YOU’D THINK IT WOULD BE A NIGH-ON impossible task, getting the puffy-chested editors of 15 motorcycle magazines from around the world to agree on anything, let alone the Bike of the Year. After all, there are something like 250 eligible streetbike models to consider.
LATE AUTUMN IS USUALLY THE BEST TIME for riding in the upper Midwest—dry, clear and sunny. It’s cool enough to enjoy wearing a leather jacket, but not so cold that great sheets of ice cover the North American continent and drive our local mastodon herds relentlessly south.
WHEN I FIRST BEGAN READING MOTORcycle-related magazines and books, and then going to motorcycle races in the mid-Sixties, I noticed curious contrasts. Moto Guzzi put nearly as big a carburetor on its 350cc racing horizontal Singles (37mm) as Norton did on its 500cc Manx Single (38mm).
I really like what I saw in CW's exclusive sneak peek of the possible new XR 1200 Sportster (Up Front, December). That’s the best-looking tail I’ve seen on a Harley that wasn’t wearing a thong! Just think, a Harley that you can ride with a full-face helmet and not have to wear a stitch of black leather.
Enhancing the appearance, performance and sound of your fuel-injected Twin Cam 88-engined Harley-Davidson is a snap with the easy-to-install SuperTrapp SuperPak. The three-piece plug-n-play package includes a SuperTrapp exhaust (slip-on mufflers or a complete, heat-shield-equipped system), a pre-calibrated FiControl digital fuel-injection control unit and a ProFilter air filter. Prices range from $895 to $995, depending on the exhaust system specified.
Ten-hut! Power Trip’s new line of U.S. Army officially licensed riding gear has a purposeful military look to complement the many comfort-and protection-related features. Range includes fully armored jackets ($250 Flak shown here), short-gauntlet gloves and casual wear in both men’s and women’s styles and sizes.
Space-challenged? Us, too. That’s why Redline Engineering’s Swivel Stands ($119, front or rear) make so much sense. A trio of 3-inch casters equipped with wheel locks allows you to move your late-model Japanese sportbike into the tightest confines at nearly any stage of disassembly.
JJ Cycle Pass
Safely position a toll-lane transponder on a motorcycle with the JJ Cycle Pass. The lightweight plastic design clamps to handlebars or rearview-mirror stalks up to 1.5 inches in diameter, and a quick-release strap eases transfer between vehicles. Faired applications require an optional mount. Prices start at $20.
Feet stay drier in Techsox ($22). High-tech fibers wick away moisture while cooling channels facilitate venting up and out of boots. Extra-wide elastic holds socks above calves, spreading out pressure so as not to constrict muscles. Seamless finish eliminates ridges and pressure points. Boot Cut ($17) and cushioned-shin Motocross ($22) versions are also available.
Hunter Design FlatBars
Are handlebars destined to be round? Will they forever transmit engine vibration to the rider? FlatBars use a patent-pending oval shape with thumb reliefs to reduce pressure on sensitive nerves in the hands and wrists, while built-in dampers and foam grips knock out most vibes. Available for late-model motorcycles, FlatBars retail for $95 (add $45 for grip heaters).
Expose your expensive iPod to the elements? Better to keep it safely and securely stowed in your jacket pocket or backpack while you control your jams wirelessly with the Belkin SportCommand ($80). The durable, flexible, weather-resistant design straps to your arm or leg and features big buttons for easy use, even with gloved hands.
Got arm pump? Need relief? No witch-doctor hocus-pocus, Moto 911 ($6.95) is an all-natural topical analgesic spray that aids in the relief of bruising, muscle strains, bursitis, tendonitis, arthritis as well as joint, neck and back pain. Just hit the affected area with a metered dose (no rubbing required) and let the all-natural blend of essential oils work their magic. In our experience, 911 took about 10 minutes for the effects to be felt. Arm pump so severe we were forced to stop riding was reduced to a level that allowed us to jump back on the bike and continue moto’ing with a solid grip on the handlebars. We experienced similar benefits with a bruised foot. The pain was dulled, making walking more amenable.
Ultimax Tie-Down Anchors
Trust big-bucks bikes to chintzy tie-down mounts? No way! That’s why Black + Gray created Ultimax Tie-Down Anchors. Compatible with the company’s plastic wheel chocks, the heavy-duty, load-tested, 4130 steel-alloy mounts come in eight styles, from simple one-piece anchors for horizontal or vertical mounting to specially shaped designs for corner applications. Prices start at $25.
Tall truck beds and short inseams don’t mix when it comes to unloading motorcycles. That’s why it’s a good idea to outfit your rig with a Twistep ($160). Always there when you need it, the swiveling 18 x 20-inch, non-skid, corrosion-resistant steel platform attaches to your vehicle’s receiver hitch and stows below the bumper when not in use.
The Harley Davidson Reader
If you like to read as much as you like to ride, get your eyes on The Harley Davidson Reader ($25). Dotted with more than 200 photographs, the hard-cover volume is an anthology of more than 30 of the best writings related to The Motor Company’s motorcycles, straight from the writers and personalities, including CW's Peter Egan and Allan Girdler, who also are part of the legend.
FOR THE PAST HALFcentury, the Milan Show has come on odd-numbered years, alternating with its German counterpart, held last October in Cologne. Now for its 64th edition, EICMA, as the Italian show is known, has regained its annual cadence.
If the MV Agusta F4CC won most exclusive honors at Milan, the Ducati 1098 (shown here in $24,995 Tricolore trim) was clearly the most attractive bike of the show. It’s all part of a new plan for Ducati. When sales began to slip a few years ago, Claudio Domenicali instituted a product policy based on higher-value models that would generate profit even in the event of limited production runs.
One of the biggest shockers in Milan was Aprilia’s all-new Superbike engine, a 60-degree V-Four (above) whose designer, Andrea Lombardi, is aiming for horsepower in excess of 200. Lombardi is the same man who penned Aprilia’s ill-fated three-cylinder MotoGP engine.
CHINA’S ZHEJIANG Qianjiang Motorcycle Co. Ltd. has revealed a massive development initiative for Benelli, but the present range of models based on the 1130cc Tornado Triple won’t support such a plan. First move in this direction has been to revamp scooter production.
Kawasaki’s "Big Green Winning Machine” was pictured on the cover, with a young Eddie Lawson at the controls. It was a large lump of KZ1000, and Lawson used it to storm the ’81 AMA Superbike Production Championship. Staffer John Ulrich in his story about riding the bike told of being passed in an endurance race by Lawson that year, commenting, “Damn!
YOU CAN’T BUY COOL, but that didn’t stop bidders from trying at last November’s auction of Steve McQueen memorabilia. “If McQueen drove it, rode it or wore it, it was cool said Mark Osborne of Bonhams & Butterfields, the auction house that organized the sale, held at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
UP: To Can-Am, for making a comeback—at least on four wheels. A motocross phenomenon in the Seventies, the Canadian-built, Rotax-powered two-strokes swept the AMA 250cc class in 1974, going 1-2-3 with Gary Jones, Marty Tripes and Jimmy Ellis (shown).
I HAVE ALWAYS CONSIDered Husaberg motorcycles to be on the “exotic” bike list. After all, the blue-and-yellow bikes fit that description so well with their unusual appearance, not to mention the infrequency of spotting one on the trail or track.
IT'S TOUGH TO FOOL THE PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY WHEN THE PEOPLE have access to dynamometers. Yamaha's signature five-valve per-hole Genesis cylinder-head design had served the company's sportbikes well for 20 years, but it was time for a change. The problem was midrange torque—or lack thereof.
The mad scramble to be ready for Daytona isn’t limited to low-bucks privateers. Yamaha’s decision to go AMA Superbike racing in 2007 had to contend with the Mid-Ohio national, added at the end of the ’06 calendar, and two weeks later new YZF-R1 s had to be on the truck for the team’s first Daytona test.
POWER-CRUISERS DO NOT SUFFER FROM SELF-ESTEEM ISSUES. Not only are they brash on the boulevard but they can scat through the esses with relative ease, and stoplight-to-stoplight, these bikes can embarrass more than a few unsuspecting sportbikes.
When it comes to cruisin’, we really like the Freedom 100/6 Vee that powers the Hammer S—and every Victory in the lineup except the Vegas 8 Ball. But when confronted with the high-revving, water-cooled Twin competition, the air/oil-cooled mill wheezes by comparison.
In 1920, motorcycle buff and future aviation hero Charles Lindbergh rode his Excelsior V-Twin from his home in Little Falls, Minnesota, to the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Return with us now—by Ural sidecar rig—to those same country roads.
Never mind the Lindbergh theme; you can probably blame Stalin and Hitler for this trip. After signing a mutual non-aggression pact, they both attacked Poland and, ultimately, each other. Stalin saw this great struggle coming in 1939 and approved the production of a new military motorcycle/sidecar for his Red Army.
It's fast, it's fun, it's different—and new it's extinct
CUSTOM CHROME V BIKE
ONCE UPON A TIME, A MAN DRIVing through the desert jumped out of his car and dove headlong into a giant patch of cactus. As he lay bleeding among the spines, a passerby stopped and asked what had possessed him to do such a crazy thing. “I dunno,” he said.
No, I didn’t forget. Neither did I change my mind. In the “Bike in the Box” feature that appeared in Cycle World what, 300 years ago? (actually, the May, 2006, issue), I asked you to “stay tuned" for a test of the completed V Bike. Well, by now, your “tuner" is probably in need of a rebuild after idling for such a long time.
THERE ARE THOSE AMONG US WHO DO NOT fully appreciate the modern scooter. Which, to be honest, is baffling. Scooters possess an ease of use that lets you go places you dare not tread in a car or an SUV or a truck or even on a full-size motorcycle. Scooters elicit smiles.
MV AGUSTAS RANK HIGH ON the lust list for motoheads. Here at CW HQ, we usually have a punch-up over who gets the keys to the latest testbike from the Italian manufacturer. Finally, a couple of years ago we acquired one as a longterm testbike to avoid worker’s comp insurance claims for broken noses and the like.
YOU MAY NOT HAVE HEARD OF NJK Leathers, but the small California-based company has been making custom racing leathers for more than two decades. Having catered to the speedway crowd for years, NJK recently ventured into the world of roadracing.
REMEMBER JC WHITNEY, THE MAIL-order catalog that during the 1960s offered car enthusiasts such classics as skull-head shifter knobs and fuzzy dice that looked so cool dangling from the rearview mirror? Lithuanian immigrant Israel Warshawsky started the business in 1915, and the Chicago-based company mails more than 30 million catalogs annually, offering products for all types of vehicles, including motorcycles.
MotoGP's brand-new 800s have already eclipsed the just phased-out 990s.Here's why
THE 2006 MOTOGP SEASON HAS ENDED, AMERICAN NICKY Hayden is the new world champion and displacement next year drops from 990 to 800cc. It all happened at Valencia, Spain—the last race, followed by an 800 test. All the new machines, save for the Kawasaki and the Suzuki chassis, were on view, and this included the Ilmor, reportedly revving to 18,100 rpm.
I have a 1984 Honda VT700 Shadow that has been a great bike for many years (rides good, runs good and handles pretty decently for a cruiser). The only rub is that it doesn’t have much top end. Top speed is 75-76 mph, and on even the slightest incline I’ll lose an easy 5 mph or more until the road levels out.
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