Motocourse Grand Prix And Superbike Annual
Anyone who's been a motorcycle racing fan for a number of years knows about the Motocourse series annuals. Now in its 30th year of publication, the Motocourse, The World's Leading Grand Prix & Superbike Annual is considered one of the preeminent resources for the year's racing in both the MotoGP World Championship and the World Superbike Championship, with coverage of the British Superbike Championship, the AMA Superbike Championship and the Isle of Man TT also included. Chock-full of stunning color photography printed on heavy-coated stock, the previous editions of this coffee-table book have been collector's items since the first issue, and this one is sure to be no different.
Like all of the previous Motocourse annuals, this edition has numerous special features to accompany the usual top-10 riders of the year ranking, full race reports and results from each MotoGP round. Also included in this year's edition is a team-by-team analysis of the year's MotoGP participants; a chronology of Yamaha's 50 years of involvement in racing; a look at the fascinating (and sometimes controversial) new relationship between riders and electronic "rider aids"; and a full technical assessment and specs of each of the 990cc MotoGP machines. There's a lot of interesting information here that you won't find anywhere else and enough unique insight into the racing that you'll be spending quite some time digesting all of it before the book finds a place on your shelf.
We've always loved Motocourse for its fantastic photography and having the year's racing results in one easy-to-read resource, and this edition is no different. The "50 Years of Yamaha" is a very interesting read, and the team-by-team analysis of the MotoGP teams is a more in-depth approach that permits you to see who and what supports your favorite rider. The technical stories are pretty good, although sometimes the particular author gets a little too suppositional and even blue-sky with his analysis on the what or why, showing a bit more guessing than research. And the editor's occasionally opinionated race reporting can become tiresome at times. But all in all, Motocourse is still an excellent book and easily worth the $39.95 cover charge.
Hamaguchi Exhaust For Honda CBR600RR
Continuing the trend of high-quality exhausts from Japan, this Hamaguchi titanium exhaust for the CBR is more a work of art than just an exhaust pipe. The full system features tapered head pipes in a 4-into-2-into-1 design, a tapered S-bend and slip-fit joints with springs. The tight curves in some places are formed using the "wagiri" method, in which thin slices of tubing are welded together in sections rather than bending the tubing itself. Those welded sections-and the other section of the header system-are assembled with precision welds and craftsmanship. The pipe is named after its designer, Toshiyuki Hamaguchi, a racer in the All-Japan Series and the FIM's Asia roadracing championship.
Installation of the Hamaguchi pipe was straightforward, although the underseat nature of the Honda's exhaust means almost the entire rear end of the bike must be dismantled. The setup retains the license-plate bracket and turn signals, as well as the heat guard on the right side, but the right rearset must be spaced out a few millimeters. All the hardware and elaborate instructions were included in the kit, and we had the Hamaguchi installed in less than a couple of hours.
The all-titanium exhaust shaves more than eight pounds off the CBR, weighing 9.75 pounds versus the stainless steel stock system's weight of 18.25 pounds. The savings are roughly split between the header and canister portions of the pipe. At the dyno, the Hamaguchi showed a moderate bump in midrange power, and while peak power was up only a couple of ponies, the top-end over-rev was increased.
The long S-bend of the Honda's exhaust layout mellows the Hamaguchi's sound, especially at lower rpm, but sound levels are above average for an aftermarket pipe at higher rpm and loads. Given the quality of the Hamaguchi's materials and construction-the pipe is beautifully made and went together perfectly-the $1395 price tag (at press time) is understandable, but we were a bit disappointed in the performance gains on our otherwise-stock CBR.
Leo Vince Exhaust System For '06 Yamaha R6
When we first examined the stock under-engine exhaust on the '06 Yamaha R6, we figured that aftermarket pipe manufacturers were going to have their hands full fabricating something to replicate the twists and turns of the stock unit. Judging by what we've seen so far, however-including this full system from Leo Vince-it turns out the task wasn't as difficult as we thought.
Constructed from TIG-welded AISI 304 thin-wall stainless steel, the Leo Vince full system for the R6 (the company also has a slip-on and titanium full-race exhaust systems available) doesn't wind and curl its way underneath the engine like the stock exhaust; it basically looks like any other full 4-into-2-into-1 system, just a lot shorter. Utilizing slip-fit couplings with spring retainers for the various sections of the exhaust, assembly and installation of the exhaust system was fairly easy and straightforward, helped by the fact that there aren't a dozen different pieces to fit together like we've seen on some slip-fit systems.
Because the Leo Vince full exhaust system is designed to be used without the Yamaha EXUP exhaust valve, it does away with the stock muffler chamber underneath. The big gain here-or rather, loss-is weight: the Leo Vince full system cuts an amazing 12-plus pounds off the R6. A bung for the stock O2 sensor is provided on the collector of the exhaust, and all the necessary hardware to mount the carbon fiber canister hanger (the canister itself is all titanium construction, even the rivets; a carbon fiber canister is also available) is provided.
On our SuperFlow dyno, the Leo Vince exhaust provided a significant boost in midrange power between 7000 and 10,500 rpm, which we all know the '06 R6 really needs. There is also a slight gain on top, culminating in a two-plus horsepower increase at the same power peak rpm as the stocker but with slightly better overrev power, as well. A nice side benefit is that the Leo Vince pipe isn't obnoxiously loud; only when approaching five-figure rpms at full throttle does the exhaust note become a little strident, but that is to be expected. Suggested retail price for the full stainless steel system is $1299.
Leo Vince Exhaust Systems
Vanson Hurricane Jacket
We often take something for granted until we don't have it. Case in point, we found ourselves in a panic when the hot weather hit this summer, and we couldn't find our Vanson Mark 2 Hurricane jacket. While not the latest and greatest in motorcycle gear, the all-perforated jacket has been a staple in Vanson's lineup for several years and our standard gear for those dog days of summer in California. Made almost entirely of 1.5mm thick drum-dyed perforated leather, the jacket offers excellent protection features and makes riding in the sweltering heat much less unpleasant.
The Hurricane has double layers in the elbow and shoulder areas, which add to the jacket's stiffness and weight. The Hurricane took a long time to break in, but after some use, it is quite comfortable to wear for long rides. The waistband is adjustable via two straps, and the rear of the jacket is extended for a three-quarter-length fit, adding to the comfort. The jacket provides mounting points for an insulated liner, a zippered pocket for a back pad and attachments for Vanson's soft armor. Reflective piping is incorporated into the design, and the jacket is also available in the company's "solar glow" luminescent leather. All that perforated leather leaves no space for outside pockets, however, and the only storage areas are two small pockets sewn into the interior liner and a pouch in the zipper area.
While the sport-riding market is increasingly filled with textile mesh jackets, the quality of which is increasing every year, we feel Vanson's Hurricane still offers a better compromise of protection and cooling than any mesh textile jacket we've tried. The waistband and collar are the only portions of the jacket not ventilated, leaving almost the entire jacket to let cooling air flow through. Amazingly, it's almost too cold to wear the jacket when temperatures drop below 75 degrees Fahrenheit. We haven't crash-tested the Hurricane, but with competition-weight leather, sturdy stitching and excellent armor, we're confident the jacket would hold up well in an accident.
With prices starting at $589, the Vanson Hurricane is not cheap, but given the combination of venting and protection the jacket offers, it's money well spent if you ride in warmer conditions. On a 100-degree-plus day, when you're crawling along on a busy freeway, it's worth every penny. The Mark 2 Hurricane is available in men's sizes 34-62 and women's sizes 4-20 in black, blue, gray, lemon, red and solar.