As dated as the air-cooled boxer twin motor may seem to the unconverted, BMW certainly feels there's a bit more that can be squeezed out of the configuration it debuted in the 1920s, even as we settle into the 21st century. Certainly, no one can argue that BMW hasn't successfully updated the concept. As tuned for the new R 1200 R upright Roadster, the flat twin now boasts four valves per cylinder, electronic fuel injection and 1170cc.
Buell has an enviable skill of making the most of limited resources. The company clearly isn't set to make each machine completely unique and independent, so they carefully peruse the parts bin to come up with something "new" and interesting. Case in point is the Lightning Super TT, a streetfighter/supermoto hybrid that delivers much more than you might expect at first consideration.
Think of Victory Motorcycles and lean, flashy cruisers immediately leap to mind. The “other” American motorcycle company has been diligently carving out its identity since 1997 by providing forward-looking alternatives to the perceived stodginess of its Milwaukee-bred competition. Bold graphics, gleaming chrome flanks and the towering silhouettes of Arlen and Cory Ness lending the company line a bit of their bold custom DNA have become hallmarks of the Victory brand.
Chalk one up for the power of the Internet. After learning I'd be the lucky long term tester of a 2007 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14, I immediately logged on to the manufacturer's website to become better acquainted with my options before embarking upon what will hopefully be a beautiful relationship with the “it” bike of speed fanatics everywhere. Months ago, I enjoyed quality time with a “Passion Red” 2006 ZX-14, which led me to wonder what sort of styling cues might befit its extraordinary performance capabilities.
Suzuki's GSX-R lineup changed the world upon its debut. Well, the motorcycling world anyway. Launched (literally) in 1985/86, the first year saw the debut of a blue-and-white 750cc machine. Radically different from anything up until then, it matched a stunningly light weight with a high horsepower engine and a racer's ergonomics. In 1987, Suzuki brought forth a sibling--the 1100cc version complete with electronic anti-dive suspension and even more power.
For two of our recent off-road tests--2007 Yamaha WRs (April/May 2007 issue) and 2008 Kawasaki KLR650 (in our August/September 2007 issue)--we were outfitted with Shift Racing off-road apparel.
Well, this one almost slipped by us. When Kawasaki announced the new-for-'07 Vulcan 900 Custom, it's safe to say that there wasn't a staff-wide arm wrestling sudden-death tournament to determine who got to ride it first. But, at Kawasaki's urging that I was really missing something, I skeptically agreed to give the 900 Custom a shot. Really, how exciting could a sub-liter metric cruiser be?
HONDA'S ACCESSORY DEPARTMENT CREATES A BAGGER
When presented with the Honda Genuine Accessories bagger version of the new-for-'07 Shadow Spirit 750 C2, I will admit I wasn't all that excited. Every time I've gotten on a touring bike it seemed too big, too heavy, and a bit unwieldy. At the same time, this mini-bagger didn't seem too big when I sat on it, and I certainly wasn't concerned about it being too powerful, so I wasn't sure what to expect. As it turned out, my rides on the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom reminded me that an open mind is a good thing.
I can admit it without apology--I love the look of the Harley-Davidson springer front suspension. When it comes to establishing a retro styling for a motorcycle, a pair of external springs in the vicinity of the steering stem is tough to beat. Never mind that Harley rediscovered the springer in 1988 after a 40-year hiatus; the exploitatively mechanical front suspension has tremendous nostalgia-invoking power.
Naked SportBike, All Dressed Up
Does it surprise one for a moment that the champion of streetfighters comes from the country that originated hooliganism? That English heritage dates back to the 19th century, and is both a mark and a badge. While we decidedly pass on the destructive behavior, getting a little rowdy with the throttle inevitably seems to come with the territory when riding this particular high-performance motorcycle.
For whatever reasons you choose to believe, the Japanese cannot (or will not) compete with Harley-Davidson when it comes to building a cruiser. If you demand the raw experience of an air-cooled Harley, you will forever be disappointed in metric cruisers.
I had decided to ride the middleweight Suzuki Gixxer once again on the street to prove to myself that my first impression was correct: This machine is as close to the perfect sport bike as it is possible to get. Well, for now, anyway.
The venerable P-51 Mustang fighter plane represents one of the most strikingly recognizable physiques in aviation. The single-seat warbird that played a crucial role in WWII has been honored in countless films and written histories. When Tom Hicks of Southern California Motorcycles decided to commemorate the Air Force's winged horse with a tribute bike, he didn't have far to look for inspiration.