IT IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF PLACE YOU'D expect to find raw, stripped-down choppers being built, a nondescript brick-front warehouse within spitting distance of the East River, in a gritty Brooklyn neighborhood whose only nods to urban beautification are tagged walls and razor wire glinting in the sun.
SINCE 9/11,THINGS HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT. There was a strange shift in American psychology following that murderous event, and it seemed for many months that no one, including Barb and me, wanted to venture very far from home. Lavish trips and endless hours in airports suddenly seemed pointless.
MOTORCYCLE DURABILITY HAS TO INcrease constantly. As one dealer declared to me, “The stronger the manufacturers make the bikes, the harder people abuse them. Five years ago, the clutch on our liter-bike was good for one burnout and people complained when it wouldn’t survive 10.
Great article in search of the One True Bike ("World's Best Streetbike," October, 2004). Recently separated, I was looking to move on from my Suzuki SV650S and was considering the Honda VFR, the Yamaha FZ1 or the BMW R1200GS. I trusted you, bought the FZ1, and fell in love 100 feet from the sales lot.
A top speed of 18 mph? Hey, that's pretty fast if you're only 10 years old! The $300 Minimoto Maxii is more than twice as powerful and 30 percent larger than the $200 Sport Racer introduced earlier this year, and looks remarkably like a Honda CBR1000RR-only smaller, lighter and battery-powered. The singlepassenger, drum-braked machine has enough juice for 45 minutes of riding; a complete recharge takes 6-8 hours. And talk about incentives: If junior's homework or afterschool chores aren't finished, mom and dad can hold the ignition key hostage.
Moose Racing Dual Sport Lighting Harness
Take the guesswork out of fitting your latemodel four-stroke off-roader for dual-purpose duty. The $76 Dual Sport Lighting Harness has just three components to connect, so mounting a headand taillight is easy. Sealed bullet connectors, an AC regulator, H4 headlight connector and quick-fit stator wiring are all part of the package as is a multifunction engine stop and headlight on/off switch.
Weld Racing Forgewire Wheels
Weld Racing is taking a different tack with its new Flare Series Forgewire one-piece, aircraft-grade aluminum wheels for 2000-and-newer Harley-Davidsons. Aside from high style, the key feature is the integrated sealed-bearing hub, said to result in a truer, lighter wheel that allows the spoke design to continue to the hub face. Forgewires are available in 18and 21-inch diameters and 2.15to 10.5inch widths. Prices start at $1400 and include a lifetime structural warranty. Matching car and trailer wheels are also available.
Oxtar T.C.X Pro Supermotard Boots
What's the difference between supermotard boots and motocross boots? Worn-out soles, that's what! To deal with the accelerated wear of heels dragging on asphalt, Italian cobbler Oxtar has introduced its new T.C.X. Pro Supermotard boots, the replaceable soles of which are secured with full-length Velcro panels and three screws through the metal toepiece. Available in silver/black in sizes 7.5 to 14, the boots retail for $280 and replacement soles cost $50.
Momo Design Grips
$130 to $240
Famed Italian auto-accessory-maker Momo Design has turned its attention to motorcycles. Its first product is a collection of high-end handgrips. All four styles-Carbon, Komposit, Twin or Leather-feature machined-aluminum ferrules and endcaps. Prices range from $130 to $240.
Suomy Spec 1R Extreme Helmet
Italian manufacturer Suomy is taking its Spec 1R helmet to the Extreme! Consider the Ultra Tech Opalescent Iridium Face Shield, which boasts a hydrophobic coating that allows water to roll off the surface, an anti-infrared coating to block heat and an anti-fog coating. Then there's the Alcantara liner, made from the same material used on high-end sports cars and furniture. Not to mention the advanced venting system that combines a Ram Air Intake at the forehead with an Air Wedge Top Diffuser. Add to that the Extreme's selection of four Ultimate Graphics and you've got a helmet that lives up to its name. It's offered in sizes XS-XXXL for $650.
Panoptx Diablo CV
Speed-rated sunglasses? Panoptx's new Velocity Series is equipped with patented, removable, foam-covered rubber evecups that seal out harmful ultra-violet rays and keep wind from reaching your eyes at speeds up to 80 mph. The "sport-wrap" shape and snug fit keep the glasses in place. Retailing for $180, the Kona CV (shown), Diablo CV., Gust CV and Convertible CV are fitted with guaranteed-for-life NXT PureTec photochromic lenses that shift from light to dark, depending on conditions. Prescription lenses are available upon request. I I T PG5/
SUZUKI IS THE MASTER of making serious sportbikes at prices riders like. Staying competitive at a price calls for cleverness on many levels. The latest recipient is the 2005 GSX-R1000, which has to run in a new pack of literclass big-dogs.
Check your driver's license at the dealership door: Suzuki is releasing the DR-Z400SM streetbike! Supermoto racing has had a big impact on two-wheeled sport in the U.S. over the last several years, and Suzuki is looking to capitalize on the growing popularity with this DR-Z400S dual-purpose-based bike.
BMW shocked show-goers at last September's lntermot Show with a sneak peak of its forthcoming naked bike, the K1200R. Basically a K1200S minus the fairing, the R shares the S-model's Duolever front suspension, aluminum frame and forward-canted 1157cc inlineFour.
WE THOUGHT TRIUMPH had gone and burned its bankroll developing the Rocket III, but lo, it wasn't so! Check out the Speed Triple and its sweet new styling: Twin semi-underseat exhausts exit out a truncated tail. Depending on whether or not you squint, the wheels are fiveor 10-spokers.
Following on the success of the ZX-10R winning Best Superbike in Cycle World's 2004 "Ten Best Bikes," Kawasaki has treated its '05 middleweights to similar re-do's. The 636cc ZX-6R and 600cc ZX-6RR both have new cylinders and heads, plus a central ram-air intake system that feeds oval-shaped 38mm throttle bodies with two injectors per cylinder.
On the cover dressed in black and elegantly posed was a Yamaha XS Eleven Special. For three years the XS was the tuning fork flagship, and this dark horse tipped the scales at 584 pounds, 100 lubs lighter than one of its competitors, the six-cylinder Kawasaki KZ1300.
ALAS, THERE IS NO Techno Cruiser in the Honda lineup for 2005, but there is the new VTX1800F, a sport cruiser with a huge number of factory customization options. The 1795cc, fuelinjected Twin is available in three levels of finish, Spec 1, 2 or 3.
Trail riders and enduro racers rejoice: the 2005 Honda CRF450X is a reality. Based on the CRF450R motocrosser, the $6999 X gets the fourth-generation aluminum frame with forged headstock and swingarm plates, while the spark-arrestor-equipped sohc engine is now electric-start (yes!), with a wide-ratio five-speed transmission.
UP: To authors Kathleen 0' Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear, for doing it right. The best-selling fiction-writing couple are traveling the country on a BMW R1100RT to promote their new book, People of the Raven, a novel about "the prehistory of America."
DOES THE NEW, ALUMInum-framed 2005 Yamaha YZ125 live up to its hype? That depends on whether you were sucked in by the Four-Stroke Revolution or prefer the agility and response of the "dying" twostroke. With its new engine, frame and suspension, this latest YZ has been completely redesigned to take on the 250cc four-strokes that have come into prominence in the 125cc class.
From the Badlands to the Black Hills to Devil's Tower, mega-cruisers rock the rally
CVO FAT BOY
MY FIRST DAY AT THE BLACK HILLS CLASSIC, I WAS INVITED BY THE mayor of Sturgis to go on a little ride, part of a 240-bike flotilla that-thanks to South Dakota's finest at every stoplight-rolled unimpeded the 65 miles to VIP parking at Mount Rushmore.
She was stunning, the sort of girl you’d see in a Playboy centerfold, and damn near as naked. Tall, blonde, tan, statuesque—and did I mention nearly naked?-wearing nothing more than two pasties over her nipples, a g-string and a pair of very, very high heels.
It probably went something like this: It is Christmas season, 1945. Harley-Davidson's president, William H. Davidson, is reviewing the latest draft of the February, 1946, Enthusiast in-house magazine. "What's this?" he exclaims, scanning a picture on page 14 of the Peoria IT parking lot.
Another tine mesh... That bastard Murphy and his damn Law were at it again in Sturgis. Having sweltered through one too many South Dakota scorchers, we ordered up a seven-pack of mesh riding jackets for this mega-mix cruiser comparison. Black Tshirts and bare arms-the Sturgis uniform-was not an option; none of us likes sticking to the sheets after a simple tip-over.
Good thing Michael Lichter was not the world’s best jazz drummer. Had he not hung up his sticks in 1977 and turned to photography, the Harley-Davidson cult/culture would not be nearly as well documented. For an insight into the man’s prolific nature, log onto his excellent website www.lichterphoto.com and rummage around-maybe purchase a poster, a limited-edition print or his book, Sturgis, from which these photos were taken.
YOU KNOW, YOU DON'T SEE LINCOLN NAVIGATORS OR CADILLAC Escalades grinding over the boulders of the Rubicon. No, the Queen Mary class of SUVs, four-wheel drive or no, spends most of its time on paved asphalt, far away from those thorn-scribed pinstripes and other indignities that off-road use can inflict.
YOU'RE A LEADING Suzuki engine builder and retired record-setting Pro drag racer. You’ve got a bike sitting around the shop you sold to a friend long, long ago, and now it’s back. You're bored. Naturally you end up with a 160-horsepower, monoshock GS 1000 roadracer called “Frankenzuki.” Well, you do if you’re Dale Walker of Holeshot Performance.
"NOTHING?! What do you mean, nothing?! Not the guns, not the collection of Road & Track magazines, not the motorcycles?" This is what I got for asking my oldest daughter what in the "Funhouse," my combined office/shop in Santa Barbara, California, she wanted should I get run over riding my KTM. Nothing-no thing.
EDDIE MULDER IS always on, never at a loss for a quip or an insight, so it’s not always easy to tell when he’s joking or when the wool is headed for one’s eyes. On this occasion Mulder is astride a Triumph 750, the machine on which partner Scott Dunleavy was top qualifier last year at the Pikes Peak hillclimb in Colorado.
WHAT DOES A CORPOrate pilot do with his spare time and cash? Build a street-going Superbike, of course! A pilot since age 17, Ken Warner flies a privately owned, $25 million French-made Dassault Falcon-“heavy iron” in corporate jet-speak.
BADASS" AND "MENACing" are not words that typically end up in sentences that include "Gold Wing." Even after its great makeover in 2001, with flashy color options, an aluminum frame and an extrta 300cc added to the signature 1500 Flat-Six, the Wing's image remains somewhat, shall we say, staid.
WHEN BUELL INTRODUCED THE XB9S LIGHTNING TWO years ago, I was struck by the huge difference a simple tubular handlebar and lower footrests made to what was essentially a naked XB9R. But the real difference was more psychological. I found the Lightning liberating to ride.
IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE: A one-piece riding suit that can be worn comfortably over street clothes, is protective, foul-weather-friendly and a snap to put on and take off. The Alpinestars 360 Drystar oversuit is all those things and more.
T-BAGS, THE COMPANY THAT MAKES those clever sissybar duffels for cruisers, is branching out, and if its first tankbag is any indication, meet the newest power player in the soft-luggage sweepstakes. This is quality kit, with stitching and hardware a cut above the norm-even the logos and zipper tabs exude class.
HAVE YOU NOTICED HOW MANY SPORTbikes now come with steering dampers straight from the factory? That's because today's ultra-powerful, ultra-responsive machines need 'em! For those bikes that don't come standard with a damper, an aftermarket model can smooth out the handling without “putting a damper” on your Sunday ride.
No market was more important to British motorcycle manufacturers during their heyday than the United States. Despite this, our little one-time colony is often left out of marque histories published on the other side of the Pond. Such is not the case with Mick Duckworth's excellent book on the Norton Commando.
"IF YOU SEE A STATIONARY YELLOW FLAG IT COULD mean there's a broken-down bike, a person or tractor on the track. If the flag's waving, the tractor may be moving." Welcome to Athea, the Irish village that's home to one of the newest events on the "Real Roads" race calendar.
Two-stroke fans, don't despair! Sure, the AMA killed the 250cc Grand Prix class and yeah, 500cc GP bikes have been run over by four-strokes, but with the United States Grand Prix Riders Union, 125 and 250cc stroker pilots still have a place to race.
I am curious about what makes some bikes more manageable than others in slow-speed, tight situations. My H-D Road King, fully loaded with two-up, feels like a rhinoceros when I attempt a U-turn on a narrow lane. When I climb aboard my buddy's BMW R1150RT, I can maneuver around a gas pump like I was on a Schwinn.
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