SUDDENLY, I WAS FEELING EMBARRASSingly under-informed. Even though two of my motorcycles are emblazoned with the man’s name, I realized I knew next to diddly about James Lansdowne Norton, the self-taught engineer who sold his first motorbike in 1902, a year before Harley and the Davidsons hung out their shingle.
As THE MOUNTAINS OF COLORADO Disappeared in the rearview mirror of my Ford van, I noted with keen scientific interest (at about a third-grade level) that my image of the Rockies was remarkably undistorted, considering how many layers of glass and plastic were interposed between us.
ONE SPRING DAY A FEW YEARS BACK, I was spying my way along Daytona’s pit lane when I saw one of the Yoshimura Superbikes with its usual single oxygen sensor in the exhaust collector pipe. This sensor compares the percentage of oxygen in the exhaust gas with that in the atmosphere, allowing the ECU to constantly correct the mixture.
“Tribute Triumph” in the November issue was a great piece, not to mention the extended story online at www. cycleworld.com. Editor Edwards’ twowheel tribute to his late brother was a loving, moving expression of what it means to lose someone close to you.
Keep your cool in the new Klim F4 helmet ($376). Snelland DOT-approved, the Gore Windstopper-lined composite shell boasts a whopping 41 vents and a removable, moisture-wicking interior to keep perspiration under control even in the hottest conditions. Klim claims the three ram-air induction scoops not only grab air as it flows over the helmet, they improve the structural rigidity of the helmet, as well. Choose from eight color schemes in sizes XS-XXXL.
T450 Trolley Bag
Ride to the airport, fly to your destination and check into a hotel room in style using Givi’s new T450 Trolley Bag ($225). This beautifully made, soft-shell design expands to a full 58 liters and locks to the company’s Monokey or Monolock mounting plates. Additional user-friendly features include a telescoping handle, heavy-duty wheels, padded laptop storage, reflective piping and rain cover.
Roadrunner Drink Holder
Can’t leave home without a cup of coffee? Leader’s RoadRunner Drink Flolder ($85) provides safe, secure transport of your favorite hot or cold beverage. An insulated, nospill, stainless-steel, 16-ounce cup is held in place by a patented machined-aluminum mounting bracket and holding ring. Fits many American and Japanese motorcycles.
Simplify oil filter changes on your Harley-Davidson or similar big Twin with Motion Tek’s Oil Bib ($15). The precision-molded, petroleum-resistant plastic bib slides under the filter and attaches to the filter mounting bracket. Oil that drips out when the filter is removed runs down the bib and into your oil catch pan instead of onto your engine cases.
Are you prepared for an onor off-road emergency? Start by upgrading your xenonor LED-bulbed Pila flashlight with a screw-on Codex module ($82). A Codex-equipped GL2 or GL3 can be programmed to blink, fade, strobe or dim output, and visually transmit Morse code or the SOS signal. No additional batteries are required.
Mini Motorcycle Cleaning Kit
Forget the bucket and suds, Simply Wow’s all-organic Mini Motorcycle Cleaning Kit ($10) contains all your on-the-road bike-scrubbing needs. Contents of the kit include: one 1.25ounce bottle of Cleaner/Degreaser, two 1.25ounce bottles of Tuff Buff waterless wash/wax and a 10 x 10-inch microfiber cloth. Both spray-on products are biodegradable, non-abrasive and non-flammable.
Invented in Austria in 1979, the Sav-A-Life Deer Alert emits a high-frequency ultrasonic signal said to be 80 percent effective on deer, bear, elk and skunks. Two inches in length, the selfadhesive-backed, bulletshaped whistle fits most motorcycle fairings and works at speeds above 30 mph. Choose from black ($26) or chrome ($29).
Levi’s may look cool, but they don’t keep your legs warm when the sun dips below the horizon and temperatures begin to tumble. That’s what makes Kushitani’s Explorer Jeans ($180; waist sizes 30-38) so appealing. At a glance, they look like traditional, darkwash denim pants. What you don’t see is a layer of weatherbeating Gore Windstopper. Other ride-friendly features include a high waist and extra-long boot-cut legs. For protection against a fall, add snug-fitting T-Pro inner pants ($ 160) with Armourflex at the hips, tailbone, thighs and knees.
Klim USA, 3753 E. County Line Rd., Rigby, ID 83442; 208/552-7433; www.klim.com Givi USA, Inc., 9309 Forsyth Park Dr., Charlotte, NC 28273; 877/679-4484; www.giviusa.com Leader Motorcycle Accessories, 959 236th Ave.
PROBLEM: ROOKIES working toward a career in flat-track earn points toward a Pro license racing 450cc Singles, but when they get their Expert rating, they move up. Way up, to 750 or 1000cc Twins, with twice the power and only a bit more weight.
Unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in late October as a special prototype model, the Yamaha Tesseract looks like something straight out of the movie Transformers. But it’s not just the four-wheeler’s appearance that makes it unique. It’s propelled by a hybrid powertrain that combines a liquid-cooled V-Twin engine and an electric motor.
It looks like a UFO but Suzuki calls it the Biplane. Unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show, the bronze-colored machine is powered by a lengthwisemounted V-Four and meant to give you the feeling of flying in an opencockpit aircraft. It is worth noting that the bike was conceived and drawn in Suzuki’s recently reestablished U.S.
RACE-REPLICAS FOR the masses have been a Suzuki specialty since the 1985 GSX-R750 was introduced, and 2008 celebrates this heritage yet again with a pair of all-new sporting machines. As has been the case in recent years, the new GSX-R600 and 750 are virtually identical in most specifications except displacement.
After testing the waters in the Boxer-Cup racing series, as well as a foray into the 07 World Endurance Championship with a heavily modified R1200S (Roundup, November, 2007), BMW announced at last year’s Paris show the next logical step in its HP2 lineup: the Sport.
Studio shots of four exciting 1983 streetbikes—one each from Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha—led the way on this month’s cover. To the left of those images is a listing of 22 brand-new or heavily revised models from the Big Four that offered something for everyone, from small-bore dirtbikes to middleweight cruisers to Open-class sportbikes.
ARE WE ALL SLAVES TO fashion? In my “tribe,” we continue to wear clothes even when hot weather makes this a silly thing to do. In other tribes, it is a point of honor to have no front brake on your motorcycle. But some states require front brakes in annual inspections.
If Yamaha’s “more than meets the eye” Tesseract leaning four-wheeler (see page 27) has left you with a techno hangover, consider another of the Tuning Fork Folks’ Tokyo concepts, this one far more likely to make production. Dubbed the XS-V1 Sakura, the retro-style machine celebrates Yamaha’s first four-stroke streetbike, the 1970 XS-1 650cc parallel-Twin.
UP: To Steve McQueen, for continuing to be the King of Cool, no matter that he puffed his last Marlboro 28 years ago. Hot on the heels of his 1963 Ferrari GT 250 Berlinetta selling for a record $2.3 million at auction comes a new book, McQueen’s Machines by auto writer Matt Stone.
CHROME IS THE ENEMY. It costs a lot and if it is done the cheap way, it is bad for the environment, which is why it costs a lot. But we love it on our cruisers, so most of the time we get it, and we pay for it. Victory offers an alternative. A few years ago, the Minnesota makers began offering the Vegas in basic black, deleting most of the chrome and other shiny metallic finishes and giving customers a break on price.
A little factory in Bologna outsmarts the Big Four on the track and beats them to the road with a MotoGP replica
THESE ARE GREAT DAYS FOR DUCATI, the small Italian manufacturer that produces about 40,000 machines a year. It has won the MotoGP World Championship with Casey Stoner and the GP07 800cc desmo V-Four—in that engine’s first season on the track.
Racing improves the breed. Here’s Ducati’s three-dimensional, 200-hp proof
RACE-REPLICA: THE MOST OVERUSED PHRASE IN SPORTBIKE history. And don’t think I haven’t fallen for the mystique they promise. Yamaha Daytona Special, Suzuki 1000S and RG500, Honda RC30 and NS400R, Yamaha OW01... just a few of the race-replicas that have accumulated in my garage, each promising through name or description to deliver racetrack performance on the street.
ALL MOTORCYCLES ARE CREATED EQUAL; SOME just wind up with better stories to tell. Dave Hartleip’s pair of Ducati bevel-drive Singles, for instance, which look as if they might have rolled out of the Bologna factory 40 years ago but are, in fact, total custom builds from the tire nubs up.
INSPIRATION WORKS IN mysterious ways. A friend’s sand rail sent Rodney Aguiar spinning. It was powered by a Mazda 13B rotary fitted with short straight pipes. “The sound was something that you felt as much as you heard—it blew right through my inner ear,” he explains.
OBSESSION COMES IN many forms. Feast your eyes on a little project that was Dave Miller’s own private fixation for 300-odd hours, the world’s wildest, wackiest Whizzer. Not familiar with the brand? Then you’re probably too young. Back in the late 1940s and ’50s, almost every neighborhood in America was awakened by a paperboy making his rounds on a balloon-tired Schwinn assisted by a Whizzer motor.
RACEBIKES USUally die one of two deaths. Cartwheeled into oblivion or ground up steadily into nothing. In either case they are dust in the wind or so much obsolete trash dispersed as parts and forgotten. This 1979 Suzuki 125cc roadrace bike dodged both outcomes.
IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE that the modern fourstroke dirtbike has driven the two-stroke to near extinction. There was a time 30 years ago when Thumpers weren’t taken seriously and definitely not considered race worthy. Unless your name was Bill Bell, who out of his Long Beach, California, dealership built revolutionary off-road racers based on Honda’s XL350 four-stroke trailbikes.
CALL THIS A PERIOD perfect Triumph Bonneville bobber— never mind that the period we’re talking about occurred 30 years before the bike’s owner was even born! Dustin Boyko grew up around his dad’s musclecars and motorbikes. At age 14—all of three years ago—he decided he wanted to build a Triumph 650 bob-job.
LIKE ANY GOOD PROJECT, this rally-spec BMW GS exists as a result of inspiration and information. The inspiration part was easy for owner/builder Cory Munsterman. He’s a huge fan of Gaston Rahier, the late Belgian motocrosser-turned-rally-great who won Paris-Dakar for BMW in the mid-’80s.
THEY MAY NOT LOOK LIKE IT, but these are three very special motorcycles. What makes them special isn’t mind-fogging performance, space-age technology or avant-garde styling; these bikes are extraordinary by virtue of their heritage.
IN THE LONG, LOW, RAKED-OUT WORLD OF CRUISERS, YAMaha’s spinoff Star division is navigating its way quite nicely, thank you. And it seems to be doing so in a rational, time-proven fashion: by following the trail of breadcrumbs left behind by Harley-Davidson.
We all wanted to be Steve McQueen. Steve McQueen wanted to be Bud Ekins.
BUD EKINS HAS FINALLY MADE THE GREAT ESCAPE. Inexorably tied to the barbwire-fence jump in the 1963 film that helped launch good friend Steve McQueen into stardom, Ekins’ accomplishments went far beyond stuntman and mentor to McQueen. Four times an ISDT gold medalist, Ekins created the first American team to contest the ISDT; the 1964 running held in East Germany.
IT’S ONLY FITTING THAT THE GREATEST MOTOCROSSER OF all time ended his career on the high of all highs, with a victory at the Red Bull Motocross of Nations at Maryland’s Budds Creek MX Park, in front of a huge crowd of more than 50,000 spectators from around the world.
Ricky Carmichael could win on any color lot motorcycle. In fact, he proved he could win on three. Though he was farmed up by Team Green Kawasaki and set records on a Ride Red Honda, he will mostly be remembered for his dominating career finish on a blazing-yellow Suzuki RM-Z450, a bike tailor-made just for him.
Q I feel real stupid asking this, but your answer may help others. I was lucky enough to find a 1988 Kawasaki Vulcan SE 1500 with only 5500 miles on it, and in an a effort to make it look real pretty, I used tire dressing that contains silicone.
Ever had a gearshift lever fall off or get so loose that it wiggled around on the shaft? Or was it a kickstart lever on a dirtbike that went missing during a trail ride? Levers sometimes even come loose not long after you’ve tightened the pinch bolt that holds them in place.
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