So, SOME 18 YEARS AFTER TRIUMPH WAS reborn, it’s taking on Harley & the Vee Gang with a whacking great cruiser, the Thunderbird, at 1600cc the biggest inline-Twin ever. ’Bout bloody time, mates. It’s only fitting that Triumph get serious in this most American of motorcycle classes.
WHAT WITH THE PERFECT SUMMER EVEnings we’ve been having recently, I’ve been going for a lot of after-dinner rides in the endless twilight we get here in the Wisconsin north country. The only place I’ve ever seen with an even longer dusk is England, where being at 50-55 degrees north latitude allows you to walk home from the pub in perfectly good navigating light until about 11:00 p.m. If you can.
RECENTLY I’VE BEEN IN MY SHOP, REbuilding some rather vintage two-stroke crankshafts. As rolling-element bearings are essential for these crankcase-scavenged engines (lubed as they are only by oil mixed into the fuel, remember), they are constructed by press-fitting their elements together with many tons of force.
Good article on the small bikes, “Best Firsts” in the September issue. Most of the big manufacturers build excellent small bikes between 125 and 250cc for overseas markets. I’m surprised they haven’t imported more to the U.S. I think they’d sell.
N-style's custom graphics Program lets you personalize the appearance of your late-model European or Japanese 250 or 450cc motocross bike. Begin with an existing look, such as the Pro Circuit factory bike shown here, or create your own one-of-a-kind kit. Don't forget your name and race number! Expect the same quality materials that N-Style supplies to factory race teams. Complete graphics and trim kits cost approximately $200. Personalized stickers start at $20. N-Style, 24841 Ave. Tibbitts, Valencia, CA 91355; 800/831-9043; www.n-style.com
Cortech Adrenaline Gloves
Dunlop Sportmax D211GP
Dunlop calls the DOT-approved Sportmax D211GP "the finest production roadracing tire on the planet." Developed from the race-winning N-Tech radial slick and D209 Sportmax GP, the D211GP offers club racers and trackday regulars enhanced durability, stability and confidence. Sizing is limited to one dual-compound 120/70ZR-17 front ($209) and two multicompound 190/55ZR17 ($304) and 200/55ZR17 rears ($315). SportTire Services, Inc., 198 Cow Meadow Pl., Paso Robles, CA 93446; 805/434-4810; www.dunlopracing.com
Italian cobbler Sidi has a new top-of-the-line roadracing boot for 2009, the Vortice ($475). Among the features is a new multi-compound sole, a patented portion of which is replaceable! Now, it's no longer necessary to ditch your boots just because you've worn holes in the bottoms. Motonation, 1100 N. Magnolia Ave. #A, El Cajon, CA 92020; 619/401-4100; www.motonation.com
HitchSafe Key Vault
Bike unloaded, gear on, ready to ride. Hey, where's my ignition key? You wouldn't be asking that question if you kept your keys in a HitchSafe Key Vault ($70). Designed to fit inside any 2inch hitch receiver, the spring-loaded, variable-combination, all-metal drawer holds as many as nine keys and secures with two locking pins. A dust cover is included. FJM Security Products, 18424 Highway 99, Lynnwood, WA 98037; 800/654-1786; www.hitchsafe.com
Hawg Wired Direct Connect Audio System
Upgrade the audio system of your 2006-08 Harley-Davidson FLHX or 1998-2008 FLTR/FLHT with Hawg Wired's Direct Connect Audio System ($676). Coated to prevent corrosion, the speaker/ amplifier kit includes a 120-watt RMS amplifier, two SX Series 60-watt speakers and a Direct Connect plug-n-play harness. More powerful multiple-speaker systems are also available. Hawg Wired, Inc., 37200 Central Ct., Newark, CA 94560; 510/894-2999; www.hawg-wired.com
HJC FS-15 Carbon Helmet
Anything made from carbon-fiber is hot these days because the aerospace-derived material is aesthetically appealing, lightweight and strong. So why not wrap your brain in the stuff? HJC's FS-15 Carbon ($450) comprises a c-f composite-weave shell, Advanced Channeling Ventilation, SilverCool moisture-wicking interior and an anti-scratch, UV-protected, Pin-lock-prepared faceshield with two-stage closure mechanism. A Spectra fiberglass version, the FS-15 ($220), has all the same features, including Snelland DOT-approval. Both models come in sizes XSXXL. HJC America, 16918 Edwards Rd., Cerritos, CA 90703; 562/407-2186; www hjchelmets.com
American sock-maker DeFeet-known since 1992 for its high-tech tootsie covers popularized in backpacking, cycling, running, skiing and other demanding outdoor activities-is now tackling motorcycling, both onand off-road. Moto-Sox come in three lengths-short ($14), mid-calf ($16) and full ($18). Invista Fresh FX Coolmax construction features padding on the bottom of the foot and atop the toes to fight shifter rash. The rest of the top is vented, as is the calf on the two taller models. Blisters? Hot feet? Forget about it. Bonus: While gray or blue are the standard colors, custom hues and designs are a De-Feet specialty. If you can create it, they can make it-though a minimum order of six dozen pairs is required for custom MotoSox. DeFeet International, Inc., 37111-40 Access Rd., Hildebran, NC 28637; 800/688-3067; www.defeet.com
YOU ASKED FOR IT. And you'd better have meant it. Because now you're getting it. Market research and recent sales trends indicate that sportbike riders crave the raciest motorcycles possible. So with each passing year, high-end sport models become less like everyday streetbikes and more like racebikes and trackbikes.
Actually, the updates to the 2009 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic go beyond the new decorative seat and saddlebag trim, but most changes—aside from the taller handlebars and wider passenger seat and backrest—reside on the cosmetic side.
APERENNIAL pick as Best Motocrosser in our annual Ten Best Bikes balloting since its introduction in 2002, Honda's CRF450R has been completely redesigned for '09. That should have the competition shaking in its boots! Using the same platform for the past seven years, the 450R has stayed at the top through careful evolution.
If you think going more than 200 mph tucked in tightly behind the windscreen of a sportbike sounds hairy, talk to Floridian Bill Warner, because that's just warm-up speed for him. At an East Coast Timing Association event this past summer at Maxton, North Carolina, Warner rode his 2000 Suzuki Hayabusa—fed by a Garrett GT 35R turbo—to four class records, all at more than 230 mph.
Ten Best Bikes" was admittedly pretty enticing on the cover, especially with the frame-from-a-dream-sequence photo, but the story that caught the eye of this old Britbike fan was "The Triumph Death-Watch" in Roundup. The English bike-maker had been faltering off and on since 1971, debts were at $4 million, company officials had for most of the year been begging for money and no bikes had been produced since February.
TALK ABOUT GOOD timing. Just as fuel prices are rising and more people are considering motorcycles as an economical form of transportation, Star Motorcycles has updated its entry-level cruiser lineup (classified as under 1299cc!) with the introduction of the all-new 2009 V Star 950 and V Star 950 Tourer.
At the 86th running of the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb last summer, Greg Trachy rode a nearly stock Ducati Hypermotard 1100S to fourth overall while winning the 1200cc motorcycle class. With a total of 119 bikes entering the event including multiple factory efforts, the feat is all the more impressive considering that the only modifications to the bike were accessories from the Ducati Performance catalog, Race Tech-valved suspension and a Scott's Performance steering damper.
UP: To U.S. Forest Service Chief Abigail Kimbell, for asking television stations to quit airing a public service announcement that implied that ATVs pose a fire hazard in national forests. The PSA showed a woman riding a mountain bike having an encounter with two ATV riders.
DUAL-SPORTING'S modern reincarnation has presented a plethora of interesting bikes. Recently acquired by BMW, a newly healthier Husqvarna continues to be a leader in the segment it helped save. Most noteworthy in its wide range of 2009 machines is the street-legal competition-spec TE310.
Inside and in-depth with Triumph's all-new big-TWin cruiser
CERTAIN THINGS TAKE GUTS. FOR A MOTORCYCLE MANUFACTURER, one of those things is to allow anybody outside the company to even see an early prototype of an as-yet-to-exist model. But we saw it. It takes even more cojones to let someone not on the design and engineering team actually ride said early prototype.
BMW refines the Swiss Army Knife of motorcycles, the R1200GS Adventure
WHEN BMW INTRODUCED THE FIRST GS IN 1980, one doubts the German manufacturer, even in its wildest aspirations, could have envisioned what the Gelände Strasse ("terrain/street") would evolve into during the ensuing years. That first GS would prove to be the genesis ot a two-wheel movement that has blossomed into an entire subculture, the unique machine branded as the integral protagonist of the category it gave birth to, the Adventure class.
MOTO GUZZI’S NEW ENTRY IN THE MAXIenduro market—kingdom of BMW’s R1200GS—is named “Stelvio” after the famous 9000-foot-high, 48-turn pass over the Italian Alps. It was unveiled last year and scheduled for sale in the U.S. this fall at an MSRP of $14,990.
The bike before the Stelvio: A Guzzi Quota through South America
It’s really just a clever phrase coined by some slick, gelled-hair marketing exec in a paisley tie and a pair of Vans sitting in front of a Mac flat-screen: “Adventure-touring.” What better way to bring out the Walter Mitty streak in all of us than by conjuring up images of places that have found their way into our dreams via the pages of National Geographic, then imply that we can somehow get there on a motorcycle, helmet replaced by an Indiana Jones hat Appeal to the freedom-loving, rugged individual that we all know is hidden somewhere deep down inside us and you end up selling us a motorcycle.
LEAVE IT TO THE ITALIANS TO TAKE THE CONCEPT OF A heavyweight adventure bike to new levels of power and performance. It's as though Benelli's Pesaro, Italy-based engineers took one part Triumph Speed Triple and one part BMW R1200GS, then threw them into a blender, with the Trel 130K Amazonas the resulting concoction.
Maybe Honda's best all-rounder, probably not coming to America
DO YOU WANT A HARDCORE ADVENTURE BIKE COMPETENT enough to cross deserts in North Africa, jungles in South America or wind through tight single-track trails right here at home? Or do you, like most, simply want a great all-rounder capable of light off-road duty, but with the looks of a bike that may have just crossed the finish line at the Dakar Rally?
There is perhaps nothing harder than multitasking, especially if you happen to be a motorcycle tire designed to provide off-road traction, asphalt grip, excellent handling and superior stability. But these are the demands required of a road-oriented dual-sport tire.
WHEN THE GOING GETS ROUGH, NOTHING IS MORE dependable and capable than a good ol' four-stroke Single. For 25 years, Yamaha's Ténéré has been a go-to bike for adventure types in Europe, while stateside we got its close cousin the XT600 dual-purpose machine (sans the Dakar styling), but it was dropped from the line way back in 1996.
WELL, IT REALLY VERY nearly was the last straw when the server at Ventana brought Alain's oysters after his main course at lunch. I mean, we'd already ridden over an hour-and-a-half that morning and were completely shagged by the time we got to Big Sur after all the wine and food at Frank's compound last night, and now this.
LIFE IS ABOUT THE JOURney. Destinations drive departure, but what you find along the way is at least as important as where you are going. Harley-Davidson touring models like this FLTR Road Glide have long provided an excellent platform for life's more interesting journeys.
Milwaukee's Big Twins have become incredibly civil over the years, but those air-cooled lumps are no match for the liquid-cooled refinement and power of Harley-Davidson's Revolution engine as used in the V-Rod. It is the picture of smooth, soulful and—at 113.7-rear-wheel hp—powerful.
IF EVER THERE WERE A sportbike that has weathered the test of time in a changing two-wheel climate, it's the Suzuki GSX-R750. When it first emerged in the European and Canadian markets in 1985 (arriving stateside the following year), it defined what a race-bred superbike should be.
How IRONIC THAT SOME OF THE MOST hardcore funseeker-type people I have come across don't want kids, because kids would "cramp their style." Well, the joke's on them, isn't it? Kids cramp having fun like water cramps a fish. With a slight attitude adjustment, you can have a ball with the little persons.
Price: $1699 Engine type: four-stroke Single Bore x stroke: 47.0 x 41.4mm Displacement: 72cc Transmission: 3-speed auto Front wheel travel: 3.2 In. Rear wheel travel: 3.5 in. Front brake: drum Rear brake: drum Seat height: 26.1 in. Fuel capacity: 1.3 gal. Wet weight: 139 lb.
Price: $4199 Engine type: four-stroke Single Bore x stroke: 66.0 x 43.7mm Displacement: 149cc Transmission speeds: 5 Front wheel travel: 10.8 in. Rear wheel travel: 11.5 in. Front brake: disc Rear brake: disc Seat height: 32.8 in. Fuel capacity: 1.1 gal. Wet weight: 183 lb.
Price: $3199 Engine type: two-stroke Single Bore x stroke: 44.5 x 41.6mm Displacement: 65cc Transmission speeds: 6 Front wheel travel: 8.3 In. Rear wheel travel: 9.4 In. Front brake: disc Rear brake: disc Seat height: 29.9 in. Fuel capacity: 1.0 gal. Wet weight: 132 lb.
Price: $2799 Engine type: four-stroke Single Bore x stroke: 58.0 x 54.4mm Displacement: 144cc Transmission speeds: 5 Front wheel travel: 7.1 in. Rear wheel travel: 7.1 in. Front brake: disc Rear brake: disc Seat height: 30.7 in. Fuel capacity: 1.5 gal. Wet weight: 205 lb.
Price: $1299 Engine type: four-stroke Single Bore x stroke: 36.0 x 48.6mm Displacement: 49cc Transmission: 3-speed auto Front wheel travel: 38 in. Rear wheel travel: 2.8 in. Front brake: drum Rear brake: drum Seat height: 21.8 in. Fuel capacity: .8 gal. Wet weight: 125 lb.
Price: $2699 Engine type: four-stroke Single Bore x stroke: 54.0 x 54.0 Displacement: 124cc Transmission speeds: 5 Front wheel travel: 7.1 in. Rear wheel travel: 6.6 in. Front brake: drum Rear brake: drum Seat height: 31.7 in. Fuel capacity: 1.6 gal. Wet weight: 198 lb.
Price: $3698 Engine type: two-stroke Single Bore x stroke: 39.5 x 40mm Displacement: 49cc Transmission: automatic Front wheel travel: 7.3 in. Rear wheel travel: 7.3 in. Front brake: disc Rear brake: disc Seat height: 26.9 in. Fuel capacity: .6 gal. Dry weight: 88 lb.
Price: $4398 Engine type: two-stroke Single Bore x stroke: 45.0 x 40.8mm Displacement: 85cc Transmission speeds: 6 Front wheel travel: 8.7 in. Rear wheel travel: 10.6 in. Front brake: disc Rear brake: disc Seat height: 29.5 In. Fuel capacity: .9 gal. Dry weight: 122 lb.
Price: $3499 Engine type: two-stroke Single Bore x stroke: 44.0 x 46.8mm Displacement: 85cc Transmission speeds: 6 Front wheel travel: 10.8 in. Rear wheel travel: 10.9 In. Front brake: disc Rear brake: disc Seat height: 33.5 in. Fuel capacity: 1.3 gal. Wet weight: 161 lb.
Price: $2499 Engine type: tour-stroke Single Bore x stroke: 57.0 x 48.8mm Displacement: 124cc Transmission speeds: 5 Front wheel travel: 7.1 In. Rear wheel travel: 6.3 in. Front brake: drum Rear brake: drum Seat height: 30.5 in. Fuel capacity: 1.3 gal. Wet weight: 194 lb.
IF YOU'RE A MOTORCYCLE-LOVING KID these days, consider yourself very lucky. There are so many excellent bikes made for the young set that even adults are envious. In Cycle World's 2008 Buyer's Guide there were no fewer than 40 bikes aimed at the youth market.
Finding a good-fitting helmet for a kid with a smaller head isn't easy. An extra-small-sized adult helmet might seem like a good idea, but the larger shell will make him look and feel like a bobble-head doll. That's why Bell offers a scaled-down version of its motocross helmet called the SC-X Junior ($80). The composite fiberglass design has adjustable vents for cooling and a removable, washable liner. The chinbar is EPS lined for added protection, and the helmet meets DOT certification. The SC-X Jr. comes in six colors, is covered by a five-year warranty and is available in S, M and L youth sizes. Easton-Bell Sports, 380 Encinal St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060; 8001456-BELL (2355); www.bellpowersports.com
THOR PHASE RECON GEAR
FMF POWERCORE 4
Nowadays, kids want everything you have, but in a miniature version. This applies to aftermarket exhaust pipes, too. The FMF Mini PowerCore 4 ($180; $200 with spark arrestor) is a four-stroke system featuring a stainless-steel header and an aluminum silencer. The PowerCore 4 fits smaller Japanese four-strokes, ranging in displacement from 50 to 230cc. Now you can look and sound like the big boys! FMF Racing, 18033 South Santa Fe Ave., Rancho Dominguez, CA 90221; 310/631-4363; www.fmfracing.com
ALPINESTARS YOUTH BIONIC BACK PROTECTOR
With more and more kids these days participating in asphalt-oriented activities such as roadracing and supermoto, there is an increasing demand for big protection in small sizes. The Bionic Back Protector ($119) incorporates design elements developed from Alpinestars' extensive experience in MotoGP and other racing endeavors. The lightweight protector uses Dynamic Force Dispersion (DFD) Technology, which allows it to be thinner and more comfortable while offering CE Level 2 protection. Ergonomic design follows the contours of the body while locking plates eliminate hyperextension of the back. Adjust able shoulder straps and a wide waist belt with velcro closure ensure a good fit. Alpinestars USA Inc., 2780 W. 237th St., Torrance, CA 90505; 310/891-0222; www.alpinestars.com
EVS YOUTH SLAM COMBO
Let’s face it: Motocross requires a lot of protective gear. So it’s nice to see that EVS Sports has packaged three of its most popular items into one box called the Slam Combo. Available in Youth size ($60), the trio includes the OPTION Knee and Elbow guards and the RC2 race collar. The knee guards feature ¼-inch-thick neoprene with molded-plastic cups and quick-pull straps for a comfortable, secure fit. Elbow guards are designed for comfort and to be easily put on and removed. The RC2 race collar is designed to help prevent neck and collarbone injuries without impeding rider comfort. The three-piece combo comes in black and is also available in adult sizes ($73). EVS Sports, 119 West Milwaukee St., Suite B, Janesville, WI 53548; 888/873-8423; www.evs-sports.com
FOX YOUTH GEAR
New for 2009 is Fox Racing's HC Youth jersey ($25) and 180 pant ($80). The former features Raglan sleeves with a moisture-wicking torso material. Sublimated fade-free graphics will keep the gear looking new even after heavy use and repeated machine washings. Multiple color choices are available including blue or black, with graphic prints, in youth sizes S to XL. The 180 pant features ergonomic, pre-curved legs with stretch sections for enhanced mobility. Leather inner knee panels protect the wearer from hot exhaust pipes. Fox's fly-cam closure system keeps your pants on, while waist sizes 22 to 28 ensure a good fit. Colors include red, blue or black with graphic prints. Protect young kids' heads with the V1 Race helmet ($109.95). Designed for maximum ventilation, the injection-molded polycarbonate helmet has an integrated roost guard and a removable, washable liner. Available in youth sizes S to L in either blue or red with graphics. Completing the ensemble are the new Youth Comp 5 boots ($120). Full leather uppers with anatomically contoured shinpiate provide protection while allowing ease of movement. Fox Racing Inc.; 877/225-9990; www.foxracing.com
New from Thor is Phase youth motocross gear. Great fit, styling and durability make the Recon ($30; name denotes color) a great choice. Raglan sleeves, crew collar and lightly padded elbows make it a great deal.
KEVIN SCHWANTZ HAS LEATHERS OLDER THAN MOST of the 13-to 17-year-olds that he has been entrusted to coach in the newly created Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup. But the 1993 500cc Grand Prix champion's experience and success make him the perfect teacher to guide the next prospective wave of American motorcycle racing talent.
Thirteen-year-old Red Bull Rookies Cup contender Benny Solis Jr. proved that he was the kid to beat in the inaugural Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup season. He racked up four wins in five races including Barber Motorsports Park, Infineon Raceway and two victories at the Laguna Seca doubleheader during the MotoGP weekend.
Casey Stoner had the MotoGP field covered at Laguna Seca, breaking his own track record eight times in practice, On Sunday, though, Valentino Rossi showed the Aussie champ that he's still...Valentino Rossi
IF DUCATI'S CASEY STONER HAD SEEN a clear track this past July at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, he would have won the MotoGP race easily. After practice, he had a half-second on the field, and everyone present expected another demonstration of Ducati power, software and Stoner's intelligent, to-the-limit riding.
Q In some magazine tests of motorcycles and cars, I’ve read about certain engines having “cracked” connecting rods. There has been little explanation of what this means, other than one article’s mention of the con rods’ caps being made by a special cracking process.
Years ago, Bell Helmets had an advertising slogan that imparted a world of wisdom in very few words: "If you have a $10 head, wear a $10 helmet." That very same philosophy could also be applied to countless other aspects of motorcycling...including your choice of on-the-road toolkits.
Q Regarding the Moto Czysz ("American Racer: MotoCzysz C1," April, 2008), Nick lenatsch used a new-to-me term, "floating, recirculating bearings," as opposed to "linear fork bearings." It seemed to come out of the blue and left me scratching my head and wondering what the heck he meant—even whether he was referring to front-suspension forks or shifting forks.
NHTSA Recall No. 08V254000 BMW R1200GS, ’06-’07; R1200R, ’07-’08; R1200ST, ’07 Number of units involved: 3248 Problem: Due to the routing of the front brake lines, it is possible that during riding, the lines could be under strain. If the vibration/strain is significant, the brake lines could split and develop a leak, causing the fluid level in the front-brake reservoir to drop.
Q A couple of months ago, I asked for your help via an e-mail message regarding a seized brake caliper on my 1978 Yamaha XS Eleven, and you suggested a penetrating-oil product called Kano Aero Kroil. I ordered some, and let me tell you, that is some good stuff.
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