CRUISER HEAVEN, THE BLUE RIDGE PARKway, 469 miles of meandering two-lane that link Virginia's Shenandoah and North Carolina's Great Smoky Mountains National Parks. Imagine a tree-lined golf course laid out on the ridgetops of the southern Appalachians, but with paved fairways and manicured short rough.
THERE'S AN OLD SAYING THAT YOU SHOULD be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it. This is an expression you hear most often when people are talking about marriage or war. They say things like "I bet that attractive gal drinking double shots of tequila would be a fascinating date," or "It sure would be cool to fire a 30-caliber machine gun out of a helicopter door!" The next thing you know they're in big trouble.
IN THE COURSE OF A YEAR WE RECEIVE at least one and sometimes several invitations to see the “next revolution in engines.” Mostly this makes me a little sad, because many inventors fail to read the patent literature before they invest years of their lives in their ideas.
Major props for David Edwards' column, "Can you hear me now?" (Up Front, November). As a transit bus driver and a motorcycle rider for 40 years, my life is dominated by a need to constantly scan and monitor traffic conditions. I can assure you that the cell phone is the single most dangerous creation in the history of motorized travel.
IT'S LIKE BMW IS SPIKING the water cooler in the design section of the company with tequila and Red Bull. Or Product Planning has discovered some new kind of "Alpen herb." Whatever is going on, BMW busted large with a lot of interesting stuff at the bi-annual Intermot show in Cologne, Germany, this past October.
Fall motorcycle shows, such as Intermot in Cologne, Germany, give us something we can count on: cool bikes that will never set tread to U.S. tarmac. This year was no different with Honda showing off its new Hornet 600. The 2007 CBR600RR-based powerplant is a compact unit that features PGM-FI fuel-injection and is tuned for torque while still delivering more top-end performance than the previous Hornet's mill.
Another highlight from the Intermot show was KTM's new 63-horsepower, fuel-injected, single-cylinder 690 Supermoto. Featuring high-performance brakes and adjustable suspension, the entire package weighs a claimed 335 pounds. Styling is typical KTM with edgy orange-and-black plastic bodywork, including a new beak-like front fender.
DANIEL PEIRCE IS A commercial photographer by trade, a motorcycle nut by choice. He's joined the two in a series of stunning photos he calls the Up-N-Smoke Engine Project, named not for any powerplant's clanky demise but for the Texas BBQ hangout where the idea for the project was hatched.
Further proof that motard style is hot for 2007, Buell just showed its new Lightning Super TT at the Milan show. It joins the BMW HP2 Megamoto, Ducati Hypermotard and KTM 950 SM in adopting the supermoto look for city streets. Powered by Buell's 1203cc air/oil/fan-cooled V-Twin making a claimed 103 crank hp, the Super TT mix-n-matches a Ulysses frame with shorter Lightning suspension (seat height is 31.4 inches) and the street-fighter accoutrements of the XB9 CityX.
Theme for this month's issue was, "20 Years of Motorcycling: A Celebration." Thirty pages were devoted to those two decades, with stories penned by the magazine's founder Joe Parkhurst ("How we did it"), Peter Egan ("Up through the ranks"), Steve Kimball ("Motorcycling Milestones: It's not how good they were, but how far we've come"), Joe Scalzo ("20 years at racetracks") and the staff-amassed "The Cycle World Story: In which we print 20 years of news that didn't fit."
TWO YEARS AGO, Paul Livingston of Falkner/Livingston Racing perused the Southern California Timing Association's record books and realized there was an open record in the MPS 650 B/G class. That arcane abbreviation stands for "modified partial streamliner (i.e. sportbike with fairing) under 650cc, blown and running on gasoline."
UP: To the Isle of Man post office, for giving TT fans a reason to stick out their tongues. As part of celebrating the 100th Anniversary TT to be held this June, the IOM Post Office is offering commemorative stamps at www.iompost.com. The full Centenary Collection includes stamps, postcards, a historic CD and a DVD of past commentary and racing, coins and more, all in a black leatherette case suitable for your library.
IF ONLY RESURRECTED Moto Morini were capable of manufacturing enough motorcycles to reach markets outside of Italy, the new 9½ would be a candidate for "Surprise of the Year." Though just now available, the 9½ was unveiled at the 2003 Bologna Motor Show alongside the Corsaro 1200.
The return of seduction, the elevation of performance
ANGELS SANG, PASSIONS WERE fired and there was nary a sportbike maniac on Earth who wasn't helplessly seduced by the Ducati 916. After the 1994 introduction, styling was refined over the years as performance and engine displacement increased, but it was the same sensual shape in 996 and 998 versions that lived on until the redesigned and restyled 999 was introduced in 2003.
In the spring of 1974 I met the girl of my life, Mary. Through my younger years, I had dodged the “burdens” of marriage, but Mary was special. After 32 years of very happy and solid marriage, she still is, thank God. At the time, I was already active in journalism but still consulting for Ducati.
DIDN'T SOMEONE ONCE SAY THERE'S AN ASS FOR EVERY SEAT? YOU'VE GOT YOUR extroverts, your introverts, your ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs, your Type A's, B's, et cetera. One man's poison is another man's perfume or however that goes.
Traveling at more than 130 mph on an unfaired motorcycle produces an unrelenting windblast, making it rather difficult to identify a change in audible mechanical clatter emanating from between the knees. A sudden loss of power and tightening felt within the engine, however, provides a pretty strong clue that all is not well, prompting a quick tug on the clutch lever and coast down.
This motorcycle seems largely inevitable given the far-out, arthouse flower-mouthed Confederate credo Mr. Burns quotes in his story. Clearly, the Hellcat isn't quite a clone, but it also isn't not a clone, either. No matter how you slice (or machine) it, that 131-inch air compressor is, however vestigially, a Harley motor.
S&S, OF VIOLA, Wisconsin, has leaped ahead in the bustling V-Twin business with an all-new 110- to 139-cubic-inch air-cooled engine complete with emissions-legal fuel and exhaust systems. This new Vee, called "X-Wedge," was created to solve chronic problems of oversized V-Twins.
I flew to Wisconsin with a radar gun, tripod and acceleration-tracking-software-equipped laptop stuffed in with my checked luggage. With Kevin Cameron handling the in-depth technical view, my sights were trained on acquiring comparative top-gear roll-on and quartermile times aboard a pair of S&S-powered Big Dog choppers—one running the new X-Wedge engine and another with a fuel-injected V117 Series single-cam Evo-style Twin currently used by Big Dog.
IN AN AGE OF REALITY-TV CHOPPERS AND OVERSTYLED BOUTIQUE-BUILT customs, a production cruiser possessing real-world refinements, proven reliability and an uncanny ability to flow down the road with comfort and is a welcomed reprieve. Style and image may be the cruiser's credo, but let's not forget the relaxed and blissful state of mind kick-backed bikes were originally intended to bring about.
On the Internet and at Harley hangouts, it’s one of the hottest topics of discussion. Literally. Quite a few owners of 2007 Twin Cam models are voicing complaints about the excessive heat that emanates from their 96-inch motors, citing the rear cylinders in particular as throwing off the most BTUs.
What happened? Where have all the bad boys gone? Have they all gone off and gotten mod with a “z,” those silly boyz? It used to be having a motorcycle was a sure means to be shunned by everyone on your block. Now, if you have a bike, it’s nice bad. Friendly bad.
Flip through the hearty 896-page Harley-Davidson Genuine Parts & Accessories catalog and you quickly understand why stonestock Milwaukee-built V-Twins are about as common as Gixxer sightings in Sturgis. Even The Motor Company has caught the fever for adding personalized flare and flavor to its bikes.
INHERITANCES ARE FANTASTIC. JUST ASK PARIS Hilton. This, too, is the case for Suzuki's completely redesigned RM-Z250, the rightful heir to the development concept of the championship winning RM-Z450. Suzuki took what it learned from winning races with Ricky Carmichael aboard the RM-Z450 and directed the technologies into the all-new RM-Z250 with hopes of making a serious Lites-class contender.
LOADS OF SIDE GRIP. AGGRESSIVE LEAN angles. Rock-solid straight-line stability. Long life. Sounds like an impossible combination, right? Guess again. Michelin's brand-new Pilot Power 2CT uses dualcompound construction to create a racetrack-ready, street-legal tire that brings together each and every one of those highly desirable elements.
KEEPING COOL DURING THE HOT SUMmer months requires well-ventilated riding gear that may remain on a hook in the closet once the weather turns chilly. For a smart, all-season alternative, Tour Master designed the Flex jacket. Multiple layers are the key to the Flex’s broad capabilities.
AMERICAN SHINE OWNER DAVE ANton says his polishes and waxes are made with the lazy man in mind. Okay, sign us up! Anton’s California-based company produces a full line of paintcare products. We concentrated on the Carnauba Car Wash, Carnauba Clear Coat, Carnauba Liquid Wax and Color Brightener, applying all of it separately to paint new and old, from lacquer to urethane, light colors to dark, with good results.
DESPITE WHAT YOUR LOCAL dealer might have told you, it does not take four hours to change the tires on a modern-day sportbike. We know this for a fact, because we recently swapped both front and rear wheels and filled the gas tank of a Kawasaki ZX-6R with four gallons of fuel in less than 30 seconds.
Meet the ultimate unlimited middleweight track bike
Pushing limits is fun. Just ask Carry Andrew. Chief guy behind long-time Southern California speed shop Hypercycle, he's never been able to leave well enough alone. Just get a load of the Hypercycle ZX-6R racetrack weapon. This heavily modified '05 model was built at the behest of Kawasaki as a showcase for the ultimate functional "custom" that could be put together using parts from the accessory catalog.
Q The new electric-shift Yamaha FJR1300 has a redesigned shift drum that places neutral below first, so we know it's not that difficult to do. What's the hardest thing to do on a motorcycle? Find neutral! So how come all motorcycles don't have neutral below first?
Fun bike, Yamaha's 2006 FZ1, a half-faired standard with a sit-up riding position, an excellent chassis and an R1-based motor that makes the bike a genuine bullet. On the right day under the right rider on the right backroad, a new "Fizzyone" can be just as hard to hang with as the R1 that spawned it.
NHTSA Recall No. 06V371000 Yamaha '03-05 FJR1 300: '04-05 YZFR1: '02-05 XV1700: '04-05 FZS600 Number of units involved: 39,000 Problem: On certain motorcycles, an improperly designed throttle-position sensor could cause an intermittent unstable idle when the engine is at idling speed, when the motorcycle is stopped or during low-speed operation.
In the "Tech Tips" section of the November Service column, I unintentionally supplied the wrong data regarding the amount of braking force present in a brake caliper with opposed pistons. I stated that if the pressure generated in the braking system at the master cylinder were 50 psi, and if the caliper had two pairs of opposed pistons, with each caliper piston having three times the area of the master-cylinder piston, the total braking force would be 600 pounds (50 × 3 × 4=600).
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