When one has the resources of Lockhart Phillips USA at his disposal, he can be certain of getting precisely the motorcycle he desires. Such is the case with Wendell Phillips' Ducati ST4R, a tour de force of supersport touring customization.
In 1953 the Kronreif, Trunkenpolz, Mattighofen Motorcycle Company entered their first racing activities, the fifth running of the Gaisberg competition, and finished with first, second and third place honors. Fifty years later, KTM—as the manufacturer is now known—has emerged as a modern builder of high-quality, reliable, exceptionally well-engineered motocross, enduro and supermoto machines. They are also the motorcycle of choice by the majority of the two-wheeled field in the Paris/Dakar Rally, taking top honors the last few years in the world's ultimate endurance race.
What does the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R have in common with Spinal Tap? Although clearly not a motorcycle numbers man in the purest sense, Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap clearly understood that more really can be much more. When he said, “If we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do? [We] put it up to eleven.” he could well have been talking about Kawasaki's new Ninja ZX-10R, such is the awesome capability of this year's new, more refined machine.
How brilliantly audacious for legendary Italian manufacturer Benelli, resuscitated from the brink of dissolution just a few years ago, to blast back onto the scene with an all-new machine bearing the sinfully appropriate TNT nomenclature. It is a bold statement born from a company that, since its inception in 1911, has endured a tale of exalted success and melancholic near ruin.
In 1911, the widow “Mama” Theresa Benelli gambled the family assets on the Benelli Garage, a modest Pesaro workshop that she hoped would marshal the talents of her six sons repairing automobiles, motorcycles and quaintly enough, firearms. Through the 1920s, the Bros. Benelli were famous for building and racing motorcycles. By the 30s, Benelli had ascended to the Italian Pentarchia (the big five of the bike industry) along with Garelli, Moto Guzzi, Gilera and Bianchi.
Liter-sized superbikes have been measured in recent years by the standards of Yamaha's awe-inspiring R1. Fast and supremely capable, the Graves Motorsports-fettled machine continues to dominate the AMA Superstock class with only minimal upgrades. Yamaha has now seen fit to produce a special, limited-edition (LE) version of the bike that is packed with premium components.
A funny thing happened to me on the way to the racetrack, or so it goes. Recently, on my way to Thunderhill Park Raceway in Northern California, I decided to visit the Monterey Peninsula and say hello to my friend Dan Kyle of Kyle Racing Engines. In a conversation about what's new, Dan showed me the daily ride he's using to get back and forth between home and shop. At first look, in the dark confines of the shop, I thought it was merely a cleaned up Kawasaki ZX-10.
We all fantasize about creating the ultimate bike, one that combines the improbable ideas we dream up during commutes, long flights, or while lying on a beach. For most of us these chimeras remain unrealized, but occasionally someone surfaces with the drive, determination, and—above all—the resources to build a dreambike.
If the old racing adage, “what wins on Sunday sells on Monday,” carries any truth, there must have been a lot of foot traffic in Honda dealers this year. Riding the CRF450R, Honda rider Ricky Carmichael did the unthinkable, winning every race of the 2004 AMA National Motocross Championship—a perfect season. Anyone who knows the level of talent and the caliber of machines that line up at the starting gate each weekend at those races understands the statement Honda has made with their race-bred 450cc 4-stroke.