Best Do-It-All, Do-It-Well Bike: Triumph Street Triple R
Best Sport-Tourer You Can’t Buy Yet: Motus MST
Best Bike For Disappearing Into Baja: KTM Adventure R
Best Dual Sport That Could Have Been Best Enduro That Wasn’t A Husaberg FE570S: Husqvarna TE310
Best Crazy Business Decision: Polaris Industries, owners of Victory and now Indian Motorcycles
Best Bike To Lose Your License On: Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200
Best Forbidden Fruit That Isn’t Forbidden Anymore: Honda CB1000R
Best Retro Bike That Doesn’t Mean To Be One: Suzuki GSX1250FA
Best Sport-Tourer That Isn’t A Six: Kawasaki Concours 14
Best On Any Sunday-Inspired Daily Rider: Hammarhead Jack Pine Triumph
SEEMS LIKE THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF the Moto Apocalypse may finally have turned back. After this protracted economic meltdown, it looks like the economy is twitching back to life. Motorcycle people are resilient and resourceful, so I always know we’ll make our destination, whether it’s a hotel or campsite at the end of a long day, the top of the mountain over a tough trail or simply surviving (and thriving) in the face of difficult odds and tall adversity.
No matter what you call it, the Diavel is a smokin'-good time
IF DUCATI IS FOCUSED ON ONE THING, it’s building high-performance motorcycles. Doesn’t matter if it’s a superbike, a sport-tourer, a naked, or, in the case of the Diavel, something that isn’t so easily pigeonholed, they are all very sporty and the numbers usually speak for themselves.
BMW MAY HAVE REDISCOVERED THE “adventure bike” in the modern era, but Suzuki was right there in 2002 with the V-Strom 1000, which was followed by the 650 a year later. For 2012, Suzuki is at it again with a highly restyled version of the popular 650, complete with a more powerful and fuel-efficient engine.
THERE ALWAYS IS A FLIPSIDE TO EVERY TREND, AND THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF NEW-MOTORCYCLE sales in the past couple of years is no exception. Inversely, transactions for motorcycle parts, accessories and used bikes are significantly on the rise.
"Italy Declares War!” shouts the cover in the swoopy form of the Ducati 750 Paso, further reinforcing the point that Rome’s best warmongering years were many centuries behind it. In truth, the fully enclosed Paso did lead to far better things for a resurgent Ducati just a few years down the road.
Italian middleweight Triple a key to MV’s future success
MV AGUSTA CEO GIOVANNI Castiglioni and engineer/ designer Massimo Bordi are very optimistic about the Italian company’s future. Not only is Castiglioni’s father, Claudio, feeling much better after his recent chemotherapy in the U.S. and hoping to be back in action soon, but there is a lot of optimism on the business side, as well.
ITALY’S CONCORSO D’ELEGANZA VILLA d'Este is known as perhaps the most elegant automotive celebration anywhere. It’s a rare combination of the perfect landscape (Lake Como), the perfect Villa and a curated selection of 50 truly exceptional vehicles.
FROM 1974 TO 1982, TZ750s WON THE Daytona 200, continuing the maintainable simplicity U.S. privateers had come to expect from Yamaha production racers. Every part has a story. These ribbed aluminum brake calipers were introduced in 1980, saving weight over the previous 4½-pound iron RD calipers.
"ENTRY-LEVEL?” AS A DUDE who’s been riding motorcycles for three decades now, am I not supposed to like ones labeled “entry-level”? I guess because sportbikes are my favorites, smaller and lighter to me generally means better, a mindset I can’t entirely shake when I ride cruisers.
I have just read your poorly editorialized “article,” “Planet of the Apes” (“Harley-Davidson Street Bob vs. Victory High-Ball,” July). I understand that people want the unvarnished truth about the bikes they are going to purchase, but using phrases such as “I still don’t get it” and “Women love Harleys” shows that you dislike the style and/or possibly the brands of the bikes before you even ride them.
WELL, I HAVE TO ADMIT THAT I PROBably would have missed the Springfield Mile again for the 63rd year in a row if not for our intrepid Associate Editor, Mark Cernicky. Seems he’s had this classic flat-track race on his bucket list for a long time and, upon turning 40, decided it was now or never.
THIRTY-FIVE YEARS AGO I BUILT A lot of modified Yamaha RD Twins for club racers, and nobody asked me for jetting instructions because everyone did his own jetting. Times changed and club racers wanted not only specific jetting but also a guarantee that no seizure or crankshaft failure would ever occur.
The latest from Mule Motorcycles is called "The Punisher," and everyone agrees it’s a good name...
IT’S AWESOME WHEN A BIKE JUST COMES TOGETHER, WHEN EVERY part of your project seems like it was made to fall into place as if by some grand, cosmic plan. This is not one of those bikes. No, “The Punisher” (named after the Marvel Comics anti-hero) earned its title by brutalizing the man who commissioned it, Bruce Baxter, and all those involved in the making of this bigblock beast.
This bare-bones Ducati isn't funny but its owner sure is
ALONZO BODDEN DOESN'T MIND IF YOU laugh at him. Matter of fact, he wants you to laugh at him. And that's no joke— or maybe it really is. Bodden, in case you don't already know, is a stand-up comedian whose credits include winning NBC's Last Comic Standing competition in 2004 and appearances on quite a few cable and broadcast TV shows.
THERE IS A REASON MOTOR COPS LIKE sport-touring bikes. If any rider knows the benefits of speed, power, comfort, agility and ample, easy-access luggage space, it is the police. More than most of us, they need to have clipboards, pepper spray, shotguns and other bulky items at the ready no matter where the crazy road of (working) life takes them.
This year, the Z1000 came under heavy fire from a new Triumph Speed Triple and a new-to-the-USA Honda CB1000R, but neither the Triple’s howl nor the Honda’s savoir-faire were enough to dislodge the 127-horse Kawasaki from its position of power. Something about the Z’s blend of massive, smooth, broadband thrust, near-faultless handling when flogged like a borrowed Kawasaki over our toughest test roads, and a high degree of comfort and usability in everyday riding won our hearts and butts for the second year in a row. Then there’s the $1200-cheaperthan-the-Triumph part. No bread? Let them eat Kawasaki.
BMW has brought an end to three years of crushing dominance by Kawasaki’s Concours 14. The Bavarian Motor Works last earned the honor of Best Sport-Touring Bike in 2006-07 with its K1200GT and stepped up in a big way this year with its all-new K1600GT. Sure, it’s way more expensive than the C-14, but the standard-features list is long, and the accessories list is even longer. But even without the integrated navigation system, adaptive headlight, ESA II and more, the K1600GT’s torque-monster inline-Six and superbly comfortable, easy-steering chassis have changed the very idea of what sport-touring can be. If you don’t have the money, consider selling a kidney.
For a third year running, Team Green has been the envy of its class. It can be argued that Kawasaki retained the Best Middleweight crown last year by default due to an uncharacteristic void of new challengers, but 2011 witnessed Suzuki stepping up with its all-new GSX-R600. Although the latest Gixxer has closed the gap, it too came up short in both overall performance and value. Consider the whopping $1600 price disparity following the ZX-6R’s MSRP getting slashed mid-year to $9999. It’s small money for a well-rounded streetable sportbike with good midrange power followed by a 112-hp knockout punch. Lunch time or lap time, the ZX-6R is ready.
In normal times, our Best Superbike would be the amazing BMW S1000RR again—the bike Wagner envisioned the Valkyries riding in his opera after he’d had a few absinthes. But these are not normal times, and we’re suckers for American-built V-Twins that make an EPA-ready 160 horses, weigh 384 pounds, are covered in dark carbon-fiber and built by a guy who makes Rocky Balboa look like Paris Hilton with menstrual cramps. True, so far Erik Buell’s only built a few EBRs, and the 1190RS does cost $40,000. But when have we ever let practicality get in the way of our Best Superbike? Besides, if all goes according to plan, EBR will soon be cranking out mainstream versions for around $20K. If anybody knows nothing ever goes according to plan, it’s Erik Buell. And he never lets the bastards wear him down.
Multistrada 1200 S Sport
For the second year running, Ducati's Multistrada 1200 S Sport has proven that its do-anything design, awesome on-and off-road performance and category-leading features deserve recognition. Powered by a Testastretta "11-degree" engine—a torque-pumped direct descendant of the 1198 superbike's powerplant—the Multistrada delivers an exhilarating ride. Its tall adventure-bike stature puts its pilot in a comfortable and commanding seating position. Even in standard form, without the Sport's excellent electronically adjustable Öhlins suspension, Ducati Traction Control, ABS and multiple-power-mode, ride-by-wire fuel injection, this Italian V-Twin is a sure winner. But with these weapons at its disposal, the Multistrada 1200 S Sport is one of the most capable and potent all-around machines we've ever tested.
It’s one thing to win the game; it’s something else altogether to change the rules. But that’s what BMW’s new K1600GTL has done to the world of two-wheel touring. It’s no small feat to trump the revered Gold Wing in this category; but with its 11.2-second quarter-mile zip, near-sportbike-quality handling, electronically adjustable suspension and windshield, adaptive headlight that illuminates around corners, Bluetooth wireless capability, detachable luggage and utter ease of operation, the six-cylinder Beemer puts the Wing on the trailer. And from this point forward, anyone who believes that over-the-road luxury and thrilling high performance are mutually exclusive is...well, wrong.
Sure, you can go apehanger, floorboards or any number of more traditional routes in this most traditional of categories. Or you can say, Screw it! and let the focus groups focus on their navels. Ducati did just that, channeling the performance-minded spirit of classic American V-Twins like the Crocker and infusing it with garlic and other more modern powerful Italian spices (such as carbon fiber) to come up with one of the coolest, fastest, most fun motorcycles ever made, one that happens to be a “cruiser.” Yes, the Diavel is just such a big, fat carbon-fiber-and-red bird flipped right at the cruising establishment that it was impossible not to pick it as Best Cruiser.
This is as much a nod to the well-rounded capabilities of the newest middleweight adventure bike as it is to the company that produced it. Triumph has made a powerful push to expand its product range, all with an eye on staying true to the modern spirit of its brand. The Tiger 800XC exemplifies this, while also being a damn fine adventure bike. What it gives up in rock-bashing, descend-the-vertical-face off-road capability of last year’s winner, the KTM Adventure R, it makes up for with fantastic on-road (and fire-road) performance, while retaining the ability to torque up all but the most technical trails. The Tiger 800XC just makes you want to ride there. Wherever “there” may be.
Best trend in dirtbikes at the moment? Race-ready enduro motorcycles made to squeak through federal road-legal regs so that the knobby-shredding fun never to end. No “enduro” this year epitomized the racebike-with-lights ethic better than Husaberg’s FE570S. Not only can the FE take to asphalt legally whenever necessary, this 565cc fuel-injected beast also has the power to conquer about anything in the dirt, while it’s innovative “upside-down" engine layout allows the big 570 to handle with the ease and agility of much smaller, lighter machines. Sure, this ’berg could have been named Best Dual Sport, but it happens to be a true killer enduro. The license plate is just a bonus.
After Yamaha’s YZ450F toppled the Honda CRF450R last year, all bets were off. Now, it’s anyone’s game at the starting gate. This year, Suzuki put all the pieces together to make the RM-Z450 the most-well-rounded MXer of 2011. Previous RM-Zs steered beautifully, but their less-than-perfect suspension action held them back. For 2011, Suzuki not only has an incredible-handling bike, but the Showa fork and shock are now on par with the best. Add to this crisp and controllable power and you have the top 450cc powerplant of the year. Awesome chassis and a great engine? Sounds like the Best Motocrosser of 2011.
EVOLUTION CONTINUES, IN GOOD TIMES OR BAD, WHETHER you believe in it or not. Seems like only yesterday we were content as could be to ride along on our dinosaurs and horses, and now look at us. One trend continues in 2011: the shift in motorcycle power from Japan to Europe.
Leave it to the Red Giant, Honda, to roll out a low-priced, smalldisplacement motorcycle so charming and fun as to defy its cost and size. Better still, CBR250Rs (with or without ABS) are selling fast and bringing smiles to riders new and old. If there were a Best 250cc Streetbike, this would be it. .Like a man without a country, the Suzuki GSX-R750 “classic" superbike doesn’t have a world-level racing class. This year's return to its lightweight roots has brought new life to the only 750cc sportbike you can buy, and it remains one of thebest-balanced, most-rewarding sporting motorcycles on the market. Okay, so the two-year-winning Best Cruiser T-bird couldn’t run with the devil this year, but the blacked-out, punched-out, twin-headlight Storm version came pretty damn close with its great-handling, laidback cruiser chassis and increased engine performance. If it weren’t for the sheer tenacity and technical accomplishment of a certain American bike maker named Erik Buell, Germany would have won the Superbike War in 2011. And, frankly, when absolutely nothing else will do but superior firepower, there’s still no place to turn but this 180-horsepower BMW. KTM builds dirtbikes of every flavor, none perhaps as sweet as the 350SX. It was a bold move to go head-to-head with 450s, but one that paid off with many race wins. The extra effort required by its smaller engine made it more of an expert’s bike when the gate dropped, but if you’ve got the skills, KTM’s got your bike.
Honda Gold Wing or BMW K1600GTL: There you are all settled in for the long haul, when a hot new thing comes along. Can this carriage be saved?
SAY, HYPOTHETICALLY, YOU HAVE A NOT-SO-OLD FLAME WHO PUT you on the back burner but likes to keep you on “simmer,” and say you rode the 2012 BMW K1600GTL a couple hundred miles into the desert to meet up for a nice dinner. Say things went swimmingly, but the ambiguity of the relationship remains.
Enduro-ready and adventure-bound: Will your next dirtbike be street-legal?
IT'S MORE THAN JUST A TREND; IT'S A DISturbing fact: Off-highway riding areas are shrinking, and more restrictions keep piling onto non-closed-course off-road motorcycles. The result is less and less freedom for the classic enduro bike.
What does a guy who has hit his head a few times (okay, more than a few!) want in a helmet? Travis Pastrana’s signature DOT/E2205-approved AX-8 ($399.95, sizes XXS-XXL) is constructed from a proprietary combination of fiberglass, Kevlar and carbon-fiber, features AGV’s Integrated Ventilation System, has a fully removable, washable Dri-Lex interior and, despite its large, steel chinbar grill, is said to weigh just 3 pounds. Just the thing to have in your gearbag when you’re prepping for a(nother) backflip... Dainese/AGV USA, 1645 Superior Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92627; 949/645-9500; www.agv.com
Going places? Want to bring along a load of stuff without putting a big dent in your bank account? GIVI’s Easylock saddlebags combine the solid mounting of traditional hard cases with the ease-of-use and light weight of soft luggage. Boasting 15 liters of carrying capacity each, the $299 bags are thermoformed from a high-tech laminated fabric and fitted with waterproof zippers. Each incorporates a rigid, back-of-bag mounting plate for enhanced load stability. The patented, user-friendly Easylock attachment system operates in conjunction with model-specific kits ($120). GIVI USA, 9309 Forsyth Park Dr., Charlotte, NC 28273; 877/679-4484; www.giviusa.com
Professional Tire Warmers
“Light on price, heavy on quality and features” is an appropriate description of Suzuka Professional Tire Warmers ($300). Intended for budget-conscious roadracers and track-day enthusiasts, these single-temperature blankets heat tires from 70 to 170 degrees in approximately 45 minutes, the goal being to help prevent cold-tire-induced crashes and extend tire life. Recent upgrades include shock-resistant thermostats, dual-stage operating lights—red for heating, green for “go”—improved insulation and aluminized fiberglass liners. A nylon carrying case is supplied. Chicken Hawk Racing, Inc., 54 Elizabeth St. #10, Red Hook, NY 12571; 866/468-8473; www.tirewarmer.com
Shocks for Harley-Davidson
Greatly improve the overall comfort and ride of your Harley-Davidson FLH, Dyna or Sportster with the value-oriented emulsion-type ($617.49) or more sophisticated high-pressure, gas-type mono-tube shocks ($908.88, shown) from Swedish suspension-specialist Öhlins. Fitted with black springs, the FLH models come in either 12or 13-inch lengths. Dyna and Sportster extra-cost options include external adjustments for ride height, compression and rebound damping, and spring preload. Choose from black, gold or, for some models, chromed springs. Öhlins USA, 703-C S. Grove St., Hendersonville, NC 28792; 828/692-4525; www.ohlinsusa.com
Full Tuck Racing wants to make an impact on the road and at the racetrack with its new line of aggressively styled, oneand two-piece leather riding suits. Depending on the application, the suits are produced in Brazil from either top-grain or first-split cowhide in 1.2-1.4mm thicknesses. Shoulders, elbows and knees feature CE-approved armor with Schoeller Kevlar and carbon-fiber trim. Cordura stretch panels, front-of-suit perforation and a back-of-suit hump are standard. Suggested retail price for the one-piece Daimyo, Double Barrel and Switchback, as well as the two-piece Mirage, are identical: $699. The Mirage jacket ($399) and pants ($349) can be purchased separately, as well. Full Tuck Racing Corp., P.O. Box 1128, Burbank, CA 91507; 818/453-8561; www.fulltuckracing.com
ASC-1 Anti-Seize Compound
Here’s a case in which a dab really is all you need. Park Tool ASC-1 Anti-Seize Compound ($7.95, 4 ounces) reduces friction in threaded and press-fit connections for easy assembly and disassembly. Ideal for exhaust bolts, bearing races and other applications, ASC-1 also seals and protects aluminum, steel and titanium parts from corrosion. Park Tool Co., 6 Long Lake Rd., St. Paul, MN 55115; 651/777-6868; www.parktool.com
Diablo Corsa II
European Editor Bruno dePrato recently enjoyed a unique opportunity: test the brandnew Diablo Rosso II at Pirelli's own test track in Italy. "The latest evolution of the Diablo Rosso,” he reported, “is a double-compound supersport radial developed specifically for today’s midand large-displacement sportbikes that spend most of their life on the street, not the racetrack. “With steel belts at 0 degrees, a large central band featuring a new compound that positively ensures solid mileage, but also very safe grip on wet surfaces, and two lateral, high-grip bands for serious lean angles, the Diablo Rosso II is regarded as the most versatile of all Pirelli sport radiais. “Mounted on the 2011 BMW R1200R that I was riding, the Rosso IIs [MSRP starting at $355 for a pair] provided a real shot in the arm and even exceeded my expectations. The boxer-Twin became even more nimble and precise, quicker-steering and more stable under heavy braking. With the optional ESA set on Sport, the R1200R felt perfectly home at the track and took to footpeggrinding lean angles as though I was seated at a café drinking a cup of coffee.” Pirelli Tire, LLC, 100 Pirelli Dr., Rome, GA 30161; 800/747-3554; www.us.pirelli.com
MOTORCYCLE GLOVES ARE MEANT TO do more than just keep your paws warm; they also need to provide allaround comfort, good control feel and a high level of flexibility, impact protection and abrasion resistance. So, it makes sense that one material can’t do it all.
Q After replacing the front wheel bearings on my 2001 Kawasaki 500 Ninja, I can’t get the wheel to turn. It spins easily when the axle nut is loose, but as soon as I tighten it, the wheel refuses to turn. I’ve had the wheel off and on three times, always following the directions in the shop manual, and I haven’t left out any spacers or installed anything improperly.
There’s nothing new about the concept of taps and dies. Such tools have been in use since sometime early in the 18th century when blacksmiths began making threaded fasteners out of metal instead of wood. But there have been countless improvements and innovations in tap-and-die design over the years, and some of the latest can be found in the Performance Threading System (PTS) from Irwin Tools (www.irwin.com).
NHTSA Recall No. 11V305000 Manufacturer: Polaris Industries, Inc. Models: 2011 Victory Cross Country Number of units affected: 840 Problem: On certain of these motorcycles manufactured between January 1 and April 11,2011, the handlebar clamps and/or risers may have been machined incorrectly, which could cause the handlebars to slip in the clamps.
Studying the business of Superbike racing at Miller Motorsports Park
I THINK OF THIS YEAR AS “MOTORCYCLING VS. A WEAK ECONOMY.” AT THE MILLER Motorsports Park round of the Superbike World Championship this past May, motorcycling looked pretty good. There was a crowd, it was enthusiastic and it made noise. Seven competing brands and top riders made the usual good SBK show, and Carlos Checa, the Wizard of Miller, did not disappoint.
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