HONESTLY, I’VE NEVER REALLY LIKED Daytona all that much, may the Beach Gods have mercy on my worthless, heathen soul. This possibly has something to do with my first visit to Bike Week in 1978, when as a penniless university student (all my funds being tied up in a new Yamaha XS750 Triple-a man has to set priorities, after all...), I made the pilgrimage from Texas to Florida in time for one of the week-long monsoons that seem to ravage the so-called Sunshine State with annoying regularity.
PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW ME VERY well often say, “Egan, you’re a gearhead; you must survive those long winters in Wisconsin by getting out on your snowmobile.” I usually tell them that while I have many motorcycle riding buddies who are also complete snowmobile nuts, the appeal of these machines has never really caught on with me.
MOTORCYCLE CHASSIS HAVE ALWAYS flexed. The earliest motor-bicycles flexed so much that they broke their frames, so bigger and heavier-walled tubing was tried until durability improved. We’ve been experimenting ever since. At various times, inventors hit upon the idea of building motorcycle chassis as bridges were built-as stiff, triangulated structures whose properties could be calculated.
Just read the article on J.T. Nesbitt’s Confederate Wraith (“Cutting Edge,” April). Finally, an American motorcycle company with some cajones! Hopefully, this will spark a revolution that the South can win! Hey, Willie G., maybe you should take a trip to Louisiana for some Confederate gumbo!
Touratech ReVamp The ultimate Alps ride? That’s the concept behind the ReVamp, a $4000 body kit that makes any BMW R1100/1150GS appear more street-oriented. Parts include a 5.5-gallon gas tank, restyled windscreen and upper front fender, one-piece seat (available in four different heights), HID headlight, an electronic speedometer/tachometer, “micro” turnsignals and taillight. Touratech USA, 701 34th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122; 800/491-2926; www.touratech-usa.com
$230 to $500
Vemar Helmets Italian-made Vemar helmets are now available in North America. Vemar-the name is derived from the Italian word for fiberglass, vetroresina, and the region in which the company is based, Maremma-has been manufacturing skid lids since 1985, and is currently ranked fourth in sales in Europe. A complete line of street, off-road and flip-up models is offered, all made of tri-composite fiberglass and said to pass DOT and ECE-22.05 safety standards, with prices ranging from $230 to $500. Intersport Fashions West, Inc., 15602 Mosher Ave., Tustin, CA 92780; 888/313-2510; www.ifw-usa.com
$58, or $80
Park Tool T-Handle Wrench Set Any self-respecting tool freak knows that a good set of T-handle wrenches makes all the difference when working on a motorcycle. This 8-piece chrome-vanadium set features deep sockets in 8-10-12-13-14 and 17mm sizes, plus #2 and #3 Phillips-head screwdrivers. Ends are coated with “Easy Grip” PVC for comfort. Wrenches cost $58, or $80 with a vinyl-dipped storage rack. Park Tool USA, 6 Long Lake Rd., St. Paul, MN 55115; 888/568-4959; www.parktool.com
Flushmount Signals Go flush by replacing the bulbous stock front tumsignals on your latemodel sportbike with these trick-looking, CNC-machined aluminum indicators. They’re available polished or in a variety of colors with amber lenses covering six 100,000hour-life LEDs. Installation requires no modifications to the bike; just bolt ’em on and blink. Cost is $110 per pair. Greggs Customs, 1334 Dell Ave. # D, Campbell, CA 95008; 408/370-4770; www.greggscustoms.com
$27 to $57
Motorcycle Memorabilia Display Showcases Got pins? Then why not display them somewhere they’re less likely to be lost or damaged than on your weather-beaten leather jacket? Jennifer Reno’s Motorcycle Memorabilia Display Showcases are 3/8-inch-deep black wooden shadow boxes with glass fronts and black softboard interiors to which you can attach your favorite pins, patches, key fobs or other collectibles. Back-loading, they can be hung either landscape or portrait-style, and are available with or without silver stud accents. Four sizes hold from 30 to 80 pins, and retail for $27 to $57. Reno Products, 5725 N. 40th St., Milwaukee, WI 53209; 414/466-3309; www.renoproducts.com
Space Lift Lucky enough to have a garage but not quite lucky enough to have a big garage? Check out the Space Lift SLI8086 ($4500), a free-standing, 2000-pound-capacity, portable lift that holds two full-size motorcycles high above your other possessions. The powder-coated, electrically operated unit features a keyed security switch, so nobody but you gets your stuff down from the maximum platform height of 72 inches. Nine-foot ceiling required. Space Lift, Inc., 102 Wellington Bluff, Noblesville, IN 46060; 317/695-8372; www.spaceliftinc.com
PROBABLY NO JAPANESE motorcycle has inspired tuners and custom builders as much as the V-Max. Yamaha hasn’t bothered to perform a significant update to the king of the power-cruisers since its introduction in 1985, but so emblazoned is the image of the V-Max in the mind of motorcyclists that they try to make up for it.
American open-wheel auto racing may be shrouded in a cloud of uncertainty, but BMW is forging ahead with what it believes is the future of the sport: Formula BMW USA. Utilizing a full carbon-fiber monocoque chassis built around a 140-horsepower variant of the 1171cc inline-Four that powers the K1200RS, and featuring adjustable wings and suspension, the FB2 is designed to serve as an effective training tool while remaining a thoroughly modern racer.
Not wanting to fall behind in the everexpanding adventure-touring category, Triumph has updated its three-cylinder Tiger. Quicker steering geometry and revised suspension settings provide a more responsive, controlled ride, while cast wheels enable a greater range of tubeless tires.
FRANCO LAMBERTINI IS pleased as punch. After a 15-year hiatus, he’s back with Moto Morini, the Italian bike-maker for whom he designed the engine for which he is best known: the belt-cam-drive, multi-plate-clutch, Heron-headed, 350cc V-Twin that debuted in the 1972 3½and went on to power a number of other models.
Supermoto’s spectacular action and sideways style has captured the attention of lots of people, both here and abroad. Adding to the buzz is the all-new Synergy Motorsports Q450, which is claimed to be the most exotic and technologically advanced machine ever developed for this form of racing.
And the winner is...? In the always hotly contested 125cc motocross class, the much-anticipated answer was-drum roll, please-Kawasaki’s KX125. To reach that conclusion, riders of varying skill levels rode the bikes on all types of tracks, with the finishing touch being tester Steve Bauer’s Pro-class victory at his home track.
EVERYWHERE YOU TURN, miniature motorcycles are all the rage. We’re not talking about batterypowered kid’s toys, but ⅓scale—or smaller-gas-gulpers designed for full-size adults. Choppers, dirtbikes, repliracers and quads are popping up left and right.
UP: To Eddie Lawson, for not tossing his cookies. This past February, the two-time Daytona 200 winner and four-time 500cc World Champion accepted an invitation to fly with the world-renowned Blue Angels. “Wow, talk about shock and awe,” Lawson exclaimed after the Mach 1 flight.
"HOW FAST WILL IT go?" is always the first question. "Sixty," I lie every time, knowing the only way Yamaha's Vino 125 will reach that speed is by traveling downhill with a strong tailwind. I've gotten close a couple times-57...58...59 mph-but that magic number remains just beyond reach.
It’s the end of the world as we know it for Open-class sportbikes
Consider the players, and what the makers of those players have on the line. Used to be racing rules let a factory team make a good bike into a great one, but with today’s emphasis on production racing, even the top-level Superbike class is fairly restrictive.
WITH THE PERFORMANCE of current Open-class sportbikes rivaling that of fully prepped, mega-buck racing Superbikes, nothing short of racetrack testing allows one to assess their strengths. Looking for any excuse to escape the SoCal jungle for a few days, we hit the highway for Infineon Raceway, located an hour north of San Francisco.
THESE FOUR MACHINES HAVE MANY similarities because they are engineered to do the same task: Dominate the 1000cc sportbike category. Only tiny differences separate wheelbases, steering rakes and weight distributions. Likewise, all have 43mm forks-that’s the current compromise.
FLASH BACK ONE MONTH. IT’S THE DAY BEFORE DEADLINE for CW's May issue, and I’m out for an 1lth-hour street ride on the new Kawasaki ZX-10R. With storm clouds brewing, both literally and figuratively, I exit Interstate 15 at Route 138 and head east, away from the dark skies and famed Angeles Crest Highway, where I’d hoped to ride, and up into the San Bernardino Mountains toward Lake Arrowhead.
IT WAS TOO EARLY IN THE SEASON TO SAMPLE THE FRUIT of the vine, but my ears consumed an overabundance of intoxicating engine whine as we put this crop of 2004 liter-bikes through their paces at Infineon Raceway. With the racetrack report being handled by “Clutch” Canet, and “Alley-Catterson” marking out our street ride, I was left with the chore of squeezing out performance figures.
WHAT CAN DAYTONA TELL US ABOUT THESE FOUR motorcycles? Mat Mladin won the 200-miler on a Yoshimura Suzuki, but the factory Yamahas of Aaron Gobert and Jamie Hacking were first and second in the brand-new and closer-to-production Superstock race.
THE MOST TELLING OBSERVATION about this new crop of Superbikes resulted from something that Technical Editor Kevin Cameron said while he was examining them outside the CW shop. Told that we were having a hard time picking a winner, he asked, “Why, is it because they’re so alike?” Au contraire, mon frère.
WE FEW, WE favored few, we band of enthusiasts who are plain darned tired of letting all the ink, all the R&D and more than half the big-bike market go to those boring cruisers, at last we can take heart. Triumph, a.k.a. The Other 100-Year-Old Motorcycle Company, has taken modern components and mixed them with a radical fashion from the past, and presto, it’s a new Triumph Twin on the correct side of being something completely different.
When Honda quit winners in the Grand Prix series, late in the 1960s, the sporting guys on the home team did their best to keep the spirit alive by offering race bits for the production street models, not least of which was the CB350, a sohc Twin with more potential than its specs predicted.
THE NAMESAKE OF HINCKLEY’S LATEST BONNIE WAS one of the winningest roadracing Triumphs of the 1960s-a bike with a mystical reputation among the marque’s U.K. enthusiasts, but one that’s relatively unknown in America. The original Thruxton Bonneville was a 650cc production racer, officially built in small numbers at the Meriden factory between 1964 and 1966.
Something old, something new, something borrowed... but most of this Ariel custom actually came from the attic
SOME PEOPLE ARE PROBlem solvers. Jim Schaeffer is one of those people. Particularly when the problem is not being able to obtain babbit engine bearings of a quality with which you are satisfied, and so decide to make your own. That’s right, Mr. Schaeffer, owner of old Vincents and Ariel Square Fours, and builder of the unique blue custom pictured here, makes his own whitemetal engine bearings.
WHAT DOES A MAN who handcrafts cost-no-object corporate customs for a living do in his limited spare time? Well, if you’re Denny Berg, chief fabricator for Cobra USA’s Special Projects Division, you build bikes, of course, but this time on almost no budget.
AS TWO-STROKES ARE further obscured in the blue-smoked annals of motorcycle history, it becomes ever more important that the ring-ding-afflicted amass their collections of cool ’strokers to remind us of where we’ve been. And if such a collector happens to be David Zemla, art director at Performance Machine, with regular access to lovely models such as Miss Amber here with whom he can photograph his personal bikes, all the better!
THERE ARE BOSTROM Replica Ducatis, and then there are Bostrom Replica Ducatis. This one is both-an official Ducati 998 Bostrom as sold by the factory, but repainted to replicate the Superbike that Brother Ben raced in the 2002 world championship.
Forget the next thrilling episode, get out and ride
THE TRIBE HAS SPOKEN
THERE IS SOMETING I JUST CAN'T EXPLAIN. Not because I don't know the answer, but mostly because everyone else knows a different answer. That question is, "What is an enduro bike?" Don't date yourself and say it's a street/trail bike. 'cause we call those dual-purpose or dual-sport bikes now.
BUFFALO 365, IT SAYS ON THE BOX, SO the first question is, why is a deerskin glove named after the buffalo? There are, after all, buffalo-skin gloves on the market. Because, says the small print, the American Buffalo, more accurately Bison, are native and tough and so are these gloves.
CONSIDERING THE RECENT GROWTH explosion of supermoto, it was inevitable that an apparel manufacturer would produce riding gear as specialized as the bikes themselves. Alpinestars ’ new S-Moto suit features a longer torso section to suit a sitting-upright or standing rider, plus a straighter sleeve cut with outstretched arms in mind.
HOW MUCH WOULD YOU SPEND ON A lightweight, fully lined and armored, two-piece textile riding suit that’s 10 times tougher than competition-grade leather? What if that same suit kept you comfortable and dry in all kinds of weather, in temperatures ranging from -20 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit with optional zip-in liners, and up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit without the liners?
In vintage racing, three hours is a test of endurance
Daytona Middleweight Mixup: 600cc x 2
THE FRENCH LOVE ENDURANCE RACING. WITNESS THE TOUR DE France or the Paris-Dakar Rally. It’s no surprise the 24-hour Bol d’Or roadrace, held every fall, remains the country’s highest-profile motorcycle event. In order to recapture the glory of the race’s heyday in the 1970s, the Bol’s organizers created the Bol d’Or Classic.
I have a 2002 Yamaha R1 that is stock as far as the engine is concerned. I had aftermarket brake lines installed and removed the right-side front-brake rotor so it would be easier to see my red translucent powder-coated wheels. This type of wheel treatment is the trend around Columbus right now.