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Senator J. Danforth’s, “Motorcycle Safety Act of 1987” is withdrawn due to “an avalanche of public opposition.”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

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.

Motorcycling in America – 1987

Life In America
1987 – Average household income is $24,350. An Iraqi missile strikes USS Stark killing 37. Saddam apologizes. Iran-Contra debacle sinks military career of Ollie North. Unemployment is at 6.2%. Prozac is released for general use. 30 Something debuts on TV, and the Simpsons make their first appearance as a segment on the Tracy Ullman Show. At the movies we see two sides of romance, Moonstruck, with Nicholas Cage and Cher, and Fatal Attraction with Glenn Close. Michael Jackson is Bad, and George Michael tells us we gotta have Faith. You can buy a new Jeep pickup for $6,495, just a few hundred dollars more than the new Harley Sportster 1200, $5875. Gas is cheap at $.89 per gallon. It’s Cycle World’s 25th Anniversary.

Number One Motorcycle Trend For 1987:
Though no one is absolutely sure, it appears that sport bikes have overtaken sales of cruisers.

European Brands
Cagiva/Ducati: WMX125, SS650, Paso 750. Husqvarna: 430 Enduro, 250 Enduro, 250 MX. KTM: 250 Enduro. Moto Guzzi: V65 Lario.

Asian Brands
Honda: CR125R, CR250R, CR500R, 700 Magna, CBR1000 Hurricane, CBR600 Hurricane, Shadow 1100. Kawasaki: KX125, KX250, Vulcan 88, EX500. Bayou 220, Ninja 600, EL 250 Eliminator. Suzuki: RM125, RM250, Intruder 1400, LT80. Trac: DH100. Yamaha: YZ490, YZ125, Virago 535, Virago 1100, FZR750R, Trailway 200.

American Brands
Harley-Davidson: Low Rider Custom FXLR, Low Rider Sport FXRS, Softail FXSTC, Tourglide Classic FLTC. Sportster XL1200.

Quickest, Fastest, Best, Most Expensive, Cheapest
Quickest bike tested: Yamaha FZR1000, 11.13 seconds in the quarter-mile. Top speed: 155 MPH.

Fastest bike tested: Honda CBR1000 Hurricane, 11.23 quarter mile. Top speed: 156 MPH.

Best Superbike: Yamaha FZR1000. Best Cruiser: Harley-Davidson Softail Custom. Best Enduro: Husqvarna Best Motocross: Honda CR250R. Best Dual Purpose: Kawasaki KLR650.

Most Expensive: Harley-Davidson Tour Glide Classic, $10,985.

Cheapest: Trac (Korea): $895

Other Issues
First mention of motorcycle built in Korea (Trac), as lower priced substitute for increasingly expensive Japanese brands.

HD introduces trade-up program whereby initial purchase price of Sportster 883, $3995 can be applied to FX, or XL model up to two years later.

HD spends $155 million to purchase Holiday Rambler motor home business.

FIM abandons push starting.

David Bailey and Danny Chandler are paralyzed in motocross accidents. Wisdom of double jumps is called into question.

Buell RR1000 goes on sale to public, $12,495, making it America’s most expensive motorcycle.

An exhibit of American motorcycling opens at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.

With one year left to go, Harley requests FTC to drop the tariff on +700cc motorcycles.

Cycle World begins regular testing of ATVs.

CBS airs, The Most Dangerous Vehicles, in April creating a furor over the inherent safety of ATVs. CW asks readers to view the SVIA Safety Video, and spread the news about its availability.

Trans-Atlantic series won by US, crushing the UK 933.5 to 745.5. Most US competitors are pros, and most Brits talented amateurs.

Senator John Danforth, R, Missouri, introduces bill to limit performance of motorcycles. Uses as comparison four-cylinder, four-door econo car with 98 horsepower.

Motorcycling in America – 1986

Life In America
1986 – Average household income is $22,400. Unemployment is at 7%. The shuttle Challenger exploded on takeoff, killing all aboard. It’s NASA’s first major disaster. In Russia the world’s greatest nuclear disaster takes place in a place called Chernobyl.  Mad Cow disease is diagnosed for the first time in England. Oprah, debuts on TV. ALF and Matlock are more popular however. At the movies we’re watching Platoon, which will launch the careers of several young actors. Musically we’re listening to Robert Plant’s, Victim of Love, and Bob Seger’s, Like A Rock. A gallon of gas is only $.89 and new Husqvarna 250 Enduro is only $3,095

Number One Motorcycle Trend For 1986:
Fully faired sportbikes are becoming available from virtually all manufacturers, traditional 500, 650, and 750 cc displacement categories are being displaced with 600, 700, 900 and 1100 cc engines in a variety of configurations, though predominately inline fours.


European Brands Road Tested
BMW: K75C. Cagiva/Ducati: F1 Montjuich 750, 125MX, 750 Paso. Husqvarna: 400 Enduro, 430 Automatic, 250 Enduro, 510 Cross Country. KTM: 250MXC, 350 Enduro.

Asian Brands Road Tested
Honda: CR500R, CR250R, RR125R VFR750, Aspencade, XR250, Shadow 700, Rebel 450, Helix 250 Scooter. Kawasaki: Ninja 1000R, ZL600 Eliminator, KDX200, Voyager 1300, Ninja 250, KX500, KX250, Concours 1000, Ninja600RX, Ninja 750, ZL1000. Suzuki: GSX-R11100. RM250, Cavalcade, 650 Savage. Yamaha: FJ1200, FZX700 Fazer, Venture Royale, FZ600, YX600 Radian, SRX600, YZ250, Virago 1100.

American Brands Tested
Harley-Davidson: FXRT Touring Edition, Tour Glide Classic.

At Daytona, Eddie Lawson wins the 200 mile Superbike race on his Yamaha FZ750. There are 180 entries for this event, the most in several years. There is no F1 race.

Quickest, Fastest, Best, Most Expensive, Cheapest
Quickest bike tested: GSX-R 1100, 11.04 seconds in the quarter-mile. Top speed: 152 MPH.

Fastest bike tested: Ninja 1100, 11.20 seconds in the quarter-mile. Top speed: 159 MPH.

Best Superbike: Suzuki GSX-R1100. Best Cruiser: Yamaha Virago 1100. Best Enduro: Husqvarna 400. Best 125, 250 & 500 motocross and best dual purpose, all Hondas.

Most Expensive: Harley-Davidson Tour Glide Classic, $9,974

Cheapest: Kawasaki KDX200, $1,899

Other Issues
With horsepower ratings rapidly increasing and an escalating incidence of crashes, the government is considering horsepower limits, as are OE’s in an effort to head-off restrictions that might be damaging to the market.

Harley-Davidson agrees to sell engines to Eric Buell.

In an editorial, Paul Dean points out that there are no longer any motorcycle companies that just make motorcycles.

Cagiva purchases Husqvarna, says production will continue in Sweden.

The Nebraska legislature passes a bill raising the state’s speed limit to 70 MPH on Interstate highways, it’s unknown if the Governor will sign the bill.

Harley-Davidson announces its intent to go public in an effort to raise $14-million. The stock is expected to go on sale for $11.00 per share.

Andy Goldfine of Aerostich debuts his one piece Aerostitch suit for $300, a set of high-end, Gaerne Silverstone road boots are only $142.95.

Competition Accessories advertises DID 630V O-ring chain for, $62.00 and a Shoei Z100, for $118.50.

Motorcycling in America – 1985

Life In America
1985 – Household income is up $500 to $22,100, unemployment though is still high at 7.3%. Hezbollah hijacks TWA flight 847. Famine spreads in Ethiopia. Microsoft releases Windows V.1. The Coca-Cola Company launches something called, New Coke, six months later it’s pulled from shelves. Mel Gibson and Tina Turner team up to star in, Mad Max, Beyond Thunderdome, and the first of the Back to the Future films makes its debut. The big song on the radio is We are the World, done by musicians from all over in support of famine relief. Larry King debuts on CNN. Gas is $1.09 per gallon and Suzuki’s new touring bike, the Cavalcade will cost you $7999.

Number One Motorcycle Trend For 1985:
V-twin engines housed in cruiser frames, with pull-back bars, forward foot pegs and laid-back seating, are sprouting like mushrooms after a rainstorm. All the Japanese OEs now have at least one model..

European Brands Road Tested
BMW: R80RT, R100RT. Cagiva: WMX125, 650 Elefant, Alazura 600. Husqvarna: 250CR, 510TE, 510, 500XC, 400WRX. KTM: 250MTX, 500MXC, 350MXC. M-Star (Maico): SM250

Asian Brands Road Tested
Honda: CR125R, GL1200 Gold Wing LE, CR250R, VT1100 Shadow, XR600R, XR350R, Rebel 250, Elite Scooter, VF1000R. Kawasaki: Vulcan 750, Eliminator 900, Ninja 600, KX500. KX250, LTD450, GPz750, KX125. Suzuki: GS1150E, SP600, GS700ES, RM250, GSX-R 750, VS700 Intruder, GV1400 Cavalcade. Yamaha: BW200, YZ250, TY350, V-Max, FZ750, XT350.

American Brands Tested
Amazonas: 1600. Can-Am: 250 MX LC. Harley-Davidson: XLH1100 Sport.

Daytona race undergoes format change. A decision by the Frances has Superbike displacing F1 as the premier event.

Randy Morales and Chuck Miller take overall win the Baja 1000.

After 15 years of battle, Mike Goodwin, the Godfather of Supercross, and the AMA come to an agreement. The AMA’s role will be strictly that of officiating on the track. Their role as promoters and rule makers is over.

Barry Sheene, road racing’s most affable spokesperson retires after 18 years of competition.

A young Texan, Kevin Schwantz, signs a contract for a Suzuki factory ride after only 6-months after first throwing a leg over a superbike.

Mamola (Honda) takes Laguna Seca F1 win over long-time mentor Roberts (Yamaha)

Freddie Spencer wins 14 GP races to capture the World 500 GP Championship on his Honda.

Bubba Shobert (Honda) wins GNC.

Other Issues
Honda launches a mass media campaign featuring pop stars like Grace Jones, Adam Ant, and DEVO, to promote motor scooters, ads appear on both network and cable.

Gaines Service Leasing Corp. expands leasing options into the motorcycle market. BMW execs predict leasing will be the way to go in the future.

Mounting land use issues cause the closing of Saddleback Park and Indian Dunes in California, Turkey Bay in Tennessee, and Big Cypress in Florida.

Dairyland Insurance offers a full-coverage helmet for $39.95, and where permitted, is eliminating deductibles for riders who wear helmets.

After only two years the Turbo era is declared to be “dead.” Reason given, performance and cost.

The reality of “counter-steering” is debated monthly through the letters to the editor’s column.

Competition Accessories advertises a top-end Arai Ultra Light helmet for $231.50 and a pair of Bates Fast Lane boots for $115.95.