INTERNATIONAL BIKE OF THE YEAR NEVER ceases to be interesting because of the diversity of countries and publications that participate. Here at Cycle World, we have traditionally let our Ten Best Bikes selections be our guide, and so it was again as we voted this year with 11 other magazines to find the IBOTY of 2009.
HARD TIMES BRING CHANGE. Currency shifts are making Japanese goods less attractive, European goods more so. How about U.S. goods? Maybe it's time for a new motorcycle enterprise. Here comes Motus (Latin for "motion"), with Made in USA all over it.
Hot laps on Mat Mladin's Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000
MAT MLADIN'S DEPARTURE FROM AMA Pro Racing could not have come soon enough for his competitors. There is no denying that the Australian and his Yoshimura Suzuki team, headed by crew chief Peter Doyle, were more often than not the class of the field.
The motorcycling community is no stranger to charitable contributions. One of the most recognizable organizations worldwide is Riders for Health, which has for years successfully provided motorcycles to transport medicine and medical help to hard-to-reach locations in Africa, where those services are otherwise virtually impossible to obtain.
Cycle World's cover plugged designed for motorcycles multiple surfaces of terra firma. Pictured were full-dress touring machines from Honda and BMW, while teasers included a MX Missile Shootout and a test ride on the ultra-radical Bimota Tesi.
After months—nay, years—of buying John Burns lunch all the time, we finally decided to give him a corporate credit card and make him do the deed for us once in a while. That's right, the man who has been wandering the Earth to do great stories for Cycle World has joined the staff as full-time Feature Editor.
Öhlins contributed to Ben Spies' dominance in the 2009 World Superbike Championship by supplying his Yamaha YZF-Rl with some of the most advanced electronically managed "active suspension" ever fitted to a motorcycle, race or street.
"Gee, Dad, can I ride it now?" BIG KIDS, SMALL KIDS, grown adults acting like kids-it doesn't matter: Kids of all sizes and ages enjoy pure, unadulterated off-road fun on Kawasaki’s 2010 KLX110L. Just looking at it, you know that it’s a bike intended mainly for youngsters, but you might find it impossible to get Dad off the thing long enough for his offspring to ride it.
PIAGGIO IS THE LARGest manufacturer of scooters in Europe, and Vespa is its premium small-wheel brand. Topping the eight-model 2010 line is the sleek, chic and speedy GTS 300 Super. Conceived as basic, affordable transportation for crippled post-WWII Italy, the first Vespa with its pressed steel monocoque body and protective leg shield was a hit.
IT'S A NICE ENOUGH LITTLE cruiser, it really is, and it runs great, too, thanks to it being the first small Shadow to benefit from fuel injection: Hit the button in the morning and you’re ready to roll pronto and hiccup-free, with a reasonably rumbly accompaniment.
Just read the February article by John Burns on the Kimura bikes (“What’s it all about, Shinya?”). He asks, “Does any of this register with me? Ah, hmmm, no, not so much. I usually like what Burns writes and I do like the bikes, but I think Kimura needs to focus on one plan and quit drilling so many holes in parts.
WHEN WORLD WAR I ENDED IN late 1918, aviation development, which had been progressing with extreme rapidity, came to a halt. World inventories of aircraft and engines were so large that near-scrap prices were being charged. In that climate, new ideas might have been interesting but they weren’t going to attract private investors.
IT ISN'T VERY OFTEN THAT A TIRE-BALance problem on a modern Triumph leads to the purchase of an old Norton, but in the universe I inhabit there's no such thing as coincidence. There's only inescapable Fate, whose machinations are no more complicated than an ordinary box trap held up with a stick.
IT WAS AN ODD THING TO HAVE CROSS my mind the first time I thumbed the starter button on this 2010 VFR1200F, the long-awaited follow-up to the previous Interceptor. But as the lightly syncopated combustion rhythm of the 76-degree V-Four with 28-degree-offset crankpins made its flat, almost-360-degree-crank sound—a droning, distant echo of MotoGP—I thought, "Honda made a chopper...
Wind in your face, lure of the open road...and the hum of an electric motor?
ELECTRIC VEHICLES ARE A POLARIZING SUBJECT, RIFE with environmental, political and technical whoopde-doos. Advocates insist electricity is the wave of the future for transportation, claiming enhanced performance, reduced emissions and lower maintenance.
The first point to make about batteries is that their energy-storage mechanism is not all that different from how energy is stored in conventional liquid fuels. Fuel and air in a combustion engine’s cylinder are at a higher-energy chemical state than those same atoms rearranged by combustion into the carbon dioxide and water vapor of exhaust gas.
CARBON FIBER OFFERS THE ULTIMATE combination of strength and light weight. Formula One cars and the latest Boeing 787 Dreamliner are meaningful examples of the technological achievements granted by a competent use of the stuff. Theoretically, it would be the perfect material for ultra-light and rigid motorcycle frames, yet few in motorcycling have taken the challenge; even fewer have been successful.
BMW adventure school, or bow I learned to love riding an enormous motorcycle' on slick asphalt and slicker dirt—and only got one sock wet in the process
JOHN L. STEIN
OF ALL THE ODDBALL THINGS I've done on motorcycles over the last 40 years, maybe revving a Yamaha TX500 through the bathroom at Orange County International Raceway with five people and a German shepherd aboard was the goofiest.
BMW's R1200GS gets dohc heads and a healthy boost in performance
JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT THAT BMW'S VENERABLE flat-Twin had reached the logical conclusion of its evolution with the R1200's cam-in-head design, the Germans go and throw us a wonderful curveball. The first pitch was the dohc setup that debuted in 2007 on the limited-production (and expensive) HP2 Sport.
All you need to hit the road is desire, a little displacement and even less money. But it doesn't hurt to have a vast spiritual budget of mutual support and shared expertise. Beer and fireworks help, too...
IN MYTHS AND OLD MOVIES, BIKER gangs were scary. If they came to your town, women and children would scatter and men would get nervous. This was not the experience of the "555" ride. Our ragged herd was too weird to inspire fear in strangers.
Stand out in a sea of factory-issue plastic with Formula One-grade carbon-fiber bodywork and engine covers from llmberger. Treated with a clear-coat finish, the individual pre-drilled parts are available for late-model Aprilia, Benelli, Buell, Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki, MV Agusta and Suzuki sportbikes, as well as the Harley-Davidson V-Rod and various BMWs. The parts shown here on the K1300S total $5420. All components are approved for street use in Germany by the TUV— that country's equivalent of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Touratech Locking zūmo Handlebar Mount
Protect your Garmin zūmo 660 from damage on the road or theft while parked with the Touratech Locking Handlebar Mount ($140). This laser-cut, anodized aluminum mount uses foam rubber to isolate the GPS from engine and road vibration, has several mounting options and is fitted with a keyed barrel lock. Access to all connections, including those for the power supply and 3.5mm headset jack, is maintained. Not compatible with the BMW Nay 4 cradle or Garmin zūmo 550.
Not only does the Star ($550-700; XS-XXL) now meet the new, stricter Snell M2010 safety standard, Bell's flagship full-face helmet has been altered to address sizing-related concerns and improve overall comfort and fit. Specifically, seams were removed from the washable comfort liner to relieve pressure points and make the integrated speaker pockets both quieter and easier to use. MagnaFusion, Bell's new proprietary magnetic strap keeper, is now incorporated, as well.
Gilles Tooling Components
Gilles Tooling manufactures brake and clutch levers, footpeg assemblies and driveline components for uropean and Japanese sportbikes. New, brakelight-switch-equipped, TUV-certified VCR rearsets ($570) are machined from 7075 aluminum, hard-anodized in either gold or black, adjustable over a wide range and come with carbon-fiber heel guards. Standard and reversed shift patterns are available.
Midland BT2-D Wireless Intercom
Midland's BT2-D offers all of the technical features any rider and passenger might want in a wireless intercom system: communication between rider and passenger or another rider within a 220-yard range; Bluetooth link to cell phones and GPS; wired connection to an MP3 player or General Mobile Radio Service; stereo speakers; a choice of either a boom-type or wired, wind-resistant microphone; and an AC charger. What's more, the radio itself has a slim profile and attaches to nearly any fullor open-face helmet with supplied adhesive tape or clamshell-type bracket. Differentiating between the three main buttons on the waterproof radio-Telephone, Intercom or Auxiliary—can be tricky until you're familiar with their locations. A bigger problem: Earplug wearers struggled to hear anything without resorting to otherwise-deafening volume levels. In all other ways, though, the BT2-D ($399) is the class of its field.
Ogio 180 Moto Stand
Once upon a time, off-road riders had to be rough-and-tough manly types, if for no other reason than to be able to heave their machines onto a service stand at the end of a long, hard ride. Ogio has changed all that with the 180 Moto Stand ($119). Simply push your bike forward and the front tire rolls through the center of the stand's lightweight aluminum frame, which then engages with the bike, raising both wheels off the ground. Ready to ride? Pull back on the handlebars and the action is reversed.
Weise Riding Gear
New to the U.S. this past year, U.K.based Weise produces a broad range of jackets, pants, gloves, boots and related riding accessories. Styles for both men and women are available, with CE-approved armor fitted where necessary. Shown here: women's 600-denier nylon Symphony jacket ($192) and Papillon jean ($144).
Sierra BMW Motorcycles, 1380 Kleppe Ln., Sparks, NV 89431; 775/355-0655; www.sierrabmwonline.com Touratech USA, 4021 Airport Way S., Seattle, WA 98108; 800/491-2926; www.touratech-usa.com Bell Helmets, 5550 Scotts Valley Dr., Scotts Valley, CA 95066; 800/456-2355; www.bellpowersports.com Tucker Rocky Distributing, 4900 Alliance Gateway Fwy., Fort Worth, TX 76177; 866/302-5676; www.gilles tooling.com Midland Radio, 5900 Parretta Dr., Kansas City, MO 64120; 816/241-8500; www.mid landradio.com Ogio International, 14926 Pony Express Rd., Bluffdale, UT 84065; 800/922-1944; www.ogio.com Canton Cycles, 70 Main St., Winsted, CT 06098; 860/7381718; www.cantoncycles.com
EVER SINCE ELECTRONIC FUEL INJECtion became the de facto standard for modern motorcycles, Dynojet has been a leader in fuel-delivery recalibration. Its newest innovation is the Auto Tune Wideband O2 Controller. Roughly the size of a package of Tic Tac breath mints, the Auto Tune module works in conjunction with the latest Power Commander V ($370).
SO THERE YOU ARE, ABOUT TO TAKE A ride on a hot summer day, and your footwear choices are grim. You can wear your heavy, hot all-purpose motorcycle boots (wringing out your socks later), or you can put on your tennis shoes, which offer no ankle protection and look bad with leathers at the Ace Café.
Q Can a motorcycle get used to cold weather? I ride a 2006 Suzuki GSX-R1000, and even though it got a new battery and sparkplugs in October, it does not want to start in the cold. I live in Florida where, for the past week, the weather has been in the low 30s.
Cleaning a chain is about as much fun as a root canal. It's a bothersome enough task on dirtbikes, most of which use chains with a clip-type master link, so you can at least get the thing off easily. But with the endless chains that are prevalent on streetbikes, you’re usually faced with either removing the swingarm pivot or using an expensive (for a good one, anyway) chain tool to remove and install the riveted links.
Q Why do the piston rings in four-stroke engines sometimes rotate in their grooves? Five years ago, I personally rebuilt the engine in my 2002 Honda XR650L, and I was very careful to set the three ring gaps at 120-degree intervals to minimize the likelihood of blow-by through the gaps.
Q I found your response to Michael Fricke's letter in the October issue ("The unfiltered truth”) accurate and informative as always, if somewhat incomplete. While I certainly agree that running without an air filter is a bad idea for all the reasons you stated, you neglected to mention an equally important function of the filter that is not often discussed.
Honorable Mention 2002 Ten Best Awards Years sold: 2002-2009 MSRP new: $11,999 (2002) Blue Book retail value: $5840 (2002) to $9270 (2009) Basic specs: A 1670cc, air-cooled, ohv, four-valve-per-cylinder, fuel-injected, inverted-fork, belt-drive, 48-degree V-Twin that hammered out 80 rear-wheel horsepower and 104-foot-pounds of torque.
NHTSA Recall No. 09V457000 Manufacturer: Harley-Davidson Models: All 2009-10 FL Touring, CVO Touring and Trike models manufactured from June 6, 2008, through November 19, 2009. Problem: The front fuel-tank mounts may distort in reaction to severe frame damage from a frontal collision, possibly causing a fuel leak where the front bracket is welded to the fuel-tank tunnel.
ALBERT GUNTER WAS AMERICA'S practical genius of motorcycle racing. Useful, workable innovations poured from him-the "blend" valve seats that are only now trendy, billet pistons, hardened and cut tires for dirt-track, magnesium disc wheels, raised-and-filled ports, chassis innovations.
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