I DID NOT MEAN TO BURST CRAIG VETter's bubble. The man who defined the modern touring bike with his Windjammer line of fairings in the 1970s is on a new crusade these days. Timely, too. He’s shooting for 100 miles per gallon from his latest project, a super-streamlined scooter.
THE PHONE RANG LAST SATURDAY EVEning and it was my friend Rick Olson. "You want to ride up to Pine Bluff for the start of the Slimey Crud Café Racer Run with me tomorrow morning? I’m taking my new Can-Am Spyder." I stared vacantly at a nearby wall, trying to picture my almost comically vintage 1961 Velocette Venom running down the road with Rick’s bright-yellow Spyder three-wheeler.
TODAY’S ULTRA-SHORT-SKIRTED PISTONS look strange to older people, whose first look at a car, motorcycle or lawnmower piston in the 1940s or ’50s revealed something with the proportions of a bucket—its diameter comparable with its depth.
Here it is again: July issue, Ten Best Bikes, time to get ticked off. The KTM 690 Enduro as Best Dual-Sport Bike? Like someone is going to ride this on the street! Not enough weight, not enough fuel, not enough rider comfort. And full knobbies?
Boost your bagger! ProCharger now has superchargers to fit 2007-08 Harley-Davidson Touring models equipped with Twin Cam 96- or 103-cubic-inch engines. Gains of 40-80 horsepower can be expected, they say, along with maintaining everyday ridability. Kits come complete with supercharger, intercooler, all necessary tubing, bypass valve, fuel injectors and engine tuning module. An HO Intercooled Tuner Kit is available for "stroker" engines displacing 110 cubic inches or more. Prices start at $3999.
Cortech FSX Jacket
A fully armored textile riding jacket with a zip-out waterproof/breathable liner for $140? Gotta be a misprint, right? Guess again. Cortech’s entry-level FSX has all those features and more, including a waterproof chest map pocket and zippered fanny pack. Order yours in black, red, blue or silver in sizes XS-XXXL.
Designed and manufactured in Australia by RideWorx, Barkbuster handguards feature full aluminum backbones, large plastic deflectors and adaptors with two points of adjustment to allow a broad range of fitments. Two styles are available: The EGO ($90) is compact and a good choice for tight woods riding; the VPS ($82) has clearance for longer brake and clutch levers commonly found on more street-oriented machinery, such as adventure, dual-purpose and supermoto bikes.
Accidents happen. Best, then, to wear a UTAG Ice ($45). Developed by British Special Forces, the shock-and-water-resistant, aluminum-alloy digital dogtag uses USB technology to provide emergency responders with photo identification, personal contacts and medical information.
SoftBrake Extended Brake and Shift Levers
Hey, you, with the big feet! If the stock brake and gear selector levers on your late-model American or Japanese cruiser are too short for your personal taste, SoftBrake offers three styles of chrome-plated, machined-from-aluminum-billet levers that are ½ to 2 inches longer than stock. Prices start at $85.
Mad Maps’ turn-by-turn directions, noteworthy facts and hundreds of points of interest are now available for the entire U.S. in two forms: Regional Scenic Tours ($11) and metropolitan-oriented day-ride Get Outta Town ($5.95). What’s more, Garmin nüvi and zūmo users can log on to www.garmin.com/madmaps and download the Regional ($12), Get Outta Town ($6.99) and event-specific Rally Run ($6.99) maps. Bonus: Digital versions include additional points of interest that wouldn’t fit on the printed maps.
Harley-Davidson Skull Collection Hand Controls
Bad to the bone? Harley-Davidson’s Skull Collection Hand Controls fit 1996-2003 XLs, 1996-2007 Dynas, Softails, FLs and 2008 Dynas and Softails. The skull logo and horizontal bars are etched into the lever for a custom look that stretches from pivot to tip. Choose from Satin Black ($140) or Chrome ($150).
Ducati Corse Writing Instruments
Some people might call these pens. Point (ahem) taken. But just like in motorcycles, there are toys and there are tools and there are instruments. In celebration of its 2007 MotoGP world championship, Ducati commissioned these limited-edition pieces—just 500 fountain pens ($1400) and 500 roller balls ($850)—to reflect the quality and engineering of what it produces on two wheels. Constructed of ruthenium and palladium—both platinum group metals—the pens have a wonderful heft and balance, plus are highly tarnish resistant. The center painted part of the barrel is Ducati Corse’s official color, material sourced directly from the team. In addition to the 500-each runs, there is a special series of 14 fountain pens and 13 roller balls made with 18K gold (pictured, price TBD). That adds up to 27, 2007 World Champion Casey Stoner’s racing number. These are expensive pieces, but the quality with which they write is impressive and the feel is far beyond any drugstore Bic. Yes, there are pens, and then there are writing instuments.
AFTER NEARLY A QUARTER-century, one of motor cycling’s longest-standing performance icons has been reborn. Last month, our world-exclusive preview, "Back In Black," gave readers a detailed first look at the 2009 Yamaha Star V-Max, an all-new, 197-horsepower remake of the famous "power cruiser" that first lit up the streets back in 1985.
Go to www.cycleworld.com/garage and feast your eyes on what CW readers have in their collections, then tell us about your bikes. Submit your own photos, text and video; we’ll set up your own special page, and we won’t even charge for parking.
VICTORY HAS COME A long way since the V92C of 1999. Just take a look at the 10th Anniversary Special Edition Vision for proof. Although the 2009 Vision shares a similar red-and-black-with-gold-pinstripes paint scheme with the first-ever Victory, it couldn’t be more different.
Triumph’s legendary Bonneville celebrated its 50th anniversary this past summer. Blending traditional styling with an exciting ride, the Bonnie has been the bike of choice for screen idols like Steve McQueen, James Dean and Marlon Brando.
A pair of sporting Suzukis—the GS550ES and GS1100ES—graced the cover, and each proved to be the go-fast leader in its respective class. "Staggering performance is available from the GS550ES," proclaimed the test of the smaller Suzook, "but only if the engine is revved high." It’s a bike "made for riding, and riding hard," was the test’s conclusion.
KAWASAKI IS MAKING MX headlines for 2009 with a fuel-injected KX450F. The batteryless EFI system features a 43mm throttle body with a single 12-hole injector, an ultra-light-weight ECU and an in-tank fuel pump.
With fresh cash infused after its purchase by BMW, Husqvarna has put development into overdrive. Recent racing success netted both the S1 (450) and S2 (Open) titles in the 2007 Supermoto World Championship. Taking advantage of lessons learned on-track, the ’08 street-legal SMR models are all-new.
UP: To Ben Spies, for rewriting the record books. This past June at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, the 23-year-old two-time AMA Superbike champion won his seventh-consecutive Superbike race, breaking a tie with Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Mat Mladin and Honda factory rider Miguel Duhamel.
RIDING ON THE COATtails of the championship-winning 450 and 550cc, 77-degree-Twinpowered SXV racers, the Dorsoduro is Aprilia’s latest interpretation of a mid-sized supermoto bike. It proves that the freshly capitalized company is serious about expanding market share.
THERE IS NO MORE COMPETITIVE OR HIGHLY focused sportbike track test in the world than MasterBike. In addition to all the incredibly rapid hardware from the top Japanese and European factories, the rider roster is stacked with racer ringers.
Nine cures for the common Prius, led by a Li’l Red Honda that gets 93 mpg!
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! IT’S TIME THAT THE MOTORCYCLE take back its rightful place as one of the Greenest, most-economical vehicles ever to burn petroleum byproducts. Let the eco-elites prattle on about their hybrid autos saving the polar ice caps and lowering the oceans, but the fact is that a Toyota Prius' carbon footprint—what it takes to produce the car and bring it to market—is positively King Kongsian compared to something like the Honda CRF230L.
LOOKING FOR A SMALL FIRST BIKE BUT CAN’T SEEM TO find anything that fits your...well, your you? You consider little cruisers kinda dorky, scooters dorkier yet, sporty bikes someone else’s cup of two-wheel tea, and small dual-purpose bikes just a little too, you know, fourwheel-drive pickup.
THERE WAS A TIME WHEN I THOUGHT ALL A REAL RIDER needed was a 250cc dual-purpose bike and a keen sense of adventure. Twenty-five years later, after spending some time on Yamaha’s new XT250, I’m thinking the same thing all over again. My 1983 Honda XL250 was a supremely versatile beast—a solo touring bike with luggage rack and windscreen fitted; a two-up commuter when my girlfriend needed to get to dance classes at UCLA; the terror of twisty Sunset Boulevard, even with the semi-knobbed tires squirming in protest.
EVEN AS THE PRICE OF OIL PUSHES PAST $130 PER BARrel, promises of exceptional fuel economy from lightweight, small-bore scooters draw little more than short-lived curiosity from most motorcyclists—newbies and veterans alike. After all, even the most powerful sportbikes and biggest-inch cruisers already easily outdistance their four-wheel counterparts at the pump.
SINCE 1986 THERE’S BEEN ONE BIKE THAT’S ALWAYS ON our short list of answers to the question, "What’s the best first bike?" It’s Kawasaki’s Ninja 250R. And for 2008 the answer is even clearer with an improved model. New buyers are trying to balance several factors.
A "REAL" SUPERMOTO RACEBIKE IS ONE OF THE MOST thrilling motorcycles in existence. But it would make a terrible first bike. In fact, it’s not a particularly good third bike! Even the street versions are pretty spicy and oftentimes not particularly practical everyday riders.
AS AN ALL-NEW MODEL IN SUZUKI’S 2008 LINE, THE GSX650F has a pair of Shaquille O’Neal-size shoes to fill, replacing the ultra-competent Katana 600 and 750 that have been retired following two decades of faithful service. While thoroughly modern, the GSX650F upholds Katana tradition as a versatile, fully faired and affordable standard.
ICONIC, EFFICIENT, SIMPLE, STYLISH AND EASY TO RIDE, the Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster has been a great first bike for hordes of riders, and unlike smaller-displacement machines, it won’t be soon outgrown. Want more power? It’s as close as a factory-developed and dealer-installed 1200cc kit.
FREELANCING AS ART DIRECTOR FOR CYCLE WORLD'S BIG Twin magazine (R.I.P.) stirred a long-dormant need for two-wheel travel. It was an itch that had to be scratched, and when I asked CW editors for suggestions on a good bike to buy, the response was automatic: "SV650." "SV650." "SV650." It was 1999, the U.S.
1. Wits against the World. You never see a cat catch a squirrel because those little gray guys are super-vigilant. So must you be. Look and think! Hardware is important on bikes—brakes, throttle, steering—but you aren’t in a reinforced steel box.
Notes from the grass at the Legend of the Motorcycle Concours d'Elegance
AT THE MOMENT I FEEL A BIT LIKE I’M A COMET THAT HAS sailed in from deep space to whip tightly around the sun, then begun the long trip out again. I just attended the Legend of the Motorcycle Concours in Half Moon Bay, California, where I walked up to a 1956 MV Agusta four-cylinder Grand Prix bike and standing next to it was Nobby Clark.
Truth be told, I’m not much of an autograph hound. Never have understood the appeal of having some celeb or sports star sign a scrap of paper just to prove I was in his/her exulted presence. However. There I was at the Legend Concours, my 1960 MV Agusta TREL 125 in line with 37 other MVs, part of the Featured Marque display, when walking down the row I spotted Giacomo Agostini hisownself.
There is something pleasantly odd about the scene. Three hundred vintage motorcycles occupying the 18th fairway of the swank Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay. For the third year running, the immaculately manicured grass of the luxury hotel’s golf course has been made available to display an impressive array of cherished, significant two-wheel iron that is The Legend of the Motorcycle.
WHEN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EDWARDS had a chance to ride a Canadian-spec Kawasaki Versys—an adventure-tour-style standard based on the popular Ninja 650R—he liked it so much that he suggested to Team Green they should sell the bike in the U.S.
AMERICAN NICKY HAYDEN, after becoming MotoGP world champion on a Honda in 2006, is now riding much too hard for the downfield finishes he’s getting. Honda’s current performance tribulations underline the fact that, in this game, there are no masters, only students.
IndyGP insights from the Speedway’s Senior VP of Operations
MEL HARDER HAS HIS DREAM JOB. THE INDIANA NATIVE BEGAN WORKING part-time at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he was still a high-school student and joined the staff full-time upon graduation from Indiana University in 1990.
Appearing only in America, the Saturday Night Special
QUICK NOW, NO FAIR GOOGLING, what’s the worst result, crashes and mechanical failures excepted, Nicky Hayden has ever had in seven seasons of MotoGP? Not counting the 2007 British GP, where he was in the leading group in the rain, crashed, limped to the pits for patchwork and trailed home 17th, four laps down, Hayden’s worst MotoGP finish has been 12th—three times.
AT THE RISK OF STATING THE obvious, the goal for any fan heading to the inaugural IndyGP should be to get as close to the action as possible. For most folks, however, pressing the flesh with Valentino Rossi and the rest of the MotoGP elite will be out of the question.
Nicky Hayden may be the poster child for the IndyGP, having done loads of pre-race publicity, but two other Americans are also regularly competing in international roadracing’s top class. John Hopkins (right) is a veteran of the series, despite being just 25 years old.
Begin your IndyGP weekend the right way—by attending a Cycle World seminar! Saturday morning, September 13, at the Brickyard Crossing Resort Pavilion outside the 2½-mile oval’s Turn 2, staffers will lead a discussion with several motorcycle industry guests—heavy hitters, all.
CARLOS CHECA, OUT OF FASHION in MotoGP’s world of 21-year-old 250cc sensations, showed his experience by decisively winning both World Superbike races at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City. Many others—including top men Troy Bayliss, Troy Corser and Noriyuki Haga—crashed in conditions of excellent grip, randomly altered by dust.
Q I recently calculated the gas mileage on my Suzuki SV650 and Suzuki DR650 (my husband thinks I need two motorcycles). The SV got 50 mpg and the DR got 58 mpg. This provoked a dinner-table question: Does the DR get better mileage because it is lighter, or because it has only one cylinder?
There are numerous ways to prevent fasteners from loosening or falling off a motorcycle. Applying Loctite or other thread lockers is one method, and using any of several different types of locking nuts is another. But thread locker can make removing the fastener difficult and, in the process, possibly damage the threads in softer metals, and lock nuts are not an option on bolts or screws that fit into threaded holes.
Park Tools, best known for its line of bicycle accessories, now is selling its own brand of Nitrile Mechanic’s Gloves (part No. MG-1; $28 per box of 100 in sizes M, L and XL). These gloves were originally intended for folks working on human-powered two-wheelers, but I’ve found them tough enough to resist tearing when performing messy tasks on motorcycles—cleaning and oiling airfilter elements, handling drive chains, changing oil and filters, installing a new battery, etc. I also wore them while changing two dirtbike tires, and they only developed a rip while I was trying to insert the valve stem through its hole in the rim on the second tire.
NHTSA Recall No. 08V222000 Kawasaki ZX-14 Model years: 2006-07 Problem: On certain motorcycles, the rear suspension can collapse when a crossmember separates from the frame. Failure of the frame could result in the rear of the motorcycle collapsing, creating the possibility of a crash resulting in injury or death.
Q Your answers in the Service column are usually so illuminating and detailed that I was amazed that you never mentioned trail reduction in connection with the question on sidecar steering ("A little car on the side?," July, 2008). The high trail of a solo bike’s fork works against the rider under all conditions when a sidecar is attached.
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