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Cycle World

Cycle World Issue 2 - 18

America's leading motorcycle magazine since its inception in 1962, Cycle World covers all aspects of the two-wheel universe. From dirt-slingin', double-jumping motocrossers to wind-cheating, 200-mph roadracers, Team CW brings experience, credibility and excitement to the pages of the magazine each month. Get Cycle World digital magazine subscription today.

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United States
Bonnier Corporation

in this issue

2 min
dear dan

Dear Dan, Over the years, you were kind enough to write a few letters. As a letter writer myself, I’d always intended to write back to you, but somehow I didn’t feel as though I should, or maybe that I wasn’t important enough. Getting to know you a little better over the years should have shown me that it would have been fine, even welcome. You were always a model of civility, graciousness, respect, and humor. One of the best examples of this was when you invited Kevin Cameron and me to come talk about the moment-canceling twin you and Chuck Palmgren were building, and it felt like an actual conversation. You and your team asked us what we thought, and genuinely seemed to want to know. So it was my mistake not…

2 min
goodwood revival

The feeling that you’ve walked back in time hits you the moment you pass through the gates. High heels walking past vintage cars, riders stretching out in their leathers before races, and tweed as far as the eye can see. The people and the machines often wear a similar sheen of time and oil. Old streetbikes clatter in and around the paddock too, valves shaking almost as loose as the wallet chains. Every way you turn takes you further into a different era. It’s a magical event to visit, but especially if you are a motorcyclist, when understanding the beauty of the machines and feeling the companionship of the other riders will be second nature. The noises and smells illustrate the roots of our pastime. Even surrounded by strangers—from the mods to…

5 min
grasping the obvious

When Honda first went GP racing in the early 1960s, its four-cylinder 250 was built just as Honda’s production twins were—with a horizontally split crankcase having main bearing saddles bored half in one case, half in the other. When the crankshaft with its ball or roller main bearings was set into the upper case and then the lower case was bolted into place, the crank was well-supported by the entire structure. Honda’s early fours also included both gearbox shafts in this structure, the saddles for their bearings likewise being bored half in the upper, half in the lower case. For its racing engines, Honda soon gave up this apparently rational and robust construction, switching to one in which crankshaft main bearings, in the form of “pillow blocks” (a bearing in a…

5 min
more than carbon

The finished parts that we casually call “carbon fiber” are more than that. They are composites made of super-strong crystalline carbon fibers, held together by an epoxy resin. The proper name is Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic, or CFRP. Luckily, no one insists on it. The idea of embedding fine, high-strength fibers in a plastic matrix goes back to 1920, when A.A. Griffith, employed in England’s Royal Aircraft Factory, showed that the low strengths of practical materials resulted from surface or internal defects. Without these defects, considerations of atomic bonding would predict tremendously greater strengths. A good example is glass, which in handling accumulates microscratches on its surfaces. Application of even moderate stress causes one or more of these to open and propagate as a crack. Also revealed by Griffith’s analysis was that…

5 min
the affordable ferrari

If the 1980s was the age of Disco, then you might say the 1990s was the age of Ducati—at least for those of us who like the music of big-bore Desmo V-twins from Italy. For me and many of my riding friends, the bikes from Borgo Panigale are still perhaps the most enduring and colorful symbol of good times from that decade, as remembered through a lens of vibrant red or bright yellow—or maybe even ebony black, over a white trellis frame. Ducati, of course, turned out an unbroken string of charismatic street-and-racebikes in that era, but the one that really took the world by storm was the 900SS, introduced in 1991. When it appeared on the cover of our July issue that year (“At Last! Italian, Awesome and Affordable!”), you could sense…

6 min
the mixer

The carburetor flickered out of existence in modern American automobiles in 1990, but nearly 30 years later, those of us with the inclination can walk into a motorcycle dealership and ride out on a brand-new carbureted machine. Despite the device’s longevity, it isn’t widely understood. To this day, when people talk of accelerating, they say, “I gave it the gas.” That’s a misnomer. Whether our vehicle’s engine has modern digital fuel injection or carburetors, the action we take to accelerate is to open the throttle, which controls only the flow of air into our engine’s cylinders. Some other system then adds fuel in correct proportion to that airflow, resulting in a combustible air-fuel mixture being drawn into our engine. Before the digital-fuel-injection era, beginning in the late 1970s and completed in…