In the early days of the magazine the staff managed to snag rides on all sorts of racebikes, but perhaps the most interesting was editor Nick Ienatsch’s ride on the Britten V-1000. Only a handful of the bikes were built in New Zealand and sold to paying customers, but Ienatsch raced the V-1000 belonging to Jim Hunter in a round of the Formula USA series at Road Atlanta. Unfortunately it rained for the race and the bike broke just a few laps in, but Ienatsch’s story is still a great read and the Britten is still “the neatest bike in the world.”
Street Racing Madness
The Isle of Man TT is the pinnacle of real road racing, and editor Kunitsugu’s tale of racing the ‘97 event is a classic. The story captures everything from the logistics involved — including a last-minute racebike rental when his original rental turned out to be an actual streetbike with lights — to the intricacies of learning the course and dealing with the terror of unsettled weather on the Isle. “As far as life experiences go, this trip definitely ranks among my all-time favorites,” Kento summed up. It must have been, as he went back the next year.
As part of our road test of Kawasaki’s then-new ZRX1100, we found that the bike’s ZX-11-based engine was significantly strangled from its original form. However, we were quite surprised to find that by installing a set of ZX-11 camshafts along with a jet kit and a full exhaust, horsepower went from an anemic 97 to a very entertaining 124. The Z-Rex is still one of our favorite project bikes and the greatest bang for the buck of any modification we’ve performed. For some reason, shortly after the issue hit newsstands Kawasaki was overwhelmed with orders for ZX-11 camshafts… Kawasaki ZRX1100: Project Z-Rex
Ram Air Test
Oct. ‘99 (pt 1) & Dec. ‘99 (pt 2)
In the mid- to late-’90s there was a lot of hype about ram-air systems and how much horsepower they added, so we decided to find out for ourselves. In part 1, we hooked up pressure sensors to a number of bikes to record the pressure increase (or decrease on a non-equipped bike) at speed. In part 2, we ran the same bikes on the dyno under the same pressures, with some very interesting — and surprising — results. The craziest part? Even a huge fan couldn’t generate enough airbox pressure at the dyno; we had to use an industrial compressor. Ram Air Test: Part One | Ram Air Test: Part Two
Blow Your Own
April ‘00 (pt 1) & April ‘02 (pt 2)
A fairly straightforward turbo installation on our Honda CBR900RR test bike turned in to a major undertaking. First, the turbo wastegate malfunctioned and fed the engine with 15 pounds of boost — fun for 120 mph wheelies but not for the life of the turbo, which soon disintegrated. Then, an altercation with a wayward motorist sent the bike (and Kent) skittering down the road. After many hours in the shop and a lot of help from suppliers, we ended up with the beautiful piece seen here, with aftermarket bodywork and a stunning paint job giving the bike great looks to back up its 172-horsepower performance. Even with unbelievable acceleration, however, the turbo CBR retained the stocker’s drivability, making it as useful as a daily ride as it was for some wild fun. Blow Your Own: Part One | Blown Your Own: Part Two
When the AMA had its Pro Thunder class a decade ago, the Ducati 748R was almost a class-standard as a competitive machine could be built with just the addition of some kit parts. Well, we happened to have a 748R test bike, Ducati was willing to lend us the kit parts, and Munroe Motors — a Ducati dealership in San Francisco — put everything together for us. Editor Kunitsugu would race the bike at the Willow Springs round of the series, against some hefty competition including Mike Smith and Willow hot-shoe Curtis Adams. For once a racing story came together as planned and without (too much) drama, with Kento almost catching a napping Smith at the line for the race win.
Staffers Kunitsugu, Trevitt and Evans Brasfield joined Brits John Cantlie (Superbike) and Jimi Miller (Fast Bikes) in a B team of journalists for the EBSCO/Corona Suzuki squad, and rode a GSX-R750 in the WERA 24-hour race at Willow Springs. Although our team had a home-field advantage, ambient temperatures as high as 108 degrees played havoc with all five riders. Still, after 20 hours we found ourselves leading in class and fourth overall. Then, disaster: First a flat rear tire, then transmission problems; our team dropped to seventh overall and second in class behind the “A” EBSCO/Corona team. Brasfield described the race as lunacy, and that “endurance racing takes a special breed — and I’m almost certain it has something to do with the full moon.” Clockwork
In the sometimes strange world of street racing, half the battle is not showing your hand and letting the competition know how fast your bike is; this can give you an advantage when it comes to the pre-race bargaining for the conditions of the race, such as gaining a few bike-lengths headstart or changing the betting odds. Hence, Lee Shierts built a very nice Suzuki GSX-R600…with a 220-horsepower Hayabusa motor. Editor Kunitsugu tried his hand on the bike, as well as some of the other maniacal machines in the Shierts stable, turning an 8.725-second quarter-mile time, his first-ever pass in the eight-second bracket. The Baby ‘Busa made a great story for the magazine, and evidently made a lot of money for Shierts.
Pile o’ Pipes
Months in the preparation and a ton of work to complete, our giant slip-on test was even more of an undertaking than we anticipated — and we had anticipated it would be a major task. With 30 entries, each slip-on had to be weighed, installed, run on the dyno, photographed, and measured and recorded for sound. Our poor Yamaha YZF-R6 test bike made 129 dyno runs (more than 100 miles!) and The Geek was loopy from exhaust gases at the conclusion, but the results were worth the effort. The test generated loads of feedback, both good and bad, and the collection of sound clips from each slip-on that we posted on our website is still a high-traffic page.
Whereas our standard tire tests compare tires from different manufacturers in a single category, here we took a different approach and compared tires from all categories (sport-touring, sport, high-performance sport, DOT race and slick) from just two manufacturers; ideally, to find the exact differences between the various types of tires and put some numbers on those differences. We conducted the test in response to a torrent of requests from readers wanting to know if, for example, the extra grip of a high-performance sport tire was worth the trade-off in mileage. The test was very interesting for us to conduct and we — and we hope the readers — learned a lot from it.
While the practice ended several years ago, at one time lucky journalists were able to ride one or two of the MotoGP bikes following the final round of each season at Valencia. In 2006, editor Kunitsugu really lucked out and “finagled” (his word) rides on not just one or two MotoGP bikes, but five: Chris Vermuelen’s Suzuki GSV-R990, Valentino Rossi’s Yamaha YZR-M1, Dani Pedrosa’s Honda RC211V, Randy DePuniet’s Kawasaki ZX-RR and Troy Bayliss’ Ducati Desmosedici GP6. In his typically understated manner, Kento claimed that “the opportunity to experience the last of the big-bore MotoGP machines and give accurate, firsthand information directly to you the reader was too good to pass up.” Extinct Breed
With traction control systems finally available to the public as standard and aftermarket equipment, we sampled (and compared) two versions: the OEM Ducati Traction Control on the 1098R and the aftermarket Bazzaz Z-Fi TC system on a Honda CBR1000RR. While the modified Honda scored highest and was fastest at the track, the high-dollar Ducati’s allure was obvious among our testers; both bikes were incredibly fun to ride, with the traction control adding to that enjoyment. It was definitely an eye-opener for our staff’s first experiences with traction control, and a glimpse into what is now — just five years later — the much more refined standard equipment on many bikes. Red Rockets