A FEW YEARS AGO, I WAS SITTING WITH a bigwig at one of the major manufacturers talking about, what else, motorcycles. One of the significant points in the conversation was how things were changing from a technologically driven, high-performance market to one that would put more emphasis on the spirit and feeling of the ride, with a strong undercurrent of value.
Attack Performance is building its own 1000cc CRT MotoGP bike
ATTACK PERFORMANCE HAS BEEN GRANTED WILD-CARD entries for rider Steve Rapp this summer at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. All formalities are in place.
AVON TIRES PRODUCED ITS FIRST motorcycle tire in 1911, and a century later, the small U.K.-based company released its 3D Ultra sportbike tires to the press at the Almeria Circuit in southern Spain. 3D Ultra is a catch-all for three grades of performance-oriented tires: Sport, Supersport and Xtreme.
REVIVED BRITISH MANUFACTURER NORTON INTENDS TO RACE in this June's Isle of Man Senior TT with a machine built in-house by the company's Spondon chassis division. It will be the first time Norton has contested the TT since Steve Hislop won the race in 1992 after an epic battle with Carl Fogarty.
Honda's 17,000-rpm Street magic" screamed the zinging-to-redline, analog-tachometer-dominated cover of this month's issue. "The CBR25O is.. .an amazement and a mystery," began Executive Editor Steve Anderson, reporting from Japan, "a streetbike that revs like Hailwood's Six, a streetbike that makes more power than Honda's first racing 250s, a streetbike that is nothing less than the fulfillment of a promise made long ago."
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER. THIS PAST April, Yamaha held a press conference in Braselton, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta, and gave journalists their first chance to spend a little seat time with the Star Raider SCL, the company’s 2012 “factory custom” cruiser.
Two-thousand-eleven was a successful year for Ducati. Now, we are at the beginning of a new era with the coming of the 1199 Panigale, a prestigious addition and a strong sign of technological evolution and also of our determination to reaffirm our leadership in Superbike racing.
IN EARLY 2010, HARLEY-DAVIDSON applied for a patent on a limited form of liquid cooling for cylinder heads of the type on its Big Twin. We know that a similar system, but using oil rather than water, has been incorporated into the XR1200R. Why limited?
Dating to circa 1973, when it was the Spartan School of Motorcycle Repair in Newport Beach, California, and right up until around 2003 (at least) when it had become Thomson Education Direct in Scranton, Pennsylvania, CW's longest-running advertiser encouraged us for at least 30 years to "Be the envy of your friends and neighbors as they flock around to watch you tear down and tune up all kinds of motorcycles..."
IN OCTOBER OF 2011, A VERY SMART manager of a Bologna-based company told me he had a feeling that Ducati might be up for sale. How did he get that perceptive feeling? While watching Ducati “polishing all its silverware,” he just made “2 and 2 equal 4.” For the sale of the company, the moment was favorable like never before.
PIAGGIO UNVEILED THE X1 0 GT AT EICMA LAST November, but it was overshadowed by Vespa's Quarantasei concept. After riding this new maxi-scooter, I say it deserves a lot more attention. The X10 is a dramatic evolution of Piaggio’s “armchair” scooters.
IT’S BEST TO HAVE AN INTEResting adventure destination in the bag when your daily ride is the likes of the Suzuki V-Strom 650 Adventure. Given the Strom’s go-anywhere appearance, the probability of being approached by curious types wanting to hear about exotic, distant journeys is highly probable.
HONDA, BUCKING AN industry-favorite habit of creating entry-level bikes that appear to be perforated into mediocrity by the sharp pencil of a Merciless Accountant, surprised us all with the beautifully built and unexpectedly fun CBR250R.
Peter Egan’s “Windjammer Days” in May really took me back. In 1970 and ’71,I was in the Army at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, California. I had a 1969 BMW R60 that my wife and I used to explore California and camp in odd and wonderful places. After getting caught in a nasty sandstorm near Death Valley, I decided to get a fairing.
ON ONE OF OUR TYPICAL LATE-NIGHT phone calls, my brother commented recently that I spend quite a bit of time talking about weather in this column. He’s probably right, but it’s pretty hard to avoid the subject when you’re a motorcyclist.
IN 1960, THERE WAS NO DOUBT WHO was in charge of U.S. motorcycle competition. It was the established Harley, Triumph and BSA riders and their sponsors, whose justifiably famous names have come down to us through history. Backing them were the only slightly less famous names of Tom Sifton, Jerry Branch, C.R. Axtell and others—the pioneers who ground cams, measured airflow and dyno-bred the horsepower to win.
Ten ways to keep it soulful (and sometimes a little strange) while having a good time on two wheels
FOR DECADES, THE IMPLACABLE MARCH OF TECHnology and improved performance has driven motorcycles to incredible heights. Even our dyno and GPS-based timing equipment are so shocked by what they're recording that they've started putting exclamation points after some of the horsepower and quarter-mile numbers.
It's probably difficult to mass-produce a motorcycle with true character these days, mostly because "character" can often be construed as a lack of refinement. Yes, we have amazing performance and an approachability that gives most modern bikes their mass appeal, but an unfortunate side effect can be motorcycles that don't speak to us.
Things were getting good for motorcyclists in the Seventies. Sparks were starting to come electronically, power was jumping up significantly and disc brakes were there to help on the other end of the performance spectrum. Okay, so it took a few more years for suspension to get good, but, hey, development takes time.
The most fun you can have on three wheels, and sometimes two
If a motorcycle could be judged solely by its ability to attract attention, then the Ural M70 Anniversary Edition is one of the coolest and most captivating rides on the road. This sidehack is motorcycling’s equivalent of the Death Star: It has its very own brand of tractor beam (Russian, we presume!) that sucks men, women and children out of their cars, out of stores and off sidewalks to check it out.
Character? How about Batman? The $19,995 Ducati Diavel Carbon’s a big pussycat of a motorcycle, but if you didn’t know any better, you wouldn’t think so. I especially enjoy riding it around CW’s new home here in the master-planned (master-bland?) community of Irvine.
When I got my first modern Triumph Scrambler a few years back, it had almost too much character—in the same traditional English sense that led to the original Meriden firm’s extinction in 1983.I „ rode the new bike home from the dealership and discovered it had two serious oil leaks (missing seal behind the starter motor and a bad 0-ring on the oil-cooler line).
There is no shortfall of compelling qualities in the sportbike category, but the Austrian-built KTM RC8 R possesses a concentration of characteristics that hit your senses with all the force of an avalanche. Foremost is the fact that this pure-bred superbike is built by a company largely perceived as a dirtbike manufacturer, but there is a whole lot more going on than that.
There is something special about being a survivor, like the Harley-Davidson Sportster has proven to be in its 55 years of existence. The XL is like a well-weathered and wise old coot who has seen it all along the way. But this Forty-Eight version just could be the coolest of the lot.
Essential elements of a big (formerly) British Single? The "Beat," as Royal Enfield calls it. It's that sound that booms out as if emanating from the bowels of the Earth. It used to echo mostly through England, but since Enfield in Blighty shipped its Bullet 350 and 500 tooling to India back in the mid-i 950s, that sound generally comes from a place significantly farther east than Redditch, Worcestershire, site of the old factory.
Eyes on the tiny tach atop the oscillating trilogy of analog clocks behind the teeny tinted windscreen: 84 mph and 7000 rpm indicated. I tuck my toes in tight, lower my fiber-reinforced forehead and watch the rpm climb another thousand and 10 mph more on the (optimistic) speedo: 90-something is plenty fast for my 14.2-mile run to the C-Dub hub as we Misfits make up ground through the off-ramp-esses on the R6 guy who passed us a mile ago in the carpool lane.
I haven't had the dream in a while, but I used to have it a lot: I'm driving my trusty Army deuce-and-a-half truck up a winding, snowy hill when we lose traction and slowly start sliding backwards. Soon, I’m alternating standing on the brakes with releasing them a little to maintain backward direction as I try to stay on the road by looking in the mirrors—but the speed just keeps picking up as we slide backward out of control!
SO, WHAT EXACTLY CONSTITUTES "CHARACTER" iN A MOTORCYCLE? It's an old debate and probably has as many answers as there are riders, but I'll try to put in my two cents because Editor Hoyer has asked me to. He probably figured that, as a serial owner and restorer of British and Italian motorcycles—not to mention the occasional older Harley—I'd have strong opinions on the matter, much as someone who's been hit by a train or run over by a steamroller I harbors a few thoughts about orthopedic surgery.
When factory character is not enough, it's time to Ruck Out
DOWNTOWN L.A.-ADJACENT ON A SATURday morning last March, who knew a place called Little Tokyo would be filled with tidy little cafés serving pastries and coffee, people sweeping their sidewalks and planting things in flowerboxes, friendly young couples pushing strollers full of babies and seniors walking their ankle-biters.
Four nakeds, four engine corifigurations four e-ticket rides directly do jail
Power and Performance
TUONO V4 R
BRUTALE RR 1090
SPEED TRIPLE R
THEY'RE OUTCASTS, THE MOTORCYCLE INDUSTRY'S DIRTY little secrets. Despite their niche popularity in the U.S, they make up only a tiny portion of new-unit sales, and yet to those in the know, they represent some of the most potent and entertaining motorcycles made.
TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, TEAM CYCLE WORLD PUT ME IN THE saddle of a new Suzuki GSX-R750 to compete in the annual Isle of Man TT ("Tourist Trophy") races. It took a huge amount of effort on the part of many people before, during and after the races, and it cost a lot of money.
Isle of Man TT: Still Relevant After All These Years
If you visit the Motorsport Memorial website (motorsportmemorial.org), which catalogs the nearly 6700 deaths known to have occurred in motorcycle racing since sport became motorized, you can see that some 241 rider-passenger racer fatalities have taken place on the Isle of Man since 1907.
CIRCA 1994: AFTER I HAD DONE A FEW hundred laps of the 37.73-mile Isle of Man TT course looking through the camera mounted on 26-time winner Joey Dunlop’s fuel tank (in the movie V Four Victory), and after I’d spent a few years on the road riding like there was no tomorrow, I started racing with the Willow Springs Motorcycle Club (RIP).
KEVIN CAMERON COULD WRITE A BOOK ABOUT HOW RACING HELPS funnel technology to production motorcycles. That book would be very informative, but he hasn’t written it, so we can’t read it. Luckily, all that motocross racers have to do is just look at KTM’s new 450 SX-F Factory Edition and see that it’s purposely built for professional racing but available for the eager consumer.
AFTER WATCHING THE EUROPEANS GET to play with the Super Ténéré a full year prior to its U.S. release, we were salivating to put it head-to-head against the adventure-touring class stalwarts. It didn’t disappoint, proving that it was a better all-around motorcycle than either the BMW R1200GS or KTM 990 Adventure that we pitted against it in our “Ride There” comparison test.
Looking to explore parts unknown on your 17-inch-wheeled Buell Ulysses, Ducati Multistrada 1200 or Triumph Tiger 1050 (or a radical custom like this Mad Max-inspired S 1000RR built by BMW specialist Wunderlich!)? Now you can, and you don't have to sacrifice your bike's excellent road manners to do so, either. Continental has expanded the range of sizes for its DOT-approved TKC 80 Twinduro to include both front and rear 17-inch applications. Low-profile knobs allow the front tire to clear most stock-height fenders and still provide excellent traction off-road. Per-pair pricing starts at $271.98.
Continental Tire the Americas
Mike Corbin's signature Gunfighter saddle lives on with applications for the 2006-12 Harley-Davidson FXD Dyna Glide, Switchback and 2006-08 Dyna Wide Glide. The deeply dished, narrow-nosed and slightly lower-than-stock "Close" design seen here ($467) moves the rider nearer the front of the motorcycle for a more relaxed reach to the handlebars. Easy to install, the Gunfighter mounts to the stock location with a single bolt. Comfort Cell foam and a Fibertech base-pan are standard, and a variety of custom materials is available at no additional charge.
Continental Tire the Americas
MC Care Line
Give your on-or off-road motorcycle the love and attention it deserves with Motul's MC Care Line. Eighteen products, nine of which are brand-new, are coded to cover four categories: A (air-filter maintenance), C (chain maintenance), E (external care) and M (motorcyclist and equipment care). Washes, waxes, chain cleaner and lube, chrome and aluminum polish, air-filter cleaner and oil, insect and scratch removers, hand cleaner...the list goes on. Prices start at $4.99.
Continental Tire the Americas
M10R Kompe Wheels
Marchesini is probably best known for its high-performance forged magnesium roadracing wheels. The Italian company’s new 10-spoke forged aluminum M10R Kompe, however, is designed for onand off-road use as a direct replacement for the original-equipment cast or wire-spoke wheels on BMW’s top-selling R1200GS. The black-anodized 19 x 2.50 front and 17 x 4.00 rear wheels are tire-pressure-indicator compatible and come with spacers and brake disc carriers. MSRP for a pair is $2288.
Continental Tire the Americas
The Australians have done it! Drift Jeans from Port Melbourne-based Drayko are the first (and, thus far, only) CE-approved motorcycle-riding jeans. Distributed in the U.S. by Western Power Sports, these road-ready pants are designed to protect your, urn, assets in an asphalt slide for at least 4.4 seconds, nearly half a second longer than is required for the standard they are designed to meet. This is possible through a blend of military-grade Kevlar and Dyneema, which is advertised as the world's strongest fiber. Drayko says that even with all this protection, the Euro-cut jeans ($179.95, men's even waist sizes 30-44; women's sizes 0-12) are breathable and comfortable to wear both on and off the bike. Also available: the Renegade ($149.95) and "digital-camouflage" Optix ($1 79.95).
So, 96 or even 103 cubic inches no longer kick-start your ticker? JIMS has a mother-of-all-Big-Twins solution: a 135-cubic-inch Twin Cam Race Engine. Available in either black or silver, this 2.2-liter monster is built around a 45/16- x 4⅝-inch bore and stroke, has specially designed "thick-wall" engine cases, increased cylinder finning for greater cooling capacity and fits all Dyna and Touring models from 1999-2012, as well as 1991-99 Evolution Harley-Davidsons.
WHAT CAN YOU WEAR WHILE RIDING your motorcycle to preserve a Positive Adventure Outlook (PAO) all the way from a 100-plus-degree desert to a freezing Rockies mountaintop and everywhere in between? A quick blast last summer from Cycle World's oceanfront editorial offices in Southern California to Colorado’s 14,000-foothigh Pikes Peak revealed Alpinestars’ “4-in-1” Frontier Gore-Tex gear to be a pretty reasonable solution.
PITY BURNS’ POOR OLD R1, ABANDONED for weeks on end to sit home while shiny new testbikes get ridden instead. Well, if it sits home, it’s not so bad, because then it gets plugged into the trusty battery charger. But if it gets left where there is no charger, sometimes the old girl just doesn’t want to crank over.
Q I have a 1975 Honda CB400F Super Sport with 12,000 miles, and I cannot get the #4 cylinder to fire cleanly. I have changed plugs repeatedly, cleaned, rebuilt and even replaced the #4 carb, replaced the plug wires and installed a Dyna ignition, Dyna coils and a new battery.
Changing your own tires these days, are ya, Sparky? Well, you might as well balance them yourself, too. And if that sounds like a swell idea, Discount Ramps’ (www.discountramps.com) Black Widow Motorcycle Wheel Balancer (part #BW-WB-03; $49.99) is an economical tool that can help you get the job done quite nicely.
Best Cruiser, 2000 Ten Best Awards Years sold: 2000-2007 MSRP new: $16,580 (2000) to $17,345 (2007) Blue Book retail value: $8375 (2000) to $12,315 (2007) Basic specs: An 88-cubic-inch, 62-hp, air-cooled, 45-degree V-Twin cruiser with “factory custom” styling.
Q Recent issues have featured a number of funnels, specialized and universal. While these infundibula no doubt work as advertised, I have trouble spending more on a funnel than the oil that will pass through it. But rather than canceling my subscription, I offer the possibly useful advice that there is a free funnel in every oil bottle or any other plastic bottle.
THE DELTA 737 THAT CARRIED ME AWAY FROM ATLANTA WAS banged hard from side-to-side by the same gusts that had made the weekend’s racing at nearby Road Atlanta so strange. In Saturday’s AMA Pro SuperBike Race 1, closely matched Josh Hayes and Blake Young had touched, wrenching the handlebars out of Young’s hands and dumping him on the track to slide it out.
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