In a career full of career highs, I have to say working on Project 156 last year with Victory and Roland Sands Design to get Don Canet on an American bike to race on America’s mountain ranks among the highest. Even if we didn’t make the summit at the finish after the bike quit in the final miles, it was, as Canet liked to say, a peak experience.
Thirty years ago I was a slave to speed: 1993 Honda CBR900RR; 1997 Suzuki TL1000S; 1999 Triumph Daytona 955i. Having just as much fun these days as the Sultan of Slow: Yamaha YZF-R3 and Wolf V150 scooter. Give me two wheels with a motor that I can afford at age 67 and I feel 30 years younger.
Two years ago, whilst plowing through a section of whooped-out jeep trails on a Ducati Multistrada 1200 S, I was taken back to high school wood shop and a grouchy, gray-haired teacher who "kindly" demanded the class “always use the right tool for the job.”
I can't help but feel a little guilty as I swoop around a group of tourists and take off toward a lookout facing the Golden Gate Bridge. Equally as hungry for photos of the iconic suspension bridge, they are putting in the work on rented bicycles and pretending not to mind the suffering, while I’m aboard Kawasaki’s new Z125 Pro, enjoying the same great view, just with a larger grin on my face and legs that are probably a little less sore.
Why winglets are sprouting on MotoGP bikes such as the Ducati GP16
When downforce wings are mentioned, everyone instantly assumes that, as in F1, the purpose is to press tires down harder, increasing traction to allow higher corner speeds. This is not the purpose of the winglets that MotoGP bikes have sprouted as of late because what is downforce while the bike is upright on a straight becomes push-you-off-the-corner force when the bike is leaned over at 58 degrees.
Here’s a new thought in concussion prevention. The 6D ATS-1 ($895) employs Omni-Directional Suspension Technology, a two-layer EPS liner separated by an array of elastomeric isolation dampers within the carbon-fiber shell. An independent laboratory supports 6D’s claim that ODS significantly reduces energy transferred to the head during Impact. (714)772-2121 6dhelmets.com
Bell Pro Star
At a claimed 3.3 pounds, the Bell Pro Star ($1,199.95) is touted as the lightest race helmet on the market. Ultra-thin and strong TeXtreme carbon fabric shell and three-layer Flex Impact Liner promise uncompromised protection. The eyeport offers Bell’s "Raceview" orientation and magnetic cheek pads make post-crash removal easy, (800) 456-2355 bellhelmets.com
Shoei X-Fourteen Marquez 4 TC-1
A fresh look for fans of the two-time MotoCP world champ, the Shoei X-Fourteen Marquez 4 TC-1 ($839.99) was developed with input from the world’s top racers. Unique rearflaps improve high-speed stability and drag reduction. The liner features Max-Dry material, a cheek-pad-cooling system, and rotating components to increase vision when tucked in (714)730-0941 shoei-helmets.com
Arai Corsair X IOM TT
Real-roads racing makes your head spin, and there’s nothing quite like the TT, The Arai Corsair X IOM TT ($1,049.95) honors the famed event with limited-edition graphics applied to Arai's flagship model. Key features are the Variable Axes System shield pivot, emergency-release cheek pads, and super-supple Eco Pure antibacterial lining. (610) 366-7221 araiamericas.com
A small step for Alpinestars, a big step for roadracers
Have a little mercy on designers tasked with developing modernday protective apparel. Riders continually lust for added flexibility, increased comfort, and improved feel, yet racebikes are getting faster and the crashes...well, not exactly smaller.
Insanely good riding skills are the normal push of these Ride Craft articles because a three-star Marine Corps general once told me that the secret to Marine pilot safety was making their pilots so proficient and skillful that safety followed.
IN TIME, HISTORY COULD TAKE POSSESSION OF YOUR MOTORCYCLE
Lined up like the cast of a zombie film, the eight Brough Superiors exhumed from crumbling Cornwall sheds were dictionary illustrations of “rot.” Hoard of the late Frank Vague, the necrotic bloom of their decay fascinated enthusiasts who’d come to gawk, before Bonhams auctioned the remains for astounding prices.
ONE CHANGE, LEADING TO ANOTHER, AND CREATING A NEW ORTHODOXY
When an idea is brand new, every variation of it is rapidly tried, but eventually a consensus emerges as to which best combines low cost, performance, and ease of manufacture. This is why engine cylinders remain round rather than oval or square; a simple, inexpensive boring and honing process produces usable bores.
TWO SINGLES AND A TWIN GO HEAD TO HEAD IN A COMPARISON WHERE UNADULTERATED ENTERTAINMENT REIGNS SUPREME
Motorcyclists never really grow up—our toys just get bigger, more expensive, and, in the case of supermoto-inspired city bikes, much more entertaining. Ducati’s Hypermotard, Husqvarna’s 701 Supermoto, and KTM’s less supermoto-like, but still naked, 690 Duke are all perfect examples of that.
BURN YOUR BRA AND YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE AS DUCATI’S MONSTER 1200 R TAKES ON TRIUMPH’S SPEED TRIPLE 1050 R FOR THE TITLE OF WORLD’S HOTTEST NAKED BIKE
MONSTER 1200 R
SPEED TRIPLE R
All this talk about sexual identity and which bathrooms transgender people should use is clouding a more important issue: What’s the sexiest naked bike made? There are more powerful and less expensive alternatives, but ultimately the debate comes down to the Ducati Monster 1200 and Triumph Speed Triple 1050.
THE 2016 YAMAHA YZF-R1S AND YZF-R1M EXCHANGE BLOWS
What to do when presented with multiple versions of a single sportbike model? Does one spring for the more exotic or reap the savings of a base model at the risk of remorse? What’s in your wallet might be the deciding factor, but one can’t help but wonder what the base model gives up and what the upscale model gains.
WHAT IS THE ULTIMATE RECIPE FOR OFF-ROAD POWER, TWO-STROKE OR FOUR-STROKE?
There are fundamental traits to off-road riding that make it so much fun, like the varying terrain, unique forms of competition, and the numerous types of dirt bikes available. For years, Yamaha has placed a heavy focus on motocross; however, 2016 marks a change, as the Blue Crew has released a pair of hard-core enduro machines: the four-stroke 450FX model and two-stroke 250X.
Q: I have a 2015 Aprilia Caponord, which I've been riding for about a year. The bike has approximately 4,000 miles on it. Lately, when I shut the bike down after a ride and it’s still hot, I’ve started to hear a medium-/high-frequency buzz coming from the front of the engine.
BASIC SPECS: Beneath the distinctive shrink-wrap body panels resides an air-/ oil-cooled, 16-valve, 748cc inline-four with an esteemed racing pedigree. While derived from the pre-liquid-cooled GSX-R sportbike of the late 1980s, the affable street manner of the Katana stems from engine tune focused on greater lowto midrange torque delivery and tamed response.
Marc Marquez won his fourth-straight Circuit of The Americas MotoGP with apparent ease, despite Ducati’s faster-than-a-Formula-One-car 214-mph top speed down the 3,960-foot-long back straight and Jorge Lorenzo only being 0.069 of a second behind him in qualifying.
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