OH BOY, IT’S IBOY TIME AGAIN, WHEN the collective wisdom (hah!) of the world’s motorcycle press is brought to bear on one weighty question: What’s the best bike of the year? Each December, moto-mag editors from around the globe are asked to delineate their top three machines.
A WORD OF ADVICE TO PEOPLE WITH BAD backs: After loading three heavy garbage cans into your van, don’t ever bend over to pet your shortest dog. That way, you won’t spend a full week lying on the sofa, drinking “meals” through a bent straw provided by your saintly wife.
THE PUBLIC’S IDEA OF RACING IS ALWAYS colored by the imaginations of those who report it, who invariably emphasize the extreme, unmanageable power of the machinery, the quirky, vicious nature of its handling and the dreadful hazards looming on all sides.
The “Long Road Home” on the 2006 Harley Super Glide (CW, January) was simply wonderful. Cook Neilson is a very personal writer who brings us into his poetic mind. Jerry Conner Winnetka, Illinois Kudos to Cycle World for bringing Cook Neilson back into the ranks of motorcycle journalism.
Bounce your way to fitness on the Motostik MX1. A beefed-up version of the popular pogo stick, the MX1 is endorsed by seven-time AMA Supercross champ Jeremy McGrath, among other riders, and features 6061-T6 alloy construction, a crossbar-pad-equipped handlebar, adjustable spring tension, alloy footpegs and a replaceable "knobby" foot. Small ($190, up to 90 pounds) and Large ($200, up to 220 pounds) versions are offered in blue, green, orange, pink, red or yellow.
Sidi Crossfire Boots
Hit the track or trail in style with the Sidi Crossfire boots. All-new, dual-hinged uppers enhance mobility and comfort without sacrificing protection. "POP" buckles introduced on the Vortex Evo now have position-retaining snap closures on the adjusters, toes are protected by new plastic caps, and screened rear vents allow heat to escape. As in the past, many parts are easily replaced if damaged. Choose from white or black with the top-selling SRS or the traditional TA sole design in sizes 7.5 to 13. Both versions retail for $400.
Got belt? Then you need a buckle. With Heavy Metal Buckles, the options are practically endless. Choose from lead-free Flying Eyeball, Double Skulls, Spin Oval Star or dozens more, in men's and women's styles. Prices range from $18-26.
Ready yourself for any ride, on any road and in any weather with Fin land's finest, the Rukka Allroad. Fitted with a removable Gore-Tex membrane, the $950 jacket (Sahara Biege or black, in even sizes 36-54) and $599 trousers (Titanium or black, in waist sizes 30 to 49) are manufactured from machine-washable Cordura 500, fully armored, reinforced in the "crash" zones with Schoeller-Dynatec Kevlar and backed by a five-year workmanship guarantee. Adjusters at the sleeves and waist ensure the best possible fit and prevent flapping at high speeds.
Here's how to blow away the competition. ProCharger's new 6-psi intercooled bolt-on supercharger for 2001-06 Harley-Davidson Softails, 2004-05 Dynas and 2002-06 FLHs with fuel-injection delivers 50-65 percent more power to stock or modified engines. The $4995 system does not alter drivability, idle or rider position, and installs with standard handtools in 2-3 hours.
If you have a long, oval head shape, Arai has the helmet for you. The new full-face Profile, which replaces the long-running Signet, features the Japanese helmet maker's proprietary Super Complex Laminate Construction shell design (crafted using a five-point laser scanning system and the latest CAD/CAM software) and single-piece, multiple-density "hybrid" foam liner. Revised vents, the rear openings now sporting a more user-friendly, two-position closure, duct cooling air through the helmet. A unique, pull-down chin spoiler helps to minimize wind noise. Offered in 18 colors, including Chris Carr and Jay Spring-steen replicas, the DOT-and Snell-approved Profile comes in XS-XXXL sizes, with prices starting at $498.
HERE IS THE VICTORY "Vision" concept automatic motorcycle—a shot into the future, planned to connect with public taste at some upcoming moment. GM's great stylist Harley Earl—the man who brought us tailfins—learned early that styling had to lead the public...but only just.
In the time-honored tradition of sharing the engine wealth, Ducati has built the 2007 Monster S4RS. The key here, of course, is the 130-claimed-horsepower, deep-sump Testastretta engine straight out of the 999/999S superbikes. Fully adjustable Öhlins suspension is fitted front and rear, with the inverted fork's sliders getting a low-stiction, titanium-nitride coating.
Keith Duckworth, the creator of the modern flat, oversquare, four-valve combustion chamber (and much, much else) has died, aged 72. He was co-founder, with Mike Costin, of Cosworth, Ltd., today one of the world’s leading engine design centers.
BOTH BMW AND MOTO Guzzi recently released information on upcoming sport-tourers. The Munich marque's K1200GT is as rich as one would expect a grand touring bike from BMW to be. Taken from the new K1200, the transverse, dohc 1156cc inline-Four is detuned to produce 150 horsepower, while the twin-beam aluminum chassis retains the supple-riding Duolever/Paralever front and rear suspension, with optional push-button electronic adjustment.
Sporty standards are big sellers in Europe, less so on this side of the pond. Honda recently showed a CBF1000 that looks like it could be competition for Yamaha's FZ1, but it isn't destined to come stateside. Cast in the same vein as the broad-focus, Euro-only CBF600 and CBF500 sportbikes, the new liter-class machine offers a versatile alternative to Big Red's hardcore racer-replicas.
This was a time when dirtbikes got much love, even gracing the cover more often than not. This month, the Honda XR500R nabbed the glory and was called King of the Trail. The $2098 machine was loaded with upgrades, and topping the list was the use of Pro-Link rear suspension brought over from Honda motocrossers, the same system found on today’s CRFs.
IN THE GRAND SCHEME OF things, 10 years isn't a particularly long time, but in the oxymoronic world of "factory custom" motorcycles, it's nigh on an eternity. So when a manufacturer of these high-buck/high-glitz machines can say it's made it a decade, and that the future looks even better, that's something special.
Piaggio surprised attendees of last December's Bologna Motor Show by presenting two scooters that featured not one, but two front wheels. These prototypes were powered by 250 and 400cc single-cylinder engines teamed with automatic transmissions.
UP: To Bruce Rossmeyer, CEO of 11 Harley-Davidson dealerships across the Southwest, for leading a two-day fundraising effort on behalf Of Camp Boggy Creek in Eustis, Florida. Established in 1990 by actor Paul Newman and retired Army General Norman Schwarzkopf, the camp enriches the lives of children who have chronic or life-threatening illnesses by offering them camping experiences that are memorable, exciting, empowering, physically safe and medically sound.
"PROVEN AND refined” best describes Suzuki’s venerable Katana 750. A member of the GSX sportbike family since the late 1980s, the Katana offers street riders a practical, broad-ranged sporting platform at a very appealing $6999 price. Powered by the 16-valve, air/oil-cooled inline-Four that propelled early GSX-R sportbikes to racetrack glory, the Katana has been tuned for greater emphasis on lowend and midrange torque.
KAWASAKI SPORTBIKE/OFF-ROAD PRODUCT MANAGER KARL Edmondson wasn't pulling the wool over anyone's eyes when he told the press gathered last December at Harrah's Rincon Casino & Resort near San Diego, California, that the new-for-2006 Ninja 650R was built for the "sheer enjoyment of riding."
WHILE WALKING AROUND THE KAWASAKI DEALER meeting showfloor late last year, I noticed to my surprise excited shop owners crowding the new KLX250S dual-purpose bike. The throng was comparable to that around the all-purpose bike. The throng was comparable to that around the all-new almighty ZX-14.
IT SEEMED ALL TOO FAMILIAR, TRAVELING TO BUTTONWILLOW Raceway to ride a newly revised member of Honda's CBR-RR sportbike family. This outing was akin to one a year ago when American Honda invited the moto-press to the 2.5-mile roadcourse flanked by farmland in the heart of California's Central Valley to ride its second-generation CBR600RR.
IT'S BAA-AACK! AUTUALLY, YOU PROBABLY WEREN'T AWARE that it left. In fact, if you're like most American riders, you may not even have known that the Honda 599 ever arrived here in the first place. But it did, quietly and without fanfare in 2004, then was dropped in '05 due to meager sales.
A YEAR AGO WHEN THE BOSS ASKED IF anybody wanted to go ride the new Monster S2R in Europe, all anybody in the editorial meeting could hear was "Ducati" and "Monaco." That was for the launch of the first S2R, the model that brought together the exotic looks of the superbike-powered S4R's tubular-alloy, single-sided swingarm, five-spoke Marchesini wheels and twin exhaust silencers with the more pedestrian air-cooled 800cc Desmodue powerplant.
THE NEW APRILIA, NOW PART OF THE ITALIAN MEGA-GROUP Piaggio, inherited from the old Aprila the RSV 1000, a high-tech, high-performance, Open-class sportbike that, sadly, will never see action in World Superbike. It is powered by a compact, 60-degree V-Twin that has been carefully honed over the years to produce a claimed 138 horsepower.
WHEN FRIENDS AND FAMILY ASK ME HOW LONG I'VE BEEN with Cycle World, I don't say, "Since the debut of the Harley-Davidson Dyna platform."But I could. Although Harley claims that the Dyna family can be traced back to the first factory custom, the 1971 FX Super Glide, the actual platform, with its reconfigured frame and vibration-quelling, engine-isolation system, debuted with the 1991 FXDB Dyna Glide Sturgis.
AT FIRST, IT WASN'T MUCH OF A FAMILY. NOT THAT IT mattered. When the 2002 V-Rod power-cruiser hit the streets, eyes bugged, jaws slacked, sensibilities were tweaked. Here was a Harley-Davidson for Harley hates, its engine developed in conjunction with Porsche, a double-overhead cammer with nary a pushrod in sight.
OVERALL THEME FOR THE 2006 STAR Stratoliner is Art Deco, which, as the judge said about pornography, you can’t easily define but you know it when you see it. The design era dates back to the 1920s and ’30s, while the movement’s most familiar images, to gearheads anyway, have to be streamlined locomotives, sleek cars like the late Cord and early Lincoln Zephyr..
141 horsepower, 339 pounds, street legal. Would you like to own this Suzuki GSX-R750? You can.
WHEN IT COMES to performance bikes, nothing is more important than Nothing. The history of Nothing is long and hard to see, but you will note that back in the old, old days when racebikes were largely made of iron and steel, people drilled holes in them everywhere, and the virtue of Nothing was established.
“I love racing in A-mer-i-ca!” yelled Vincent Haskovec on the podium at Daytona International Speedway last March, after winning the AMA Superstock race and beating Yoshimura Suzuki’s Aaron Yates and Michael Jordan Motorsports Suzuki’s Jason Pridmore.
One loop around California on the world's most opulent touring rigs
CVO ELECTRA GLIDE
GL1800 GOLD WING
IT WAS A THANKLESS JOB, BUT SOMEBODY HAD TO DO IT: Round up the three most lavishly equipped over-the-road motorcycles on Earth, get a couple of that same planet’s most experienced and entertaining riders to accompany you, take along your significant other to serve as Official Evaluator of Passenger Accommodations, then lead the group on a week-long loop around the Golden State.
Which super-tourer has the best never-lost system?
Oh, what those castaways on “Lost” wouldn’t do for a GPS. They’d trade all the paper maps Rand McNally ever printed for just one Global Positioning Satellite receiver. With batteries. Why so? Simple. Maps tells you the location of every significant road, city, body of water and point of interest within a specified area; GPS receivers (or navigation systems, as they commonly are called) provide most of those same details, as well, but they also let you know where you are.
Good company, scenic grandeur and breakfast with the barely living
“Sounds like a fun trip,” I said when Paul Dean called to invite me along on this comparison test. “I’ve never ridden any of these big touring bikes. I’ve never even sat on a modern, six-cylinder Gold Wing. I think the only Gold Wing I’ve ever ridden was a worn-out 1000, way back in the late Seventies.”
One man's attempt at salvation in metal and chrome
A young man, clad in jeans and a white T-shirt, watches a beautiful, two-tone Triumph Bonneville 650 pass him on the street. The rumble is visceral. He feels it through his feet, and it goes from there directly to his cerebral cortex. Though the Triumph is beyond his means, in that moment it becomes his destiny.
The trail of tears that leads to my garage is easy to see because they pool up so nicely on top of the trail of oil that leads there also. Sometimes they are tears of sorrow (“I have set that magneto three times...") or ones of joy, after returning from a trouble-free and wonderful 200-mile ride.
WHEN THE OFFICE OFF-ROAD TYPES started talking about competing in last July's 12 Hours of Glen Helen, the logical bike of choice was our brand-new 2005 Honda CRF450X. After all, the X is an excellent trailbike and a pretty good motocrosser.
EVER SINCE THREE-TIME 500CC WORLD Champion Kenny Roberts popularized the knee-out riding style back in the 1970s, sportbike riders have been wearing through knee pucks left and right. Besides being fun, touching your knee to the tarmac allows you to gauge the lean angle of the bike and can even provide a safety net against front-end slides.
FOR THOSE WHO DON’T POSSESS SUPER-human strength and aren’t able to grip the handlebar of a dirtbike for long periods of time without succumbing to the ride-ruining effects of arm pump, a steering stabilizer is an absolute necessity. At high speeds on rough roads or through deep whoops, a stabilizer will reduce head-shake and keep the bike on the straight and narrow.
IT IS LIKE WALKING ON TIPTOES TO the brink of Armageddon. It’s louder than hell, you’re not sure what’s in your near future, you’re wondering about your past, and nothing happens until everything happens and you are hurled into the abyss at nearly 2g’s.
For three years, I have owned a 2000 Honda VFR750F that now has 15,830 miles on the odometer. I live on the Natchez Trace Parkway (I’m a patrol Ranger there) and the bike is kept in a carport surrounded by a hardwood forest. It sometimes has to sit for extended periods, and during a recent hibernation, the air filter got infested by mice and was covered with hickory nuts, hickory nut dust, mouse feces and urine.
If you’ve ever installed chrome-plated, anodized or powder-coated nuts and bolts, you’re familiar with the most painful part of the process: tightening them. It can seem almost criminal to snug down those lustrous, unmarred fasteners with a sharp-edged wrench or socket that is sure to bugger the hex’s flats in some way.
Does the interior of your helmet smell like an NFL locker room—after the game? Have swirling exhaust fumes from your bike’s under-seat exhaust given your backpack or riding jacket the stench of burned hydrocarbons? If so, there’s cheap and easy help:
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