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Cycle World

Cycle World Issue 4 - 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
holy harley

The “golden cage” is how we have sometimes described Harley-Davidson’s position in the market. Traditional customers kept buying the company’s traditional bikes. Since the big boom that started in the 1980s, Harley-Davidson has become mainstream motorcycling. But demographics have changed, and Harley-Davidson’s sales have declined along with the new-bike market. Touring bikes and Softails have seen a lot of upgrades, but even with new engines, new technology, and many new models, growth has not come. It also felt a little like the company was stuck doing the same old things—locked in the golden cage but finding it less golden. In a dramatic shift on a product and communications level, Harley-Davidson announced a significant portion of its five-year product plan, detailing new bikes that would be delivered from 2019 to 2022. The Pan American…

1 min
getting closer

It’s just the presence or absence of light, texture, and color. And while we’ve all seen thousands of photos of racers and racetracks, the perspective offered by Italian motorsports photographer Callo Albanese takes us closer. Even though Albanese calls himself “un fotografo ad alta velocità” or “a high-speed photographer,” there is something so serene and studied in the work shown here. Following both Formula 1 car racing and MotoGP, Albanese finds a new angle on the beauty of circuits right down to paint and asphalt texture, though he incorporates technical details of machines, shots of scuffed leathers, and motorcycles in motion to broaden the art and give the viewer a new feeling for the drama of where and what we race.…

5 min
what’s shakin’?

The terrible truth is that no matter how finely you add or subtract balance weights from your crankshaft using a high-tech balancing machine, a rotating counterweight can never cancel the shaking force of a piston moving back and forth in a straight line. The only way a single can be balanced is by generating an equal and opposite in-line shaking force. Here’s why. Let’s start with a single-cylinder engine whose rotating parts—the crankpin, its bearing, and the big end of the connecting rod—have all been 100 percent balanced by rotating counterweights attached to the crankshaft at 180 degrees to the crankpin. All that’s left now is the straight-line shaking force generated by the piston, its rings, wristpin, and connecting rod small end. As we add counterweight to the crank, the up-and-down…

4 min
flexible genius

While talking with former Ducati engineer Corrado Cecchinelli at Laguna Seca Raceway one year, I asked him what special property had made his company’s trellis steel-tube chassis so effective in racing. “It is because it was designed by a genius,” he replied simply. That genius was Massimo Tamburini, who was associated with Ducati through Cagiva’s temporary ownership of that company. But genius is a description, not an explanation. When I observed to Colin Edwards that Ducati Superbikes visibly wallowed in turns, he said: “Yeah, they wallow. But they dig in and go around the corner.” An engineer would call that wallow by its proper name: weave. Weave is the side-to-side caster oscillation of the rear of a motorcycle, at a typical frequency of two to three cycles per second. Edwards as rider had just been…

4 min

Honda’s 1983 Interceptor 750 was the first true sportbike. I expect to hear objections, but here’s why I insist. This was the first new design to incorporate the harsh lessons of U.S. Superbike racing. Those lessons were that both engine and chassis must in the future be designed to win Superbike races without the complete re-engineering needed in 1976–’82. The great sit-up Superbikes of that time—Kawasaki Z1, Suzuki GS, and Honda CB900F—showed that something better than their obsolete chassis and suspension, combined with bulky air-cooled two-valve-per-cylinder engines, would be required in the 750cc Superbike formula arriving in 1983. The Interceptor’s tremendous market success was a shock to Honda management. The bike was planned as a homologation special, a low-volume but high-tech bike produced only to make race-winning features legal for the new…

7 min
the cylinder head

Most people have at least one inexplicable habit—something you do in private or late at night, thankful that no one’s watching. This probably marks me as a brand of especially boring weirdo, but I read old airplane service manuals. My favorite is a 1953 Air Force publication called Powerplant Maintenance for Reciprocating Engines. The front jacket holds a drawing of a nine-cylinder radial, and the book’s 452 pages contain everything from a treatise on the disposition of aviation fuels to prose and diagrams outlining the operation of a Curtiss electric propeller governor. Dangerous stuff, if you’re wired a certain way. But its joys are mostly in the little things. The elegant, brutally efficient language of the government repair manual, applied to virtually universal topics such as cylinder heads. “It is important,”…