I OWE PAUL CARRUTHERS AN APOLOGY, or at least a decent lunch. Carruthers is editor of Cycle News, the weekly racing tabloid (and son of 1969 250cc World Roadracing Champion Kel Carruthers), and for the second time in seven years I’ve hired away one of his staff to fill a vacant spot on Cycle World's editorial masthead.
DID YOU EVER HAVE ONE OF THOSE WEIRD days where cosmic chance repeats itself and you hear three different people use the word “Abyssinian?” That’s kind of how my whole month is going, but in this case the magic word has been “Scrambler.” A few weeks ago, you see, I was invited out to California to write the Cycle World story on Triumph’s new 900 Scrambler, which takes its inspiration from a long line of Trophy Twins, the bikes that dominated desert and enduro racing for much of the Fifties and Sixties.
IF YOU LOOK AT THE MOVING PARTS GOING into auto and motorcycle engines these days, you will see grace in their shapes. This is no accident. Not so long ago, pistons, connecting rods and crankshafts were designed for ease of manufacture. Cast pistons were most often of the five-piece permanent-mold variety, in which two exterior mold parts defined the piston’s outside shape, and three the inside.
In “Ride a Crooked Road” (CW, April), Peter Egan flawlessly captured the unique culture and beauty of my former home. The endless curves, beautiful surroundings and light traffic of southwestern Virginia are a biker’s dream. The history, culture and friendliness of the region make it irresistible.
Looking to turn your V-Rod into a wide-wheel custom? Performance Machine makes what would appear to be a daunting task ever so easy with its $2995 (standard) or $3395 (recessed license plate and LED brake light) bolt-on PhatRod Kit. The aluminum swingarm, one-piece steel fender, machined-aluminum offset transmission sprocket and accompanying hardware allow fitment of an 18 x 10-inch rear wheel and a 280mm-wide rear tire. No cutting or fabricating is required.
Performance Machine, Inc.
Tourmaster Trinity Jacket
For years, Tourmaster has made women’s sizes in its apparel and gloves. But with more female riders joining the sport every day, it was time for a women’s-specific jacket. The resulting Trinity is a three-quarter-length garment that includes all the comfort, protection and ventilation found on male-oriented designs. Retailing for $130, the Trinity is available in black, blue, pink or silver in standard and “plus” sizes.
Performance Machine, Inc.
Where to stow all the stuff that you absolutely must have when you’re on the road? Kuryakyn’s new line of semi-rigid, corduranylon cruiser bags range in size from the backpack-style Ultra Tour ($130) to the Grantour ($170, shown) to the wardrobe-swallowing Full Dresser ($200). Among the features available: waterproof zippers with glove-friendly pulls and expandable compartments with pop-up internal supports.
Performance Machine, Inc.
Abrasive cleaners can leave your pride and joy looking the worse for wear. Boston SoapWorks’ Cycle Salvation ($9) does away with dirt, grease and grime without damaging delicate surfaces. Acid Trip ($7) has a similar effect on wheels, while Ice Storm ($6) cuts tree sap and tar, and polishes without leaving a white crust on emblems or blacked-out parts. To keep bugs from sticking to windshields and other bike parts, try silicone-based Midnight Run ($7). On the road or between washes, there’s spray-and-wipe Without a Trace ($8).
Performance Machine, Inc.
Germ Knee Brace
Knee protection need not start after you are fully grown. For this reason, Asterisk, maker of the popular Cell knee-protection system, came up with the Germ, an off-the-shelf brace specifically developed around the anatomy of a kid’s leg. Designed to fit average-size youths from ages 8 to 12, the $350 Germ is adjustable to compensate for growth.
Performance Machine, Inc.
Autolinx Travel Case
Turn your Honda Gold Wing into a “Golf Wing” with the Autolinx Travel Case. Outfitted with a keyless security system, the water-resistant, tubular plastic case is an effective and a safe way to transport a full set of clubs—or whatever else won’t fit in your top case or saddlebags, up to a maximum of 30 pounds. A Linxpartner mounting bracket and a locking hitch pin are included with each $295 purchase; you supply the hitch receiver. Don’t own a Gold Wing? Autolinx is compatible with other large-displacement motorcycles, too.
Performance Machine, Inc.
Tailgunner Rotary Cannon Exhaust
The end is near. It may, in fact, come rushing over us before you can finish reading this. For proof, look no farther than the Tai1gunner Rotary Cannon Exhaust, a "muffler" that emulates, of all things, a Gatling gun. In case you are firearms-impaired, a Gatling gun is a type of machine gun that fires continuously through as many as 10 barrels of a rapidly rotating cylinder. The Tailgunner Rotary Cannon Exhaust not only looks like a Gatling gun but also uses the outrushing exhaust gases to spin its six-barrel cylinder. The higher the engine revs, the faster the barrel spins. Since it is ours not to ask "why" but only to ask "how much," the Tailgunner comes in two versions: the Cannon, a shorty style that runs $450 each, and the Texas Long Gun for $650 a pop.
IF I HAD SOMEHOW OR other conned my way into Kevin Schwantz’s GP retirement party a decade ago and told him that one day he would be leisurely escorting a pack of power-cruiser-riding moto-journalists through the Hill Country of his home state of Texas, the 1993 500cc world champ probably would have laughed in my face—and deservedly so.
Ducati's entry-level naked bike gets a displacement boost with its new, 695cc two-valve desmo engine. The same engine, which will also power the mini-Multistrada, is a destroked 800cc with radically oversquare cylinder dimensions of 88 x 57.2mm.
Here's your chance to see old bikes and Peter Egan. If you're anywhere near St. Augustine, Florida, on Saturday, May 20, be sure to stop by the Riding into History Concours d'Elegance. The event, which last year raised $30,000 for breast-cancer prevention, will feature 300 antique, vintage, race and custom bikes on the grass at World Golf Village, plus CW's own Editor-at-Large as Grand Marshal.
WITH KAWASAKI claiming that its new ZX-14 makes a whopping 190 horsepower and Suzuki allegedly hard at work on a hotted-up Hayabusa for 2007, the hyperbike wars are heating up once again. But will Honda rejoin the battle? With its CBR1100XX “Super Blackbird,” Honda once was a player in the warp-speed game but yanked the XX out of the lineup after the 2003 model year.
Apparently, not all of us feel that motorcycles already are the perfect mode of transportation. Take Garrick Zack, for example, a 31-year-old industrial designer. His experimental vehicle, called the Pheuled Type 1 (www.phueled.net), is meant to be “something new.” Says Zack, “I wanted to take the positive aspects of a motorcycle—narrow footprint and fuel efficiency—and cross it with the positive aspects of a car—safety and functionality.” The vehicle is designed to lean on its four wheels via chassis/wheel pivots, provide some degree of “crush zone” and is powered by a 1990 Yamaha 600cc Four.
Bikes—big and small, dirt and street—were, as always, the backbone of this month’s issue. Tests of the new-for-1981 Honda CR250R and GL500 Silver Wing, Maico 490 Mega, Suzuki GS650G and Yamaha 750 Seca filled a large portion of the 122 pages.
IT IS A WELL-KNOWN FACT of motorcycling that the faster you ride, the more strongly the spinning front wheel—which is a great big gyroscope—resists your efforts to steer it. Lighter tires, wheels and brake discs have eased the steering task, but we humans always want more of anything desirable.
DOWN: To promoter Jim Gianatsis, for once again appealing to our baser instincts and enticing us to run news of his L.A. Calendar custom bike show, July 15-16 in Long Beach, California. On display will be 200 exhibitors, including manufacturers, aftermarket firms and top-name builders—not to mention many of the models straight from the pages of Jim’s line of pinup calendars.
KAWASAKI VULCAN 900 CLASSIC Big bike, bigger value
CRUISERS MAKE UP A hefty chunk of the streetbike market. Dig deeply into the sales logs and you’ll discover that the fastest-growing portion of this popular category is the 650 to 1100cc “metric” segment. Kawasaki was quick to make note of this fact at the introduction of the Vulcan 900 Classic, launched this past March at the World Center of Cruising—better known as Bike Week—in Daytona Beach, Florida.
THE IDEA OF RIDING A MOTORcycle that produces a claimed 187 horsepower (197 with ram air in effect) is in itself enough to make your knuckles lose their color. Now imagine slinging such a machine around a NASCAR oval lined with an unprotected concrete wall!
Brace yourself for the greatest motorcycles in the world
F4 l000 S
EVERYTHING ELSE IS CRAP. MANY WILL laud the light and precise handling of 600cc machines, praise the balance of the GSX-R750 and claim that these 1000cc repli-racers are “too much.” Too much for what? These are the best motorcycles in the world.
IF THE RUMORS ARE TO BE BELIEVED, APRILIA IS hard at work developing a new-generation 90-degree V-Twin to replace the 60-degree "Mille" V-Twin that debuted in 1998 and continues, albeit in much-modified form, to power the Italian bike maker's top-drawer sportbikes.
WHEN BILL CULVER, OWNER/OPERSTOR OF C&J Racing Frames, suppliers to the AMA’s Grand National teams, showed up with a vintage CZ motor sculpted into his latest dirt-track frame, our crew collectively asked, why? Because the sum is greater than the whole of the parts.
YAMAHA, DURING ITS 50th-anniversary year, liveried their MotoGP M1s for the Laguna Seca round in this classic 1970s U.S. team paint scheme. This brought sharp double-takes from those old enough to have seen Kenny Roberts, Gene Romero and others on two-stroke 250s, 350s and 750s with this paint.
WHEN A MOTORCYCLE is built by one’s own hand, it’s special. When it becomes a collaboration of components and assistance donated by a close-knit circle of lifelong riding and racing pals, it’s a keeper. This 1964 Triumph Bonneville bobber, ridden daily by Vic Hager, general manager at Fred Cummings Motorsports in Bakersfield, California, is a machine that will never be sold.
SUPERMOTO MAY BE THE freshest craze in two-wheel motorsport, thanks in part to mainstream network television exposure during the 2005 Summer X-Games; yet the concept is far from new. This extremetheme merger of roadrace and motocross has roots in the bygone Superbikers competition—an annual made-for-TV race that aired on “ABC’s Wide World of Sports” two decades ago.
IN MANY WAYS, THIS BIKE was bound to happen. It had no choice. You might even say that builder Steve Carpenter, a 43-year-old expat Brit, has café-racing in his blood. “My old man was a total nutter on his 500 Matchless,” says Carpenter.
The classic high-perf naked bike evolves yet again
IN SOME RESPECTS, IT WAS DUCATI'S LAST big risk. Together with the 916, the original air-cooled Monster of ’93 was the big gamble that made the Italian firm into the financial and design success it is today. But where the 916 shape was eventually replaced, some would say for the worse, by the 999, Ducati still hasn’t had the huevos to risk replacing the Monster.
APRILIA IS NOT A renowned brand among off-road enthusiasts, but that will quickly change when the company’s 450cc V-Twin hits American soil. Although banned from AMA Pro racing before it even arrives here, an RXV enduro/dual-sport version is set to make a showing against the current single-cylinder class leaders.
HEY, DARTH! AREN'T YOU A BIT STUFFY in that full-face lid? We know you have a face only a Sith could love, but come out of that shell and try the Shoei J-Wing on for size. Don’tcha know it’s good to have some wind in your face? The featherweight J-Wing’s fighterpilot styling complements a wide range of bikes, classic and new.
OFF-ROAD RIDING IS TOUGH ON ANkles and feet, so it’s important to wear boots that are not only comfortable but protective. Alpinestars’ top-of-the-line Tech 10s score high marks on both counts—but at a price that is significantly higher than other premium offerings.
SIXTY-SEVEN FORMULA XTREME MACHINES lined up for the 65th running of the Daytona 200 this past March. Up front were six or more factory or semi-factory Hondas and Yamahas. Such modified machines begin with European Supersport kit parts.
Q What’s the deal with the fly-by-wire throttle on Yamaha’s new YZF-R6? Is it an assist of some kind that works with the throttle cable or is there no cable at all and the throttle is worked electrically? If it’s only electric, that would scare the hell out of me.
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