Cycle World2 min read
India Rising
It was quite a first editorial meeting in May of 1999, a room full of highly experienced Cycle World staff, and wondering what job I would end up with on my first issue. I had visions of a Honda RC-45 or Yamaha YZF-R7 test. Strangely, my debut riding
Cycle World1 min read
Being There
The dream, I suppose, would have been to thunder up the Coast Highway and arrive at the Quail Motorcycle Gathering on some glorious beast such as a Brough Superior or a Black Shadow. Alas, we were not astride one of those legendary bikes because, wel
Cycle World4 min read
Lost Weight, Found Performance
Major elements of the motorcycle—chassis, engine, fork, wheels and tires—have become steadily lighter. This is not from substitution of expensive exotic materials such as titanium and carbon fiber, but because improved manufacturing technologies now
Cycle World3 min read
Tough And Pure
Stainless-steel alloys are today found on motorcycles mainly in the form of exhaust valves and exhaust systems. So well-adapted to their purpose have these alloys become that there is no longer even a memory of the exhaust-valve problems that plagued
Cycle World3 min read
Arrow Of Change
In 1977 I knew when it was last call in the bars two miles away, for I could hear that musical three-cylinder sound of Kawasaki H1s and H2s upshifting away into the night. Today, four decades later, the sound has defaulted to Harley-Davidson Sportste
Cycle World3 min read
The Clutch
Unlike steam or electric powerplants, piston internal combustion engines cannot produce torque from zero rpm. That means they must first be started, and only then gradually connected—“clutched”—to the load. Although 98 percent of new U.S. autos have
Cycle World5 min read
Xross Generational Racing
Billows of smoke drift across the track, plumes soon brought to life and given color by the yellow sparks dragging parts as 40-year-old air-cooled superbikes rip some of the finest tarmac in the world. The race to Turn 1 is on, and yet I can’t see a
Cycle World9 min read
For approximately the past decade, Editor Mark Hoyer has been telling me, “We’ve got to get you to the Quail.” His tone of voice always reminds me of one of those worldly college guys telling his naive and innocent freshman roommate, “We’ve just gott
Cycle World6 min read
Opposed Twins
It wouldn’t be out of the question to think that the Kawasaki W800 Café would trounce the Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 in a head-to-head retro-bike comparison. The manufacturing giant from Kobe has, after all, built rockets, helicopters, bullet t
Cycle World3 min read
Burning Rubber
Although it’s hard to tell by looking at them, those black rubber hoops that your motorcycle rolls on have evolved dramatically in the past decade. And they have to: Faster bikes with more power, complex rider aids and ever-improving suspension and b
Cycle World8 min read
Dr. Robin Tuluie
“News of Rob”—it was always that, like pings from a satellite gone out of our orbit, sending snaps from other planets. The first news of Robin Tuluie reached our San Francisco café racer club—the Roadholders—in 1986, before we’d actually met him: som
Cycle World6 min read
When Racing Was King
Things were certainly different in Japan back in 1988. The country’s economy was shooting skyward much like the rev limits of these 250cc sportbikes. Motorcycles were still the primary form of personal transportation for the majority of the populatio
Cycle World6 min read
Four billion years ago, a Ural sidecar rig rolled out of the primordial soup and set to lurching about the world, seeking adventure and bears and vodka and whatever the hell else Russian hacks survive upon. Or maybe it was 5 billion years. No one kno
Cycle World3 min read
Mark Blackwell
Mark Blackwell doesn’t want to talk about the past. The honors stretch back some 40 years and his trophy case is filled to the brim, but his primary focus these days is on the future. Namely, the future of motorcycling. Blackwell was a leading rider
Cycle World2 min read
Rise Of Icons
I’ve always contended that if a motorcycle hasn’t run for at least 25 years, how do you know it’s any good? And then I realized because I was waiting so long to buy, I was often paying too much. The idea is to buy when a bike is just “used,” not yet
Cycle World4 min read
When The Engine Starts
I bought a terrible rigid-framed BSA D1 Bantam for $140 in 1959. Insuring and registering anything as offensive to good order as a motorcycle in those days required that I enter the “assigned risk pool.” I took the subway there and I stood in one of
Cycle World4 min read
From The Foundry
Iron is an element, and steel is an alloy of iron with a very small amount of carbon. In practical terms, cast-iron came to mean a combination of iron with so much carbon that most of it is present as inclusions of free, flaky graphite. An early—and
Cycle World3 min read
The First Superbike
The present era of high-power, multi-cylinder superbikes began with Honda’s four-cylinder CB750 of 1969. It was a natural in the marketplace because the company had invested nine years in international Grand Prix roadracing to make Honda a household
Cycle World3 min read
Under Pressure
It is a visceral pleasure to examine a piston from a modern high-performance motorcycle engine such as Ducati’s V4 R. This is because it is the flow of stress that defines shape, just as the smooth flow of air gives grace to an engine’s intake ports.
Cycle World5 min read
Flat Cool Track Bred
Purity and honesty are what make flat-track motorcycles so appealing. They are beautiful, but not decorative. Purpose drives design, and to strive for perfection in this, only the necessary parts remain. Flat-track bikes are also just damned American
Cycle World6 min read
Echoes Of Dakar
What does it say about us that as much as we strive to live in civilization, we increasingly buy motorcycles built to escape it? Well, everybody loves a vacation, right? Up to now, there have been lots of ADV bikes built that are pretty good on vacat
Cycle World7 min read
Balance Of Power
All we’ve ever wanted is more horsepower and greater lean angles. Our desire led manufacturers down a path of producing tire-scorching production literbikes, MotoGP race replicas, and homologation-special superbikes—all of which are available to anyo
Cycle World4 min read
Magic Metal
In times past, a walk along Daytona’s pit lane during practice was a feast for the eyes, and one of the major attractions was the light-weight magnesium parts on factory bikes. My own home-built Kawasaki H2-R 750 had only the prosaic gray cast-alumin
Cycle World5 min read
Past Forward
What if you held a retro party… and nobody came? In 2019, that’s very close to being a ridiculous question. Right now, the retro party is in full swing and everybody from BMW to Yamaha has slipped a ’70s-style dress over their modern-as-tomorrow unde
Cycle World3 min read
The Stack
Single-shock rear suspensions are near-universal today. Traditional twin-shock setups are still seen, but exist mainly for reasons of retro style. When the era of longer rear-suspension travel arrived in 1974, it made the best sense to implement it w
Cycle World11 min read
Four Freedoms
On January 6, 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave the State of the Union Address citing four essential freedoms. Each point was punctuated with “everywhere” or “anywhere in the world.” While these four have to do with basic human rights, as I gazed
Cycle World6 min read
Thousand Mile Stare
Is it strange that the Baja 1000 was first conquered by the 1962 Honda CL72, a 250cc twin scrambler also known as a Dream? It wasn’t much of a dirt bike, but then again nothing built back then was. But Triumph racing legend Bud Ekins suggested riding
Cycle World7 min read
V4 R
It’s true that MotoGP represents the sport’s premier stage, with prototype works machines that showcase the pinnacle of two-wheeled performance, but production-based superbike competition is the conduit through which cutting-edge innovation translate
Cycle World3 min read
Helmet Protection Takes A Turn
Mike Tyson understood how the human brain works. When the lethal second half of the former world heavyweight boxing champion’s trademark combination—right hook to the body, right uppercut to the jaw—hit home, the powerful punch often rendered the rec
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