FUNNY THING ABOUT OUR SPORT/HOBby/lifestyle of motorcycling, you never know when or where you’re going to run into a legend. I was at the annual Lake o’ the Pines Rallye this past September at the invitation of the organizing North Texas Norton Owners Association, who asked that I present a trophy in honor of my late brother Kevin, a longtime club member.
I BELIEVE THE TREND FIRST STRUCK ME about two years ago, as the Slimey Crud Motorcycle Gang wended its way through the green hills of Wisconsin toward an overnight stay at the little village of Alma on the Mississippi. As we rode along, I pondered the bikes on the road ahead of me, and those in my mirrors as well.
WHAT IS THE “RIGHT” ARCHITECTURE FOR a motorcycle engine? At the moment, majority opinion backs the V-Twin and the transverse inline-Four. Yet many other arrangements have been proven workable. Honda has had a long affair with V-Fours, beginning with the oval-piston NR500 racer and continuing with a flood of VFRs.
Regarding your recent “2x2” test of the Triumph Thruxton 900 and HarleyDavidson Sportster 1200 (CW, November), why compare apples to oranges? Harley makes an apple to be compared to Triumph’s orange; perhaps you’ve heard of the Sportster 883?
Which way is he going? Never again will tailgating car drivers ask that question about you—as long as your helmet is equipped with Arrowheads. When you check over your shoulder in preparation for a lane change, these large arrows, made of 3M reflective material and available in yellow/green or red/orange, help to indicate your intended direction of travel. Each $20 package consists of two arrows, a silver diamond and two silver arrow tips. Arrow Head Project LLC, 341 Jean St., Mill Valley, CA 94941; 888/458-6488; www.motoloco.com
Arrow Head Project LLC
Tourmaster Cortech Solution Road Boot
What’s this, a good old-fashioned biker boot? Yes and no. While the Tourmaster Cortech Solution Road Boot has a traditional all-black appearance, it’s anything but conventional. Among the highlights: leather construction with articulated panels; a waterproof, breathable King Tex liner; perforated Air Mesh collar; and a rugged, molded-rubber sole. With a suggested retail of $120 (sizes 7-14), it’s priced right, too. Helmet House, Inc., 26855 Malibu Hills Rd., Calabasas Hills, CA 91301; 800/421-7247; www.tourmaster.com
Arrow Head Project LLC
HID Headlight Kit
Convert the halogen headlight on your late-model two-or four-cylinder BMW to high-intensity gas discharge in less than one hour? That's the claim made by Nippy Normans, U.K. distributor for all manner of two-wheel lighting. Developed in conjunction with endurance racing teams, the $350 kit provides two to three times more light (with half the energy consumption), near-daylight luminance, and low levels of infrared and ultra-violet radiation to prevent damage to the headlight lens. Applications are also available for the Ducati Multistrada and ST2/4, and Honda GL1500/1800 and ST1100/1300. Nippy Normans, Ltd., The Old Apple Store, Newton Rd., Bovey Tracey, Newton Abbot, Devon, England TQ13 9BF; 011-44-1626-830458; www.nippynormans.com
Arrow Head Project LLC
Jetboil Personal Cooking System
Boil water for coffee, oatmeal or pasta in about a minute with a canister stove so small it slips easily into a saddlebag? The ultra-efficient Jetboil Personal Cooking System integrates an insulated, lid-equipped 32-ounce kettle/mug, measuring cup, heater and 3.5-ounce fuel supply into a single, compact package. Accessories include a companion cup, coffee press and maintenance kit. Suggested retail price is $79. Jetboil, Inc., 529 Sunapee St., Guild, NH 03754; 603/863-7700; www.jetboil.com
Arrow Head Project LLC
Athena Big Bore Kits
Pump up the power on your 2003-04 Suzuki DR-Z400 or Kawasaki KLX400 with an Athena 435cc big-bore kit. For $740, you get a nickel-carbide-coated cylinder, moly-coated, high-compression forged piston, rings, wrist pin and gasket set. Motoman Distributing, 8468 Loma Pl., Upland, CA 91786; 909/608-0082; www.tws-tech.com
Arrow Head Project LLC
Motul Engine and Fuel System Clean
A clean engine is a happy engine, right? Motul aims to keep your fuel-injected powerplant in high spirits with Engine Clean and Fuel System Clean. Added to engine oil prior to draining, Engine Clean attacks and removes combustion residue, reducing wear and decreasing fuel and oil consumption. Fuel System Clean disperses condensation and prevents the formation of deposits and varnish, in turn optimizing performance, reducing emissions and increasing the lifespan of the fuel system, oxygen sensor and catalytic converter. Both products retail for $10. Motul USA, Inc., 790-C Indigo Ct., Pomona, CA 91767; 800/926-6685; www.motul.com
Arrow Head Project LLC
Hi-Tech Digital Tire Gauge
The value of checking tire pressures regularly can-not be overstated. A difference of a few psi can have a huge effect on handling and tread life. Best to check regularly, then, and doing so with this $20, rubber-coated, “lifetime”-lithium-battery-powered digital tire gauge is easy. It measures in half-psi increments from 5.0 to 99.5 (accurately, too—we checked), seals well on the valve stem and has a compact head for ease of use in tight spots. The tread-depth gauge in inches and millimeters is just a bonus. It even comes with a belt pouch and five-year warranty. Roadgear, Inc., 206 W. Elgin Dr., Pueblo West, CO 81007; 800/854-4327; www.roadgear.com
Which way is he going? Never again will tailgating car drivers ask that question about you—as long as your helmet is equipped with Arrowheads. When you check over your shoulder in preparation for a lane change, these large arrows, made of 3M reflective material and available in yellow/green or red/orange, help to indicate your intended direction of travel.
HUSQVARNA CELEbrated its 100th birthday last year, and if recent developments are any indication it is poised to enter its second century in style. The originally Swedish brand, which became a part of the Italian Cagiva empire in 1988, upset the status quo when its four-stroke TE450 took home Best Enduro Bike honors in Cycle World's 2004 "Ten Best Bikes" competition, unseating the multi-term incumbent, KTM. And now, thanks to funding from Italy's Banca Intensa and a pending deal with Malaysian auto-maker Proton, the model line has been improved even further.
No, this is not Truck World, but it is impossible to ignore this monster hauler from International. Dubbed the CXT, or Commercial Extreme Truck, the all-wheel-drive "pickup" is based on the same 20-ton platform used for dump trucks and snow plows.
Barry Gray may have given up smoking years ago, but the effects have apparently lingered. The 41-year-old Pensylvanian constructed a replica of a local restaurant owner’s 1957 Harley-Davidson Panhead using empty Marlboro cigarette boxes.
MIDDLEWEIGHT NAKED bikes have an approachability, economy and sense of fun that few other streetbikes possess. Which is why continued updates and new models are brought to the class. Witness these offerings from Kawasaki and Suzuki.
Single-cylinder streetbikes have been a hard sell for years. But there is glory in their simplicity and light weight. Perhaps nothing demonstrates this more than the Borile B500 CR (for café racer). This handmade, 258-pound Italian Single is a delicate-yet-muscular masterpiece of fun engineering from the creative, old-world mind of company founder Umberto Borile.
Rocketing into view on the cover of this month's issue was Yamaha's all-new YZ250. “After five years, a monoshock that really works,” blared the blurb. Not that the editors didn’t approach the air-cooled two-stroke with a cynical eye.
HAS THE INTERNAL-combustion piston engine reached its final form? Not if a raft of busy inventors have their way. Consider rotating valves. These were initially of intense interest because of the chronic spring breakage, float and other maladies of the cam-and-spring-operated poppet valve.
How to overcome a mid-life crisis? Steve Morris and Clive Wood turned to the arts. Dissatisfied with their “mundane and unfulfiiling” business lives, the 40-something Brits became sculptors. Explains Morris, “We wanted to create a work of art that would be our legacy to the world, something that would give our lives meaning.”
DOWN: To ill health, for cutting short the life of David Mann, prolific centerspread artist for Easyriders magazine. Often called the “Biker’s Norman Rockwell,” Mann, 64, was known for his folksy depictions of the chopper lifestyle. Before his death last September, he was honored with a retrospective of his work at the Journey Museum during the Sturgis Rally and was named to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum.
IF YOUR IDEA OF THE perfect cruiser is centered upon a relaxed riding experience, then you would surely also agree that there is little joy to be found in heavy handling, harsh suspension or agricultural control operation. Suzuki shares this belief too, as made evident by the continued refinement of its cruiser line—renamed “Boulevard” for 2005—with top-of-the-range models now equipped with an electronic fuel-injection system offering improved performance and convenience.
The MotoCzysz C1 has a twin-crank, four-cam, 15-degree V-Four with two clutches, a carbon-fiber frame, alternative front suspension and is made in the U.S.A. But is it ready for MotoGP?
YOU'VE PROBABLY HAD THAT FLICKER OF AN IDEA, THE SMALL TWITCH deep in your brain that is the delicate beginning of a Good Idea. For most of us, these die before ever taking shape. Michael Czysz is not like most of us. Where most of us let the brain twitch wither as we commence to channel surf, Czysz (say sizz, as in sizzle) set himself apart by taking action.
I LOVE THE MUNICH SHOW. IT TAKES DAYS TO SEE everything, from new models and MotoGP bikes down to all the fascinating little outfits making pistons or exploding safety vests. Evening brings a grand reward of food and beer, often in distinguished company.
Making the Honda XR650L and Suzuki DR-Z400S work like they should
WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE DUAL-PURPOSE MARKET? Not since KTM entered the category circa 1994 has there been a truly new on/off-road bike that is heavy on the latter half of the equation. Suzuki’s DR-Z400S shook things up at the turn of the millennium, but it was definitely a different bike than its dirt-only brothers.
Motorcycles get nto accidents. My job is to figure out how and why.
THE SUN SHINES BRIGHTLY ON A CRISP California spring day. It’s surprisingly quiet on the edge of this mountain road; traffic is almost non-existent on a weekday, and I can hear the creek wrapping wetly around rocks in the canyon far below. But my focus is on the asphalt near the center of the road, just at the ending or beginning of a blind corner, depending on your direction of travel.
First, the single best thing you can do is to take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation class. In MSF courses (www.msf-usa.com), either beginner or advanced, the basics of braking and motorcycle steering are covered thoroughly. I’m willing to bet that you don’t know either as well as you think—and if I’m wrong about you, I’m right enough in general to come out ahead if I extend the bet to a room full of riders.
A DESOLATE stretch of two-lane. The kind of place you end up when you’re lost looking for Old Route 66. Or on the wrong end of a bad drug deal. One day last spring, 10 riders, a thousand horsepower and a million bucks of candy-painted steel throttled down along this blighted strip of sun-baked asphalt.
The man who brought us Jesse James gets his just desserts
A few years back, Hugh King was directing a documentary about motorcycles, but thought the shop he was assigned to was a snore. So he asked around and ended up selecting a certain Merry Pranksta from Long Beach. The show became the phenomenal hit “Motorcycle Mania” and it wasn’t long before Jesse James—and choppers—were everywhere.
Not since the 1971 Bruce Brown classic On Any Sunday has there been such a buzz about a motorcycle documentary as there is about Faster. Written and directed by acclaimed music video director Mark Neale and narrated by bike-mad actor Ewan McGregor, Faster was filmed during 2001 and 2002 and chronicles the MotoGP world championship just as the fire-breathing 500cc two-strokes were about to be phased out by the 990cc four-strokes.
NAKED BIKES ARE ALL THE RAGE these days, fueling the growth of urban streetfighters and the outlaw stunt scene. Despite their sometime bad-boy image, these sport-in-spired standards offer convenience and versatility when cast in the role of daily transportation.
THQ’S “MX UNLEASHED” WAS SO EAGERly anticipated that not one but two copies of this game were purchased for the Play Station 2 pleasure of 1) 10-year-old Ryan Burns, son of Contributing Editor John Burns, and 2) his motopal Rylan—that’s Ryan’s pal, not JB’s.
IS $650 TOO MUCH TO PAY FOR ELECTRIC tire blankets? How about thousands more for replacement bodywork for the R1 that you just chucked down the road on the first lap of your track day? Truth is, tire warmers aren’t just for racers anymore. With track days almost as common as beer and hot dogs at the ballpark, sportbike riders have every reason to consider purchasing warmers.
Put your hands together for the inaugural International Motorcycle Speed Trials
STANDING ON THE ANCIENT SEABED SO VAST THE HORIZON IS THE CURVE OF THE earth, sighting down the 10-mile course where Cobb and Campbell, Thompson and Breedlove made history, it’s impossible not to reflect that this day was a long time coming.
Kevin Schwantz tearfully quit Grand Prix racing partway through 1995, mentally and physically wrecked from eight seasons spent chasing—and winning, in ’93—he 500cc World Championship. After a couple go-rounds in NASCAR in Australia and the U.S., he returned to biking refreshed, establishing a riding school and dabbling in Supermoto.
My 2004 Harley XL 1200 Roadster requires high-test gasoline. More and more gas stations are switching to one-hose pumps that dispense all three grades of fuel. If the last person using the pump before me bought regular octane, aren’t I putting some regular gas in my Harley, gas that was still in the hose from that previous purchase?