Best $40K Sportbike You Didn't Buy: JJP Yamaha YZF-R1
Best Reason to Start Smoking: Triumph 900 Scrambler
Best Two-Stroke of Genius: Yamaha YZ250
Best Luxo Corner-Carver: BMW K1200LT
Best Superbike Starter Kit for non-Australians: Kawasaki ZX-10R
Best Banned V-Twin: Aprilia RXV 450
Best Bike for the Buck: Suzuki DR650SE
Best Petrol Pincher: Kawasaki Ninja 250R
Best King Kong Dirtbike: BMW HP2
IT'S NOT EASY PICKING THE TEN BEST Bikes of the Year, culling from the hundreds of eligible machines just 10 that receive accolades, a trophy and the accompanying sales blip. Some years I wish that we could hand out another 10 awards. Which is what I've done here.
GONE ON A PRESS TRIP LAST WEEK, I REturned home to Wisconsin to be greeted with the astounding news that I'd missed a warm winter day on which it was virtually possible to ride a motorcycle, if you didn't mind the road salt eating your rims.
ANYONE WITH METAL-CUTTING LATHE experience is familiar with tool chatter. Many causes are possible, but the end result is the same—a very rapid vibratory motion of the cutter bit, sometimes rapid enough to make a loud screech. Ideally, when the operator starts a fresh cut, the tool leaves behind it a smooth surface finish, peeling a shower of uniform chips.
After reading Peter Egan's review of the new Triumph Scrambler (CW, May), I drove down to my nearest dealer and purchased the blue/white version. I learned to ride on a 1972 Honda 100 scrambler, and the new Triumph has the same ergos and handling characteristics only on a larger scale.
Want to stand out in a sea of four-wheelers on a dark, rainy night? Respro, the U.K.-based maker of pollution-filtering in-helmet breath masks and motorcycle-oriented reflective sticker kits, suggests donning its $50 Super Dooper Waistcoat. This lightweight, zippered vest comes in dayand nighttime-friendly Flo Yellow and Orange with Scotchlite striping. The oversize design slips easily over riding gear and folds into its own pocket for storage.
Street & Competition
Despite its conventional appearance, the Pacsafe TailSafe is capable of withstanding a 10-megaton atomic explosion. Well, not quite. But this softsided carry-all does feature fully laminated, slashproof, stainless-steel netting integrated within its weatherproof main compartment (cutaway view shown above). Suggested retail price is $249.
Street & Competition
ZTechnik VStream windshield
Long days in the saddle are quieter and more relaxing behind a $180 VStream windshield. Rather than simply make the screen larger, ZTechnik instead focused on fine-tuning the shape of the upper edges of the screen. As a result, swirling air is pushed farther away from the helmets of the rider and passenger, leaving a pocket of still air. The scratch-and-stone-resistant Quantum-coated designs are currently available for various BMWs, including the K1200LT, R1150RT, R1200RT and R1200ST. Applications for other brands and models are in the works.
Street & Competition
Z1R Jimmy Retro Stripe helmet
Bugs in the teeth add character, right? New from Z1R, the $70 Jimmy Retro Stripe offers a classic, open-face look with the comfort of dual forehead vents and a brushed nylon interior, and the security of DOT certification. Choose from white/red, black/silver or orange/white in XXS-XXXL sizes. Jimmy Lightning ($70) and Jimmy Solid ($55) versions are also available.
Street & Competition
All Balls Bearing and Seal Kits
For the industry's biggest, broadest selection of bearing and seal kits, look no farther than All Balls Bearings & Components. The Pennsylvania company produces precision-made, original-equipment-replacement kits for cruisers, MXers, sportbikes, tourers and vintage models, as well as custom applications.
Street & Competition
Martin Fabrication Multi-Line Mounts
Let there be light! Designed to accept PIAA's 55-watt 1100X- or 35-watt 005-series lamps, Martin Fabrication's machined-from-solid 6061T6-aluminum driving-light mounts ($70) attach to the front fender mounting points of most streetbikes, require no alterations to the fender and do not impede steering. Complete lighting kits, including mounts, are available from PIAA (www.piaa.com) for $325.
Street & Competition
Scala-Rider Wireless Bluetooth Helmet Headset
Many riders view motorcycling as an opportunity to enjoy the freedom of the open road without the anxieties and mad rush of day-to-day life. But if you must stay in touch with the outside world while heeled over in a corner or motoring down the interstate, the weatherproof $150 Scala-Rider lets you answer, end, initiate or reject calls from your Bluetooth-enabled cell phone using voice commands—there's no need to remove your hands from the bars. Adhesive-free, clampon installation allows fitment on both full- and open-face helmets, and the claimed seven-hour between-charges talk time (one week standby) outperforms many phones. Maybe best of all, at least for motorcyclists, speaker volume automatically adjusts to compensate for wind noise at higher speeds, though earplug wearers may have a difficult time catching every word, even at maximum volume.
IT'S BEEN HAPPENING since at least 2000. That year we took 10 bikes on a sporty road ride to Pahrump, Nevada, where we spent two days testing at Spring Mountain Motorsports Park. Nine of the bikes were there for a trio of three-bike comparison tests, and the Suzuki GSX-R750 was brought along basically because we had it and it meant one more person could live the dream of four intense riding days.
Good news for everyone who fell in love with the spectacular Hypermotard concept bike unveiled by Ducati at the Milan motorcycle show last November: You'll soon be able to buy one. Public reaction to this show bike was so enthusiastic that Ducati management has decided to put it into production.
A resurgent Moto Guzzi has subjected its California cruiser to an excellent makeover. Though the bike is offered overseas in Classic, Touring and Vintage trim, only the latter, which is arguably the coolest, will be sold stateside. For $14,490, you get a richly finished machine with glossy, pinstriped paint, a windshield and saddlebags, all meant to evoke memories of the 1970s Eldorado.
TALK ABOUT A TECHnological revolution! At the opening round of the 2006 All-Japan motocross series at Sugo, Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha entered fuel-injected versions of their current works models, two of which had never before been seen in public.
When the developer of Gran Turismo 4, the most popular auto-racing simulation for Sony Playstation 2, put its programming team to work creating Tourist Trophy, a motorcycle sim, it was done in "Grand" style. Therefore, fans of GT4 will find Tourist Trophy's menus, tracks and modes of play very familiar.
Riding the bike-boom wave of the 1970s, Japanese motorcycle companies were exercising their engineering might with some high-flying product. One of the most interesting was Honda's CBX, dubbed on our cover a "Long Range Rocket." Inside, the 1047cc inline-Six was said to have "Grand Prix glamour and touring chic," especially with the tidy and sleek detachable saddlebags.
IF THERE IS ONE PLACE ON Earth that embraces the motorcycle, it's Spain, to the point that your average motorist barely notices when a gang of leather-clad foreign journalists buzzes them on a winding mountain road. This motorcycle hotbed was the site of the introduction of Continental's newest radial tire, the ContiSportAttack.
DOWN: To the Oklahoma State Police, for not playing fair. Okie motor officers will soon be able run down and ticket anything this side of a Ferrari Enzo, thanks to their new "Police Interceptor" Suzuki Hayabusas. Apparently, the U.S.'s fastest bike cops will get special training at the California Superbike School.
WHAT'S THIS, A DIRTbike with a key?! And no kickstarter? Electric-start-only off-roaders are nothing new, yet some old-timers still grumble about the lack of a backup kicker. It could be my youthful pop-culture thinking but I say who cares, let's just ride.
WHILE WE OWE ULTRA-COMpetitive 600cc Supersport racing for propagating today's highly evolved middleweight sportbikes, working within race rules doesn't necessarily result in the best bike for the street rider. A year ago we rounded up the 2005 middleweight supersports and trained our focus on outright racetrack performance.
Sportbike enthusiasts the world over got revved up when Yamaha unveiled its new YZF-R6 last fall, a bike featuring a tachometer scaled to 20,000 rpm with a whopping 17,500-rpm indicated redline. No streetbike had come this close to producing Formula One engine revs, something Yamaha ballyhooed loudly in the YZF's ad campaign.
I SHOULDN'T BE HERE, I CHIDED MYSELF. I AM MIDDLEaged. I have graying hair and a bad back. I don't even hold a racing license. All the same, there I was, straddling Jake Zemke's Daytona 200-winning Honda CBR600RR, gripping the low handlebars, squeezing the brake and clutch levers, listening to the raspy exhaust note, waiting for the go-ahead to venture onto the track.
Observation: Never judge a book, or a bike, by its cover
WHAT'S ITALIAN, HAS a big-inch V-Twin motor and is tons o' fun on a backroad? If you said "Ducati," sorry, Sparky, you lose; thanks for playing and be sure to pick up your parting gift on the way out. Ditto if your guess was Aprilia. Nope, the correct answer to this particular $12,490 question is the Moto Guzzi Breva 1100.
Moto Guzzi is celebrating its 85th birthday this year, having extricated itself from the life support that kept it going through the financially stricken de Tomaso years—and beyond. Production is on an upward swing, with more than 7000 units built last year.
OKAY, I AM NOT A GUZZI FREAK like my friend Todd Eagan of www.guzzitech.com (cheek out the "Guzzi Tattoos" page), who's been jonesing to take our 11 for a spin. But I'm beginning to understand his sickness. Clarity came to me on California Highway 2, the famed twist-o-rama called Angeles Crest, where the big Breva-eleva surprised me with its nimbleness.
FOR MOST OF US, THE WORLD imposes an upper limit on our moto-madness. Sure, you'd love to own five or 10 or even 20 bikes, but there are problems with that kind of mechanized conspicuous consumption. Money is the first that springs to mind. Then, of course, you'll be needing a place to put them all.
IF YOU'VE READ OUR SPORTBIKE ANnual (on newsstands now), you already know that our long-term GSX-R 1000 competed in the Toyota 200 endurance race at Willow Springs. We made safety and handling a priority by replacing the bodywork, wiring all the necessary nuts and bolts, and going to town on suspension setup.
LIKE THE SWALLOWS RETURNING TO Mission San Juan Capistrano or Chicago Cubs' fans getting their hopes up yet again, if it's spring then it's time to pick Cycle World's Ten Best Bikes of the year. This does not get any easier, despite the magazine's 30 prior attempts at winnowing from a cast of hundreds the best machine in each of 10 categories.
This is more than a standard, more than a supermoto, more than a liter-class V-Twin—and yet all of the above. The KTM Supermoto also happens to be the rowdiest, most grin-generating motorcycle we've ridden in 2006—or maybe any other year. In '07 we'll finally see the fuel-injected 990 SuperDuke, with more power and more comfort.
Road to track to Baboon's Gorge, BMW busts out big in South Africa
ARCING GENTLY DOWNHILL on a mountain pass that leads to George, South Africa, I did not expect to be passed on the outside by anybody. I was carrying a swift, safe pace, passing cars as necessary and making efficient, fun use of this sweeping multilane mountain road, a job made easy by BMW's new, smokin'-fast K1200GT sport-tourer.
As motorcycle power units go, the parallel-Twin makes great sense. It is narrow and compact, complicated enough to be sonically and mechanically interesting while being simple enough to be easy and inexpensive to build. BMW evoked classic role models such as Norton and BSA when discussing its new liquid-cooled 798cc parallel-Twin, designed in conjunction with Bombardier-Rotax.
HIGH-END OFF-ROAD RIDING JACKETS are usually equipped with zippered vents that provide cooling airflow and allow excess body heat to escape. That's generally not the case with pants, which, with a few exceptions, are often just loosely cut versions of the latest motocross gear.
YOU RIDE A SPORTBIKE. CANYON ROADS and racetracks are your playgrounds. But the moment you and your crew want to roll deep to the accordion festival, you have to trade your helmet for your buddy's four-wheeler so you can bring along your double-throw-down three-row diatonic to impress the honeys.
"THAT'S IT, IT'S OVER," I THOUGHT TO MYSELF AS I LEANED against a wall in the narrow rock canyon and stared into the pitch-black night. Dehydration had set in and I was "out on my feet," as they say in boxing. My head was spinning and my legs were paralyzed.
OFF-ROAD RACING HAS NEVER BEEN A GREAT SPECTATOR SPORT, especially the way that most of America views entertainment. We want non-stop action along with all the comforts of home, a cold beer and a salted pretzel in-hand. That pretty much describes supercross, which is one reason why that sport is so popular.
Q I want to increase the distance I can see when riding at night but do not necessarily want to add a light bar. My local Honda dealer says that increasing the wattage of the headlight bulb will drain the battery but that adding a light bar will not.
Editorial/Production: Offices are located at 1499 Monrovia Ave., Newport Beach, CA 92663; 949/720-5300. Editorial contributions are welcomed, but must be guaranteed exclusive to Cycle World. We are not responsible for the return of unsolicited material unless accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope.