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.
Yamaha has launched another industry first on the FJR1300AE, its excellent supersport-tourer. A computer-operated clutch with electronic shift actuators that entirely eliminate the clutch lever means that the electric-shift five-speed transmission can make ultra-smooth gear changes using either the left bar-mounted paddles or the traditional foot-operated lever.
It may seem naive to assume truth in advertising, but MV Agusta's description of its bikes as “contemporary motorcycle art” can be regarded as reliable: Its F4 1000 Tamburini—named for Massimo Tamburini, the designer of watershed sportbikes such as the Ducati 916—might be the most technologically advanced motorcycle available today.
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.
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.
The tangerine red Ducati Monster S2R parked in front of a small café in the hills outside Fermignano, Italy, quickly attracted the admiration of two stout, elderly men. One of them furrowed his brow in deep concentration, carefully choosing words from his charming economy of English. “In America, Harley-Davidson is patriotism; in Italy, Ducati is religion.” That elegantly encapsulated the reverence with which Italians regard Ducatis, an esteem that verges on the sacrosanct.