Unfathomably, Erik Buell had to gather his 120-plus workers this past April and tell them to go home. “It was the second time I was at an all-company meeting that ended in tears,” a former employee said. And so closed the doors at Erik Buell Racing’s East Troy, Wisconsin, factory.
It’s impossible to cover the life’s work of someone like Kenji Ekuan in a brief article, but Kevin Cameron did a fine job in the space available (May). Mr. Ekuan happened to be in New York during the Guggenheim’s “The Art of the Motorcycle,” and his staff asked me to give him a tour.
The little brand with a huge résumé builds its next contender
Since Aprilia introduced its RSV4 in 2009, the little company from Noale, Italy, has won four manufacturer and three rider titles in World Superbike competition. The RSV4 has been a great platform, and the 2016 RF top-of-the-line version represents another crucial step in ongoing development.
I found myself wondering why I felt the need to pass several cars at once while enjoying a nice motorcycle outing in the countryside. I should have been perfectly happy sitting back and taking in the sights, but, no, I was stricken with the need to explore the massive amounts of power available at the twist of the right grip.
"Loud what saves lives? What? I can’t hear you. I’ve got 10 speakers blasting 200 watts of sound at me from each end of the Victory Magnum X-1 sound machine. I’m the meat center in a music sandwich. Huh?” We tested the magnum X-1 during Daytona Bike Week, which isn’t a quiet place to begin with.
New Chinese-built twin is heavy but remarkably refined
In Italy, the new Benelli BN302 costs less than a Vespa Sprint 125 3V. That’s because Benelli is part of QianJiang, a huge Chinese motorcycle group that wants this new bike to sell well in the Far East, where low price and excellent durability are hugely important.
Yamaha continues to probe the unique possibilities that the “Leaning Multi Wheel” front suspension of the Tricity scooter might offer. Under the code name “GEN,” Yamaha has created a generation of concept vehicles that explore new solutions for individual mobility, all created in a way that reflects the company’s “Refined Dynamism” design philosophy.
Proof that standard bikes never go out of style but do get renamed (nakeds, anyone?), our main story touted at cover center featured a list of 10 great fairingless bikes. A couple of high points (in price and cool factor) were the $4,298 Honda CB-1 399cc inline-four and $4,198 Hawk 650 GT V-twin.
Many bikes can benefit from better suspension, even the 2013 and newer BMW F800GS with ESA, Touratech has created the Plug & Travel ESA Upgrade ($1,695) GS shock. Touratech says this high-performance damper integrates with the stock computer. Besides superior damping, it is completely serviceable and fully compatible with ESA. (800) 491-2926 touratech-usa.com
If you’ve ever had your ramp slip off the tailgate while loading a bike, you know how damaging it can be to you and your vehicles. Shark Kage's 24 x 92-inch ramp ($299) attaches to your tailgate via a mounted plate, creating a stable loading platform. The aluminum ramp, with a 750-pound capacity, can also function as a bed extender or workbench. (702) 982-1400 sharkkage.com
Looking for an ultra-lightweight helmet for off-road riding? The brand-new Kali Shiva ($500) fits the bill. The company, better known in bicycle circles, has developed a DOT-approved, 1,050-gram (2.3-pound) helmet that uses a carbon-fiber shell into which the EPS liner is injected. Kali says the Shiva is 30 percent smaller than a typical MX lid. (888) 776-5254 kaliprotectives.com
Cycle Saver Pad
Do you ever get that sinking feeling when you park your motorcycle on a soft surface such as sand, dirt, or grass? End it for good with the Cycle Saver Pad ($15), a flat plastic puck to tuck under your kickstand when you park on any soft surface. Stow it in your pack or in your back pocket; the standard safety lanyard is designed to attach to your belt. cyclesaverpad.com
There’s a lot going on with the Sena 20S Bluetooth headset, but somehow The Knob, which I got to know well on the previous-flagship SMH10, makes it all easier to interact with. Still, this Bluetooth 4.0, eight-way-intercom-capable, two-device-connecting communicator takes a fair bit of use to master.
Anyone who’s ever ridden with an “untrained” passenger knows that their weaving and bobbing on the back of your bike isn’t just annoying—it can be dangerous. That’s because the 100to 200-pound hunk o’ burning love you’ve got riding pillion is what engineers call a “live load”—mass that can move about at random, upsetting the balance of your bike while trying to peer around you or, worse, naively leaning outward during a turn.
Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?” But in business, an established brand with emotional resonance is pure gold. It takes time to build a good reputation, so instead, would-be manufacturers have gone name-shopping in the graveyard. They’re busting up the crypts of old motorcycle companies, ones we buried decades ago with cries of lamentation and tales of better days.
SOMETIMES IT'S BETTER TO BE PRACTICAL THAN PERFECT
It’s fascinating to see the common technologies that run through all machines. Yet quite often, specific solutions have more to do with how much time or money can be spent on them. Harley, in the original Evolution engine, chose to retain the heads and barrels with long studs rather than to provide the cylinder with a base flange, bolt that to the crankcase, and then bolt the head to the top of the barrel.
WE PUT YAMAHA'S LATEST LITER-CLASS MISSILE THROUGH THE TESTING WRINGER
Yamaha is back. After riding the latest R1 at Sydney Motorsports Park in Australia last February (CW May), we walked away amazed, but we also left with a huge list of unanswered questions. Racetrack press introductions allow a motorcycle to be tested near its limits, exploring aspects of performance that are virtually impossible to sample on public roads.
SUPERBIKE REGULATIONS worldwide have adopted stock piston rules, and the new US series, MotoAmerica, has such a rule. Its purpose is to eliminate the advantage top teams had in being able to custom-machine pistons to optimize engine combustion chambers.
Being the first new-for-2015 liter-class sport bike to undergo Cycle World performance testing, we were curious to learn how the latest YZF-R1 stacks up against not only its peers but the previous-generation R1 as well. It will be another month before we can assemble all class-of-’15 contenders together for a heads-up comparison.
Bikes like Yamaha’s R1 are becoming so technical that thoroughly testing them is challenging. With so many electronic variables, the possible settings are virtually endless. Thankfully, the R1 is so good out of the box that there is no question it is class leading.
TEN OF OUR FAVORITE VINTAGE BIKES FROM TOM WHITE’S EARLY YEARS OF MOTOCROSS MUSEUM
250 FALTA REPLICA
As luck would have it, the Cycle World office is only 20 minutes from one of the best collections of vintage motocross machines in the country. Tucked up in the hills of Villa Park, Tom White’s Early Years of Motocross Museum celebrates the formative years of the sport in the US, which took off in 1966 when San Diego Husqvarna dealer M. Edison Dye invited the likes of Roger DeCoster, Joel Robert, and Torsten Hallman to race against Americans in the inaugural nine-race Inter-Am series.
Keanu Reeves doesn’t live in the same world as the rest of us. And no, I’m not talking about The Matrix—though the 50-year-old actor’s reality is arguably no less surreal. Guys like him, when they want a custom bike built, end up owning the company.
I LEARNED TO RIDE WHEN I WAS 22. I was doing a picture in Munich, and this young girl had an enduro at the sound stages. I asked her if I could ride it, and she showed me where everything was. When I got back to Los Angeles, I bought a Kawasaki KLR600.
If you have one spec of enthusiasm for motorcycling, the howling heart of the FZ-09 gets down in your soul immediately and never lets go. Mere moments into our first ride on the bike at the San Francisco press introduction I was screaming out of my helmet to one of the Yamaha executives riding next to me: “LONG-TERM TEST MANDATORY!”
Q: What do you think about my using DOT 5 brake fluid in a completely cleaned and rebuilt brake system in a 1979 Yamaha? I used new caliper kits, NOS Yamaha master cylinder kits, and Goodridge hoses. Everything was washed in brake cleaner. I will rarely ride the bike.
BASIC SPECS: Introduced in 2004, the CBR1000RR was the all-new successor to Honda’s CBR954RR. Its 998cc inline-four features ECU-controlled ram air and dual-stage fuel injection and an undertail exhaust. This model’s cassette-style stacked six-speed gearbox and shallower 28-degree cylinder slant made for a compact engine design that allowed a longer swingarm and shifted the weight bias forward.
Honda Racing Corporation was created to win races. And it does.
Honda Racing Corporation was created in September 1982, its highly focused purpose to win races and to work with Honda R&D to develop new technologies for Honda products. Its highest expression is constructing the tools a genius rider like Marc Marquez needs to express himself to the fullest.
The beauty of balance in motion is at the core of why we ride.
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