WITH SOMETHING LIKE 500 MODELS TO winnow down, forgive us if in our rush to choose the year’s Ten Best Bikes, a few got lost between the cracks in the categories. What follows is an attempt to address that editorial oversight, sometimes with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
WHILE MOVING MY VINTAGE BRIDGESTONE Sport 50 around the garage yesterday so I could sweep the floor, I unconsciously found myself picking up the entire bike by the handlebars and the back of the seat and scooting it closer to the wall. Interesting sensation, picking up an entire motorcycle, and one I haven’t enjoyed for a while.
WHEN I WAS AT DAYTONA THIS PAST March, I had conversation with Eraldo Ferracci, back on the AMA roadrace circuit with MV Agusta Superbikes. He mentioned that at one time Ducati had at 12,000-12,200 rpm encountered steeply rising friction in its 996 cylinder head.
The June cover of Cycle World did it for me, seeing “Cook Neilson” and “Ducati” in adjacent print. Back some 30 years it was a similar recipe, with the additional ingredients of Phil Shilling and coverage of their roadracing exploits in Cycle.
Keeping your bike looking better than new just got easier with Mothers’ newest line of cleaners, polishes and waxes. FX SynWax ($10) spreads quickly, is easily removed and leaves behind tough polymer protectors. To achieve a brilliant, between-waxes shine, reach for FX Spray Wax ($8). For the detail-oriented among us, the PowerBall Mini ($33) foam polishing tool allows products such as PowerMetal ($10) and PowerPlastic ($9) to better work their magic. Mothers Polish, 5456 Industrial Dr., Huntington Beach, CA 92649; 714/891-3364; www.mothers.com/moto
HelmetPump? SpeedView? Those are just two of the innovative features found on the new EXO-l000 ($300). The former refers to the fit-enhancing air-adjustable cheek pads, while the latter refers to the retractable sun visor. The Snell-approved, fiberglass/Kevlar design also features Scorpion's no-fog faceshield, wind-tunnel-tested aerodynamics and breathable, removable and washable liner. Sizes run from XS-2XL in various colors. Scorpion Sports, Inc., 25921 Atlantic Ocean Blvd., Lake Forest, CA 92630; 888/672-6774; www.scorpionusa.com
Jayco Seneca ZX motorhome
A garage on wheels is the idea behind the five-star accommodations provided by the Seneca ZX. Powered by a 300-horsepower Chevrolet Duramax 6.6-liter diesel engine, this Class C motorhome sleeps up to six adults and stores just about anything you can fit on the 90 x 96-inch, 1600-pound-max, power-lift tailgate. Prices start at $144,214. Jayco, Inc., 903 S. Main St., Middlebury, IN 46540; 574/825-5861; www.jayco.com
Saddlemen Magnetic Tank Bag
Expand your cruiser’s on-bike storage options with a Saddlemen Magnetic Tank Bag ($140). Measuring 11 x 9.5 x 6 inches, the bag is formed from 600-denier SaddleTuff and rigid foam to hold its shape. The top of the bag has a two-sided, waterproof map pocket, plus a space inside for your gear, MP3 player, toll change, etc. A waterproof zipper and polyurethane-coated inner panels eliminate the need for a separate rain cover. Eight base-mounted magnets secure the bag to steel gas tanks; a center channel accommodates tank-top gauges. Saddlemen, 17801 S. Susana Rd., Rancho Dominguez, CA 90221; 310/638-1222; www.saddlemen.com
Pro-One Phantom Passenger Pad
Here’s the dilemma: Your ultra-cool custom cruiser is solo-only, but your better half is begging for a ride. Pro-One’s Phantom Passenger Pad offers a partial solution. Dual-cavity suction cups hold the leather-topped, neoprenebacked pad in place. Choose from smooth ($138), stitched ($158) or two-tone stitched designs ($236). Of course, this doesn ’t solve the footpeg half of the problem... Pro-One Performance Mfg, Inc., 2700 Melbourne Ave., Pomona, CA 91767; 800/884-4173; www.pro-one.com
AGV Sport Xena Jacket
Women want more than protection in a riding jacket; it has to be comfortable, too. Take the AGV Sport Xena ($160), for instance. Devel-oped specifically for the female anatomy, the water-resistant textile outer shell houses removable CE-approved armor at the elbows, shoulders and forearms; a removable dual-density foam pad covers the spine. Offered in XS-XL sizes, the Xena comes in a choice of four colors. AGV Sports Group, Inc., P.O. Box 378, Buckeys-town, MD 21717; 800/777-7006; www.agvsport.com
EVOmx Tank Foam
No ways about it: Fuel sloshing around in your gas tank affects the way your bike handles. EVOmx’s simple, affordable solution is military-spec, reticulated polyurethane foam that you roll up and press into your tank through the filler hole. Thousands of tiny pores soak up the fuel, helping to eliminate sudden back-and-forth movement. In fact, the foam is so porous that it only takes up 2-3 percent of the volume of the tank, thereby allowing essentially the same amount of gas. On a motocross bike, the benefits were best felt over braking bumps, in tight turns and on big landings, where 12-15 pounds of fuel can feel more like twice that. The foam works so well that our testbike felt lighter and more maneuverable. EVOmx foam has a life span of 30 years, and it is available in street and offroad applications for $45-60. EVOmx, 10611 Pullman Ct., Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730; 800/870-4461; www.evomx.com
Klim Mojave Pants
Klim’s next-generation of offroad pants is just that: an evolution of its previous products. The Mojave ($130), for instance, has 62 percent more air-intake mesh than the previous Moab, plus newly added exhaust ports for better on-the-go airflow. The Mojave uses the same fit and patterning as the similarly new Dakar ($140) for greater mobility and less fabric bunching. Another new feature on both designs is the velcro-adjustable leg cuffs, which make it easier to pull on knee braces and boots. Select from red, gray, blue or orange in even waist sizes 28-42; tall inseam available. Pair ’em with the CoolMax Bird’s Eye Mesh Mojave jersey ($40) and vented Mojave gloves ($26). Klim, 3753 E. County Line Rd., Rigby, ID 83442; 208/552-7433; www.klim.com
If your motorcycle hasn’t allowed you to fully realize your tough-guy look, maybe you need a timepiece to finish the job. Hardcore watches have stainless-steel cases, use either Miyota quartz-analog or automatic movements and are water-resistant. Choose from a wealth of shapes and styles that include many popular custom/ chopper symbols and imagery. Prices start at $135. Hardcore Watch Company, 234 W. 24th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007; 213/3423199; www.hardcorewatches.com
SureFire E2D Defender
Part of SureFire’s Executive Series, the E2D Defender ($110) is small enough to fit in a pocket or under your motorcycle’s seat. When switched on, the lithium-battery-powered, xenon-bulbed, 3.2-ounce flashlight unleashes a dazzling, 60-lumen beam for 75 minutes-long enough to swap out a broken clutch cable or fix a flat tire. SureFire, LLC, 18300 Mount Baldy Circle, Fountain Valley, CA 92708; 800/828-8809; www.surefire.com
THE FAT LADY HASN’T yet sung. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that she’s warming up backstage and is just about to perform. We probably should have said fat ladies, since we are metaphorically referring to two separate but related entities: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
No big deal seeing a classic Crocker V-Twin at a bike show. Built between 1936-42, they’re among the most collectible of early American motorcycles, trading for $200,000-plus. It was a shock, though, to see this Crocker C4 concept sportbike rolled out at the recent Legend of the Motorcycle Concours d’Elegance.
It is not enough for Triumph to simply build our favorite hooligan bike. Witness the creation of the Special Edition Speed Triple 1050, equipped from the factory with an Arrow 3-into-1 exhaust system with MotoGP-inspired low-rise silencer, belly pan, seat cowl, five carbon-fiber bits including front fender, rear hugger and flyscreen, plus anodized axle covers.
INTRODUCED AT THE MILAN Show last November, the Shiver 750 is the first of a new family of Aprilias that will soon grow to include sport and touring 4 models, including a Ducati Hypermotard-esque streetfighter. An attractive composite frame gives designers the liberty they need to develop the full range.
Federico Minoli has stepped down from his post as CEO of Ducati. During the past 10 years, he learned a lot about motorcycling, and he did it the hard way-hard for him and hard for the company that through those years experienced many highs and lows.
The "Double Nickel Rockets" cover story was a four-bike middleweight comparison of the Kawasaki GPz550, Suzuki GS550M, Yamaha Seca 550 and Yamaha Vision. Just like today, a clear winner was hard to pick but, overall, the Kawasaki was the top choice, followed by the Suzuki and the two Yamahas.
IF YOU WANT PROOF THAT A manufacturer that ceased production in 1956 left a lasting impression on the world of motorcycles, here it is: a brand-new 1952 Vincent Series C Black Shadow, built by the Vincent Owners Club in England as a bold illustration of the status of its reproduction spare-parts program.
SUZUKI V-STROM 650 ABS Anti-lock brakes for the middleweight all-rounder
TOO MANY BIKES AND not enough garage. Haven't we all had this problem at one time or another? The solution is simple: a do-it-all machine that can tour, commute or get gnarly on Sundays, so we can also make room for our car, quad, riding mower and foldup ping-pong table.
IT'S HUMAN NATURE TO BE CREATURES OF HABIT. WE are no different, so every year here at Cycle World we follow a similar routine as the latest crop of sportbikes arrives. We typically conduct individual middleweight and liter-class sportbike comparison tests with visits to local tracks and road rides throughout the region.
To be a contender in "MasterBike World," a motorcycle need only circulate a racetrack at breakneck speeds en route to a quick lap time. That's great and all, but what it fails to illustrate is how a bike performs anywhere else. Honda's CBR600RR has always been a good streetbike, offering comfort and refinement, but previous generations were hampered by their weight and less-than-aggressive handling dynamics.
For the past four years, Kawasaki has waged a two-pronged assault on the middleweight supersport category with its ZX-6RR providing eligibility for organized Supersport competition while a larger-capacity 636cc version offered streetwise riders the benefits of a 600 on steroids.
After the Suzuki GSX-R600's major redesign in 2006, hopes were high for a class-topping machine from Hamamatsu. But even with increased power, an under-engine exhaust, stacked gearbox shafts and a lighter, more compact frame, the bike still didn't top the field.
Triumph's Daytona 675 enters its sophomore season unchanged and understandably so, having taken top honors in every major magazine comparison test last year, as well as being voted Best Middleweight Streetbike in the Cycle World Ten Best Bikes of 2006.
So, you like torque, do you? You know, the kind that flattens your eyeballs and dislocates your shoulders in any gear, at any rpm? Yeah, that kind. Well, you aren’t going to get any of that here. Not with the R6. This 600-class repli-racer conducts its business with rpm rather than brute torque, and it does it way, way up in the stratospheric end of the rev range between 12,000 and 16,000 rpm.
Together with several other members of the CW editorial staff, I've been knocking around these offices long enough to have witnessed the debut of the 1993 Honda CBR900RR. That seminal sportbike combined the feathery feel of a middleweight racer-replica with the knockout punch of an Open-classer.
When it comes to brute power, the Kawasaki ZX-10R has been bullying the competition for years now. With new contenders rolling off the production line for 2007, we were anxious to see if the big Ninja still packed enouuh punch to fight them off.
At MasterBike each year it seems the hot topic of discussion has often focused on tire grip, or lack thereof. Continental dared to endure the trials and tribulations of the planet's biggest sportbike comparison, bringing a truckload of ContiRace Attack radials to keep fresh skins under 13 test bikes, backup machines and 18 finicky riders throughout the week.
A true monarch of the upper middle class, the Suzuki GSX-R750 has stood alone since 2003, when Kawasaki produced its last ZX-7. Back in 1999, Cycle World's award for Best Superbike was won by the GSX-R750, but in subsequent years taking the gold was all about brute force and big numbers, with literbikes and larger taking top honors.
Modern sportbikes can make you mental. Is it the g-forces? The near Star Trek-like ability to transport you to the next corner instantly? It is these things and the incredible light-footed ease with which these motorcycles do whatever you ask them to.
The new-for-2007 Yamaha YZF-R1 brings MotoGP-derived engine technology to the street. The fly-by-wire throttle-control system that debuted on last year's YZF-R6 has been applied to the R1. And exclusive to the liter-class machine is the Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake system that broadens power by altering the length of the intake tract.
Seems the Aprilia didn't fare well in this year's MasterBike competition. So what? That was a racetrack comparison. The street is a different story altogether, and out there, in a world without lap timers and pit boards, the RSV1000R holds its own better than the numbers might indicate.
If you like Ducatis, then the 1098 is a dream come true. If you've never considered one of the Bologna bullets, it may just be time to reevaluate your stance. A sharp reduction in MSRP combined with a vertical leap in performance have allowed Ducati's new superbike to play with the big boys from Japan.
In a lot of respects, you are buying more than a motorcycle when you buy an MV Agusta. There is the history, the beauty and, of course, the exclusivity. But it does remain a motorcycle. In the case of the F4 1000 R 312, a very good one on the track. But how does this Superbike homologation special (racing in AMA this year as preparation for World Superbike in 2008) work on the street?
In concept, the idea sounded simple: send Canet packing to Spain for track impressions at MasterBike on the Jerez Circuit, then gather an identical set of bikes stateside for street evaluation and the normal battery of dyno, dragstrip and top-speed testing by the CW staff.
Oriol Fernández, age 34 Motociclismo, Spain Years attended MasterBike: 6 Racing experience: Four-time Spanish Supersport Champion, competes in Spanish Superbike, World Endurance and World Supersport Favorite MasterBike, each category; Triumph Daytona 675, Yamaha YZF-R1, MV Agusta F4 Óscar Pena, age 34 Motociclismo, Spain Years attended MasterBike: 3 Racing experience: Won Spanish R6 Cup, raced Euro Suzuki Cup, multiple club championships Favorite MasterBikes: Yamaha YZF-R6, Kawasaki ZX-10R, Ducati 1098S Alex Gobert, age 23 Australian Motorcycle News Years attended MasterBike.
GOOD JOB, BIKE-MAKERS OF THE WORLD! HOW'S THIS FOR PARITY? OF the Ten Best spots open to 500 or so individual motorcycle models available for sale in the U.S. this year, seven manufacturers from six different countries are represented. And the ones that didn't make the cut were oh.
Was the 675 a flash in the pan? Did this category-busting three-cylinder middleweight lose its luster after just one showroom season? Absolutely not. It's just that it's not easy to stay on top. After all, you're the target. In many respects, the 675 was Triumph's breakthrough model, the machine that put Hinckley product on par with the Japanese in what is arguably motorcycling's most important category.
I AM SICK OF BROCHURE BABBLE, and the hype for BMW's G650 Xchallenge put me over the top. "A competitive off-road dirtbike...extreme enduro fans will be in heaven...the most modern hard enduro..." Jeez, enough is enough! Once I hit the dirt outside of Tucson, Arizona, at the Xchallenge press launch in March, I realized that BMW’s copywriters apparently misinterpreted who an extreme enduro rider is and how a real dirtbike performs.
If you think BMW is just dabbling in the off-road market, think again; the boys from Bavaria are dead-serious about becoming a force to be reckoned with in the world of competitive dirtbiking. Actually, in one way or another, BMW has been playing in the dirt for the better part of 80 years.
Built in Japan, designed for Europe, available in Canada, Kawasaki's Versys 650 gets its U.S. passport stamped for 2008
COULD IT BE THAT THE LIMEYS HAD IT RIGHT ALL ALONG, that the perfect engine type for a proper motorbike, my ol' son, is a 650cc parallel-Twin? I've just put 500 miles on a machine that makes that very argument, never mind that it looks nothing like a classic Triumph Bonneville or BSA Spitfire.
JUST WHEN WE THOUGHT DUALsporting was dead, especially here in California, where only a few models were still "plateable" without jumping through serious DMV hoops, a glimmer of hope has appeared. It's about time, too. Over the past decade, most manufacturers had given the segment little attention.
IGOR AKRAPOVIC, ONE OF THE most respected manufacturers of racing exhaust systems, has been crafting high-performance pipes since 1990. His original goal was to give consumers the same level of quality that at the time was only available to factory racing teams.
DON'T PURCHASE THE OLYMPIA PHANtom for short stints in the saddle, quick trips to the gym or commutes to the office that require a swift change of clothes. Buy it instead for long hauls, multi-day continental crossings, rides in which you may encounter nature's full bag of tricks, pleasant or otherwise.
Red Bull's X-Fighters freestyle motocross competition draws thousands of fans around the globe. We discover why.
THE WORLD'S MOST PHYSICALLY PUNISHING SPORT'? No, it's not boxing, football, rugby or wrestling. Rather, it's a game played on two wheels, motivated by two-stroke engines and called freestyle motocross-or simply, FMX. Pinnacle of the genre is the Red Bull X-Fighters, a fourround global trek with high-profile stops in Mexico, Ireland, Russia and Spain.
Q I'm confused about slipper clutches. How are they different from standard clutches and why are they needed? The articles I have read said they help prevent wheel hop while downshifting quickly. I must be missing something, but if the clutch is disengaged, which means the engine is disconnected from the driveline, why would there be "wheel hop"?
When a control cable on a motorcycle fails, it most often does so as the result of abuse rather than of use. But how does one "abuse" a simple thing like a cable? By not lubricating it. Over time, moisture and grit find their way down into a cable, and that contamination creates excessive friction between the inner wire and outer sheath.
NHTSA Recall No. 07V173000 Harley-Davidson-all Softail models Model year: 2007 Number of units involved: 52,240 Problem: These motorcycles were built with a condition that permits the positive battery cable to contact a bead weld on the oil tank.
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