Motorcycling in America – 1988

Life In America
1988 – Average household income is up $100 over ’87. The Hubble Space Telescope is launched. Pan-Am flight 103 explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland killing 270. Russia begins retreat from Afghanistan. McDonald’s opens in Moscow. Rain Man, with Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman is bringing folks to the movies along with Bruce Willis in Die Hard. Musically it’s Bobby McFerrin telling us to, Don’t Worry, Be Happy, and Tracy Chapman’s got a Fast Car. Debuting on TV this season, The Wonder Years, and America’s Most Wanted. A gallon of gas is up a bit to $.91. Suzuki’s RM250 will cost you $3099.

Number One Motorcycle Trend For 1988:
With the dollar devaluating rapidly in relationship to the Yen and European currencies, the cost of both Japanese and European motorcycles is rising dramatically, further slowing sales of new motorcycles.

European Brands Road Tested
BMW: R100RT, R100RS, R100GS, K100RS. Cagiva/Ducati: 851 Superbike, WMX250. KTM: 250MX, 600 LC4. Moto Guzzi: LeMans 1000.

Asian Brands Road Tested
Honda: XR600R, RC30, Hurricane 600, CR250R, NX650, GL1500 Gold Wing, Hawk GT, Fourtrax 250R (ATV), 800 Shadow, Hurricane 1000, Fourtrax 4X4 (ATV), Shadow VLX, NX250, 1989 CR500R. Kawasaki: Ninja 600, Ninja 1000, KX250, KX125, Tecate 4 (ATV), 700 Vulcan, Concours, Ninja ZX10. Suzuki: GSX 1100F Katana, GSX R750, Katana 600, RM250, Quadracer 250 (ATV), 750 Intruder, GSX R1100, GN250. Yamaha: Warrior 350 (ATV), FZ600, YZ125, YZ250, Blaster (ATV), 750 Virago, FZR1000, FZ750, Route 66.

American Brands Tested
Harley-Davidson: 883 Sportster, Softail Custom.

Quickest, Fastest, Best, Most Expensive, Cheapest
Quickest bike tested: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10: Quarter mile, 10.46. Top speed 167 MPH.

Fastest bike tested: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10: Top speed 167 MPH. Quarter mile, 10.46.

Best Superbike: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10.

Best Cruiser: Harley-Davidson Softail Custom.

Best Tourer: Honda Gold Wing 1500.

Best Motocross: Suzuki RM250.

Best Dual Purpose: Honda NX650.

Most Expensive: Ducati 850 Superbike, $20,995.

Cheapest: Suzuki GN 250, $1859.

Other Issues
Eddie Lawson makes move from Yamaha to Honda and wins fourth World 500GP championship.

Though the 1989 Honda Hurricane is much improved over previous model, Honda won’t be importing, “we have more ’88 Hurricanes on dealer floors, than we sold last year,” says Honda exec.

In Massachusetts it now costs $60 to register a motorcycle vs. $40 for a car.

State Farm Insurance lifts blacklist on most sport motorcycles. Action comes about from pressure from policy holders and the AMA.

Bubba Shobert’s racing career ends tragically with accident on cool down laps.

Bob Hannah retires after US MX GP.

Honda admits to losing 15% of their dealers over past two years. Many dealers blame cause on lack of exciting products from Honda.

Sen. John Chafee, R, Rhode Island, proposes bill denying states that don’t pass mandatory helmet laws a loss of 10% of their Federal Highway construction money.

Cycle World’s request that readers write in to tell them what’s wrong with motorcycles? Campaign generates 500 letters and 1300 suggestions. These are shared with decision makers at OEM companies.

Leading complaints: too fast, too technically sophisticated, too much plastic and too specialized.

Freddie Spencer comes out of retirement to ride a Yamaha in World GP. Fails to show up for Laguna Seca race and unofficially retires again.

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