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Cycle World

Cycle World Issue 2 - 2020

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
wait, what?

Like the rest of the world, we went from planning things, working, and living our lives to a great screeching halt. The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus meant the time between being out on the road with our testing crew to hiding out at home most of the time was shockingly short. First, we here at Cycle World and the Bonnier Motorcycle Group wish you, your friends, and your family health and safety. We hope by the time this issue is out, that we can begin to see a path toward resolution and solid plans to get back some version of normal life while keeping everyone safe. The motorcycle business is getting hit pretty hard (along with most businesses), while motorcycling itself remains a savior. Many places, it is still OK…

1 min
at the limit

“Most people are familiar with the Isle of Man TT races, but Ireland hosts over a dozen races that take place on closed public roads each year.” It took quite a bit of time plus many wasted shots to get local Irish road-racing hero Derek McGee just where I wanted him in the narrow gateway. Most people are familiar with the Isle of Man TT races, but Ireland hosts over a dozen races that take place on closed public roads each year. Alongside the inter-national meetings at the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix, there are a series of events like this one at Walder-stown, County Westmeath, that take place on circuits deep in rural Ireland. The roads are narrow and bumpy, lined with stone walls, hedges, and houses like this one,…

4 min
the spring

The word “spring” usually applies to an intentionally created elastic element, such as the helical coil springs used in vehicle suspension or engine valve trains. It can also apply to the compressibility of gases, as in the pneumatic valve springs used in MotoGP, or in the MX “air suspensions” that flower every few years. Rubber in torsion was a common form of spring in 1960s British motocross bikes. Spring can also describe structures never intended to be flexible, as when former Ducati engineer Corrado Cecchinelli explained to me that certain riders mistakenly feel flex in footpeg brackets as loss of tire grip. Structures acting as springs became a big subject during the decades when chatter set the upper limit of chassis performance. I was shown a Yamaha 750 Superbike on a…

5 min
style unifies

When I had accumulated some basic experience as quite a young man, I realized there were clear national styles in motorcycle engines, but in this new century, I see such diversity receding in favor of a new international style. I saw that British designers reacted against oil leakage and Times of London gasket material by employing a multitude of screws to hold case covers in place. Examples are the attractive, polished timing covers of British twins, but the extreme is exemplified by the cam covers of the Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft V-12, secured by nearly 30 fasteners each. Also very British was too few crank-shaft main bearings—as in giving a parallel-twin or even an inline-four just two of them, and “lettin’ ’er flex” in jump-rope fashion. Also essentially British in nature was…

6 min
design macht mut(h)

Gather round, meine Damen und Herren, because we’re about to explore one of the most fascinating motorcycle backstories of the 1980s: how a Japanese company hired a German wunderkind to design a motorcycling icon of the Blade Runner era—Suzuki’s original 1982 GS1000SZ Katana. The Katana was a shocker when it first appeared, a machine that stood out everywhere it showed up. And that was exactly what Suzuki wanted when it hired Hans Muth to create a look. Muth was and still is an interesting character. Born in 1935 in Rathenow, just west of Berlin, he witnessed his mother being shot dead by the advancing Red Army 10 years later. He characterizes his upbringing as strict Prussian, taught to be respectful, polite, well-behaved, disciplined, honest, and obedient. Above all, he developed a refined…

12 min
honorable discharge

There’s a buzz within Cycle World headquarters lately. The hum of electric motorcycles charging during the workday can be heard in the halls as staff members have plugged into the merits of two-wheeled EV transportation. Whether zapping to and from work or effortlessly whistling about the greater Los Angeles area without so much as pulling a clutch or toeing a shift lever, EV bikes have proven to be a viable mode of urban transportation. Enthusiasm has been recently supercharged with the simultaneous arrival of the 2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire and Zero SR/F Premium, a pair of preeminent models within the segment and the natural makings of a heads-up comparison. These full-fledged roadbikes are each endowed with chassis specifications, ergonomics, and styling well in line with a contemporary petrol-powered liter-class sport naked. Both feature…