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Cycle World Issue 2 - 2019

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.

United States
Bonnier Corporation

in this issue

2 min
rise of icons

I’ve always contended that if a motorcycle hasn’t run for at least 25 years, how do you know it’s any good? And then I realized because I was waiting so long to buy, I was often paying too much. The idea is to buy when a bike is just “used,” not yet “collectible.” Of course, popular collectible bikes march forward through time with their able collectors. In 15 years of the Cycle World Rolling Concours—you only get a prize if you make our ride—the trend away from the British bikes of the ’50s and ’60s to much newer Japanese bikes has been plain to see. All those impressionable kids of the ’80s and ’90s whose tender, receptive motorcycle minds were imprinted by these, ahem, “rad” motorcycles want to recapture the magic.…

2 min
wild in the streets

The sound of ground-shaking pushrod engines, the reek of smoking tires, and clouds of burnt oil filled the air as The Race of Gentlemen Santa Barbara Drags turned tranquil beachside Cabrillo Boulevard into a head-to-head showdown strip. As much about camaraderie as the machines, TROG events exemplify the fun of racing and wrenching on well-patinated motorcycles and hot rods. These historic machines are ridden and driven hard, rather than being locked away in a collection, making smoke and smiles just like they did decades ago.…

5 min
when the engine starts

I bought a terrible rigid-framed BSA D1 Bantam for $140 in 1959. Insuring and registering anything as offensive to good order as a motorcycle in those days required that I enter the “assigned risk pool.” I took the subway there and I stood in one of the several lines. The window closed as I reached it, so I moved to another line. Eventually I had the essentials—plate and registration. The great day came—to ride from my strange new life to my old familiar one, 200 miles up through New Hampshire and Vermont, crossing Lake Champlain at Crown Point and then into the Adirondack Park. My little engine fussed along. In hilly Vermont, top gear (third) was inevitably too tall and second too low, so at first I oscillated. Then I found a…

5 min
from the foundry

Iron is an element, and steel is an alloy of iron with a very small amount of carbon. In practical terms, cast-iron came to mean a combination of iron with so much carbon that most of it is present as inclusions of free, flaky graphite. An early—and enduring—use of cast iron was as the five arching beams with two hinged elements each that support the 100-foot Iron Bridge in England, built in the late 18th century. Each beam was cast in an open sand mold, and there were 368 tons of iron in the bridge. Yet cast iron had important limits under high stress. Years of study and experiment were needed to make cast iron cannon the equal of brass. The inclusions of graphite in iron weakened it, and certain other…

4 min
the first superbike

The present era of high-power, multi-cylinder superbikes began with Honda’s four-cylinder CB750 of 1969. It was a natural in the marketplace because the company had invested nine years in international Grand Prix roadracing to make Honda a household word worldwide. When an electric-start motorcycle with four cylinders and four boldly jutting exhaust pipes hit the market, its success was foreordained. Four-cylinder machines had been successful in roadracing before—the Italian fours of Gilera and MV—and there had been four-cylinder production bikes as well, such as the Belgian FN and American Indian four. But nothing like the complexity and power of this new Honda had ever been offered for public sale. CB750 power was the result of the same principle that had made Honda fours so successful in racing—high rpm made possible by cylinder…

4 min
under pressure

It is a visceral pleasure to examine a piston from a modern high-performance motorcycle engine such as Ducati’s V4 R. This is because it is the flow of stress that defines shape, just as the smooth flow of air gives grace to an engine’s intake ports. Once the task of cylinder-filling is fully optimized, the key to more engine power is ever-higher rpm. From the earliest days of motoring, the need to abruptly accelerate and decelerate pistons as they alternately pump air and produce power has placed the greatest stress where the piston attaches to the connecting rod: around its wrist-pin bosses. Cracks form and propagate in highly stressed metal in a process called fatigue failure. No real metal can be made 100-percent free of internal defects, and the presence of defects…