IT'S HELL TRYING TO PICK THE TEN BEST bikes. Okay, "hell" might be an overstatement. Riding all these great bikes in our search for the best of the best hardly qualifies as hazardous duty, except, perhaps, when it includes Cernicky. Still, there is a far greater number of fabulous machines than there are categories for Ten Best, and it seems to get harder every year to choose just 10.
DURING OUR RECENT VISIT TO HUSQVARNA ("REMAKING HUSQVARNA," SEPTEMBER), company executives said they have a high-tech two-stroke, likely directly injected, in their near-term product plan. At KTM, a tech-services manager claims that the company has a direct-injection two-stroke under test, essentially ready to go when there's a need in the marketplace.
Two and a half decades ago to the month, we celebrated the Ten Best Bikes of the year, just as we have in the issue you are holding. In contrast to our current crop of top picks, plastic-wrapped sportbikes represented five of the 10 categories.
IF YOU'RE FEELING THE NEED TO PROVE your mettle in a major desert rally, RR UK and its new Desert Raider 450 are standing by to make it happen, with "turn-key" packages that allow you to show up at the start of a rally and leave the bike at the finish.
TWO YEARS AGO, HONDA WOWED US with its dual-clutch transmission in the new VFR1200F. With finger! thumb-actuated Manual and fully automatic Drive/Sport modes, this six-speed box impressed with its lightning-quick upshifts and auto-throttle-blipping downshifts.
Dorna is a bigger company than Infront Motor Sports, and MotoGP is a bigger championship than World Superbike. MotoGP is coming from a longer history; World Superbike is only 25 years old. Having said that, we have been growing and make steady technical regulations.
BMW HAS STUCK TO ITS GUNS AND CONTINUED THE STRANGE PROTOCOL BEGUN WITH THE F650GS by giving the more urban-oriented F700GS version of the F800GS (also updated for ’13) a model designation that has nothing to do with its engine displacement.
Yes, Texas has hills. And winding roads. And great scenery. Look no farther than the Texas Hill Country west of Kerrville for proof. Rolling foothills lined with oak trees and creeks provide visceral pleasantries, while winding ribbons of asphalt like Ranch Roads 335, 336 and 337, nicknamed the "Twisted Sisters," fulfill a motorcyclist's desire for excitement.
VICTORY SAYS BUSINESS IS up 20 percent, year-overyear, for the last three years! And while the iron is hot, the Minnesota-based company keeps firing off new models, the latest of which is the 2013 Boardwalk. Building upon Victory’s usual 106inch Freedom V-Twin and steel-tube-frame platform, the Boardwalk is aimed directly at the Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe.
Ten years ago in a middleweight shootout article, one of the "Ups" on the ZX-6R was "Eric Bostrom wins on one," and one of the "Downs" was "You're not Eric Bostrom." In the "Workhorses" and "Exotics" comparison ("Superbikes 2012," August), there was mention of several non-Eric Bostroms riding, yet their lap times and riding impressions were not included.
I'VE NEVER UNDERSTOOD WHY CLAMS ARE thought to be happy, as they seem rather expressionless to me. But this past spring, I was certainly as happy as any of these fabled bivalves, and the reason was a change of faceshield and helmet. Yes, my needs are simple.
WHEN I FIRST LEARNED ABOUT THE existence of the 1915 Cyclone, it seemed to materialize out of nothing-a high-revving, overhead-cam visitor from the future, plopped down into a pre-WWI world of low-performance flathead or suction-over-exhaust motorcycles.
A four-cylinder tribute to Number Nine's title-contending Triple
WELCOME TO THE MAGIC OF THE CAFÉ-RACER ERA, A TIME WHEN a single model, the Vincent Black Shadow, held the production motorcycle speed record for nearly a quarter-century. If you were a tinkerer, this was your moment in the sun. Bolt-on performance parts were in their infancy, leaving enthusiasts to ponder, "What does speed look like?" For café enthusiasts back in those days, a low gas tank and humped seat were compulsory.
IT MUST BE IN THE GENES. ZACH NESS IS a third-generation customizer, following in the footsteps of his father, Cory, and family patriarch Arlen. Like the rest of the Ness clan, Zach builds customs based on Victory motorcycles. When Victory asked Zach if he wanted to be the first to customize its new Judge, he was all over it and even had a plan.
A café custom with flat track roots and god-given styling
DEUS EX MACHJNAߞLATIN FOR "GOD from the machine"ߞis a literary term that originated in Greek theater where actors performed free-form plots. If the plots were not working well, a mechanical deviceߞa "machine"ߞ lowered onto the stage a god who would change everything.
DESPITE ITS APPARENT SIMPLICITY, THIS custom, the Lindy Bob, embodies more cultures than you'd find swirling around in a petri dish. It's a Japanese bike manufactured as a tribute to classic British motorcycles that's been customized by a German to look like a cross between an American boardtracker and a British clubman/café racer, then named in honor of legendary 1920s' American aviator Charles Lindbergh and an African-American style of dance from that same era called the Lindy Hop.
OKAY, NOT YOUR TYPICAL CAFÉ BIKE. But how much more exhaust-pipe wrap can you take? And even the most die-hard ton-up boys would have to admit that Pangea Speed's "SpeedMaster" is one of the more compelling, if a little strange, speed-insnired custom bikes ever.
IT'S EASY TO GET ONTO THE TEN BEST BIKES LIST. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS BUILD A MACHINE THAT PUSHES THE LIMITS IN ITS class, or pushes the limits of its class, one that performs beffer, offers more style and gives us everything we want from a motorcycle.
Ducati 1199 Panigale S An unbelievable, 174-horsepower V-Twin engine, 403 pounds dry, knockout styling and the leading electronics package offered on a superbike, including electronically adjustable suspension? All for $24K? Not cheap, but so much for the money! An amazing achievement from what is really just a small Italian company.
IN THE OCTOBER ISSUE IN 1976, CYCLE World picked its Ten Best for the first time, reasoning (among many reasons) that it was our duty to let the manufacturers know when they were doing good so that they might keep on doing it. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Riding the Reunion: Welcome to the original social network
EVERY LOW-BAR, STRIPPED-DOWN, LIGHTWEIGHT SPORTY MOTORCYCLE FROM A pre-unit Triumph to the Zach Ness Victory (see p. 38) owes something to a little café on the North Circular Route in the northwest London area known as Stonebridge. Yes, the Ace served as ground zero for a café-racer movement that not only survives but flourishes more than a half-century after it served its first cup of tea to a leather-clad rocker. A visit to last year's Ace Reunion and Brighton Burn Up proved that cool motorcycles and loud rock `n' roll are timeless.
RETROGRADE: Triumph Thruxton vs. Moto Guzzi V7 Racer
When it comes to motorcycles, 2012 is a fine vintage
PERSONALLY, I THINK THE NUMBERPLATES MAY BE A STEP TOO FAR IN THE QUEST FOR retro-racer chic, a little too "Ducas of Hazzard," but it's hard to find issue with much else on the Guzzi V7 Racer: red frame and hubs, drilled and brushed aluminum trim, suede seat and leather tank strap, shiny spokes, adjustable Bitubo shocks, super flyscreen, dual Arrow (Guzzi accessory) pipes. . . it all hangs together to take you back to the original Guzzi V7 and 1969, even if you've never been there before.
IT WAS WITH MIXED EMOTIONS THAT WE bid farewell to our long-term Cross Country. We miss the big white bagger's days-on-end comfort, the stonk and thunder of its 106-inch V-Twin, the amazing backroad agility it offered for such a big lump, and the steamer-trunk capacity of its three-piece baggage (which included the optional $1749.99 Lock & Ride Trunk).
Passive reflectors only work in direct light, but Lunasee Active Side Lighting ($199.95) has "a visible and unmistakable light signature," greatly increasing the likelihood that you'll be seen at night. "Light Emitting Rim" tape is affixed to the outer edges of your wheels. As the wheels rotate, the tape is excited by four high-intensity 1-watt charging pods mounted on the fenders, fork or frame and targeted at the tape, which glows, creating striking rings of light.
Hey, Mr. Adventure, you're probably not going to find an electrical outlet to recharge your smartphone, GPS or tablet computer in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully, Brunton has a solution: the Resync ($168). Weighing just 10 ounces, this rubberized, all-weather-ready I portable powerpack has high-efficiency miniand micro-USB ports, a power gauge and an auto shut-off feature, so you'll never have to worry about overcharging your expensive elec tronics. If the event that you're truly off the grid, the Resync can be recharged using Brunton's 12-volt solar panels.
Get a grip on your repli-racer with AGV Sport’s ultimate full-length-gauntlet track glove. The GPR ($199; Black/Red, Black/ White, Black/Blue or Black; sizes S-XXL) is constructed using three types of leather— cowhide, kangaroo and stingray—with steelcovered, memory-foam-backed carbon-fiber armor atop the knuckles for maximum protection.
Nip in the air? Extend your riding season well into fall or even winter with a Klymit Amphibian vest ($179.95). Desicjned to be worn under a riding jacket, this briqht-blue mid-layer uniquely uses a supplied bulb-type dry-air pump or an optional argon gas (three times warmer than air) inflator to fill its "warmth channels" and effectively insulate the wearer. Too hot? Ooen the valve on the left side of the chest to reduce volume. The Argon Starter Kit $49.95) includes three screw-type gas canisters, an inflator, a patch kit and a stuff sack. Each canister is said to fill the vest at least twice, and the vest will remain inflated for days or possibly weeks depending on storage conditions.
Fixing a flat, sourcing an electrical gremlin or replacing a clutch cable is never fun. Add darkness to the equation and, well, it's a good thing you carry Brite-Strike's Executive Precision Lighting Instrument ($80). Perfectly sized for a jacket or tankbag pocket, the 5.125-inch-long, LED-equipped, AAA-battery-powered EPLI comes with High, Low and Strobe modes. The 10-lumen Low setting is ideal for map reading, while the 160-lumen strobe mode works well as a distress beacon. K
IT'S BEEN 30 YEARS SINCE TRON DEBUTED in movie theaters, so it's about time someone made a proper light-up jacket. Possible sources of inspiration aside, Adaptiv Technologies (helping you avoid speeding tickets since 2006) is trying to get riders noticed in a different way.
Q When you buy a new bike, all its spokes have been properly torqued by the factory, the wheels are perfectly round and their balance is spot-on. So, why not place a drop or two of wicking Loctite #290 or AA on each spoke nipple, let the thing set overnight and never worry about spoke torque again?
Gee, a crescent wrench—how exciting! Astute observation, except that this isn’t your typical crescent wrench. Technically, it’s not a crescent wrench at all. “Crescent” is the name of the tool company that invented this style of adjustable open-end wrench in the early 1900s.
Best Sport-Touring Bike, 2005 Ten Best Awards Years sold: 2003-2006 (992cc); 2007-2009 (1078cc); 2010-present (1198cc) MSRP new: $13,495 S-model, $11,995 standard (2003) to $19,995/16,995 (2012) Blue Book retail value: $6695/6565 (2003) to $17,010/13,315 (2011) Basic specs: A 992cc, 90-degree V-Twin all-rounder that weighs 487 lb. with a full 5.3-gallon tank and that made 76.7 hp at 7500 rpm and 58.5 ft.-lb.
BAJA. FEW WORDS IN THE MOTORCYCLING LEXICON ARE so evocative. Close your eyes and picture five decades worth of racing legends, from pioneering Dave Ekins and Malcolm Smith through record-setting Larry Roeseler and Johnny Campbell to current heroes Kendall Norman, Quinn Cody and Logan Holladay.