Vespa LX 150
Vespa, the wasp-like icon of Italian mobility, was originally designed by Corradino D'Ascanio to meet the personal transportation needs of the people of Italy in the years following the Second World War.
Those in the market for stylish, big-bore baggers will have a good deal of whisker scratching to do in 2008. Just as the touring demographic is expanding, so are its options. Hot on the tailpipes of the Victory Vision's intergalactic funk come a new machine as disparate in their styling as their origins. For the metrically inclined, there is a powerful tourer with classic good looks from a Japanese manufacturing titan.
As I was riding down Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, which joins the central California's El Camino Real (aka US 101) with the Cabrillo Highway (aka California State Route 1), I suddenly realized I had forgotten I was on a motorcycle.
The name Husqvarna was ushered into the American motorcycling vernacular in the 1960s with the Swedish manufacturers' exotic machines serving as ambassadors for the freshly imported sport of motocross. The marque (renowned for proudly displaying its nation's flag) was sold to Italian Cagiva in 1986. Thankfully, the new owners maintained Husqvarna's revered off-road presence, launching an equally formidable assault on the burgeoning arena of supermoto.
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.
No neutral observer of the titanic on-track battles and off-track spats between Max Biaggi and Valentino Rossi can fail to regard Biaggi as a genuine superstar—a man who has displayed skill and courage in garnering 42 Grand Prix race victories, four successive 250cc GP world titles, and three runner-up slots in the MotoGP premier class series.
Harley's influential Super Glide began life in 1971 as the result of Willie G. Davidson's Frankensteinian grafting of the Sportster's slinky front end to the muscular frame and powertrain of the Electra Glide. Willie G's chopper-inspired cut-and-paste resulted in the birth of the (seemingly) oxymoronic “factory-custom” genre. For customers looking for a trick ride with a factory warranty and without a hefty aftermarket accessory tab, the Super Glide hammered a persuasive power chord that is still ringing throughout the industry.
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.
Tucked in behind the windscreen of the NCR Millona One Shot, rapidly reeling in blurring pavement on the steep banking of Fontana's California Speedway, my peripheral vision caught the flashing red shift indicator light. Having not counted the shifts and traveling at this speed, I assumed all the available gears had been exhausted. Out of curiosity, I chopped the throttle for a millisecond and tapped the shifter. My inquisitiveness revealed that sixth gear was still virgin territory.
Phoenix-based Bourget's Bike Works has elevated the oft-derided three-wheeled genre through intelligent engineering, original design, and a fastidious attention to detail.
In ancient Rome, the Cathedrals of Racing were not just Circus Maximus and the Coliseum; there was also the Hippodrome of Milan. As many as twelve chariots, drawn by four horses apiece, would careen around the immense stadium for the pleasure of both Caesar and the local citizenship tifose. It was a dangerous sport and arguably the origin of the Italians' great passion for all things racing.
The Harley-Davidson Sportster hit the Big Five-O this year, and the senior-most Harley nameplate is showing its age. Graying and sedate compared to the big Twin-Cam 96 powered studs roaring out of Milwaukee these days, the middle-aged Sporty has been in need of a wardrobe consultant and a handful of Viagra for some time. Fortunately, the brooding, black-clad Nightster has swaggered into the Sportster's Golden Jubilee, fashionably late and looking for trouble.
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.
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.