A common observation our test riders have when getting off the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 is that the long-legged, big-hearted beast would make an outstanding platform for a high-velocity, long-distance sport touring steed. Clearly, enthusiasts in Kawasaki's engineering and marketing departments had the same idea. Thus, we are presented with the 2008 Kawasaki Concours 14.
The mid-1970s was a cruel era for Honda streetbike enthusiasts. A lack of captivating suspects in the showroom lineup had admirers of the engineering giant wistfully twisting the throttles of past glories. The powerhouse Honda CB750 Four had broken ground on a number of design fronts, but the original superbike was an aging child of the sixties. By late 1976, the once mighty roar of Honda's innovative motorcycle engineering department had been reduced to a muffled gust—at least that was the view from the street.
Moto Guzzi is once more taking the plunge into the fully faired sport touring market with the new Norge 1200. Powered by Guzzi's traditional transversely mounted air-cooled, two-valve, pushrod motor, the 1133cc Norge is a grand touring bike, with the expected accoutrements—a 6-speed transmission with shaft drive, 6-gallon fuel tank, electronically adjustable windshield, ABS and dual saddlebags.
While rumors of a sagging California real estate market abound in home sales reports, you won't find evidence of a downturn in Fabian Terracciano's garage. The Antelope Valley realtor who helped renowned designer and fabricator Mike Stafford of MGS Custom Bikes in Lancaster close the deal on his new home is the proud owner of one of Stafford's most mesmerizing creations: the lean, aqueous, orange Fabian chopper.
Seasoned riders will remember the Cushman scooters that inexpensively transported people and cargo from the 1930s until the mid-'60s. Yamaha has tapped the spirit of the Cushman for its all-new 2007 C3, which is something of a replacement for the best-selling Zuma scooter, as the friendly two-stroke has fallen victim to EPA emissions regulations. Christened the C3 (cargo cubed) due to its nine gallons of cubic storage space, the scooter is powered by a fuel-injected, three-valve, SOHC, air-cooled 49cc motor.
Harley-Davidson fired a 1340cc silver bullet into the marketplace when it introduced the Softail Fat Boy in 1990. Crafted as a high-caliber response to the low-cost Japanese imports that swamped the U.S. market, the imposing “Gray Ghost”—with its metallic paint, winged USAF-inspired tank logo and solid disc wheels—made a muscular and unapologetically American statement. It helped Harley-Davidson recapture the sales leader mantle in the 750cc-and-up heavyweight division.
Several years ago, the motorcycling ether was finely misted with intriguing rumors of a man in Oregon embarking on the daunting task of creating a new American motorcycle. Industry press and curious enthusiasts ruminated on what the machine might be.
As with all bikes manufactured since the dawn of motorcycling history, Kawasaki's new Ninja ZX-14 accelerates when the rider applies throttle. However, unlike any mass-produced bike before it, the ZX-14 produces horsepower that has been measured within a few clicks of the 200 mark when ram air is in effect, essentially making it the fastest motorcycle on the market, at the moment.
As a well-scrubbed youth in the 1950s, Willie G. Davidson, grandson of Motor Company co-founder William A. Davidson, headed west from Wisconsin to attend the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. Out on the west coast, the sun was rising on the world of motorcycle customizing, with men like Ed Roth and Von Dutch on the crest of the new wave. The impact of the emergent custom scene would linger in Davidson's sketchbook as he joined Harley-Davidson's design department in 1963.
With motocrossers' designs in a maturation phase, the big changes in the dirt are happening off the closed courses. These three bikes reflect that reality.
Husqvarna's departure to Italy in 1986 was a blow to devotees of Swedish motorcycles. The last major marque had departed the Scandinavian country, leaving a painful void. Seizing an opportunity, many of the native Husqvarna engineers who were left behind, aspired to preserve Sweden's position as an active player in the off-road motorcycle manufacturing game. Husaberg was founded in 1987 and, a year later, the first of many competition-worthy four-strokes was introduced to an eager off-road community.
“We lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies,” thus spake Jack Kerouac in 1957's On the Road. That same year, Harley-Davidson gave pilgrims a soon-to-be-classic motorcycle to lean forward on—the venerable Sportster, which celebrates its golden jubilee in 2007 with a 2,000-run Limited Edition 1200cc tribute. A serialized nameplate and a gold badge on the tank are among many touches that commemorate Harley's versatile classic.