WIVES AND GIRLFRIENDS, AN APOLOGY is due. You were right all along. There is such a thing as Speed Channel overdose. A “Monster Garage” marathon may indeed be too much of a good thing. And, yep, that walrus-looking father on “American Chopper” really should have a spanner shoved where the sun don’t shine.
“WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE 1975 Suzuki RE-5 Rotary?” asked a caller on the phone the other night. I immediately recognized the voice of my old friend Jim Buck, from Boise, Idaho. Who else, after all, would ask such a question? Jim is sort of the Will Rogers of motorcycling-he never met an old bike he didn’t like-and he has even less resistance to hopeless, cast-off relics than I do.
Kevin Cameron TDC LITTLE DETAIL PROBLEMS HAVE A WAY OF hiding in designs. When Kawasaki launched its great classic Z-l fourstroke, little experience existed as to how rugged such an engine should be. This was solved as Douglas had done with its classic DC-3 airliner-by taking no chances and making everything extra-rugged.
I saw January’s cover story on the Kawasaki ZZR-X concept bike and one word comes to mind: Sweeeet! Designer Mark Knight is spot-on in his assessment of today’s angular, reptilian look. A real turn-off. Two thumbs-up for his sophisticated, sleek, feminine, flowing design.
See clearly day or night? Polar-Optics’ optical-quality Dark Gray ($30), Amber ($40) or Mirrored ($50) lenses offer a removable, reusable alternative to sunglasses or a second faceshield. Tested at speeds up to 170 mph, the velcro-backed polarized strips are compatible with most full-face helmets.
Alfred Knee-Dragger Hitch Cover
Show the driver behind you that you’d rather be riding with an Alfred Knee-Dragger Hitch Cover. Retailing for $25, the 4-inch-diameter enameled metal design portrays a roadracer dragging his knee, and fits all 2-inch hitch receivers. Claimed to take just 15 seconds to install, it’s secured by a standard or locking hitchpin.
R&J Engineering Seal Mate
Seal Mate should be in every toolbox, no matter what type of motorcycle you own. The paper-thin device quickly and easily extracts the dirt and debris trapped between fork seals and stanchions without removing the seal itself. A twopack costs $7.90.
Nothing beats a good moto lid for not only riding safety, but also for comfort. The new Bell SC-X ($190) combines both of these features in a lightweight, DOT/Snell-approved, composite-fiberglass shell. Added benefits include an adjustable visor with aluminum screws, a removable/washable liner, adjustable flow-through ventilation and XS-XXL sizing. Six shades match your favorite brand of dirtbike.
ProMoto Billet Chainsaw Carrier
A backpack is no place for a chainsaw, which is why the Idaho Parks and Recreation Department relies on ProMoto Billet’s Chainsaw Carrier for its trail-clearing needs. You can, too. Retailing for $60, the replaceable scabbard is mated to a rubberized aluminum base plate that clamps to all RackIt cargo racks.
Thwart thieves like they’ve never been thwarted before with the Bike Brace. Made of powder-coated, laser-cut, 1/4-inch steel plate, the $149 contraption bolts to any solid surface-a garage or trailer floor, for example-and secures the front or rear wheel of most sport or touring motorcycles with a 1 -inch-diameter precision-ground steel shaft. If that’s not enough, a steel plate shields the included heavy-duty Master lock from bolt-cutter-clutching criminals.
AXIO Chicane Hardpack
Laptop computers are commonplace these days, but transporting your expensive Powerbook by motorcycle is no mean feat. After all, it's not as if you can just huck it into a magnetic tankbag. Harodesign, headed by legendary BMXer Bob Haro, has a solution: the AXIO hardpack, Able to safely swallow laptops as large as 17 inches, the humped Chicane ($160: blue, grey, red or carbon) takes biking backpacks into uncharted territory with its protective moldedplastic outer shell, adjustable, ergo nomically shaped back and straps, and 1200 cubic inches of neatly divided interior storage. Sleek metal-look Teckno ($150) and fabric-covered Fuse ($140) are also available.
YAMAHA, ALONG WITH its suspension subsidiary Ohlins, has been working on a two-wheeldrive motorcycle for years. In current form, mated to a WR450F, a chain-driven hydraulic pump located atop the gearbox pushes fluid through a hose to a custom front hub.
You saw it here, the out-there picture by famed French photographer Gerard Rancinan of a naked Loris Capirossi and Troy Bayliss in flanking a Ducati Desmosedici, with team boss Claudio Domenicali in the center, apparently staring straight ahead so as not to witness any roadracer manhood (“Underdog, Overdog,” September, 2003).
Celebrating its success in its inaugural MotoGP season, Ducati unveiled the M620i.e. “Capirex,” the nickname given to factory rider Loris Capirossi. Red paint, a white longitudinal stripe and Capirossi’s racing number complement fenders, sidepanels and rear cowling fabricated from carbon-fiber.
EMMY AWARD-NOMINAted actor Matt LeBlanc has a new “friend:” Aprilia boss Ivano Beggio. The two met last July when LeBlanc, a lifelong motorcyclist who owns an RSV Mille and an RST Futura-not to mention a barnful of Suzukis-was given a tour of the factory and VIP passes to the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.
Honda’s new XR500 made a snow-covered, um, cover, accompanied by the tag line, “A Big Bore Dirt Bike That Keeps Its Promise.” All we can really ask from an off-roader, really... Selling for a measly buck, the issue boasted nearly 200 pages, which is how many were needed to fit five full tests, the abovementioned Honda being only the tip of the iceberg.
NO BIKE-MAKER HAS embraced supermoto with greater enthusiasm than KTM. For 2004, the Austrian company will offer no fewer than six models, the unveiling for which took place last November in conjunction with the AMA Red Bull Supermoto-aGo-Go National Championship finale in Las Vegas.
What to do with your retirement bonus? If you’re Dario Calzavara, former Ferrari and Pirelli executive, you invest it in a long-held personal dream: the creation of a new brand of motorcycle. Some bonus! Calzavara founded Terra Modena last year.
UP: To Cycle World’s favorite drummer, Neil Peart, for his excellent taste in quality headwear. In his band’s new concert DVD, Rush in Rio, Peart proudly sports the CW cap that Executive Editor Brian Catterson gave him when the pair rode together during the 2002 Vapor Trails tour.
HIGH-SPEED CIRCUIT de Catalunya may not seem the ideal place for Ducati to introduce its newly modified 749S, but when you find out what the Italians were going for was more top-end power and a higher rev limit, well, then a track where you can nudge 150 mph on said V-Twin begins to make Ducati invited us to for a double-whammy introduction to the 749S and ST3 sport-tourer (CW, February), giving us a full day on the 2.9-mile Grand Prix circuit in northern Spain to flog its latest middleweight Testastretta Twin.
A SPORTBIKE REVOLUTION IS UPON US, AND we owe much of it to the restructuring of 500cc Grand Prix into its current MotoGP format. There’s been a changing of the guard as racing two-strokes have been smoked by the new breed of GP machine. Sportbike enthusiasts are the real winners here, with cutting-edge four-stroke technology helping shape the bikes we can now buy.
Maybe the best cruiser ever built-if it ever gets built...
BARNEY LI IS A MAN ON A MISSION, WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT. STARTING IN 1994, it’s been Li’s quest-make that crusade-to bring the mighty Vincent V-Twin back to rortin’ snortin’ life, and if he just happens to trample on what your idea of a proper Vincent should be..
Editor ’s Note: As Vincent’s Bernard Li knows only too well, resurrecting a grand old motorcycle marque is a difficult and risky proposition. And once back in business, there are no guarantees. On Friday, September 19, 2003, Indian Motorcycle Corporation terminated its operations for the second time in 102 years.
JETTING TO AN UNFAMILIAR RACETRACK IN AN unfamiliar country to ride world-class motorcycles makes your skull sweat. King Kenny got a kick out of my butterflies as we walked through the paddock of Spain’s Circuito de la Comunitat Valencia, site of the 16th and final round of the 2003 MotoGP season.
So, YOU’D GIVE YOUR LEFT DEALLY-BOB TO DO WHAT WE do for a living, eh? Treated like royalty, unobtainable factory racebikes shoved at you left and right? Hey, it’s a paycheck and someone ’s got to do it... Anyway, with Quick Nick off in Spain playing MotoGP Guy, it was up to me to ride KTM’s Dakar-winning LC8 V-Twin.
JOHN OWENS HINGS WERE LOOKING UP FOR AJS in the 1954 Isle of Man Junior TT. The fast, very light Moto Guzzi Singles had faded from the leaderboard. Ray Amm and his factory Norton, a legendary force at the Island, was seemingly out of reach in the lead, but Man’s long and grueling 373/4-mile laps have a way of wreaking havoc with front-running favorites.
IT TOOK 35 YEARS for England’s National Motorcycle" Museum to build up its unique collection of more than 800 Britishbuilt machines, and barely an hour to reduce nearly half of them to charred, burned-out hulks. A carelessly discarded cigarette butt has been blamed for the catastrophic fire that swept through three of the Birmingham museum’s five display halls last September, destroying many irreplaceable, legendary motorcycles.
EARTH TO WILLIE G, EARTH TO WILLIE G: What, exactly, were you thinking with the goofy handlebar? You and your styling team crafted what essentially is a terrific motorcycle here, a sleek, seductive machine with the potential to be as practical and enjoyable as just about anything on the road.
“LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT,” SIGHED MY WIFE Megan, and she wasn’t talking about me, either. “The Road King Custom is very beautiful, from the chromed crashbars to the leather saddlebags complete with their secret button to open them.” What Megan didn't like was having to carefully place her feet on the passenger pegs.
Clutch play WHEN LAST WE LEFT OUR LONGterm 999, it had suffered a catastrophic clutch failure. The bike had tipped over on its right side, and the thick rubber clutch-cover gasket compressed enough to let the cover contact a spring stanchion.
ARE YOU A SPORTBIKE RIDER WHO hasn’t got enough points against his license? Or perhaps you’d simply like to sit more upright for improved comfort? Either way, you’ll be interested in the LSL Superbike Bar Kit. Imported from Germany, this kit contains everything needed to replace the clip-on-style handlebars that come standard on many late-model repli-racers with a conventional 7/8-inch tubular setup.
BUYERS OF AFTERMARKET EXHAUST pipes are generally seeking improvements in four areas: appearance, performance, sound and weight. Micron’s new water-pressure-molded Serpent system aims to deliver on all counts. Micron has studied exhaust-gas dynamics and used its findings to create the Serpent’s flared headpipes, which resemble the hood of a cobra.
EVER SEEN ON ANY SUNDAY? SURE YOU HAVE. BUT DO YOU recognize the kid wheelying the Honda Mini-Trail in the opening minutes? The answer, for those who haven't seen On Any Sunday Revisited, is Jeff Ward. The man who would eventu ally become a seven-time national motocross and supercross champi on was just 9 years old then, but was already on the road to fame and for tune.
The 78th International Six Days Enduro will long be remembered as the Six Days of firsts. As in: first Six Days in South America (Brazil, specifically), first Six Days where it was actually hot (though the water park next to the parc ferme made cooling off fun) and the first Six Days with an overall individual winner, Stefan Everts, who had never competed in an off-road race before (though the Belgian does have seven world motocross championships on his resume!).
I’ve noticed that when your magazine compares motorcycles and puts them all on the same tires, you either raise or lower the bikes to compensate for differences in tire height. I am curious if the manufacturers do this, since the same bike sometimes has different brands of tires installed at the factory.
In response to your reply to Kevin Kelly (“Mending broken Wings”) in the January issue, I have been a welder for 25 years, and during my training, “machine inert gas” was not the definition we students were given for the acronym “MIG.” We were taught that it stood for “metal inert gas.” Bruce Anguish Springfield, Ohio Well, I guess I’ve failed my welding-instructor’s examination, haven’t I? I know how to do most kinds of welding, including both TIG and MIG, but I’m self-taught, with no formal training.