"Lefty used to live on his Knuckle," a friend said to me, pointing across the parking lot at the 60-something white-bearded man in a leather jacket getting on his Street Glide. Lefty isn't his real name, obviously, but it's also not his real nickname, either.
Just read Kevin's TDC column "Motorcycle Language 101" (March). While I knew how to pronounce "Husqvarna" and "MV Agusta," the Italian engineers' names had me. I always knew I was mispronouncing them, so I have a strong notion that we Americans are somehow butchering the name Panigale.
Right from the very first, by beginning with a sporting triple and not a nostalgic twin, the new owner of the classic Triumph brand, John Bloor, made it perfectly clear: He means to be our motorcycle company, to build whatever we want.
No surprise that the $ 6,699 LT (for Light Touring) rides a lot like its Commander stablemate since they share the same platform. Easily detachable leather bags and copbike screen work with a higher handlebar to help make the LT better on the open road, and it's got the same great seat.
WHEN PICTURES of the Dragster first circulated, the bike's styling and fatter-than-usual rear tire made me think the new machine was philosophically similar to the Ducati Diavel. Not so. The MV Agusta Dragster is essentially a restyled Brutale, but the mechanical soul of the standard bike remains.
Okay, so it’s a four-cylinder, but we punched out our 2004 MV Agusta Brutale 750 S long-term testbike to 800cc long before the recent displacement expansion of the big middleweight class. And our Brutale "800" was a scream to ride with its 113 hp, 53 pound-feet of output howling through gorgeous headers and Gianelli silencers.
All-new 2015 SR400 takes us back to 1978; updated 2014 Super Ténéré takes us wherever we want to go
It takes chutzpah to introduce a kickstart-only streetbike in the US market, but that's precisely what Yamaha has done with the narrow 384-pound SR400, a bike whose lineage traces back to the SR500 that made its US debut in 1978. Why 399cc?
The Victory cruiser line's hallmark since the first model rolled off the line in 1998 has been its focus on performance, which makes the early-release 2015 Gunner a natural move as the company works to evolve its product line and fill the many stylistic niches in the laid-back V-twin world.
Dunlop is replacing its MX31 (sand and mud), MX51 (intermediate), and MX71 (hard-pack) motocross tires with two new models: the MX32 and MX52. The MX32, for soft-to-intermediate terrain, features tread blocks that bend easier for improved performance in muddy conditions.
Part of the original "BSA Wrecking Crew," AMA national number 10 was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2000
Neil Keen, another of America's once-rich array of self-taught rider engineers, has died, age 79. At one point, keen had dirt-track racing at Ascot so nailed that he was untouchable for a year. In the '60s, moto-journalism tended to attribute success to hot blood and big balls, but everyone who was consistently successful had developed a technique that no one else had.
The past 25 years basically cover the entire length of cover subject Jay Leno's Tonight Show career. In 1989, Leno, pictured here with his Vincent Black Shadow, was just a Monday night fill-in for Johnny Carson, but it was immediately clear to us back then that the recently retired Tonight Show host was a complete and total motorcycle nut.
The rugged new MSR Xplorer Adventure riding jacket ($524.95) uses a "Dry-XC treated 600 D Nylon" exterior to fend off the rain while also utilizing Flashlite reflective paneling, D30 shock-absorbing armor, and six cinching outlets to increase airflow and funnel heat for excellent functionality. Several pockets provide storage.
Emergency Fire Starter
Forget mundane matches or burdensome Bics. With the Zippo Emergency Fire Starter ($9.95), a simple flint is all you need. Inside that water-resistant orange case is a flint wheel and waxed tinder sticks—just what you need for some friendly flame on the wettest of days. It packs easily and will be with you when you need it.
Wash away suspicions of a soaked laptop with Chrome's Excursion Rolltop 37 ($160). Sporting a "welded-waterproof" design, the light 37-liter roll-top travel bag is enforced with a front-facing five-bar loop haul system and has a lifetime warranty. A sternum strap and foam back panel provide long-haul on-bike comfort.
X-Zero H2Out boots
Hate those soggy socks? So do we. And with the breathable and waterproof XPD X-Zero H2Out boots ($169.90), they are a thing of the past. Neat details include "external suede microfiber" fabric, an amalgamated insole, and a shock absorber on the heel. A reinforced shifter pad protects the top of these any-season boots.
Sport's two-piece Clear Rain Suit
Don't hide your sponsors behind a heavy raincoat. AGV Sport's two-piece Clear Rain Suit ($89) will keep you and your racing leathers dry while looking fit, for the central-zip suit is snug yet flexible, reducing the chances of it flapping in the wind. The pant has lower-leg zippers for easy ingress and egress while wearine boots.
Because dual-sport/adventure riding should be a time to reflect
STOCK MIRRORS ON DUAL-SPORT and adventure bikes are typically exceedingly frail when taken into the wild. Tree whippings and tip-overs can destroy them in short order. Worse, if the mirror screws into the clutch or front-brake perch, a crash can break said perch, leaving your lever dangling and useless.
As Chazz Michael Michaels confessed in Blades of Glory, "The night is a very dark time for me." While that's true for everyone, it doesn't have to keep us from riding at night. In fact, thanks to your bike's lights, nighttime can actually make you more visible to car drivers than in the daytime-and there is often less traffic as well.
MORE PROOF THAT ENGINEERING IS FAR FROM A LIFELESS SUBJECT
BY THE NUMBERS
In my mind are powerful images contradicting the popular idea that engineering is cold, Cartesian, and lifeless. One is of Gene Romero, approaching Daytona's old turn two on the brakes, on the factory Triumph Triple, in practice for the 1971 200.
In case you hadn't noticed, adventure bikes have become almost as popular as Internet photos of Miley Cyrus doing things she'll probably regret years from now. And manufacturers have responded to that demand (uh, for adventure bikes, not MC photos) by producing more and better motorcycles designed for on-and off-road exploration.
The new 'Strom is a good value and nice streetbike that's great to travel on. My biggest gripe is that for a hard-core off-road adventurer like me, I need a machine with more dirt capability. The Suzuki is a handful on anything more gnarly than a hard-packed fire road, and the stock handlebar is too narrow and swept back, so I never felt in command of the bike.
SUZUKI'S BARGAIN ADV BIKE TAKES ON THE UPPER-CLASS STALWARTS
When the R80 G/S was introduced in 1981, no one at BMW realized the full impact of what they had just done. We now think of that first G/S as the original adventure bike, but that term was not coined for quite a few years. Instead, most people back then had no idea why BMW would produce a large, heavy, shaft-drive, on-and off-road opposed twin in an era of lightweight, single-cylinder dual-purpose bikes.
BIGGER, MORE REFINED, AND INCREASINGLY ELECTRONIC. IS THIS THE MOST ACCESSIBLE MONSTER EVER?
MONSTER 1200 S
For more than two decades, the Monster family of models has lured fresh blood into Ducati dealerships. By default, Monsters have filled an entry-level role at the Bologna-based company. But over the years, even seasoned Ducatisti have embraced flagship versions of this Italian naked, recognizing it as a practical alternative to Ducati's hard-core sportbike offerings.
A SHORT HISTORY OF VALVE CONTROL AND WHY DUCATI STICKS WITH DESMODROMICS
METAL VALVE SPRINGS
After World War II, when future Ducati engineer Fabio Taglioni wrote his original engineering-school paper on desmodromic valve drive, there was good reason to seek such a system: Valve springs broke at random as an era of rising rpm opened.
EIGHT-TIME AMA ROADRACING CHAMP MIGUEL DUHAMEL VS. THE 2014 HONDA CBR1000RR SP
Miguel Duhamel is a man of many words. Many, many words. Get the French-Canadian talking about any subject and you'd swear he'd been locked away in solitary confinement for the past six years, which is how long it's been since he stepped away from racing full time.
While Special Edition models are commonplace among Euro manufacturers, the CBR1000RR SP is a rare treat from the Big Four. Sure, the SP lacks the cachet of classic homologation specials like the RC30 or Yamaha 0W01, but then again, not many enthusiasts had access to those exclusive models.
We want blow-your-toe-sliders-off acceleration. We want blink-and-you're-in-the-next-county top speed. We want MotoGP handling. But if we are truly honest, we need practicality. Comfort. A smooth, compliant ride. Great fuel mileage.
In the 15 years since we added Sport-Touring as an annual Ten Best category, a trend has developed. We started off on a light enough note, voting the 1999 Triumph Sprint ST as the year’s best back-road sport bagger and even picked the Ducati Multistrada 1000S as recently as 2005.
Q: I just bought a 2013 Harley-Davidson FLD Switchback one month ago, and it has 1,600 miles on it now. The only issue I have with it is a loud metallic "clunk" sound in the front suspension when I hit rough road surfaces. During my 1,000-mile service at the Harley dealer, I had them check it out.
BASIC SPECS: A dohc 1,099cc V-twin that took Ducati superbikes to a new performance level and produced 143 hp on the CW Dynojet dyno. The Testastretta Evoluzione engine hangs in a world-class trellis-steel chassis equipped with fully adjustable suspension and a single-sided swingarm.
Unkinking a crooked YZF-R1 with the help of MegaM.A.X. Frame-Measuring Machine
My $1,500 Craigslist 2000 Yamaha YZF-R1 was sitting there in the Chuckwalla pits when somebody hurled an obscenity at it. "Man, that R1 is f-ked." Pardon me? "It's tucked! Look at it. At least a degree, maybe two." Oh, tucked. The speaker was Dave Ciesielski of USMegamax, who was working with the chassis on Evan Steel Performance's BMW S1000RR that day.
Preseason testing provides answers and leads to more questions
MotoGP is seeing big changes this year. The classes have been renamed. The top class is now called "Factory" and the supposedly simpler, cheaper bikes previously known as CRT (Claiming Rule Teams) have been given the "Open" designation.
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