No PICNIC, BEING IN A RELATIONSHIP with an unrepentant bike nut. Take my lady, Peggy, for instance. Her Pontiac has never seen the inside of our garage. Swapmeets outnumber nights at the theater about 10 to 1. I’ve forgotten Valentine’s Day(s), but never miss Valentino Rossi on the TV during race season.
WHILE 9000 MILES PROBABLY DOESN’T sound like much to a hard-core Iron Butt rider, it represents a new one-bike summer record for a person with my tragically short attention span. After all, I am a member of the Slimey Crud Motorcycle Gang, where our motto is “Ride Hard, Ride Short.” We are nothing if not erratic and mercurial.
A FRIEND RECENTLY SENT ME A CD stuffed with scans of documents from the National Archives on radial air-cooled engine development. They cover work done in 1920-26 at the U.S. Army’s former air development center in Dayton, Ohio. Day after day, single-cylinder test engines ran full throttle until they failed.
“Riding the Steel Needle” in the December issue brought back great memories of our own Edelweiss “Best of Europe” tour, during which we met many of your countrymen, a lone Aussie swagman and an eccentric espresso-swilling, Gauloises-puffing, senior-citizen Frenchman who rode his 600cc Virago from Paris to join the tour in Munich!
Get in shape! Motocross apparel-maker Fox is keeping with its reputation as an “action-sports” company by developing a new line of high-performance footwear. Priced from $60 to $100, these kicks are designed to meet the demands of champion athletes, such as James “Bubba” Stewart. Choose from nine styles and multiple colors.
Fox Racing, Inc.
What’s new about the Viper Sport? A better question might be, what isn’t new? Avon claims the new, lighter jointless-belt radial warms up quicker, grips better, is more stable at high speeds and disperses water more readily. It is available in popular sizes, with prices starting at $130 for fronts, $180 for rears. For fast road and track use, the Viper Supersport features a softer Race C compound.
Fox Racing, Inc.
Honda’s CRF450X holds less than one quart of oil, which is why inadvertently punching a hole in the stock magnesium case cover can be catastrophic. What you need is Pro Circuit’s X Clutch Cover. Precision machined from aircraft-quality, 6061 T-6 aluminum, it offers more protection and improved heat dissipation. Cost is $150.
Fox Racing, Inc.
Back in the Seventies, a Durfee girder fork was a custombike must-have. For its recent reintroduction, the original styling has been retained, while performance and quality have been improved through the use of modern materials and manufacturing techniques. Standard configuration incorporates a brake tab on the left side for use with the company's tour-piston front brake caliper and 11.5-inch disc. Pricing starts at $1995.
Fox Racing, Inc.
LED Speed Lites
Turnsignals need not be dimly lit, dull-looking plastic stalks. Available in Alien, Fulcrum, High Dollar, Lightning or Tribal (shown) designs, LED Speed Lites are brighter and weigh less than conventional indicators, plus rubberized material can be hand-formed to fit the contours of any sportbike fairing for a seamless appearance. Instructions and wiring supplied with each $65 kit. Complete the look with Plate Lites, which do away with your license-plate bolts and can be wired to function as brake lights, turnsignals or running lights.
Fox Racing, Inc.
Sportz X-Treme Pac
Roughing it just got easier, thanks to the $230 Sportz XTreme Pac. This compact, self-contained setup comprises a two-person, rain-fly-equipped tent, two Holofil sleeping bags and two lightweight aluminum campstools, all of which fits in a convenient carrying case that straps to the rear rack or passenger seat of any full-size motorcycle. A slightly smaller version, the $220 Sportz Pac, is also available.
Fox Racing, Inc.
leather roadracing suit
That Kawasaki offers a leather roadracing suit in team colors through its accessory division comes as no surprise. After all it's a likely track-day getup for any ZX-6R or ZX-l0R owner. That the one-piece, CE-armored, knee-slider-equipped design is produced by famed Japanese apparel-maker Kushitani and that it retails for the bargain sum of $1200 is, however, equivalent to man landing on the moon! Okay, the suit is made in Korea, not Japan, and the leather is a half-step off the usual, buttery-soft feel of the premium stuff, though the thickness and durability are identical. Same goes for the 3-D patterning, perforations and stitching. Kushitani is also supplying Kawasaki with leather and nylon-mesh jackets and leather gloves.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN a racecar builder and two motorcycle guys get together on a project? A three-wheeler, of course. This odd-but-cool conveyance is the SUB, built by Jay Brett, Niki Smart and Nick Mynott. All three are top-level designer/fabricators who work in a GM automotive design studio in Southern California and have been involved with several high-profile show cars.
The spare purity of a supermotard bike is difficult to resist. Just the main elements are kept: frame, engine, wheels, seat. This Hypermotard is Ducati's street version of that simple recipe. Naturally, the air-cooled, 100-horsepower 1000DS engine is fitted with a performanceoriented slipper clutch.
Although stripping the bodywork off of a DB5 to make the new naked DB6 Delirio isn’t exactly a huge stretch for reborn Bimota, it is a good indication that the Italian bike-maker is really back in business. And the trellis-framed, Ducati 1000DS-powered naked bike is undeniably cool.
NEVER GET ENOUGH roost-chucking power? Want to eat vast expanses of desert in a single, top-gear blast but still be able to pull into town and ride right up to the gas pump or taco stand? KTM has built your motorcycle. The 950 Super Enduro R combines the 98 horsepower, carbureted, 75-degree, 942cc V-Twin first seen in the 2003 Adventure with a pared-down 3.7-gallon gas tank and race-ready chassis.
Of the many highlights surrounding the new-for-2006 BMW R1200S that debuted last November at the Milan Show, one tantalizing tidbit towers head and shoulders above all else: 122 horsepower at 8250 rpm and 83 foot-pounds of torque at 6800 rpm.
We said on the cover it was the “Grandest Tiger in the Jungle,” then in the story called it “a wolf in wolf’s clothing.” The wild beast in question was the 1981 Kawasaki GPz1100, which made 108 horsepower, featured fuel-injection and got 52 mpg.
DUNLOP CLAIMS THAT around Virginia International Raceway's 1.65-mile South Course, the new Sportmax Qualifier is 3.5 seconds per lap quicker than its current high-performance street radial, the D208 ZR. Spokesmen also say that the "Q" is a step forward in warm-up, grip, feedback and durability for about the same MSRP of $375 a set.
DOWN: To Death, for taking one of the great names in Italian motorcycling, Massimo Laverda. Son of founder Francesco Laverda, it was Massimo who in the Seventies led the company's charge into the big-bore market segment, putting the Breganze-based bike-builder on the map with the 750SF and the 140-mph Jota 1000cc Triple.
YOU KNOW YOU WANT it, and Husqvama has delivered: street-legal competition-spec enduro bikes. That’s right, street legal. The new-for-2006 TE four-stroke line comes complete with all the necessities to win off-road races and fully comply with DOT streetbike standards in 50 states.
IT's BEEN NEARLY TWO DECADES SINCE THE AMA FORMED THE 600cc Supersport class. The bikes that have filled the grids during that time have evolved greatly, but while technology has made great strides, it's the design philosophy and hard-edged focus of the latest race-bred supersports that have changed the most.
Can a refined super-bike still be the best superbike?
SINCE ITS INTRODUCTION TWO YEARS AGO, Kawasaki’s ZX-10R has squashed the competition. The green monster roared to repeat wins in the annual Master Bike competition held each spring in Spain, a track-focused comparison test that includes every current sportbike of significance and attracts some serious racing talent to twist the throttles.
FIFTY YEARS AGO, WHEN THE VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE WAS THE FIRST economical car to make a mark on U.S. sales charts, Road & Track's publisher John R. Bond came back from a cross-country trip with the astute observation that the people buying VWs didn't need them, while those who did need to save money on gas wouldn't have a Beetle under threat of death.
News flash! Gasoline really isn’t all that expensive.
Gather ’round children and let me tell you of a magical time long ago, a Camelot for lovers of the internal-combustion engine, a Brigadoon now almost entirely engulfed by the swirling mists of history. Back then, weary travelers were beckoned to oasis-like structures called “service stations,” where uniformed attendants sprang to action upon your arrival-one checking the engine’s oil level and the tires’ air pressures, another wiping the windshield clear of bugs and road grime, yet another filling your tank with gasoline.
Cutting the cord, and other steps toward the future of efficient motorcycling
Because fuel prices and transportation are hot issues for Americans, political rhetoric threatens to wash the facts right out of the discussion. This has led to many people becoming impatient for the clean, sensible hydrogen economy. There’s hydrogen in water and the oceans are full of water, so let’s do it!
Do you use your motorcycle as your primary mode of transportation? Or, if you’re not a “daily rider” in the literal sense, does your bike serve as a frequent alternative to four wheels? It’s been a long while since I’ve considered these questions in earnest.
Scorpa builds a new kind of trials bike. Why should you care?
IF IT HAS A MOTOR AND TWO wheels, put me on it; that’s my philosophy. So when a friend called and said he was working with Scorpa, a French company that builds trials bikes, and invited me to ride some of their new models in Moab, Utah, I didn’t think twice about going; in my mind, I was already there.
“This will be the next ‘boom’ in motorcycling. It’s going to become bigger than motocross, flat-tracking or roadracing. Observed trials is the motorcycle sport of the future.” So predicted the product manager at the U.S. branch of one of the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturers.
After one failed attempt—and a slight 36-year pause to regroup—the author finally makes it to Québec’s fabled Gaspé Peninsula
IT WAS AN OLYMPIAN ENTRANCE INTO THE OLD FRENCH Canadian city of Trois-Rivières on the St. Lawrence River. Thunder clapped and lightning struck hills on both sides of the highway. But as we followed signs for the Centre Ville, the clouds parted and the sun came out, bathing the tall church steeples and the slate roofs on the old stone houses in soft evening light.
On the beauty of British Columbia and the importance of good hip pads
BEAU ALLEN PACHECO
WHEN FRED ANDREWS BLASTED BY ME IN THE middle of a British Columbia pine forest, I didn’t mind at all. At 58 years of age and a rare dirtbiker, I was white-knuckling through the Canadian wilderness as fast as I could. Besides, he’s young and in shape and rides for a living as a member of Team FMF Suzuki Off Road.
WHEN THE DUCATI MULTISTRAda debuted three years ago, it was portrayed as a boundarybreaker-a rider-friendly Openclasser combining an upright, dirtbike like riding position and pothole-swal-lowing, long-travel suspension with the Italian bike-maker's excellent 992cc Dual-Spark air-cooled V-Twin.
SAY, SPORT, HOW’S YOUR BATTERY doing? While we’re on the subject, how well is its charging system working? Since most bikes have only an “idiot light” rather than an ammeter or voltmeter, you really don’t know the answer to those questions.
From Ascot hero to short-track innovator, Neil Keen led the way
THE NOISE WAS DEAFENING AS THE RIDERS CHARGED TOWARD the first corner. Forced off the racing line, Neil Keen slipped from near the front back to ninth. After 14 laps, he regained his rhythm and worked his way through the pack to second place. Only the great Carroll Resweber lay ahead.
I have a several-year-old Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide equipped with the Stage I kit and Vance & Hines slip-on mufflers. I purchased the bike second-hand with all service records, one of which says, “Remap injection to 1550.” If I wish to spend the weekend in Jerome, Arizona, I no doubt will be in the company of the many who dared enter the town limits with altered exhaust, thereby receiving a winning ticket from the local (loco?) constabulary.
Frustrating, isn’t it, trying to get a nut started on a bolt in a tight little space that you can’t even see into, let alone get both fingers into? Even a stick magnet won’t do the trick, because it usually refuses to hold the nut firmly or at the correct angle, plus it offers no “feel."
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