MIDWAY THROUGH THE BIG SOCAL NORton club ride, my 1954 BSA hot-rod sat beside the road, not going anywhere. I'd been taking it easy, as this was the bike's first real outing following an engine rebuild—turns out 18 years of breathing unfiltered smog had taken its toll on the classic 500cc one-lunger.
WHEN MY WIFE BARBARA AND I MOVED from California back to Wisconsin 16 years ago, we came up with a list of reasons to explain the move to those who were baffled. For instance: "You can cool your beer just by setting it outside the door in the winter," or, "I need at least five months of arctic hibernation so I can finish restoring my Norton." All in good fun, in a bleak sort of way, but two of our reasons for moving were actually quite serious: We wanted to be close to a couple of restaurants in Madison—Paisans, our favorite pizza place, and Smoky's Steakhouse, winner of many awards as one of the best steak houses in the U.S.
IF YOU THINK A MOMENT, YOU CAN SEE that exhaust valves lead hard lives. Spark ignites the fuel-air charge, temperature in the combustion chamber jumps up about 2600 degrees C and pressure with it to a peak of perhaps 1200 psi. Heat flows rapidly into all combustion-chamber surfaces, including the valves.
Again, I find myself in love with a beautiful Italian ("Ducati 1098," January) and must find a way to bring her into my life. Oh, sweet 1098, come home soon and hang with your older brother 996. Ducati, I can't thank you enough. Dave Longden Charlottesville, Virginia I welcome the new look of the latest Ducati over the industrial 999; it's rather Ferrari-esque.
Separate yourself from the rest of the pack crowding the starting gate by gearing up in Shift's new-for-2007 Faction line. Faderesistant, polyester diamondweave jerseys (S-XL sizes; $50), articulated X-Stretch pants (even waist sizes 28-38; $150) and breathable Clarino-palm gloves (S-XXL sizes; $33) are available in Black, Blue Camo, 24K, Red Camo or Agent Orange.
Forget your bike, pimp your garage! SnapLock's rugged, modular RaceDeck flooring system is available in a dizzying array of colors and surface styles, including Diamond, CircleTrac, Free-Flow, Fast Deck, TuffShield, RaceDeck Pro and RaceDeck XL. The high-impact co-polymer squares snap together quickly and easily, and are impervious to chemicals and petroleum products. Persquare-foot pricing starts at $3.49.
If you have trouble topping off your bike's gas tank at the filling station without dribbling fuel all over the paint, you need a McCuff ($20). The patented molded-rubber sleeve slips over the business end of any pump nozzle (including those fitted with vapor-recovery boots) for a leak-free filler connection. A small waterproof polyester carrying case is included.
Advanced Performance Accessories Containment Systems
Catch coolant, fuel or oil with an APA Containment System. Approved for competition use in AMA Pro Racing-sanctioned events, the lightweight, crush-proof, 150cc plastic tanks come with aluminum mounting brackets and feature the company's E-Z drain system. Vent tubing is available in seven colors. Prices start at $50.
Arai Vector and VX-Pro3
A helmet for all occasions? Make it two. Arai has introduced two new noggin protectors for 2007: the street-going Vector and the off-road-ready VX-Pro3. Replacement for the Astral-X, the Vector ($408-$521) takes the less-is-more approach, doing without some of the bells and whistles found on the company's top-of-the-line designs to permit lower pricing. The VX-Pro3 ($474-$588) gets a repositioned chinbar, an Emergency-Release Cheek Pad system and top-of-lid diffuser ventilation. Both helmets are DOT/Snell-approved and come with Arai's 5-year limited warranty.
OnGuard Mastiff 5019
Lock it and leave it—your motorcycle, that is. OnGuard's Mastiff 5019 ($90) combines an X4 Power Quattro Bolt-equipped U-Lock with a 44-inch hardened-steel chain sheathed in a water-resistant cover. The four-bolt locking mechanism offers unparalleled "pull resistance" and protection from brute-force theft attempts. A laser-cut Micro-Light key features a small, built-in light with a highly focused beam to make locating the keyhole easy in the dark.
Marsee Tank Bags
$165 to $55
As far as Rex Marsee is concerned, it's in the bag. Marsee has released his all-new line of tank bags, and there's a size and style to fit just about any bike. The bags are hard-molded from fabric-covered, water-resistant EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) in 15-, 10-, 6- and 1.5-liter sizes, with a choice of magnetic or strap-mount attachment. Marsee also has provisions for mounting the 1.5-liter magnetic bag on plastic gas tanks, using separate magnets glued to the underside of the plastic! The two larger bags feature a unique injection-molded flip-up clear cover atop an accessory tray built into the lid for superb map visibility and quick-access storage of small items. Two egress ports allow routing of wiring for electronic equipment, and all bags have a bright silver lining that makes it easier to find smaller items in low-light conditions. The zip-off base on the three larger bags includes a clear vinyl pocket for separate map and document storage, and those three are available with Corona twist-off gas-cap mounts. The line even includes a 4-liter bag with a molded-in tunnel to bridge the gas-tank console on many Harley-Davidson models. Prices range from $165 to $55. Coronamount models run about $115-$130 more.
Otterbox Rugged Laptop Carrying Case
Turning your motorcycle into a mobile office is easy with an Otterbox Laptop Carrying Case ($170). Simply drop—er, place—any PC with a screen up to 15 inches wide into the 16.3 × 14.5-inch case, lock the lid and your precious files are protected from dirt, moisture and shock.
Respro Hi-Viz Hump
If your backpack blocks the reflective piping on your riding jacket, you're a candidate for a Respro Hi-Viz Hump. Designed to fit over packs ranging in size from 25-40 liters, the strap-down Hump is available in five styles: Plain ($38), Duo Tone ($43), Waterproof ($57), P15 Black Phosphor ($99) or P15 Flo Yellow Phosphor ($99). The latter two are equipped with battery powered light strips that, depending on your personal preference. either flash intermittently or emit a constant—and equally eye-catching—glow.
WHERE ARE YOU going to compete, and how are you going to win?" This clear definition of strategy came from Mark Blackwell, VP of Victory Motorcycles. It has been during his leadership that the Minnesota company has become a successful motorcycle manufacturer.
Fans of Harley-Davidson's Sportster just got their calendar filled this summer: The AMA announced that the Sportster, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, will be the featured marque at Vintage Motorcycle Days, held at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, July 27-29.
I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR rational super-charging to hit mass-production, and the builders of personal watercraft have done it first. Yes, yes, the Big Four built factory turbo bikes in the 1980s, but the tricky torque curve that comes with exhaust-driven turbo systems is no gift to street motorcycling.
This street-going three-wheeler was spied on a backroad somewhere in the southern U.S. last December. Sources say this for-production trike is a product of ATV/snowmobile giant Bombardier, and the vehicle is likely to be marketed under the Can-Am nameplate both here and in Europe.
"Kawasaki's Incredible GPz750" wowed editors so much it got the whole cover. Performance was awesome, from handling to braking to acceleration. In fact, its 11.93-second run in the quarter-mile was a record, making the GPz the quickest 750 ever tested by the magazine.
TIRES ACHIEVE A LARGE, traction-generating footprint by virtue of being a most flexible structure. This arises from the elasticity of rubber and the flexibility and tensile strength of a variety of structural fibers. The tire's fiber carcass is maintained in tension by inflating with air pressure, so that we can know the footprint's area to a first approximation by dividing inflation pressure into the load carried.
Guess we should have seen it coming. After all, what better way would there be to catch Paul Sr., Paulie and Mikey larking about, not to mention all those Tivo'd episodes of "Biker Build-Off," than in a one-off (okay, one of 30) chair that looks like it might have been penned by the king of customs himself, Arlen Ness, and hand-pinstriped by none other than the late, great Von Dutch?
DOWN: To rapper Kanye West, for ripping off our man Evel Knievel. In a recent video, West calls himself Evel "Kanyevel" and wears a getup just like the legendary jumper used throughout his career. So the real Knievel sued. From the suit, about the "suit": "Evel Knievel's famous jumpsuit...is inherently distinctive, enjoys secondary meaning, is recognized both in the United States and worldwide as being associated with Evel Knievel." Monetary damages sought were unspecified.
KAWASAKI COULD have taken the easy way out with the third and latest member of its Vulcan 900 family, the new Vulcan 900 Custom, introduced in Texas' fabled Hill Country. The company already had its Vulcan 900 Classic (and a touring-oriented LT version), the result of extensive focus-group and market research.
DON'T THINK OF THE 2007 CBR600RR as an all-new bike; after all, it has been training for this occasion for 20 years. The bike you see here has been lurking in the shadows of Honda's R&D department for a while, getting stronger, faster and more nimble.
By December, most of you have given in to the fact that riding days are numbered, unless of course you are lucky enough to live in the sunny Southwest or Florida. Sure, there are those amazing winter days when busting out your not-yet-mothballed steed allows one last blast before putting it into hibernation.
I WAS GOING ON 48 HOURS WITHOUT MUCH SLEEP when I slipped into my riding gear, yet felt surprisingly rejuvenated and ready to ride. Having remained awake throughout a full day of air travel from Los Angeles to Johannesburg, South Africa, I landed smack dab in a double clutch of jet lag fueled by the anticipation of riding one of the most visually seductive Italian sportbikes I've ever laid eyes on.
When I think of Ducati's long history of sexy, smart motorcycles, I'm reminded of Isadora Duncan (she was a hot babe during the early 1900s) reportedly saying to George Bernard Shaw (a brilliant writer and ugly sot of the same period), "You and I should have a child because with my looks and your brains, think of how grand it would be." Ducatis possess exactly that perfect mix of bodacious and brilliant genes.
This isn't a rally, it's a race—and it's coming to the U.S. of A. Lord help us...
DAY ONE WÜRZBURG - ST. MORITZ
DAY TWO ST. MORITZ - VENICE
DAY THREE VENICE - ZAGREB
DAY FOUR ZAGREB - SALZBURG - MUNICH
CANNONBALL RUN BY THE NUMBERS
EVEN BEFORE WE BOARD the ferry for France, we have our first brush with the Law. "Wee know you are in zee Cannonball," intones the severe-looking gendarme before us. "So I weel say zis: You speed and your bikes are mine." His accent is ridiculously thick and the effect on a gaggle of fully grown men is predictable.
Crashed, thrashed and thoroughly used after the Cannonball, my ZZR1400 (ZX-14 in Yank-speak) felt less like a super-tourer, more like a heavy superbike. And just like a 525-pound extension of my own body, it's faced a very difficult year with both style and aplomb.
IF YOU'VE NEVER RIDDEN A ZX-14, you might think Kawasaki's go-fast Four is all about speed. Guess again. While the 170-horsepower ZX is capable of reaching a scorching top speed of 186 mph, it is also one of the most broadly focused and refined sportbikes on the road today.
THE CHOPPER IS AS GOOD AS DEAD. America has finally overdosed on obnoxious, over-the-top, sometimes hideous custom cruisers. Fads come and go but after decades of near anonymity, hiding in the hip underground counterculture, television has virtually killed off the chopper's "cool factor." When every doctor, dentist and lawyer on the block bought their midlife-crisis custom, the writing was on the wall.
Two of Japan's best vs. an Austrian with an electric personality
WHY ARE WE ONLY TESTING THREE BIKES?" ASKED ONE OF our test riders. "That's all I could fit in my truck," was my immediate response. Okay, just joking. But the truth is that after all the major revisions the four Japanese 450cc MX bikes had received last year, the 2007 models weren't much different.
Six symptoms of riding over your head—and what to do about them
1. TARGET FIXATION
2. The Death Grip
3. Mid-Corner Braking
4. Chopping the Throttle
5. Mid-Corner Corrections
Putting it All Together
YOU'RE TIPPING YOUR BIKE INTO A CORNER WHEN you notice your fingers tightening around the grips and beads of sweat forming on your brow. To San Francisco Bay Area chiropractor Harry "Doc" Wong, these are messages that demand to be heeded. Ignore them, and the next message might carry all the subtlety of an earthquake.
Real-World Lessons from the Backroads of Northern California
Like Doc Wong, Gary Jaehne knows and rides "Alice's," the generic name given to the seemingly endless series of winding roads around the iconic eatery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. "Some of the best venues for enjoying the freedoms of motorcycle riding can be found on narrow, less-traveled, nocenterline backroads.
WE OFTEN RIDE WHERE IT'S HOT. LIKE Africa hot. And over the years, we've learned that riding bikes in extremely hot weather can be more than just uncomfortable. Nasty heat-related illnesses with symptoms that include confusion and muscle weakness can make it downright dangerous.
IF YOU'VE EVER DONE MUCH LONG-distance riding, you know that your right wrist often tires before the rest of your body—especially on those dead-straight stretches of interstates and open highways. What's sorely needed is some simple way to rack up miles while giving your throttle hand a welcome rest.
MUCH LIKE THEIR RACY LEATHER brethren, one-piece fabric riding suits are always a compromise. In their quest to create a product that can be everything to everyone, designers inevitably make concessions to comfort, protection or weatherproofing.
HE'S NOT A ROCK STAR. NEITHER IS HE THE leader of a motorcycle gang, a builder of high-end custom Harleys or a fictional character in an adventure novel. But when you hear a name like Sonny Angel, those are the kinds of images that immediately come to mind.
Q When I picked up my Suzuki 1200 Bandit after a recent service visit, the dealer literally yelled at me for allowing my tires to become underinflated and lectured me about what could happen as a result. Okay, my bad for not checking the pressures as often as I should.
This past September, I rode two 2007 Husqvarnas-a TE450 and a TE510-in the Cycle World Trek, a three-day annual industry dual-sport event held in the Sierra Nevada. The TEs, if you don't already know, are full-on, competition-quality enduro bikes that Husqvarna has managed to make 50-state street-legal.
NHTSA Recall No. 06V465000 Triumph Sprint ST, Sprint ST ABS Model years: 2006-07 Number of units involved: 1913 Problem: On certain motorcycles, the through-bolt on the rear-suspension linkage may bend, and if the bolt is not replaced or the bike is overloaded, the bolt may fracture, causing the rear tire to make contact with the underside of the rear fender.
"Oh," said Ted, whose dyslexia was never more evident, "rubber side down..." 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.