A TRUE CYCLE WORLD KIND OF GUY, KANsas City Pete. Into motorcycles since he was a teenager. Former AMA/CCS and WERA club roadracer. Track days and riding schools. One-time Buell M2 owner. Aspires to a Vincent Black Shadow someday. Current collection: Yamaha YSR50, Kawasaki ZX-6RR, AMF four-speed Shovelhead, Arlen Ness-framed Ironhead Sporty under restoration.
A FEW WEEKS AGO, BARB AND I FLEW TO California for a short vacation from Wisconsin's idea of springtime, which was largely unblemished this year by the traditional signs of radiant warmth. But it was sunny in California and we spent a week visiting my sister Barbara, who lives conveniently close to Cycle World's offices in Newport Beach.
SOMEWHERE IN HIGH SCHOOL, STUDENTS sit through a brief description of how the four-stroke cycle works. Thus we learn (if paying attention) intake, compression, power, exhaust. Those of us who later become at least part-time students of the internal-combustion engine are left to wonder what keeps the engine going through intake, compression and exhaust when power is given on only one stroke out of four.
Having read all the British bike mags, then Cycle World's diametrically opposed conclusions of the Kawasaki ZX-10R, MV Agusta F4 1000S and Suzuki GSXR-1000 in your "Three 4s" shoot-out, I'm completely baffled. Help me out and pick one: 1) You and they tested different bikes; 2) you did the simple pencil evaluation and didn't even ride the bikes; 3) author Brian Catterson has a new, free ZX-10 sitting in his garage; or 4) guest-tester Doug Chandler is still on the Kawasaki payroll.
Stowage struggles? Can't seem to find a place to put it all? Break out the $10 Spiderweb Strap, an ingenious blend of high-tech materials that will stretch to 300 percent its original size. Available in black, blue, green or red, it's just the thing for securing small coolers, helmets or sleeping bags, among other odds and ends. Eight removable clip-on plastic hooks included.
Dryzone Boot Dryers
Wet boots? Forget the hairdryer, Dryzone Boot Dryers' thousands of powerful crystals absorb moisture, remove unpleasant odors and kill bacteria. They're longlasting, too. Four minutes in a microwave or 15-30 minutes on a warm heating vent restores maximum absorbency. Suggested retail price is $25.
Intelligent, versatile design makes the $90 Shoei Helmet-pack a great choice for on-bike commuting or aroundtown errand running. The softly lined, expanding central compartment holds any style of helmet—dirt or street, half-shell or full-face—but just as ably swallows gym wear or snacks for the weekend. Should your travels extend into the evening hours, a removable pocket holds two spare faceshields. Zippered side pockets secure smaller items such as keys and cards, and reflective logos and piping help make your presence known at night. The padded sholder straps are ergonomically shaped, and along with the adjustable chest and waist straps, keep the pack in place, even when fully loaded. Buy it in black or red/black.
LeoVince X3 Exhaust System
Italian pipe-bender LeoVince spent last season working with Suzuki factory motocrossers Joel Smets and Kevin Strijbos to develop a lighter, more powerful X3 exhaust system for the new four-stroke RM-Z450. Now manufactured from titanium and featuring a carbon-fiber heat shield and muffler brackets, the $900 pipe is offered in standard and "Low Boy" styles, the latter increasing bottom-end and midrange power. Choose from 102- or 98-decibel endcaps. Low on dough? Opt for the $350 aluminum slip-on.
Tour Master Advanced Sport Jacket
You'll be warm, dry and safe in the polyurethane-coated, cordura-nylon Advanced Sport jacket from Tour Master. Removable Cortech Triple Density Armor guards shoulders, elbows and back, and the Pipeline Ventilation System controls airflow. Reflective piping and patches increase nighttime visibility. Order yours in black, red or silver, in men's and women's sizes. The $260 suggested retail price includes a fully sleeved, zip-out liner. Add $10 for 3/4-length version.
Baja Designs Electric Start Kit
Electric love! Baja Designs has all you need—starter motor, solenoid, battery and tray, plus all the necessary hardware and wiring—to convert your Honda XR650R to electric start. Now to get underway, you only need to push a button. And $875...
National Cycle SwitchBlade
In the late 1970s, National Cycle pioneered the use of hard-coated lexan polycarbonate, setting the standard for scratch resistance on motorcycle windshields. Its new Quantum coating offers 10 times greater abrasion resistance, as well as improved protection against impacts and cracking. Quantum is featured on the quickrelease SwitchBlade Shorty ($160), plus the Heavy Duty ($160), Deflector ($200) and 2-Up ($230). Mounting kits sold separately.
SO, TOYOTA IS TO Lexus as Yamaha is to...Star? Not quite, but starting with the 2006 model year, Yamaha's cruiser lineup will be its own entity, marketed under the Star Motorcycles banner. Flagship for the new division will be the Roadliner, a heavily stylized art-deco riff on the standard V-Twin Ameri-cruiser theme.
Okay, they’re passionate Italians, but they jumped the gun just a bit in celebrating their 60th anniversary of scooter production, which actually dates from the landmark Vespa 98 of 1946. To mark the occasion, Vespa distributor Piaggio USA unveiled two stylish new models and threw a big party in the Big Apple.
YAMAHA'S DIRT SIDE was plenty busy over the winter making major revisions to the four-stroke YZ motocross line. Starting with the familiar YZ450F...well, as of'06 it's not so familiar anymore, because almost every part is new. Most notably, an extra gear has been added to the transmission.
Pie in the sky or coming to a dealer near you? That's the question posed by this computer illustration of a possible new "character" sportbike model from Triumph. Likely to displace 800cc from its three-cylinder engine, a bike similar to this was said to be spotted testing recently overseas.
"Man, that's a lot of dirtbikes," was my first thought while looking at this issue's cover. The second was, "Did they actually make it across that creek? It looks deep!" The editors tested no fewer than seven 250cc two-stroke enduros, including entries from now-defunct Can-Am and Maico, but curiously not Honda, which was only interested in participating in a four-stroke shootout.
INVENTORS CONSTANTLY propose alternative engines, but challengers to conventional spark-ignition and diesel cycles seldom reach production. Why not? Major proven advantages are required to justify the heavy development and tooling costs of a new prime mover.
It's official: Arlen Ness has all the fun. Latest creation from the king of customizers is a 124-cubic-inch, Harley-Davidson engined sidecar rig turned out for the family-owned Jelly Belly Candy Company, known worldwide for its gourmet jellybeans.
UP: To Ezra Daly for recognizing the value of recycling. Daly, an Educational Technology Services staffer at Cal Berkeley, is a motorcycle fan and musician who built this stand-up electric bass using motorcycle gas tanks. Since fabbing his first more than 10 years ago, Daly has refined his building technique and constructs custom instruments to order, using various other motorcycle parts including twin-spar aluminum frames.
PETER EGAN GOT A lot of flack when, in his May Leanings column, he stated that he chose a standard Ducati ST4S over an anti-lock-brake version to save money. "ABS has saved my life twice, but $800 is still $800," he joked. Sarcasm notwithstanding, more than a few readers put pencil to paper to point out his flawed logic, one even offering to take up a collection to help buy Peter an ABS bike, thus bettering the odds of there being future Leanings columns.
In the hot seat at the annual Moto-Journalist Grand Prix
VALENCIA AT SPEED
SUZUKI GSX-R750S ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO SOUND LIKE THIS, I though to myself as I rocketed down the curving backstraight at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain. They're not supposed to make a loud whooshing noise and they're not supposed to trail a plume of white smoke in their wake, nor paint a stripe of greenish coolant on the asphalt.
I used to think I was fast. Not real fast, like the Valentino Rossis and Mat Mladins of this world, but fast enough. Master Bike changed that. Going in, I knew I wasn't going to be one of the front-runners. I was only there because CW's fleet-footed Road Test Editor Don Canet had a conflict with a supermoto race.
Having ridden three MotoGP bikes at Valencia last November, I was naturally curious to see how the latest production sportbikes compared when I rode them at the same circuit in April. My seat-of-the-pants impressions, fuzzy from the five-month gap between, suggested that there was a vast difference in performance, even the mightiest l000s feeling relatively tame going down the front straightaway.
FORGIVE YOURSELF. YOU aren't the first person fooled by this motorcycle, nor will you be the last. Even experts are left pulling their chins by what at first appears to be a very well executed 1940s Harley Knucklehead done up in California bobber style.
JIMMY SHINE IS HOT. NOT IN the ticked-off sense, though in photos the man can give good sneer. Nope, as in hot property. Little Jimmy Falschlehner began sticking metal together at age 9; now 33, he's the star fabricator at So-Cal Speed Shop, in demand to lay hands on everything from Bonneville streamliners to rock stars' nostalgia rods.
On the road with $1000 bikes, or the Glory of Cheapitude
Trail Master 200
IT'S BEEN SAID THAT USE OF TOOLS IS WHAT SEPARATES US from the primates. But after our recent bout with old smoking motorcycles in the fully equipped Cycle World shop, I'm not so sure. There were plenty of primate noises, mad grimaces and much hurled mung, despite the highly evolved use of screwdrivers as chisels.
FUNNY HOW LIFE THROWS YOU A CURVE BALL. AFTER five tough years and a graduate degree, I had resigned myself to a tie-wearing career at Boeing or GM when I stumbled across an "Engineer Wanted" ad for Honda R&D in Los Angeles. I had my résumé in the mail within minutes.
Jon Kelly didn’t learn to ride until he was 40 years old. Rather than rush out and buy the latest racer-replica, he searched his local savage yard and found a “dirty-but-sound” 1983 Honda CX650C with 11,000 miles showing on the odometer. Price? Just $250. His next purchase was a Clymer repair manual. Over the next five months, Kelly went through the entire bike, fixing this and replacing that, finally putting the middleweight V-Twin on the road for a grand total of $892. “It’s not the flashiest or largest motorcycle on the road,” he says, “but I know it will start every time and get me where I want to go.”
You could say that reader Paul Meade-Clift “stole” his 1992 Suzuki DR350S—if it hadn’t already been stolen. A theft recovery, the poor DR was in such bad shape when Paul first saw it that he declined to make an offer. But the former owner was so intent on moving it that he gave it away—along with a pair of motocross boots! When the high cost of replacing the damaged ignition switch, etc. proved off-putting, Paul did the “logical” thing and made it into a track bike. Outings at his local go-kart/supermoto track have been “liberating” for the Edmonton, Alberta, Canada resident, and next on his agenda is spooning on a set of knobbies so he can try his hand at motocross. Gotta use those free boots, after all...
“I call it a CL305TT,” says Kevin Krieger, the owner of the bob-job Honda seen here, “but everybody else just calls it the 'Orange Bike.'" Krieger got the idea for his creation from a magazine feature on a CL250-based flat-tracker. The finished product is a hodge-podge of parts: 305 Dream engine, twin-carburetor Scrambler cylinder head, BSA front fender, Yamaha XS650 rear wheel, CB100 gas tank, front end from a Bultaco Pursang. Most of the parts were donated or bought used; Krieger tabbed the hardtail rear end himself. Final outlay was $900, “only a little more than I’d told my wife it would cost," he laughs.
Editors Edwards and Catterson have nothing on reader Frank Neely, who spent just $800 in the creation of his one-off BMW, the “Bavarian Mongrel.” Building over the winter of 2002-03, the 57-year-old Pennsylvania retiree traded work on six bikes for the engine, transmission and rear drive, traded some guns for the miscellaneous cycle parts, and threw the rest together using parts he found in his garage, at salvage yards and in the dumpster behind the local high-school shop class. Originally, Frank built the Beemer for his wife Debbie, but she dubbed it a “farm implement” and claimed his Suzuki SV650 instead! He’s since put 12,000 trouble-free miles on the bike, and claims it will be his last project. Yeah, sure.
This 1964 Triumph TR6 epitomizes Pete Ernst’s philosophy of collecting “EOU” bikes, as in Excellent, Original and Unrestored condition. Ernst purchased the bike from a widow whose husband bought the bike new, rode it a few weeks then parked it. Asking price? A full $700. With 750 miles on the clock, the totally original bike cleaned up amazingly well. “I maintain that there’s even some original British air in the tires,” he says of the OE rubber. “I put 150 miles on it and decided if I ever dumped it I would never forgive myself.” He now has it parked in his living room.
While looking for space to store his tractor, Dave Voskuil ran across this low-mileage 1976 Honda CB400F. After buying the bike for $500, the retired teacher jettisoned the out-of-character aftermarket fairing, high-rise handlebar and luggage rack, cleaned the carburetors and buffed up the body. “It’s a little rocket,” enthuses Voskuil, who also owns a Kawasaki Vulcan and a Suzuki SV650, “and the 4-into-1 pipe sounds sweet.”
Ninja 750 "Dual-Sport"
“It is a real eye-catcher,” says Joe Blackwell, of his $450, uh, thing. “My wife calls it the ‘Sticky Bike’ because it looks like I threw things at it and where they stuck is where I left them.” What did Joe throw? The previous owner had visions of a grass drag-bike and put the YZ front end on the Kawasaki frame and 750cc four-cylinder engine, while Blackwell had visions of the “ultimate dual-sport” and added lights, a Honda XL seat and a Ninja fuel tank. “The only problems are that it shakes at free-way speeds because of the knobbies, and the front brake is only good as a ‘hill-holder,’” he says. “Now you know what we do on those long winter nights in Minnesota."
Of all the entries, this was the quintessential “barn find” as it related to a big-bore Universal Japanese Motorcycle. The UJM in question is a gloriously clean 1983 Yamaha Seca 900 purchased for the princely sum of $350. “I got a great deal on this bike because its previous owner finally bought the Harley he’d always wanted," says owner Hampton Hale. “It looks good, but runs even better.” The bike has only 27,000 miles on it, “so there is plenty of fun ahead,” grins Hale. “Heck, I did 170 miles on it this morning!” Riding all the way to the bank, no doubt...
CZ 250 Enduro
Phil Stultz picked up his 1975 CZ 250 Enduro at a garage sale in 1985 for $150. “The original owner had lent the bike to his brother, who removed turnsignals and somehow shorted-out the electrical system,” says Stultz. “The bike was then put in the garage and with an old tent.” Modern considerations to the otherwise original machine include a Mikuni carburetor, Progressive Suspension shocks, spark arrestor, and rear rack. “It’s a kick to ride,” says Stultz, “and a real attention-getter."
Canet’s Suzuki GSX-R7/11 wasn’t the only hybrid prowling backroads in the 1980s. Also popular was the Yamaha FZR4/6, consisting of an FZR600 engine in an FZR400’s aluminum frame. (The 600’s frame was steel, which begs the question, wouldn’t an FZR6/4 be even cheaper?) When Oregon roadracer Scott Soper came out of retirement at age 47, he found this FZR4/6, and from 2002-04 won $4125 in contingencies, so the bike more than paid for itself. Now re-retired, Soper created this stunning streetfighter, which he uses for instructing at track days. His claims of 350 pounds dry and 90 horsepower sound dubious, but pale in comparison to his claimed investment: just $850, including his one frivolous purchase, a $500 titanium pipe he found on eBay.
New Yorker Andy Morris simply typed “CB750 for sale” into an Internet search engine. What he got was this pristine, properly stored, one-owner 1971 CB750K1 with Vetter Vindicator fairing and “extra parts” for $400. “Initial plans were to ditch the fairing and sissybar, but one ride with the CycleSound AM/FM cassette blasting The Who’s Quadrophenia convinced me the bike was set up perfectly.” Those extra parts? Two fenders, a set of gauges, handlebars and an ultra-rare set of original HM300 stock pipes sold for $800 on eBay. “Do the math!” exclaims Morris.
A long-legged pony with a big set of jugs for less than $800? Yes, we’re talking about the motorcycle! Colorado Springs grandfathers Brian Browning and Rick Allen acquired this 1977 Yamaha XS650 Special and a slew of parts for $300, and then spent two weeks hiding from their grandkids in the garage to create this, their fifth joint project, dubbed “The Bent Sprocket.” To build it, they cut down the frame, added a swapmeet Sportster gas tank, forward controls and bar risers, and finished it off with liberal applications of bondo and rattlecan paint. One each new battery and rear tire and the XS was on the road for a total cost of $791—or $831 if you include the cost of hiring Becky from the local YMCA to pose for this photo.
"I'm finally about 90 percent happy with my $100 Beater,” says reader David Davis about his 1979 Suzuki GS550 café-racer. A mechanical/design engineer at Big Dog Motorcycles in Wichita, Kansas, he originally acquired the GS as a parts bike on eBay, but after getting the bike home, charging the battery and prodding the kickstarter, discovered that it ran! He then had a brain far...er, storm, and decided to make the backwards gas tank from a Big Dog chopper fit. Many eBay and JC Whitney parts, some Hammertone gray paint and much clever fabrication later, he’s got the jewel shown here. Total investment: $650. He’d replace the tires but doesn’t want to break the $800 mark.
"Hey buddy, wanna buy a sidecar?” That was the question posed at a party to Hans Bertelsen, who, liking the idea, handed over $450 and became the proud owner of a 1975 Jupiter “chair.” A month later, the same wheeler-dealer offered Bertelsen for the paltry sum of $150 the 1978 Honda CB750A that originally went with the sidecar. Seems the son-in-law who had possession of the bike never actually became the son-in-law, and failed to pay for the bike. Further conversation netted the original seat and made-to-order mounting brackets for the sidecar. “A finished machine,” crows Bertelsen, “all for far less than $1000.” Katie the basset hound is happy, too.
We made the call for cheap bikes and, man, did we get an answer-actually, about 400 of them! From roadracers to choppers to Britbikes to standards, from across this great nation the stories of bikes found under stacks of firewood, in sheds, leaning against trees, brought back from salvage yards or perfectly preserved came pouring in.
When Charles Dickens wrote, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," he wasn't referring to the two most likely consequences of buying a used motorcycle, but he very well could have been. Bought methodically, a used bike can leave you with a screaming deal; bought haphazardly, it's more likely just to leave you screaming, period.
SAY WHAT YOU WANT ABOUT CLASSIC STYLING the joys of tinkering, but used bikes are nothing but trouble. Why fiddle with sticky carburetor floats when modern fuel-injection systems are fuss-free? Drum brakes and kick starting? Please...
THERE'S NO DENYING THE SPIDI BASIC Black leather jacket is black, but basic? Not a chance. Beautifully constructed with great attention to detail, the fully lined Basic Black is made from water-resistant, 1.1mm-thick top-grain Italian leather.
STOCK IS BEST, RIGHT? WELL, MAYBE half the time. Right out of the box, most dirtbikes are pretty impressive, but who doesn't enjoy personalizing his machine or giving it a bit more zip? Consider, for example, the 2005 Yamaha WR450F. Voted Best Enduro Bike in our annual Ten Best balloting, it's this year's preeminent off-road ride.
THIS PAST SPRING, A GASOLINE-BURNING NHRA PRO STOCK motorcycle achieved a 6.991-second, 196-mph quartermile run, taking the Mickey Thompson $10,000 prize for being the first to break 7 seconds in national competition. Vance & Hines' Andrew Hines, riding the Harley-Davidson V-Rod-inspired.
This year's AMA Supercross series was played up as the most exciting in the history of the sport. All the hype led to a lot of anticipation, well-deserved considering the pool of talent. Among the factory stars capable of winning races, if not the 250cc title, were reigning champ Chad Reed, class rookie James "Bubba" Stewart, three-time title-winner Ricky Carmichael, Kevin Windham, Travis Pastrana (sporting a cast on his wrist at the preseason press conference), Mike LaRocco and the newly unretired Jeremy McGrath.
My 1982 Honda Nighthawk has new brakes—dual discs, master cylinder and steel-braided lines. After the bike sits for a few days, the front brakes lock up, with no freeplay in the brake lever. If I just crack open one of the bleeders, the system is fine.
You might not think of wax as a "tool," but if you're serious about keeping your bike's paint looking like new, that's precisely what it is. In which case, Meguiar's has a new liquid wax that may help make your paint look even better than new. It's Tech Wax, a remarkable Product that will put a shine on your ride you flat won't believe.
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