THERE ARE CERTAIN CONSTANTS IN LIFE that we not only come to rely on but that we ultimately take for granted. Things so damn reliable, repeatable and there that you hardly realize they are fundamental to your world view. Like gravity.
Putting the “Pow!” in powersports: Victory and Indian cruisers, and Polaris snowmobiles and ATVs are propelling the Midwest-based company to the top
WHAT is POLARIS INDUSTRIES UP TO? THE MINNESOTA-based outfit is buying companies across a wide product range: electric-car makers GEM and Goupil Industrie, engineering and prototype firm Swissauto, outdoor-gear-maker KLIM and even Indian.
In our “600 Showdown!” cover story, the Honda Hurricane, Kawasaki Ninja, Suzuki Katana and Yamaha FZ battled for supremacy on road and track. The $4098 Hurricane, “the most confidence-inspiring of the group,” took top honors on the street.
THE RIDE FOR KIDS ORGANIZATION has been around for 29 years, raising some $60 million to benefit the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. That makes motorcyclists the single-largest source of funding for childhood brain-tumor research—an especially noble pursuit given that, each day in the U.S., 11 families learn they have a child thus afflicted.
SINGLE-CYLINDER DUKES HAVE BEEN KTM’s number-one selling naked worldwide for years, but they have been absent from the U.S. lineup since 2010. No more. For 2013, the 690 Duke returns with a host of upgrades aimed to keep the Single at the top of Mattighofen’s standard-bike throne.
BAD NEWS: U.S. BUYERS WILL HAVE TO wait until the 2014 model year for the brand-new KTM 1190 Adventure to arrive. Good news: The 990 Adventure is going out in a blaze of glory. This limited-edition model has white bodywork with “Baja” graphics, and an orange powdercoated frame.
Start the jukebox at the Ace, we’re off to bust the Ton (maybe)
GOT THE CAFÉ ITCH? ROYAL ENFIELD IS READY to scratch with the 2014 Café Racer. “Nothing about the bike is the same,” said Ron Greene, VP of sales and dealer development at Royal Enfield USA about the CR’s relationship to the rest of the 500cc line.
People look at BMW and see 100,000 employees. But only 3000 are motorcycle employees. And of that 3000, 1800 are plant people in Berlin. So, that leaves 1200 people to do everything else that Motorrad does around the world, including engineering.
To the newly formed Sho-Air/Cannondale factory North American mountain-bike racing team, for incorporating two of our own into its star-studded roster. Three-time AMA SuperBike Champion Josh Hayes and multi-time AMA national champion (and CW Editor-at-Speed) Eric Bostrom have joined Max Plaxton, Jeremiah Bishop, Alex Grant, Pua Mata and the legendary Tinker Juarez on two wheels of the pedal kind.
Sunshine, amazing views of fhe Pacific Ocean and miles of twisty canyon and coastal roads: It’s no wonder Southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains are such a popular riding destination! Don’t miss the famous Rock Store on Mulholland Highway or Neptune’s Net on Pacific Coast Highway.
MOTORCYCLES INTENDED for racing always get better in their second year of production. The KX450F, which received a new frame and a high-tech electronics package last year, is a prime example. For 2013, Kawasaki has refined the power delivery and improved the handling.
FRESH ON THE HEELS OF NEWS that American Suzuki had shut down its automotive division but would increase its commitment to motorcycles, I found myself in Las Vegas for the press unveiling of a couple new-for-2013 Suzuki motorcycles: the entry-level GW250 and an all-new Boulevard C90T cruiser.
The January “One-Bike Solution Shootout” was almost a waste of ink. Why do practical, everyday bikes have to be so damn ugly? What the heck is with these goofy-looking headlights mounted above those bird-beak front ends? You’ve got front fenders that hug the tire, but the back fender is way up in the air?
BREAKING A LONG TRADITION OF ALWAYS being in a hurry and accomplishing nothing, I finally managed to slow down last week and smell the roses. Okay, there weren’t any roses because it was late autumn, so I had to smell the bare brown fields of the Great Plains, some recently spread with fresh manure, but I still managed to engineer one whole extra day into a cross-country trip so I could take two-lane backroads instead of blasting down the Interstate.
LAST FALL, THE FIM ANNOUNCED THAT in 2014, MotoGP prototype machines will get five engines per rider, per season, instead of the present six. This means each engine must last 3.6 race weekends instead of the current three. Fuel quantity per race for prototypes is to be cut from 21 liters to 20.
IT WAS ERNEST HEMINGWAY'S PAL GERTRUDE STEIN, according to Wikipedia, who took her car to a Parisian shop to have some work done. Unimpressed by the repair, she complained to the shop owner, who then yelled at his young mechanic: "You are all a génération perdue!"— a lost generation.
HONDA CBR250R vs. HYOSUNG GT250R vs. KAWASAKI NINJA 300
Kawasaki Ninja 300
A SMALL-ARMS RACE! WHAT FUN! (NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH A SMALL ARMS race; behold the power of the hyphen!) The Kawasaki Ninja 250 had been the best-selling sportbike in the U.S. and pretty much ruled the 250cc sportbike class until the Honda CBR250R got here two seasons ago and dethroned it in a thrilling heads-up comparo (April, 2011) and, according to the most recent num ber, was slightly ahead in 2012 sales.
The U.S. motorcycle market peaked in 2005-6, when high home values and easy credit conspired to help drive sales of 1.1 million new bikes. But following the banking crisis and economic meltdown of 2008, that number has fallen precipitously, to 450,000 total sales in 2011—a drop of nearly 60 percent.
HONDA CRF250L vs. KAWASAKI KLX250S vs. YAMAHA WR250R
GREAT EXPLORERS HAVE ONE THING IN COMMON: an insatiable desire to see what is beyond their own familiar territory. In the motorcycling world, dual-sports give us the chance to explore well past where the pavement ends while being able to get to that trailhead legally and efficiently with the benefit of a license plate.
Does small displacement mean big mpg? Let's find out
ONE OF THE PRIMARY APPEALS OF OWNing a small-displacement motorcycle is the savings such machines typically offer at the gas pump. To determine optimal mpg figures and see how these bikes compare in the real world, we laid out a 60-mile test loop comprised of equal parts freeway, rural and city riding.
Darrell Schneider’s first two-wheel custom is this HondaCRF250R-based café racer
ADMIT IT: RIDING DIRTBIKES ON THE street is fun. Problem is, it looks a bit awkward, like a dune buggy on asphalt. And there’s that whole no-license-plate thing. One solution? Convert your motocross bike into a chic café-style roadracer, which is precisely what Darrell Schneider, a well-known classic car restorer from Concord, California, has done with this head-turning GP250R. Inspired by the work of noted builders Roland Sands, Richard Pollock and Ron Wood, Schneider spent 14 months crafting the GP250R, which is based on his personal 2004 Honda CRF250R. “Those three guys just have cool style,” says Schneider.
HAVING BEEN ON THE JOB AND IN THE SADDLE FOR THE TURN-OF-the-century debut of the Triumph TT600, I can appreciate just how far the Hinckley, England-based firm has progressed since its inaugural foray into the highly competitive middleweight supersport class.
FROM THE FIRST RIDE CW GOT ON THE K1600GTL at the South African press introduction to the exclusive first testbike we received in the U.S. to the last few feet we rode the bike while loading it on BMW’s truck after more than 10,000 miles, we were amazed at the ease, security, comfort and speed with which this luxury (sport) tourer conducted itself.
MOST OF THE TIME, THE CW BRIGADE opts for full-face helmets, but there are times when preference and circumstance can dictate dropping the chin bar. Still, if you’ve ever taken a bee in the face, been sandblasted by high winds or pelted by rain, a shield-equipped open-face helmet like the HJC IS-33 is a great in-between solution.
ANDY GOLDFINE, HONCHO OF AEROSTICH, is a deeply philosophical man, which a glance at his catalog shows. Throughout the catalog is evidence of his belief that whatever motorcyclists need should be rugged, simple and as light as possible. Hence, it’s no surprise that Goldfine’s solution to the flat-tire problem includes his lightweight, built-to-spec Mini Compressor.
Attention, 2008-13 Kawasaki Concours 14 owners: Do you pack light for trips? Or maybe you’d just like your bike to have a sleeker profile. Either way, Corbin’s Slim Door Conversion ($393) reduces net capacity for each original-equipment, clamshell-type saddlebag from 35 to 27 liters, and overall width drops from 39 to 33 inches.
Tired of looking like a...biker? Known for its design-oriented technical outerwear, Aether Apparel recently launched a motorcycle-specific line. Shown here: the hip-length Skyline ($650, S-XL sizes; Jet Black, Graphite, Total Eclipse or Discovery Green). This sleek, modern zip-up is said to be road-ready via a breathable, waterproof, abrasion-resistant nylon shell and removable, CE-certified D3O armor at the back, shoulders and elbows. Other functional features include zippered chest pockets and cuffs, and snap-down cargo pockets.
Handlebar Conversion Kit
Sit up straight! Spiegler’s handlebar conversion kit for the 2012-13 Kawasaki ZX-14R positions the rider more upright, reducing shoulder and wrist strain while delivering a factory-installed look. The kit includes an anodized one-piece billet aluminum top clamp, aluminum Superbike Low Fatbar XN1, stainless steel brake lines and mounting hardware. Suggested retail price is $529.
Want to visit Museo Ducati? Terrific idea. Including round-trip flights to Italy, hotels, food and other expenses, you’ll likely be north of five big ones per head. The alternative? Museo Ducati, just $39.95, a magnificent book from David Bull Publishing. Ducati Corse MotoGP press officer Chris Jonnum built the words, and internationally respected photographer Peter Harholdt provided the pictures. Twenty-five racebikes are featured, including those ridden by many iconic winners. The format shows the whole machine in profile, provides a paragraph of descriptive data and adds well-captioned photos portraying some of the most compelling engineering details. This is a wonderful book, a perfect solution for those of us who cannot afford an in-person visit to Museo Ducati.
Q I have a 2003 Suzuki Bandit 1200 with 27,000 miles on the odometer, and it has a weird problem that’s driving me nuts. Most of the time, it runs perfectly; but if I turn the throttle all the way open down around 2000 or 2500 rpm in any gear besides first or second, it “hiccups” like it’s skipping a tooth somewhere.
Ignition systems these days are so pointless as to be almost existential. Okay, bad joke, but thanks to the proliferation of electronic engine management, points-switched ignitions are virtually nonexistent on modern motorcycles.
Years sold: 1999-present (except 2010) MSRP new: $15,999 (1999) to $20,190 (2013) Blue Book retail value: $5150 (1999) to $16,965 (2012) Basic specs: A full-dress touring cruiser powered by a more mildly tuned, 1294cc version of the 1198cc V-Four engine used in the original V-Max power cruiser.
NHTSA Recall No. 12V582000 Manufacturer: Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. Model: 2008-09 Can-Am Spyder GS; 2009-12 Spyder RS; 2010-12 Spyder RT Number of units involved: 33,700 Problem: Bombardier is recalling certain of these three-wheel vehicles because the fuel cap may not fit properly onto the fuel tank filler neck, preventing it from sealing properly.
Everett Brashear won 15 AMA nationals on Harley-Davidson and BSA flat-trackers—the majority with just one eye—before moving on to a varied career in management with some of the biggest names in motorcycling
IF YOU ASK EVERETT BRASHEAR, CRASHing was more of a “when” than an “if.” He “finally got it” at a half-mile track in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1954. “I fell off in practice,” recalled Brashear, “and another guy ran right over the top of me. He hit me in the side of the head and severed the optic nerve, blinding me in the left eye.
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