IT HAS NOT BEEN A GOOD YEAR FOR START-UP motorcycle companies. First Cannondale, makers of truly innovative fuel-injected dirtbikes, went nubblies-up. Now the news that after four years of a difficult, fits-and-starts resurrection, the grand old Indian nameplate is, once again, gone.
HAD TO DROP OFF MY DUCATI ST2 FOR its 600-mile post-break-in check-up last Wednesday—just slightly overdue, as usual, at 1100 miles—so I called up my good friend Jim to see if he wanted to ride along in my van. “Thought I might make the rounds of three or four different dealerships in southern Wisconsin, as long as we’re out and about, and look at some new bikes,” I said.
How DO YOU KNOW THAT EACH OF THE cylinders of a multi-cylinder engine is operating at its best? How do you know if each receives the same intake airflow or the same fuel mixture strength? Maximum power is given when each cylinder receives an air/fuel mixture close to 12.5 to 1.
Whatever you're paying Peter Egan, he deserves a raise. I just read his piece, "Resurrection and Glory," in the October issue, in which he describes the "inexplicable pleasure" that Harleys bring to their riders. I ride my Honda Gold Wing for long trips and my BMW Roadster for short ones, and wouldn't trade them for a fleet of Harleys, but reading Egan's piece almost made me want to worship at the Harley altar.
Troy Lee, helmet-painter, film-maker and Supermoto racer/team owner, has come full circle: He not only penned the graphics for the new TLD SE off-road helmet, he designed it! The DOT- and Snell-certified brain-bucket features a carbon-fiber and kevlar-reinforced fiberglass shell, a snap-out, washable liner, goggle-alignment guides and a “thermal crown cooling/exhaust chamber” built into the impact-absorbing EPS liner. Available in XS-XXL sizes, the SE comes in four styles: Ryan Hughes Signature Series black, blue or silver, $425; silver, blue or red flame, $425; flat black, $415; and silver, $415. Two Orbit visors and a TLD helmet bag are included.
Troy Lee Designs
Authenticity is one of Harley-Davidson’s strongest marketing tools, so you know when The Motor Company uses the word “synthetic,” there has to be a good reason. There is, for H-D has introduced a fully synthetic, 20w50 oil for use in the engine, primary and transmission. SYN3 boasts lower oil consumption, superior cooling, greater film strength and reduced wear. At $8.25 per quart, it isn’t cheap, but neither is your Harley or Buell.
Troy Lee Designs
“Air when you need it.” That’s the concept behind the CyclePump. The compact, 12-volt unit is rated for 200 psi, and will top off a tire in 1-2 minutes; re-inflating a completely flat tire takes 3-5 minutes, depending on the application. Hey, try that with a hand pump! There are three versions, each of which comes with an 8-foot power cord and a cordura-nylon carrying pouch. We recommend the $85 Deluxe model, which also includes a Universal Plug (for BMW-style power outlets and cigarette lighters), 15-amp-fused battery alligator clips and an inline two-prong SAE plug for use with electric clothing or battery-charger pigtails. A welcome toolkit addendum for commuters and long-haul types alike, the compact CyclePump is especially appealing to adventure-touring riders, who often need to alter tire pressures based on changing road conditions.
Troy Lee Designs
One surefire way to save time and minimize frustration when wrenching on bikes is by using the right tool for the job. The Y-Handle has a 3/8-inch socket driver at each end, which means it’s actually three tools in one. Each arm measures 5 inches in length, and the entire chromed steel forging is coated in textured rubber to guarantee safe, non-slip grip.
Troy Lee Designs
Sick of searching for lost tie-downs when you’re in a hurry to get your stuff loaded? Well, search no more: Self-contained and fully retractable, the Cargo Buckle bolts to your truck bed or trailer and features swivel mounts and 56-inch straps. Sold in pairs, the setup retails for $79.
Troy Lee Designs
Fly Racing Runway Ramp
If your dirtbike loading ramp doesn’t fit in your bed—your truck bed, that is—try the Runway Ramps from Fly Racing. The aluminum designs feature polished surfaces, traction-enhancing grooving on the rungs and rubberized, angle-cut “feet” for maximum slip resistance. The clincher? The ramps fold to half their 79-or 92-inch original lengths so as to easily slip into any truck or van. Priced at $100 and $110, respectively, both are load-rated to 750 pounds.
Troy Lee Designs
BMW BoxerCup Apparel
What’s this, BMW roadracing leathers? Ja. Based on the suits worn by the racers in the international BoxerCup series, the $1205 zip-together, two-piece outfit is made of rugged Nappa cowhide and padded in all the important places. Leather and textile stretch panels provide uninhibited freedom of movement, and velcro panels accommodate knee-sliders. Choose from white/blue or silver/gray color schemes in men’s sizes 36-50 and 40L-46L. Matching carbon-fiber-trimmed boots ($275) and gloves ($159) complete the ensemble.
Troy Lee Designs
Asphalt & Gas Knee Sliders
What better to velcro onto your new BoxerCup leathers than a set of blue-and-white BMW roundel knee-sliders? Choose from color-impregnated plastic or hand-painted leather for $50 and $70, respectively. Other brand logos, happy faces, skulls & cross-bones and custom designs are also available.
SEPTEMBER’S MILAN SHOW found the Italian motorcycle industry wading through one of its transitional periods. These cyclical times are unavoidable; there are too many small makers, many of whom, despite craftsmen who possess great ingenuity and technical skill, suffer from an inherent inability to lay down solid longterm plans.
Aprilia's ever-evolving RSV Mille R was one of the show-stoppers at Milan, but the really big news from the Italian bike-maker was a new twin-cylinder motocross/supermoto engine designed by the Angelo Macchi-led team of technicians who deserted Cagiva-Husqvarna earlier this year.
Suzuki has released a computer-generated image of its forthcoming RM-Z450 four-stroke motocrosser. As rumored, the liquid-cooled, dohc, four-valve, 449cc Thumper will be housed in an all-new aluminum frame that borrows elements of its design from the GSX-R repli-racers.
INFORMATION IS FLOWING —albeit slowly, and still with some degree of murkiness—about Honda’s four-cylinder CBR1000RR. For example, while not verbally admitting as much, Honda has confirmed the CBR will replace the championship-winning V-Twin RC51 in AMA and World Superbike competition for 2004.
A black-on-black cover previewed a full road test of the BMW R65, but the color treatment wasn’t the only reason the latest Boxer appeared slimmer. Compared with the previous R80/7, the new model was more than 30 pounds lighter. A smaller gas tank, shorter piston stroke, lighter engine internals and 2-inch-shorter swingarm were all part of the nip and tuck.
LOOKS LIKE INDIAN MAY HAVE made its last stand. When an investment deal fell through in September, the company was forced to cease production and fire 380 employees. The announcement came just days before Indian’s 2004 dealer meeting, where, ironically, the company was set to unveil new, significantly improved models and announce a $1000 price rollback across the board, amid good news that sales had picked up from 3800 units in ’02 to 4500 this year.
UP: To Norma “Duffy” Lyon, for choosing Harley-Davidson as the subject of her annual butter—yes, butter—sculpture. A popular exhibiter at the lowa State Fair, the 74-year-old Toledo resident and mother of nine whipped up a 100th Anniversary V-Rod.
FACT: BIG-BORE DIRT Thumpers are a dying breed. Where once there were as many as eight different models, now there are but two readily available big bikes for big men: the Honda XR650R and now, the KTM 625 SXC. By re-introducing what is essentially an updated version of the old LC4, KTM has created a pretty good dirtbike, its crowning jewel being electric starting.
Rare beasts for the asphalt jungle: MV Agusta Brutale, Buell Lightning XB12S, Ducati Monster S4R
HOW CAN NAKED GET ANY BETTER THAN IT already is? Nude is nude, not crude, Just as bare as you can bear, which is totally naked and ready to party. Say what? I think what w're saying here under the influence of all this undressed style is that life just gets better when bodywork falls away to reveal mechanical beauties such as these, with major metallic heartbeats coming in three flavors: American aircooled, pushrod mega-motor; mildly modded Italian desmo; or classic muscled-up and stripped-down four-cylinder Superbike.
Hot Hornets, stripper Mondials and café Bonnevilles
HONDA 599: Hey, Big Red, what about us? That’s a question we’ve been asking ever since the Hornet 600 made its European debut in 1998. Seems Honda has seen the light, as it will now bring the reworked-for-2003 version stateside. Power comes from the carbureted CBR600F3 mill, with a 919-style, steel-backbone frame supporting a 41mm cartridge fork, spring-preload-adjustable shock and an aluminum swingarm. Made in Italy, the 599 will retail here for $7099.
MONDIAL RZ NUDA: Following a corporate shake-up in which Swiss duo Daniel Alismero and Rafael Alfonso replaced Italian Roberto Ziletti (the man who two years ago resurrected the blue oval), Mondial arrived at the Milan Show with a new naked bike: the RZ Nuda, a stripper version of the Honda RC51-engined Piega repli-racer. Styling is headed by bug-eye projector-beam lighting. No word on availability or pricing. (It’s Italian, so probably no on both counts...)
Triumph Thruxton 900: Triumph shocked Milan with the monster-motored Rocket III, then charmed it with the $7999 Thruxton 900, the two models creating a strident contrast between past and future. Created in deference to the Bonneville-based endurance racers of the late Sixties, the bigger-bore, higher-compression 865cc version of the current Bonnie parallel-Twin makes 69 horsepower and 53 foot-pounds of torque. Clip-on handlebars, spring preload-adjustable suspension, sportier steering geometry and a shortened wheelbase are among the chassis changes of this neo-café-racer. Claimed dry weight is unchanged from that of the standard model at 451 pounds.
If there’s ever a World SuperNaked Championship, here’s your winner
STAFF MEMBERS’ EYES BEGIN TO DART, WEIGHT SHIFTS UNEASILY from one foot to the other, and several nervous ticks manifest. Saying the word “Tuono” around the office does that, sort of like screaming, “Malt liquor!” on skid row. Everybody knows the party is on, even if it might not be entirely good for them.
THE HILLS ARE ALIVE! EVER since KTM debuted its 950 Adventure at the 2000 Munich Show, motorcyclists have wondered when that bike’s V-Twin engine would make its way into a proper streetbike. A prototype 950 Duke was in fact displayed at last year’s Munich Show, but it’s been all quiet on the Austrian front since then.
NOT EVERYONE NEEDS OR EVEN DESIRES A SUPERsport bike. But who in their right-wristed mind wouldn’t find merit in a user-friendly, practical package that delivers supersport-type performance? Judging from the stateside success of Yamaha’s FZl—a landslide sales leader in the liter-class standard-bike category—there are plenty of folks who subscribe to just such an idea.
Centopassi Challenge: Ducati’s Multistrada and the new math
Centogoccie di pioggia
"ZERROOO!” SHOUTED THE TIMEKEEPER. Uh, oh, what have I done now? “Zero, you got a 0.00,” he elaborated. Inconceivable. Granted, I had begun to get a handle on this timekeeping thing, but all I was using was the second hand on my Tag Heuer. I’d have been happy to cross the finish line within a few seconds of my specified time, never mind nailing it to the hundredth of a second!
ACROSS THE PARKING LOT sits a gleaming yellow jewel of a 1970s Ducati bevel-drive Supersport, but something just isn’t right. There’s too much air between the front wheel and the engine, and it just rolled out of the back of a midsize van, not really big enough for a proper 750.
NOT MUCH GOOD EVER came out of drinking beer, but the Yamaha roadracer shown here might be an exception. “It all started with a 12-pack,” begins Ben Welch, owner, rider and co-builder of the so-called TZF426. “It was a few weeks after the September 11th attacks, and some friends and I were sitting around drinking and talking about how you couldn’t afford to put things off, because it could all end in an instant.
YOU COULD CALL DAVID Freston immersed. Totally. Better known as “Chopper Dave,” the 33-year-old is one of the chief fabricators at West Coast Choppers, the Long Beach shop made famous by Jesse James, star of stage, screen and “Monster Garage.”
MAYBE TO YOU THIS just looks like a Yamaha YZ250 with some added signage space slapped on the side. Close, but no cigar. What this so-called “Vent Bike” is, is a look at coming trends in motocross, designed to be stylish form with future function.
LAST WINTER’S CYCLE World International Motorcycle Show in New York City was a bit different than the other 13 stops on the circuit. Definitely more urban, with an emphasis on streetfighter sport-bikes, stunt-riding videos and hoochie mommas with an extra dose of jiggy in their short-shorts.
MAN, WHAT I WOULD have given for one of these when I was a kid. I was lucky—I had a Honda XR80—but in comparison, the Yamaha TT-R125LE is way cooler. It even looks like a YZ450F! Think like a kid for a minute—not too hard for me, I’ll tell you. The situation isn’t that complex: You see a motorcycle and you want it.
Leave it to the Brown Brothers, Washington-based masters of minibike mayhem, to turn a mild-mannered Honda CRF230 trailster into a maximum moto-machine. Okay, it’s still a minibike, but it ain’t much like the playbike it once was. We’re mega-sure of that.
MOST MEMBERS OF THE CW STAFF have a good grasp of how to loft the front wheel of a motorcycle, but we know that not everyone shares this skill. Keith Code knows it, too. His latest school, On One Wheel, is a one-day, $495 crash (oops) course in how to ride a proper wheelie.
From streetbike to club racer to GSX-R Cup weapon—and we almost qualify for the World Finals!
ONE MORE STROKE OF LUCK, AND yours truly would be on his way to France for the World GSX-R Cup, representing America in the second-annual international Suzuki roadracing shootout that brings together the world’s best privateer roadracers.
AMA Pro Racing ignited a firestorm recently when it announced sweeping rules changes that effectively would have put an end to traditional short-track and TT bikes in favor of motocross-based machinery. Slated for the 2004 season, the proposed rules were designed to reflect the changing motorcycle marketplace, increase rider participation, expand OEM involvement and reduce costs, said the AMA. The plans called for a reduction in engine displacement, going from the current 505cc limit to either 350-450cc, liquid-cooled, multi-valve Singles or 400-500cc, air-cooled, two-valve Singles.
What is your opinion about sportbike handlebar risers? I’ve read that they can upset a bike’s steering geometry and have other bad effects. Any time I’m looking to buy a new bike, I’m always concerned about comfort, because that one consideration is very important to me.
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