It’s a rivalry as old as motorcycling, a battle of the only brands that were able to survive the Great Depression and go on to build bikes that grew with the Interstate Highway System. It’s Harley-Davidson versus Indian, of course, and even though Indian went out of business in 1953, the cultural imprint of the brands lives on powerfully.
Through experience, I’ve learned my preference is an athletic motorcycle with vintage style. I currently own a Triumph Bonneville T100, a Ducati S4RS Tricolore, and a Harley-Davidson 103 Fat Bob. The Triumph came first, and whereas I thought for certain the latter two would unseat the Triumph as my favorite, instead they only showed me what a great bike the T100 is.
Not so long ago sportbike enthusiasts used to ink their calendar with an expectation of spring-time bearing the fruit of an all-new middleweight supersport platform from one or more of the Japanese Big Four. Although the annual bumper crop of 600 class sportbikes has all but dried up, for 2017 the sky is Yamaha blue.
Honda’s commitment to bringing new riders into the motor-cycle fold has never been more evident. From its lovable Grom to the commuter-centric NC700X, Big Red’s range of novice-friendly models cover the gamut. Now, Honda aims to stoke the fire of the young and restless with its all-new 2017 Rebel 300 and Rebel 500, a pair of bobber-style models with a cool minimalistic look and attractive price.
Motorcycling is becoming quite the mashup these days. Custom bikes are going crazy with wonderfully weird style combinations, and you can pretty much wear whatever gear you want no matter what you ride. So I don’t feel eccentric at all wearing the Klim Krios ADV lid on a Street Bob or FZ-09.
Because “slow in, fast out” is one of those sayings that needs a lot more explaining
I sat in the 120-degree right-hand corner and watched track riders continually run wide on the exit, missing the apex (closest the rider comes to the inside of the corner) lap after lap. My brain couldn’t ignore the street implications, imagining a center line and oncoming traffic.
Like birds, whales, and my fellow gringos, I fly south for a dose of vitamin D in winter, down to San Jose del Cabo, the geological tip of California and the finish line of Baja desert racing. I’m not usually a big-box shopper, but stocking up for a week’s worth of supplies means hitting Mega, the retail chain that sells everything, including motorcycles.
Every time someone in this household finishes a carton of milk and leaves it on the counter with its cap on, it reminds me of how heat engines work. In the fridge, the carton is at 42 degrees Fahrenheit, but on the counter, after it has warmed up, it’s at 68 degrees, a rise of 26 degrees.
TWO MEN, ONE URAL SIDECAR, AND A NONSTOP, 32-HOUR, RECORD-BREAKING RIDE FROM SEATTLE TO LOS ANGELES. FOR NO GOOD REASON WHATSOEVER.
It was as warm as it would be for another 20 hours, and I was cold. Not freezing. That would come at night, when the sky filled with snow. When we couldn’t stop shaking. But right then, the day was a wonder. The low clouds broke to show blue sky, the spits of rain abating.
There was no doubt that our pair of sidecar-ists needed help to pull off our dubious nonstop record run from Seattle to LA. Since none of us is a psychiatrist, we elected to simply ride along in a few support vehicles and keep a suicide-prevention hotline on tap.
Urals are pretty low-fi, so pulling off a feat like this trek down the West Coast (while properly documenting the attempt) required the addition of some key electronic equipment. Foremost was communications. Our two poor souls, Bowman and Smith, needed to communicate.
I fully expected to wake up in pain. Less than 24 hours ago, the KTM crew, a small group of colleagues, and I rolled out of KTM North America’s headquarters in Murrieta, California, and on to the trail. Eight hours later, we rolled in to camp, and some time after that, I dipped off to my tent to curl up on a mat that was about 5 percent plusher than terra firma.
EXPLORING WYOMING'S BACKCOUNTRY ABOARD A TIMBERSLED-EQUIPPED HUSQVARNA FE 501
The first thing I learned about riding a Timbersled snowbike is that it is nothing like riding a dirt bike. It may look like a dirt bike (sort of) and sound like a dirt bike, and you may be able to ride it places in winter that you’d normally ride a dirt bike, but a dirt bike it is not.
Of all the latest sportbikes, the new-generation Yamaha YZF-R1 released in 2015 was the one I was most curious about. While the Japanese manufacturers continued to clean up in MotoGP racing, proving they had the technology, they were seemingly lollygagging behind the highertech production offerings from BMW, Ducati, et al.
Q: I ride a 2008 Suzuki 1250 Bandit. A great, solid standard. Only issue I’ve had is its tendency to be abrupt coming off full dead throttle, especially in second gear when doing some spirited riding. I know it’s a characteristic of big-bore bikes.
BASIC SPECS: Powered by a fuel-efficient 234cc, air-cooled, SOHC, four-stroke parallel twin, the CMX250 (better known as the Rebel 250) features CDI ignition, a five-speed gearbox, and chain final drive. Its steel-tube double-cradle frame rides on a 33mm fork with 4.6-inch travel and twin shocks offering five-position spring preload adjustment and 2.7-inch travel.
Inside the S&S Cycle Polaris Pro Stock Motorcycle drag-racing engine
Let’s make an “elephant” V-twin engine by bandsawing two cylinders off a 454 Chevy Big-Block. That’s 113.5 cubes. Puny! The S&S Cycle Pro Stock drag-race engine measures 5-⅛-inch bore by 3-⅞-inch stroke. B-I-G. That’s 159.9c1. To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee, “That’s an engine!”
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