Motorcycling in America – 1989

Life In America
1989 – Average household income is $27,450. George H.W. Bush is president. Serial killer Ted Bundy is executed in Florida. The Exxon Valdez runs aground in Alaska’s Prince William sound spilling 11-million gallons of oil. Every Rose Has Its Thorn, by Poison and Look Away, by Chicago are just a couple of the songs we’re listening to on the radio. On TV, the Simpsons, begins their two decade plus run, and Baywatch launches a career for Pamela Anderson. At the movies, Morgan Freeman is Driving Miss Daisy, and Denzel Washington is starring in Glory. A new Ford Probe costs $12,695 and a gallon of gas is $.97. The just introduced Honda GB500 is $4200.

Number One Motorcycle Trend For 1989:
While the Japanese have been focusing on sportbikes, Harley-Davidson has grabbed 41.1% of streetbike sales over 650cc’s and almost 60% of streetbike sales over 850cc’s.

European Brands Road Tested
BMW: K100LT, R100GS (1990). Ducati: 750 Sport (1990). KTM: 250 E-XC.

Asian Brands Road Tested
Honda: Transalp 600, CBR600, GB500, CB-1. Kawasaki: KDX250, Voyager XII, Ninja ZX-10, Ninja 750, Ninja ZX-7, Ninja 600. Suzuki: GSX-R1100, Katana 750, GSX-R 750, Katana 600, RMX250. Yamaha: FJ1200, FZR1000, FZR600, YZ250WR.

American Brands Tested
ATK: 604 Electric Start. Harley-Davidson: Springer Softail FXSTS, FXRS Convertible.

Quickest, Fastest, Best, Most Expensive, Cheapest
Quickest bike tested: Suzuki GSX-R1100: Quarter mile, 10.40. Top speed 163 MPH.

Fastest bike tested: Tie, Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10: Top speed 163 MPH. Quarter mile, 10.47. Suzuki GSX-R1100: Top speed 163 MPH. Quarter mile, 10.40.

Best Superbike: FZR1000.

Best Enduro: KTM 250 E-XC.

Best 750 Street: 750 Katana.

Best Dual Purpose: Honda Transalp 600.

Most Expensive: BMW K100LT, $12,295.

Cheapest: Kawasaki KDX250, $2,699.

Other Issues
Senator J. Danforth’s, “Motorcycle Safety Act of 1987” is withdrawn due to “an avalanche of public opposition.”

Cycle World, Road & Track and others are sold to Diamandis Publishing.

Editor Paul Dean points out that “image” of motorcyclists is changing from “The Wild One”  to one of inconsiderate hell raisers, making noise, pulling wheelies and using excessive speed in inappropriate situations.

Harley-Davidson to build 3,000 – 4,000 motorcycles for the army using Rotax engines and Armstrong frames.

Michelin makes true radial tires available to the public. First fitments are Hi-Sports.

Japanese exports to the US decline 41.3% in 1988.

600 cc class motorcycle sales are thought to be growing due to increasing retail prices.

Because of declining dollar, Harley sales are booming overseas. Production capacity can’t meet demand. Harley has dominant share of 850cc plus market category.

Kawasaki introduces first side-by-side ATV, the Mule.

Freddie Spencer announces retirement.

First US GP since 1965 is won by Eddie Lawson and Yamaha. Jimmy Felice takes 250 title with a Honda, at his first GP race.

Terry Vance announces his intent to retire at the end of the season.

Motocross Des Nations is run on US soil for first time in history. US team of Rick Johnson, Bob Hannah and Jeff Ward, take gold.

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