BARNEY LI, WHO FOR 15 YEARS DREAMED of reviving the Vincent brand, has died. He was touring with friends in Arizona, ahead of the group—as usual—when he ran off the tarmac and clipped a steel pole. Given Li’s riding expertise, the clear weather and straight road, those with him surmise a health problem caused the accident; he had a history of heart trouble.
I HATE TO COMPLAIN, BUT THIS PAST WINter was the worst in the history of the world. It snowed about every other day here in Wisconsin, breaking all records, with brutally cold temperatures between the storms. The whole winter was like one long Everest expedition, but without the pleasant view.
SOME PEOPLE ARE EXPECTING A BOOM in motorcycling in response to recent high fuel prices. I fear they may be disappointed. Motorcycle models and their prices have adapted to changes in our national demographics. There are fewer young people 18-25 in good industrial jobs now, so motorcycles are marketed to older people with money and a taste for features.
I was considering purchasing the new Kawasaki Ninja 250R (“Small Fortune,” CW, June) as a fun-to-ride economical third motorcycle, so hearing that the 2008 model was significantly improved sounded great. What sounded not so great is that the fuel economy dropped 20 mpg as compared to the previous model.
Cruiser customizing house Cobra has released 20—count ’em, 20—new accessories for the popular Star Raider. Three styles of exhaust pipes, an Fi2000 Digital Fuel Processor, one-piece freeway bars, engine case guards, brake caliper covers, machined-from-billet floorboards, saddlebag supports, backrests, luggage racks in formed or tube steel, license-plate frames, the list goes on and on and on...
Alpinestars' ultra-high-performance roadracing boot, the Supertech R ($400), takes lower extremity protection to an all-new level. Similar in style to the previous Supertech, the streamlined R features a more aero-dynamic profile to improve ventilation and better dissipate energy in case of a fall. Revisions to the separate internal ankle bracing allow full and freer movement while better absorbing flex and rotational stresses. Offered in a variety of colors, including GP Tracks Camo (shown), the Supertech R comes in U.S. sizes 3½-12½.
If you race motocross, you probably go through a lot of tires. Bridgestone’s new M403 front ($35 to $94) and M404 rear ($37 to $118) are replacements for the intermediate-terrain M401 and M402, and benefit from updated construction, compounds and tread design for enhanced durability, a wider range of soil compatibility and improved cornering performance. Applications cover all current 50 to 450cc dirtbikes.
If you want to buy a Techmount stem-style accessory mounting system for your late-model Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki or Yamaha streetbike but are concerned that it will be obsolete as soon as you upgrade to the latest model, breathe easy: Complete kits ($65 to $95) now come with two O-ring-equipped posts-one for earlier bikes and a larger-diameter example for the latest version. Choose from red, blue, black, gold, silver, titanium or chrome finishes.
Front Swivel Race Stand
Building on the success of its Rear Swivel Race Stand, Redline Engineering has introduced its new Front Swivel Race Stand ($129). Designed to provide 360-degree mobility during service or storage, the stand is constructed of 11-gauge steel and weighs roughly 16 pounds. To use, position the locating pins in holes in the bottom of the fork legs—no adaptors required— and press the handle toward the floor. Locking ball-bearing-equipped casters provide stability. The stand is compatible with most late-model Japanese sportbikes.
Are you tired of tangled tie-downs cluttering the floor of your trailer or toy hauler? Then you might want to invest in Hangerz ($22). Store up to 10 tie-downs on the powdercoated, cast-aluminum rings, which mount on 5¼-inch-wide, polished-aluminum, diamond-plate supports. Stainless-steel mounting hardware supplied.
Original bike Spirits
You may not recognize the Amrep name but chances are you have used the privately labeled cleaners, lubes and polishes it has produced in the past for Harley-Davidson and Honda, among others. Now Amrep has its own product line called Original Bike Spirits. Offerings include: Spray Cleaner & Polish, Brake Cleaner, Carb Cleaner, Chain Lube, Chain Lube with White Graphite, and Contact/Brake Cleaner. Prices start at $4.
TechNiche Battery Powered
Warmth without wires is the idea behind TechNiche International’s Battery Powered Electric Heating Vest ($150; sizes S-XXXL). Weather-resistant on the outside and soft to the touch on the inside, the five-way-temperature-adjustable zippered design draws its energy from a rechargeable Li-Ion Smart battery stowed out of sight in an interior pocket.
Leatt Moto-GPX Neck Brace
There was no horse or mule or oxen power until someone worked out that the harness should go where the structure is strongest: the beast’s shoulders and rib cage. So it follows that the idea for the Leatt Moto-GPX neck brace ($395, Club; $595, Sport) is to prevent or reduce bending and compression of the head and neck, which aren’t designed to be bent or compressed, by shifting the load to the sternum, upper rib cage and shoulders, which are stronger. The device itself is carefully detailed, with space-age material plus insulation and padding. You open the latch on one side, clamp it with a lever, put on your helmet and gloves and so forth. The box and the brochure make it perfectly clear that neither this nor any other piece of equipment can prevent injury or worse. What we have, then, is either a matter of choice or an insurance policy. The decision is yours.
IT WAS NO-HOLDS-BARRED tuner-bike madness at Germany’s Oschersleben circuit this past May, as the German Motorcycle Tuner Association put on its first-ever Best of Bike Tuning 2008. Think of it as the ultimate tuner showdown, with 20 journalists invited to sample some of the most exotic and fast two-wheel equipment on the planet.
On the heels of record-setting Ride for Kids fundraising efforts by motorcyclists in Southern California and North Carolina this past May, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation is giving an additional $6 million grant to its research institute at Duke University, bringing total funding for the program to $12 million.
ARE YOU A BACKYARD mini-moto racer getting heat for making too much noise in the 'burbs? Or maybe you'd just like to take a trail ride without burning $4-per-gallon premium? Check out the American-made Zero X (www.zeromotorcycles.com) electric dirtbike.
John Surtees, the only man to have won world championships on both two and four wheels, is returning to the racetrack. The 74-year-old Brit announced this past May in Shanghai that he will lead China's first-ever Grand Prix effort. Backed by Haojue Motorcycles, a leading Chinese bike-maker, the Maxtra GP 125 will use a Harris-built chassis and be powered by a Jan Witteveen-designed two-stroke engine featuring a downward-pointing cylinder.
Yamaha's "Racy, Red 900 Seca" was cruising across the cover this month a quarter-century ago. Inside was a full test on the $3699 machine. The subtitle exhibited liberal use of sexual innuendo: "It's not how big it is...it's how you use it."
TWO YEARS AGO, WE HAD the opportunity to give the Swiss-built BMW R1150RT-powered GG Quad a shake-down run and found it to be one of the most unusual and fun four-wheelers around. Just one problem: As of this writing, big quads still haven't been certified by the DOT for use on U.S.
Been reminiscing lately about Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson and Kevin Schwantz and all those epic races from Grand Prix's 500cc two-stroke era? Us, too! So we busted out some videos of those classic 1980s and early-'90s contests to watch them again.
HARLEY-DAVIDSON NIGHT ROD Milwaukee's "other" V-Twin
MENTION "HARLEY-Davidson" to anyone even remotely familiar with motorcycles and it immediately conjures images of that company's Big Twins and Sportsters. H-D also produces the three-model V-Rod lineup, but those bikes rarely show up on anyone's radar.
UP: To the kids, for taking over MotoGP. Yes, it’s Youth Gone Wild, as the paddock’s average age got a whole lot younger this year with a bunch of twentysomethings joining the championship and some of the elder statesman moving onto greener pastures.
IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME COMIN', LORD KNOWS, BUT AT last—at last!—there's an all-new V-Max. The original badass musclebike, which performed its first smoky burnout in 1985, is all set for a second act. Some of us, quite frankly, wondered if this would ever happen; if the moto-world of the 21st century was prepared to welcome back a hoary old anachronism that was basically as big and powerful a motor as could be wedged between two wheels, everything else distant consideration.
WHEN A MOTORCYCLE IS LABELED "ENTRY-level," the natural reaction of most people is to think of it as a beginner's bike. But while both of the middleweight four-strokes seen here would provide an ideal mount for a sport-minded greenhorn, these two wear the entry-level badge in a much broader sense of the term.
PUT AWAY YOUR FRINGED CHAPS, BEANIE HELMET, FINGERLESS gloves and leather vest because you don't have to be a member of that club to ride this Harley-Davidson. This bike is a rider's bike, all about go and less about show. It was built to be ridden, not parked amongst the posers on a hot patch of blacktop, kickstand slowly piercing the tar.
WITH ALL DUE RESPECT TO THE builders and buyers of the Harley-Davidson XR1200 tested here, billing this model as a “factory street-tracker” is the motorcycling equivalent of the outfits that proclaim “wholesale to the public”: You can do either one, but you cannot do both at once.
NCR proves lightness is everything with its very special Ducatis
HORSEPOWER IS WONDERFUL. IT IS RELATIVELY EASY TO produce and even easier to understand. But lightness pays off in every dimension. And while Ducati specialist NCR is not averse to making horsepower, the Italian company's true obsession is with weight reduction.
INDIAN MOTORCYCLES, DESPITE THE many obituaries of recent years, refuses to die and stay dead. The most recent demise was that of the Gilroy, California, company that produced some 12,000 Indian-branded 100-cubic-inch Twins with the defining and iconic 1940 Chief-style valanced fenders.
IF YOU'VE EVER WATCHED LATE-NIGHT television, you've surely seen them: little intake-air deflectors and swirl-inducing devices claimed to help your car's engine do practically everything but make coffee in the morning-more power, faster acceleration, better fuel economy, etc., etc.
IN MARCH, 1962, DAVE EKINS AND BILL ROBertson Jr. made a daring run down the Baja peninsula to prove the durability of a pair of Honda 250cc CL72 Scramblers. Conventional wisdom afforded the better part of a week for the duo to cover the difficult 963 miles from Tijuana to La Paz.
Q I'm going to buy either a new Kawasaki Concours 14 or a Yamaha FJR1300 from a dealer that's 1000 miles from where I live. Once I have purchased it, I intend to ride it home. Here is my problem: The road home is long and straight with very little traffic.