Fire up the radial-valve 998cc 4-cylinder motor of the MV Agusta F4 Tamburini (MT4), and you will know that this masterpiece of design, bristling with technological innovation, must be Italian.
Since the reintroduction of Triumph motorcycles in the mid-1980s, the English motorcycle manufacturer has continued to make pragmatic, measured movement forward with its motorcycle model lineup. Its engines have grown gradually larger and more powerful, the styling slowly has become more modern, and sales figures have continued to climb. Triumph built its loyal fan base with reliable, enjoyable motorcycles, but it also established a reputation for having a relatively conservative nature.
While the Japanese manufacturers set superbike standards with lightweight, high-horsepower production motorcycles showcasing futuristic technology developed on the racetrack, Italian bike builders created a signature niche with handmade, race-inspired motorcycles that fit like exquisitely tailored suits. But German BMW long scoffed at the crotch rocket tradition, declining to engage in such two-wheeled games. Until now. BMW has finally entered the high-speed fray with the introduction of its new K 1200 S.
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.
In stock trim, Yamaha's fire-breathing R1 is an astoundingly capable machine. However, after some detailed modifications from Kyle Racing, this particular R1 has been taken to an even higher level. (Click image to enlarge)
World SBK Tires
Pirelli, the global manufacturer based in Italy, is the world's sixth largest tire company and has a historical presence in all areas of the tire market, with particularly strong leadership in the high-performance automotive sector.
Few motorcycles can claim a longer life span or more loyal following than Honda's 30-year-old flagship tourer, the Gold Wing. As I give the 2005 Honda Gold Wing a stationary once over, it becomes rapidly apparent that the fit and finish of the machine is first rate.
David Uhl is the name by which we might have known Norman Rockwell, if Rockwell had painted motorcycles. Based in Colorado, Uhl is one of only three painters licensed by Harley-Davidson. He started off creating T-shirt art for the company, but six years ago he created an oil painting that blew away H-D officials and thus, found his new niche. Specializing in vintage scenes, Uhl combs through H-D's archives of old photographs and recreates them in oil on linen canvas (sold as limited edition canvas giclée prints). “I'm drawn to the older stuff, it has more character,” Uhl says.
When the powers-that-be in Tinseltown are presented with a talented, yet unusual thespian who doesn't fit their idea of a leading man or sex symbol, they are quick to categorize him with the ingratiatingly backhanded label of “character actor.” However, with the fickle history of movies as proof, it is quite often the character actors who leave an indelible performance etched in celluloid, while the stars they supported have long since withered from memory in ephemeral wisps of stardom.