I WRITE THIS LETTER NOT AS EDITOR-IN-Chief of the world’s largest-circulation monthly motorcycle magazine. Rather, please take it as a note from a concerned long-time Honda owner. First, a decades-overdue thank you for introducing me to what is well on the way to a lifetime of streetbike riding.
I’VE BEEN CALLED A LOT OF THINGS IN my life, but avant-garde isn’t one of them. Other people usually get there first. For instance, all my friends were Neil Young and Allman Brothers fans for about two years before I suddenly realized these guys were musical geniuses and ran out and bought all their albums.
LATELY I’VE BEEN LOOKING AT THE HIStory of 500cc Grand Prix racing from the early days. In a 1946 London meeting, the group of national motorcycle clubs that would presently become the FIM decided to initiate a new world championship.
In Kevin Cameron’s September, 2000, TDC column, “Screwed and Shrunk,” Erik Buell stated “I’m never going to do a water-cooled engine. There’s no need for it if the engineering’s right.” Now we have the new 1125R (“Heart Transplant,” CW, October).
SanDisk Extreme Ducati Edition Flash Drive and Memory Cards
MOMO Design Helmets
Genuine Innovations Tire Repair & CO2 Inflation Kit
Turn A Bike ST
California Knives Original Auto Carbon Fiber
Muc-Off Hydra-Tech Leather Wipes
Marchald Foam Filters
Brass Balls Bobbers
Build your own bobber without ever getting your hands dirty. Brass Balls Bobbers, a division of Darwin Motorcycles, offers hand-made rigid customs for "the average Joe." Once you've logged on to the company's website, select one of three engine options—80-cubic-inch Harley-Davidson Evolution ($16,995), Indian Power Plus 100 ($19,500) or 93-cubic-inch S&S Shovel Generator ($21,500)—then add any options you might want. Price is updated automatically. Next step? Place your order!
USB Flash Drive
Speed, style and innovation are the concepts behind SanDisk's new Extreme Ducati Edition line. Equipped with a functioning red "taillight," the glossy-red USB Flash Drive ($125) has a 4GB capacity and 20MB-per-second read/write speeds. Memory cards come in two forms: CompactFlash (4GB, $165; 8GB, $315) and SD Plus (4GB, $130). The latter features a snap-open connector that allows the user to plug the card directly into the USB port of a personal computer.
MOMO Design Helmets
Put the high fashion of Italy's MOMO Design on your head. These DOT-approved helmets are manufactured by hand and weigh just over 2 pounds each. The polycarbonate shells have soft-touch rubberized finishes, while the "stay-cool" interiors feature hypoallergenic DuPont Terinda. Choose from the jet-pilot-inspired Fighter ($395) or the stainless-steel-trimmed Essenziale ($395).
Tire Repair & CO2 Inflation Kit
Have you ever found yourself on a lonely, lightly traveled road with a flat tire? There’s no need to worry if you have a Genuine Innovations Street Tire Repair & CO2 Inflation Kit ($55). Here’s what you get in the kit: a reusable Monster Air Chuck inflator, two 45-gram CO2 cartridges, assorted tools, patches with glue and a storage pouch.
Turn A Bike’s ST
Need a safe way to spin your streetbike around? Turn A Bike’s ST ($175) will get the job done quickly and easily. Sixteen inches in diameter and weighing 6 pounds, the stainless-steel/plastic garage turntable is intended for use with bikes that weigh less than 1000 pounds and are equipped with centerstands.
Auto Carbon Fiber
A new look for an old favorite aptly describes the hand-assembled Original California Knives Auto Carbon Fiber ($149). About the length of your index finger when closed, the stainless-steel-bladed knife features a central trigger for single-hand opening and closing. Have your name laser-etched onto the blade for an extra $7.50.
Muc-Off Hydra-Tech Leather Wipes
Don’t let dirty leathers dull your colorful glow. Keep your pricey protective gear clean with Muc-Off Hydra-Tech Leather Wipes ($5). Intended for all natural and synthetic leather goods, except suede and nubuck, the wipes’ unique blend of oils, emollients and gentle cleansers nourishes and protects as it cleans.
Marchald Foam Filters
From Italy comes the first advancement in foam air-filter elements in decades. Marchald filters are made of top-quality polyester that resists deterioration from gasoline, with two-layer construction using dense foam on the inside and a more open-cell foam on the outside. The entire outer surface is ribbed to increase available filtration area while maintaining the filter’s original overall size, and the inner mounting ring has a deep channel that prevents the element from slipping off its frame and allowing unfiltered air into the engine. The elements list for between $33 and $40 and are available to fit most Japanese, KTM and TM motocross and enduro models.
ERIK BUELL HAS QUITE A fondness for Greek mythology. That affection is evident in the names he has given to most of the models the company he founded has produced: Lightning, Firebolt, Thunderbolt, Ulysses. Although his latest effort is simply called the 1125R, Buell has kept the theme alive by naming the bike’s Rotax-manufactured engine the Helicon—after Mount Helicon, a place the ancient Greeks believed was favored by the gods.
Big-bore dual-sport has never looked so aggressive thanks to KTM's new single-cylinder thriller, the 690 Hard Enduro. Think of it as a mix of the 690 Supermoto streetbike and the 950 Super Enduro, with major torque in an off-road-ready, street-legal package.
Everybody knows a windscreen and saddlebags are top mods for most cruisers, which is why Honda VTX1300 fans will be happy to know they can buy such a machine so equipped right from the factory. New for 2008, the VTX1300T also features a 2-into-2 exhaust system with bullet mufflers, restyled fenders and a chrome passenger backrest.
YAMAHA HAS ONCE AGAIN upped the stakes in the sportbike technology war, this time with the 2008 YZF-R6. The wailing middle-weight was already a techno-leader with its fly-by-wire throttle system introduced two years ago, and it now takes another step forward with the same Yamaha Chip Controlled Intake variable-length velocity-stack system introduced on the R1 last year.
Given the massive torque developed by its 2294cc Triple, the Rocket III is a natural candidate for touring duty, and Triumph took the leap for 2008. In addition to its cop-bike windscreen and hard saddlebags, the Rocket III Touring features a new "slim-line" fuel tank, twin exhaust pipes and a single, large-diameter headlight.
A prototype Honda V45 Interceptor graced the cover of this issue, with editors granted an exclusive early ride of the innovative new sportbike. The 750cc V-Four machine was designed with the intent to race, as the AMA had reduced maximum Superbike displacement from 1000cc for the 1983 season.
THE MOTO GUZZI GRISO 8V is the most promising new entry by the Mandello del Lario factory in years. From the beginning, the Griso model line has been blessed with possibly the best chassis ever developed for a street-legal Guzzi. It offers a solid structure, up-to-date geometry and has excellent balance.
Cheap fun just got a shot in the arm in the form of a majorly redone 2008 Ninja 250R. The dohc parallel-Twin has massaged intake and exhaust ports, a hotter set of cams and a new exhaust system (with dual catalyzers) to boost low- to middle-rpm power, while the bodywork is a major departure for the usually bland, often-dated offerings in the entry-level market.
UP: To KTM, for producing its racing-inspired sports car called the X-Bow. The 240-horsepower, Audi-powered machine was run up the car-show flagpole earlier this year as a concept (Roundup, May), and reaction was so overwhelmingly positive that the Austrian company went ahead with production.
AS HARLEY-DAVIDSON looks forward to its 105th anniversary in 2008, the Fat Bob rat-rod is the Motor Company’s glance back over its shoulder, presenting enthusiasts with a modern interpretation of mid-’50s gnarly. And if you think “rat” is used here as an insult, you don’t understand.
More power, higher performance, a new chassis and...traction control!
SUBTLETY HAS NEVER BEEN THE KAWASAKI ZX-10R's GAME. In fact, the term brutally fast" was redefined by past versions of this motorcycle. And while the 2008 model does take the big electronic leap to traction control to help tame the savage beast, every other aspect of the bike has also been redesigned with controllability in mind.
That would be Used Japanese Motorcycles, and who needs a spanking-new ZX-10R when cheap ZX-9s abound, ready to be turned into budget street-fighters?
I NEVER ASPIRED TO GROW UP TO BE the guy with the bondoed Maverick and plaid leisure suit who can be relied on to say, "Yessir, she gets me where I'm goin, and she's paid for!" Alas, here I am. All I can tell you is all those years as a motojournalist taught me this: It's not the motorcycle that makes riding motorcycles fun.
How sick is this? You could buy two of Burnsie’s $1600 beater ZX-9s, then drop another $800 on incidentals (dude, get yourself a new pipe), and that would just about cover the bill for nuts and bolts on this super-special 2007 ZX-10R. Yep, some $4000 worth of Poggipolini Ti fasteners holds it together!
A fresh look and new thinking punch up Big Red’s Open-classer
AN ALL-NEW LITER BIKE IS ALWAYS BIG NEWS, AND THIS ONE is Honda's 2008 onward step. Its style is new, it's lighter and more powerful, and the people presenting it clearly expect it to be the new class leader. In common with Honda’s MotoGP bikes, the CBR1000RR’s performance theme is to be quicker and faster through being easier to ride, not harsher and more demanding.
BACK IN 1999, I TRAVELED TO BARCELONA, SPAIN, for the world press launch of Suzuki's then-new GSX1300R Hayabusa. Following a day and a half of peg-grinding antics around the Circuit de Catalunya, we blitzed a three-lane Spanish freeway for the fastest lunch run of my life, nearly topping out the big ’Busa several times en route to a seaside restaurant.
We don’t live in a vacuum. What we see on the pages of magazines and Internet websites is viewed and interpreted simultaneously by others around the globe. So when rumors of a bigger, better Suzuki Hayabusa emerged, you can bet the Kawasaki engineers who designed the CW Ten Best-winning ZX-14 were paying attention, too.
AS THE LINES BETWEEN MOTORCYCLE GENRES CONtinue to blur and different categories emerge, one happy fact stands out: There are lots of exciting new motorcycles to choose from these days. Take Ducati’s brand-new Hypermotard, for instance.
RON WOOD IS NOT YOUR AVERage senior citizen. Rather than honing his shuffleboard skills or solving sudokus or standing in line for Early Bird suppers, he built this motorcycle, which might just take BMW to places it’s never been before. If all goes according to script, the 70-year-old plans to enter his latest flat-tracker, powered by BMW’s new F800 inline-Twin, in the 2008 AMA Grand National Championship.
If a BMW can go flat-tracking, what's wrong with roadracing MX Thumpers?
SO, YOU WANT TO SCRATCH THAT ITCHY knee-puck, huh, but you're not too crazy about converting your GSX-R1000 or YZF-R6 into a racebike and losing it as a streetbike? We've got solution. One of these lightweight, purpose-built, single cylinder racebike's can be constructed from any current 450cc four-stroke motocrosser.
NOWADAYS, DROPPING TEN GRAND ON A DIRTBIKE isn't so unusual. Average retail for a 450 enduro is sneaking up on $7500, and by the time you add an aftermarket exhaust, a bit of suspension work, some cool billet parts and a set of custom graphics, you’re flirting with that five-digit number.
CAN YOU BLAME US? THERE WAS no way to resist adding a Ducati 1098 to the long-term fleet. Look at it, listen to it, ride it, and if you have a literbike-loving bone in your leathers, you would get your hands on one, too. This fly-yellow standard model has remained stock in the short time we’ve had it.
POUND FOR POUND, NOTHING—REPEAT, nothing—you can bolt on a streetbike will improve its handling better than lightweight wheels. In simple terms, reducing unsprung mass and therefore rotating inertia lessens steering effort.
TWO CENTURIES AGO, LT. ZEBULON PIKE, ASSIGNED BY PRESIdent Thomas Jefferson to explore the Rockies, sighted the mountain that now bears his name. He was impressed and intimidated to the extent that in his official report, Pike said the peak “would never be conquered by man.”
Q Could you please explain the word “overrun”? I read many reports on new-model motorcycles in which the writers use that word in different ways, and I really don’t know what they are talking about. John Eannetta Hayward, California A Overrun describes what occurs when you close the throttle any time the vehicle is in gear and moving, which causes the rear wheel to drive the engine instead of the engine driving the rear wheel.
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