IT'S ENTIRELY TOO EARLY, ESPECIALLY for a man who, by profession, should retain an open mind, but I believe I've already ridden my favorite new bike of 2009. In October I spent three days in California's Sierra Nevada range aboard one of the first F800GS BMWs in the country, and I am smitten.
NOVELIST KURT VONNEGUT ONCE WROTE that his sister, who was a professional artist, never understood how anyone could spend hours in an art museum, sitting on a bench and staring quietly at a famous painting. She claimed she could race through a museum on roller skates, give each painting a quick look, say, "Got it!" and then skate on to the next room.
DORNA, ONE OF THE SEVERAL INFLUENtial groups behind MotoGP, has announced that for the 2009-2011 seasons there will be a single tire supplier: Bridgestone. Michelin, which invented the radial tire in 1948 and in 1984 made it practical for motorcycles, will be out of the series for at least that period.
Talk about déjà vu all over again: Just last week I was wondering what ever happened to Jay—Don't Call Me PeeWee Anymore—Gleason and not only do you give me the answer, you have him testing the new Yamaha VMax ("Max Muscle," December)! I remember Jay being used to extract the best quarter-mile times from all kinds of production bikes in the Eighties, but of course my memory bums brightest about the V-Max.
Want to spice up your big-bore Yamaha TMax scooter? Yoshimura can help with its new R-77 full exhaust system ($530). Constructed of stainless steel, the header, mid-pipe and silencer mount with provided brackets and are said to improve throttle response and acceleration while reducing weight and adding some sizzle to the exhaust note.
Yoshimura R&D of America, Inc.
Honey Pot Oil Filter
Inspired by the vintage-look "Honey Pot" oil-filter housings that were popular on 1950s and '60s hot-rod cars and trucks, L.A. County Choprods has redesigned the basic concept for use on Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The housings are cast, heat-treated and precision-machined from aluminum and are available in three finishes: natural cast ($300), polished ($350) and black wrinkle powdercoat with polished highlights ($350). The housing accepts H-D oil filters and comes complete with the necessary stainless-steel hardware.
Yoshimura R&D of America, Inc.
G'day, mate. Motoz tires come from the land down under, use natural rubber and feature unique tread designs based on the company's patented "Terra pactor" (terrain compactor) principle in which the tread works with the terrain by compacting and wedging it out to help increase traction rather than just throwing it behind the bike. Motoz has a range of tires for enduro and motocross applications, priced $27 to $86.
Yoshimura R&D of America, Inc.
Accessing your small-button gadgets or touch-screen GPS can be a royal pain with bulky gloves. Free hands leather gloves (sizes XS to XL; $40) expose your thumbs and forefingers with a quick flick so you don't have to remove either entire glove. Small magnets ensure the tips stay out of harm's way while you fiddle with your personal electronic devices.
Yoshimura R&D of America, Inc.
Muscle Milk Light
Muscle Milk Light is designed to promote lean muscle growth, fast recovery from exercise and healthy, sustained energy. That's the kind of nutrition motorcyclists need. Packed with 15 grams of protein, the 100-calorie, sugar-free shake cuts back on fat and sodium while continuing to provide optimal nutritional benefits. Shakes are available in a variety of flavors and retail for $8 per 4-pack.
Yoshimura R&D of America, Inc.
When was the last time you changed your bike's engine oil? Or lubed its chain? Royal Purple Max-Cycle ($16 per quart) exceeds API/JASO new-warranty requirements and is compatible with wet clutches. Max-Chain ($7 per 4-ounce can) is biodegradable and won't collect dirt or fling off. For bikes with non-unit transmissions, Synchromax ($14 per quart) is said to improve shifting and reduce gear noise, all while operating at reduced temperatures.
Yoshimura R&D of America, Inc.
Expand your horizons by fitting your late-model European or Japanese dirtbike with a Giant Loop Saddlebag ($229). The lightweight, horseshoeshaped, ballistic-nylon carry-all is self-supporting, comes with a polished stainless-steel heat shield and doesn't require subframe modifications. We're told it behaves on-bike just as well empty as half-filled or bursting at the seams. Available in black only.
Yoshimura R&D of America, Inc.
Arai Corsair V Helmet
We simply haven't space here to fully describe the many innovations built into the new Corsair V ($732 to $870; sizes XS-XXL). We will, however, tell you what Arai told us: that the Corsair V represents decades of focused devotion to the evolution of helmet design. Indeed, structurally strengthening Peripheral Belting not only reduced the overall weight of what already was an aerodynamic, compact shell, it made possible a 10mm-wider eyeport. That may not sound like much, but in actual use on the road or track, it's a big deal. High marks also to new browvent channels. Incoming air is directed to the temples and, as a result, the temporal artery, cooling blood flowing to the brain. Also worth noting is the back-of-helmet, five-way-adjustable AirWing: Run it all the way down to cut drag and reduce buffeting during flat-out speed blasts or in the top-most position when sitting more upright. Of arguably greatest importance is the Emergency Cheekpad Release System. A quick tug on the integrated pull-tabs liberates the pads, easing removal of the helmet in the event of a crash.
It's not like BMW has reinvented the wheel, just itself
TEACHING AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS is hard enough, but what if you are the old dog? How do you learn to change with the times and appeal to a younger demographic? Many marques have stereotypes that are virtually (and, in some cases, literally) tattooed to their likeness.
BMW's lineup of middleweight parallel-Twins continues to grow. Two years ago at Milan, the company introduced the F800GS, possibly the most attractive (and instantly successful) variation on its parallel-Twin platform. That bike followed in the footsteps of the F800ST sport-tourer and sportier S version also introduced in 2007, the latter of which was only sold in the U.S.
As a teenager stuck riding a clapped-out Batavus moped (illegally!), I was smitten with the promise of freedom and coolness of this month's coverbike: the Honda Nighthawk 700S. It was billed as "A happy marriage of Nighthawk style and Interceptor performance," and the conclusion was, "There's nothing it can't do."
Aprilia showed off a new motocrosser based on its 449cc, 77-degree, liquid-cooled V-Twin from the RXV 4.5 enduro. Weight reduction for the MXV was accomplished by fitting a four-speed tranny instead of the five-speed and ditching the battery and starter. Don't expect to see it state side prior to 2010.
The latest addition to the SportClassic lineup is the 2009 GT 1000 Touring. It retains the older air-cooled 1000DS engine instead of the 1100 found in the Hypermotard and Multistrada. Features include a tall windscreen, a chromed luggage rack and a retro black color scheme with white pinstriping. The GT Touring has an MSRP of $11,995 and should be in dealers by the time you read this.
A big surprise at Milan was the unveiling of Benelli's 750 Due. Engine is a parallel-Twin extracted from the company's 1130cc inline-Three. Motor aside, what separates it from the similarly styled TnT is the use of a twin-spar aluminum frame in place of the Tornado/TnT's hybrid trellis design. Engine output is estimated at 95 horsepower with a 418-pound dry weight. We expect to see the engine in future Benelli variations, as well.
Since its acquisition by BMW, Husqvarna has found a new lease on life. One of the biggest attention grabbers at the Milan show was the SMQ (Steve McQueen). The concept bike was built around BMW's liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, 450cc Single that powers the G450X. The short (53.5-inch wheelbase), stylish "scrambler" has a claimed dry weight of 265 pounds. Is Husky going to take us back to the future and produce the bike? Stay tuned.
On the heels of the beautiful Ducati 1098 Testastretta Evoluzione-powered DB7, Bimota showed a special edition called the Oro Nero (Black Gold). What makes this bike stand out is the use of carbon-fiber for the frame's tubular-trellis sections and swingarm in place of steel, with those pieces bolting to the machined-bil let-aluminum sideplates. Through the use of ultra-light components everywhere, including a titanium shock spring, Bimota claims a feathery 361-pound dry weight, which is 13 pounds lighter than the standard DB7. It can be yours for just over $50,000.
Mike Hailwood TT
NCR knows the value of history. Following "New Blue," which paid homage to the 1977 Daytona-winning "Old Blue" Ducati 900SS, the little Bologna-based ouffit has produced the most fascinating of all possible replicas. The Mike Hailwood Isle of Man TT Replica goes way beyond anything NCR has done previously. Again, it uses the Ducati Sport 1000 SportClassic as a starting point, but engine internals are all NCR, good for 130 horsepower and 97 foot-pounds of torque. A full titanium frame is complemented by top-shelf Brembo, Öhlins and BST components. Only 12 NCR MH loM TT Replicas will be built, priced at $126,000 each.
We always look forward to fall, which is when we usually get our first glimps es of what's in store from the European motorcycle manufacturers for the following model year. Many first-time unveilings took place at the Intermot show in Germany or the Milan show in Italy last fall, and here are some of the more notable headliners.
The number-one manufacturer of two-wheeled vehicles in Europe is Moto Guzzi's parent company, the Piaggio Group, with more than 550,000 units sold every year. Last year, of those units, fewer than 20,000 were motorcycles, the bulk of production represented by scooters and mopeds.
In our road test of the Aprilia Shiver 750 (October, 2008), we failed to mention the Tri-Map feature of its ride-by-wire electronic-throttle-control system. We were unaware that pressing the starter button with the engine running and the throttle fully closed toggles between three performance modes: Sport, Touring and Rain.
UP: To Harley-Davidson, for doing The Right Thing. The Motor Company has taken the plunge and will sell the XR1200 street-tracker stateside. The $10,799 machine was unveiled domestically at the Long Beach Cycle World International Motor cycle Show last December concurrent with the bike's release to dealerships.
Own this 2008 Honda CBR1000RR customized by Roland Sands Design for a mere five bucks—the cost of a raffle ticket to benefit the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. For $20, the PBTF will kick in an additional ticket, giving you five chances to ride the CBR home this May when the winning entry is drawn.
Our first question was, "Does it have 180 horsepower?!" Unfortunately, no, this flashy GSX-R-inspired Burgman 400 is bone-stock aside from its superbike graphics and MotoGP-inspired silencer. And no, you can't buy it, either. But Suzuki was curious about attracting a younger scooter buyer—the average Burgman owner, the company says, is in his mid-40s.
THE ESSENTIAL DESIGN brief of the first Buell Lightning in 2003 was lead by the word "minimalist." Short of wheelbase, steep of rake, it made for quite an edgy motorcycle. In the six years since that bike was introduced, Buell has expanded on the Lightning theme and tried many different iterations of its sit-upair-coolers, from "adventure sportbikes" like the Ulysses to supermoto-inspired (but now-discontinued) SuperTT. "Expanded" is actually a good word for the XB12Ss Lightning Long.
NEWEST WAVE IN CRUISing is affordable, midsize machinery. Thing is, with near-2-liter engines pretty much the norm in the world of V-Twins, 1462cc—sorry, 90 cubic inches—is now middle of the road. Times being what they are, Suzuki's designers were tasked with giving the new-for-2009 Boulevard M90 class-leading technology at a sub-$10K price.
IF YOU'RE A MOTOCROSS bike, you don't get to celebrate many birthdays. Before you have a chance to put more than a couple of candles on your cake, you're railed off the track by a new-and-improved model and relegated to has-been status.
YOU KNOW YOU’VE HIT THE BIG time-or at least made a significant impression-when a major motorcycle maker commissions you to customize wfiat its own designers spent years penning in the first place. With custom sportbikes surging in popularity, Gregg DesJardins, owner of Gregg’s Customs ( www.greggscustoms.com), has secured a spot at the top of a short list of new designers taking customization a leap beyond chrome and bolt-on accessories.
AT FIRST GLANCE, IT SEEMS LIKE A REALLY BAD IDEA, dangerous, even. Kinda like dumping nitroglycerine into a paint mixer or wearing boxer shorts made of razor blades. But on this spectacular custom Hayabusa, the concept in question clear plastic wheel centers not only looks cool, it actually works.
WHEN SUZUKI DECIDED TO SHOW OFF A VARIETY OF custom sportbikes in its Laguna Seca MotoGP display area, multiple big-time tuner shops were enlisted. Among them, Custom Sportbike Concepts in Winter Garden, Florida. Little did CSC owner Nick Anglada (also responsible for the LRG Hayabusa, pg.
ALI FATAHI SPEAKS IN A CALM, MEASURED TENOR. Listening to him talk, you have the impression that he never gets flustered, that his blood pressure never fluctuates. His black-and-silver GSX-R 1000 is likewise low-key, leaving absolutely no doubt who owns this sleeper Suzuki.
The likes of Ben Spies' Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 may never be seen again
Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000
LOOK WELL UPON THIS LOVELY MOTORcycle, for you may not see its like—at least in U.S. roadracing-again. This is Ben Spies' 2008 AMA Superbike championship-winning Yoshimura Suzuki GSXRIOOO. built under semi-liberal, semi-old technical regulations.
Actually, the V-Four VFR was a Ten Best winner an amazing 11 times, including 10 straight years-from 1990 to ’97 as a 750, then from ’98 to ’99 (and again in 2002) as an 800. The VFR won those accolades for good reason: It is one of the great motorcycles of all time. It’s sporty enough to hold its own in the twisties, comfy enough for days on the road and practical enough to be an everyday commuter. The ’90-’93 models all are valued at $3K or under, and you may be able to find a ’94 at that price, as well.
The 1157cc, inline-Four Bandit 1200 was a screaming deal when brand-new, and it’s even more so now. It offers allday comfort, sporty handling, plenty of room for two, good mileage for its size and enough right-here, right-now torque to spin the Earth off its axis. The 1200 remained in the lineup until it grew to a 1250 in 2007, so you should be able to find slightly newer models at comparable prices.
This inline-Four, Supersport-championship-winning middleweight set the standard for its class back in its heyday, so much so that when the more race-oriented YZF-R6 came along in 1999, Yamaha kept the 600R in the lineup through 2007. It harks back to an era in which even racewinning sportbikes had to be versatile, and this one’s allaround competence still wears well today. You should even be able to find nice ’97 and ’98 models priced under our $3000 limit.
Chances of you finding one of these 22-yearold, 500cc parallel-Twins in decent shape admittedly are small, but here’s the good news: The same basic bike has been in Kawasaki’s lineup ever since, and even the 2003 models are valued at just under $3000. The EX500 (renamed Ninja 500 in 1995 and 500R in ’97) is a remarkably versatile machine that, on one hand, proved to be an excellent club roadrace mount yet is perfect for everyday commuting and weekend fim rides.
Not interested in a 23-year-old cruiser? That’s understandable, but you may like to know that ’96-’97-era 1100 Viragos-updated versions of that 1986 modelcan be had for under our 3K limit. These torquey, good-handling V-Twins have been Yamaha mainstays for decades, and the same basic machines are still in the company’s lineup, though renamed the Star V Star 1100 models (see “Love at First Bike,” page 57). That alone is evidence of the Virago’s popularity, durability and all-around competence.
Yamaha broke new ground with the perimeter-framed, 16-inch-wheeled FJ1100 in 1984, then enlarged it to a 1200 in ’86. This air-cooled inline-Four is smooth-running, thanks to rubber engine mounts, and has a satisfying combination of bottom-end torque and top-end power. This allows it to serve as an everyday runabout, a playful backroader and, with accessory saddlebags, a competent sporttourer. Even the 1993 models (the bike’s last year in the U.S.) are going for around $3000.
Okay, we lied: An ’03 SV650 exceeds the $3K price limit. But the ’99 (first-year) model is tagged at $2885 and the 2000 a tick over $3000, and they’re fundamentally the same terrific V-Twin machines as the two-time Ten Best medalist (also won in ’04). The SVs somehow, almost magically, are able to put a smile on the faces of beginners and experts alike. They’re utterly unintimidating to newbies and a barrel of fun for seasoned riders. You really can’t go wrong with one of these middleweight jewels.
For everyday commuting, general transportation and occasional ofF-road excursions, it’s hard to beat a DRZ400S. Even though it’s based on a for-real dirtbike, the single-cylinder DR-Z is a pleasant street ride that easily outruns any normal traffic while being miserly enough to save big bucks in fuel costs. And because of its heritage, it has plenty of off-road proficiency that can take you just about anywhere you might want to go.
The 750 Katana was built for riders who liked the GSX-R750 sportbike concept but didn’t care for that bike’s full-racing-tuck riding position or premium price tag. The ’98 model was perhaps the 750 Kat’s high-water mark. With its GSX-R-based inline-Four engine, swoopy bodywork, rugged steel frame and more-upright riding position, it offered much of the sport-riding fun and feel of the GSX-R but with more rider-friendly ergonomics and a $2100-lower buy-in. Look for ’99 models selling for under 3 Grand, too.
Don’t let the age or the low price of this bike scare you off: The XR-L is still in Honda’s lineup, having gone virtually unchanged since its introduction in 1992 (when it also was a Ten Best winner), and later models as new as 2003s can be had for $3000 or less. These big Singles are surprisingly adept on-road machines capable of close to 100-mph top speeds, but they also are unstoppable, practically indestructible off-roaders. Excellent fuel mileage and great inner-city maneuverability, too.
WITH away THE from ECONOMY flat-lining, JUST buying A HEARTBEAT a new motorcycle is likely the last thing on your mind right now. Other pesky little matters-food, mortgage, keeping the lights on-probably take precedence. If, however, you still have a few shekels floundering in your savings account or investment portfolio, now is a great time to pick up a lot of used motorcycle for not a lot of money.
You wouldn’t ride a bike blindfolded; don’t buy one that way, either
1. DO A THOROUGH VISUAL INSPECTION
2. CHECK FOR LEAKS
3. IF YOU CAN'T TAKE A TEST RIDE
4. IF YOU CAN TAKE A TEST RIDE
5. GET HELP
WHEN BUYING A USED MOTORCYCLE, EMOTION CAN BE your worst enemy. Confronted with a bike that seems to fit your wants and needs to a T, you easily can allow unbridled enthusiasm to overwhelm good judgment. You begin picturing yourself motoring away on that steed, riding off into the sunset with a new sense of freedom and adventure.
I guess I'm lucky I live in Texas, where gas prices hit "only" about $4 a gallon last summer. Still, they've almost doubled in the last two years and I had to do something to contain that expense. I weigh my options. Maybe some sort of super-subcompact car that gets 40 or 50 mpg?
KAWASAKI IS A PROUD COMPANY with a rich performance heritage. Whenever the green machines fall behind the curve in a sportbike category, you could safely bet the farm that the drought will soon pass. As predicted, the heavens have opened up and delivered the new-for-2009 ZX-6R Ninja, putting Kawasaki back in the 600 supersport limelight.
Kawasaki KLX25OS vs. Yamaha WR25OR: Workaday commuters to urban playbikes to high country trailbikes
MAINSTREAM MEDIA HAS LATCHED ONTO SCOOTERS and all kinds of other forms of cheap, fuel-efficient transpo in these times of unstable gas prices and a crazy economy, but there are no better two-wheeled machines for saving money, riding anywhere you want and having fun than lightweight dual-purpose bikes.
NOTHING TERRIBLY HIGH-TECH ABOUT a glove, right? Just a simple, protective covering for the hand. Bionic begs to differ. The company is a division of Kentucky-based Hillerich & Bradsby, better known as makers of Louisville Slugger baseball bats.
SORE WRISTS FROM LOW-MOUNTED handlebars are no barrel of laughs. Combined with an aching neck and back, such discomfort can take the fun out of sportbike riding. Durrani Racing Components’ 312 Series Magnesium Clip-Ons are adjustable over a range of 10 degrees, are available to fit many late-model sportbikes and, in many cases, cost less than original-equipment bars.
AS I POWER-SLID OUT OF A THIRD-GEAR right-hander in the rain-drenched practice, my heavily weighted outside boot slipped off the KTM’s left footpeg. In that instant, I highsided straight onto my head. After I came to a stop, I ran a brief systems check before jumping up and running for the bike.
Q I recently put together a basketcase Honda CBR600F2. Long story short, starting it is a bitch. When it does start, it idles okay but won’t pull until it gets above 5 grand or so. I removed the carbs, pulled the jets and the pilot screws, squirted carb cleaner and compressed air down every hole I could see and put it all back together.
So, you bought your solo-seat Harley-Davidson FXD Dyna Super Glide to get away from it all, but now you’re feeling kind of lonely out there. Well, don’t despair: For a half-dozen C-notes spent at your local Harley dealership, you can do what I did with an ’09 FXD and turn your Super Glide into a “Two-Per Glide,” allowing you to enjoy a more social riding experience.
NHTSA Recall No. 08V457000 Triumph Sprint ST Model year: 2008 Number of units involved: 372 Problem: The three bolts in the rear-suspension drag-link assembly possibly can become brittle and fracture. The bolts involved are the (1) drag-link-to-drop-link bolt; (2) drag-link-to-frame bolt; and (3) drop-link-to-rear-suspension-unit bolt.
I’d have to vote for cable ties as one of the great inventions of the Twentieth Century. The things you can do with these little strips of plastic-sometimes called zip ties-are almost endless. You can bundle wires, secure cables to chassis members, route oil or hydraulic lines out of harm’s way, segregate electrical harnesses in an orderly fashion-and cut your hands and arms to shreds.
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