IT MUST HAVE BEEN A TERRIBLE AND excruciating death, hungry tongues of flame all around, timbers and roof tiles raining from above. On September 16th of last year, a carelessly flicked cigarette butt started a blaze that laid waste to one of the world’s great motorcycle collections, England’s National Motorcycle Museum.
LAST AUTUMN, JUST BEFORE WINTER came galloping across the Midwest like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Snow, Wind, Cold & Salt), my friend Randy Wade called and asked if he and his wife Marilyn might stop by on their Honda Nighthawk and take a ride on my Ducati ST2.
PISTON RINGS SEEM LIKE SIMPLE things-until they stop working. Their job is to seal combustion gas so that its full pressure is delivered against piston crowns, allowing no significant amount to leak away. They must also separate the extremely hot, dry environment of the combustion chamber from the much cooler and lubricated environment of the machinery below.
Scott Pinizzotto’s article on the second death of Indian Motorcycle (“Anatomy of an Implosion,” CW, March) was interesting only because it documents once again that people generally won’t buy junk, no matter the packaging. Indian went under the first time due to lousy products and casual management, and it looks like this is another lesson in Business 101, some 50 years removed.
Here's proof that (two-wheel) style never goes out of fashion. Ducati’s Old Times jackets ($541) combine antiqued leather, historical patches and colorful inlays with the protective qualities of modern-day shoulder and elbow armor. Women’s versions are also offered. Ducati North America, 10443 Bandley Dr., Cupertino, CA 95014; 408/253-0499; www.ducati.com
Want to be the coolest kid in the lunchroom? A Smooth Industries signature-series lunch box is just the ticket. These all-metal meal pails are available in Mike LaRocco, Ezra Lusk, Chad Reed, James “Bubba” Stewart, Ricky Carmichael and Roger DeCoster motifs, and include a matching thermos. Available in limited quantities, they sell for $22 each. Smooth Industries, 9555 Owensmouth Ave. #14, Chatsworth, CA 91331; 818/727-7502; www.smoothindustries.com
Has your BMW Rl100/1150RT been bad to your bum? Sargent’s $620 World Sport seat with its PolyTec seat pan, Super Cell Atomic Foam and Griptex or CarbonFX inserts was developed for superior comfort and ergonomics. Other standard features include the M-Sport tri-color logo, and a built-in storage container located under the passenger portion. A special “low” version is available for riders with inseams measuring 29 inches or less. Sargent Cycle Products North America, 44 E. First St., Jacksonville, FL 32206; 800/749-7328; www.sargentcycle.com
Be seen! The $12 Safety Light breaks new ground with its versatile elastic mounting system. The corded disc attaches to just about anything-backpack buckles, bootstraps, even frame rails. Two lithium batteries supply up to 150 hours of constant or flashing LED light, activated by a nifty magnetic on/off switch. Also available in white. Cat Eye Co., Ltd., 1705 14th St. #115, Boulder, CO 80302; 800/522-8393; www.cateye.com
Feelin' a breeze, bro? Keep your pants cuffs where they belong around your ankles with Hawg Tie Biker Stirrups ($25). The adjustable elastic clip-on straps are enhanced with decorative conchos. Hawg Tie Biker Stirrups, 39 Upper Gore Rd., Webster, MA 01570; 508/949-0632; www.hawgties.com
Preload Adjusting Tool
If you ride a high-performance motorcycle on the road or in the dirt, odds are you’ve got a bunged-up screwdriver in your toolbox. And if you’ve got one of those, odds are your bike has an equally bunged-up shock spring preload collar. Why not avoid both scenarios with Race Tech’s new Preload Adjusting Tool? This $50 implement is made from heat-treated hardened tool steel, and features a curved end to reach into cramped locations. Hammer sold separately. Race Tech, 1501 Pomona Rd., Corona, CA 92880; 909/279-6655; www.racetech.com
"These are the race tires, right?" asked MotoGP Rookie-of-the-Year Nicky Hayden after his first session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the press launch for Michelin's new Pilot Power. Intended for street riders who want a treaded radial built using the same technology as the French company's racing slicks, the Pilot Power offers on-track grip perhaps only 5-10 percent off that produced by the Pilot Race S2, M2 or H2 series, but with similar feel and feedback. Even in relatively cool conditions and without the benefit of tire warmers, freshly scrubbed tires were ready to go on the first lap, while brand-new examples needed only two go-rounds. Better yet, after being put through at least 12 heat cycles on-track over the course of a month, the tires still warm up quickly and grip well, good virtues for any tire, especially so for one intended first and foremost for the street. Prices start at $155 for fronts and $190 for rears. Michelin North America, Inc., P.O. Box 19001, Greenville, SC 29602; 800/346-4098; www.michelin.com/moto
BENELLI HAS FINALLY found its way. Nine years after acquiring what was left of the famous Italian bike-maker, Andrea Merloni has steered the 80-plus-year-old firm back to its original vocation: motorcycles. No more scooters, just motorcycles, strong in personality and performance, characteristics for which Benellis were known before the de Tomaso takeover in 1972.
Chicago was Honda’s kind of town for sneaking in a stunning new and totally unannounced VTX1800 concept bike to sit alongside the Jesse James “Killer Café” custom that made CW’S February, 2004, cover. Billed simply as “VTX Concept 1,” the big V-Twin had elements of an industrialized Rune, in the sense that style is king, but finishes were more brushed aluminum than polished chrome, the trailing-link front end a fine example of this.
One of the benefits of winning four AMA Superbike titles? Your own replica model! The Mat Mladin Replica Edition ($10,799) is based on the current GSX-R1000 and features sponsor decals and a signed gas tank. Suzuki is also offering a Hayabusa 1300 Limited ($10,999), with red paint, a black frame and polished wheel accents, and an Intruder Volusia Limited ($6899) that boasts a flamed gas tank, studded seat and custom emblem.
JUST FOUR MONTHS after Indian management abruptly ended production and sent employees packing, the Gilroy, California, plant and its contents were on the market. The “assignment for benefit of creditors” included the 154,000-square-foot factory, 60-some motorcycles, parts, tools, machinery, trucks and trailers, all to be sold at public auction.
Building your own motorcycle is a difficult, expensive, time-consuming undertaking. No one is more acutely aware of this fact than 40-year-old Dan Fischer, whose MRX sportbike has reached the prototype stage. Initial plans called for Rotax power (“Roundup,” January, 2003), but now a supercharged, 650cc, 90-degree V-Twin patterned after Suzuki’s SV650 and manufactured by Hyosung in Korea (“They’re great, love ’em,” says Fischer) is pulling duty in the Gemini-developed, twin-spar aluminum frame.
Packed hardly describes this issue, which was the meatiest CW to date. At a whopping 216 pages, there was literally something for everyone. • Editor Allan Girdler’s Up Front column, penned in response to a father who was concerned his young son’s next bike purchase would lead to him becoming a vegetable, is worth digging up and reading even now.
IN 1973, WHEN YAMAHA two-strokes were the first to win 500cc Grand Prix races, it was a remarkable achievement because they won not by superior power but through the improved handling of long-travel Monoshock suspension. Even before this, Yamaha had established itself as the preeminent racing manufacturer by offering for sale production racers such as the TD1, TD2 and TD/TR3, which had become the normal tools of professionalism for a new generation of riders.
Secure in your manhood, are ya? Got the full of chromosomes? Not afraid to get in touch with your inner urbanite? in an order for your very own designer Vespa, a joint effort between the Italian company and fashion-accessory house Coach. We’re told the scooters perfectly compliment the sporty and chic spring/summer line, and are available in seven unique designs, including “Poppy Floral” and “Hamptons Stripe.” Details include suede patchwork and crocodile seat no chiffon.
UP: To Jamie Little, for busting out big. We always suspected the pretty supercross announcer was hiding something under the heavy jacket she sported on chilly evenings, but now that we’ve seen the February issue of FHM magazine, we know! The 25-year-old Southern Californian was featured on the cover and in a pictorial playing up her involvement in the Winter X Games.
THIS BEING THE YEAR IN which brand-new liter-class sportbikes from Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha are getting all the love, it would be easy to overlook the Triumph 955i Daytona. That would be a shame, because the 2004 version of this British-built Triple has undergone a facelift and also benefits from a $1700 price reduction.
LANDING IN SYDNEY, Australia, in the middle of summer (our winter) is an adventure to be experienced. So, too, is riding Yamaha’s all-new 2004 YZF-R1. With the bike’s world press launch staged at Eastern Creek Raceway in the Land of Oz, I was treat ed to both.
This Year of the Superbike promises to be the most scintillating ever. With brand-new liter-class sportbikes from Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha, everyone is itching to know which, if any, will unseat the all-conquering Suzuki GSX-R1000. But it’s been a bit frustrating here at Cycle World, because the manufacturers have been trickling out testbikes at the rate of one per issue.
THE DAY BEFORE RIDING ALEX BARROS’ WORKS YAMAHA M1, I stood in the back of the press room as Valentino Rossi ended his relationship with Honda. The worst-kept secret in racing was that Rossi would be on a Yamaha for 2004. Tomorrow, I’d see what the talented “Doctor” had to work with.
BMW’s all-new R1200GS roosts through the southern tip of the Dark Continent
WE’RE NOT SO DIFFERENT FROM BABOONS, REALLY. THIS thought occurred during a field trip to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, courtesy of BMW and all the grand celebrations surrounding the introduction of the new and greatly improved BMW R1200GS. As we waited tor a lighthouse-bound tram by the snack bar, a wild baboon crept out of the bushes and scaled a wall into the counter area.
Dare we utter the word "surge?" And what if we whisper "combustion-chamber carbon deposits?" Both of these difficulties were sporadically encountered in recent Oilhead Beemers, causing rideability (part-throttle surging) and reliability issues (burned exhaust valves), but neither was ever wholly acknowledged by BMW, and recent "fixes" haven't been connected with these "non-problems."
What your Dakar Replica BMW F650 really wants to be
WAY BACK IN 1999, I GOT SHIPPED OFF TO HUNGARY to test the factory BMW that Richard Sainct rode to victory in that year’s Dakar Rally. I didn’t know at the time that I was auditioning to race the forth-coming 900RR Boxer-Twin, but I got a real feel for the F650 Single before there even was a production GS version, let alone a Dakar Replica.
LEGENDARY GREEN BAY PACKERS head coach Vince Lombardi, winner of six division titles, five NFL championships and two Super Bowls, and revered for his ability to motivate players, is often quoted as having said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing,” It’s the sort of statement that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end, regardless of whether Lombardi ever really said it.
When it comes to valves, light (at last) makes right
WHY DOES A MANUFACTURER PUT EXPENSIVE TITANIUM valves in place of much cheaper steel valves of proven durability? The answer is to raise the rpm redline and continue the search for free power through detailed friction reduction. But just putting titanium in place of steel accomplishes little.
Honda CBR600RR vs. Kawasaki ZX-6RR vs. Suzuki GSX-R600 vs. Yamaha YZF-R6
WE WERE DOOMED FROM THE START. THERE’S NEVER ENOUGH LIGHT IN THE day, let alone time in a month, to poke, prod and pull all the potential from sportbikes like these four Sixes. In last year’s “Splitting Hairs” comparison test (CW, May, 2003), Yamaha’s YZF-R6 was judged the finest.
Believe it or not, Cobra super-sizes a Kawasaki Vulcan 2000
CHOPPERS, AS IF YOU HADN’T NOTICED, ARE VERY ’OT CHIT THESE days, all the bleedin’ rage. Can’t hardly pick up a remote control without running into “Biker Build-Off’ this or “Southern Chopper” that on the ol' tube-de-boob. Jesse James has somehow become a blue-collar folk hero in a welding hat, selling customs that cost more than some people’s three-bedroom ranch-styles.
Started a decade ago as way of drumming up excitement about the customization of metric cruisers, Cobra’s Special Projects Division has a simple mission statement: Create a buzz! Rather than bolt up simple “rolling catalogs,” SPD borrowed from the automotive world and each year comes up with one or more bikes that more closely resemble concept vehicles.
2002 MotoGP Review and World Superbike Championship
Basic Suspension Setup
I RECENTLY ENJOYED WATCHING TWO 2002 RACING SEASON REVIEW DVDs, one of the new MotoGP class, the other of last year’s World Superbike season. Each has its special appeal. In MotoGP, you see-albeit at the usual TV distance-the new 990cc four-stroke Grand Prix roadracers.
DO YOU DREAM OF TAKING TO THE GRID for your first roadrace, only to put it off time and again because of the large number of serious-looking participants in the Novice class, or because of the in-timidating nature of the track itself? The Code Race and Competition Experience, a new program created by California Superbike School founder Keith Code, may offer the solution.
HAVE YOU EVER RUN OUT OF SPACE while packing for a motorcycle trip? Really run out of space, like where you’ve got more stuff on the ground than you do in your bike’s luggage? If so, you need a Journey Bag from Mag’s Bags. Measuring 29 x 12 x 11 inches, it’s equipped with built-in “mini-saddlebags” that hang down over the sides of the passenger seat and just rest on top of your bike’s existing saddle-bags.
GO WHERE the wind blows you," suggested the Editor. “Here’s the key to a Harley-Davidson. Bring it and yourself back in one piece.” And so it began. A dream assignment and a chance to visit the family in Georgia I was growing oddly sentimental about.
Ten things,you should know about the world’s toughest rally
EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED to know about the Paris-to-Dakar off-road rally? Not quite, but as a self-proclaimed expert with first-hand experience in the Dakar, I’m going to give you more than a day-to-day report of the 26th running of the race.
The big news of the upcoming season is Valentino Rossi’s move from Honda, where he has been world champion three times, to Yamaha, which played third-fiddle to Honda and Ducati last season. Why the change? It’s easy to say that dominance could bore a person, but a more realistic possibility is that Honda’s public-relations requirements had become difficult.
I have a 2001 Suzuki GSX-R750 that I really like, but lately I’ve been enjoying the sound of V-Twin engines more and more. I was just wondering if there were any way to make my inline-Four sound similar to a V-Twin-like maybe connecting two pistons straight to one muffler and the other two to a second muffler?
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