BY SHEER DUMB LUCK, I MAY HAVE HAD the best motorcycle training ever. Off-road, I went from minibikes to playbikes to full-size motocrossers, enduros and trials bikes. On the street, my learning curve progressed from a 175 to a 350 to a 750 and was heightened by a couple of seasons of club roadracing.
ON MY CAR RADIO THE OTHER NIGHT, there was a psychologist giving advice on how married couples should handle the stress of the current economic downturn. He said (and I paraphrase here, not having had a tape recorder on me): “I would advise you to think back on what life was like when you were young and first married—the apartments, the budget meals, the cheap jug wine, the old cars—and ask yourself if it was really so bad.
THE NEW CARBON-FIBER CHASSIS ON Ducati’s D16-09 MotoGP bike may represent more than simply adopting a material of higher stiffness-to-weight ratio. The last big change in chassis was exactly that: the 1980s’ abandonment of traditional welded tubular steel loop frames in favor of twin aluminum spars.
John Burns is our hero. My wife has been on me to buy a new Ducati Monster. I have resisted because there are 11 motorcycles in the garage now, insurance for them is high, I’m too old (65) for something this sporty, the roads are too straight here in Florida, it’s not good two-up, blah, blah, blah.
Can you see me now? See and be seen with PIAA 004Xi Ion Crystal lamps, a functional and stylish upgrade for just about any streetbike. Coated lenses combined with 55-watt H3 halogen bulbs deliver bright amber beams. A dual-lamp kit, complete with a wiring harness, a relay, an on/off switch and mounting brackets, retails for $228.
Psst... Hey, Mr. Privateer Racer, are you looking for the good stuff? Graves' WORKS line of high-performance parts for the Yamaha YZF-R1, YZF-R6, YZ450F and YZ250F differs from Graves Motorsports-branded multi-line accessories in that they are for competition use only. Graves is so serious about this that simply browsing the WORKS site requires a user account; to actually purchase products, you'll have to submit a summary of your racing program, including a photograph, license number and previous results. Based on Ben Bostrom's winning performance in this year's Daytona 200, not to mention his AMA Supersport crown last season, your time and money will be well-spent.
chase apexes while sitting more upright with a Buell 1125CR Handlebar Kit ($215). The black-anodized handlebar replaces the big naked Twin's original-equipment clubman-style bar and comes with all cables, brake lines and related hardware required for installation.
Coffee for gearheads? That's the idea behind Redline Coffee. A variety of motorsports-monikered roasts—Open Throttle, Apex and Rallye, among others—is sure to get your motor running. For $26 per month, Redline will deliver two 12-ounce bags of fair-trade, USDA-certified organic whole beans directly to your doorstep.
Buff, the "original multifunctional headwear," knows no seasons. Proof is the multitude of materials the company now uses to create its innovative designs. Recent additions include models produced from merino wool (warm in winter, cool in summer) and Gore Windstopper (windproof with unmatched breathability). Wear 'em as a cap, a mask, a balaclava or a neck gaiter. And that's just for starters! Pricing begins at $16.
Brad Penn Penn-Grade 1
Brad Penn has decided to jump into the business of all-in-one oil—engine, primary and transmission—for American V-Twins with its refined-in-the-U.S. Penn-Grade 1 V2 20w-50 ($6 per quart). Green in color—no kidding!—Penn-Grade 1 is also available in 10w-40 ($6 per quart) for use in four-stroke Japanese motorcycles where an API SJ-, SHor SG-quality oil is specified. Other viscosities are available, as well.
Replace your bulky, push-button garage-door opener with Flash2Pass ($80). The compact, vibration-resistant, weatherproof transmitter can be hidden just about anywhere on a motorcycle—behind a fairing panel, under a seat, inside a saddlebag, etc. To open the garage door, simply double-click the bike's headlight high-beam switch. A digitally encrypted signal and rolling-code technology enhance security. Additional transmitters retail for $35 to $60, depending on door type.
Tissot is the official timekeeper of MotoGP, so it comes as no surprise that the Swiss watchmaker has for several seasons partnered with 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden. With Hayden moving from Honda to Ducati this year, Tissot created yet another limited-edition model, this one retailing for $775 and based once again on the sapphire-crystal, quartz-movement T-Race chronograph. Of special note are the PVD-coated crown, black carbon dial, red rubber bracelet with deployant buckle and carbon-composite/stainless-steel case with engraved back. Production is limited to 4999 pieces worldwide.
Checking multiple bags when flying commercially can be expensive, what with the airlines' recently instituted fees. Ogio offers an alternative: the Bus ($299). What appears at first glance to be a single, telescoping-handled roller bag is actually two bags, the smaller of the two being a carry-on-legal, over-the-shoulder tote. At check-in, simply peel apart the two magnetically attached pieces and you are on your way to your destination.
Scorpion Sports Helmets
Has any helmet-maker made more of an impact recently than Scorpion Sports? From its EXO 100, 200, 400, 700 and 1000 series openand full-face street helmets ($110 to $320; sizes XS-XXL) to the off-road-oriented VX-9,VX-14 and VX-17 ($90 to $180; sizes XS-XXL), Scorpion has a DOTand/or Snell-approved helmet to meet your needs, style and budget. Growing nearly as quickly is the company's apparel division, in particular the EXO Xtreme Distance Riders collection, which boasts fully armored textile designs for both men and women.
Racing Wheel Nut Tool
Turn any half-inch drive into a handy Ducati wheel-removal device with Slingshot Racing's Wheel Nut Tool ($40). This gold-anodized, 6061-T6 aluminum socket captures both the 30mm front and 55mm rear wheel nuts on any 1098/1198. Not intended for use with impact guns.
Can you see me now? See and be seen with PIAA 004Xi Ion Crystal lamps, a functional and stylish upgrade for just about any streetbike. Coated lenses combined with 55-watt H3 halogen bulbs deliver bright amber beams.
Mother Nature can’t keep us off Aprilla’s new RSV4
STORMY WEATHER AND SLICK track conditions greeted members of the international motopress gathered at the Misano World Circuit for a splish-splash, slip-n-slide ride aboard the Aprilia RSV4 Factory. Credit Aprilia for the wise fitment of Pirelli Diablo Rain racing radials and the uncanny tractability of the Aprilia V-Four engine (with its tri-map, fly-by-wire engine management toggled to a state of reduced power and response) for keeping my boxers dry.
I'm a big fan of two-strokes and an owner of a Yamaha RZ500 V-Four, so this issue, chock full of smokers, really piqued my interest. Gracing the cover was the then-brand-new Yamaha RZ350 in Kenny Roberts' bumble-bee yellow and black, his signature on the upper fairing tack-sharp in the Rich Chenet photograph.
VEHICLES THAT USE FLEXIBLE FUEL make up almost 90 percent of new automobile sales in Brazil, so it was only a matter of time before this technology found its way onto a motorcycle. Honda made almost 70 percent of the 1.9 million new motorcycles sold in that country in 2008, so it's only fitting that Big Red was first to build a bike capable of burning mixtures of bio-ethanol and gasoline fuels.
Do you love your bike so much that you would sleep with it? In Japan, the Early Age real estate agency recently built the NE Apartment, an eight-unit apartment block specifically for motorcyclists. The complex, located in Suginami-ku, west of Tokyo, allows residents to park their bikes inside their 300to 540-square-foot homes.
UP: To Avon tires, for its new Road Hazard Warranty on Viper Sport, Viper Supersport, Azaro ST and Storm ST ranges of tires. In times like these, the last thing a consumer wants is to suffer a puncture on a new set of tires. Avon will replace a dam-aged tire at no charge.
TWO YEARS AGO, LONG BEFORE THE HARLEY-DAVIDSON BUY-out of MV Agusta, visionary designer Massimo Tamburini started honing the concept of a lightweight and very compact machine powered by a three-cylinder, 675cc engine, a la the middleweight Triumph Daytona.
YAMAHA’S FZ1 IS ABOUT AS MODERN A STANDARD AS YOU can get these days, with sharp styling and monochrome paintjobs fitting its role in the Tuning Fork Folks’ lineup. But if you’ve got a retro bent and happen to be a fan of Lawson, Rainey, Roberts and the rest of Yamaha’s roadracing greats, consider the recently released retro bodywork kit.
Edelweiss Bike Travel continues to come up with new and exciting vacation ideas for its motorcycling customers. In addition to more than 40 current tours, the company has four new options for 2009. The Race Track Tour will have participants spending three days riding from Munich, Germany, to the Baden-Baden race circuit in the Black Forest, where a full day of training will be provided by professional instructors, followed by two additional days of twisties on the return to Munich.
SAY WHAT YOU WILL about Piaggio’s handling of grand brands Derbi, Gilera and Moto Guzzi, but Europe’s largest maker of two-wheel transportation knows how to build a scooter. Consider the 2009 BV Tourer 250. This freshly restyled step-through, with its punchy fuel-injected engine, 16-inch alloy wheels and upright ergonomics, narrows the gap between traditional scooters and entry-level motorcycles, particularly for those riders who commute in and around congested urban areas and favor the simplicity of an automatic clutch and transmission over their manual counterparts.
AS FURIOUSLY INNOVAtive and industrious as the Italian people can be, the culture never seems to lose touch with the more humane a domani side of life that knows how truly important relaxation is and how vital taking an espresso break can be.
BEEN IGNORING ALL those little motorcycles and scooters from China, have you? Yeah, so have we, for the most part. Up to this point, they’ve been either too small, too weird, too shoddily manufactured or too lacking a support network to take very seriously.
Riding the revised Bonneville in a resurrected New Orleans
EVER NOTICE HOW ALL THE GREAT CITIES SMELL LIKE garbage and spilled drinks in the morning, if you get up early enough and take a walk? Look at Paris and New York. And—normally—New Orleans. But on my first morning in the Big Easy last week, the street crews were actually out there washing down the pavement in the French Quarter with big brushes and jets of hot soapy water.
GREEN, IT SEEMS, IS THE FRESHEST buzz-word to sweep the planet. “Green this, green that,” exhort the Capital Hill privileged that purportedly represent us overtaxed payers. While politicians produce enough hot CO2 to feed a forest and burn through newly printed notes as if they grew on trees, my idea of eco-friendly transportation is the pair of irrefutably green machines we have here.
IN BOXING, WHAT GOOD IS HAVING A GREAT JAB IF YOU’RE confined to a space where you can’t let it loose? Sometimes in close quarters, having a firm uppercut gets the job done just fine. That’s how it is with these two European middleweights—more punishing grunt and less flashy-fast footwork than supersport 600s.
Diversity is good, but when the topic is motorcycles, being unique is just plain cool. Despite using three completely different engine configurations, the four middleweight supersports tested on the same day at Willow Springs for the preceding 2x2s lapped within a second of each other.
Completing the Triple Play with a pair of all-around Twins
ALL GOOD THINGS COME IN THREES, RIGHT? BLONDES, brunettes and redheads. Detroit’s Big Three (well, not so much these days). Tic Tac Toe. Ready, set, go! Yadda, yadda, yadda. Kawasaki and Suzuki... Come again? Think about it: two Twins, each engine powering a trio of entry-level machines targeting the popular sport, adventure and, now, naked market segments.
Choppers go mainstream and morph into usable motorcycles
THE IRONY OF THE ORIGINAL CHOPPER MOVEMENT of the Sixties and Seventies is that the bikes that showed such freedom of expression were awful for actually pursuing the freedom of the open road. Our staff chopper guy is the Editor-in-Chief, and he kindly (?!) let me try his raked BSA and also his Honda 350, both ex-showbikes of the era.
Ducati SportClassic Sport 1000 vs. Harley-Davidson XR1200
When worlds collide: Neo-vintage café-racer meets faux fabled dirt-tracker
EVEN IF YOU DON’T CONSIDER YOURSELF a motorcycle expert, you may be wondering why we chose to compare these two apparently disparate machines. If so, don’t think that you somehow missed an important memo; we even occasionally asked ourselves that question during this test.
THE DEFINITION OF AN ENDURO BIKE IS BECOMING DILUTED. There are street-legal enduro bikes, standard-issue (Japanese) enduro bikes, pure competition enduro bikes and cross-country racing bikes. These are more niches than actual categories, though, so for that reason we’ve matched up a textbook, trail-riding-legal enduro, the Honda CRF450X (which also happens to be our 2008 Ten Best winner in the category), against a closed-course competition machine, the new Husaberg FE450e.
WHEN TALK TURNS TO FULL-DRESS touring motorcycles, a few key words stand out: features, power and comfort. Oh, and did we mention features? Typical touring riders like to bring everything but the proverbial kitchen sink with them; they also want all the bells and whistles engineers can throw their way, making long days in the saddle as enjoyable as possible.
IF THERE EVER IS A RIDING GEAR HALL of Fame, Andy Goldfine should be inducted in his first year of eligibility. Goldfine was banging the drum for textile riding gear when most of us thought that meant either a stinky waxed-cotton enduro suit or maybe a rancher's denim jacket.
CLICK. CLICK. CLICK. BEEN THERE, experienced that. A dead battery, that is. Don't want to relive that moment? TecMate may offer a solution. The OptiMate4, TecMate's latest battery char ger, is designed to diagnose and bring back to life discharged sealed, filler-cap-equipped or gel 12-volt lead-acid batteries rated up to 70 ampere-hours.
BELSTAFF'S WAXED-COTTON RIDING jacket is a motorcycling icon. While that classic garment is still sold through long-time American importer BMG, the Mercury jacket, a modern textile design, has taken up the mantle as the British company’s best-selling model.
YOUR AVERAGE BACKPACK IS NOT A bad way to carry things with you on a motorcycle, and on a storage-limited bike like a Ducati 1198/1098/848, it's pretty much your only choice. DETAILS Ducati North America 10443 Bandley Dr. Cupertino, CA 95014 408/253-0499 www.ducati.com Price..
TRYING TO EXPLAIN THE scale of the unfolding story to people outside of the tiny circle of U.K. dirt-track followers took plenty of analogies. “It’s like Valentino Rossi racing at Darley Moor,” I said. Chris Carr had bought his airline ticket and was leaving Pennsylvania to fly 11 hours across the Atlantic.
Q I'd like to install some really tall handlebars on my 2006 Honda VTX1800 because I think they look cool. A couple of my buddies claim those kinds of bars are uncomfortable and make a bike unsafe, but they ride crotch rockets that I think have awful riding positions, so what do they know?
Motorcycles may be small compared to automobiles, but they nevertheless often have more than their fair share of nooks and crannies that can be tough to clean. Joints at bodywork segments, closely spaced cylinder fins and mounting hardware set deeply into recessed mounting holes are just a few examples.
Yamaha YZF600R Best 600cc Streetbike 1996 Ten Best Awards
Years sold: 1994-2007 MSRP new: $7499 (1996) Blue Book retail value: $2745 (’96 model) Basic specs: This 599cc inline-Four made 87.4 hp at 11,500 rpm, 44.7 ft.-lb. of torque at 9500 and weighed 453 pounds dry.
Q I don’t understand any of the theory regarding airboxes. They supposedly are a buffer of sorts, providing a reservoir of air, but wouldn’t the lack of an airbox result in an even bigger supply? I understand the need to minimize induction noise and to keep the reservoir (downstream of the air restriction) as big as is practical.
Q I’m going to guess that some proofreader or word-processing spell-checker messed you up, because in your May, 2009, Service letter titled “Carpe piston,” you said the piston clearance for a 1981 Suzuki RM250 is .025 to .030-inch. No, it is not; it’s .0025 to .0030-inch.