s place last week was probably caused by a butterfly the size of a B-52 living in Nome, Alaska.
BUILDING PRESSED-TOGETHER CRANK shafts was once a regular part of motorcycling. I found it in the service manual for my AJS 500 Single, and read more in Phil Irving’s classic Tuning for Speed, but had no practical knowledge of the task.
What sort of non-Euclidian reasoning did you guys use to determine the winner of the “Modern Immaturity” naked-bike shootout (CW., June)? If you take all the stats and line ’em up—I can send you the spreadsheet if you like—the Aprilia Tuono doesn’t have a top number in any category.
Factory Ducati World Superbike riders Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus ain’t got nothin’ on you, long as you’re gettin’ gone on a Spectrum Motorsports 999 Corse Replica. Going along with show-quality paint and powdercoated wheels are a stainless-steel Termingnoni exhaust, an uprated CPU and a freer-flowing air filter, the sum total good for a claimed 8 percent power increase. A double-bubble windscreen, suedecovered seat and adjustable rearsets are among the other add-ons. Figure on spending $23,995. Cool, you say, but not quite cool enough? Opt up, then, for an Öhlins-suspended 999S ($25,995) or a c-f’ed 999R ($35,995) version.
Hey, why should sportbike jockeys have all the fun? Harley V-Rod riders can now benefit from the high-quality damping for which Öhlins is famous. The Swedish company’s Type 36K shocks are a perfect match for Milwaukee’s Alloy Flyer, sporting aluminum components and classy etched logos. Available exclusively through Drag Specialties dealers at $777 per pair, the 36Ks are fully rebuildable, meaning you may never have to buy another set of shocks.
F.I.T. handguard and steering-damper
Here's a unique spin on the one-system-fits-all approach to bark-buster installation: Fastway’s $160 F.I.T. handguard and steering-damper mount does away with traditional wraparound bar mounts, instead mating the inner segments of the aluminum protectors to an adjustable top-clamp plate. Neat thing is, the plate accepts most steering stabilizers. And because it moves fore and aft, it fits most late-model dirtbikes.
The latest lid from upstart Italian helmet manufacturer Suomy is the Spec-l R. Short for “Specification #l Racing,” it was created with input from top roadracers Max Biaggi, Loris Capirossi, Ben Bostrom and Troy Bayliss. Said to be the lightest street-legal helmet currently available, the Spec-lR is available in sizes XS-XXXL, in seven solid colors for $400 and 12 racer-replica designs for $500.
Some occasions call for basic black. But while the new First Gear Z-Pilot leather jacket is most definitely black, it’s not as basic as it appears. Consider features such as the patented fourport zipper-controlled Torso Vent System and zipper sleeve vent on each arm. Or the removable armor at the back, shoulders and elbows. Or the snap-out Thermoliner vest with patented Thermoneck collar. Best of all, the $500 Z-Pilot is priced lower than the S-Pilot it replaces. It comes in men’s sizes 40-52 and women’s sizes 32-44. In black only. Naturally.
The latest innovation in engine oil is here, says Bel-Ray. Thumper 4-Stroke Racing Oil is formulated to withstand the abuse generated by today’s high-performance, large-displacement fourstroke otT-road bikes. Orange in color, the semi-synthetic blend is packed with “extremepressure’’ additives. It's offered in 1-liter ($6) and 4-litcr ($20) bottles.
FMF IS LEGENDARY FOR GETTING MORE GO 1-ROM DIRTBIKES. HECK, the company motto is "Feel the power! Now. the longtime exhaust-pipe maker is taking the knowledge learned ott-load to the streets. Its new Power Core-S slip-on muffler is available in two versions: The Titanium (natural. blue or bronze. $375) features a Ti mid-pipe and a unique. cornering-clearance-uppuig oval-toround canister. The Aluminum (clear satin, $300) has a stainless steel mid-pipe and an extruded oval muifler. Both make use of per forated square-section cores wrapped with sound-absorbing packing. Laser-cut logos and rolled-edge stainless-steel end caps are also standard-issue. Get em for 1998-2003 600cc and Openclass sportbikes from Honda, Kawasaki. Suzuki and Yamaha. On our 03 Suzuki GSX-R1000 testbike. installation was a snap. The FMF slip-on weighed just 4 pounds, a full pound less than the stock Ti can. It also performed better, unleashing 3.6 more horsepower and 1.8 more foot-pounds of torque at the top end. with no losses anywhere in the band. Bravo. FMF! E
TWO-STROKES ARE DEAD. Long live two-strokes! Just as MotoGP's fourstroke revolution enters its second season, Cagiva announces it will produce for sale 25 duplicates-ycs, duplicates-of the fearsome 500cc two-stroke that carried John Kocinski to victory at the 1993 United States Grand Prix and third overall in the '94 500cc World Championship.
PRILIA HAS NO iMMEDI ate plans to flood show ooms with a streetgoing spin-off of its threecylinder, pneumatic-valved Cube MotoGP racer, but that shouldn’t stop you from owning a Colin Edwards Replica. In fact, the Italian bike-maker is producing 461 RSV Mille Rbased CERs, 50 of which are slated for the U.S.
Its start-up may have been snakebitten, but there's a new power-cruiser on the market. It's called the Viper Diablo, powered by 125 cubic inches (2050cc) of Merch Performance aircooled V-Twin pounding out a claimed 115 bhp at the rear wheel (itself a meaty 240mm Metzeler).
It's war! The battle of the mid-dis placement scooters, that is. The Phantom F-i 2 Max from Malaguti (www.malagutiusa.com) is the latest addition to this expanding category. Swoopy lines and a choice of Piag gio-buit air-cooled 125 or liquid cooled 200cc four-stroke Singles accompany dual-disc brakes, stabili ty-enhancing 13-inch wheels and un derseat storage.
OUR SOURCES WERE solid! The 2004 Kawasaki KX250F and Suzuki RM-Z250 really are on their way to the U.S. of A. Both bikes should be in dealers by September. Whether it's cloaked in green or yellow plastic, the non-counter balanced, liquid cooled, dohc four-valve Single will be tuned identically.
ast we heard about former 250cc and World Superbike Champion John Kocinski, he was getting a paycheck for testing the then-new Yamaha YZR-M1 and dab Ibling in the Southern California real-estate market. Now, the 35-year-old is re portedly retired from motorsports, but he's still quite the real-estate kingpin.
There were some wacky covers during the 1970s, but this one was truly loopy. “Tire Test Exclusive” trumpeted the main blurb next to a dramatic photo of a sidewayssliding, outrigger-equipped Suzuki GS750E. No fewer than 15 tiresrear tires, that is-were sampled during the admirably scientific three-day test, after which the Michelin M-45 was judged to possess the best all-round handling characteristics.
ATK, America's sole remaining dirtbike manufacturer, is alive and well in Utah, churning out mostly dual-pur pose and police bikes. It also has a new bike in the offing, the 700cc two-stroke Intimidator. Currently undergoing testing, the bike is set to (over)fill the Open-class two-stroke void created by the Thumper revolution.
IF THERE'S ONE MISCONCEP tiOn that most sportbikc riders embrace, it's that they need race tires. Hate to burst your but, ble, Valcntmo, but only the fastest Sunday-morning canyon racers on warm, sunny days can begin to generate the sort of heat that race tires need for peak performance.
DOWN: To Michigan Governor Jen nifer Granholm, for asking her state's legislature to ax its motorcycle and off road safety education programs. Ac cording to the AMA, the proposed cuts would eliminate fees collected to sup port the programs, so the state would not save any money.
APRIL1A IS BROADENING its focus. While ATVs and generators aren't on the agenda. the Italian bikemaker is paying greater attention to additional market segments. The much-praised Tuono. for ex ample, is a sure bet. The re worked SL 1000 R Falco is also selling well.
international track test of the year's best sportbikes
Riders rate the Master Blasters
SPORTBIKE PICKINGS ARE SWEETER THAN ever this year with new models offered in each category. When speaking of track-bred performance bikes, there's always the question of which machine reigns supreme and how the rest rank in comparison.
What happens when you roll off the throttle? It depends on what you're riding.
MOTORCYCLE HANDLING ISN'T JUST ABOUT CHASSIS and tire design. As Don Canet, fresh off his "Master Bike" multi-model supersport shootout can tell you, a critical part of the machine-control equation is the way an engine behaves both on and off the throttle.
Honda offer cruiser buyers a choice: Brute power and bulk, or adequacy snd balance. You may be surprised which you prefer.
IF HONDA'S MEGA-CRIJISER VTX1 800C is a "sumo ballerina," what does that make its close cousin, the new-for - 2004 VTX 1 300C? A heavyweight tap dancer? A not-so-large Marge? A solid second? Strangely enough, horsepower alone doesn’t guarantee a top place for the biggest VTX. If the 1800 is all about Big Twin overkill, the VTX 1300 is about Big Twin balance.
TIlE 1800 VTX REMINDS ME OF TUE CON clusion to an old Cycle magazine road test of the original Kawasaki 1300 sixcylinder: "Enough, already!" The 1300, in contrast, is cruiser instead of bruiser. What surprised me was how little I missed the extra power-something I never would have guessed had you laid the two power curves in front of me before I rode the 1300.
Two Midwestern guys, having had it up to here with winter, load up their dual-sport bikes and head for the fabled Baja peninsula
HOW'S THAT GPS woRluNo?" I ASKED MY buddy Pat Donnelly as I sawed at the wheel of my blue Ford Econoline van. Pat stared at the tiny screen of the hand-held Garmin and shook his head slowly. “It says we’re still where we used to be...” That was bad news, because we were at that moment in the middle of a blizzard in central Illinois, blasting through clouds of wind-driven snow, and if there was one place we did not want to be it was where we used to be.
Baja and its bad roads are a great place for motorcycles and particularly dirtbikes. Ride and have a good time-just try to not spoil it for others by being an Ugly American. Our tips: • Go with an organized tour group your first time. It is the best way to learn about how things work in Baja, areas to avoid, what to do in case of emergencies, etc. • Guidebooks are great.
You've Got To ADMIRE a guy who can watch his bike burn to the ground, then build it back up better than ever. That’s the unlikely scenario that served as the inspiration for the custom café-racer featured here. Before Craig Echols crashed his near-museumquality 1974 Ducati 75()Gf, he hadn’t planned on modifying it.
LD-SCHOOL CHOPPERS get a bad rap, seen as spindly, evil-handling relics from the cannabis clouded Age of Aquarius, poor unsuspecting classics upon which unspeakable acts were perpetrated. Bull. The choppers of the late Sixties and early Seventies laid the groundwork for today's thriving, billion dollar afiermarket industry.
THE MINI-MOTO BOOM IS IN FULL swing, with Honda XR5Os built for big kids buzzing around motocross and BMX tracks everywhere. But for a guy who’s a roadracer at heart, there is something irresistible about the rattle of a dry clutch and the howl of sticky tires on dry pavement.
Is it ironic that one of the world's top automotive sheetmetal artists ends up with a bike equipped with fiberglass bodywork? “No comment!” exclaims Dan Fink, head man at D.F. Metalworks and the owner of this gorgeous street-legalized 1966 Rickman Metisse.
ADMITTEDLY, THERE aren't a lot of road hazards on the Bonneville Salt Flats. But you still have to respect a guy with a turbocharged, 492-horsepower, 246-mph Suzuki Hayabusa landspeed-record bike who says, “I don’t need brakes.” It’s when bike owner/builder John Noonan adds that he’s also ridden this very same bike-still adorned with the Southern California Timing Association tech stickers from its record run-down to Bike Night at the local burger joint that you begin to suspect he might be just a little nuts.
FOR VINCE FAULKNER, IT was a classic case of love at first sight. "The moment I laid eyes on Honda’s new VTX 1800 back in 2001,” he recalls, “I just knew I had to have one.” That was a pretty easy goal for Faulkner to attain. As general manager of Jim Walker’s Honda-SuzukiYamaha in Daytona Beach, Florida, he was able to glom onto the first VTX that arrived at the dealership.
I`M PERFECT. YEP, 5-FOOT, 10-INCHES, 175 POUNDS. MY mother tells me I'm cute, too. Or is that handsome? Thanks, Mom, but what I really mean is that most off road bikes are built for riders my_size. What to do if you’re 6-foot-something? Or coming up on the short side of the stick at 5-foot-4?
"Man, it seems like the Supercross series is just dragging,” lamented reigning champion Ricky Carmichael at a tire test in mid-April. “I mean, I just want to get it over with.” With two events remaining in the 16round tour of Americas football and baseball stadiums, the normally omnipotent Carmichael had placed second to fast-closing Team Yamaha rider Chad Reed in each of the last four rounds.
Hypothetically, if you were to ride a Harley-Davidson equipped with its original-equipment Delphi electronic fuel-injection at sea level, then crate the bike and ship it up to 14,000 feet, how long would it take the EFI to adjust to the change?