IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN. ALL THE important 2003 models tested, sales figures in, trends identified, events chronicled, new models announced, concept bikes unveiled, most of the race series wrapped up, champions crowned. Time, in other words, for a little reflection: Any year that sees the passing of motorcycle greats like former rim-riding flat-tracker George Roeder, Ken “The Shoe Man” Maely and the incomparable Barry Sheene, archetype for the modern superstar roadracer, has to be considered a DOWN, but for lives well led, entertainment given and friends made, a big UP to all three and Godspeed.
I HAVE OFTEN SAID—AND PROBABLY AT least once in these pages—that the next motorcycle we buy is very often a form of revenge for our last long trip. For instance, if the seat was too hard or the windflow over the windshield was too deafening on that last big ride, a person might be tempted to go out and buy a more luxurious and quiet motorcycle for the next cross-country adventure.
AT THE 1993 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX, Yamaha debuted its YZR500 0WF2. This motorcycle (be sure to say “Zero-W” and not "Oh-W," as that’s how it’s said at the factory) had a chassis of unprecedented stiffness, partly owing to the use of internally divided extruded chassis beams.
Please, more info about the new Norton Commando. Performance, specifications, price, availability, road test, etc. Dennis Halsey Chico, California I appreciated your Norton reborn article in the October issue. I always enjoy a good Norton resurrection story.
What’s this, a pocket for your rocket? Precisely. Intended for indoor bike storage, this one-size-fits-all-yes, even Gold Wings-polyethylene-weave zip-up shields your two-wheeler against bugs, dust and other potential damage-doers. Also included: a 1-pound reusable dry pack to stave off moisture, and a stuff bag for portability. Suggested retail price is $145.
Pro-One Scimitar Forward Controls
Dude, give your 1986-2003 Harley-Davidson Softail some 'tude. Pro-One Scimitar Forward Controls don't just look cool, though: The polished mounting plates and sword-shaped brake/shift levers are machined from high-quality, 6061 T-6 aluminum; roller and thrust bearings are fitted at all pivot points for smooth, precise action; and the folding footpegs are adjustable to enhance comfort. Cost is $900.
Eminem, Tim McGraw or Mozart, the $199 MotoMP3 will play 'em all. The 2.6 x 1.7 x 0.5-inch, 27-gram digital player/recorder comes with a plastic mounting bracket that adheres to the back of your helmet with double-side tape. There’s memory sufficient for eight to 12 CD-quality recordings, which is good for a couple of motos or a half-hour trailride, but well short of what you’ll need for all of Route 66. At least you can select “All Repeat,” one of several playback options, for a second, third or fourth go-around. Both earbud-style headphones and foam-covered, velcro-backed helmet speakers are supplied, along with a USB cable, AAA battery, installation software and user's manual.
ThinCase Dry Bag Saddlebags
Add top-loading, roll-over closures to internally reinforced Ortlieb Profi Brief Bags and what do you have? ThinCase Dry Bag Saddlebags. The lighter, narrower version of Aero Design's larger, heavy-duty throw-overs, these $157 waterproof wonders measure just 15.7 x 11.8 x 4 inches, and weigh only 3 pounds, 9 ounces. Available in black only.
Year-round comfort is what you can expect from Marsee's new line of all-season Adventure Ballistics riding apparel. Offered in black only, the three-quarter-length jacket ($325) and pants ($295) employ a four-layer system comprised of a ballistics nylon outer layer, water-repellent under layer, nylon-lined interior fitted with removable armor and zip-out insulation. Matching gloves ($90) use a two-in-one layering system to accommodate varying weather conditions.
Don't get stranded! The compact, lightweight eGuard ($69) keeps an eye on your motorcycle's engine oil pressure, charging system and battery health. If a problem is detected, a loud warning alarm sounds. Four color-coded wires provide simple, mistake-free hook-up on practically any four-stroke model.
How better to tighten your belt than with a flamed buckle emblazoned with The Motor Company's bar-and-shield logo? Back-stamped for collectability, the polished, all-metal, hook-type fastener can be paired with any H-D belt, such as the Classic Embossed Strap ($28) or Stingray Strap ($35). Suggested retail price is $25.
Fold Down Bed Expander
Yet another pickup bed extender? Not exactly: Top Line's $200 Fold Down Bed Expander is unique because it, well, folds to a compact 5 inches in height when not in use. Offered in three sizes, the 16-pound, anodized-aluminum/stainless-steel design mounts to the tailgate of any late-model pickup. Quick-release pins simplify opening, closing and removal.
What’s this, a pocket for your rocket? Precisely. Intended for indoor bike storage, this one-size-fits-all-yes, even Gold Wings-polyethylene-weave zip-up shields your two-wheeler against bugs, dust and other potential damage-doers.
AUSTRIAN DIRTBIKE manufacturer KTM is getting serious about streetbikes, as evidenced by the RC8 concept repli-racer shown here. Unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show, this visually striking sportbike is at present just a mockup, but considering that it's built around the existing LC8 engine from the Adventure and Duke models, it’s not at all far-fetched.
Capturing the transient interests of today’s youth is no laughing matter—these kids have money! In the car world, Honda and Toyota are targeting teenagers with the boxy Element and Scions, but so far it’s been baby boomers (and older) stepping forward with checkbooks open, pen in hand.
Big Dog has a new model: the $24,900 Ridgeback. Taking its name from the muscular Rhodesian Ridgeback canine, the 631-pound rigid chopper measures nearly 9 feet long. An S&S-built, electronic compression release-equipped, 107-cubic-inch V-Twin provides the power, while a super-fat 250/40-18 rear tire brings up the tail.
WHAT IS A YOUNG man to do? Here he is, glowing with the unstoppable energy of youth, seeking some goal worthy of his dreaming. Yet growing up in an information age, he knows that organizations love no one, that most “information” has a hidden purpose.
"Born Again Honda CB750K: Fast as a Thousand, slicker than ever,” declared the blurb on this month’s cover. Inside, the subtitle to the road test was equally upbeat: “A sophisticated successor to Honda’s traditional 750.” Not satisfied with evaluating the next-generation four-piper only on the street, testers took the K-model to Ontario Motor Speedway for a club race.
REMEMBER THE MT-01, THE Yamaha Road Star-engined musclebike unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show four years ago? A single-cylinder spin-off of that hairy-chested concept model hit center stage at Milan last September, and it may be closer to production than you might imagine.
Since BMW has patented its Paralever final-drive assembly in all its possible variations, Moto Guzzi's engineers were left with little technical ground to explore in hopes of devising an equally efficient layout for its next-generation rear suspension.
UP: To former Indiana Pacers center Rik Smits, for proving white men can jump. A 12-year NBA veteran, the 37-year-old “Dunking Dutchman” now competes in AHRMA and Speed & Sport National Vintage Motocross events on a nicely restored Maico 490.
NOT SO LONG AGO, RIDING a sportbike in the buff was considered pretty risqué. Not anymore, though. Keep your shirt on, we’re talkin' bare-bones bodywork. With an increasing number of mass-produced naked bikes streaking the streets these days, it’s evident this once-sub-cultural trend has reached mainstream proportions.
Will this exotic sport-tourer ever escape the show circuit? Kawasaki hints that it might.
THE ZZR-X DOES NOT LOOK LIKE ANY Kawasaki that has come before it. Twin arms reach forward to cradle its front wheel. Bodywork stretches and swoops long and low in graceful curves that recall and elaborate on French sports cars of a bygone era.
ALL WELL AND GOOD, your mighty morphin’ Kawasaki ZZR-X sport-tourer, but other concept bikes from the Tokyo Motor Show may indicate a sea change for the motorcycle industry— and along with it the possibility of greatly increased sales. Before your eyes are the Honda Griffon and Suzuki G-Strider, so-called scooter motorcycle “hybrids” looking like props from the next Star Wars movie, but in reality not all that far from production.
ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-TWO miles per hour read the Aprilia’s digital speedometer as we railed through Willow Springs’ daunting Turn 8 and prepared to brake for Turn 9. That sounds impressive until you realize two things: 1) This was the bike’s first lap on cold tires, and 2) it was only in third gear.
THREE YEARS AGO, ROBERT STEFFANO, A MECHANICAL engineer from Garberville in Northern California, had an idea. He wanted to build a special based on a Ducati 916 stripped of its aerodynamic bodywork and non-essential parts. Far from being “enveloped,” this “exposed” machine would showcase the hardware that defines the essential, elemental, modern high-performance motorcycle.
One man's journey through a modern metal landscape
Aluminum attracted attention as a lightweight metal about 125 years ago. With a low relative density, about one-third that of steel, aluminum became an important metal in the 20th century. But this was only because it could be united with other metals to create strong and hard alloys that retained aluminum’s first virtue, its light weight.
Metalworking for the common man, or destruction as learning process
My mechanical life began with seduction by metallic curves. Before I’d ever held a carburetor or measured a cylinder bore, it didn’t matter what lay beneath gas tanks and fenders, I saw mysterious contours that suggested speed and sound and places I’d never been.
DON VESCO WAS A lifelong motorcyclist and racer who, at the time of his death last year, held the world land-speed record. His home was out in the country, where he had enough space to fill several barns with crashed stream-liners, old sprint cars and midgets, Offenhauser parts, rows of dead motorcycles, shelves of tools, boxes of bits, barrels of T-shirts and so on, to the extent of about four acres.
SOMEWHERE EAST OF TUBA CITY, “PROJECT 100” became a motorcycle. In the autumn of 2002 it was merely a concept, a challenge to Cobra USA’s Special Projects Division to help us come up with a unique way of celebrating Harley-Davidson’s 100th Anniversary.
WHAT DOES SHERLOCK HOLMES HAVE TO DO WITH Harley-Davidson? The famous detective once solved a case by noting a curious fact. It was what the dog did in the nighttime, he told Dr. Watson. But, protested Watson, the dog did nothing. That, said Holmes, was the curious fact.
"ANYBODY SEEN THE V-STROM?" That was the most oft-asked question concerning our long-term Suzuki. Every time we went looking for it, some-one seemed to be on it (pun intended). In the final weeks of the bike’s 16-month stay at CW HQ, Jeff Allen, staff paparazzo, loaded up the cavernous, color-matched Kappa hard bags with photo-assault weaponry and a month’s worth of film-munitions and vanished.
HELMETS PROTECT YOUR HEAD, SO IT makes sense to protect your helmet. For most folks, that means simply keeping it on a clean shelf, away from ultraviolet light. But for others, namely those who travel regularly, keeping a helmet safe can be a chore.
CONSIDER THE CENTERSTAND, PERHAPS the most useful motorcycle accessory ever invented, a boon to basic maintenance chores-oiling chains, inspecting tires, checking air pressure and simply cleaning rims of road grime. Why, then, are most motorcycles sold today of this handy feature?
MORE CHANGE IS ON THE MENU for AMA roadracing in 2004. Last year, 1000cc Fours with controlled modifications were added to the premier Superbike class. Suzuki, whose GSX-R1000 just happened to be very similar to its long-serving 750, was best able to make the leap.
It’s not something I expected to read in Cycle World magazine-Barry Sheene had died! It was a sad day for me, losing a good friend who had been the best man in my wedding some 23 years ago. We not only lost a motorcycle world champion, but a great guy whose positive smile and bubbly personality influenced thousands of people around the world.
I live way up in the Yukon Territory of Canada, near Alaska. When getting my bikes ready for their annual winter slumber, I have always added fuel stabilizer, topped up the tank and made sure the treated fuel has made its way through the entire fuel system.