In preparation of our upcoming 2015 Superbike Shootout we came across this similar gem posted a decade ago. From then to now we find similarities in the entrants as well as the editors, such as Yamaha’s R1 and Sean Alexander. In terms of performance, things have, of course, progressed far beyond what these four machines possessed – mostly in the realm of electronics. “You don’t have a 6-axis gyro, TC, slide, lift and launch control,” asks the 2015 of its predecessor.
Thunderhill Park Raceway, CA — Your fingers ache from the strain of holding yourself forward against the vicious acceleration even though it’s only been four seconds since you rocketed off the last corner. The digital speedometer says 154, then 161, then… just a second, as you grab a fistful of brakes and bend the bike into Turn One. The asphalt is smoother near the apex and it takes some extra effort to force your head down to the inside, as your neck muscles fight the 110 mph windblast. You gently roll the throttle on and the bike is happy to stay at the current 45 degree lean angle, but it’s acceleration you’re after and this tire isn’t going to put any more power down unless it’s a bit more upright. That expert club racer with the single-digit number plate is making good time on his four-year-old R1, but you’re catching him fast as you set-up for the long 180 degree Turn Two.
You bare your teeth inside your Arai as you anticipate the pass you’re going to put on him at the exit. He rolls out of Turn Two hard on the throttle, but you’re already deeper and harder into the gas, so you pass him and pull an extra 20 feet diving into the next bend. He doesn’t know what hit him as he bobs in your wake, watching as a brand new machine with turn signals, stock exhaust and mirrors blasts past him into Turn Three.
Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? It certainly is, when you consider that you’re riding the slowest bike in this shootout.
We all know that it isn’t what you ride; it’s how you ride. At least we knew that up until last week, when testing for this year’s Open Supersports test began. But now, we’re not so sure. You’re probably sick of hearing just how outstanding modern sportbikes have become, as each year sees further refinement of the previous year’s groundbreaking designs. The pace of development has been increasing lately and our 2005 Open Class Shootout makes it clear that the days of resting on your Bold New Graphics are long gone.
To help us determine which bike is the best, we gathered together Suzuki’s all-new GSX-R1000, the reigning MO Champion of the World Honda CBR1000RR, the lightly-updated ZX-10R from Kawasaki, and Yamaha’s venerable R1. We loaded these bikes into our luxurious five-ton crew cab box truck along with leathers, helmets, gloves, boots, tools, cameras, 70’s music, enough tires to choke a horse and departed Torrance for points north.
Lance Keigwin, Trackday Guru, possessor of amazing motorhome.
The track portion of this year’s shootout was conducted at Thunderhill Park Raceway near Willows, CA, where we were graciously hosted by http://www.keigwin.com/schools.htm. Lance Keigwin and his crew are absolutely some of the nicest folks we’ve worked with on a shootout and MO enthusiastically recommends their program as one of the track, we took advantage of the beautiful rolling terrain surrounding most competent and professionally run we’ve encountered. The road course at Thunderhill is a 3 mile, 15 turn roller coaster with several corners that are off-camber and/or blind. It’s a smooth, 36-foot wide racetrack with copious run-off room, fast straights, technical tight turns and an ideal place to thoroughly wring out liter-sized bikes.
On our first evening in Northern California, prior to riding at the Willows to get street impressions of each bike. As it turned out, we got a slightly more adventurous evening ride than we’d planned with rain, darkness, a very large tumbleweed and numerous errant four-legged denizens of the night along for the ride.
After our nighttime blitz in the foothills west of I-5, we were prepared to declare MO as perhaps the most highly qualified publication on the planet to judge the spectral characteristics and brightness of the headlights on this year’s crop of bikes and, along the same lines, the emergency stopping power and agility on wet roads for all four of the contenders.
Our first afternoon (Monday) at Thunderhill was used as a combination sighting session and as an opportunity to circulate the track on OEM tires. Thanks to the folks at Bridgestone, we had ten sets of the brand new BT 002 DOT race tires stashed for when the action heated up. We chose the T3 “medium” compound fronts and T2 “hard” compound rears and eagerly levered them onto our spare rims for two days of racetrack testing. It should be noted that the T2 compound BT 002 is an extremely hard compound that is meant to last under extreme conditions. Since we were going to be swapping these bikes between four riders and lapping them almost continuously throughout the test, we felt it was a good idea to sacrifice outright grip for durability and consistency.
During our two days at Thunderhill, we drew quite a crowd to the north end of the paddock where MO was ensconced for the duration of the track portion of the test. This year we were supported by a veritable army of OEM technicians including Scott “The Stud” Buckley of Kawasaki, Chuck Welch of Suzuki and Jon Siedel, Bob Oman and Doug Toland of Honda. We were joined by Van (aka bmw4vww) Washburn who showed up to lend a hand during the test and several interesting luminaries who stopped by to say howdy.
All good things must come to an end and after an all-too-brief stay in the lush hills of the Northern San Joaquin Valley we had to make tracks back to SoCal to MO’s Torrance headquarters and a rendezvous with our laptop computers. Along the way back, we headed over to Palmdale for a final street impression in the foothills near Lake Elizabeth, then onto LACR for a cold evening of wheelies and three-gear wheel spins down the quarter-mile-long drag strip.
It was a long week, with lots of work (as usual), several friends new and old, almost more excitement that even we can handle, and more fun than any reasonable human being has a right to expect. And at the end of it all, we had a pretty clear consensus as to the winner. So, without any further ado, ladies and gentlemen, the featured event on this card, the 2005 MO Open class shootout. Let the games begin!
This week’s video comes to us across The Pond from Britain’s Got Talent. Chloe Crawford, a magician from Portsmouth via Las Vegas tries to impress Simon Cowell and the other judges by making a Suzuki GSX-R disappear.
Tissot-Superpole – Tom Sykes 26th career pole, tied with Troy Bayliss on the second all-time spot; only Troy Corser is ahead, with 43 He has scored his third pole at Donington: only Carl Fogarty has started from pole position four times here, in four consecutive years, from 1992 to 1995 He has won the last […]... Click Here for Article
SAN BERNARDINO, California (May 23, 2015) – The second round of the 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, signified the series’ lone visit to Southern California on Saturday with the FMF Glen Helen National at Glen Helen Raceway. One week after dominating the field to make the first statement in […]... Click Here for Article
Team Suzuki Press Office – May 23. Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes will start his home World Superbike race at Donington Park from the middle of the second row after securing fifth place in today’s Superpole. A stunning performance on race rubber saw Lowes take provisional pole twice in the early stages of this afternoon’s […]... Click Here for Article
LEON HASLAM WILL START FROM THE SECOND ROW IN THE TWO RACES TOMORROW JORDI TORRES FORCED TO THE FIFTH ROW Donington, 23 May 2015 – The World Superbike Saturday at Donington started off well for Leon Haslam who rode his RSV4 RF to the top of the list in the last practice session before Superpole. […]... Click Here for Article
Donington Park (UK), Saturday 23 May 2015 – Having qualified yesterday in second and fifth position respectively, Giugliano and Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team) returned to the Donington Park track today ready for Superpole 2. After a short free practice this morning, which the riders concluded in fourth (Davide) and sixth (Chaz) place, […]... Click Here for Article
Grid undecided until final moments as Rea and Giugliano get front row starts. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) will start tomorrow’s two UK Round, 23-lap races from Pole Position after taking today’s Tissot-Superpole in an enthralling 15 minute shoot-out that eventually saw the top 7 riders covered by 0.940s. For Sykes it was his 26th […]... Click Here for Article
BMW has announced the unveiling of its Concept 101 motorcycle at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy today. The head of design for BMW Motorrad calls the Concept 101 “the epitome of elegance, power and luxury on two wheels.” 101 refers to the cubic inch capacity (1,649 cc) of the six-cylinder engine, as well […]... Click Here for Article
The official press conference of WorldSBK round six took place today at Donington Park Circuit, involving the current top-5 riders in the championship standings, four of them being native to the UK. KRT entries Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes, together with factory Aprilia duo Leon Haslam and Jordi Torres and Ducati’s Chaz Davies answered a […]... Click Here for Article
We all know we should perform a pre-ride check, but let’s be honest, we tend to skip them from time to time (or more frequently), don’t we? We’re only human, and that silly little check before we hit the road isn’t that important, is it? It’s not like we’re flying an airliner thousands of feet above the ground with hundreds of people on board. While we may think that only our lives are at stake when we ride, what happens to us can affect others both directly and indirectly.
The reality is that your pre-ride check, when done regularly, only takes a few seconds to perform. You can even start it as you walk across the parking lot towards your bike. How’s that for multi-tasking? So, read on to see what we, here at the hallowed halls of MO, think you should do before every ride. If you’ve got your own additions to the list, add ’em via the comments.
Victory has released photos of a prototype racing engine to be used in the upcoming Pikes Peak Hill Climb (June 28). No specs were included, but the V-Twin is obviously a tweaked version of the 60-degree mill powering the Indian Scout that beat all comers in our Bout With The Scout shootout. The Scout we tested produced 83 hp and 62.5 lb-ft of torque. This prototype engine should elevate those numbers to ensure competitiveness.
MO editors were and are in agreement that a sportier version of the Scout would be a great addition to Indian’s line-up, but considering the Twin is powering a Victory-branded/Roland Sands-built custom racer, maybe we’ll see a new sport-model in Victory’s arsenal utilizing a version of Scout’s 1133cc engine.
Known as Project 156 (a nod to the mountain’s 156 corners), Victory will compete in one of America’s most challenging events. If the team reaches the 14,000-foot finish line in record time, we might expect to see a special commemoration model from Victory celebrating the achievement.
Regardless of the win, Victory is sure to compile valuable data for use in future Victory models as well as Indian ones. In addition to the Pikes Peak event, Victory has also recently announced a new energy and direction for the brand seen in formation of an NHRA team and Isle of Man TT racing effort.
This isn’t the first time Victory and RSD have teamed up to construct a prototype racer as seen in the video below from 2011 when the two joined forces to reach 200 mph with a turbo-charged, air-cooled Victory V-Twin.
The eyes of the world will be on Springfield as Australian road racing legend Troy Bayliss will make his much-anticipated AMA Pro Flat Track debut aboard the No. 21I Ducati Scrambler-inspired 1100cc machine against defending Grand National Champion Jared Mees on the No. 1 Harley-Davidson, No. 42 Bryan Smith, No. 2 Kenny Coolbeth Jr., No. 6 Brad Baker and the rest of the Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines field in one of the most iconic races on the AMA Pro Flat Track schedule.
In the GNC2 class, No. 11Z Andrew Luker will try to extend his points lead, with No. 14A Dalton Gauthier and No. 67M Davis Fisher hot on his tail when the up-and-coming stars of the sport compete on twins for the first time in 2015.
FansChoice.tv Live Streaming Schedule for Sunday, May 24 at the Springfield Mile:
Practice/qualifying: 10:15 a.m. CT (11:15 a.m. ET, 8:15 a.m. PT)
For Australian viewers, practice and qualifying begin at 1:15 a.m. AEST with the pre-race show scheduled for 3 a.m. AEST. Heat races are set to begin at 4:30 a.m. AEST with the GNC1 main slated for a 7 a.m. AEST start.
The partnership between Pirelli and Ducati has been a long standing one, and to showcase both brand’s commitments to one another, Vibrazioni Art Design was commissioned to create this, the SC-Rumble. Based on the Ducati Scrambler, each side of the gas tank has a rubber sheet which is laser inscribed with the tread pattern of the factory MT-60 RS tires along with the Ducati Scrambler logo.
Vibrazioni Art Design maintained the general Scrambler theme, while giving the bike “more warlike personality and a partiality for dusty, dirt roads.” The “SC-Rumble” keeps the factory equipment Pirelli MT 60 RS tires mounted on solid wheels. The factory frame was shortened at the rear and all the original superstructures were removed in favor of a monocoque frame made from recycled industrial sheet metal bins, hand hammered and shaped maintaining the original colors. The monocoque frame was then painted with a glossy finish polyurethane clearcoat in order to accentuate its shine and to give the surface a look which is smooth to the touch.
The top fairing, made from hand shaped aluminum like the side panels, houses the billet aluminum headlight, with a smoked lens that has a circular LED light guide inside which is inspired by the factory Ducati Scrambler headlight. The high exhaust is based on the dedicated Termignoni aftermarket model with a hand-crafted silencer.
At the rear, there’s a modified shock absorber with a lengthened center-to-center distance, made to measure. The factory handlebar was replaced with one from the Ducati Streetfighter. The decorations on one side of the tank have the words Ducati Scrambler hand painted and on the other they emphasize the texture of the Pirelli MT 60 RS tire tread pattern, laser inscribed on nitride rubber and applied within the body of the tank itself.
The SC-Rumble will be introduced to the press on May 22 at the London Bike Shed. Public viewing of the bike will be available May 23 and 24. From there, the bike will travel to the French town of Biarritz where it will participate in the “Wheels and Waves” show scheduled June 11-14. Anyone who would like can come along on the trip, which will be documented daily on the Ducati Scrambler Facebook page www.facebook.com/scramblerducati and the Pirelli Moto Facebook page www.facebook.com/pirellimoto.
Hindle’s full exhaust system and slip-on muffler for Yamaha’s YZF-R3 are now available. The Hindle full system eliminates the entire stock exhaust system for better performance, weight reduction, and improved sound. The front section retails for $449.95, while the muffler is sold separately (muffler prices start at $249.95). Carbon Evolution muffler shown here is $399.95 MSRP.
The Hindle slip-on retains the stock front section but eliminates the stock mid-pipe and muffler. The slip-on adapter ($99.95) and Hindle muffler are sold separately.
Got my Sena bluetooth communicator on and synced to my iPhone, the destination address entered into Waze, and KCRW streaming for my listening pleasure. I pull away from the garage and moments later everything stops transmitting during the switch from Wi-Fi to LTE. Damnit! Pull over, take off the gloves and re-sync. Not a hard task, but an aggravation. An aggravation I no longer suffer because of Nanotips, a liquid touchscreen solution you can apply to almost any material.
I still forget to disable Wi-Fi to avoid the data interruption, but now I don’t have to pull over and remove my gloves. Just get to the next red light and with gloved hand, tappa-tappa-tappa and I’m back enjoying my technology. In other words, Nanotips allows any gloved hand – whether that glove is leather, rubber, neoprene, Kevlar or Gore-Tex – to operate a touchscreen device. It’s technology benefitting technology!
Nanotips for leather, rubber, neoprene, Kevlar and Gore-Tex comes in black. Your gloves are black, right?
How, exactly, the technology works is unknown to us other than regurgitating information from the press material that Nanotips is “formulated using conductive polyamide nano solutions to mimic the touch of the human skin. Each application contains millions of ultra fine nano-particles that connect to form a nano-skin on the surface of your gloves.”
Sounds great. Does it work? It sure does. Since applying Nanotips to a pair of riding gloves I’ve been enjoying the convenience of answering my wife’s text messages and emails from my boss without the hassle of removing my gloves (Must we say these activities are only conducted while stopped? Safety Editor Siahaan thinks we do). Even answering a phone call is nothing more than a gloved-finger tap away.
I applied Nanotips to both left and right index fingers. The left began peeling on day one, but the right did not. Maybe I applied too thick a layer on the left?
Nanotips says to expect up to 30 days of use per application. Wear and weather will certainly play a factor in the solution’s resilience, but Nanotips also claims 30+ applications per bottle. That’s more than two years of gloved touchscreen use. If you’ve more than one pair of riding gloves you’ll obviously burn through more Nanotips quicker, but the convenience it provides for heavy phone users easily justifies the investment.
The application process is simple. Just apply using the included nail polish brush, blow or air dry, and you’re ready to begin using your phone, tablet or any touchscreen device. Nanotips even has an alternative product (Nanotips Blue) for gloves made from fabrics such as cotton, wool or cashmere that dries with nearly 90% transparency.
One 8ml bottle of Nanotips costs $20 plus $3.50 shipping via first class mail for U.S. consumers, while Canadians get it shipped for free. Purchase two or more bottles and they’ll ship your order to the states for free. Right now the Nanotips website is offering 15% off your purchase for taking a brief survey. That’s about $34 and free shipping for two bottles.
One thing’s for certain, it sure beats buying a new pair of gloves for the sole purpose of using your touchscreen device without removing said gloves. While we don’t condone motorcyclists playing Angry Birds while riding (Must we again say these activities are only conducted while stopped? This time it’s Redundancy Editor Duke), we certainly understand the melding of smartphone technology with motorcycling; new model motorcycles from Aprilia to Zero to Yamaha’s R1M come equipped with downloadable apps.
For making it more convenient and affordable to utilize this bike-to-phone technology, we give Nanotips a double-gloved thumbs up!
Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., launched its bLU cRU Video Contest today, where the Grand Prize winner has a chance to take home a 2015 Yamaha YZ250F, WR250F, YZF-R3, or FZ-07. The Second Place Winner will get to choose a Yamaha PW3028 Pressure Washer or a Yamaha EF2000is Generator. The Third Place Winner will receive a $500 credit toward Yamaha apparel or accessories on www.ShopYamaha.com.
To enter the bLU cRU Video Contest, fans need to submit a short video that reflects their unique Yamaha style. Entries will be voted on by fans and friends, and contest participants are encouraged to post and share their videos on social media to get more votes.
Yamaha bLU cRU rider and four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes made a video of his own to encourage fans to enter the contest. Check it out here.
In addition, weekly winners chosen by random drawings will each receive $25 credit toward merchandise on www.bLUcRUswag.com.
[ad-right] As we reported earlier, Victory has two race bikes under development, including an electric bike for the Isle of Man, and the Project 156 bike that is gas powered and will be piloted by CycleWorld’s Don Canet at Pikes Peak. MD just found the above photo of the Project 156 v-twin engine on the […]... Click Here for Article
Team Suzuki Press Office – May 20. The sixth round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship sees Voltcom Crescent Suzuki set to race on home soil this weekend as the team travels to Donington Park for this season’s only race event in the UK. Local rider Alex Lowes, based just 10 minutes from the […]... Click Here for Article
Not a few industry observers expected Korean manufacturers to take a sizable bite of U.S. motorcycle market share, just as they had done in the automobile industry. We speculated about this 10 years ago, ourselves. It didn’t happen, but Korean manufacturer Hyosung promises to introduce several new models over the next two years, including at […]... Click Here for Article
In an effort to raise more awareness for its cruiser models, for a limited time, Triumph is offering consumers a $35 voucher to test ride its Thunderbird Commander, Thunderbird LT, Thunderbird Storm, Rocket Touring, Rocket Roadster, America, America LT and Speedmaster.
“Triumph is well known for its market-leading Modern Classic and Adventure motorcycles. Consumers are generally less aware of the great models in our Cruiser segment,” said Matt Sheahan, COO of Triumph Motorcycles America. “As riding season is upon us in North America, we’re inviting people to give our Cruisers a ride and take home some Triumph gear.”
Scheduling a test ride is a simple process through Triumph’s customer support channels.Triumph offers the industry’s first 24/7 Customer Support line at 888-284-6288 and Live Chat via www.TriumphMotorcycles.com. Riders may click the ‘Test Ride’ link at www.TriumphMotorcycles.com and a representative will be in contact with further scheduling details.
In addition to the Cruisers test ride promotion, Triumph is also expanding its EXTRA program to include more complimentary accessories with the purchase of any Tiger 800, Tiger Explorer and Trophy models. Furthermore, buyers of model-year 2014 and prior Bonneville or Bonneville T100 will have the option of a special 1.99% APR financing with $0 down for 36 months or enjoy a complimentary first service. All promotions are effective immediately and will run through June 30, 2015.
How much is enough? When does a rational person look at what is available in motorcycle showrooms and say, “Okay, that’s enough for me.” Or even more paternalistically, that’s enough for you, too. What is too much? Is there too much?
There are bikes that are too dangerous to ride. I know this to be true. We had a long-term loaner Buellonce, an S2-T, it cracked one of the welds that comprised its right pseudo clip-on bar. It was one hard countersteer or braking maneuver away from no longer having a right clip-on. Bikes are hard to steer without bars. Buell had issued a recall but somehow ours had slipped through the recall cracks. That bike was too dangerous to ride.
Kenny Roberts, Sr. once won the Indy Mile aboard a TZ750-based dirt-track bike that Kel Carruthers and a host of diabolical people from Yamaha’s Diabolical Department had assembled for him. It was, to hear him tell the tale, half the weight and twice the horsepower of the competition. He famously announced post-race that they didn’t pay him enough to ride that thing. The AMA subsequently banned that bike from competition. That bike was too dangerous to ride.
Okay, fair enough, bikes subject to NHTSA recalls to correct a defect that could put you on your head are too dangerous to ride. So is any motorcycle that Yamaha cannot pay Kenny Roberts, Sr. enough to ride. But what about the rest?
A two-part interview of KTM’s president and CEO, Stefan Pierer, by Alan Cathcart in Cycle News, inadvertently broached this issue; the response from Mr. Pierer got my attention.
“But let’s be honest,” said Pierer, “if your Superbike is reaching 200 horsepower or more, it’s impossible to argue that it belongs on the street. It really doesn’t, anymore … As soon as the RC16 is available for customers we will stop with the RC8. The design (of the RC8) is outstanding. I would say it’s still state of the art, and there is nothing else like it. It’s a classic Superbike. But with the increase in safety concerns, I’m afraid bikes like this don’t belong on the street, only on a closed course.”
Let’s not be hasty here, half the American SUV driving-texting latte-sipping populace probably doesn’t belong on public roads either.
Convinced that I must have misunderstood what I had just read, I went back and read it again. Cathcart was asking Pierer about KTM’s future plans, Pierer indicated KTM’s desire to compete in MotoGP, and he has concerns about the bureaucrats in Brussels in his role as a chief executive in the ACEM – think Euro-version of our Motorcycle Industry Council here stateside. Pierer cites the possibility of an EU-wide bike ban. The RC8 will be phased out to be replaced by what they are calling an RC16. The RC16 will not be homologated for the street. Why?
“No, because we at KTM think that a sport bike with such performance doesn’t have any place on the public roads,” Pierer further explained.
I was taken aback by that statement; I have heard and read similar sentiments before, albeit from much different sources. The message did not shock me, the messenger did. The president and CEO of a major motorcycle manufacturer just conceded the wrongheaded rationale of not only the pointyheads in Brussels that would like to ban bikes from European tarmac, but also of all the “safety” zealots here stateside that have tried to restrict or eliminate “race-design motorcycles” from public roadways. That’s a remarkable concession for a highly placed industry insider to make, and a first to my knowledge.
It is interesting on several fronts, not the least of which is that Pierer’s statements echo some of the very same language used by Senator John Danforth in explaining why he introduced his legislation, “The Motorcycle Safety Act of 1987.” In his introduction of the bill, Danforth explained his concerns to the U.S Senate and the American people in a lengthy printed statement;
‘“Mr. President, in 1984, the Japanese began selling what can only be described as “killer motorcycles” in this country. These are racing bikes that were developed for use on the track but they are being driven on our streets … Top speeds for some of these bikes can range up to 162 mph … the marketing of these killer cycles is a lesson in corporate irresponsibility.”’
A little over 30 years later Pierer’s words echo the Senator’s sentiments.
Senator Danforth didn’t emerge from some sort of mystical vision that compelled him to venture forth and propose eliminating performance bikes. The driving force behind the bill’s introduction came in the form of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an organization that represents and advances the interests of its members, namely the insurance industry.
Can you spot the “killer motorcycle”? Careful, looks can be deceiving.
The IIHS has perennially campaigned to have performance bikes eliminated from the marketplace, and it produced a guide for its membership, the insurance companies, to use in establishing blacklists of certain bikes that, in their view, the insurance companies should no longer offer to insure. Having failed to eliminate the bikes, I suppose, the next best thing from the IIHS’ point of view was to eliminate the insurance coverage for them. The rationale was simple enough; no insurance coverage results in no bike loans being secured against loss, and fewer loans means fewer high performance bikes on the road, or so their thinking went.
The IIHS was hoist on its own petard when its own “study”, which was not peer reviewed, was debunked. None other than USC’s Dr. Hugh “Harry” Hurt, the lead researcher in the landmark, “Hurt Report,” was one of the chief critics of the IIHS study’s methodology at the time.
Senator Danforth’s legislation was stillborn, and despite the best efforts of the IIHS, its campaign to eliminate performance bikes has not been successful to date. This is an issue that seems to surface perennially and is likely to continue to do so. Particularly now, as the world gets smaller in a global marketplace that ties our fates closer together, we have not only U.S concerns to take account of, but also the European Union as well.
Which brings us back to Mr. Pierer. He is obviously a thoughtful man and a smart businessman, and KTM is doing very well and manufacturing some world-class bikes. He has legitimate concerns about the future with an eye on Brussels and any forthcoming EU regulations that would affect KTM and their customers. All of this begs the question, how much is enough? And who, if anybody is going to put the brakes on? And should they?
“…we at KTM think that a sport bike with such performance doesn’t have any place on the public roads.”
If Senator Danforth was concerned with sport bikes in the 1980s that could top out at 162 mph, I can only imagine what his modern day counterpart would be like today – apoplectic maybe. While performance standards have continued to rise, performance numbers alone are not the sole measure of the “safety” of any motorcycle. We have witnessed other advances as well, everything from the rise of track days producing more competent riders, more advanced riding gear to protect the overzealous, and maybe most critically, the introduction of a whole host of electronic rider aids to keep errant pilots upright. The increasing prevalence of everything from launch control to bank-sensitive ABS and a choice in engine maps to account for weather and riding conditions results in what, I think, are arguably the safest bikes this world has ever seen.
Set the launch control to “civilized” and, amazingly, you get civilized.
Tell me what in your estimation is more dangerous: a 1972 Kawasaki H2 Mach IV shod with a single front disc, a hinged frame, and tires chiseled from granite? Or the newest iteration, a 2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2 with well over twice the horsepower and enough new age technology to account for every ham-fisted move under power or brakes, upright or heeled over, wet or dry, that mankind can conceive?
A moped is a potentially lethal object in the hands of the irreconcilably idiotic – that’s a given – but a smart rider knows the throttle goes both ways. For every performance advance evident in today’s bikes, rider safety has rapidly progressed as well, and it is engineered into many of today’s machines.
The bottom line from my knothole is this: Full-tilt big-bore sportbikes are only as safe, or unsafe, as the person piloting them. I’m willing to concede that exercising top-shelf sportbikes to anything within their potential on public roads is virtually impossible for most mere mortals in almost all conditions. Not only would it be unwise to do so, it would also be damn near impossible. Track days are best for that sort of WFO exercise.
However, I think we, as riders, have to be careful in lending credence to any claim that such-and-such bikes do not belong on public roads based on nothing more than public perception or fears of future regulations coming down the pike. The arguments that propped up Danforth’s “killer motorcycle” bill back in the ’80s, and the same old tired tune trotted out by the IIHS that promulgated insurance blacklists, were specious back then, and are still without merit today.
Ride hard, be safe, look where you want to go…
About the Author: Chris Kallfelz is an orphaned Irish Catholic German Jew from a broken home with distinctly Buddhist tendencies. He hasn’t got the sense God gave seafood. Nice women seem to like him on occasion, for which he is eternally thankful, and he wrecks cars, badly, which is why bikes make sense. He doesn’t wreck bikes, unless they are on a track in closed course competition, and then all bets are off. He can hold a reasonable dinner conversation, eats with his mouth closed, and quotes Blaise Pascal when he’s not trying to high-side something for a five-dollar trophy. He’s been educated everywhere, and can ride bikes, commercial airliners and main battle tanks.
Thanks to increased factory support, special superstar competitors and new motorcycles destined to contend with Harley-Davidson and Kawasaki for podium appearances, the upcoming Springfield Mile is perhaps one of AMA Pro Flat Track’s most highly anticipated events in recent memory.
Roughly a month ago, news broke that Australian road racing legend and three-time World Superbike champion, Troy Bayliss, would compete in the premier Harley-Davdison GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines division at five AMA Pro Flat Track events during the 2015 season. The first of those much-anticipated races is Memorial Day Weekend’s Springfield Mile, set to take place this Sunday, May 24, at the historic Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ill. Bayliss will ride a Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati Scrambler with the No. 21I. Powered by an air cooled Hypermotard-based 1100cc V-twin, the motorcycle has made steady progress since the Lloyd Brothers began racing it in 2010.
Not only will Bayliss challenge the world’s greatest dirt track racers, but he’ll do so on their home turf. The Springfield Mile is the crown jewel of the AMA Pro Flat Track schedule and each Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines competitor will be licking their chops at the opportunity to show the Aussie what racing in the world’s premier flat track series is really about.
Bayliss and his Lloyd Brothers teammate, Johnny Lewis, will both be trying to put a Ducati on the podium. The iconic Italian manufacturer has shown speed in AMA Pro Flat Track events before, and with extra support and tons of talent pushing the bikes around the track, there are high hopes for a strong showing.
Springfield is also one of the final AMA Pro Flat Track events before the sport makes its debut in the X Games, at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on June 4. In addition to fighting for the podium, the riders who received invites to compete in the immensely popular action sports showcase will certainly be looking to make sure they are ready for the international spotlight.
Defending Grand National Champion Jared Mees is aiming for his third title in four seasons, and the Clio, Mich., resident knows he must perform well at Springfield if he wants to achieve his goal. Last year, he recorded two third place Springfield Mile finishes and he’ll look to improve on those results this go-around aboard his No. 1 Las Vegas Harley-Davidson/Rogers Racing XR750.
The defending champion’s eagerness to perform well extends far beyond wanting to retain the coveted GNC1 No. 1 plate, as Harley-Davidson has agreed to pay $25,000 to the top rider utilizing their equipment in 2015. Mees was the undisputed top Harley-Davidson rider last year, but he’ll have to be at the top of his game again this season if he wants to cash in on Harley-Davidson’s generous bonus fund with a collection of elite riders hot on his tail. Mees is coming into Springfield fourth in GNC1 points.
One of Mees’ biggest competitors, Kenny Coolbeth Jr., is certainly a rider to look out for in 2015, and this weekend at Springfield. The No. 2 Zanotti Racing Harley-Davidson XR750 rider will look to build off his six-point lead in the Harley-Davidson GNC1 presented by Vance & Hines point standings, as well as preserve his impressive run at Springfield.
Coolbeth made headlines last season by winning the second Springfield Mile aboard a Harley-Davidson, ending a streak of four straight Kawasaki victories at the hallowed fairgrounds. He finished second in the first Springfield Mile in 2014. The Morris, Conn., native got off to a hot start this year at the Daytona Flat Track doubleheader, earning third and first place finishes to lead the GNC1 title chase heading into Springfield. Look for him to not only finish high in the running order this weekend at Springfield, but to be in contention for the championship all year.
Coolbeth leads Brandon Robinson in points after two rounds, and Sammy Halbert is another six points back of Robinson. Springfield will see Robinson make his debut on the No. 44 Latus Motors Triumph while Halbert will ride his No. 7 Briggs Auto Kawasaki for the first time.
Robert Pearson rounds out the top five in points coming into Springfield. The rider of the No. 27 KTM already has a pair of top 10s to his credit in 2015.
Brad Baker represents another Harley-Davidson rider gunning for the podium at Springfield. The No. 6 Factory Harley-Davidson pilot had an off year in 2014 by his standards, finishing fifth in points just one season removed from winning the Grand National Championship. He was, however, admittedly hampered by an arm injury early in the season. The Dryad, Wash., native will look to get his momentum back at Springfield after recording fifth and ninth place finishes in the Mile last year, but he’s again recovering from an offseason arm injury incurred at the Superprestigio in Barcelona, Spain. Baker wasn’t 100 percent at Daytona, but still made both main events, so with extra time to heal, he’ll look to be a contender at Springfield.
Flint, Mich., product Bryan Smith will pilot the No. 42 Crosley Brands Kawasaki EX650 at Springfield, and there’s no argument that Smith has been the dominating force on Mile courses over the last several seasons. Smith won three out of five Miles last year and was second to Coolbeth in the other two. He’s sitting 21st after both Daytona rounds, but will look to skyrocket up the point standings in Springfield.
Smith, along with the other Kawasaki competitors in AMA Pro Flat Track’s elite GNC1 class, will benefit from a new contingency program installed by Kawasaki to reward riders competing on their machinery for the 2015 season. The reigning AMA Pro Flat Track Manufacturer of the Year has graciously agreed to post a total of $75,450 in the form of per-race and year-end payouts to Kawasaki riders.
Along with Harley-Davidson and Kawasaki, another prominent manufacturer is making a splash in AMA Pro Flat Track this season. Riders on Yamaha equipment in both the GNC1 and GNC2 classes will benefit from a dramatically increased contingency program by the manufacturer in 2015. A total of $106,400 is up for grabs between both classes for eligible “bLU cRU” riders over the course of the season.
In addition to Yamaha’s increased contingency, the manufacturer will have Cory Texter pilot the new No. 65 Yamaha Motor USA/Memphis Shades Yamaha FZ-07 built into a frame made by dirt track legend Babe DeMay at Springfield for the first time ever.
Cory’s sister, Shayna Texter, will ride a No. 52 Crosley Radio Kawasaki EX650 at Springfield. It’s her second season competing in GNC1 and the first time she’ll use her new National Number on a twin. Cory and Shayna are the first brother and sister to both earn National Numbers.
Bayliss isn’t the only road racer adding crossover appeal to the Springfield Mile. Two-time defending Daytona 200 champion Danny Eslick recently announced he will compete in the Springfield Mile aboard a T&R Racing Harley-Davidson XR750 in GNC1 competition. Eslick has a flat track background, but has enjoyed success during his career as a road racer. He also received a coveted invite to the X Games, giving him added incentive to get up to speed quickly on the dirt.
The GNC2 field includes up-and-comers like Daytona Flat Track winner and current points leader Andrew Luker, who is scheduled to pilot the No. 11Z Kennedy Racing Harley-Davidson this weekend, and Davis Fisher, last year’s GNC2 runner-up. Fisher is set to ride his No. 67M Racing Unlimited Kawasaki.
Whoever emerges victorious in the GNC2 will be a first-time winner at Springfield. AMA Pro Flat Track moved to the thundering twins at the Mile in 2013 with Shayna Texter pulling a sweep that year. Last season, Jarod Vanderkooi dominated both Springfield races. Both riders have since moved up to GNC1, clearing the way for the likes of Luker or Fisher to taste victory. GNC2 rookie Dalton Gauthier sits third in points and is coming off the first podium of his career with a third place showing in Round 2. Fisher is fourth in the standings, three points back of Gauthier and a single point in front of Brandon Wilhelm, who rounds out the top five coming into Springfield.
So far, there are 28 GNC2 riders pre-entered to compete in the Springfield Mile, and this number will only grow as we approach race day on Sunday.
J.R. Addison will look to rebound this season after suffering a crash at Springfield a year ago. The accident left him sidelined for several races but the No. 24F Smith Racing Kawasaki rider appears healthy in 2015 and ready to give it another go.
For tickets and more information on the Springfield Mile, fans are encouraged to call (217) 753-8866 or visit http://www.illinoismda.com/. The entire event will be broadcast live, in high definition and free of charge for fans around the world at www.FansChoice.tv.
Zero Motorcycles today announced it would be lowering the prices of its entire 2015 lineup by $1,350. The price drop is a result of battery costs falling and energy densities increasing at a faster rate than anticipated.
“As leaders in this space we believe it is important to pass on the benefits of improved battery technology and our increased scale to consumers as soon as possible to allow more motorcyclists to experience the thrill of electric,” said Richard Walker, Zero Motorcycles CEO. “We’re not here to do things as they’ve been traditionally done in the motorcycle industry. Making this change mid-season to deliver great value to consumers at industry-leading price points, rather than waiting for 2016, is just the right thing to do.”
Since most distribution partners across the world buy Zero motorcycles based on the US MSRP, Zero says it will be able to pass on the benefit of these newly announced prices to consumers in their local markets. In Europe, these cost reductions will allow Zero to absorb the currency impact of the weakened Euro without raising prices from their current levels.
The new US MSRP for 2015 Model Zero Motorcycles are as follows:
2015 Zero FX
2015 Zero DS
2015 Zero S
2015 Zero SR
*Prices do not include sales tax, destination, freight, set-up, licensing or registration charges. Other charges may apply.
I think this is the first time I’ve been truly afraid of a motorcycle. And I mean fear. The bike is invaluable and has a lot of important history. Cagiva entered Grand Prix racing in 1990 and had to battle against the ultra-rich Japanese manufacturers with seemingly unlimited budgets, in a day when expenses and rider salaries were peaking. A cheap rider was at least a million bucks, and still the small factory with the big heart pushed on and, eventually, against the odds, rose to the winner’s podium. Had finances not restricted the forward progression, a world title might’ve been possible.
This Cagiva V593 belongs to huge motorcycle fan and avid collector, Steve Byrne. The bike holds a spot at Steve’s bar with Andrew Pitt’s world-title-winning Kawasaki ZX-6RR. Steve’s other 18 bikes live in the garage. When he heard that Paul Feeney, the then importer of MV Agusta in Australia, was selling the V593 that Kocinski won the U.S. Grand Prix on at Laguna Seca in 1993, and the Australian GP on in 1994, Steve just had to have it.
From any angle the Cagiva 500 looked better than any 500 in history.
Eddie Lawson gave Cagiva its debut victory on a drying track in the 1991 Hungarian Grand Prix. Lawson left Cagiva before he retired from racing, but other stars were drawn to the Italian team: Randy Mamola, Mat Mladin and Doug Chandler also rode the bike at one stage or another in their careers. But it was the determined and highly talented John Kocinski who gave Cagiva the most champagne, winning at Laguna Seca in what was to be the final grand prix in the USA for 12 long years. After completing the season on the updated V594, John finished the 1994 championship in third position. Sadly that was the end of the line and Cagiva was broke…
Having access to strip a factory 500 would never have happened in 1994. Now we can all admire the incredible engineering.
As the bike gets warmed up by the legendary ex-Mick Doohan-GP-mechanic Dick Smart, my nervous pacing around is picked up by former GP racer Daryl Beattie.
Dick Smart warms the V-4 up prior to the test.
“Just stay relaxed and ride it normally,” he says. “It’ll just feel like a superbike, only faster and lighter. Watch those carbon brakes until they’re up to temp.” Beattie reassures me in that weird way a surgeon reassures you before cutting your chest open with a hacksaw, “Keep an eye on the temperature, too, and watch the power-valves, they seem to be jamming up a little at 9500 rpm.”
The Cagiva V593 accelerated faster than anything the author has ridden, including all of the World Superbikes.
The next minute I’m being pushed down pit lane by Smart. I let the clutch out and the V-4 fires into life. The racer comes out in me almost immediately. I’ve already got my knee down by Turn 2. The first run down the back straight of Queensland Raceway I short shift and load the bike up. I hold the throttle open in third gear to clear it, and after a few coughs the digital tacho suddenly screams past 9500 rpm. I can feel my shoulder joints pulling apart as I shift at 12,500 rpm before grabbing the brakes for Turn 3. They feel just like normal brakes at the moment. They must be cool.
Out of the turn, I feed the throttle on slowly to lean the engine out a little and get through that rough patch at 9000 rpm. Again, the engine clears its four throats and I’m struggling to hold on, let alone keep the front wheel down. Wheelspin, wheelstand, wheelspin, wheelstand. Faark. This thing hammers. I’ve never felt acceleration like it. Ever. Not even on a turbo or a World Superbike or anything.
The V593 was prone to overheating the rear cylinders despite every effort to provide cooling.
I’m cautious through the two left-handers first time around, but I feed it a little on the short straight before Turn 6, just to get a feel for the power delivery. Onto the chute for the first time, the engine coughs again but once it clears, the bike explodes in a surge of acceleration; shifting through the ‘box via the electronic reverse-pattern quickshifter delivers a feeling like no other. Nothing feels like this – no four-stroke could be this exciting. The 500 is amazingly quick.
Daryl Beattie had not ridden a 500 since 1997 but had the back hanging out in no time. These guys never lose it.
“That’s the most fun I’ve had since I retired in 1997,” declared Beattie as he tried to wipe the smile off his face after leaving blackies all over Queensland Raceway on the Cagiva. “As soon as I left pit lane, all the memories of 500 GP came back. Nothing beats a 500. I remember this bike well and always wondered what it would be like to ride. It feels similar engine-wise to the Yamaha I rode in 1994, but it handles better. It’s really sweet and the carbon brakes are just awesome when you haven’t used them for a long time. It feels really good to ride a race bike again. You just can’t beat the way they steer, stop or accelerate. The thing just wants to wheelstand in every gear. Unreal!”
I feel like the Cagiva has knocked 20 years off and I’m 20 and fearless again. I squeeze the Brembo front brake lever at the end of the straight. One finger is all it takes, but I have this picture in my head of the rotors suddenly getting up to temperature and locking the wheel before I can modulate the pressure. But soon I’m trail-braking into corners with confidence and I’ve got the hang of feeding the power on progressively out of the turns. I just can’t believe how much concentration this bike is sapping from me.
The monoblock Brembo calipers are worth a small fortune.
The Dunlop hoops are up to temperature now, and with more confidence in the tires, I’m pushing the Cagiva further and further on its side every lap. But I’m more than aware that I need to stand the bike up as much as possible before opening the throttle. Make no mistake, this ain’t no proddie or 600. Wind it on mid-corner on this thing and I’m going to be flying pretty high.
The steering-head area of the V593’s alloy frame looks to be extremely stiff.
The chassis is ultra-stiff and the bike is so light. You’d really have to have an intimate relationship with the machine and a lot of laps under your belt to decipher confidence-inspiring feedback from it. Once you knew the bike, though, it’d be a brilliant talker. In my short session I’m just relying on my past experience with slick tires and knowing how far to push them at this moderate pace.
The rear Öhlins GP-spec shock is predictably stiff and, to be honest, probably in need of a service after sitting around for so long, especially with my weight on it. The front suspension action is firm but nowhere near what I’d imagined. In fact, the machine is riding the nasty bumps at Queensland Raceway quite well, with the exception of getting air over the bumps at the end of the main straight.
The ultra expensive Ohlins remote reservoir shock sits between the titanium rear expansion chambers.
The session is coming to an end and my dream is almost over, just as I start to get smooth and comfortable. I put in what I feel are a few half-decent laps. Not surprisingly the V593 feels better the faster I go, and on the last lap I do just what Daryl said. I ride it like I’d ride a normal bike running into the turns fast, standing it up and winding it on harder and taking it right through to 13,000 rpm, 1000 rpm short of redline.
The carbon-fiber swingarm is reputed to have cost $100,000 to build in 1994.
On the last lap I feel like I’m detached from the world, like I used to feel when I was on a hot lap and in my ‘groove’ during my racing days. No bike has made me feel like that since I stopped racing, and I don’t think anything else ever will. I think I’m in love. I ride back into the pits and hop off the bike feeling eerily calm and sedate. Steve walks over and hands me a cold beer. Man, this is the best day of my life.
The 1994 Cagiva 500 represented the pinnacle of the Italian firm’s 500cc Grand Prix competitiveness, and all the passion and drive that got them there. Too bad they ran out of money the following season.
The amazing yet temperamental John Kocinski won the Australian Grand Prix on this bike in 1994.
Jeff Ware: It has been said that this was the bike that turned Cagiva from also-rans to almost wins and if you didn’t take the ride in ’94, Cagiva would have pulled the pin. What is your take on that?
John Kocinski: Yes, it is probably true, but a lot of my greatest memories have been when I rode for Cagiva. It was a company of great passion.
JW: When you think back on the V593 and the results, particularly the wins you achieved on the bike, how do you feel?
JK: It is one of my greatest accomplishments to win on a machine that no one else other than Eddie Lawson had won on. It was heartbreaking when Cagiva could not continue in 1995, because we were so close to having a machine that could win a World Championship.
JW: How much of the work, in development terms, was already done when you arrived at the team?
JK: Obviously, there had been work done, but it was far from complete.
JW: What were the strengths and weaknesses of the V593?
JK: The strengths were the agility and steering. The weakness was the powerband.
JW: Was this motorcycle capable of winning the title?
JK: Yes, most definitely.
JW: Were you keen to stay on for 1995 if the team had survived?
JK: Absolutely. I loved the team, the engineers, I had great mechanics. It was just a matter of making some small improvements to the power delivery and handling.
JW: Daryl Beattie said that overall he rates the bike well and that both yourself and Eddie Lawson proved that it is a reasonable motorcycle. But were you guys over-riding to compensate for lack of performance or was the bike really that good?
JK: No matter what machine you ride there are always issues. But definitely in 1994, the machine was the best it had ever been. I think the results say the same.
JW: What did it for you with 500s – the challenge, the acceleration, the adrenaline or the fear?
JK: That’s exactly what does it, I think, for everyone. The challenge, the acceleration, the adrenaline and fear.
The seventh-annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering is in the books, with another record turnout. Although the Carmel Valley temps were cool and skies overcast, a couple thousand of the faithful eyeballed more than 350 machines on the golf course. The featured marques this year were Military Vehicles, Formula 750 roadracers and a variety of Choppers, believe it or don’t.
The guests of honor were former AMA Grand National Champions Mert Lawwill and Gene Romero, who mingled at large and sat for an interview with Quail guru Gordon McCall. A semi-esteemed panel of judges fanned out to scrutinize the variety of categories, which have become more tightly focused each year. Under the direction of headmaster and Chief Judge Somer Hooker, I shared the pleasant chore with fellow scrutineers Craig Vetter, Bryan Fuller and David Edwards in the Custom/Modified division. Glad to report that both craftsmanship and artistry are in bloom across the spectrum.
Master of Ceremonies, fashion maven and chopper book writer Paul d’Orleans honors the memory of Hunter Thompson on a BSA.
Best of Show: John Goldman’s Mondial 125, the bike ridden by Carlo Ubbiali to the World Championship in 1951. The bike was also first place in the Competition On-Road division.
The menu of amenities that Quailites have come to expect were all in place, including the Friday gourmet dinner, the Saturday morning ride, the best catered lunch west of Fresno, optional single-malt scotch, wine and tequila tasting, and free ice cream. Plus live and not-too-loud music. What’s not to like?
So, more or less chronologically, the next four bikes pictured below illustrates the depth of entries at this popular venue. The organizers succeeded in appealing to an expansive continuum of enthusiasts, while keeping the event a relaxed and friendly affair for the entrants, attendees and vendors. Of course the Quail Lodge golf course setting doesn’t hurt either.
A rare 1913 Rex-JAP Brampton Special owned by Douglas McKenzie.
The 1914 FN (Fabrique National) 244cc 2-speed Single from Belgium was on offer at $65,000 from Bator International.
There be giants here? No, it’s a 9/16-scale 1914 Indian racer built by Rick Creese, a partner with Gary Davis at Trackmaster. And yes, it runs.
The 1912 Pope Single, owned by George and Annabelle Pope (kept it in the family!) won both best Antique and the FIVA Preservation Award.
The moto-candy store that is The Quail soon puts first-timers into something of a daze. And even some veterans may often be seen staring at a motorcycle in bafflement, amusement, or some of both. It’s a bit like time travel in both directions.
The tribute to military machines attracted 22 entries. Harley-Davidson and Indian featured prominently, accented by examples from Nimbus, Moto Guzzi, Ducati, Excelsior, Cushman, Royal Enfield and Zundapp.
Linda Migliore’s 1939 BSA M20 is one of 136,000 produced in England before and during World War II.
Dennis Gill’s 750cc BMW-style XA Harley-Davidson is one of the thousands of military models built during the war. Lower production costs favored the V-Twin.
Military honors went to the 1942 BMW R75 Wehrmachtsgespann entered by Ziggy and Lisa Dee.
“Excuse me, sir. Would you like to check your machine gun at the door?”
While some entries are long on novelty, most are nicely fettled examples of their genre, and some show the marks of serious riders who understand the dynamics of riding a motorcycle at its limit. And most builders are glad to answer questions.
The author’s nostalgic favorite (it was his first motorcycle) was Frank Rositani’s 1953 Ariel Square Four. Anything can be a bobber.
Our second favorite bobber was Gene Worth’s ’72 Bultaco Alpina, which demonstrates a fine sense of whimsy.
Jason Len’s Spondon-framed Honda CBX drew plenty of attention in the Custom/Modified class.
Martin Motorworks presented this lean café racer built from a Kawasaki Concours sport-touring rig.
The Confederate Hellcat was another object of curiosity.
And what show worth its salami would be complete without a Ducati chopper?
The subdued treatment is a nice touch on David Asman’s Ghezzi-Brian 1250 ProThunder Moto Guzzi.
Variety is obviously the keynote here. Chances of a boredom attack are mighty slim, in which case there’s the wine-tasting. While a day is just about enough time to take in the entire show, the diligent will find time to revisit the machines of special interest. The ones that draw us back.
Deszo Molnar accepts the Innovation award from Craig Vetter for his own creation, the Molnar G2. A flying motorcycle, and object of the day’s most-asked question, “What the hell is that?” The training wheels retract.
What could be under there? Owner Gregory Beck says it’s a 2009 KTM 690 EX-R.
For another take on the big KTM single, this is Darrell Schneider’s 2013 690 Duke.
Schneider also offered this interpretation of an ’04 Honda CRF250R.
Jim Carducci points out a detail on his Sportster-based SC3 Adventure model.
A nicely formed Ducati Monster as street tracker from A. Earle.
Judges Craig Vetter (right) and David Edwards discuss Jesse Basset’s 1950 Norton Dominator.
The tidy Norton bobber (which sounded great) from The Gasbox in Lakewood, Ohio, took second in Custom/Modified.
Karlee Cobb of Klock Werks Kustom Cycles rides an Indian Scout and lists her job titles as Admin/Customer Service/Racer.
The Quail has evolved to become a stylish showcase that both honors past achievements in the sport and acknowledges the best in contemporary moto-creativity, engineering, craftsmanship and artistry. And to thus encourage its continued development. It does a geezer’s heart good to see some of the work these young folks are turning out. By cracky.
Why wouldn’t these men be smiling? Racer Thad Wolff (left) and prosthesis engineer (and famed dirt-tracker) Mert Lawwill.
Top British award went to racer Danny Sullivan’s 1950 Vincent Black Shadow.
Say, is that a Suzuki X6 Hustler dirt tracker? ‘Tis indeed.
First place in the German class was the 1969 Munch Mammoth, owned by Mitch Talcove.
Top of the chops award went to Dave Shaw’s 1966 Harley FLH.
First place in Custom/Modified was the lovely 1951 Indian Scout by Tony Prust of Analog Motorcycles in Illinois.
Revival Motorcycles of Texas took the Industry Award with their 1997 Ducati Custom J63.
The Quail Motorcycle Gathering has in a few years become the pre-eminent spring meet on California’s central coast, and its future appears to be in capable hands. While the program may not rival similar events in terms of scale, the logistics imposed by limited space and crowd size have worked to ensure that the casual vibe and comfortable atmosphere remain in place.
Neighborhood constraints will likely keep The Quail from becoming a Goodwood West or stateside Motogiro d’Italia, but more corollary features are in the wind. There is talk of a companion event next year at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, just over the hill. Superbike racing more or less originated and was fine-tuned here 40 years ago, so the time may be at hand to salute that mark and maybe do a little racing. Could make a classy complement to the Quail Gathering, don’cha think?
With the AGV AX-8 EVO Naked, the Italian helmet brand is bringing a new look to the street market, one that caters to what it calls “new road-riders generation.” The AX-8 EVO’s shape appears round and featureless, and its ventilation ports are minimal. Its eyeport, however, is huge, and its chinbar tapers sharply from the cheeks to the chin, very similar to a dual-sport or off-road helmet. This isn’t a coincidence; when looking for inspiration for a new sport-touring oriented street helmet, AGV turned to its AX-8 DUAL EVO lid. Essentially, the Naked version strips the visor from the off-road helmet and calls it a day. A simple approach, but the result is this contemporary and modern-looking helmet.
The Naked is constructed from what AGV calls SSL (Super Super Light) layers, consisting of carbon, Kevlar and fiberglass. Three different shells are offered to accommodate sizes ranging from 2XS all the way to 3XL, and though the AX-8 Naked is not Snell certified, it does carry D.O.T. and ECE 22.05 certification. Inside, AGV uses Dri-Lex material, which is both extremely soft to the touch and also wicks away sweat to keep the rider as cool as possible. The interior padding is removable and washable as well. Double D-Ring closures keep the helmet secure to the head.
The AX-8 EVO Naked has the perfect look for a bike like the KTM 1290 Superduke. The shape and contour of the rear of the helmet is shaped nicely as to minimize interference with back protectors in a tuck.
Fit-wise, narrower head shapes will fit best. My round-oval head is on the narrower side and fits relatively well, however, when first donning the helmet each time, my ears fold at the top and I have to stick my finger inside to fit my ears within the pockets. I have noticed a small pressure point on my forehead that materializes after wearing the helmet after a couple hours. Over the course of a day’s ride, I’m breaking for gas or food stops often enough that it’s rarely an issue. According to my handy kitchen scale, my medium AX-8 Naked comes in at 2.02 lbs.
Besides its stylish looks, a big bonus for the AX-8 is its large eyeport. The helmet features a clever molded rubber padding at the bottom edge of the chin bar which, when crouching in a tuck, acts as a shock absorber. Its usefulness is negligible, but even while resting my chin on the tank in a tuck, my vision is not obstructed by the upper limits of the eyeport. Changing shields is easy but does require a flat-head screwdriver (or coin). The screw used to keep the visor in place is a soft metal that chips easily if the screwdriver isn’t seated perfectly before turning.
This is what happens when you try to change the visor on the AX-8 Naked and not seat the screwdriver properly in the screw. The screw chips easily.
Another gripe is its ventilation, which is average, at best. The vents are easily adjustable with gloves on, but I hardly noticed much air flowing through the two brow vents or two exhaust vents. Even the huge chin vent didn’t deliver much air, though I largely attribute this to the foam placed behind the vent to filter dirt or dust particles from being inhaled or ingested by the rider.
The chin vent is impossible to miss and is incredibly simple to operate. However, the foam filter behind it works a little too well and blocks air from reaching a rider.
The biggest surprise I encountered with the helmet is its aerodynamics. Lately I’ve been riding bikes with decent wind protection that has masked the AX-8’s aero shortcomings, but during our More for Less Shootout, aboard machines with no wind protection at all, once traveling upwards of 75 mph I noticed my neck muscles working harder than usual because the AGV wasn’t cutting a fluid hole through the air. Turbulence or buffeting isn’t the issue, it felt as though a very weak invisible passenger was tugging my head backwards. Slowing down or changing my seating position to a more aggressive sportbike stance helped lessen the feeling.
Overall the AX-8 Naked becomes a question of balancing form and function. The build quality is great, and the fit, construction and performance is on par with the rest in AGV’s lineup, which is top notch. Plus – maybe most of all – it looks great, too. If details like aerodynamics and soft visor screws are important to you, then buyers might want to look elsewhere. However, if these issues aren’t critical and the aggressive look is something you dig, fork over $379.95 and you’ll have yourself a nice, premium helmet.
The AX-8 Naked is available in the matte black color seen here and also in a full carbon version ($499.95), visit www.agv.com for more details.
We’ve already reported on the Project 156 ICE powered Pikes Peak racer, which CycleWorld editor Don Canet will pilot at the iconic mountain climb this year under Victory badging, and you may have heard it reported that Victory is also racing the Isle of Man this year with an electric superbike. These projects represent no small […]... Click Here for Article
This Father’s Day, if you like your dad enough to get him something nice, but don’t want to go overboard and break the bank, the $50-$100 category of gift items is the perfect place to shop. Below are 10 items dads are sure to love. Why? Because most of them are tools. And dads love tools.
The SnapJack $50
If dad’s bike is chain driven, hopefully he keeps up with the maintenance. That can be hard to do if he doesn’t have a rear stand or centerstand. Make life easier for him with the SnapJack. Essentially a scissor jack you place under the swingarm, it props the rear of the bike just high enough to spin the back tire and perform simple chain maintenance. It’s technically $49.95, but that’s close enough to our bottom limit that we’ll throw it in.
Humans need water to survive. Duh, right? Well, if your dad is one for long moto-excursions in areas often devoid of support services, he may not have water readily available. Solve this issue with a Camelbak. Fill up the bladder with water, stick the tube under the chinbar and you’ll probably have enough water to last you until your next gas stop. The best part is Camelbaks are convenient for any number of activities, not just motorcycling. The Classic model, shown above, nicely fits within our price threshold. The high-vis yellow is great for motorcyclists, but the Camelbak catalog is filled with dozens upon dozens of other options for the thirsty dad.
If dad’s a do-it-yourself kinda guy then he’ll find satisfaction in balancing his own wheels. Digital retailers sell a version you can buy for roughly 60 bucks and the process is extremely simple, even if you’ve never done it before (here’s a handy tutorial). The only negative I’ve seen with sets this cheap is the axle rod somehow getting bent upon arrival on your doorstep. The solution is simple, however – find a similar diameter rod from a local hardware store and make sure it’s true. Wheel weights are not included, but those are pretty cheap, too. Unfortunately, even the least expensive tire changers are a bit out of the $100 upper price limit, but that would make an excellent gift if your pockets are a little deeper.
If dad has dirtbikes he likes to haul, or sportbikes he takes to the track, or even a cruiser he (gasp!) wants to truck to rallies, he’ll need a ramp to get the bike to/from the ground and the truck. Discount Ramps is a good place to go when looking for your ramp needs, and this 7-foot steel arched ramp is great for most bikes. It can support up to 600 lbs. (claimed, though I’ve loaded heavier bikes on a similar ramp with no issue), and folds in half for easy storage once you’re done. If you want to splurge above the $100 limit for a ramp that doubles as a truck bed extender, take a look at the Ready Ramp.
The warmer summer months are quickly approaching, and with the rise in temperature, dad is going to need some gloves that will flow a lot of air around his digits. The Alpinestars S-MX 2 Air Carbon glove will do just that. Combining a mixture of mesh and leather panels with carbon knuckle protection, no longer does dad have to ride in hot weather with his hands sweating profusely. And don’t worry, if the colorway above is too flashy for your pops, plain black is also available.
When something breaks while out on the road, it’s nice to have a set of tools to attempt a roadside repair. This EconoKit from Cruz Tools is modestly priced and features combination wrenches, an adjustable wrench, hex and torx key sets, six-in-one screwdriver, spark plug sockets, spark plug gap gauge, locking pliers, electrical tape, cable ties, mechanics wire, threadlocker and tire pressure gauge. Available in both metric and standard units, the tool kit comes with a lifetime warranty and is made right here in the U.S. of A.
Say what you will about Harbor Freight, but sometimes they carry some very nifty items like this Haul Master motorcycle dolly. If dad is one of the fortunate ones with too many toys in the garage that need to be moved around regularly, this dolly could come in handy. The dolly sits just 1-¾ inches from the ground and features smooth-rolling swivel casters plus an adjustable sidestand plate to accommodate a variety of motorcycles. It’s rated to hold up to 1250 lbs., and comes powder coated to help resist rust. Regularly $119.99, it’s currently on sale for $79.99.
The Cortech Cascade Soft Shell is a convenient item if dad doesn’t let a cold day hinder his riding plans. This water-resistant, 100% polyester jacket features a fleece lining, two chest pockets and two hand warmer pockets, and is great for wearing underneath a riding jacket. Then, once at the destination, he can wear the Cascade alone and not signal to the world he’s a motorcycle rider.
For the adventurous dad who likes to pack the panniers full and get lost with his buds for days on end, the Ortlieb Dry Bag Q might be worth looking into. Available in a number of sizes, the 24-liter version featured here is the smallest and only one within our price limits. It’s waterproof, comes with a padded shoulder strap and is made in Germany. What makes the Ortlieb special is the fact the closure rolls up along the length of the bag instead of from the top like many others. This means dad can have access to the pair of underwear he foolishly packed at the bottom of the bag without having to unravel the top and empty the bag’s contents. In 2010, we sampled some Ortlieb gear during a wet ride heading back from Northern California and were thoroughly impressed.
In case you missed our recent Top 10 list of overlooked safety tips, the second most important item on that list is monitoring tire pressure. And while there are definitely cheaper tire pressure gauges available, this Motion Pro digital gauge is a big step up from the crummy pen-style gauge dad’s been stuffing in his toolbox since the ’90s. Accurate to +/- 0.6 PSI, the MP gauge gives a continuous pressure reading without the need to reset when activating the bleed valve. The display features large, backlit numbers for easy reading even in low light, and the 18-inch long hose comes equipped with dual swivels and a brass ball-type chuck. Motion Pro says the included battery is good for approximately 1000 tests, and there’s an auto-off feature to help extend battery life. The gauge even comes with a one-year warranty.
My recent purchase of a new Toyota Tacoma (not merely “new to me” and certainly not a just-on-the-cusp-of-being-a-beater-at-the-time-of-purchase like all my previous trucks) got me noodling about the importance of enthusiasts. While researching my purchase, I haunted the forums of the models I was considering, and before the ink was fully dry on the contract to siphon money from my bank account for the foreseeable future (and beyond), I was on several Tacoma sites seeking information and links to items that would make my truck better at the bike hauling duties for which it was being conscripted. In addition to finding the information I sought, I was reminded, again, about the importance of enthusiasts to niche activities.
Who else but an enthusiast would, thanks to a miscommunication, sit in an interstate parking lot for 45 minutes, waiting for someone he didn’t know just to make this stranger’s life easier the next day by selling him a hand-built accessory – a motorcycle tie-down bar, to be exact. He not only waited for me to arrive, but he also seemed completely unbothered by the waiting. So, we stood there, in a parking lot, with commuters roaring by, and talked about trucks and the bikes we’d hauled in them and riding and camping and many topics motorsports related. Another 45 minutes passed in this revelry before I was jolted back to reality by a WTF text from my wife – long-suffering from the black hole of motorcycling combined with my tenuous relationship with space and time.
A motorcycle tie-down bar, built by an enthusiast for enthusiasts.
But back to enthusiasts – which is what I was mulling over as I drove home that night:
An almost indescribable something separates being a motorcyclist from being a motorcycle enthusiast. Odds are that, if you’re reading this, you’re a motorcyclist – or at least bike curious. Being a motorcyclist is easy, you buy a motorcycle and ride it. Getting a license and wearing proper gear move you up the food chain of motorcyclists, but there’s a chasm of difference between your average weekend warrior and an enthusiast.
Enthusiasts, like motorcycles or humans, for that matter, come in many shapes and sizes, but they usually share a few key features. First, they have an almost unhealthy interest in motorcycling – sometimes to the exclusion of just about everything else. (Just ask their loved ones.) They often also devote much of that obsessive attention to a particular area of motorcycling. You’ve got your racing junkies who can tell you which Phillip Island race Schwantz highsided himself out of second place on the penultimate lap, following an amazing come-from-behind charge (which set the fastest lap of the race) to catch the lead trio of Doohan, Rainey, and Gardner (the eventual winner, who was riding with his lower bodywork dangling loose after a near crash). (September 1990, though this video doesn’t capture the charge from behind or the hugeness of the high side the way camera angle on the U.S. broadcast did.) Or perhaps their specialty is a particular model of bike. Or a certain era of motorcycles. Or dirt. Or touring. Or the best motorcycle roads in a section of the country.
Spot a problem: Tacoma tailgates tend to bend under the load of motorcycles. Design a solution: A couple of guys with a shop in Maryland build steel tailgate skins.
They are fonts of (usually) accurate information and love to share it – not in the blowhard way of self-aggrandization. Rather, these people just ooze information – because, as the cliché states, information wants to be free. So, naturally, others tend to seek them out. These enthusiasts are the people that internet forums were made for. In the past, only local riders would benefit from their knowledge base. Now, they have the platform to dispense and collect even more of that important data. It’s good to know that they can now, finally garner the acclaim they deserve for helping so many – just for the joy of doing so.
Let’s not forget the inventor enthusiasts. They take a need – either real or imagined – and create a way to resolve it. These are the guys who saw GSX-R engines in half, trying to build the ultimate Battle of the Twins bike or graft multiple dirtbike engines into a sidehack and take it to Bonneville in search of records if not outright speed. They are also responsible for some real innovation in all areas of motorcycling.
Still, a special kind of madness is required for entry into the ranks of enthusiasts. You’ll find that, when attending moto-gatherings, they tend to latch on to each other like magnets in a tool box. Sparks can fly as they riff off of each other, like seasoned jam band musicians. These are the folks you’ll find starting an aftermarket company or toiling away after hours in the shop that they wrench in during the business day or working long hours in a manufacturer’s development and testing department.
The Britten may be the ultimate enthusiast creation.
Without enthusiasts, there would be no aftermarket, no organized rides or rallies, no forums for like-minded riders to gather electronically. There would be no magazines or web publications, like MO. (We’ve gotta be enthusiasts because it certainly isn’t the money that keeps us tapping away. Not that I’m complaining, boss.) There would be no new models constantly being updated by the OEMs. Enthusiasts are the nucleus around which all riders orbit. We clump together to form the various molecules of the niches within our niche, and some even grow to become full-fledged segments or categories of motorcycles and motorcycling. Simply put, enthusiasts are to motorcycling what carbon is to life. One is the basis of the other.