How About a Nice Lap of the Sacramento Mile?

It looks pretty easy the way these guys do it. This vid is actually from the 2017 race, when Bryan Smith won on his Indian, Mees took second and Baker came third. This year, Mees won, with a best lap of 0:37.625 versus a 0:38.203 best lap in 2017, Brad Baker came home fourth – and the top seven were all Indian mounted. So, just like this but half-a-second faster.

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LMW Leaning Multi-Wheel Vehicle QUIZ!

Right now the new Yamaha Niken is in the news, or it will be Monday when our review goes up. But there’s really nothing new under the sun or over the Grossglockner, is there? So we put together this little quiz to see how much LMWs, (Leaning Multi Wheel vehicles) have stuck in your brain over the last few decades.


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Chrurch of MO: 1999 600cc Supersport Shootout

In those days, the rate of publication wasn’t anything like it is today, and so Plummer and Roland Sands and the other three wise men were able to spend not only days at Willow Springs, but even more time at SoCal’s finest dragstrips, wearing out clutches and making passes in an apparently tireless effort to name 600 numero uno – at a time when that class was hugely important. Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki all still produce great 600 supersport bikes, but it’s not like it was 19 years ago.

1999 600cc Supersport Shootout

Head-On Collision

LOS ANGELES February 23, 1999

The hype has been intense: At the end of ’98, pervasive rumors claimed that Yamaha was developing a 600 supersport counterpart to their ground-breaking YZF-R1. Honda, it was said, was tooling up a fuel-injected replacement to the F3. Suzuki? Nothing new here, they just kicked butt on the race track, taking home the coveted AMA 600cc Supersport Championship in 1998 on their supposedly out-dated GSX-R600.

Meanwhile, Kawasaki redesigned the ZX-6R, melding both track performance with street-going comfort, offering a combination of light weight, comfort and performance that proved so popular in Great Britain that for the first time in years the ZX-6R outsold Honda’s CBR600F3.

Parity in the 600 class, it seems, had been achieved. Pete Rozelle wept from his luxury box in the sky. Some of the rhetoric proved to be true: Both Honda and Yamaha developed two all-new 600cc supersports: The still-carbureted but significantly refined CBR600F4 and the R1’s close cousin, Yamaha’s YZF-R6, respectively.

MO Editor Brent Plummer, AMA Pro Thunder and 250 Grand Prix Champions Paul Harrell & Roland Sands get ready to burn it up. MO Editor Brent Plummer, AMA Pro Thunder and 250 Grand Prix Champions Paul Harrell & Roland Sands get ready to burn it up.
Managing Editor Mark Hammond and Plummer decide who will be to blame for the missing van door.Managing Editor Mark Hammond and Plummer decide who will be to blame for the missing van door.

“It seems that enthusiasts are being polarized into two basic platforms from which to choose their dream machine — all-around high-performance bikes such as the Kawasaki ZX-6R and Honda’s CBR600F4, or more single-focused track scratchers such as Suzuki’s GSX-R600 and the Yamaha’s YZF-R6.”

Back to the real world, early 1999 to be exact. You’ve impatiently waited for the new machines to come out, and now it’s time to plunk down some hard-earned money. So you want to know the skinny, right? Well, to aide in your quest, Motorcycle Online enlisted the help of reigning AMA Pro Thunder and 250 Grand Prix Champions Paul Harrell and Roland Sands to help us out in our 1999 600 shootout.

An unusually pensive Roland Sands caught in a rarely seen moment of calm reflection.

We chose to test the motorcycles using stock tires since many of our readers will use them until they are worn out and because changing tires can significantly change the characteristics of a motorcycle. Not that it mattered much, because the tires are very similar — the Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki are shod with DunlopD207’s street tires and the Kawasaki comes with BridgestoneBT56s. The only drawback in using stock tires was that track and drag strip times would suffer — surprisingly, we struggled more at the drag strip with the relatively slick stock tires than at the race track — otherwise using stock tires didn’t favor one bike over another. Each bike’s performance stood on factors not related to tire selection. Still, for those of you who are fit to be tied that we didn’t swap tires, flame us now.Sands on the highly anticipated R6, performing his most dangerous stunt, the Headless Burnout.

The most anticipated bike heading into the shootout had to be Yamaha’s YZF-R6, a motorcycle seemingly designed to elicit over-the-top superlatives from the motorcycle press. We rode the CBR600F4 at the Las Vegas Speedway and came away impressed with it’s superb balance. We looked forward to putting more miles on the ZX-6R as it’d been months since we rode one. It had also been a while since we rode the GSX-R600, two years in fact, back in our 1997 test, and we were interested in seeing how it faired against the new generation 600s on the Streets of Willow Springs, at the Carlsbad Raceway Drag Strip and highways of greater Los Angeles.

Anyhow, enough of the bollocks, let’s get on with the test.

4: 1999 Suzuki GSX-R600

Paul Harrell carefully assessing the Gixxer's roll-on power: "Yeeeeeehaaaaa!!"

The oldest platform in the test, the Suzuki GSX-R600 has been tweaked throughout its three-year lifespan. In 1998 it received a larger airbox, revised exhaust system, different cam timing and reshaped ports to improve power across the powerband, and in 1999 Suzuki fitted the Gixxer with revised carburetor intake funnels, different jetting and a new igniter box for improved high rpm power.

Peak power was improved: The GSX-R600 made 91.9 bhp at 10500 rpm and 45.1 ft-lbs of torque at 9500. That’s a decent jump over our 1997 test model that posted 88.7 bhp at 12,000 rpm and 43.4 ft-lbs at 10,000 rpm.

The GSX-R on the track, passing other bikes, leaving them behind, until it's out in front and, ultimately ...

“Mid-range power also improved, and next to the F4 the GSX-R made the second most amount of torque.”

The driveline lash that was so prominent on our 1997 test bike wasn’t noticed in this year’s model, but the riders complained of a flat spot around 10,000 rpm. We noticed carburetion difficulties on the 1997 GSX-R600 and we suspect that Suzuki still hasn’t sorted out this problem.

... alone. (sob) Oh, this world can be a hard, lonely place for the swift. Oh, cruel humanity ...

“It doesn’t really feel like a flat spot,” quipped Editor Plummer after drag strip testing, “but rather, it seems that either the carburetor needles are wrong or the throttle slides are rising at the wrong rate, either too slow or too fast, but in any event the power feels flat when you’re on the gas and shift gears at redline — there’s a highly noticeable lag in the power. In a sense, that’s good news, and jetting is easily correctable, while some strange cam/exhaust pipe problem isn’t.” The Suzuki made the least amount of peak horsepower, a factor that might have helped produce the slowest times at the drag strip — 11.149 seconds for the quarter-mile at 124.84 miles per hour.

However, we believe that imprecise carburetor settings were the most likely culprit, as Editor Plummer — who does the drag strip testing — felt the Suzuki “would have hauled ass” on the drag strip if the carburetion problems were solved. In addition, the GSX-R600 was our least favorite street bike in this test, with many testers complaining of inordinate amounts of vibration, especially at higher rpms. The uncompromising riding position on the GSX-R didn’t win a lot of positive feedback and the bike never felt quite right unless ridden at a ten-tenths pace.

“Suzuki pays more to club racers than anyone else in America.”

Still, the brakes were good and the GSX-R600 might have the best stock chassis set-up in the entire test, although the shake and rattle lends to a perception of a less-than-finished motorcycle. Yet straight out of the box the Suzuki was perhaps the best race-ready motorcycle. Editor Plummer recorded his fastest lap times at the Streets of Willow Springs on the GSX-R (the fastest GSX-R time was Roland Sands at 1:15.02, Plummer was about a second behind) and it wasn’t until the suspension set-up began to be significantly adjusted that the racers’ lap times on the other three bikes began to pull away from the GSX-R600. “Roland and Paul started going much, much faster on the other bikes in the afternoon,” says Plummer, “but I never could get a confident feel from any of them, especially not in the front end — no street bike seems to feel as planted and secure as a good old GSX-R. While pros have the ability to go beyond their immediate impressions, for the rest of us, it’s hard or impossible to go fast on a bike that doesn’t feel planted. If I were going club racing, the Gixxer would be my choice, for sure.”

Also in it’s favor, the Suzuki GSX-R600 has been around for a few years and there is a host aftermarket parts available for racers, not to mention the Suzuki Cup — at over a million dollars, Suzuki pays more to club racers than anyone else in America.

3: 1999 Kawasaki ZX-6R

(Sung to the tune "No Particular Place To Go" by Chuck Berry) "Riding along on my ZX-6R ..."

Last year something rare happened over in Great Britain: For the first time in years the top selling 501 to 700cc class motorcycle was not a Honda, it was the Kawasaki ZX-6R. Aiming at the CBR600F3, the ZX-6R offered light weight, high performance and excellent handling characteristics along with improved aerodynamics, weather and wind protection, and relaxed ergonomics for a more comfortable street ride. The design worked, and Honda was forced to play catch up.

In 1997, the ZX-6R placed last in our comparison. Vague front-end feedback along with low-profile stock Bridgestone tires resulted in a front end that “pushed” and “tucked” in corners.

Even with race-compound tires the vague feedback on the 1997 ZX-6R continued and the lack of front-end feel was responsible for relegating the old 6R to last place.

The 1997 ZX-6R had very narrow triple clamps that didn’t give much turning leverage. Kawasakiengineers addressed this by widening the handlebars, which also made the ZX-6R more comfortable, even though we thought the old ZX-6R was not an uncomfortable motorcycle. Kawasaki also stiffened the chassis and improved the suspension. As a result handling improved all around. At 445 pounds with a full tank of gas, the new generation ZX-6R is also about 18 pounds lighter than its predecessor, but is still the heaviest motorcycle in the test.

"To go fast on this bike is not really that hard ..."

Throttle response on the ZX-6R was excellent, so was the positive-feeling gearbox and strong clutch (try as we might we couldn’t fry the clutch at the strip). The linear power delivery and higher-profile stock Bridgestone BT56 tires helped the ZX-6R post the fastest times in the quarter mile.

With peak power outputs of 94 bhp at 12,750 rpm and 44.2 ft-lbs at 10,500 rpm the 6R ripped off a 10.937 second quarter mile at 127.41 miles per hour at the slower, slicker, sea-level Carlsbad Raceway (the 1997 ZX-6R posted a 10.79 quarter-mile at the LACR, a faster track at higher elevations that also posts very generous corrected times, usually by about three or four tenths of a second).

“Overall we thought the Kawasaki was an excellent street bike…”

Stoplight to stoplight Kawasaki intends to be the fastest, and with the ZX-6R they’re living up to their promise: “The Kawasaki rocks!” barked an elated Plummer after ripping off a 1.7-second 60-foot time and a high 10-second quarter mile. “It’s the only bike with precise throttle response and inherent traction off the line — if you want to smoke your pals at every street light, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any bike, big or small, that’ll run with the 6R from zero to 60.”

"Around and around on a track don't you know ... There's no particular place you go ..." (Repeat with appropriate air guitar)

A comfortable, easy-to-ride street bike with a great engine, smooth throttle response and wide powerband that handled well on the street, the ZX-6R lagged behind the Honda and the Yamaha at the track. It’s at least 10 pounds heavier than the competition, feeling slow entering corners and not reacting well to mid-corner line changes.

The six-piston caliper brakes — which are the same excellent Tokico calipers used on the GSX-R and the Team MO race bikes — didn’t have the same initial bite as the others, so consider changing brake pads if you own one. The ZX-6R’s fastest lap at the Streets of Willow Springs was Roland Sands’ 1:14.31, faster than his best GSX-R time but almost a full second slower than the fastest times recorded by the CBR600F4 and the YZF-R6.

Still, the new ZX-6R is an enormous improvement over the old ’97 model. Overall we thought the Kawasaki was an excellent street bike — two staff members gave it second place votes — with a wonderful motor but its size kept it from overtaking the lighter, more agile Yamaha and Honda.

View all Photos | VideosPHOTOS & VIDEOS

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Big Dam Tour Part Due: BMW K 1600 B vs Honda Gold Wing DCT

When last we left it, in February, the BMW K 1600 B won out over a pack of six other baggers on our overnight whirlwind tour to Hoover Dam, Sin City and parts east. Some didn’t feel the six-cylinder German wonderbike should win since it’s not really a V-twin bagger, but then we’re not really bikers, either, so we just picked the motorcycle we liked best. The BMW was the smoothest, fastest, comfiest, highest-tech two-wheeled vehicle out there that sports saddlebags and a windshield.

The shoe that had not yet dropped, however, was Honda’s new 2018 Gold Wing. Now it has. American Honda loaned us a brandspanking red Gold Wing DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission), And so we ride! Instead of seven brosephuses, though, it’s just me and my boy Ryan on a long weekend spin up to Calistoga, an hour or two north of San Francisco in the Napa Valley. A place where it does not suck, and where the Calistoga Half-Mile provided us a near-perfect excuse to explore the area.

2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour Review

The defending champ is no slouch. The BMW’s bars are a smidge higher than the Gold Wing’s; both bikes are pleasure palaces. Child is now 292 months and 72 inches.

From the time I first threw a leg over one of these new Wings at EICMA last November, the reduction in size and weight was apparent, and that’s the number one impression again as we pull away from Door #8 at Honda HQ in Torrance. She’s so small. Honda says the old F6B weighs 844 pounds; this new one tips the MO scales at 806, both of them all gassed up (the new Wing holds 1.1 gallons less – 5.55 gallons). So, the new one’s in fact about 38 or 40 pounds lighter, but it feels like the new ’Wing weighs much less than the old one. It’s still quite a bit heftier than the 768-lb BMW – but both bikes are substantially lighter than all the other “baggers” the BMW beat up on in February.

Specs say the new Wing is 0.2-inch longer of wheelbase than the old one, but that’s not how it feels, either. The new double-wishbone front suspension allowed rider and engine to be moved forward on the bike – more over the front wheel and more master of the ship. The grips feel a bit lower than before, which reinforces the suddenly sportier nature of the new bike – and the seat even feels a bit lower; the fact there’s no trunk lets even short people swing into the saddle easily and touch both feet to terra firma. The windshield’s no longer the size of a Buick’s. Now, it’s more of a motorcycle windscreen, and it’s electrically adjustable, too.

The glove box right there in the middle of the “gas tank” has a foam sleeve for your phone and a USB to plug it into, along with storage for other small items. If it’s an iPhone, Apple CarPlay recognizes and pairs right up to it. The controls in the middle don’t work when the bike’s in motion; you need to use the buttons on the left grip when you’re underway to adjust your navigation and communications. (Or like me, ignore them.)

Have the fob in your pocket or the bike’s glovebox, turn the ignition knob to the right, hit the starter and oh, what a nice low racket burbles from the dual exhausts as the six horizontally opposed 73mm pistons swing into action and the seven-inch TFT display puts on its little welcoming ceremony. Hit the little D rocker, for Drive, with your right thumb (shouldn’t it be R for ride?) and off you go. I think the DCT works better as the engine warms up, or is that just me? When you ride off cold, it sometimes feels a bit jerky as it automatically shifts back and forth through the ’Wing’s seven speeds, but it seems to smooth out as the oil warms up. Alternatively, it might just be your human software acclimating to the DCT? After riding the bike for a few days, my right hand seemed to know just how to treat the throttle to make the bike shift or not, and I don’t notice anything anymore except that it’s nice not to have to shift most of the time. I love it.

My son still doesn’t like DCT, still insists it’s jerky after more than a few days riding it. My friend Dennis Smith, who’s been riding and racing motorcycles since gas was a dollar, loves his new Gold Wind Tour DCT. There’s an ECON mode, which is pretty lazy and has low-rpm shift points, TOUR is as the name implies. I first toggled into SPORT mode after filling up with gas in Santa Barbara, and when I twisted the throttle in the usual fashion, I nearly wheelied out of the gas station. SPORT makes a big difference in how the bike reacts; it’s much, ahh, sportier.

The Gold Wing does all that with only 10.5:1 compression and runs fine on Regular. The BMW remains awesome, its 12.2:1 motor wants 89 octane at least. The Beemer does have a big hp advantage, but not really until you achieve Go Directly to Jail speeds.

We couldn’t get our DCT ’Wing to run on the dyno, but our man John Ethell at Jett Tuning, in Camarillo, ran a six-speed a couple months ago. In Tour mode, that one made 93 pound-feet of torque as soon as the dyno regained its senses and started recording, at just 1900 rpm. In Sport mode, it’s making 97 at that engine speed, on its way to breaking 100 lb-ft at just 2400 rpm, and a peak of 106 at 4500 rpm. Your big twins in some other touring bikes make that kind of torque at around 2800 rpm, before maxing out at around 75 horsepower at 4500 rpm or so and toddling off to bed shortly after. The big Honda Six hauls drum to 101 horses at 5500 rpm and runs into its rev limiter at 6200 rpm. I think it’s safe to say the new Gold Wing engine is the production bike torque king of all time. It does more before 2000 rpm than most bikes do all day, and you get the impression there’s plenty of room to expand its capabilities.

A lone 50mm throttle body feeding 1833 cc keeps intake velocity high to produce ridiculous low-rpm torque and instant throttle response.

The BMW posts an identical torque peak,106 lb-ft, but it doesn’t get there till 5200 rpm. Horsepower-wise, it buries the Honda, 132 at 8000 rpm to 101 at 5500 rpm, but the BMW remains a little slow on the draw below 3000 rpm, and by the time its rider knows there’s a race on, the Honda has scooted off into the distance. Really, engines are the biggest example of what a contrast in style these two bikes are. One’s an American hot rod from Japan, if you will; the other’s a Ferrari. The BMW would win on a closed road course, and with its greater horsepower should beat the Honda in a quarter-mile. But with the Honda’s tremendous low-rpm grunt (the ’Wing’s got 1833 cc to the BMW’s 1649) and computer brain shifting the zero-lag DCT, you might need Ricky Gadson skills on the BMW to do it. With clear road, it’s a blast (literally) to pin the ’Wing from stops, watch the tach needle bounce between 4500 and 6000, and hang on as the DCT rockets the bike through the gears. Sadly, the rocketing stops at 110 mph and 4000 rpm in sixth, thanks to the bike’s top speed limiter. It’s always something.

All the Honda’s info is easier to read than the BMW’s, especially its big 7-inch TFT screen. Be sure to take California Highway 25 when you’re out that way.

Meanwhile, the BMW’s six-speed shifts great, it’s a magnificent motor once you’re rolling, and its quickshifter takes out most of the work (it still requires too much pressure for downshifts). But using the ’Wing’s DCT paddles in the tight stuff is Formula 1 tech, man!

You really can’t leave the Honda in Sport mode all the time, though, because then the bike wants to downshift too early and often. It’s like Shinya Nakano programmed it at Suzuka. The best thing to do when you’re trying to make time on curvy roads is select Sport, and also push the little M that gives you manual control. Then you decide when to make instant up and downshifts with your left forefinger and thumb. (Until I got used to the paddles, I couldn’t figure out why I kept downshifting every time I wanted to honk the horn at a creeper in the fast lane? The horn’s nice and loud when you can find the button.) The paddles also respond even when you’re not in M mode, just in case you’re dawdling along in Econ and suddenly want a burst of speed. Mostly you wind up riding in Tour, which is almost as quick as Sport.

Note how close the front tire is to the engine now that the tire moves straight up as the suspension strokes. Dual radiators are stuck in the sides behind the Honda badges and are vented outward; I didn’t feel any heat from them or the engine. The BMW heats up your right foot when you’re flogging it.

What the mode button doesn’t do on the Gold Wing, that it does do on the Gold Wing Tour, is also adjust suspension damping. The non-Tour ’Wing does not have electric preload or active suspension. Other things it doesn’t have are Honda Selectable Torque Control, a center stand or heated seats. Why a bike this torquey has no HSTC is a question that needs more investigating, and I’m glad I didn’t land on my ear before I realized I was relying on my own skills. Nobody much allows that anymore.

The suspension serves up a great ride anyway, with 4.3 inches of travel up front and 4.1 in back, but that great ride has to do it all, from freeway snoozing to backroad bombing, and so it’s slightly compromised everywhere. You’d never really notice, though, if you weren’t riding it alongside the BMW, where the touch of a button takes you from ROAD and quite sporty, to CRUISE, which is as soft and cuddly as your favorite couch. You can adjust the Honda’s rear preload if you’ve got a tiny hand to reach into the adjuster’s cubbyhole ahead of the right saddlebag. The list price on our BMW, which comes with just about every available option including electric suspension, is only $185 more than the Honda.

Still, neither of us complained about the Honda’s ride. With its lower roll center and whatever effect a heavy longitudinal reciprocating mass has on a motorcycle, the ’Wing needs more input to make quick direction changes, but it always feels perfectly planted to the road and highly “confidence inspiring,” to trot out a favorite cliche. The new front end means there’s more weight on the front contact patch, and the Gold Wing locks onto whatever lean angle you place it at and stays there as if laser guided until you direct it elsewhere. I love that feeling, Ryan did not: He much prefers the BMW’s lighter, quicker big-sportbike feel.

The BMW is lighter by a good margin, but it just looks more bulbous than the Honda, like it’s pushing a bigger fairing, no?

In tight curves, I loved putting the Honda in Sport mode and using its sportier ergonomics and paddle shifters to shove its nose into corners, then blasting out using its awesome low-rev torque (blissfully unaware without benefit of traction control). The kid thought the Honda was too much like work; he liked the BMW’s quick reflexes and didn’t mind keeping its revvier engine spooled up a bit more. We both agreed the Honda’s got the superior brakes. Both bikes use their no-fork front ends to reduce dive and stop really hard; the Wing just has a bit more feel – and again, a lower center of gravity. In faster curves, the Gold Wing will begin dragging its footpegs sooner than the BMW, but you’re going pretty hard when that happens – and we hadn’t yet found the rear preload adjuster to give it more clearance.

Tooo.. be… where little cable caaaarrrrssss…

Back in town, even though the Honda is heavier, its low cg means it’s slightly easier to pick up off the sidestand and roll around on to the taco truck or Trader Joe’s. When you come back out, though, you’ll be bummed that the Honda’s bags don’t hold as much stuff as the BMW’s. They still hold enough, and all you do to open them is push a little black button. Handy.

The ’Wing bags won’t hold a helmet, but it does come with a cool attachment deal that will lock a pair to the bike (if your helmets have D-rings). You can get a helmet in each BMW bag, which might be inferior if the bags are already full of other stuff.

In fact, the whole ’Wing experience including the way it looks from behind reminds me of a big scooter/Pacific Coast mashup. Though our scales say it’s not that much lighter, it just never feels anywhere near as massive as the GL1500 I did the Iron Butt on in the early ’90s, or the later GL1800 – neither of which could ever do better than 34 miles per gallon. Back and forth to Calistoga, the new bike averaged 41 mpg to the BMW’s 39 mpg.

There’s a big knob/joystick just off the bottom of this pic that makes entering info into the computer a snap, but you have to mostly use the little buttons on the left handlebar when you’re moving (which are backlit thank God). The big 7-inch screen and advanced Nav system can plot the shortest route to your destination or the fastest one. You can choose to avoid expressways, tunnels, toll roads and ferries. But if you want Dynamic Route Guidance (which sounds like exactly what we want!), you’ll have to “consult your dealer for details.” Apple CarPlay finds your iPhone without even being asked. There is no escape…

They’re both great for passengers on short hops, thanks to the low seats and lack of top box; for longer journeys, the BMW’s got better grab handles, which are also better for cargo nets. Both windshields, as delivered, are blustery but not as blustery as the other baggers on the market…

At the end of the ride it’s a tough call. It’s like Chrissy Rogers said the other day, “I’d like to get in the hot tub, but I’m too comfortable to get off the couch…”

I love the new ’Wing, really I do. Its user interface, mostly that 7-inch screen, is far superior to the BMW’s fine print, and like I may have already repeated more than once, I dig its lowrider/big-scooter feel, low-rpm whomp and shiftless nature. On the other hand, its lack of what’s almost considered basic tech on a motorcycle in this price range – especially since the Tour version comes with active suspension and Honda Selectable Torque Control – leaves me scratching my head (the Gold Wing Tour DCT starts at $27,700).

In any case, the MO Scorecard does not lie, and on there, you’ll note that the BMW retains its crown both Objectively and Subjectively (but mostly Subjectively because Ryan marked it down mercilessly for its DCT, handling and smaller bags – two of three things I most liked about it). All the experts in the Comments section say you should never buy a first-year new model anyway. After Honda develops this one a year or two, y’all better stand back. Until further notice, though, the BMW K 1600 B remains the bagger of choice. I’d buy the Honda though. Wait, no, it’s the BMW.

Jim Hatch Illustrations Photo Voodoo


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Ms. Grothes MotoHistory 101

Mary Grothe keeps sorting through the boxes and uncovering things and people that I, for one, knew nothing about. Here’s one:

“Little Giant” Ikujiro Takai, 6th place, on the grid at Mosport 1977, with John Long, #36 in the background. As a Yamaha factory rider in 1974, Takai took two crowns in the All Japan Expert Class. In 1975 he finished second in the French 250cc GP class. Subsequently he became a noted designer for Yamaha, but in 1982 was tragically killed while testing the newly developed OW61 – the first V4 engine in a 500cc GP bike. Kenny Roberts later dedicated his Spanish GP victory aboard the OW61 to Takai.

Bowmanville, Ontario CA: 09/18/1977

RIP Ikujiro Takai

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