THE SMARTPHONE IS EVERYWHERE. ON the commute to work, I get cut off or otherwise threatened in a vehicular manner on a regular basis by people using their handheld devices in ways California law no longer allows and common decency has been against from the beginning.
IF EVER THERE WERE A YAMAHA WELL AHEAD OF ITS TIME, the TDM850 was it. Back in 1992-93, Yamaha imported the dual-counterbalanced parallel-Twin powered machine, hoping the bike would catch on in popularity in the U.S. like it did in Europe. But American buyers weren’t ready for now-popular long-travel, do-everything bikes like Ducati’s Multistrada, Suzuki’s V-Strom or Triumph’s Tiger.
Rimini's superbike gets the latest 1198 Testastretta engine
Bimota HB4 Moto2 Racer
Bimota is a unique company within the motorcycle industry: great image, great technical competence and creativity but little in the way of financial stamina. Bimota has just finished developing the Ducati 1198 Testastretta-powered DB8.
Dunlop supplies the spec tires for AMA Pro roadracing
COMPETITION IS EXPENSIVE AND MONEY IS scarce. That pushes racing toward spec everything. AMA Pro American SuperBike runs on spec Dunlop slicks made in England. DOT tires for other classes are made in Buffalo, New York. A provider of spec tires must first of all satisfy those it supplies that the same choices are available to all without reservation.
This Buell 1125R could seriously be the poster child for things that look better naked. When Harley pulled the Buell plug, the boys in the back room at Magpul Industries jumped, buying up about 30 of the poor orphaned Twins. Magpul (www.magpulronin.com) mostly makes things that enhance the pleasure and efficiency of military and law-enforcement types, things like 45-round magazines for M-16s and all sorts of shooting accessories.
"We Ride the Bikes of Italy—From the Mad to the Mundane," shout the main cover lines over the red, white and green colors of the Italian flag. Tech Editor Steve Anderson and Feature Editor David Edwards spent the better part of a month in Italy riding many of the diverse motorcycles built there and chronicling the undying passion of the people who ride them.
YEP, WE ARE HAVING FUN WITH THE DIGITAL WORLD. You’ll notice these “Twist” icons placed on select stories throughout this issue. It’s a 2D code, which smartphone users can scan for instant access to story-related video. Simply direct your smartphone’s web browser to Microsoft’s mobile Tag Reader site at http://gettag.mobi and download the app—the site automatically detects your type of phone.
For four decades, Italian suspension firms Ceriani and Marzocchi were the fiercest of competitors. By the end of the 1980s, however, the fortunes of the two companies had declined sharply. Ceriani was acquired by Steve Storz, while Marzocchi tiptoed along in an increasingly cost-sensitive market.
I BET IF YOU COULD BRING back Socrates or daVinci or Ronald Reagan, they’d be more amazed by the Gold Wing than just about any modern invention. Airplane? Yeah, works like a bird, huh? We knew that would happen someday. Ferrari? Burns gas instead of hay, makes sense.
IT’S ONLY NATURAL TO OBsess over what you can’t have, and for the sport-minded Harley-Davidson faithful living on the home front, the XR1200 has been a bone of contention. Coy marketing ploy or not, when the sportiest of Sportster models to ever roll off The Motor Company assembly line debuted three years ago, the titillating street-tracker-style machines were crated and shipped overseas as a European market exclusive.
What’s with you guys? Same articles for June and July, rehashing the same bikes with the same information? I find your magazine very boring, featuring the same bikes over and over again. I’m really sick of hearing about the Ducati 1198 S and now the BMW S1000RR. The other two bike magazines have you beat.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES! Cycle World's program to see if a private team can be competitive in the AMA Pro American SuperBike class had a great day at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch near Pahrump, Nevada, but ran afoul of several realities in its second test, a two-day outing at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Alabama.
WELL, I GOT ABSOLUTELY MURdered on taxes this year. Following a financial planning guide that recommends "practicing for retirement" several years before you actually retire, I foolishly cut back on the sort of large, ruinous old car and motorcycle restoration projects that have always been the financial black hole of my earthly existence.
BIG MOTORCYCLE COMPANIES ARE LYING TO you. How else can you explain the Grand Canyon-like gap between their "claimed" dry weights and the reality of our own certified Cycle World scales? This practice of fudging the figures to get a favorable amount is ridiculous.
A carbon and titanium beauty based on a Ducati Desmosedici, but offering so much more (and less)
Giorgio Nepoti and Rino Caracchi started something special when they formed NCR and turned out their first Ducati special more than 40 years ago, an excellent tradition that lives on in the form of the amazing new NCR Millona 16. Acquired by the Poggipolini Group in 2001, NCR continues the work of turning out beautiful, hand-built motorcycles packed with the finest components and workmanship.
NOT SINCE THE GREAT RUBBER ENGINE MOUNTING OF 2004 has such a big change been made to the Sportster. In fact, the big change came last year, when H-D used a stunning new technology on its new XR1200 Sportster, which everybody liked so well H-D decided it might not be a bad idea to use it on some of the other bikes, too.
KTM’S ALL-NEW 350 SX-F WAS BUILT WITH AN ambitious goal: to be the ultimate motocrosser. That’s a bold objective, as the way racing classes are currently structured, this “ultimate” 350 has no choice but to compete against 100cc-larger 450cc machines.
IF YOU'VE BEEN JONESING FOR A NEW SPORT-TOURER, YOU MIGHT WANT TO CHILL FOR A few weeks. Sometime in September, Triumph here in the U.S. will release the new Sprint GT, a sport-tourer worth thoughtful consideration before you write a check or float a loan for another bike in that category.
OUR LONG-TERM EVALUATION OF BMW's F800GS wasn't supposed to take this, um, long to complete. Mix-ups with a couple of aftermarket suppliers, for example, forced us to miss an entire summer of riding. So, while our time with the midsize GS wasn't without a few bumps in the road, when the dust finally settled (literally), we came to the conclusion that this parallel-Twin is one of the most enjoyable and versatile motorcycles available today.
If at first you don’t succeed, try and try yet again. The third time’s been a charm for Kawasaki’s venerable Z1000. It nabbed an honorable mention when it debuted back in 2003 but got edged out by the glamorous Aprilia Tuono. Updates to the Z1000 in ’07 kept one of our favorite versatile sporting motorcycles in the conversation, but it was the Triumph Tiger 1050 that had us by the tail that year. Now Kawasaki has delivered an all-new machine that shares little more with its predecessors than a name and its broad-focus, real-world sporting intent. And we have been torqued into submission by its all-new sublimely smooth, instant-power 1043cc inline-Four. This, along with a sporty chassis and fully adjustable suspension upped the Z’s sporting prowess and sealed the deal.
Speed. Power. Handling. Agility. Stability. Comfort. Payload. It’s hard enough to pack all those endearing qualities into a motorcycle, and it’s even more rare to find them in great quantities in any one machine. But that’s what Kawasaki has accomplished with the Concours 14. It dances through the twists and turns of backroads as though that was its sole purpose in life, yet it glides down the open road with the greatest of ease, chewing up the miles smoothly, easily, comfortably. And the ZX-14-derived engine delivers what might be the most deceptive flow of eyeball-flattening acceleration offered by any motorcycle ever built. The big Conc won this award in the first two years of its existence, 2008 and ’09, then rolled into 2010 boasting numerous improvements and upgrades that further cemented its status as the finest sport-tourer on the planet.
Let’s see. It makes 176.4 horsepower—21 more, on the official CW dyno, than the next closest bike in its class. At Spain’s MotoGP-hosting Motorland Aragon racetrack for MasterBike (CW, June), it destroyed all liter-bike comers. On the road in our own little fiesta of speed, we found it almost as refined and comfortable as the established superbike players. And just to rub it in, the base-model BMW is actually a bit cheaper than some of its Japanese equivalents. Or jack the price up a few grand with the addition of Dynamic Traction Control, ABS and even an honest-to-goodness quick-shifter. As both an introductory effort and a portent of what it’s likely unleashed in the marketplace, this BMW’s the most beautiful thing to blow out of Bavaria since Beethoven. Cue superbike WWIII.
Multistrada 1200 S Sport
Corner carving in many regions has degenerated into an endurance contest, wherein hardened enthusiasts suffer through hours of low bars, high pegs and thin seats in a quest for sportbikedom’s Holy Grail, the apex. This is why the 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Sport is a revelation. With its broad, high-leverage handlebar and bolt-upright ergonomics, a punchy, superbike-sourced 135-horsepower liquid-cooled V-Twin and 17-inch wheels, the newest Multi is comfortable and fun and fast everywhere—a true horizon-expander. Icing on the desmo, so to speak, is the Sport’s electronically adjustable Öhlins suspension, traction control and anti-lock brakes. Cool thing is, all those electronic add-ons actually work to your advantage on or off the beaten path. For big-bore, go-anywhere, do-anything versatility, nothing beats the Multistrada 1200 S Sport.
It's as though time has stood still in what's historically been the most hotly contested street category of all. The fact remains there has never been a more performance-capable selection of middleweight offerings as witnessed the past two model years, and the ZX-6R remains the cream of the crop, winning for the second year running. Track-day patron? Backroad warrior? Mild-mannered motorcyclist with sporting aspiration? There’s no better way to ride out the current pause of perpetual performance gains and innovation that keep an enthusiast’s wheels turning. The Kawasaki ZX-6R is not merely a sportbike, it’s a well-balanced machine that ranks among the very best mid-displacement streetbikes ever conceived.
Last year, Husaberg’s FE450e literally turned the enduro class upside-down, with innovative engine packaging aimed at better handling. We praised the small manufacturer for taking it to the big boys and coming out on top. But this year, we have to give a nod to KTM’s 450 XC-W Six Days, which comes with a long list of standard items normally reserved for purchase from an accessory catalog. A headlight, taillight, quick-release skidplate, Stealth rear sprocket, handguards and more mean you won’t have to dump more money into your bike post-purchase. More importantly, the XC-W’s chassis excels in its intended environment: cross-country racing. Factor in a powerful and proven engine, and the Six Days rises to the top of the enduro category.
Eight was great, but Honda’s near-decade-long run at the top with the CRF450R has finally come to an end. Creative thinking resulted in the “backward”-top-end Yamaha YZ450F, the machine that toppled the Red Regime. But it wasn’t just the mass-centralizing engine architecture (with the intake at the front and exhaust at the rear) that helped improve handling. Excellent KYB suspension glides over braking bumps and eats sharp impacts, while the YZ’s fuel-injected engine—regardless of its layout—provides excellent low-end to midrange output, resulting in more usable power for a wider variety of riders. Add it all up and you get an incredible bike that gives us a fresh face at the top of the MX podium.
GL1800 Go1d Wing
Forgive us if you think we're repeating ourselves, but we can't help it: The 1800 Gold Wing has won the Best Touring award five years in a row and eight times in the bike’s 10-year existence. Not only that, in the 34-year history of Ten Best, Gold Wings of all sizes have topped this category 20 times. Yes, these bikes are that good. The 1800's ethereally smooth flat-Six delivers a bottomless well of stump-pulling torque that would do a Peterbilt proud, and the chassis offers a ride as plush as that provided by some cars. Toss in a great sound system, cruise control, heated grips and seat, adjustable windscreen, cockpit-adjustable headlights and rear-suspension preload—plus more than 75 accessories that include a navigation system, anti-lock brakes and even an airbag—and you get an over-the-road experience that nothing else on two wheels can match.
990 Adventure R
Something is going on here. For the third year in a row, our choice for Best Dual-Sport offers greater displacement than the bike that preceded it. In 2007, it was KTM’s 525 EXC, then the 690 Enduro in 2008. In 2009, it was BMW’s F800GS, and now we have KTM’s 990 Adventure R taking the prize. What makes the R such a worthy recipient is how much it feels like a “real” enduro, despite its 490-pound dry weight. Key is the suspension—which offers 10.5 inches of travel at both ends—and a chassis that somehow allows this machine to turn and handle like a real dirtbike should. But it’s equally adept on the road, with its controllable 96.2-hp V-Twin ripping up the asphalt as well as it does a rocky trail.
For Triumph, building a great parallel-Twin was no big deal, even though this counterbalanced 1596cc unit is the biggest one it’s ever built. The T-Bird’s pair of 4-inch pistons make more torque at 2630 rpm—95.1 ft.-lb.—than most cruiser motors make all day. But this bike’s more than a pair of big jugs. It rumbles along smoothly, soulfully, while providing comfortably kicked-back ergonomics and suspension that actually suspends. Triumph being Triumph, it couldn’t even keep from building a big cruiser that handles okay, too, and then wrapped it up in crisp styling, with a shapely no-seams gas tank, maximum chrome and minimal plastic. The result is a repeat winner as CW's Best Cruiser.
IS GOOD THE NEW BAD? SURE SEEMS LIKE IT. EVEN AS THE WORLD appears to be turning upside down, we have once again been treated to an amazing selection of motorcycles in 2010. There is a bike for every purpose and for every enthusiast. There may be, as many like to say, “no bad bikes” these days, but that just means we get to raise our standards!
We felt a tad guilty forsaking our Best Superbike of 2009 for the new BMW bombshell, but then the Aprilia was an upstart itself just last year. So it goes. Objectively, our hands were tied by the BMW's detente-shattering performance. Subjectively, we reverted to the more soulful Aprilia just a month later in our "Alternative Energy" shootout (CW, July).
Fierce competition on the MX track drives equally aggressive tactics on the showroom floor. The weapon of choice is technology, which the 2010 Honda CRF250R has in abundance. A new frame, fuel-injected engine and updated suspension put the CRF atop CW's 2010 250cc MX Shootout and almost allowed it to steal a Ten Best, if it weren't for a certain 450.
The VFR1200F didn't quite make the Ten Best this year, but the Dual Clutch Transmission version deserves recognition for its technology. Like today's paddle-shift high-performance cars, the DCT executes seamless upshifts and perfect, rpm-matched downshifts that even allow full-lean mid-corner gearchanges that don't upset the chassis. Look for more of this technology in the future.
For 2010, BMW's best-selling R1200GS gets an updated engine featuring double overhead cams in place of the cam-in-head design that served it so well so long. A 5-hp, 4-ft.-lb. bump and an extra 500 revs have made this excellent engine even more flexible, and it's fitted to one of the most versatile machines ever.
Once upon a time, everyone thought of Harley-Davidson Big Twins as, well, really big motorcycles. But among today’s V-Twin baggers, the H-D Street Glide stands out as the little bike, a sensibly sized, easy-to-maneuver long-ride machine that offers all the comfort, convenience and entertainment of its peers without being so massive and unwieldy.
We felt a tad guilty forsaking our Best Superbike of 2009 for the new BMW bombshell, but then the Aprilia was an upstart itself just last year. So it goes. Objectively, our hands were tied by the BMW's detente-shattering performance.
You don't need a doctorate in dirt-track to appreciate the myriad hop-up parts from Storz Performance for the 2008-10 Harley-Davidson XR1200. In fact, this may be Storz's most pavement-friendly Sportster conversion yet, what with available 17-inch wire-spoke wheels ($1805), 320mm floating front brake discs ($817) and solo-seat tailsection ($405). Go whole hog with a Storz/Ceriani inverted fork, YSS piggyback-reservoir shocks, dirt-track-style exhaust, billet footpeg/shifter kit and chain-drive conversion. Storz Performance, 239 S. Olive St., Ventura, CA 93001; 805/641-9540; www.storzperformance.com
Spain’s Shad makes side and top cases (SH46 shown here; $270-$322), soft luggage, brake-light-compatible racks, sissybars, supports and even backrests in a wide range of sizes and styles for late-model motorcycles and scooters. Buying a new motorcycle or just looking to change up its appearance? Simply swap out one lid for another using Shad’s Change Color System ($40-$59). Shad USA, 19096 NE 4th Ct., Miami, FL 33179; 888/974-2387; www.shadusa.com
Ducati Monster Track Tank
Got fuel? Cycleworks’ Ducati Monster Track Tank ($469) increases “usable” capacity to 3.9 gallons—good for a claimed 150 miles between fill-ups. Available in a red, black, white or natural finish, the NHTSA-and DOT-approved polyethylene fuel cell fits the 2005-10 Monster 620, 695, S2R 800 and 1000; older models require an adapter plate ($99). California Cycleworks, Inc., 663 33rd St. #D, San Diego, CA 92102; 619/501-2466; www.ca-cycleworks.com
Monotube Fork Kit
Upgrade the ride comfort, stability and resistance to front-end dive while braking on your 1997-2010 Harley-Davidson FL with a Progressive Suspension Mono-tube Fork Kit. These gas-charged dampers replace the factory-issue “open-bath” setup. The kit is available in either stock or 1- or 2-inch lower-than-stock ride heights. Prices start at $339. Progressive Suspension, 6900 Marlin Cir., La Palma, CA 90623; 877/690-7411; www.progressivesuspension.com
Pit Viper Motorcycle Dolly
May I have this dance? The Pit Viper Motorcycle Dolly ($96) takes the work out of wheeling even the biggest of bikes—up to 1250 pounds—around the tight confines of a garage, pit box or shop. Wedges attached to the gated ends of the powdercoated steel ramp ease loading and unloading. Nice touches: an adjustable kickstand platform and locking dual caster wheels. Discount Ramps.com, 760 S. Indiana Ave., West Bend, WI 53095; 888/651-3431; www.discountramps.com
AGV Kevlar Cargo Pants
On-bike comfort, protection and practicality meet in the AGV Kevlar Cargo Pants ($99; waist sizes 32-38). Offered in khaki (Excursion) or camouflage (Assault), these relaxed-fit, machine-wash/ dry, six-pocket cotton-twill trousers feature abrasion-resistant DuPont Kevlar in the hips and sides of the legs, knees and upper shins, as well as throughout the seat and upper hamstrings. Also available: Midnight and Shadow Kevlar Jeans ($99). Motonation, 10225 Prospect Ave., Santee, CA 92071; 619/401-4106; www.motonation.com
Five years ago, Kawasaki’s ZX-10R was a top performer, its big-bore inline-Four pumping out 150-plus horsepower and more than 75 foot-pounds of torque. But the Open-class sportbike game has changed; what was then a beast now may feel a little long in the tooth. Why not go big with a bolt-on A&A Performance Supercharger Kit? Claims for this compact, efficient and quiet Rotrexbased system include a whopping 50 percent bump in horsepower to nearly 225 at the rear wheel—using stock engine internals and running pump gas. Kits are also available for the 1998-2009 Honda VFR800. Coming soon: 2005-08 Suzuki GSX-R1000. Best of all, the kits fit neatly behind factory bodywork and require no major modifications to your OEM equipment. Prices start at $3825. A&A Performance LLC, 1840 County Line Rd. #204, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006; 215/364-8200; www.aaperf.com
A SNEAK PEEK OF THE ROLAND SANDS Designs “Apocalypse” graphic was all the motivation we needed to pick up this new Bell Vortex. Actual on-head performance of this Snell 2010-approved full-face helmet during our recent Open-class sportbike shootout (“Alternative Energy,” July) has kept it in place on our craniums.
DON’T YOU HATE IT WHEN YOU’RE ON your way to the crib after a long day of whatever and remember you need coffee or milk for your coffee or a bottle of 2008 Douglass Hill Shiraz—or all three? Carrying a backpack all the time grows old, your magnetic tankbag won’t stick to most bikes anymore and dangling grocery bags from your grips is a dicey undertaking.
Q My 2007 KTM 990 Adventure, which has about 3000 miles on it, was stored for many months in a garage in Upstate New York. Last fall, I rode it the 300 miles home with no problems whatsoever, then it spent the winter stored in my garage in New Jersey.
EVERYONE, INCLUDING DOUBLE-WINNER MAX BIAGGI, FELT FOR Carlos Checa. The likable Spaniard led both World Superbike races commandingly at Miller Motorsports Park only to have electrical failure in one and a throttle-control malfunction in the other.
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