IT WASN’T AS IF I HADN’T BEEN WARNED. “Go easy in right-hand turns,” I was instructed. “If you ride hard, the lower exhaust pipe will hit. You need to use a bit of body English and a lot of caution.” Employing neither, the first time I pitched the bike into a tight right-hander had me wobbling toward oncoming traffic in a shower of sparks and nervous sweat-never, I’ve found, an appealing combination.
IT WAS AN IMPRESSIVE SIGHT. FIFTY BIKES or more rumbling down the avenue from the funeral home to the cemetery. Lots of Harleys, but also a few sportbikes, the odd Guzzi and a few BMWs. I was on my KTM 950. The only one in the group, I think. It usually is.
FOR SOME REASON, WE HUMANS FIND the constant repetitive motions of nature soothing. People like the rush and return of waves at the seashore, the chuckling of a brook and the gliding of the clouds. I recently sat looking at trees stirred into motion by wind.
It was with absolute joy (and a lump in my throat) that I read Peter Jones’ “Love Machine” essay in the September issue of Cycle World. I hate to get all sentimental but his prose struck a chord deep within me that those not in the bike-riding community will never, ever enjoy.
Two Brothers Racing M-2 Dual V.A.L.E Slip-On Mufflers
Why change the mufflers on your brand-new Suzuki B-King? Four reasons: reduced weight, increased performance, a custom look and enhanced sound. Depending on your choice of aluminum, carbon-fiber or titanium, TBR’s latest-generation slip-ons weigh as much as 19 pounds less than the stock setup and feature the patented Variable Axis Locking Exhaust inlet design for a leak-free fit without springs or welds. Prices start at $800. Two Brothers Racing, 401 S. Grand Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92705; 800/211-2767; www.twobros.com
Two Brothers Racing
Make reading your speedometer or tachometer in bright sunlight easier with the Gauge Shade ($15). Made of UVand chemical-resistant plastic, the Gauge Shade snaps onto 2.25or 3.5-inch-diameter gauge bezels-no additional hardware, drilling or gauge removal required. Choose from 20or 30-degree shade angles in black, white or chrome. Gauge Shade, 419 Bolduc Rd., Middlesex, VT 05602; 802/229-6848; www.gaugeshade.com
Two Brothers Racing
Kiss your clunky old camcorder goodbye. Twenty20’s VholdR ($350) takes the headache out of recording, editing and sharing on-bike video. The compact, cable-free “shoot-and-store” design uses sophisticated compression software to allow instant playback and sharing of television-quality MPEG-4 files. A multi-adjustable helmet mount is provided. Goggle and handlebar mounts are optional. Twenty20 Corp., 22314 70th Ave. W., Mountlake Terrace, WA 98043; 866/397-6920; www.vholdr.com
Two Brothers Racing
Renthal TwinRing Chainwheel
Lightweight aluminum drive sprockets don’t offer the durability of heavy-duty steel. That’s why Renthal created the TwinRing Chain-wheel ($130) that mates a 7075 T-6 aluminum center section with a high-strength, nickel-coated steel outer ring. The Chainwheel is available for popular late-model dirtbikes with #520 drive chains. Sizes range from 47 to 53 teeth. Renthal Ltd., 27636 Avenue Scott #A, Valencia, CA 91355; 877/736-8425; www.renthal.com
Two Brothers Racing
Ogio Tanker Tankbag
The Tanker ($120) is the newest addition to Ogio’s extensive line of onand off-bike luggage. The large main compartment and multiple exterior pockets-which include specific cell-phone, sunglasses and fleece-lined audio storage-provide tons of cargo space. Magnetic flaps and adjustable straps keep the bag secure until you reach your destination and employ the fold-away carrying strap. Ogio International, 14926 Pony Express Rd., Bluffdale, UT 84065; 800/922-1944; www.ogio.com
Two Brothers Racing
Kimber Guardian Angel
Looking for extra security while on the road? Kimber’s palm-size Guardian Angel ($42) is a non-lethal, self-defense tool that shoots highly inflammatory oleoresin capsicum, better known as pepper spray, up to 13 feet. It’s simple, effective protection against anyone who might want to harm you-or your motorcycle. Kimber Mfg., Inc., 1 Lawton St., Yonkers, NY 10705; 800/880-2418; www.life-act.com
Two Brothers Racing
V-Strom Tall Windshield
Apparently happy with building the practically perfect allrounder in the V-Strom 650, Suzuki gave the windshield guys the day off. Our last testbike was afflicted with so much annoying turbulence that we ripped the screen off altogether just to get some blessed relief. Suzuki’s Accessory Department has a more aesthetically pleasing solution in its replacement tall windshield ($80). It is a full 3 inches taller, 2½ inches wider and differently shaped than the stock piece. This larger windscreen really does the aero trick. All is not 100-percent ideal: By design, the Suzuki’s fairing is so far away from the rider that some “spillover" is inevitable, but now our ’Strom is inching that much closer to perfection. Also available for the V-Strom 1000. American Suzuki Motor Corp., 3251 E. Imperial Hwy., Brea, CA 92821; 800/828-7433; www.suzukicycles.com
Two Brothers Racing
Park Tool I-Beam Folding Tools
Small enough to fit in a jacket or pants pocket, the IB-1 ($13) and IB-2 ($15) folding tools are perfect for making quick adjustments or minor repairs on the side of the road or trail. Weighing just 4 ounces, each is equipped with a selection of hex wrenches and a straight-blade screwdriver; the IB-2 also has a T25 Torx wrench. Park Tool USA, 6 Long Lake Rd., St. Paul, MN 55115; 651/777-6868; www.parktool.com
Two Brothers Racing
Orikaso Fold-Flat Tableware
Thinking of taking your motorcycle on a backcountry tour? You won’t want to leave home without Orikaso’s Fold-Flat Dinner Set ($29). The set includes two bowls, two multi-use dishes and two cups, all made from lightweight, durable polypropylene. The entire package folds flat and is less than half an inch thick when not in use. Axis Outdoor, P.O. Box 1572, Everett, WA 98206; 800/335-0260; www.axisoutdoor.com
Two Brothers Racing
Pro Honda HP4S Synthetic Oil
If you ride a 2006 or newer Honda motorcycle or scooter, here’s your engine oil. The company’s first full synthetic, 10w-30 HP4S ($10) is said to reduce friction, quicken low-temperature flow and offer improved oxidation resistance for better high-heat running. Bonus: HP4S can be used in both the engines and the transmissions of Unicam CRFs. American Honda Motor Co., Inc., 1919 Torrance Blvd., Torrance, CA 90501; 866/784-1870; www.powersports. honda.com
Two Brothers Racing
The Easy Wheeler ($300) lets you clean your rims, tighten your spokes or lube your chain without lifting either wheel of your motorcycle off the ground. Centered on the contoured solid-aluminum rollers, the wheel is easily rotated using the supplied hex-drive extension and a half-inch ratchet or hand drill. Midwest Innovative Products Inc., P.O. Box 126, Waterloo, IL 62298; 618/281-3604; www.easywheeler.com
MEET THE UNDERDOG, or BMW Motorrad’s idea of an endurance racer. This R1200S-based machine competes against the cream of the world’s endurance teams and riders. Choosing an air-cooled Boxer-powered motorcycle to race in Europe’s premier 24-hour events is like Tiger Woods methodically breaking both his index fingers in the run up to the U.S.
Harley has its stretched and slammed Rocker (see test, page 40), and Star has its likewise chop-inspired Raider for 2008. The bike is definitely a step toward the radical: Fork rake is 39.2 degrees! The alloy frame’s high-altitude headstock, though, sports a 33degree angle to help preserve handling, the latter point also being the reason that the rear tire is a 210/40-18: It’s wide, but not too wide to harm steering too much.
The Stamford Museum & Nature Center in Connecticut will feature an exhibition called “The Motorcycle, Italian Style: Riding the Curves with MV Agusta.” Beginning September 8 and running through January 6, the exhibition traces the MV Agusta brand from its World War II inception to today.
AT A TIME WHEN THE OFF-road market is focused on fuel-injection, we assumed Honda would be one of the first to embrace the New Age. Well, it’s not going to happen for 2008, because Big Red put its technical efforts elsewhere, making significant, if not completely traditional, changes to the classleading CRF450R. biggest upgrade is the Honda Progressive Steering Damper (HPSD).
Chart-topping bikes-at least pieces of them—decorated the Ten Best Bikes issue, while the table of contents stated about the special feature, “Even when they’re all good, some are better.” Best Superbike was Suzuki’s GS1000S Katana, looking like a spaceship in its silver Hans Muth-styled bodywork.
EVERYBODY EXPECTED an improved financial outlook at Ducati after the highly successful rollouts of the 1098 and Hypermotard. But nobody expected things to get so good so fast. The first half of 2007 was, in a word, incredible, especially if you look back at the financial the company had been in over the past five years.
Piaggio R&D has for some time been developing and testing hybrid scooters but has recently taken some serious steps forward, honing the power unit and related electronic management and finally installing the system in the MP3 three-wheeler.
DOWN: To the Italian feds, for sticking it to the country’s favorite motorcycle superhero. Seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi is being hounded by the country’s IRS equivalent for back taxes, to the tune of at least $60 million and perhaps as much as $150 million including fines and interest, according to one report.
IF THERE IS ONE THING that KTM won’t be accused of, it’s leaving gaps in its model lineup. The Austrian firm wants to ensure that buyers looking for a competition-ready machine will find one that fits their exact needs. It doesn’t matter if it’s motocross, GNCC, WORCS or the Baja 1000, KTM has a dirtbike that fits the bill, twoor four-stroke.
CHOPPED, SLAMMED, STRETCHED AND RAKED, THE 2008 Harley-Davidson Softail FXCW Rocker C is maximum hardtail with none of the hard. No smoke, no mirrors, just sly and sound engineering. Though the floating rear fender gives the Rocker its name, the 240mm-wide rear tire is the meat of the show.
WHODDA THUNK IT? A PRE-CHOPPED chopper with a secret seat. Wrong on paper, but it’s just so right in “iron.” With its massive trail numbers and Scenicruiser-class wheelbase, the Rocker rolls rock-stable at any speed, without compromising handling.
IT WOULD BE A REAL SHAME IF THE BRAND-NEW 2008 Triumph Street Triple isn’t a smashing success. This bike is really, really good. It will likely post huge sales numbers in Europe, where consumers’ egos don’t as frequently get in the way of their purchasing decisions.
Great motorcycles, even a bike voted as Best Standard by Cycle World just a year ago, can quickly become yesterday’s news as attention shifts to the latest models. Looking to keep its award-winning streetfighter at the forefront, Triumph now offers a Special Edition Speed Triple 1050.
There is a certain flexibility to the Italian attitude toward life that makes things run smoothly despite an appearance of chaos and total disregard for rules and regulations. This was plainly evident at the Italian arm of Rider’s Association of Triumph, or RAT, which held its annual Triumph Day at Autodromo Riccardo Paletti Varano, near Parma, just up the road from Modena, home of Ferrari, and Bologna, Ducati HQ. But as the official paperwork said, “Only Triumph motorcycles will be allowed through the paddocks.” About 1000 people showed up with all manner of Hinckley Triumphs (only saw one Meriden bike the whole weekend).
Like many of your finer ideas, this one involved good friends and more than a few brews. Six months after my brother Kevin’s passing in 2004, I was invited to present a trophy in his memory at the North Texas Norton Owners Association’s annual Lake 0’ the Pines Rallye, one of Kevin’s favorite events.
Sportbike Heaven: Hard-charging on Germany’s über road course
CERTAIN THINGS STICK WITH YOU FOR LIFE, LIKE Grandma’s delicious berry cobbler or the sweet smell of Castrol R premix. Of my earliest motorsports memories, one that has been etched in my mind for nearly four decades, is the photo of a Formula One race car negotiating one of the most recognizable bends in all of racing, the famed Caricciola-Karussell.
In my job, the ability to learn a track quickly is an asset when attending a sportbike launch held at an unfamiliar circuit. Over the years, I’ve had a number of opportunities to utilize racing video games as a means of getting a leg up on the learning curve, with very positive results.
WHAT YOU SEE HERE IS MORE THAN JUST A MOTORCYCLE; it’s a dramatic evolutionary milestone for Aprilia. The all-new Shiver 750 is a radical change of pace designed to boost the Italian firm out of its present role as a niche producer and help it become a full-line manufacturer.
AT A TIME WHEN THE SHELF life for new-from-the-axles-up racer-replicas is just two years and motocrossers get annual re-thinks, Kawasaki hadn’t given the KLR650 a full-blown makeover in more than two decades. And for good reason. Make that reasons.
Kawasaki KLRs, like Volkswagen Beetles, are the preferred vehicles of the great unwashed. Pragmatic transportation known to withstand prolonged and callous thrashing. Tens of thousands of these cheap and basic machines have been produced since being introduced as the KLR600 in 1984.
OKAY, I GET IT, BUT... MAYBE I’M just too jaded to fully appreciate the KLR650. Maybe the Cycle World shed is just too chock full of 170-horsepower plastic-skinned missiles. Maybe I’m spoiled by the impressive dual-sport capabilities of my long-term KTM 450 EXC. I can understand the KLR’s appeal, but it’s just not for me.
THERE ARE LOTS OF REASONS TO RIDE, but the most important one is simple: Motorcycles are fun! No one makes you hop on your trusty bike and head for the hills; you do it because you want to. This is why motorcycling isn’t just a hobby; it’s a lifestyle that defines who you are as a person.
Brand-new from Big Blue is the 2008 TT-R110E, which replaces the TT-R90E. This feature-packed playbike is sure to be a part of family fun for years to come. A powerful 110cc, air-cooled, sohc four-stroke engine offers the convenience of electric starting and a class-exclusive four-speed transmission with an automatic clutch.
When it comes to movers and shakers, Suzuki is making big waves in 2008. The smallest of its new additions is the $1499 DR-Z70. This playbike is a supersized version of a 50cc machine. A 22-inch seat height and 10-inch wheels front and rear make it perfect for young, first-time riders.
THERE IS A BROAD SELECTION OF MOTORCYcles available for kids these days, and every one of them puts to shame the bikes that most of us learned on. Numerous companies make off-roaders for the kids’ market, from two-stroke racers to four-stroke “play” models.
THE VERY NOTION OF LEARNING TO ride can be intimidating. Who do you turn to for expert advice? Old Uncle Joe? A next-door neighbor? Or do you just wing it and hope for the best? We’re here to help! Not only have we compiled some expert tips from one of the most respected teachers in the industry, Gary LaPlante* of MotoVentures, but we’ve taken the liberty of making a few suggestions based on the Cycle World staff’s collective years of riding experience.
OKAY, SO YOU WANT TO BE THE next Valentino Rossi or Nicky Hayden. Where do you start? This is a question that has raised much debate over the years. Recently, young riders moving up the ladder to motorcycle racing’s pinnacle, MotoGP, have come from that series’ own support classes, 125 and 250cc Grand Prix.
In 2007, Honda shocked the industry with the introduction of the CRF150R, a no-bull, four-stroke mini-motocross racebike. In 2008, Big Red has gone a step farther, deleting two-strokes from its line entirely. This leaves but one choice for red-blooded mini racers: the 149cc, four-valve, Unicam, four-stroke CRF150R (available in smalland big-wheel versions). Fans of the two-stroke tiddlers may grumble, but this bike is the beginning of a new generation. Kids making the jump from smaller machines will benefit from the four-stroke’s wide spread of power and torque. The chassis is up to the task of tackling the toughest MX terrain with ample travel front and rear (10.8 inches each). We’re sure Mom or Dad won’t miss mixing two-stroke gas, either. The CRF150R retails for $4199.
You may have noticed a growing number of professional motocross racers and recreational riders wearing the Leatt-Brace, the latest advancement in safety gear. The goal of the device is to bring head movement to a controlled stop in the event of a severe impact. The padded rigid structure, designed by medical professionals, directs energy from an impact to the brace and other body structures, not the neck. Although no device can eliminate all injuries, the Leatt-Brace reduces the possibility of hyperflexion, which is extreme forward head motion; hyperextension, which is extreme rearward head movement; lateral hyperflexion, the extreme sideways movement of the head; axial loading, the compression of the spinal column; and posterior hypertranslation, which is the rearward movement of the head/helmet on the neck. The Club version retails for $395 and uses nylon construction. The Sport ($595) is constructed of nylon and carbon-fiber. The top-of-the-line Pro ($995) is constructed using all carbon-fiber framing. For more information, log on to www.leatt-brace.com.
The Stinger is a youth-specific, off-road boot based on the company’s top-of-the-line Crossfire adult boot. Features include non-slip sole, replaceable strap system, topgrain leather construction, composite insole, reinforced internal heel cup, reinforced internal toe and an exclusive cam-lock buckle system. The Stinger is available in black only, European sizes 31-42 (youth 13-men’s 8½) for $250. For more information, go to www.motonation.com.
Alpinestars Tech 6S
Here’s a boot specifically designed for junior riders. Its features include contoured shin-plate protector, reinforced toebox, suede on the inside calf (to grip bike), injected external heel protector, high-density contoured padding, coated-leather upper and exclusive rubber-outsole design. The Tech 6S is available in three colors: black, black/red or white/silver. Sizes range from youth 2 to 8, and suggested retail is $200. For more information, go to www.alpinestars.com.
Muc-Off Race Kit
A great way to teach young riders responsibility is to require them to clean up their machines after riding. Muc-Off’s (www.niksindustries.com) Race Kit ($33) is a perfect way to get them scrubbing. A netted bag holds the Muc-Off products, which include the bike cleaner, a 35mm brush for hard-to-reach grime, a large micro-cell sponge and an after-wash spray that protects and preserves.
Acerbis Elsinore Graphics Kit
If the Honda Elsinore was your favorite bike back in the day, spice up your kid’s Honda CRF50F in the same guise. Acerbis (www.acerbis.com) offers the Elsinore Replica Kit ($200) for 2004 and newer CRF50s. The limited-edition kit includes complete silver body plastic pieces, seat cover and graphics.
WHEN IT COMES TO KIDS AND DIRTBIKES, KTM REALLY gets it. The company has no fewer than nine Sport-minicycles in its lineup, with the newest additions coming in the form of three cross-country-specific models: 65 XC, 85 XC and 105 XC. KTM has enjoyed massive exposure through its Junior Super-cross Challenge (see “Mini Shooting Stars” sidebar) in which participants compete on the company’s 50 SX, a full-on 49cc racing two-stroke.
It may just be an exhibition, but these kids are happy to bask in the stadium limelight
What do professional motocrossers Mike and Jeff Alessi, Ryan Dungey and Zach Osborne have in common? For starters, all four participated in KTM’s Junior Supercross program as kids; now they are sponsored professional riders competing in the AMA’s premier series on factory teams.
IT’S A REAL CONUNDRUM-AND NO, WE’RE not referring to an item used for safe sex. We’re talking about the challenge of finding tires sticky enough to allow go-for-it corner-carving yet durable enough not to become bald as cue balls in the middle long before wearing out on the sides.
Casey Stoner, Ducati and Bridgestone get it right at Laguna Seca
THIS YEAR’S UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX AT MAZDA Raceway Laguna Seca was a race of turning points. Casey Stoner, age 21, continued his magisterial domination on a Ducati, winning his sixth event of this season. The face he presented to the world was cheerfully confident-a great contrast to the nailbiting anxiety we saw a year ago.
QI don’t consider myself a genius or a moron when it comes to cycle lingo, but I just don’t understand what is meant by the term “rearsets.” I thought that was where passengers put their feet. Why would you want them to be adjustable? Don’t you like them where you put them?
What? Seventy horsepower from a 450cc motocrosser? Sign me up! That 40-percent power increase was the claim made by Falicon (727/797-2468; www.faliconcranks. com), the Florida company specializing in stroker crankshafts and big-bore kits.
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