Next week (Wednesday, to be exact) I’ll be riding the new, 2017 Yamaha YZF-R6 (look for my review Friday). Now, because we’ve already featured the 1999 R6 in a past Church feature, this week we fast forward to the second-generation R6, which our own John Burns got the chance to ride in late 2002. A sharper tool than the original R6 as far as racetrack chops go, after reading this piece stay tuned to my review of the 2017 model to compare and contrast. Something tells me the two models will be very similar in many ways…
For this week’s Church feature we’re turning the clock back to 2003, and a shootout between five classic tourers: The Yamaha Roadstar Silverado, Victory V92TC, Kawasaki Nomad 1500, Harley-Davidson Road King, and BMW’s R1200CL – the clear oddball of the group. Speaking of oddballs, get a load of the MO crew from 14 years ago – off-the-cuff, irreverent, and funny (and maybe a bit chauvinistic at times), the writing of this shootout is good for a few laughs. As for the results? Read on to find out.
If you haven’t been keeping track, California has been a hot, dry state for the past several years. Which is a good thing when it comes to riding motorcycles year-round, but less so when you’re trying to test cold-weather gloves. Thankfully, that dry spell has come to an end this year, with bucket loads of rain bringing with it some chilly weather. Finally, a chance to put Joe Rocket’s Rocket Burner textile gloves to use.
By now you probably know that I really like the 2017 Ducati Supersport and Supersport S. The comfortable sporty-bike that’s equally at home on the racetrack or on a weekend roadtrip, the Supersport combines good looks, sporting chops, and the ergos to stay in the saddle for a while. The best thing about the Supersport is its versatility. Whether it’s playing in the canyons, cutting laps, or simply commuting to and from the office, the Supersport is the kind of bike you might want if you could only have one bike in the garage to do everything.
The BMW GS line basically owned the Adventure-Touring category before such a term even existed. But that doesn’t mean competition didn’t exist. Such a competitor came from Aprilia, as it tried its hand at something resembling a GS competitor. The year was 2001 and the bike was the 2002 Aprilia ETV 1000 Caponord; the precursor, of course, to the Caponords that would come more than a decade later. History clearly doesn’t look too fondly at the old Capo being any bit of a threat to BMW, but what did the MO gang of 2001 think of the bike? Read on to find out.
In a few days I’ll be bringing you my first impressions of Ducati’s new Supersport and Supersport S models – the everyman’s Panigale, comfortable enough to ride to a trackday, and sporty enough to rip some quick laps – from its launch in Spain. Meanwhile, we bring you MO’s first impressions of another Supersport – the 1999 Ducati Supersport 900. Combining impressions from both a street ride and a few track sessions, my review of the 2017 version will encompass the same. After reading this, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for my First Ride review of the 2017 Ducati Supersport, coming soon.
It’s been eight long years since Suzuki last updated its GSX-R1000, and the time they spent creating the new one has been well worth it. Everything from the engine to the frame to the electronics and suspension has been given a ground-up redo, creating the best Gixxer Thou ever. Now boasting as much power as BMW’s ferocious S1000RR, Suzuki is ready to take the fight to the top rivals in the class.
Ah, the legendary Phillip Island circuit, the scene of many epic battles among two-wheel gladiators like Gardner, Rainey, Schwantz, Corser, Stoner, Rossi and Iannone, which has long been on my bucket list of racetracks to ride before I die. With significant elevation changes along 2.76 miles of twisting tarmac on the shores of the Indian Ocean and an average GP speed of more than 110 mph, it would be a challenge to learn on any bike, let alone on Suzuki’s most powerful literbike ever.
In a few day’s time you’ll get to read all about the brand new 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000, Suzuki’s most advanced GSX-R to date. Penning the story will be none other than MO‘s E-i-C Kevin Duke, who did his best to tame the beast around one of the most loved racetracks in the world: Phillip Island in Australia. But before we talk about the new bike, let’s go back to the GSX-R1000’s roots; 2000 in this case. For this week’s Church feature we’re bringing you the First Ride review of the 2001 Suzuki GSX-R1000 – Suzuki’s answer to the liter-class sportbike wars started by Yamaha’s YZF-R1 a couple years prior.
Honda pulled out all the stops for its fresh, ground-up redesign of the CBR1000RR. And it’s about time, too. However, instead of searching for power like most of its competition, Team Red’s mission was to make the new CBR as light as possible. All in an effort to give the rider Total Control – the same design ethos given to the original CBR900RR 25 years earlier. To that end, Honda lightened everything it could; using magnesium engine covers, a titanium exhaust, and titanium fuel tank (for the SP model, anyway). It even made the frame walls – and fairings – thinner!
Cresting the top of the steep incline leading onto Portimao’s main straight, I’m committed to keeping the throttle on the new 2017 Honda CBR1000RR to the stop. With fifth gear clicked, the front wheel starts to reach for the sky. Unfazed, the throttle stays pinned, ready for the wheel to eventually come back to earth. The wait feels like forever, and my view is increasingly filled with sky instead of tarmac. I can’t wait for the Honda’s wheelie control any longer, so a click to sixth gently brings the front Bridgestone back to the ground. The Fireblade flexes its muscles, tickling 180 mph down the straight. Then it’s time to scrub speed down the hill before hitting the dip signaling the apex of turn 1. The short chute to reach turn 2 is quickly gobbled up before a moderate amount of brakes are applied to navigate through the hairpin. From there, it’s another flick to the left, and we’re driving uphill towards the crest of turn 3, knee on the ground, rear tire spinning ever so slightly.
Whenever he gets a chance, John Burns likes to ramble on about how much he likes Buell motorcycles. The old ones, the new ones, it doesn’t matter. He’s a fan of Erik Buell’s vision and its execution. Case in point? JB’s review below of the 2004 Buell XB12S. A self-proclaimed lover of the XB9S, riding a bigger, better version of the XB-S around Road America left a big smile on his face. Hell, he still speaks fondly of it today. Check out what he has to say about it below, and for more pictures of the bike be sure to click on the photo gallery.
With the unfortunate news of Polaris shutting down Victory Motorcycles, it only seemed right for this week’s Church feature to be about Victory. Oddly, despite Victory’s beginnings in 1997, it took a few years – and a new millennia – for MO to get its hands on one. We’ve featured some of those models already in past Church features, so for this week we’re going with the oldest Victory review we have yet to showcase: the 2003 Victory Vegas. Ridden and written by Eric Bass, sit back, relax, and enjoy this early road test review of what might become a collector’s item in 20 years. Oh, and for more pictures, be sure to visit the photo gallery.
Mr. Burns’ diary entry of the Top 10 sportbikes of the 1990s gave me a great idea for this week’s Church entry. If you want a taste of what old MO was all about, then the 1997 Open Bikini Shootout is a perfect example. Silly, irreverent, and filled with fast riding and fast riders, this test between the Buell S1 White Lightning, the Triumph T509 Speed Triple and Ducati’s M900 Monster, has it all: three cult classic motorcycles, one Shawn Higbee – an AMA Pro racer and former Buell test rider – and even a bikini model! Because, you know, a Bikini Shootout wouldn’t be complete without one of those. Check out the story (and the model), and don’t forget to click on the photo gallery for more pics.
The maxi-scooter world is relatively large these days, with BMW, Kymco, Suzuki, and Yamaha all fielding players. In 2008, however, the players in this field were rather scarce. One name that’s been on the list the entire time has been Honda. For this week’s Church feature, we go back to 2008 and the review of that year’s Silver Wing ABS. Penning the review is our friends at TheScooterReview.com. Oh, and by the way, the Silver Wing ABS is still around today, available at your Honda dealer for a starting price of $9,270. For more pictures of the Silver Wing ABS, hop on over to the photo gallery.