OVER THE PAST 20 YEARS OF WORKING in the motorcycle industry, my eyes have gotten tired from rolling every time a storied brand was “revived” or some visionary in his basement decided to start building a motorcycle. Some efforts have been impressive in how much they have accomplished with little funding.
Honda’s bold plan to comfort the cash-poor, soothe the technophobic and get the world on two wheels (again)
HONDA SPRANG FOUR MORE IN ITS line of modular 670cc parallel-Twins this February at the Chicago International Motorcycle Show in the cruiseristic form of the new CTX700ND and CTX700N, along with the fairing-equipped CTX700D and CTX700.
With the XR650L as a possible exception, Honda no longer offers a mid-size dual-sport/adventure bike in the U.S. But back in 1988, the NX650 graced the cover of our May issue. It was a do-it-all motorcycle: Its license plate allowed it to explore off-road areas that didn’t allow true enduros to play, while its on-road manners and wind protection made it a good lightweight adventurer.
PLANNING A RIDING VACATION IN THE Alps but can’t afford an all-inclusive tour? You might want to check out High-Bike Testcenter Paznaun, a rental agency in the Tyrol region of Austria (just one hour from Innsbruck) that is stocked with 40 current-modelyear motorcycles from BMW, Ducati, Husqvarna, KTM and Triumph.
PHIL LITTLE RACING’S CONVERSION KIT FOR 1974 to ’81 Yamaha 650 Special and standard Twins is just too cool to not pass along. The Triumph X-75 Hurricane-inspired $959 body kit includes a new three-gallon fuel tank and tailsection both painted orange (black or white are optional).
WITH THE U.S. NAVY SEALS AND Army Special Forces in mind, Christini has developed the new AWD 450 Military Edition, a special model with several modifications designed to make it an effective tactical tool in reconnaissance and combat situations.
BREAKOUT IS AN UNEXPECTED NAME for a motorcycle inspired, at least in part, by drag racing. In bracket or handicap racing, you “break out” when you post a quicker elapsed time than predicted. Unless your opponent does something stupid—red lights, crosses the centerline or fails tech—you lose.
KTM IS ON A MISSION TO capture more of the American motocross market, and it has completely reworked its MX line-up for 2013. That means new-generation models such as the 250, 350 and 450 SX-F. We like not having to wait four or five years before a better design comes along.
More electronic trickery from the WSBK title winner.
RSV 4 Factory
ALTHOUGH MAX BIAGGI WON the 2012 World Superbike title on his RSV 4 Factory, Aprilia hasn't had much time to rest on its laurels. For 2013, improvements to the 65-degree, V-Four engine result in an additional four horsepower (a claimed 184 at 12,500 rpm) and a slight bump in torque (86.3 foot-pounds at 10,000 rpm).
Whoah, guys! What’s going on over there? Just sat down to read the March issue and ended up feeling like the postman had replaced my Cycle World with a bizarre hybrid of Consumer Reports and the AARP Newsletter. Did you all get a marketing study encouraging the use of the word “cheap” as often as possible in your cover lines?
WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL IN THE mid-Sixties, dazzling my way to a perfectly mediocre scholastic record, my parents used to drive 70 miles down to the University of Wisconsin in Madison to visit my smarter older sister, Barbara, who was a student there.
ANYONE WHO PERFORMS MECHANICAL work on motorcycles comes to understand that there are national styles in design. It takes a bit of reading, looking around and thinking to get some idea of what lies behind these styles. What struck me about English motorcycles in the 1960s was the number of fasteners used and the stacks of extra washers under them.
Sixty years after the original Indian closed its doors, there's an all-new V-Twin in town-the Thunder Stroke 111
THE NEW INDIAN THUNDER STROKE 111 ENGINE IS RUNNING AND I have seen it. Polaris Industries, a $3-billion-a-year corporation, bought the King's Mountain Indian business in April, 2011. What I have seen is an entirely new, free-standing design, sharing nothing with previous Indian revivals or Polaris' existing Victory motorcycle products.
At Daytona Bike Week in March, Indian revealed a new streamliner paying homage to the “Munro Special,” the 1920 Scout-based creation that set speed records at Bonneville in the 1960s and was later immortalized in 2005’s “The World’s Fastest Indian.” But this new Indian, christened the “Spirit of Munro,” is more than a tribute to the persistent Burt Munro; it’s also a rolling technology demonstrator, the first official motorcycle fitted with the all-new Thunder Stroke 111 V-Twin that will power a new Indian (likely called the Chief) arriving in late 2013.
HIGH ON THE LIST OF TRUTHS UNIVERSALLY ACKNOWLEDGED must be the fact that the Indian Motorcycle, as a legend, a logo and a symbol ranks up there with the golden arches and the three-pointed star, with power and value beyond calculation. On the other hand, naming your daughter Baby Ruth doesn't ensure she will hit 60 homers a season against big-league pitching.
Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide vs. Honda Gold Wing F6B Deluxe
CVO ROAD GLIDE CUSTOM
GOLD WING F6B DELUXE
WHAT THE HECK IS IT?” THAT’S WHAT MOST PEOPLE ASK WHEN FIRST LAYING EYES ON the F6B, a Gold Wing whose big touring trunk and full-size windshield have gone AWOL. Without those key items, the F6B couldn’t possibly be the same dominant over-the-road touring rig as always.
WE HANDED OFF OUR SPARKLY GREEN ZX-14R to Contributing Editor Nick Ienatsch following the Ninja’s scheduled 7500-mile service. Our local dealer charged $90.69 for oil, filter and sparkplugs, tacking on another $255 in labor. Suppose we got off easy since the valve-clearance inspection is at 15,000-mile intervals.
Extraordinary off-road gear at an extravagant price
THIS MOTORCYCLE JACKET AND PANTS appear to have been custom-made by some Savile Row tailor (not that we would know). Every panel is perfect, each stitch is impeccable and every seam connecting pieces of the Gore-Tex three-layer shell is sealed—hence, the Keep You Dry guarantee.
No fairing? No problem. The new Defiant is based on Arai’s “intermediate-oval” RX-Q and styled with massive, free-flowing chin and scalp vents to broaden its functionality and appeal to urban, streetfighter riders. A front air dam is claimed to create downforce, thereby reducing buffeting, lift and wind noise, and enhancing stability. DOT-and Snell M 2010-approved, the Defiant (XXS-XXXL sizes) is available in five solid colors and six graphics. MSRP ranges from $619.95 to 759.95.
Arai Helmet, Inc.
Burly says its crossbar-equipped Scrambler handlebar “is the beginning of a transformation that will turn your asphalt-bound Harley-Davidson into a fireroad terror.” That may be stretching the truth a bit, but the 6-inch rise and 3-inch pullback will dramatically change the appearance of your late-model Dyna, Softail or Sportster, while retaining its stock clutch cable and hydraulic front brake line. Drilled for internal wiring, the 1-inch-diameter Burly Bars ($149) are available with a chrome finish or powdercoated black.
Arai Helmet, Inc.
Airbrake MX Goggles
Oakley revolutionized motocross goggle design with the O Frame more than three decades ago. Now, it aims to do the same with the Airbrake MX. Developed with help from champion racers Ryan Villopoto, Ryan Dungey, James Stewart and Ricky Carmichael, the Airbrake has a sleek profile with expanded peripheral vision. Swapping lenses, roll/tear-offs, faceplates or straps can be done in seconds, thanks to new Switchlock release levers located on the sides of the frame. Prices start at $160.
Arai Helmet, Inc.
Safe to say, the Touratech Extreme Shock ($1795) has a few more bells and whistles—a beefy, 16mm chrome-moly shaft, myriad external adjustments, including ride height, plus 15mm of preload adjustment and a fluid-cooling remote reservoir—than the standard dampers on the BMW F800GS, R1200GS or R1200GS Adventure. But what’s inside counts most, namely, a positiondependent damping system that is said to prevent bottoming. Touratech says the effect is like having “a hydraulic pillow at the end of the stroke.” Stainless steel bushings and low-friction Teflon seals further improve ride quality. A range of spring rates is offered to handle even the heaviest riders and loads, regardless of the terrain.
Q I have a 2006 Kawasaki ZX-6R that was running hot, so I took it to the dealer, who said the thermostat was bad. They replaced it, and now the bike runs at the normal temperature. I’m satisfied with the results and thought the labor charges were reasonable, but they nailed me $50 just for the thermostat.
Way back when, practically every new motorcycle was delivered with a toolkit packed in a vinyl bag or a cloth pouch and tucked away somewhere— usually under the seat or stuffed into a compartment barely bigger than the kit itself. With the possible exception of the elaborate kits that came with BMWs for a while, the tools generally were cheaply made and precious few—a two-way screwdriver with a Munchkin-sized handle, a pair of pliers that often fell apart during the first couple of rides, a stamped-steel sparkplug socket and maybe a couple of open-end wrenches that weren’t much harder than day-old mashed potatoes.
Basic specs: A dohc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, 999cc, 90-degree V-Twin superbike weighing 440 lb. dry and making a claimed 133 hp and 71 ft.-lb. of torque. Why it’s desirable: “Designated Duck killer,” is how we labeled the RC51 when it was introduced as a 2000 model late in 1999.
Every weekend, race fans pack sports stadiums to watch top stars leap man-made dirt obstacles. But much of what makes that performance possible isn’t engine power. It’s the interface between man and machine.
WHEN MY EDITOR CALLED AND GAVE ME THE STORY TITLE, “Superbikes of Supercross,” my mind immediately filled with visions of bikes soaring high over triples, propelled by radical engines filled with fascinating technologies. Yum! Instead, when I began to talk with people in the field, they downplayed engine work.
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