There was a time in my motorcycling life that I was fond of repeating how a sidecar wrecks the dynamic pleasure of motorcycling, taking away the two-wheeler’s advantages over automobiles but without the safety, stability, or protection of a car.
LACE ’EM UP As a CW devotee for more than 30 years, I’m compelled to write Intake for the first time. The March 2015 issue fires on all cylinders, especially the “World’s Coolest Bikes” feature and the excellent Race Watch on the Superprestigio.
Come June, the new 2015 Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally arrives in the US. It's the ADV Caponord, fitted with tubeless wire-spoked wheels (17-inch rear, 19-inch front) and standard adventure hardware that includes tubular crash guards, large 33-liter side cases, an engine skid plate, auxiliary LED lights, and a taller manually adjustable windscreen.
When Cycle World asked if I would attend the 2015 Zero Motorcycles press introduction, I said yes before I’d really thought about it. Aside from a few parking-lot hot laps, the last Zero I’d spent significant time on was the MX off-road model circa 2008.
Since their debut two years ago, the Star Bolt and Bolt R-Spec models have hit the top of the sales chart for Yamaha's cruiser brand. And with current sales at 141 percent of last year's, it's clear there's increasing demand for the air-cooled, 942cc, 60-degree V-twin.
Italian gear maker Dainese has been an action-sports giant since before the term existed. With deep roots in motorcycling and now snow, bicycle, and equestrian sports, the company has long been a much-copied innovator. Since Lino Dainese released his first product in 1972 (a pair of motocross pants), the company has been a pioneer in personal-safety apparel.
This industrial designer brought us the V-Max—and much more
Kenji Ekuan, the Japanese industrial designer whose firm GK Design has long been associated with Yamaha styling, has died aged 85 in Tokyo. Born in 1929, Ekuan formed strong images of war’s destruction of human creations. His father died of radiation exposure from the atomic bombings.
If it’s the simple things in life that make you happy, you’re going to love Pronghorn Straps from adventure luggage and equipment company Giant Loop. Its motto is, “Go light. Go fast. Go far.” and these reusable, lightweight, rugged straps are magnificent when it comes to quickly and easily securing just about anything to your motorcycle.
Watch Out, World! That warning adorned an unusual cover featuring Team Roberts and its all-star lineup: manager Kenny Roberts and 500cc riders Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson, and 250cc rider John Kocinski. For the 1990 season, Roberts built a super team.
Zero Motorcycles' CTO explains everything you ever wanted to know about EVs—and then some
BATTERY CELL DEVELOPMENT IS THE WILD WILD WEST. Unless you’re packing the little cylindricals that are used in laptops, there really are no size or shape standards. Cylindricals look like AAs; they’re called 18650s because they’re 18mm in diameter and 65mm in length.
The tank bag has been around for decades, but Giant Loop’s Kiger ($290) is a rugged, 9-liter bag designed for ADV riders who want to carry all of their gizmos. The zipperless clamshell design easily opens with gloved hands to reveal a waterproof Dry Pod bag, while the clear vinyl map pocket allows touch-screen capability for tablets and smartphones.
Ready to hit trails less traveled but need some guidance? ADV/dual-sport riders have surely heard about Idaho’s amazing riding. So check out Backcountry Discovery Route’s Idaho DVD ($24.95) and IDBDR Butler Map ($14.95) for routes, GPS tracks, and travel info. More than 1,200 miles of unpaved heaven await.
New to the dirt-track market are Metal-sports’ FlatTrack wheels ($2,100/set), available in two standard finishes: black anodized or polished. The wheels are machined from billet forgings, have 25mm bearings, and are available in four rear widths and three front, with multiple hub sizes and available custom builds and finishes.
Street Tamer Throttle Tube
Do you sometimes feel like you're lacking throttle control? Maybe it’s your bike. G2’s Street Tamer Throttle Tube ($79.95) mellows throttle inputs by providing a nonlinear ratio between the throttle tube and your throttle body or carburetor. This allows better control while improving the jerky off-idle response typical of some EFI bikes.
When it comes to motorcycle-apparel functionality, textiles simply can’t be beat. Although it took a while for the motorcycle-apparel makers to catch up with the ski and backpack industries, we’re now seeing a wave of new high-tech fabrics and features employed to protect riders.
Like most warriors, I'm extremely confident going forward, able to respond to conditions and situations, opportunities, and threats instantly and instinctively. Bring ’em on! But what scares the bloody hell out of me is not what’s up front but what’s behind me, unseen and totally out of my control: aggressive tailgaters in SUVs, that beat-up gravel truck that is desperately trying to stop for the traffic light where I’m already sitting, and sometimes even the cunning local constable out hunting for throttle jockeys.
As the 20th century stumbled over World War II, a new kind of motorcycle took root in the US, and we're still grappling with the implications. In the mid-1940s, pioneering artist-bikers modified their Harleys, Indians, and Brit-bikes not for performance but for style.
FROM THE STEAM ERA UNTIL TODAY, THEY’RE STILL RELATED
Motorcycle engines have cooling systems to keep critical parts from becoming hot enough to lose their properties and fail. Back in the Age of Steam, one of the most feared results was crown sheet failure. The crown sheet was the arched steel top of the firebox.
One of the motorcycle’s best qualities is its ability to trigger your mind to build a pleasing image around the machine. For this pair of Scramblers, one from Ducati and one from Triumph, the image is idyllically rustic, backlit with hazy-warm golden light complete with lens flares.
How the original Ducati Scrambler put Dave Despain on a Matchless
Ducati’s reintroduction of the Scrambler takes me back to my motorcycling youth. In Fairfield, Iowa, at the height of the Vietnam War, the local college made a huge (if short-lived) business out of providing student draft deferments to rich Ivy League drop-outs.
BARBARI OR BENIGN, KTM'S 1290 ADVENTURE BIKE SATISFIES YOUR EVERY RIDING MOOD
When the KTM 1290 Super Duke R concept was first shown at EICMA in 2012, we couldn't believe our eyes. At the time, it seemed so over the top as to be almost absurd. But now, after having lived with a Super Duke R for more than a year—and also having logged serious miles on two versions of the 1190 Adventure—stuffing the 1,301cc twin into the brand-new 1290 Super Adventure makes complete sense.
KTM'S HEAD OF R&D GIVES US A SNEAK PEEK BEHIND THE ORANGE CURTAIN
WHAT WE SEE FOR HUSQVARNA IS TO ATTRACT A DIFFERENT KIND OF CUSTOMER. We know that in some countries KTM has a market share of 50 to 70 percent, and we think we can attract some new customers who want to have another product with some Swedish heritage.
JAPAN HITS BACK, AND YAMAHA’S R1 PROVIDES THE BLOW.
Japan has finally hit back and hit back hard. After falling behind European manufacturers such as BMW, Ducati, and KTM in the electronics war, Yamaha has answered the call. The recession hit Japanese motorcycle companies the hardest, and they waited the longest to reinvest in sportbikes.
For all its technical innovation and cutting-edge style, Ducati’s Panigale superbike may have been too much of a departure for many of the Ducati faithful. If a Duc without a trademark trellis frame came across as odd, a Superquadro desmo powerplant lacking robust midrange torque bordered on heresy.
HELMET DESTRUCTION PARTY? Q: Do you have any ideas for disposing of used helmets? I have a large collection, some crashed but most not. The helmets are out of date and should not be used. Short of a Sawzall and a few blades, any thoughts or suggestions would be helpful.
YEARS SOLD: 2002-2006 (second gen.) MSRP NEW: $10,299 ('02) to $11,299 (’06) BLUE BOOK RETAIL VALUE: $3895 ('02) to $5875 ('06) BASIC SPECS: The YZF-R1 of the preYCCT (ride-by-wire) era is powered by a liquid-cooled, 998cc, DOHC inline-four.
How many thousands of tires has the CW staff changed on the Coats 220? You remember that machine, right? Every motorcycle shop had one. The Coats 220 is still for sale at $1,295, but our 25-year-old unit has finally been retired...so to speak.
Observing the off-season tests to see what MotoGP has in store for 2015
The first two official MotoGP tests of 2015—Sepang I and II—saw a remarkable spread of bikes. There were completely new racebikes from Ducati and Suzuki, while Honda and Yamaha returned with developments of their existing machines.
READER INFORMATION 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.