WHAT'S THE FUTURE HOLD? THAT would be one of the top burning questions. As it relates to our interests, motorcycle manufacturers spend large portions of their profits trying to predict the future. And sometimes they even get it right. Prognostication is an unenviable position to be in, particularly because manufacturers are often trying to predict what we want before we even know we want it.
Rise of the modern 250: Japan aims low and hits the competition where they least expect it
2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250/300
2013/14 Yamaha YZF-R250
EXTRAVAGANCE HAS ITS PLACE. . .IF you're a one-percenter. But for the rest of the population, $28,000-a-pop Panigale Tricolores, $10,000 European enduros and just-shy-of-$40K factory-custom H-D CVOs just don't jibe with economic realities.
On our penultimate cover of Cycle World's 25th Anniversary, we celebrated "Harley Power" with a road test of the brand-new '88 Sportster 1200 and a feature on Erik Buell's first, the RR1000. A quarter-century later, our theme is "middleweights," so it's interesting that we now classify the Sportster 1200 Custom in this cate gory when back in '87, the Sporty was considered a big, hairychested man's bike.
WILL THE MOTORCYCLE OF THE FUTURE COME FROM PASADENA?
PIAGGIO IS THE ITALIAN AIRCRAFT manufacturer that brought 16 million Vespa scooters into the world starting in 1946. Scooters were inexpensive, easy to use and seen as cute and chic. Today, Piaggio also owns Aprilia and Moto Guzzi, and in 2011, it delivered 100,000 two-wheelers of all kinds.
Making America's most beloved motorcycles for 110 years
ANNIVERSARIES ARE A BIG DEAL AT Harley-Davidson. As they should be for a company that has survived for more than a century in a business as mercurial as motorcycling. But not only has Harley survived, it has flourished from time to time, and 2013 will mark the 110th year of operation for the bike that made Milwaukee famous.
I'm happy to have grown up and come through the different categories with Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. It's a great rivalry that started many years ago, and I don't see any reason why it won't continue for the rest of the season. I'm going to look back and be quite proud that I was at least part of it.
ONE YEAR AFTER WINNING CYCLE WORLD'S Best Enduro Bike honors in 2011 with its FE570S, Husaberg did not import any four-stroke models in 2012. But there is better news for '13, as three new fourstroke 'Bergs are in the U.S. lineup: the FE 250, FE 350 and FE 501.
OF H-D'S FOUR NEW CUSTOM VEHICLE Operations models for 2013, the new Breakout is the most likely to cause palpitations. For one thing, its Twin Cam 110B engine, rated at 112 foot-pounds of torque at 3500 rpm, gives it the best power-to-weight ratio of any CVO model.
A cylindrical Triple from the father of the frameless British V-Twin WE ALL KNOW THAT PHIL VINCENT and his lead engineer, Phil Irving, designed one of the most influential motorcycles of all time: the 61-cubic-inch Vincent V-Twin. This machine was made light, compact and unusually powerful by a variety of techniques that continue to be employed today.
When someone asks the unthinkable THERE'S A GUY IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD who wants to ride my motorcycle. My brand-new motorcycle. Of course, we all want other enthusiasts to look at a bike of ours with aching envy, shuddering with jealousy, gazing at our machine with the begging eyes of a starving dog.
Triple threat DURING HIS PRESENTATION about the new Brutale 675 middleweight naked bike, MV Agusta CEO Massimo Bordi laid down a sequence of charts in an attempt to prove that these tough economic times offer a great opportunity for a competitively priced, three-cylinder roadster to be successful.
In "When the Going Gets Tough" (September), Peter Egan asks, "Why are adventure bikes so tall?" He need only look at the TR650 Terra six pages later for the answer in "Remaking Husqvarna": "... at the insistence of the American Husqvarna distributor, 21-inch front and 18-in.
IT WAS WITH A DEEP SENSE OF SHAME and trepidation that I awoke early last Saturday and rode out into the warm summer morning on my Buell Ulysses. Nice day to ride, but I was headed for a rally of the BBC (British Biker Cooperative) at a place called Eagle Cave Natural Campground along the Wisconsin River.
WHEN WE LOOK BACK, WE CALL technological change "progress," but it was desperation that forced us to conceive the ideas that would solve specific problems. Engineering does not "progress." It simply moves its problems to higher levels of performance.
The bourgeoisie may be shrinking, but middleweights just keep expanding
IN BOXING, A MIDDLEWEIGHT IS A TOUGH guy who weighs less than 160 pounds, which is realistically interpreted to be between 154 and 160. In motorcycles, where displacement creep has been a fact of life for quite a few decades now, we must define middleweight in a much less precise way.
That's right, 73 mpg and room for junk in the trunk
WELCOME TO THE BRAVE NEW WORLD. "New" because the motorcycle you see here, Honda's innovative NC700X, is a distinct, almost 180-degree change in direction from where motorcycles have been heading for many years. And "brave" because Honda has rolled the dice with this all-new-from-the-ground-up machine, gambling that there are legions of current, past and would-be riders out there who want practicality, efficiency and affordability much more than they crave 190 horsepower, 9-second quarter-miles and five-digit price tags.
If THERE IS A MECHANICAL MATCH MADE IN heaven, it has to be the marriage of new 670cc parallel-Twin and its second-generation Automatic Dual Clutch Transmission. A quick refresher course: Although Honda's DCT does shift itself in Drive mode, it is not an automatic transmission in the traditional hydraulic torque-converter sense, and it isn't a continuously variable transmission (CVT), either.
THE NC700X ISN'T JUST ANOTHER TWO-cylinder motorcycle. It represents a paradigm shift from the horsepower-centered design of sportbikes to the utility-and economy-centered design of a new class of machines that, in the current economic climate, may have broader appeal.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT, WE AREN'T TRYING to confuse you. Really. But we can understand why you might think we are. In this special section, we're calling 700-pound, 1304cc Star Stryker cruisers and 550-lb., 1200cc Harley Sportsters "middleweights" in a category previously dominated by 600cc motorcycles, some of which weighed less than 400 lb. And now we're singling out an 800cc BMW adventure bike as a middleweight, even though that same company makes a range of R1200GS adventurers that are smaller in displacement (1171cc) and lighter in weight (starting at 511 lb.) than the Strykers or Sportsters.
Never mind what it looks like; admire what it does
You CAN'T BLAME PEOPLE FOR ASKING what the Versys is all about. At first glance—or even the second or third— it doesn't announce its identity in the same way plastic-clad sportbikes or chrome-adorned cruisers do. To get to the root of this 650 Twin's true being, you have to ride it, and then its purpose hits you like some sort of revelation.
NEED TO INSPECT YOUR FRONT TIRE? Just lean forward half an inch and look down over the Streetfighter's little instrument panel. Thar she blows. Looks fine. The Triumph Street Triple R may be 2.4 inches shorter of wheelbase and 23 pounds lighter, but I think I feel even more forward, perched atop and in control of the Streetfighter.
So, WHAT SIZE IS IT?" THIS RANKS AS one of the more annoying and unimaginative questions you can get from the guy in the parking lot attempting to make small talk. Sometimes, I just feel like pointing and saying, "It's that big. You're looking right at it..."
OVER THE PAST 25 YEARS, 600CC, LIQUID-cooled, inline-Four supersport bikes have dominated the mid-displacement street category in Cycle World's Annual Ten Best Bikes awards. Prior to our selecting the Ducati 848 Streetfighter this year, the only other departures from the norm have been a V-Twin Honda Hawk GT taking the honors in 1988 and the three-cylinder Triumph Daytona 675 bucking the trend in 2006.
EVEN AMID THE ECLECTIC MIX OF MOTORCYCLES IN this middleweight section, the KTM seems out of place. But for off-road riders who want the convenience of a street-legal dual-sport, KTMs have to be at the top of the shopping list. And falling neatly between the lightweight 250s and monster 450/500s of the dirtbike spectrum, this 350cc, Austrian-built Single definitely fits the definition of "middleweight."
IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WAS THE HONDA VF750F Interceptor, and it was good. Then came the original GSX-R750 of 1986, and suddenly it was off to the races. Flyin' Fred Merkel won the first World Superbike championship on a 750cc Honda RC30 in 1988.
WHAT'S A MIDDLEWEIGHT? YOU'RE looking at the poster child, right here. The Triumph Street Triple R exemplifies the well-rounded qualities that a middleweight should possess. Lightness. A narrow, easy-to-handle chassis. Tractable, linear power.
AFTER SHOOTING AFEW COOL DETAILS of the Sportster 1200 that appears on page 50, photographer Fran turned the camera on the Stryker. We looked all over for cool details—really, we did—but it was tough to find any. There are a few uncool details, like the gothic STRYKER on the speedo face, the chromed plastic engine covers and that you can inspect your sidestand safety switch just by looking down.
Winning friends and influencing people for more than 100 years
IN CONSULTING ONE OF MY ANCIENT Cycle World Buyer's Guides from the last century—yes, these sacred texts have survived five moves and two trips across the U.S. in Mayflower trucks—I can't help but notice that there are almost no bikes depicted that would now be considered "large."
WE'VE HAD SO MUCH FUN EVERY TIME we've ridden Honda's quarter-liter machine that we decided to add one to our long-term fleet. Over the first three months of "ownership," we've piled on a lot of fuel-sipping commuter miles, and staffers always return from a ride grinning.
Ducati's four-valve V-Twins have enjoyed phenomenal racetrack success, and veteran motojournalist Alan Cathcart has ridden every one of them, from the early 851 cc Daytona prototype to the current 1199 Panigale. Ducati Corse World Superbikes ($69.95) chronicles a quarter-century of history, technical reviews and track tests, and is illustrated with coauthor Jim Gianatsis' pin-up photographs. Foreword by Massimo Bordi, designer of the first Desmoquattro in 1974. Gianatsis Design, 4801 Reforma Rd., Woodland Hills, CA 91364; 818/223-8554; www.fastdates.com
Airhead Cool Spray
Menthol is the active ingredient in Airhead Cool Spray. Spritz a small amount on your scalp or helmet liner before a ride, and the local analgesic effect is supposed to cool and soothe while eliminating irritation caused by perspiration. Menthol is also said to be a natural deodorizer, so the inside of the helmet will have a clean, fresh scent. A 30-milliliter spray bottle retails for $14.79. Ahead Solutions (UK) Ltd., Carr Farm Close, Rawtenstall, Lancashire BB4 6HB U.K.; 44 (0) 1706 219253; www. aheadsolutions.co.uk
Think of the SylvanSport GO as a mobile-adventure trailer. Or the world's coolest pop-up camper. Or, well, both. Weighing a claimed 840 pounds, the aluminum-framed GO ($7995) is rated to carry up to 800 lb. of gear—two dirtbikes, an ATV, a dozen bicycles, kayaks, surfboards or nearly any other combination that you might want for your next great outdoor adventure. After you unload your stuff using the Control-Tilt Deck, the Go quickly transforms into a surprisingly roomy tent compete with an awning, four air mattresses, bed/table panels, a large cooler, spare-tire kit and more. SylvanSport, LLC, 235 Commerce St., Brevard, NC 28712; 828/883-4292; www.sylvansport.com
Helmet locks are no longer standard equipment on many new motorcycles, but that doesn't mean you have to lug your lid around with you. HELMETLOK ($20; add $5 for a rubberized coating) is an outward-opening, carabiner-style combination lock for securing a fullor open-face helmet to a frame tube, handlebar, footpeg bracket or some other part of the bike. When you're riding, clip the HELMETLOK to your belt loop or zip it into a jacket pocket. HELMETLOK; www.helmetlok.com
Justin Original Workboots
Kick your motorcycle into gear with Justin Original Workboots. The pull-on Stampede Black Oiled Steel Toe ($150; men's half sizes 6-12, plus 13 and 14) and Gypsy Black Pebble Grain ($120; women's half sizes 5-11) are waterproof and fitted with slip-resistant, footpeg-friendly rubber soles. Both models incorporate Justin's patented J-Flex Flexible Comfort System, a leather-covered insole with three shock-absorbing density levels. Justin Brands, Inc., 610 W. Daggett Ave., Fort Worth, TX; 800/548-1021; www.justinboots.com
Dymag Carbon Race CA5 Wheels
If your American, European or Japanese sportbike was manufactured within the past three or even four decades, Dymag probably makes a set of high-performance wheels that will fit it. Top of the line is the five-spoke Carbon Race CA5 ($2995), which is said to offer the lowest weight within the range and greatest handling improvement. Other options: forged aluminum Ultra Pro UP7 ($1998.52), magnesium Classic CH3 ($3256.31), Street Race TT3 ($3395.43) and Superbike SB5 ($3395.43). The latter is available in up to a 6.25-inch width for drag-racing applications. All Dymag wheels are tested to JWL, DOT and BS AU50 standards and certified for street and track use in the U.S., U.K. and Japan. Orient Express, 28 Grand Blvd. N., Brentwood, NY 11717; 800/645-6521; www.orientexpress.com
Leave your favorite four-legged friend all alone at home? Never again! The Pet Voyager ($174.95) was designed to safely transport small pets on American or Japanese cruisers and touring bikes. Multiple vents, a sliding leash mount, a padded interior, as well as food and water trays will get your pet to any destination in comfort. A walking leash is supplied for pit stops. Saddlemen's Versa-mount seat harness and adjustable sissybar-strap system are said to provide near-universal fitment. Saddlemen, 17801 S. Susana Rd., Rancho Domínguez, CA 90221; 800/397-7709; www.saddlemen.com
Dion Device Pro
In 2005, Max Mercier, the son of three-time Canadian Superbike Champion Michel Mercier, was killed when another roadracer accidentally clipped his brake lever, sending the teenager over the handlebars. Designed by Stephane Dion, a friend of Mercier's, the Dion Device Pro is intended to eliminate those types of accidents by preventing direct contact with any part of the lever by another vehicle. Manufactured of 7075-T5 aluminum and fitted with Heli-Coil inserts in the lower mounting clamps and an adjustable carbon-fiber deflector, the Pro bolts to the right handlebar left of the throttle housing and above the brake lever. To prevent your hand from becoming trapped in a crash, the spring-loaded guard will swing forward before returning to its original position. The Dion Device Pro ($299; black, blue, gold or red) weighs 6.3 ounces and is said to fit the majority of late-model sportbikes equipped with most aftermarket clip-on-style handlebars. LeoVince USA, 1445B S. 50th St., Richmond, CA 94804; 510/232-4040; www.leovinceusa.com
TIRE WARMERS, ONCE REGARDED AS AN exotic piece of track kit primarily intended for professional roadracers, have gained widespread acceptance among amateur club racers and even track-day enthusiasts. While racers are looking to maximize grip from the very start of a race, the benefits of pre-heating your tires to their recommended operating temperature prior to heading onto the track goes beyond simply reducing the risk of a cold-tire incident.
HAULING A DECENT LOAD ON A SPORTY bike has always been a challenge. Modern supersports are often saddlebag-and tailbag-unfriendly; they've been so for some time, in fact. That's why the Ventura Bike-Pack system has been popular over the years: Its mounting system is independent of the bike's bodywork and universal within the Ventura line so that a series of packs can be made to fit a wide range of motorcycles.
QMy 2006 Harley Heritage Softail Classic has developed a strange noise. It's a brief chirping sound that I often hear when I decelerate or sometimes when I downshift. What's weird is that I hear it more often with my wife on the back. Do you have any idea what might be causing this noise or will I have to stop taking my wife along when I go for a ride?
At first, the announcement of yet another thread-locking compound seems about as groundbreaking as a new way to boil water. When it comes to thread lockers, Loctite, Permatex, 3M and an assortment of other companies already have the bases covered.
I have been following MotoGP more closely since the final step to all four-stroke bikes in all classes, and I have a question. It appears that some Moto3 bikes and possibly some bikes in other Moto classes are sprouting reverse-cone megaphones.
In regard to your response to a question about the TRAC anti-dive on a 1984 Honda VF1000F Interceptor ("Taking a dive," August issue), the systems on the VF1000F and VF1000R were not actuated by brake-line pressure as you stated but rather by the caliper rotating slightly on its mount.
AMID THE CONFUSION OF PURPOSE THAT IS TODAY'S MOTOGP, HONDA'S Casey Stoner won his bet on a soft tire this past July at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Current points-leader Jorge Lorenzo, who had put his factory Yamaha at the top of practice and qualifying, pulled away by intense concentration.