They say the hardest part of the job is usually getting started, but I think finishing a custom bike build is much more difficult. At least, that’s how it is for me. Being down at Mule Motorcycles’ San Diego-area headquarters in Richard Pollack’s suburban two-car garage in the last few months has given me a lot of inspiration for my own never-ending 1973 Yamaha RD350 custom.
LIKED THEM SO MUCH, HE BOUGHT BOTH You can’t imagine my shock after all these years of reading the magazine to see a comparison test and I own both bikes! Spot-on evaluation (“Spice vs. Nice,” January), except my Diavel and Valky mileage numbers are opposite yours.
Adventure and sport-touring bikes continue to meld
VERSYS 1000 LT
We’ve been missing out. Kawasaki’s 1,043CC inline-four-powered Versys 1000 has been kicking around other markets since 2012 and only now joins its Ninja 1000 and Z1000 stablemates Stateside in 2015. That’s good because we’re fond of the torquey engine powering this trifecta.
The new BMW R1200R is naked and smart. It’s a boxer with an advanced degree and multiple rider assists. As BMW calls it, it’s a roadster for the 21st century. The new liquid-cooled 1,170cc, “vertically aspirated” opposed-twin powers the bike.
Fresh on the heels of the FZ-09, Yamaha’s best-selling model, comes a new sport-touring variant heavily based on that sport naked. This new FJ-09, which offers greater comfort and versatility, has been in the works since long before the FZ-09 made its public debut in 2013.
Kawasaki's Concours 14 motors into 2015 with only a few minor upgrades. It's very much the same machine it was when launched in 2008. While competing brands crank out ever more sophisticated sport-tourers, the Concours has pretty much remained status quo, not even offering cruise control.
Bonnevilles get a boost with bigger engine, higher performance, and liquid-cooling
World’s coolest prototype? Looks like it because a bigger, badder Triumph Bonneville-family bike has been confirmed by spy photos captured in Spain. The heritage-bike sandbox has gotten crowded lately with the BMW R nineT, Ducati Scrambler, Honda CB1100, and Yamaha SR400 all squeezing in.
During last fall’s EICMA motorcycle show in Italy, a small group of moto scribes had the pleasure of visiting the Yamaha Motor Racing headquarters in Milan. We had the chance to tour the facility and meet with Lin Jarvis, the managing director, and Marco Riva, the general manager.
What do you do when your motorcycle repair and custom-building business gets slow during the winter months? Blend your own Two-Stroke Smoke candle. Flying Tiger Motorcycles is a St. Louis-area shop and Royal Enfield dealership run by Eric Bess, who, one fine day some years ago at Mid-Ohio’s Vintage Motorcycle Days, caught a whiff of some two-stroke racers during practice and became inspired to capture the essence in candle form.
These were the days for 600cc supersports: “Hot Damn!” the cover declared on the arrival of Kawasaki’s all-new ZX-6. The little Ninja used its 36mm Keihin carbs to make 100 horses, spin to a then-astronomical 14,000-rpm redline, and run a super-solid 11.36-second quarter-mile, all while being a great streetbike.
Helmet features and technology have evolved a lot, but shape and styling have remained relatively stagnant. That's why we love AGV’s AX-8 Evo Naked Carbon ($499.95). This menacing lid, constructed with aramid and carbon fiber, is available in eight sizes, all ECE 2205 and DOT-certified. Visors are available in tinted, clear, and yellow.
Café Sportster package
Want to give your Harley-Davidson Sportster a café racer’s stance and attitude? Roland Sands Design’s Café Sportster package includes: a fiberglass tailsection ($449.95), two seat options ($189.95 to $249.95), billet rearsets ($649.95), clip-on bars ($249.95), and a headlight relocator kit that lowers it 2 inches ($259.95).
Harrison Jacket Pelle
From Dainese’s new 36060 The Heritage Collection is the Harrison Jacket Pelle ($799). This stylish three-quarter-length waxy cowhide jacket is dyed in a choice of Testa Di Moro or tan. Features include armor and back protection and reflective inserts on the perforated leather. Cuffs, pockets, and neck use button closures. Inside is a smartphone pocket.
Citizen courier bag
Commuters like backpacks, and Chrome Industries’ new Motor Series (Citizen courier bag $200, Barrage backpack $240) are its first designed for motorcyclists. The waterproof ballistic nylon is three times more heat resistant and four times more abrasion resistant than typical fabrics. Tool pockets supplement typical storage.
Modern motorcycles like our 2014 long-term BMW R1200GS Adventure have excellent LED headlights that punch a nice hole into the abyss. But what if you want to absolutely obliterate all of the darkness on that lonesome highway? Clearwater Lights has just released two high-quality kits for the R1200GS/A that do just that.
Don’t let a little water keep you from enjoying your bike
John L. Stein
Winter. It's cold, dark, and often wet. Any one of these elements will make you think twice about heading to your favorite booth at the local Bacon Hut on Sunday morning, but when all three factors are present it’s enough to spook many riders right out of winter riding entirely.
In 1969, the future of the motorcycle looked smooth and predictable. It would be British and American machines, rumbling and vibrating, for the "real" motorcyclist, and for the newbie and the callow youth, small inoffensive Japanese bikes.
A GREAT IMAGE, BUT THANKFULLY THE BIKE COMES FIRST
The Scrambler Ducati is why we like motorcycles. It looks, feels, and sounds like a motorcycle should, and its visceral, biker virtues sing out when it’s in motion. Ride it hard, ride it soft, or ride it like you stole it just for the feeling of stealing, and it’s criminally just right, in any of its four flavors.
YOU’VE ALREADY GOT YOUR BEARD, YOUR HORN-RIMMED GLASSES, AND YOUR OPEN-FACE HELMET. NOW ALL YOU NEED IS A DUCATI SCRAMBLER. OR DO YOU?
Ducati is marketing its new Scrambler to a younger demographic, in hopes of broadening its appeal and securing its future. At the international press introduction, held in Palm Springs, California, there were 33 journalists, most of them young and from publications and websites I’d never heard of.
The backstory of Austin's Revival Cycles runs deeper than the usual "let's build a custom" narrative and reveals the deep geekdom of founder Alan Stulberg and his partner Stefan Hertel. Alan’s first memory is twisting the throttle of his father’s vintage Triumph, feeling that distinctive twin-cylinder shake through his diapers.
REMAKING THE BUELL 1125 AS A SAMURAI WITH NO MASTER. TRUE TO THE STORY, THERE WILL BE ONLY 47.
Ronin Motorworks' downtown Denver headquarters is mesmerizing. Three designers, including Marc Hanchak, the general manager, sit on a mezzanine overlooking a ground floor that has a leather couch, chairs, and flat-screen TV at one end.
KTM'S FREERIDE 250R IS THE WORLD’S COOLEST PLAYBIKE
Coming from a trials background, I can appreciate the capabilities of a purebred competition motorcycle. But there are times when free riding I wish my trials bike wasn't so specialized. Having a seat, for starters, would be nice. I also race AMA EnduroCross and often wish my racebike had some more trials-like characteristics for the rough stuff.
NEW MV AGUSTA 800 IN ITS GRANDFATHER’S RACING FRAME
Okay, I'm biased by nostalgic memories of red three-cylinder MV Agusta 350/500 racers thundering down the Monza main straight, but I really love this new Magni Filorosso. In Italian, the name “Filorosso” refers to the thin, red line that the company uses to “link” the experience of Giovanni Magni’s father Arturo (the legendary MV Agusta team manager of the golden years) to the sequence of Magni models powered by BMW, Moto Guzzi, and Suzuki engines and leading up to the latest specials using MV Agusta F4S.
Meet Francesca. That's the name Gustavo Penna—a Los Angeles-based cinematographer who shoots car commercials for a living—has given this stripped Ducati 749, which he built in his two-lift home garage. The Colombian native, who fell in love with motorcycles while living in Italy, was inspired to build Francesca after he had removed the bodywork to clean the machine after a trackday.
It's perhaps not the first time a decrepit and doomed 1968 Enfield Interceptor was given a stay of execution from the crusher, but it's probably the first time it's been done with so much style. Builder Charlie Giordano’s day job is running Tailgunner Exhausts, maker of Gatling-gun rotating exhausts like you see fitted here.
What does one do with a low-mileage 1983 Harley-Davidson XR1000 that has suffered damage resulting from a "mishap" on the road? For Michael Schumacher of Scottsdale, Arizona (not the German F1 driver), the answer was to enlist Mule Motorcycles of Poway, California.
Cycle World readers may recall Elnora, the "dual-sport" Indian Chief Vintage bravely ridden cross-country by Robert Pandya in last year's Cannon Ball Project ("Cannon Ball's Trail," September 2014). Long story short, Pandya, Indian’s PR rep, keeps coming up with ideas to save this preproduction machine from the inevitable crusher, and he most recently converted Elnora into a land-speed machine that shot across the El Mirage dry lake in Southern California at 130.227 mph.
A custom-made T45 steel-tube chassis has helped transform Honda's paddle steamer into a café racer. That is some trick to pull off, but it wasn't easy, says CRC of London. Six Keihin FCR flat-slide carbs and six Racefit titanium headers bookend the air-cooled block.
FROM THE CHOPPER: THE REAL STORY, COMES THE TRUTH ABOUT CAPTAIN AMERICA
It's the most famous motorcycle in the world, period. Show a random citizen a photograph of the Captain America bike from Easy Rider, and everyone knows what they're looking at. The Captain America chopper transcends its own story; nobody needs to have seen the film, nor recognize Peter Fonda, to understand they're looking at an icon, a magical talisman of Freedom.
You sharp-eyed readers are probably thinking, "Wow, you guys must not ride a lot. Only 1,148 miles in seven months on a ‘long-term’ R1200RT? You need to un-ass your office chairs and hit the road!” Hey, we have a legit excuse: For more than five of those months, the bike was not in our possession.
SMALLER OR TALLER? Q: I'm interested in the Honda CBR300R and, if I buy one, would probably want to change the final gearing by replacing the rear sprocket with a somewhat smaller one. Having ridden (and learned from) an Italian 250CC single in the ’60s, I’d be glad to exchange some acceleration for a more relaxed and smoother ride at higher speeds.
YEARS SOLD: 2009-2012 MSRP NEW: $10,799 ('09) to $11,799 (’12) BLUE BOOK RETAIL VALUE: $7,125 (’09) to $10,440 (’12) BASIC SPECS: The XR1200 is powered by an air- and oil-cooled 1,200cc OHV V-twin with fuel injection and a five-speed transmission.
Q: At Phillip Island last month I was once again reminded of the huge and glorious noise made by the MotoGP bikes. It’s loud enough to deafen the crowd and shake your insides even standing well back from the track. Why aren’t bigger efforts made to use this energy for forward motion?
MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez tops Americans in star-studded flat-track battle in Barcelona
Remind us again, what's the Superprestigio? Marc Marquez's take on indoor short track, that's what. It's held in a former Olympic stadium in Barcelona, Spain, and the MotoGP champ invites the best racers from the gamut of bike sports to have a go.
“TO GO FAST YOU’VE GOT TO LEARN TO SLIDE THE FRONT AND THE BACK, BUT IT’S MUCH SAFER THAN MOTOCROSS OR SUPERCROSS OR ENDURO.”
Marc Marquez is known for his smile and close relationship with his family. The 21-year-old Repsol Honda rider, who earns about $12.5 million per year, recently decided to leave his hometown of Cervera, Spain, and move to Andorra, a micro-state in the Pyrenees mountains.
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