THINK OF IBOTY AS TASTY INTERnational alphabet soup for motorcyclists. It stands for International Bike of the Year, and for the past 26 years, a group of magazines from around the world has voted to come up with the winner. Each of the 14 magazines that participated this year picked its top three machines, defined as the ones that truly pushed the limits in performance, technology, value or style.
Day-by-day, stage-by-stage, Argentina to Chile and back with American privateer Yamaha rider Jonah Street, who finished 14th behind KTM-mounted winner Marc Coma
New Year’s Day: Buenos Aires to Victoria; road 377 km “We were delayed for a long time this morning, but a lot of people came out to watch—pretty cool. We cruised down the road and took it easy. Tomorrow, we race.” Stage 1: Victoria to Córdoba; road 556 km, special 192 km “I finished sixth today.
The Motor Company's latest Softail isn't all dark and brooding
ALMOST LOST AMONGST THE hundreds of darkly dressed members of the press, invited guests and The Man himself, Willie G.—all gathered in Don Hill’s graffiti-slathered Soho, New York City, nightclub—Harley-Davidson’s new Blackline FXS Softail sat on stage looking every bit the rock star.
Victory takes on cruiser-king Harley-Davidson with a new bobber
IT as WAS A “DARK” DAY IN NEW YORK as Victory Motorcycles unveiled its new 2012 High Ball, a bobbed and blacked-out cruiser shown for the first time in public just prior to the Progressive Insurance International Motorcycle Show in the Big Apple. Mechanical bits are the usual Victory stuff:
"Sensible Sophistication," read the coverline refer ring to the BMW K75C that shared the issue's gatefold cover with Kawasaki's new ZL600 cruiser tucked out of view within. Both bikes received the full road-test treatment, while off-road readers got all the good dirt on a revamped Honda CR250R motocrosser and Kawasaki's checkpoint-chasing KDX200 enduro machine.
Kawasaki addresses valve-spring surging on 2011 ZX-10R
THE MYSTERIOUS SALES HOLD ON THE 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R ended in late January, and the company has given an explanation for the holdup: the possibility of intake-valve spring surge (coil vibration) under what Kawasaki calls “unique riding conditions, such as on a racetrack.”
EACH JANUARY, THE TRUE FAITHFUL among vintage-bike nuts head toward Las Vegas to attend the world’s largest old-motorcycle sale. This year,Bonhams & Butterfields piggybacked with MidAmerica Auctions to bring the number of bikes on display or for sale to a whopping 720.
ICONIC MOTORCYCLE BRAND NORTON has taken an important step in its rise from the ashes. Norton’s new owner, businessman Stuart Garner, recently hired high-profile designer Pierre Terblanche to head the British-based company’s design team.
UP: To the Scotts Valley Police Department, for becoming the first law-enforcement agency to adopt Zero’s DS electric motorcycles. The bikes will be used to assist in local patrols both on-and off-road, including bicycle trails. “We are excited to be the first police department in California to receive an electric Zero motorcycle, because it will allow our officers to patrol more places, more often,” said Lt.
IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS DENIAL: People will always need places to live and choppers to ride. Then Anger: The Craigslist ads WERE ALL CAPS AND DEMANDED TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY! DON’T WASTE MY TIME WITH LO-BALL OFFERS THIS IS A GENUINE ACME CHOPPERS PORK BELLY DELUXE $50,000 FIRM! Then came Bargaining and release of the Caps Lock: Over $50,000 invested in this genuine General Custer Custom Flying Arrow featured in Greasyriders magazine.
If the DR-Z can't get you there, ah, it's probably not the bike's fault
WHY SHOULD EGAN HAVE all the fun? After reading all about PE’s rib-tickling adventures on his Suzuki DR650, it seemed like a good time to revisit the DR-Z400S. For me, in fact, it would be the first visit, even though Suzuki’s been cranking these out since 2000.
ALTHOUGH A SMALL NICHE in the motorcycle market, big-bore, single-cylinder supermotos like the Husqvarna SMS630 dice up urban congestion with surgical precision. We should expect that kind of accuracy from Husky; after all, the currently BMW-owned outfit got its start manufacturing military rifles in the late 17th century.
If you take Highway 14 west out of Fort Collins, Colorado, you come to the town of Walden, population 633, elevation 8099 feet. I pulled into what appeared to be the lone gas station for some much-needed petrol and body liquids, my first stop in a while along the great divide that had people present: a couple of young girls running the quick-mart/gas station, a guy on a couple-of-years-old BMW GS and a dude on a new Triumph Tiger.
WINTER DROPPED ON THE MIDWEST like an anvil this past week while I was working at our office in California, and I flew home to a Wisconsin that had changed from autumn brown to solid white. The late afternoon sky had a winter purple cast, giving the snow a luminous midnight-in-Lapland quality.
BECAUSE THE INTERNAL-COMBUSTION engine has zero torque at zero rpm, it must perform its complete operating cycle continuously to make useful torque. It has to be spinning. This is a problem because as our journey begins, the vehicle is sitting still.
Triumph's Speed Triple gets a new face on its old soul
SUCCESS COMES IN MANY FORMS. THE MODERN iteration of Triumph Motorcycles has to be considered a success in most forms. Since the first models from the reborn company hit our shores in 1995, there have been some hiccups along the way, but the Speed Triple has never been one of them.
After 52 years, bikes return to the island for the Red Bull Catalina Grand Prix
IF THE AVERAGE AMERICAN KNOWS ANYTHING AT all about the island of Santa Catalina, you can probably thank a singing group called the Four Preps. They had a 1958 hit—which is still alive and well on YouTube—called “26 Miles.” This breezy little number informed us that Santa Catalina was the “island of romance” and was located 26 miles off the coast of Southern California.
WHEN MOTOGP’S DISPLACEMENT limit was dropped to 800cc a few years ago, we sort of expected street-going sportbikes might follow suit. YZF-R8, anyone? While that never happened, Yamaha has rolled out its all-new FZ8, completing a hat trick of sporting standard models that includes the FZ1 and FZ6R, all of which offer a more-relaxed, real-world alternative to the company’s YZF-R1 and R6 supersports.
It was 1986, a time of tariffs and rad mustaches, of trying new market segments as motorcycle sales started to twitch back to life after declining from an amazing peak in the late Seventies. It also was the time of the Yamaha FZX700 Fazer. The five-valve-per-cylinder inline-Four’s displacement of 698cc was in response to the over-700cc-tariff imposed by the International Trade Commission in 1983 to protect Harley-Davidson in the U.S.
Are battery-powered bikes the future of motorcycling? Not yet, we say. Here's why, along with what they can do superbly and what they can't do at all.
IF YOU TALK WITH NEAL SAKAI, THE man who began Zero Motorcycles, it’s hard not to catch his enthusiasm for electric motorcycling. Internal-combustion engines, he likes to point out, are less than 30 percent efficient. Electric operation—where losses in the vehicle can be held to as low as 10 percent—is the better answer.
What if the European Union had passed the recently proposed stringent carbon-dioxide emissions standard for motorcycles? What if the peak-oil Cassandras are correct and gasoline becomes more valuable than 20-year-old Scotch? Don’t worry, motorcycles will still exist, and still be capable of ever-increasing performance, but powered by something other than pure gasoline.
Small but meaty: Can Honda’s new Single out-run America’s biggest-selling sport bike?
LIKE WARREN BUFFETT SAYS, NOBODY KNOWS WHO’S SWIMMING NAKED ’til the tide goes out. In much the same way, nobody knows who’s riding naked ’til the horsepower plug gets pulled. On the CW dyno, the Honda CBR250R makes a piddly 23.7 horses, the Kawasaki Ninja 250R just 25.5.
An off-road racebike that doesn't play by the usual rules
IF YOU DIDN’T SEE THIS ONE COMING, YOU HAVEN’T BEEN PAYing attention. After winning the 2010 MX1 World Motocross Championship against 450cc machines with its 350 SX-F, KTM was sure to announce an off-road version of the same bike. This is, after all, what KTM does so well: get as many specialized models as possible out of one basic design.
Looking for a mid-height fairing with a factory-quality finish and integrated interior storage for your late-model American or Japanese V-Twin cruiser? Your search may be over: Sportech's Detachable Fairing SP ($649.95) takes full advantage of the Minnesota company's many years of experience thermoforming plastics. Mounting is said to be straightforward and secure, and the addition of the fairing won't adversely affect your motorcycle's handling characteristics. The SP comes completely assembled. Hardware and a matte-black windscreen are included.
Show of hands: Who dropped their Apple iPhone 4 today? Protect your glass-faced investment with a Vapor 4 ($79.95) from Element Case. Machined from a solid block of aircraftgrade aluminum, this U.S.-made, energy-absorbing-foam-lined perimeter design features an integrated CNC'ed on/off button, laser-engraved graphics and a claimed weight of just 19 grams. Choose from 11 anodized colors. Extreme Metals finishes start at $99.95. The Vapor 4 Chroma ($119.99) adds a color-matched ultra-suede backplate. Coming soon: Vapor Pro, which accepts aftermarket chargers and headphone plugs.
If you thought Held only made gloves, well, think again. The Slade one-piece roadracing suit ($1199.99; even sizes 50-58) is produced from a combination of cow and kangaroo hides, lined with "three-dimensional" polyester and equipped with CE-certified protection at the shoulders, elbows and knees, with foam at the hips. Schoeller Kevlar stretch panels in non-impact zones ease movement. A full-length SAS-TEC back protector is included. Titanium external protection at the shoulders, elbows and knees, plus a free-flowing AIR-VENT zipper, are the finishing touches.
A cam cover that looks like a cam cover but is actually a storage compartment? That would be the JIMS Bike Pocket ($133.50-155.00). A unique adaptor ring allows for simple twist-off access to cash, keys, paperwork, etc. The Bike Pocket is manufactured of aluminum and available with a chrome, polished or black-anodized finish for all Twin Cam Harley-Davidsons.
SLiCK OFFROAD WASH
Clean your dirtbike easily and quickly with SLiCK OFFROAD WASH ($5.99, 6 ounces). This concentrated, acid-free formula targets dirt and mud but allegedly won’t break down bearing grease or harm paint, plastics or metals. SLiCK Applicator $24.99) is a standard 1-gallon pump sprayer fitted with a pressure-release valve. To apply, simply fill the sprayer with water, add the contents of one SLiCK packet, pump the handle to build interior pressure and squeeze the lever on the wand.
Loop Buckin' Roll Tank Bag
Here’s a bomb-proof storage solution for adventure-touring, dual-purpose and off-road bikes with tall, large-capacity gas tanks: the Giant Loop Buckin’ Roll Tank Bag ($125). Boasting 3.5 liters of zippered and/or storm-flap-covered pockets and sewn with military-grade thread, this strap-down carry-all wraps around the tank and is designed to remain out of the way when the rider is standing on the footpegs. A seam-sealing kit is included. Need more storage for long days on big bikes? Wrap the Buckin’ Roll around the 10-liter Fandango Tank Bag ($164) to create the Giant Loop Tanker.
Bell has taken the removable helmet cheekpad concept to a higher level with its Magnefusion Emergency Release System for the all-new off-road-oriented Moto-9 ($475.95; sizes XS-XXL). Built into each pad are three strong magnets that lock securely into molded recesses n the TriMatrix Composite shell. Not only does this new feature allow for exceptionally easy removal of the pads for hand washing, emergency responders are able to gently remove the helmet from a rider's head, reducing the potential for secondary spinal injuries. The antibacterial, antimicrobial and Eject Helmet Removal System-friendly X-Static liner is held in place with conventional snaps. Weighing a claimed 1450 grams, the Moto-9 further features Bell's Velocity Flow Ventilation, patented Magnefusion chinstrap keeper and Flying Bridge Visor with its no-tools-required QuickFlip adjustment screws.
To flip or not to flip is just one of the questions
HJC IS-MAX BT
Scorpion EXO 1000 Sublim
Vemar Jiano Bluetooth
EXO 1000 Sublim
HEADING OUT FOR LONG DAYS IN THE SADDLE? WE WERE WHEN preparing for February’s four-bike sport-touring comparison (“High Speed, Low Altitude”), so we gathered a quartet of current or recently introduced medium-priced full-face helmets seemingly well-suited for such duty.
I BROKE MY FREAKIN’ NECK. YES, YOU read that right. While testing motocross bikes last year, I came up short on a 75-foot jump, clipped the top of the landing ramp with the front wheel and was thrown violently over the handlebars to the ground.
AT RISK OF TEARING THE TIME/SPACE continuum, Editor-in-Chief Mark Hoyer mounted a Touratech iBracket for an Apple iPhone on his 1958 Triumph Trophy. Logic being that if the bracket could survive the harshness and vibration of an old British parallel-Twin with crap suspension, it is likely to survive anything.
Q I ride an ’09 BMW R1200GS and have a question about tire pressure. I get so many conflicting answers that I want an answer from someone I can trust, and that’s you. I weigh 310 pounds and ride with the BMW Vario bags and topcase, and I often have my 120-pound son on the back.
Every once in a while, I find a tool that, in itself, is nothing special, but the package or device that houses the tool is just too cool to ignore. And that’s what we have here with the ErgoStar Automatic Fast Open Ball End Hex Key set (part #66996; $16.99) from Wiha tools (www.wihatools.com).
Best Middleweight Streetbike 2006 Ten Best Awards Years Manufactured: 2006 to present MSRP new: $8999 (2006) to $10,499 (2011) Blue Book retail value: $5315 (2006) to $8515(2010) Basic specs: A fully faired sportbike powered by a fuel-injected, 675cc inline-Three engine that made 107 hp at 12,500 rpm and 47.5 ft.-lb.
Josh Hayes and Yamaha break Suzuki’s stranglehold on the AMA Pro American SuperBike Championship and learn a lot about each other in the process
LAST AUGUST AT VIRGINIA INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, Suzuki-mounted Tommy Hayden outdragged the Yamaha of Ben Bostrom to win the first of two AMA Pro American SuperBike races scheduled that weekend. Margin of victory was just .005 of a second—too close for even the official waving the checkers at the start/finish line to call.
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