THIS MONTH'S SLIPSTREAM FINALLY tells the real (ahem) story behind Peter Egan's hiring at Cycle World, which got me thinking about the single most important item that got me through the door here at the magazine. I'd been toiling away in the potato fields up north (working at "America's Weekly Motorcycle Newspaper," Cycle News, in Long Beach, California) for about five years before an opening appeared at the magazine.
THE ONLY DOWNSIDE IN THE RELEASE of the new Buell—oops!—Erik Buell Racing 1190RS is that GM has somehow managed to hang onto the "Firebird" copyright. If any vehicle ever deserved to be named after the phoenix, the legendary immortal bird that was continually reborn after repeated immolations, it's this road-going superbike that is leaping from the ashes of the Buell Motorcycle Company.
ELECTRONIC FUEL INJECTION HAS BEEN a great thing for cars and motorcycles. Not only did it put an end to the "stutter-and-stall" behavior of 1980s carburetors set very lean for emissions control, it also delivers reliable turn-key operation.
Totally appropriate for our current issue is the main cover subject a quarter-century ago: the Yamaha Fazer 700.The tariff-busting, under-700cc engine kept the price down, while "almost instantaneous throttle response" kept the front wheel up.
PERHAPS THE ULTIMATE EXPRESSION of the Italian boutique motorcycle marque is Vyrus. Located in Rimini, just a few miles down the road from Bimota, it was founded in 2003 by Ascanio Rodorigo and Giuseppe de Gruttola. To date, the small firm, consisting of five highly skilled craftsmen, has churned out just 120 Ducati-powered, hub-steered motorcycles (a la the Bimota Tesi 2D).
Bargain MV Agusta hits the Italian market. Will small-bore Brutale come to the U.S.?
WHEN MV AGUSTA'S CLAUDIO Castiglioni and Massimo Bordi announced their future plans after the former's reacquisition of the Italian brand from Harley-Davidson last year, Castiglioni stressed that for the company to survive, it must increase production numbers.
IF YOU CAN'T SPLIT LANES, JOIN 'EM. AS A trike pilot, you're entitled to all the benefits of a motorcycle, including the carpool lane, but with less of the exposure. Built by Scorpion Motorsports (www.scorpionmotorsports.com) in Miami, Florida, the P6 consists of a steel tube space frame with an aluminum semi-monocoque nose and seating for one, complete with steering wheel and sequential shifter (electronic paddle shifting is optional).
PIAGGIO GROUP'S DEALER convention in Monte Carlo mainly introduced a new generation of light vans and trucks, but a section of the event "for Piaggio eyes only" revealed two concept models to raise the flagging spirits of Guzzi dealers everywhere: the V7 Scrambler and a new California 1400.
WITH BMW'S FRESHLY unsheathed K1600GTL straw angling straight for its Gold Wing milkshake, Honda has introduced an overhauled version of its flat-Six battlewagon, scheduled to be available in dealerships this May. Hardware upgrades consist of new bodywork with increased luggage capacity (7 liters more, says Honda) and greater protection from wind and weather (specifically the lower body and legs), along with new suspension settings for enhanced compliance.
EARLIER THIS YEAR, HARLEY-Davidson launched a new H-D1 factory-customization program in conjunction with the release of its 2011 1200 Custom, a mid-year addition to the current Sportster line. Customers can tailor the 1200 Customs to their personal tastes and needs by choosing options from seven different categories—wheels, handlebars, seats, paint, foot controls, security system and engine finish—by going to H-D1 Bike Builder at www.harley-davidson.com and selecting from a list of Genuine Motor Parts and Genuine Motor Accessory options.
The mystery about pricing for BMW's new flagship K1600 touring Sixes has been resolved. Base-model pricing was announced in February, with the K1600GTL listing for $23,200 and the K1600GT at $20,900. Available Premium Packages push prices up to $25,845 and $24,540, respectively.
UP: To Costco, for adding Kawasaki motorcycles to its members-only "auto" pricing program. The program currently is only available in Southern California, but plans for a nationwide rollout are expected in the near future. The promotion allows Costco members to purchase any 2011 Kawasaki motorcycle, ATV, watercraft or utility vehicle at a pre-arranged exclusive price through a local participating Kawasaki dealership.
OF ALL THE HEAVY CRUISERS that have aspired to the sacred throne occupied by Harley-Davidson lo these many years, one of the best has been the Triumph Thunderbird—which is precisely why we've named the big 1597cc parallel-Twin-powered beast CW's Best Cruiser for the past two years.
IT'S ONE OF THE OLDEST TRICKS in the book: Take a lightweight chassis, slip in an engine that's physically the same size as the original but with more displacement, then reap the rewards offered by a superior power-to-weight ratio. This is essentially what Husqvarna has done to come up with the TE310, a bored-and-stroked version of the TE250 we tested in our March, 2010, issue.
As an ER nurse, I have had plenty of chances to speak with motorcycle crash victims as well as the paramedics and police officers who accompany them to the ER. If I only had a nickel for every time the medics or police say that car drivers don't hear the sirens pointed right at them or see a bar of flashing lights...
I FIGURED AS LONG AS WE HAD A BLINDing blizzard this morning, it would be a good day to see if the new Finnish-made Nokian snow tires worked on my car. I'd bought them on the theory that no one knows more about snow than Finns, except, perhaps, Baffin Islanders, and they have no tire industry.
THINK ABOUT THE HEAT FLOWING into and out of an engine's cylinder head. During combustion, turbulent glowing gases drive heat into the piston crown, cylinder head and valves. During exhaust, the head of the exhaust valve is surrounded on all sides by hot gas, but with a difference.
Aprilia Shiver 750 vs. BMW F800R vs. Ducati Monster 796 vs. Triumph Street Triple R vs. Yamaha FZ8
STREET TRIPLE R
WHAT ARE WE CALLING THEM THIS month, anyway? Standards? Naked bikes? 800s? Middleweights? Whatever. The bikes may change, but we don't. We're always looking for an excuse to bust out of the office for a couple days: Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go, with however many horses we can muster, to bask in the hottish desert sun and escape the partly cloudy SoCal beach climate, where daytime temps can plunge into the 60s.
If its power gets you into trouble, its electrons just might bail you out
$13,950 to $15,880
Europe hit back hard with the Bavarian-built über RR; 176 hp and advanced electronics, nice! ABS is optional.
$13,399 to 14,399
Light weight and the last of the "non-electronic" inline-Fours. You want traction control or riding modes? Train your wrist.
Europe's other Four just got a facelift a year ago and continues to stomp out serious power from its radial-valve engine. TC and all the goodies.
This perennial powerhouse was the first of the Japanese literbikes to implement electronic intervention with S-DMS. Always a favorite.
$13,590 to $13,790
Crossplane-crank engine lays power down politely, but takes no prisoners on-track. Do the names Spies and Hayes mean anything to you?
ALTHOUGH THE RAIN HAD MOMENtarily subsided, the road surface retained a glassy sheen as I approached the base of Glendora Mountain Road. This serpentine stretch of sportbike bliss ascending into the hills ahead appeared slick as a snail trail leading to high ground.
Last year, on its way to winning the World Superbike title, Aprilia announced it had developed and would soon make available to privateer racers a special $60K-plus version of Max Biaggi's RSV4 Superbike. The $22,449 RSV4 Factory APRC SE seen here is a street-going duplicate of that machine in virtually all respects but one: peak power.
WITH MY FEET STUCK TO TARMAC LIKE a housefly to a quarter-mile-long strip of flypaper, I couldn't help but wonder how glue could be good for going fast. But run after run, I watched in amazement as nine-time world dragracing champion Rickey Gadson not only managed to break that bond with the pavement but disappear through the lights with truly quick elapsed times.
WILL ANYBODY IN AMERICA PLAY with this new toy? If only a few do, it will be sad, very sad. It will be sad because whatever the Diavel is, it rocks. According to Mario Alvisi, Ducati's Marketing Manager, the design of the Diavel was accomplished by combining the lines of a sportbike with those of a cruiser.
Flat Track racing is no longer a one-brand affair, so CW's resident Pro rides a Mile in everybody's (steel) shoes
THIS YAVAPAI DOWNS MILE IS MY FIRST, AND FEELS LIKE IT could be my last. It's super-slippery off-line, and the blue groove is like pavement. Bad pavement. I mean, I've raced shorter dirt ovals but on The Mile, things are...different. With the taller gearing choice on my trusty Honda CRF450R trainer—a tooth bigger front and a few teeth off the back—she's wide-gulpin'-open in top gear, and from there you don't brake; just roll off throttle into the corner then roll it back wide-open again.
The Great Turbo Era lasted just three years in the early Eighties. Three decades later, we ride four classic Japanese turbo bikes to find out what all the excitement—or lack of it—was about.
SECA 650 TURBO
HISTORY SEEMS TO PROVIDE US WITH A golden age for nearly everything. We had the Golden Age of Greece, the Golden Age of Steam Trains and the virtually unforgettable Golden Age of Disco. I personally attended high school during the Golden Age of Beehive Hairdos and Creepy Church Lady Glasses with Rhinestones on Them.
While motorcycling currently offers not a single turbocharged engine in any readily available, mass-produced bike, the automotive world is embracing turbos as never before. Almost half of the cars in Europe are powered by turbo diesels, offering right-now torque and refinement that have to be experienced to be fully appreciated.
Nothing is harder to change than character. And no motorcycle's character was ever stronger or more distinct than that of the first turbocharged Kawasaki Z1-R. As a contemporary road test described it: "There's just one sensible thing to do with a Kawasaki Z1-R TC II turbo—chain it to the floor of your garage and feed it a little raw meat now and then.
Just say "no" to loud exhaust pipes! That's the message from Samson, manufacturer of the Decibel Killer Mufflers featured here. These 4-inch-diameter slipons for 1995-2011 Harley-Davidson Electra Glides and Road Kings limit sound emissions to a claimed 83-85 dB at idle. Baffles are easily removable and even interchangeable, and the Samson name is engraved on the chromed end caps. Suggested retail pricing for a pair of Decibel Killers starts at $599.95.
TPX Motorcycle Laser Jammer System
Follow-on to the two-wheel-specific TPX Motorcycle Radar Detection System, the vibration- and waterproof TPX Motorcycle Laser Jammer System ($549.99) reflects the signal put out by police-issue hand-held laser guns, preventing speed readings. The rider is made aware of the signal via a dash-mounted visual alert. An audio output jack allows integration with most helmet-communication systems. Bonus: free software upgrades. Laser jammers are currently legal for use on motorcycles in 40 of the 50 United States.
Who wears Gaerne? Champion motocrossers, roadracers, trials riders and even cyclists, that's who. Shown here are the top-of-the-line SG12 motocross boot (black, white/blue, white, white/red, orange or green; even sizes 7-14; $559.99), GP1 roadracing boot (black or white; even sizes 6-13; $499.99) and G.Mythos Plus cycling shoe (black, silver, white or art/white; Euro sizes 41-46; $399.99). Are you a touring rider or do you prefer trail riding to big jumps? No sweat, Gaerne has a pair of synthetic Lorica or full-grain leather boots for nearly every budget and type of riding. Yes, ladies, that includes you too.
$59.99 to $169.99
If you're looking for a new DOT-and Snell-approved helmet that won't break the bank, you might consider G-Force Racing's new powersports line. Available in full-face, off-road, three-quarter, "shorty," modular and youth styles, G-Force helmets come with a 30-day Rider Guarantee, which lets you exchange or return the helmet within 30 days of purchase, even if it's been worn. Prices range from $59.99 to $169.99. Shown here: The Z2 ($119.99; sizes XS-XXL) boasts G-Force's Sure-Fit retention system, which is intended to keep the faceshield in place in the event of a crash-related impact.
Gold Wing Heel Shifter Extension
Got big feet? Küryakyn's Heel Shifter Extension ($35.99) relocates the heel-shifter peg on any 2001-10 Honda Gold Wing GL1800 fitted with a Driver Floorboard Kit ($399.99) as much as 1½ inches farther rearward from the standard position. The result is significantly more room for your left boot between the toe- and heel-shifter pegs. The Extension installs easily on the existing Heel Shifter.
Give up protection at the expense of comfort and style? Fuhgeddaboudit! Be safe on the road while looking good both on and off your motorcycle in Dainese's Alien jacket. This sporty, waist-length number contrasts perforated or non-perforated D-Skin with Nubuck leather across the upper chest and arms. Composite protection at the shoulders and elbows, external aluminum inserts at the shoulders, and pockets for optional back and chest protection are complemented by ergonomically friendly stretch panels, hook-and-loop-backed waist adjusters and a 3D bubble liner. The Alien is available for both men ($699; Euro sizes 44-62) and women ($429; Euro sizes 40-50).
rLiNK GPS Security System
Where's my motorcycle?! With the rLiNK GPS Security System SR-i1100S ($499.95, data plan not included), you'll never ask that question again. The GPS-based unit detects ignition status, location, movement, shock, speed and tilt. If your motorcycle is started and/or moved, rLiNK knows it. This information is then relayed to a secure server and accessed through the free iPhone application or with any computer or smartphone. Theft tracking and recovery merely scratch the surface of the rLiNK's many capabilities. The Group Ride feature, for example, allows users to share information, such as trip stats and weather notifications. Updates can even be sent to other riders using Facebook and Twitter accounts that are linked to the system. Optional accessories include a multi-tone 120-decibel siren and starter disable.
TOP OF ALPINESTARS' TECH TOURING range, the Durban is as tricked-out with features as a Victorinox Swiss Champ knife—enough that you may wonder if an instruction manual is required. Not to worry; however complex it might be, the Durban is a stylish and practical jacket.
Q I am 71 years old and ride a 2008 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic, and I have dropped it twice. Both times this happened, I tried to stop with the front brake while I had the front wheel turned a little, and that caused me to tip over.
Let there be light! But that sometimes is easier said than done. There often isn't an extension cord or a power outlet handy when you're fumbling in the dark, and even trying to hold a flashlight in place so it illuminates your work area can be aggravating.
Best Open-Class Streetbike, 2006 & 2007 Ten Best Awards Years Manufactured: 2006 to present MSRP new: $11,499 (2006) to $13,599 (2011) Blue Book retail value: $5940 (2006) to $9645 (2010) Basic specs: A fully faired sportbike built on an aluminum monocoque frame fitted with a beast of a fuel-injected, 1352cc inline-Four engine that made 170.2 rear-wheel hp at 9670 rpm and 103.8 ft.-lb.
NHTSA Recall No. 11V108000 Manufacturer: American Suzuki Motor Co. Models: 2008-'09 Burgman 400, DL1000 V-Strom, 1250 Bandit, GSX-R600, GSXR750, GSX650, C109 Boulevard; 2008-'10 Hayabusa, C50/M50 Boulevard; 2009-'10 Gladius, C90/M90 Boulevard Number of units involved: 73,426 Problem: On certain of these motorcycles built between July, 2007, and September, 2009, the regulator/rectifiers had insufficient adhesion between the circuit board and the rectifier case that contains a heat sink, allowing heat generated on the circuit board to make the board deform and lift off the case.
Q In reading your Service column in my back issues of Cycle World, I came across your reply to Martin Katz ("Ghost in the machine," September, 2010), who had an unprovoked rear-brake lockup when riding his KTM. You gave a very good explanation as to the probable cause, but I'd like to add something that I had never before seen in all my years of "pulling wrenches."
Innovative thinking from racing's school of hard knocks
AT THE INDIANAPOLIS GRAND PRIX LAST SUMMER, I WAS walking behind the garage building when a person scampered up to me and said, "Martin Wimmer asks that you come to his garage." I was happy to follow him. I met Wimmer during the 1981 Grand Prix season when he was riding the German Yamaha importer's TZ250H, and we were able to help each other that season.
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