We've spent another year hard at work (ha!) grinding out the miles on all kinds of machines to nail down Ten Best Bikes. While the best of the best can be found on page 42, it is my annual pleasure to pick 10 other notable machines that should have a moment in the sun, dubious or otherwise.
Man, I don’t know where to begin. You’ve always been the best bike mag on the shelf, but the new look (July) is atrocious. The clash of fonts is beyond distracting, it’s visually cacophonous. The line drawings of Hoyer, Egan and Cameron look like they were drawn by a drunken badger.
Favorite posts, comments and photos from our digital world Bike of the Month Valera Mashirov, from Minsk in Belarus, built this 1/12-scale Confederate Wraith from the only six photos he could find. vmmodels.500px.com Instagram Image of the Month Co camping on your new BMW CS or even your ratty old Yamaha XT500.
Yamaha’s 2014 YZ250F ($7490) is a smaller version of its 450cc big brother, replete with a rearward-leaning cylinder with intake in the front and exhaust in back. The 250F finally gets fuel injection, too. The engine has the same bore and stroke (77.0 x 53.6mm) as before, but its new twin-cam head has four titanium valves in place of five. A new chassis completes the package.
YAMAHA HAS BEEN turning motocross on its head ever since there was motocross, from monoshocks to modernera four-strokes. So installing the cylinder head backward on the radical 2010 YZ450F was not out of character. That machine met with mixed success, thanks to certain high-profile racers not getting along with it so well.
INSPIRED BY MV Agusta’s legendary 500CC and 350CC Grand Prix bikes, the new F3 800 Triple is the brainchild of the late Claudio Castiglioni and former designer Massimo Tamburini. A modular concept allows the F3 family to share a significant number of components.
A TIGHT ECONOMY and rising costs at the pump have spurred increased interest in fuel-efficient, single-cylinder streetbikes. Much is also owed the supermoto movement for lending a cool factor and styling flair to the modern one-lunger.
MODIFYING YOUR street motorcycle's intake and exhaust systems has been illegal I in most of the U.S. for many years, but that hasn’t stopped many of us from doing it anyway With Senate Bill SB 435 taking effect regarding motorcycles built after January 13,2013, the California Air Resources Board is in serious crackdown mode.
THE NEW Dunlop Sportmax Q3 introduces “Carbon Fiber Technology (CFT)” to the motorcycle tire market. Dunlop technicians tell us that very fine carbonfiber “elements” have been mixed into the rubber compound in the tire’s bead area. They say the high stiffness of carbon fiber, as well as its excellent tensile strength, low weight, chemical resistance, temperature tolerance and low thermal expansion, make it well suited for use in a performance tire.
Right now, if you want an electric motorcycle, the choice is between Brammo and Zero. But if you want an electric superbike, well, you'll have to wait until next summer, when the new <p moved="true">Mission R</p> and RS arrive.
Famous racebikes from the early 20th century were often given nicknames. One such bike, George Brough's ultra-famous 1922 SS80 Brough Euperior, actually had two: "Spit & Polish" and later "<p moved="true">Old Bill</p>."
For me, the bikes featured on this 1988 cover were purely aspirational. At that time, I was a year away from purchasing my first sportbike, and, pricewise, none of these models would have been in the cards. In the meantime, I drooled over Yamaha’s FZR1000, Kawasaki’s ZX-10 Ninja and Suzuki’s GSX-R1100 on dealership floors before eventually purchasing a Honda CBR600F Hurricane.
Life is good after stepping down from the podium in his prime
MORE ABOUT TROY
WE HAD A PLAN WE WOULD MOVE BACK TO OUR HOMETOWN WHERE WE HAD A LOT OF LAND BUT THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN. Over the years, we would come back to Australia every now and then and go up to the Gold Coast for a week or two and took a liking to the place. Looked into it a bit and saw how good the schools were for our kids and how many more opportunities there were.
Sunglasses come in all kinds of colors, shapes and sizes. The Oakley Twoface ($140-190) combines an "O Matter” upper frame and aluminum lower with patented "Plutonite" lenses that filter out harmful light, as well as protect from impacts you might encounter on the road. Available with Oakley Rx prescription lenses. 800/403-7449 oakley.com
Motorrad GS Dry Suit
$599 jacket; $399 pants
Attention, ladies: Prevent poor weather from ruining your next ride by slipping into a suit cut for your curves. Though advertised as “entry-level," the fully armored BMW Motorrad GS Dry Suit ($599 jacket; $399 pants) is feature-packed, with seven pockets, zippered vents and a breathable, waterproof coating applied to the 500-denier cordura-nylon shell. 800/831-1117 bmwmotorcycles.com
Zega Pro Pannier System
Peruse Touratech USA's 1795-page catalog and you’ll find everything you see here for BMW’s new liquid-cooled R1200GS, including the Zega Pro Pannier System ($13421538), These heavy-duty, aluminum-bodied carryalls are available in 31-, 38or 45-liter sizes in bare aluminum or anodized silver or black. Locks sold separately. 206/323-2349 touratech-usa.com
Accidents happen. Be prepared on the road or trail with ICEdot, an emergency ID and notification service that syncs to an ICEdot Band ($10), Snap ($10) or Sticker Pack ($5). Using SMS/text messaging from any mobile phone, first responders can quickly access your contact and health information. The service has a $10 annual fee. 918/592-3722 icedot.org
Targa Accessories Fender Eliminator Kit
TWO MATERIALS, ONE NEW LOOK FOR WOMEN WHO LOVE ADVENTURE EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK READY FOR THE WORST BETTER-LOOKING NINJA 636 Beautify the backside of your 2013 Kawasaki ZX-6R with a <p moved="true">Targa Accessories Fender Eliminator Kit</p> ($79.95), The kit replaces and relocates the stock turnsignals and moves the license-plate bracket flush with the supplied underseat tray, giving the tailpiece a smoother, less cluttered appearance.
SQUEEZING INTO THE COCKPIT of a Formula 1 car is worth the effort— just ask seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher. The same can be said of the Schuberth SR1, a full-face, sportbike-oriented helmet based on the custom lid developed in part by the F1 legend-turned-Superbike racer.
For the last 16 years, I’ve led wintertime riding schools at places like Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, and at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. We’ve lapped on many a cold and rainy day, and I’ve seen my share of cold-tire crashes.
When I heard my friend Rob was going to haul his T-shirt trailer to the Madison BMW Club's Great River Road Rally in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin, I decided to ride up there for a visit. It was supposed to be a beautiful day, and the loop from our house to Soldiers Grove and back takes you through 250 miles of green, hilly farm country, with lots of curves, ridges and hollows.
Technology gets mixed reviews from the intellectual crowd. Critics point to the atom bomb and Love Canal, but at the same time, cities would be uninhabitable within a week were it not for railroads and diesel trucks. With all its faults, technology just means how we do things.
YAMAHA SHOOTS A $7990 BULLET INTO THE HEART OF BORING BARGAIN BIKES WITH ITS NEW 847cc TRIPLE
2014 YAMAHA FZ-09
Any other reasons for choosing three cylinders? You bet—cost. The lower the parts count, the lower the price. If you want to sell into a shrunken but finally recovering market, there’s no better incentive than price. And there’s width—the FZ-09 team wanted an engine significantly narrower than a traditional Four as part of its fresh focus on rideability.
IT’S BOTH A TIRE-TORCHING TRACK BIKE that will help you set the lap time of your life and one of the most street-useful racetrack refugees ever offered to us mortals. Dynamic Damping Control tunes itself to suit your riding mood, changing from plush to precise in an instant. It’s got a dyno-melting 179 horses at the wheel, yet idles along in top gear with nary a hiccup, plus it’s got the best quick-shifter ever. All for a base MSRP of $20,525. Is there a German version of Godzilla? There is now.
NEVER BEFORE HAS THERE BEEN such a potent, sport-oriented streetbike that’s as well-rounded as the ZX-14R. Few pure sportbikes can match its level of comfort, poise and excellent ride quality. Throw on some soft luggage and it easily performs sport-touring duty, too. But the 14R's strong suit remains this: going ridiculously fast. A 192-hp engine catapults the 14R through the quarter in 9.47 seconds, with 60 mph arriving in just 2.6 sec. This big Ninja proves that civility isn’t sacrificed for performance.
WHAT BETTER BIKE to name Best Standard than a re-interpretation of the one that launched a thousand container ships across the Pacific? Honda’s modern take on its original ’69 CB750 isn’t incredibly fast, terribly sporty or amazingly cutting-edge, but that’s what makes it a Standard: The new CB’s a bike you just hop on like you used to do, especially when you’ve got no particular place to go. Nostalgic it might be and a feast for some eyes, but it’s also a super-functional, easy-to-ride and cheap-to-keep motorcycle.
WE THOUGHT THE DUCATI DIAVEL had a lock on Best Cruiser. But then the new Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom loped into our lives. And this Italian gets under your skin in a good way, its air-cooled 1380cc V-Twin winning us over with torque and the starring role it plays in the Art Deco looks of the bike. Though classically styled, the California is modern, with three levels of power delivery and traction control, plus ABS and cruise, none of which detracts from the bike’s mechanically satisfying nature.
THOUGH THE GTL HAS BEEN the touring bike champ now for three years in a row, we have not yet run out of accolades to heap upon the Bavarian six-banger. Really doesn’t matter, since the ESA version will allow you to easily adjust to whatever you heap on. Haul ass? This one hauls two asses, luxuriously, with plenty of room for their junk in the (removable) trunk and bags. It hangs with sportbikes in the curves, runs low its in the quarter-mile— and our long-termer averaged 38 mpg.
STAKING A CLAIM AS THE ULTIMATE sport-touring bike since its 2011 debut, BMW’s K1600GT has yet to see a serious challenge. The 1649CC inline-Six combines ultra-smooth, massively strong output with a solid-handling chassis exhibiting agility that defies the GT’s 755-pound fully fueled weight—plus a suite of luxury features it shares in common with its GTL sibling. What will it take to unseat the GT? A light supersport with high bars, low pegs, tall screen and detachable saddlebags?
HOW QUICKLY THINGS CHANGE in the MX world; one year you’re hot and the next you’re knocked to second spot. Suzuki’s RM-Z450 held onto the trophy for two years, but refinements and upgrades to Kawasaki’s KX450F have vaulted it into the hot seat for 2013. Key to its improved performance is Kayaba’s Pneumatic Spring Fork (PSF), which allows the unit to be adjusted by simply adding or bleeding air. With a new piston, intake cam and revised ECU, the KX450F has become a holeshot machine.
IT MAY BE A WHILE before another dualsport machine knocks the 500 EXC off our list. There has never been a street-legal offroader as capable as this KTM. The 500 is essentially a full-blown racebike with lights, mirrors and turnsignals. It’s fully able to line up at the start of a cross-country or desert race and compete in stock form. With heaps of power, the big EXC makes sand and loam seem like hardpack, and it turns any asphalt into a dragstrip. Want the best way to connect some trails? This is it.
MULTISTRADA 1200 S
THE BMW K1600GT is an irresistible force, but if you value a simpler life, the Multistrada might be the better tool. It, too, bristles with semiactive suspension, the latest in electronics and excellent saddlebags. But there’s nearly 200 pounds less Ducati than there is BMW, which gives it a sporting edge and means hardy souls can take the Multi’s name literally; off-road is not off limits.
OF THE JAPANESE cruiser builders, Star has shown the most signs of life, and its new Bolt is a direct hit on the venerable Sportster. Lighter and more fun to ride, the air-cooled Bolt touches all the right style bases, including being the first metric cruiser with H-D-style grips and levers. Shame about that gas-tank seam, but then perfection would be inauthentic, wouldn’t it?
IT’S LIKE KAWASAKI was waiting for the Honda CBR250R to get here so it could bust out the Ninja 300 and whack it right back down. Adding 47cc to the littlest Ninja, along with fuel injection, results in a small bike that performs way bigger. It hits 104 mph, cranks out 35 horses, slices up traffic like a Ginsu-heck, it’s even comfortable. A great way to get started. And keep going.
1199 PANIGALE R
DUE IN PART TO its staggeringly user-friendly performance, the BMW HP4 could not be denied Best Superbike this year. But maybe even more desirable because of its gruff bark, the new Ducati Panigale Rpacking titanium rods, a higher redline and all the racecraft Ducati can cram into a homologation special-is the high-water mark for allout racetrack performance in 2013.
LAST YEAR’S Best Superbike was dethroned by the almost supernatural HP4. Okay. But. The thing about the Tuono is that it’s got similar performance with a much kinder riding position. And while there’s no doubt that a traditional superbike would be faster on the track, in the real world, the naked Tuono gives similar results with a more comfortable riding position.
DEEEP IN OUR HEARTS, most of us know that we’d ride just about anything as long as we got to ride. It’s just part of being an enthusiast. But we also know that in the great competition of motorcycling, we all strive for the best, whether it’s how we ride or what we ride.
IT’S NOT A PARTY UNTIL SOMEBODY GETS NAKED. WHEN EVERYBODY GETS NAKED, IT’S AN ORGY. AN ORGY OF PERFORMANCE, IN OUR CASE...
MV AGUSTA BRUTALE 675
TRIUMPH STREET TRIPLE R
MOTO GUZZI V7 STONE
STREET TRIPLE R
Cycle World staff
Looking to get naked? You've come to the right place. The five I bikes on the following pages represent the great diversity and big fun to be had in the ever-expanding nakedbike class. As the new Yamaha FZ-09 (p. 38) demonstrates with its 847CC Triple, the term “middleweight” is broader than ever.
IS YAMAHA'S NEW STAR BOLT A BETTER SPORTSTER THAN A SPORTSTER?
STAR BOLT R-SPEC
With motorcycles, it's all about the motor, right? Bikes have two hoops, a seat and an engine. That was what Bill Harley was banking on in 1901, when he drew a picture of an engine affixed to a bicycle. It was brilliant. All the fun without the distracting effort.
I have a 2006 Honda XR650L with just over i6,ooo miles on the odometer, and the engine has developed a problem. It often is difficultbut not impossible-to start, doesn't like to idle and has lost enough power to be noticeable. I replaced the paper air filter and installed a new sparkplug, but that made no difference in the way the bike runs.
BASIC SPECS: A 1050cc, dohc inline-Triple engine making a claimed 114 hp and 74 ft.-lb. of torque powering a 436-lb. (also claimed) streetbike with an upright riding position and a dual-headlight quarter-fairing. WHY IT’S DESIRABLE: Though its styling radiates an aura of adventure riding, the Tiger 1050 is a pure streetbike with no pretensions of dirt ability.
The life and times of a pioneering American motorcyclist
Steven L. Thompson
WILLIAM HUNTINGTON “Billy” Wells might be the most important American motorcyclist and motorcycle racer you’ve never heard of. He was 39 when he raced never heard of. He was 39 when he raced in his first Isle of Man TT event—which also happened to be the first Isle of Man TT—and he almost won his race.
THIS MONTH'S WINNER “Ted was on the fence about such a big purchase, until they threw in the tool kit.” Rory Krueger via Facebook THINK YOU’RE FUNNY? LIKE US ON FACEBOOK AND WATCH OUT FOR THE NEXT SLIPSTREAM CAPTION CONTEST Editorial/Production: Offices are located at 15215 Alton Parkway, Suite 100, Irvine, CA 92618; 760/707-0100.