GLOBAL HARMONY, SADLY, MAY BE AN impossibility, but that doesn't mean we highly evolved types who hold down the top spots at the world’s leading motorcycle magazines can’t get together for a little intellectual hand-holding. Kumbaya, my brothers.
ACCORDING TO MY ILLUMINATED CLOCK, it was 3:23 a.m. when I suddenly sat bolt upright in bed. A primal alarm bell had gone off in my head (which is nothing but a vast warehouse of primal stuff) telling me that something was wrong. “Wazzamatter?” Barb inquired, without enunciating properly.
MUCH IS MADE OF TIRE TREAD PATTERNS, which in advertising language are most often described as “aggressive.” In the current era, sporting tires have as little pattern as possible in order to emulate the performance of slicks. Their pattern, what there is of it, looks to me rather like Arabic script.
In the “Legends Revisited” article (CW, January), you show the Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 having maximum horsepower of 61 hp at 10,600 rpm! Never knew a Sporty that could cross 10,000 rpm and not do an imitation of a hand grenade. Bruce Muggli Gig Harbor, Washington Boy, Harley sure slipped you a ringer!
“Made in China” has recently taken on new meaning, what with the uproar over everything from tainted meat to toys treated with lead-based paint. In what appears to be a positive move, Motoman Distributing has created a six-bike, Chinese-manufactured line of air-cooled, four-stroke minibikes ranging in displacement from 50cc to 140cc. The Falcon ZRF 138 Pro ($1799) is equipped with a manual clutch and a four-speed transmission, and rolls on 14-inch front and 12-inch rear wheels. Among the features usually reserved for higher-end machinery: an external oil-cooler, an adjustable inverted fork, a remote-reservoir shock, handlebars sized for adults and hydraulic disc brakes front and rear. Motoman Distributing, 8468 Loma Pl., Upland, CA 91786; 909/608-0082; www.falconmoto.com
Fast Company Draggin’ Liners
Your favorite Levi’s may be comfortable, but they don’t offer much protection in the event of a crash-unless you’re wearing Draggin’ Liners ($150) underneath. The snug-fitting, abrasion-resistant, 100-percent kevlar mesh-knit long johns have an elastic waistband, ankle stirrups and come in S-XL sizes. A second layer of kevlar covers the butt and knees. Fast Company, 234 10th Street Place N.W., Hickory, NC 28601; 800/459-2239; www.dragginjeans.com
Triumph Adjustable Rider Backrest
Are you a Rocket III rider? Support for long days in the saddle is available in the form of Triumph’s Adjustable Rider Backrest ($170). Compatible only with the Classic Styled Touring Seat ($360), the backrest is adjustable fore and aft, for height and pad angle, the latter via a patented click wheel. The backrest also folds forward, making mounting and dismounting easier. Triumph Motorcycles Ltd., 385 Walt Sanders Memorial Dr. #100, Newnan, G A 30265; 678/854-2010; www.triumphmotor cycles.com
Table MotoGP Game
Go analog with the Table MotoGP Game ($69). This challenging board game comes with six faithfully replicated racetracks-Assen, Catalunya, Donington Park, Le Mans, Mugello and Twin Ring Motegi-19 game pieces, four decks of game cards, three spectator stands, one pit building, four dice and two race record pads. Fun for all ages with as few as two or as many as 11 players. Aero Design and Mfg. Co., Inc, 8 S. 18th Ave. W, Duluth, MN 55806; 800/222-1994; www.aerostich.com
Bohn Euro-RR back and chest protectors
Bohn’s Euro-RR series back protector ($129) is equally suited for road and track use. A combination of CE-approved hard and ventilated soft protection provides a high degree of shock absorption with a low level of heat buildup, and adjustable shoulder straps impart a secure fit. The protector is available in Small (up to 5-foot-9) and Medium (over 5foot-9) sizes. For additional security, add a matching Euro-RR chest protector ($100) with adjustable torso strap. ActionStations, Inc., 166 Eaton Rd. #A, Chico, CA 95973; 888/922-9269; www.actionstations.com
Vincent History Motorcycle Poster
If you don’t currently have space on one of your walls for a Vincent Motorcycle Poster (27 × 39 inches; $10), then make room. Images of various H.R.D. and Vincent models, the engines that powered them and a brief history of the company are among the many features. Also available: “Happy Birthday,” a centenary celebration of Harley-Davidson. Both posters are printed in full color on glossy 100-pound stock. Add $10 for laminating. Carl Hungness Publishing, P.O. Box 225, Madison, IN 47250; 812/273-2472; www.carlhungness.com
“Live to tell about it.” That’s the pull-no-punches slogan conveyed by the manufacturer of SPOT (Satellite PersOnal Tracker), the world’s first satellite messenger. The $170 SPOT is a handheld, 7⅜-ounce, AA-lithium-battery-powered, waterproof/shockproof receiver/transmitter that provides a vital line of communication with emergency services, friends and family. With SPOT, you can dispatch 911 or other emergency responders to your exact latitude and longitude anywhere around the world; send friends and family a request for help; check in to let contacts know where you are and that you are okay; and allow contacts to track your progress using Google Maps. SPOT utilizes the GPS network to determine your precise location within 20 feet, then employs the company’s own satellite system to transmit that data and your status. A $100 annual fee is required for activation, with several upgrade levels available. For anyone who escapes into the great outdoors-whether aboard a motorcycle, on foot or any other means of travel-SPOT could ensure that they escape from it. SPOT Inc., 461 S. Milpitas Blvd., Milpitas, CA 95035; 408/933-4518; www.findmespot.com
NECKS WERE SNAPPING everywhere. Never before have so many people mouthed, “What the #^(& is that?!” in such rapid succession. Riding the Traverston V-Rex around does the trick, even in jaded Newport Beach, where Ferraris are as common as Chevys and I was once outnumbered on my Ducati by MV Agustas at the local coffee shop.
Husaberg has taken a different approach to improving the handling of its 2009 FE enduro models. By using a 70-degree cylinder angle and moving the crankshaft nearly 4 inches higher and more than 6 inches farther back, rotating mass is now nearer to the bike’s cg.
Illinois-based Roehr Motorcycles has apparently secured the backing to produce its V-Roehr 1250SC Superbike (Roundup, July, 2007). Production versions will feature a 180-horsepower supercharged version of the Harley-Davidson V-Rod engine.
EVEL KNIEVEL WAS A true pioneer. What he started has evolved into one of the most popular motorsports ever. There are thousands of riders today making a living all over the world jumping motorcycles. Even though the sport of extreme riding has come a long way since Evel roared toward a ramp on his Harley, the idea remains the same: Entertainment.
The heritage of Harley-Davidson flat-track success was expressed in the form of a production streetbike called the XR1000, said to be an “honest motorcycle” in every sense. Even so, editors couldn’t decide if it would be as fun to ride “if it didn’t vibrate, cook the left leg and make the rider work to use the turnsignals.” Production of the $6995 machine was limited to 1000 units.
USUALLY, MOTOR OFFIcers are out on their motorcycles patrolling the streets and trying to ensure the safety of citizens everywhere. But once a year, officers from across California gather to compete for "Top Gun" honors in a kind of copbike riding Olympics.
How much is a gas tank worth? About $47,000—at least when it’s been painted and pinstriped by Kenneth “Von Dutch” Howard and attached to a 100cc dirt-bike once owned by Steve McQueen. A 1970 Kawasaki Centurian (fair market value maybe $500) used by the late actor to bop around the Santa Paula airport was hammered down for a staggering $47,500 at the recent Bonhams & Butterfields auction at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
UP: To the BMW logo, for sticking around for 90 years. Make that “roundel,” the familiar circle that has adorned all Beemers since 1917. Contrary to popular myth (and more than a few book authors), the logo is not a representation of a spinning propeller borrowed from BMW’s aircraft-engine division.
HONDA VTX1300 TOURER A cruiser in cross-country clothing
REMEMBER THAT encouraging quip about how, when life hands you a lemon, you can make lemonade? That's what we have here, in the form of a ready-to-tour cruiser from Honda. The lemon, meanwhile, comes in the form of disappointing motorcycle sales through the ’07 model year.
SIZE, POWER AND GRACE CAN OCCUPY THE SAME SPACE. Future NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith donned dance shoes to demonstrate that fact to prime-time television viewers. Today's heavyweight sportbikes are likewise skilled; in fact, when it's time to tango, one couldn't ask for better partners than these two ultra-performance offerings from Kawasaki and Suzuki.
THERE’S NO DENYING THAT CUSTOM MOTORcycles are impressive expressions of their creators’ unbridled imaginations. But once you stop gawking and start riding, the cool factor usually comes to a screeching halt. If their deficiency isn’t a raked-out front end that flops around like a fish out of water, it’s an ultra-wide rear tire that makes leaning an exercise in hand-to-hand combat, or a rear suspension that delivers a bone-pulverizing ride, or too little cornering clearance for reasonable turning ability-or all of the above.
NOT EXACTLY A CONTRAST AS EXTREME AS yin and yang or fire and ice, but among current middleweight sportbikes, you won’t find two more different approaches to the same goal than the Honda CBR600RR and the Yamaha YZF-R6. Let us explain. To some degree, it has always been this way.
Harley-Davidson Road Glide vs. Victory Vision Street
Battle of the max baggers
THIS TEST MIGHT HAVE been over as soon as darkness gathered in the San Gabriel Mountains and the Victory’s digital air-temp gauge registered 33 degrees. Time to turn for home. The Victory rider made sure his bike’s wind deflectors were fully deployed, raised the electro-adjustable windshield to full height, switched the heated handgrips and seat to their toastiest settings and double-checked that his MP3 player was plugged into the sound system, cued to the right tunes.
IT’S NO SECRET THAT HONDA’S CRF450R IS THE benchmark in the motocross class, winning a prestigious Cycle World Ten Best Bikes award the last six years running. Therefore it was the only logical opponent to pit against Suzuki’s all-new and highly touted fuel-injected RM-Z450.
Carburetion strangely resembles politics. The center takes care of itself, but the trouble is on the fringes. Suzuki’s new fuel-injected RM-Z450 is designed to correct carburetion’s rough edges. Carburetors work great at rpm where exhaust-pipe wave action makes suction pulses crisp and strong.
LIKE YOU, I TOO READ CYCLE WORLD magazine, and right there on the cover of our December, 2007, issue, we proclaimed the all-new Kawasaki ZX-10R possessed “Brute Force with Brains... now with Traction Control!” I had no hand in the research or writing of the 10R technical preview featured within, but what I read filled me with interest and anticipation to experience this latest in racing-derived tech to trickle down to the street.
When is traction control not traction control? The answer is, when the legal climate makes it too dangerous to call it by its proper name. Just as anti-lock brakes contribute to the safety of their many users, so the new technology of traction control has a real safety contribution to make in motorcycling.
BACK WHEN I WAS A FULL-TIME TECH Editor at Cycle World during the early Eighties and lurking in the roomy but windowless office now occupied by Editor Edwards, I had a small quote from a British bike magazine taped to my door. It read, “Ducatis are like cigarettes; you may quit for a while, but you always come back to them in the long run.” This little gem of wisdom struck a chord with me because both addictions seemed related in some strange way.
When a picture of the new Ducati 848 popped up on our web coverage of the Milan motor show, my attention became uncharacteristically focused. Racing through my mind was a highlight reel of the dominant performances of Ducati’s 888, the superbly balanced 1990s V-Twin that on racetracks and backroads announced Italy’s arrival as a maker of modern, no-excuses sportbikes.
WHEN IT COMES TO TIRES, WE ALWAYS want what we can’t have: more grip and greater durability. Pirelli’s new Diablo Rosso sportbike tires claim to offer a substantial leap forward in both areas-with only a 10 percent bump in suggested retail pricing over the previous-generation Diablos.
STORIES FLY BEST with a hero for one wing and a villain for the other, the poets tell us, so it’s fair to say this story, the rise and fall of the English racing motorcycle in America, has wings. We begin with a hero, are rescued by the least likely of saviors and the end comes, well, not at the hands of evildoers but surely because the spirit of the sport fell victim to the letter of the rules.
Q I've asked a lot of people this question since I first started riding 11 years ago, but I've never gotten an answer that made sense to me. Why do engines with different cylinder numbers (Single, Twin, Four, etc.) and arrangements (vee, parallel, opposed) sound so different?
There’s quite a lot of distance between a motorcycle’s front and rear axles, especially if you take into account all the components that connect the two, as well as the circuitous route they take along the way. From the front axle, the fork legs head upward more than rearward on a path that leads through the triple-clamps, the angled steering head, the main frame members that eventually sweep down to the swingarm pivot, then the swingarm itself and its long legs that finally terminate at the rear axle.
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