TIMES THEY CHANGE AND TIMES THEY stay the same, eh? It’s been 30 years, three full decades, since Cycle World started its annual tally of each selling season’s outstanding motorcycles. A generation ago, 1976, eight different manufacturers made the Ten Best Bikes list; this year, 2005, eight different manufacturers made the Ten Best Bikes list.
WHILE STANDING AROUND MY GARAGE the other night waiting for spring, I decided to kill some time by mounting the new license plate on my Ducati ST4S. I took the plate out of its envelope, approached the rear of the bike and realized I’d failed to perform a time-honored ritual.
AS WE HUMANS DO, ENGINES EITHER LIVE intensely for a short time, or plod along dully for a much longer period. Until new F-1 rules required engines to be capable of more than one hour of operation, such engines were 18,000-rpm one-use throw-aways.
A friend of mine sent me the entire text of Hunter S. Thompson’s "Song of the Sausage Creature” the day Dr. Gonzo ditched his skin suit. I applaud CW for printing it originally and thank you for republishing some of the choicer bits in May’s “A Gonzo Goodbye” editorial.
Helmets are expensive, so here's a way to protect your investment. The $40 Scorpion Sports Racecase is made from tough bio-foam, boasts a soft anti-scratch liner and comes in black with red or gray trim. Additional features include dedicated space for a spare faceshield and a zippered stash compartment. Stores both horizontally and vertically.
Scorpion Sports Inc
Pila Flashlights are the choice of emergency and law-en-forcement professionals. Incorporating both Xenon and LED lights, the heavy-duty aluminum GL2 ($69), GL3 ($79) and GL4 ($107) are supplied with disposable lithium batteries (rechargeable Li-ion optional), and are water-resistant up to 3 meters. Don't get stranded without one.
Scorpion Sports Inc
Suzuki 20th Anniversary GSX-R Accessories
Here's what to wear on (or off) your 20th Anniversary GSX-R600 or 750: genuine Suzuki accessories commemorating two decades of race-winning repli-racers. Select from a full-face Shoei RF1000 helmet ($510), leather jacket ($500), textile jacket ($200), T-shirt ($20), cap ($17) or key fob ($5).
Scorpion Sports Inc
Fluidyne Power-Flo Radiators
Fluidyne, a major player in the automotive oil-cooler and radiator business since the late Fifties, has set its sights on off-road motorcycling. Its tough, TIG-welded tanks and brazed cores boast 33 percent wider passageways to enhance heat transfer and improve cooling efficiency, particularly in modified motors. Applications for both two- and four-strokes are available, with prices starting at $329.
Scorpion Sports Inc
Pirelli Diablo Strada EMS
Handling, grip and mileage? That's the idea behind the Pirelli Diablo Strada Extended Mileage Sport. Intended for sport-touring machines whose owners put the emphasis on sport, the radial Strada is closely linked to the existing Diablo Sport range and boasts quick warm-up, excellent wet traction and a comfortable ride. Prices range from $146 to $186.
Scorpion Sports Inc
Bel-Ray Foam Filter Oil Spray
Everyone knows air-filter oil traps dirt and debris before it can enter your dirtbike's engine. Quick-drying, super-tacky Bel-Ray Foam Filter Oil Spray adds waterproof-ness, so it won't wash out, gum or clog. Traditional blue coloring alerts you when the filter is thoroughly saturated. Buy it by the can for $6.55.
Scorpion Sports Inc
F.A.I.C. Header System
If a ram-air intake helps an engine make more power,so should a ram-air exhaust That's the claim made by F.A.I.C., a company whose intialized name stands for "Forced Air Induction Collector." F.A.I.C.'s 2-into-1 exhaust systems incorporate step headers and "Charge Enhancer" bulges in the head pipes, but their unique, patented feature is a forward-facing air inlet built into the collector junction Air rammed into the collector at speed is claimed to enhance scavenging and improve exhaust flow, there-by resulting in more horsepower, increased torque and crisper throttle response. Available in either chrome-plated or ceramic-coated finishes for Harley-Davidson Twin Cam, Sportster and V-Rod models, as well as select Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha V-Twin cruisers. Prices range from $695 to $920, with special "Big Pipe" systems available for large-displacement (100 cubic inches or more) engines from $795 to $1020.
"BREVA" IS THE wind that keeps the sky clear and sun shining over Mandello del Lario, where the late Carlo Guzzi established his motorcycle factory on the shores of northern Italy’s Lake Como back in 1921. The name, first applied to the Breva 750 three years ago, was intended to mean that Moto Guzzi’s dark days had blown over.
Last but not least, Kawasaki finally has a big-bore moto-Thumper heading to the showroom floor for'06. Spotted during final testing in the All-Japan MX Championship, the KX450F pictured here is dramatically different from last year's prototype (Roundup, July, 2004).
Add two more newbies to the lighter-weight four-stroke world as Yamaha looks to be putting the YZ450F and 250F engines in aluminum frames for 2006. The two bikes were raced in the All-Japan National MX championship this past April, and sources say the new 450 at least is a lighter-feeling machine.
RUMORS, SPY SHOTS and thinly disguised "racebikes" all pointed to a super-dirty Boxer from BMW, but it hardly seemed like it could be true. Yet the so-called HP2 is real, and represents the most dirt-worthy production BMW ever made. Although ostensibly based on the R1200GS adventure-tourer, the HP2 represents a huge departure and is as much an evolution of the R900R Dakar Rally racers as it is the GS.
John Ulrich caught streaking?! Well, past the camera at least. CW’s ex-Executive Editor was fully clothed—er, leathered up—for his Willow Springs Raceway track test on the “Aluminum Steamroller,” a 347-pound, 150-mph, Sportster-based, street-licensed roadracer constructed by rider Vance Breese and engine-builder Alan Sputhe.
RON GRIEWE, CYCLE World Off-Road Editor from 1977 to 1993, motorcycle nut and one of the forces inspiring the modern, lightweight, four-stroke dirtbike, died this past March, aged 65. He was an exceptional man, but more to this point, Ron was the perfect test for one of my favorite rules when I sat in the editor’s chair at CW: Hire newspaper graduates.
"So what?" you say, a photo of a Ducati Desmosedici MotoGP bike at a racetrack. Taken during pre-season testing, if the flat-black paint is any indication, before the year's sponsorship deal was confirmed. Uh, look closer. See those things jutting out from either side of the fairing?
UP: To Joshua Serne, for not letting cystic fibrosis get the better of him. Diagnosed at age 3, the now-6-year-old dirt-track and supermoto phenom has won numerous races and last year finished second in three Northern California racing series.
KTM HAS FINALLY gotten serious about 250cc four-strokes, and the 250 SXF is the result, arriving almost too late to be considered a 2005 model. So what if it’s late?! Who made up the rules for bike production anyway? Never mind the model year, this brand-spankin’-new 125-killer is sure to rock your socks off!
Or how I learned to quit worrying and love the Stomper
WHERE CAN YOU find a little history in Southern California? Let’s see, there’s the Los Angeles Cathedral, but it opened like five years ago. The hovel I inhabit in one of Orange County’s oldest towns was built way back in the Fifties. Mid-century, they call it.
THERE ARE CERTAIN high-energy madmen put on this Earth to make the rest of us feel guilty for not getting more done. Kenny Dreer is one of them. It’s not enough for him to fight years of legal battles to win the Norton trademarks, to design from the ground up a new Commando 952, and then hit the streets and board-rooms of America looking to finance the building of said motorbike.
IT WON'T BE LONG BEFORE the Lawn Bowling Channel has a show on custom Harleys. Yep, cable TV is rife with half-brainers chopping and cutting Milwaukee Iron into all kinds of crazy concoctions, usually on a ridiculous time schedule and with major personality conflicts.
"IT JUST DOESN’T SEEM right," says Fred Zust about researching his period café-racer project. "I looked at photos from the Rocker era, the Ace Café and all that, and there weren’t many BMWs, just British bikes." Zust acquired his 1978 R100S as a trade-in at his shop, Touring Sport BMW in Greenville, South Carolina.
SEEKING A DIVERSION from building race engines for the likes of Attack Performance and Yoshimura, Grant Matsushima dreamed up what may be the most improbable of custom bikes: a Suzuki TL 1000R-motored hardtail chopper. Question is, what possessed Matsushima to rip up—and largely discard a perfectly good repli-racer?
JESSE ROOKE IS NOT your everyday custom-bike builder. Then again, maybe he is. Why the ambiguity? Because just about the time you’ve concluded that the only guys building customs are bearded, ponytailed old hippies, tattooed meat-heads or some combination thereof, you encounter Jesse, who at age 29 is none of the above.
IF YOU DON'T KNOW IT BY now, James "Bubba" Stewart is the real deal. At age 19, he's the winningest 125cc rider in AMA motocross history. This year, he jumped up to the big bikes and won third time out on his Kawasaki KX250 at the Dallas Supercross, setting a little history in the process by becoming the first African-American to win an SX. These are good times for Stewart and his close-knit family, who scrimped to buy Bubba his first minibike and travel the sportsman MX circuit.
AGING MOTORcycles are a lot like good people—deserving of a new lease on life. For Craig Barrett, a 53-year-old concrete truck driver and longtime Japanese motorcycle enthusiast with a knack for wrenching, the passion for vintage restoration carries deep meaning.
THE WORDS, FOR MOST, are antithetical, contradictory. “Ducati” and “chopper” just shouldn’t be used in the same sentence, especially if you’re a Ducati lover. Unless such a sentence contains the phrase “smoked past.” Mark Savory aims to change this.
TO SAY THAT BOB-JOBS of the 1940s were pathfinders and style-setters for the current chopper movement is only about half-right. Fact is, bobber pilots were the hotshot street riders of the day, apex artists and performance nuts who put function way ahead of form.
TEDDY KIMER, JR. doesn't just "think outside the box," if you'll pardon the cliché; judging by his work, he apparently thinks outside the entire packaging department. Kimer designed and built the spectacular motorcycle pictured here, a long, low, curvy H-D custom he has christened "Zoso."
THIS EYE-POPPING Yamaha was turned out by family-owned and operated McCoy Motorsports located in Eastern Kentucky. Don’t worry about your ejecting orbs, however, because they’ll soon be pushed back in their sockets when you run this heavily modified R1 through the quarter-mile.
CLIFF RANDALL IS NOT one to miss an opportunity to toot his own horn. “No one in his right mind would have done this,” exclaims the Canadian corporate headhunter about his chromeless Honda VTX bagger. “It’s unbelievable!” Concept for the ominous-looking machine came to Randall three years ago.
AT THE RISK OF INCITing angry mail from the misguided in Chicago, Kansas City and elsewhere, everyone knows that the best barbecue comes from Texas. Who'd have guessed, however, that the Lone Star Republic would also give us one of the country's tastiest Ducati classics?
WHILE COLLECTORS often place top value on original, unaltered classics, nothing quite captures the spirit of an era like authentic, period-modified machines. After all, customization didn't start with Arlen Ness or the bickering bros.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH Cole Foster? The man has no cable-television series (doesn’t every custom-bike builder?) nor any beer/tool/auto-parts/ computer-game merchandising tie-ins. Shoot, his website (www.salinasboys.com) contains only pictures of the cars and bikes he’s built plus a ridiculously small smattering of (albeit very cool) T-shirts—but strangely no edible panties emblazoned with the shop logo, no teddy bears wearing leather vests.
Have Triumph and Kawasaki made the big Honda a middle-weight cruiser?
WHEN HONDA INTRODUCED THE VTX1800 in 2002, it was the biggest, baddest cruiser motorcycling had yet seen. Three short years later, in a world of 2300cc Triumph Rockets, 2-liter Kawasakis, and 120-plus-inch Harley clone engines, the VTX might almost seem to have become a little thang.
WITH 110 CUBIC INCHES OF V-TWIN KABOOM pushing it, Honda’s VTX1800F moves down the road quite smartly, thank you. But you know how we motorcyclists are when it comes to performance: Enough is...well, never enough. We always yearn for more-especially if getting it involves reasonable expense, easy installation and immediate results.
THINGS ARE GETTING TOUGH. CONFUSING. BUT ONLY IN THE MOST WONDERFUL way. There were nearly 500 different motorcycles from the 36 manufacturers listed this year in the annual Cycle World Buyer's Guide. And from this great wealth, this embarrassment of riches, we must choose but Ten as Best, the bikes that embody spirit, utility, enthusiasm and excellence in the form of two-wheeled transport.
TWO CELEBRATED MASTERS OF THEIR RESPECTIVE ARTS WERE PRETZELED BENEATH a motorcycle. The gas tank had worked loose. They pondered a sheared-off bolt and the mechanics of personal destiny. Motorcycles are just that way.A cameraman loafed within range and thumbed the “record” button.
AND SO AS HOMER COMPLETED HIS Odyssey, so too has our long-term 999 finally gone back to Ducati. And in hardly less time: We had the Testastretta-engined superbike for two years. Why such a long, long-term test? Blame it on gravity and a protracted repair process.
LET’S GET ONE THING STRAIGHT RIGHT up front: If you’re a serious rider, you need an electric vest. That much is non-negotiable. No single piece of riding gear is as useful to the three- or four-season, all-weather motorcyclist. The principal is simple—keep your body core nice and toasty, and blood circulation to the extremities is increased so fingers and toes stay warmer, too.
IN OUR PERFORMANCE-ORIENTED WORLD, hard numbers are king. And while you could buy a $3000 radar gun or a $10,000 GPS-based testing system, that kind of expenditure is a bit ridiculous. Doesn’t anyone make something similar that costs less than, say, 300 bucks?
THE PREMISE BEHIND RALLY RACING IS SIMPLE: GET yourself and your motorcycle from Point A to Point B as quickly and efficiently as possible. Problem is, in Dakar, nothing is simple. Established in 1979, the Dakar Rally is the toughest offroad event in the world.
MotoGP’s fourth season began with a bang—literally. The collision, at the final corner of the last lap of the season-opener in Jerez, Spain, sent erstwhile leader Sete Gibernau careening off into the gravel trap while defending series champion Valentino Rossi recovered to take the checkered flag.
I have always been curious about the relationship between horsepower and the power of a horse itself How did they come up with this relationship? Alcebiades Athayde Sâo Paulo, Brazil You can thank James Watt, the 18th centuly inventor who transformed steam engines from inefficient contraptions into practical devices that helped usher in the industrial revolution.
In the May Service column, Mark Laisy asked if he could use the bars, cables and wiring from a Suzuki DL650 V-Strom to eliminate numbness in his hands when riding his SV650. I had the same problem with my SV650 and solved it by installing a Bar Snake, which was easily installed in a few minutes and only cost about $25.