The little impeller at the center of the Kawasaki Ninja H2 and H2R has changed everything. Well, that and the bike has freakin' wings! The first time I saw the unlimited H2R track bike at our exclusive studio photo shoot, I was totally blown away, if you’ll excuse the pun.
The new BMW R nineT is a beautiful bike—maybe the most beautiful for sale today. But it’s no R90S. I can get over BMW’s Back to the Future approach of ditching the Telelever front suspension. But no options for a half fairing or hard bags? That makes this BMW nothing more than another toy for hipsters who don’t ride anyway!
Erik Buell's latest creation, the 1190SX, is a streetfighter version of the 1190RX superbike. The fairing has been removed, the headlight has been moved inboard and upward, and the instrument panel is repositioned on new brackets so the assembly now steers with the front end.
The new RC390 was designed and developed at KTM in Mattighofen, Austria, but it’s manufactured in the company’s Indian facility, keeping costs down and offering budgetminded Americans an exotic alternative in the entry-level sportbike class.
Introduced abroad this past year, the naked 390 Duke will be coming to the States alongside its RC390 sibling when the pair of sport singles arrive the first quarter of 2015. Featuring a roomier, more upright riding position, plusher suspension, and more relaxed steering geometry, the Duke offers an RC alternative suited to daily urban duty.
New suspension and added power make the big Honda more formidable
2015 HONDA CRF450R
Motocross bikes have made huge strides in quality, sophistication, and performance during the past decade. And while Honda once dominated the 450CC class, it’s been several seasons since the CRF450R was the definitive state of the art. This year’s revamp features a new cylinder head, revised ignition timing, and largerdiameter exhaust, plus Honda’s Engine Mode Select button, a larger front brake, and a new KYB pneumatic-spring fork, all of which is meant to get Big Red back on top of the dirt heap.
Suzuki’s 2015 RM-Z450 has a host of long overdue changes. While the motor has always been strong and smooth, the new bike benefits from a significantly improved chassis. Basically, the frame has been redesigned to increase flex and give the rider better feel.
Okay, so maybe you have to be Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise to afford a Confederate, but the Alabama-based company’s latest creation, the $65,000 X132 Hellcat Speedster, is worth looking at. Unique in the most American hot-rod sort of way, the Speedster’s 3-inch steel backbone chassis swoops over the top of an S&S-sourced, 132ci, 56-degree X-Wedge V-twin.
Ducati rolled out the red carpet for a record-breaking crowd of some 65,000 Ducatisti at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli in Rimini, Italy, in what may have been the largest single-Euro-marque gathering ever. In this eighth edition of World Ducati Week, Ducati owners and fans from around the globe gathered on the Adriatic Riviera with company employees, executives, and famous racers to celebrate a shared passion for the Bolognabased brand.
Italian factory team preparing for grand return to motorcycle racing's top class
Piaggio CEO Roberto Colaninno has announced that Aprilia will return to MotoGP in 2015 with a four-year plan that will give the Noale specialist the time to fully develop what it expects will be a truly competitive motorcycle. Now the obvious question: What will happen to Aprilia’s commitment in World Superbike?
Audi has Ducati. BMW has Motorrad. Mercedes has MV Agusta?
Talk of Mercedes-Benz acquiring the MV Agusta brand and factory is gaining momentum. The Varese firm, led by Giovanni Castiglioni, denies that any negotiations have taken place, but there are so many rumors swirling around from independent sources that I feel it’s time to let the Cycle World audience know that such a move is likely going to happen.
This issue closed the decade with a look ahead at several new 1990 models. The feature section dedicated several pages to upcoming bikes from Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha with Honda’s new ST1000 sport-tourer leading a Big Red lineup that also included a new VFR750 equipped with a single-side swingarm.
Congratulations to Cycle World contributor Hayden Gillim for winning the 2014 AMA Pro SuperSport title. Gillim, who finished runner-up in the series from 2011 to 2013 and also second in the Red Bull AMA US Rookies Cup in 2008, clinched the championship in the final round of 2014 at New Jersey Motorsport Park.
EBR Program Manager. Coming full circle with one of the Buell faithful
The entity formerly known as the Buell Motorcycle Company has been through the wringer. From its humble beginnings building racebikes in a Quonset hut in rural Wisconsin, it grew and grew and then suddenly burst as Harley-Davidson invested in it, purchased it outright, and ultimately shut it down, whereupon it was resurrected as Erik Buell Racing (EBR).
If you ride off road in rough terrain, you know your wrists and hands take a beating. Fasst Company’s Flexx Handlebar ($359.99) absorbs shock and vibration (via Interchangeable elastomer dampers) that your suspension doesn't filter out, allowing you to ride longer with less fatigue.
Blake Conner MotoQuest Tours approached the folks at Olympia and asked them to design and build an ADV riding suit for its guides who log a lot of miles in widely varying conditions. Olympia's creation is what you see here, the MotoQuest Guide Suit, which consists of a three-layer jacket and two-layer pants The jacket shell, constructed with 500and 2,000-denier Cordura, features a Thermolite insulated soft layer and a rain jacket that can be worn over or zipped into the shell.
Four good strategies for becoming a better street rider
John L. Stein
This year I observed a two-day MSF new-rider course attended by nine guys and a girl. Ten hours aboard lessthan-250cc learner bikes and five classroom hours later, the group took its “final exam” in a parking lot: doing a figure eight, making a few turns, and briskly braking.
Life is often a mind game. We can succeed or fail at challenges simply through confidence or doubt. The late Grand National Champion Gary Nixon had a winning edge of confidence, even when he might not have had a machine with a winning edge of performance.
Years ago, when mechanical-oscillator watches were made obsolete by the new electronic-oscillator type, a friend commented, “Now mechanical watches will become prestige items for the well-to-do.” Why? Because the cheapness of electronic-oscillator watches allowed everyone to have one.
KAWASAKI’S H2 IS THE MOST EXTREME PRODUCTION MOTORCYCLE EVER MADE, AND IT ALL STARTS WITH A SUPERCHARGED, 998cc FOUR-CYLINDER R-MODEL “TRACK BIKE” MAKING MORE THAN 300 HP
In its black-chrome mirrored finish, the manned missile that is the supercharged 998cc Ninja H2R track bike debuted at this fall’s Intermot show. A month later, its road-going “A-spec” H2 brother appeared at Milan’s EICMA show. This is an earthquake-fault break with the past, just as was its inspiration—the original competition-eating 750 H2 of 1972.
Every motorcyclist knows the feeling: that moment on a bike when all is right with the world, when you feel at one with your machine, when there is no place on earth you'd rather be. Sometimes, it's where you are riding. Other times, it's when you are riding.
For a brief moment in time, the world faced the prospect of no air-cooled Ducatis rolling off the assembly line in Borgo Panigale, home of air-cooled Ducati engines since time immemorial (well, the 1940s, anyway). 1940s, Yes, the launch of the liquid-cooled Monster 1200 in 2014 and the removal of smaller air-cooled Monsters from Ducati’s website caused a bit of a stir.
If you're anywhere near as old as I am (somewhere between early retirement and keeling over while shoveling snow), you might actually remember a time when nostalgia for bygone designs was pretty much the province of steam locomotive buffs and guys like my Uncle Walter, who missed his pre-war Hudson because the sheet metal was so thick.
I can’t get those Johnny Cash lyrics out of my head when I think about all the amazing places these two bikes have already been. Our version would go, "California Sierra, Moab, Tijuana, Ensenada, Gunnison, Crested Butte, St. George, and Santa Ynez.
Q: I have owned a 2003 BMW R1150GS since it was new, and * it has been my favorite bike of many I’ve owned. I recently had to have it rebuilt (at 63,000 miles) after oil-related piston failure, which was a surprise to everyone. It was always maintained well and run on synthetic oil since break-in.
Wayne Rainey's plan to lead the next generation of American roadracers to world championship success
WAYNE RAINEY ON DIRT TRACK...
Two-time AMA Superbike and three-time FIM 500cc World Champion Wayne Rainey says he’s just a cog in the wheel of MotoAmerica. That’s the affiliate of the KRAVE Group, comprising Terry Karges, Rainey, Chuck Aksland, and Richard Varner, which purchased the commercial rights to US roadracing from the AMA this past September.
Editorial/Production: Offices are located at 15215 Alton Pkwy., Ste. 100, Irvine, CA 92618; (760) 707-0100. Editorial contributions are welcomed but must be guaranteed exclusive to Cycle World. We are not responsible for the return of unsolicited material unless accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope.