Motorcycling in America – 1996

Life In America
1996 – Median household income is $35,492. Mad Cow disease strikes Great Britain. eBay starts. Dolly the sheep becomes the first animal to be created through cloning. Internet usage goes from 1 million to 10 million in 12 months. The summer Olympics are held in Atlanta. The Macarena, as a song and dance sweeps the country. Clapton wins a Grammy for Change the World. Much to the joy of gear heads Speedvision debuts. Matlock ends its 10 year run. At the box office, Independence Day is the number one hit. A gallon of gas is up to $1.22. $15,000+ will get you either a Ducati 916 or a Yamaha Royal Star Classic.

Number One Motorcycle Trend:
While not strictly speaking a trend, the repeal of the National 55 MPH Speed Limit is possibly the most important thing that’s happened for motor heads of all stripes. States are now allowed to set speed limits and most dump the 55 MPH law immediately. It’s a cause for joy among most motorcyclists, and throttles are opened wide across the country in celebration.

European Brands Road Tested
Bimota: SB6. BMW: R1100RT. Ducati: 916. KTM: 250 SX, 360 E/XC. MZ: Skorpion Replica Triumph: Daytona 1200, Trophy 1200, Adventurer.

Asian Brands Road Tested
Honda: CR250R, XR250R, CBR900R, Valkyrie, ST1100 ABSII. Kawasaki: Ninja ZX-7, Ninja ZX-7R, Vulcan 1500 Classic, KLX250, Vulcan 500 LTD. Suzuki: DR650, GSX-R750, Bandit 1200S, Savage. Yamaha: Royal Star Classic, YZF750R, Royal Star, YZF600R.

American Brands Tested
ATK: 605. Buell: S1 Lightning. Harley-Davidson: Sportster 1200.

Quickest, Fastest
Quickest bike tested: Bimota SB6 (1075cc): Quarter mile, 10.49. Top speed 166 MPH.

Fastest bike tested: Tie: Bimota SB6, Suzuki GSX-R750: Top speed 166.

Other Issues
Demonstrating the strength of the cruiser market, Cycle World does a special advertising section covering the segment and its accessories. 39 models from Honda, Harley, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Moto Guzzi and Triumph are represented.

Confederate Motorcycles makes a debut with their Hellcat model.

Eddie Lawson, Jeff Ward, Kevin Schwantz and Rick Johnson take up four-wheel racing of various types.
Wayne Rainey, with support of Marlboro is now in competition with his ex-mentor, Kenny Roberts in the 500GP series.

Jawa Motorcycles goes on the block.

World GP racing is in flux due to challenges by IRTA, and Swiss based ISL marketing company. Increasing interest and competitiveness of World Superbike is also draining stars and audiences.
The state of Massachusetts proposes closing the majority of the state’s public lands to off-road use.

New regulations would permit riding in nine state forests, but only between May and October, and no riding on Sunday.

Race promoter Stu Peters is attempting to revive the Catalina GP for spring of ’97. Ex-racer, Goat Brecker is working with the city of Elsinore to revive the GP in that town.

Harley is gearing up to produce 200,000 units per year to satisfy increasing demand and expand sales overseas.

Aprilia is the fastest growing motorcycle company in Europe and a private company announces plans to open a distributorship in the US by the end of the year.

Miguel Duhamel (Honda) wins Daytona Superbike. Aaron Yates and his GSX-R win the 750 Supersport class and Jeremy McGrath takes his Honda to a win in the Supercross.

America’s first motorcycle World Champion, speedway, Jack Milne, passes away.

Motorcycling in America – 1995

Life In America
1995 – Median household income is $34,076. The Federal Building in Oklahoma City is bombed killing 168 people. A heat wave strikes the mid-west, killing 6,433, and over 700 in Chicago alone. O J Simpson is found innocent; his televised trial causes daytime soaps to lose massive audiences. DVD optical storage media is announced. Let Her Cry, by Hootie and the Blowfish, is a Grammy Winner. Bruce Willis scores at the movies with Die Hard With A Vengeance. And the first all digitally produced cartoon, Toy Story, also scores big at the box office. Modern Marvels debuts on the History Channel. A gallon of gas is $1.09. The new Honda CBR600F3 will cost you $7,299.

Number One Motorcycle Trend:
Harley-Davidson has become a juggernaut in the motorcycle industry, while sales of motorcycles as a whole are on an upswing, Harley is outstripping everyone. Even with increased production capability their dealers are coping with product shortages and most of their existing and future inventory is pre-sold. Consumers on the other hand have to pay thousands over suggested retail to get the bike they want.

European Brands Road Tested
BMW: R1100R, R1100RT. Ducati: M900 Monster. Husqvarna: 250 WXE. KTM: SK250, Duke, 600 R/XC, 250 E/XC. MZ: Skorpion, Voyager, Country, Silver Star, Tour. Triumph: Thunderbird, Speed III, Sprint 900, Tiger 900, Daytona 900, 1947 Speed Twin.

Asian Brands Road Tested
Honda: CBR600F3, CR250, Magna Deluxe, CB1000, CBR900R, VFR750, ST1100 ABS-TCS, Shadow Ace. Kawasaki: Ninja ZX-6R, GPz1100, Ninja ZX-6, Vulcan 800. KX250, KDX200. Suzuki: GSX-R1100, RM250, RMX250, Bandit 600s. Yamaha: SR500, FZF600, XJR1200, FZR1100, YZ250, YZF750R, WR250.

American Brands Tested
ATK: 250LQ. Harley-Davidson: Ultra Classic Ultra Glide, Bad Boy, FXD Dyna Super Glide. Indian: 1947 Chief.

Quickest, Fastest
Quickest 600cc bike tested: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R: Quarter mile, 10.89. Top speed 154 MPH.

Fastest 600cc bike tested: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R: Top speed 154 MPH. Quarter mile, 10.89.

Other Issues
According the Motorcycle Industry Council; the average motorcyclist is 32.6 years of age, 93% male, 56% married, 29.9% blue collar, 23.7% white collar, with an average income of $33,200.

The AMA restructures pro racing. It will now be split into two entities, Paradama; a separate corporation will handle promotion, marketing, and sponsorship. The AMA will continue to sanction and officiate.

Amateur racing is unchanged.

President Clinton includes $30 million in budget for National Recreation Trail Fund. The first time an administration has set aside funds for this program created in 1991.

US Bankruptcy Court awards rights to Indian marque to an Australian.

Big Dog motorcycles make their debut.

Harley Davidson files for right to trademark the sound of their motorcycles.

ESPN will telecast the complete schedule of World Grand Prix races.

Consumer financing for motorcycles, until now handled by independent banks, loan companies and credit unions, is starting to be addressed by motorcycle manufacturers, like Honda’s Zero Down and 9% APR finance scheme’s as an example.

Kevin Schwantz retires from professional motorcycle road racing.

Off-road Champ, Danny Hamel is killed at start of Baja 1000 when a policeman moves his car across the road, and is struck by Danny’s accelerating motorcycle.

It’s rumored that Polaris will soon be building a V-Twin cruiser and entry level dirt bike

Motorcycling in America – 1994

Life In America
1994 – Average household income is $33, 178. Tonya Harding attacks Nancy Kerrigan with a pipe. A 6.7 force earthquake strikes in California’s San Fernando Valley doing $20-million worth of damage. OJ Simpson leads a bizarre police chase. Netscape Navigator is released. World Series is cancelled due to player’s strike. Kurt Cobain commits suicide. Bruce Springsteen has big hit with Streets of Philadelphia. Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump are drawing big crowds at the movies. Gas is down to $1.09. A Ducati Alchemy SV1 will set you back $15,000.

Number One Motorcycle Trend:
After almost a decade of decline, the motorcycle market is on an upswing. While magazines have been focused on sportbikes, Japanese cruiser-style bikes have been gaining ground. This style trend will become dominant over the next several years.

European Brands Road Tested
BMW: R1100Gs. Ducati: 888 LTD, 916, Alchemy SV1. Husaberg: FC501. Husqvarna: 610. KTM: SX250, 620, 620R/XC.

Asian Brands Road Tested
Honda: CR250, VFR750, Shadow 1100, Magna 750, VLX600, RC45, CBR900RR, CBR600F2, CR125XR600, NR750, CR260, Gold Wing GL1500. Kawasaki: KX250, Vulcan 1500. Vulcan 750, Vulcan 500, Ninja 500, Ninja ZX-9, Ninja ZX-6, KX125, Ninja ZX-7, Ninja ZX-7R, KLX650. Suzuki: RF600R, RM250, Intruder 1400, Intruder 800, GS500, KAT600, RF900R, RF600R, RM125. Yamaha: YZ250, Virago 1100, Virago 750, Virago 535, WR250, FZR600, Seca II, YZF600R, YZ125, YZF750R.

American Brands Tested
ATK: 605. Harley-Davidson: FLHR Road King, FXSTSB Bad Boy.

Quickest, Fastest
Quickest bike tested: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-9: Quarter mile, 10.65. Top speed 166 MPH.

Fastest bike tested: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-9: Top speed 166 MPH. Quarter mile, 10.65.

Other Issues
AMA membership tops 200,000.

Congress cuts funding for National Trail System from $7.5 million to zero.

Yamaha’s experiment with the single-sided steering GTS1000 is determined to be a sales failure.
New motosport from France, Supermoto, is introduced to the readers of Cycle World. Some consider it to be the new training ground for future road racers.

Indian, Excelsior Henderson and Vincent are slated to make a comeback in the next few years. The Indian marque is claimed by an Australian to who claims to be putting together a plan for a Britten powered street bike. In the meantime Indian Motors Manufacturing, owned by Wayne Baughman shows two running proto-type Chiefs with bespoke engines. Hanlon brothers, Dan and Dave, show V-twin power plant mock up for Excelsior-Henderson revival. Bernard Li’s Vincent revival, the Eagle is looking for an engine source.

GP racing is in trouble. Fans, sponsors and grids are fading. Dorna, IRTA and the FIM are locked in a dispute over tracks, sponsorship and promotion. In addition the 500 2/stroke formula seems to be at a dead end in terms of extracting more performance. 250GP times on some tracks are getting close to 500GP lap times.

Famed pin-striper Von Dutch dies.

Triumph opens shop in Peachtree City, GA and begins distribution of new Triumphs.

MZ is now available in the US.

Cycle World declares the Ducati 916 to be the world’s best motorcycle.

Harley builds a dedicated factory road racer, the VR1000, their first effort in 25 years.

Motorcycling in America – 1993

Life In America
1993 – Average household income is $31,230. Islamic fundamentalists bomb the World Trade Center. Beanie Babies are introduced. Intel debuts Pentium Processor. NAFTA is signed into law. The Branch Davidian Sect compound in Waco, TX goes up in flames. We’re listening to Meatloaf’s, I’d Do Anything for Love, but I Won’t Do That. Two very different motion pictures have captured our imagination, Schindler’s List, and Jurassic Park. On TV we bid farewell to M*A*S*H, and begin a long relationship with the David Letterman Show. Gas has gone up to $1.16. Honda has brought back the controversial Pacific Coast, and it will cost you $6,499 to own one.

Number One Motorcycle Trend:
In contrast to the early ‘80s, fewer all new motorcycles are being imported from Japan. As a result Cycle World’s number of road tests has diminished, replaced by riding impressions, and reports from Europe and Japan on motorcycles not available in the United States along with more articles about customs, both café and cruiser, and vintage bikes.

European Brands Road Tested
BMW: K-75. R100R, K1100RS. Ducati: 888, Super Mono, Monster 900. Husqvarna: 360, 610 /WXC. KTM: 250, 400LC4. Moto Guzzi: Daytona 1000.

Asian Brands Road Tested
Honda: CR250R, ST1100, CBR1000F, CBR900R, CB750, CB1000, Magna 750, CR500, CBR600F2 (’94), Pacific Coast (’94). Kawasaki: Ninja Z-X6, KZ250, Ninja ZX-7, KLX650R, Ninja ZX-11, KLX650, Zephyr ZR1100, KDX200, Concours, KX500. Suzuki: GSX-R1100, RM250, GSX-R750, Katana 1100, GS 1100G, VX800, RMX250. Yamaha: YZ250, YZF 750, GTS1000, FJ1200, FZR1000, TDM850, V-Max, WR250, WR500, Seca II (’94), Virago 1100 (’94), V-Max (’94).

American Brands Tested
ATK: 406. Harley-Davidson: FLSTN Heritage Softail Nostalgia, Dyna Low Rider, Sportster 883, Dyna Wide Glide FXDWG.

Quickest, Fastest, Best, Most Expensive, Cheapest
Quickest bike tested: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-11: Quarter mile, 10.56. Top speed 176 MPH.

Fastest bike tested: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-11: Top speed 176 MPH. Quarter mile, 10.56.

Best Superbike:  Honda CBR900R.

Best Enduro: KTM 250 E/XC.

Best 750 Street: Honda VFR 750F.

Best Dual Purpose: Honda XR650L.

Most Expensive: Ducati SuperMono, $30,000.

Cheapest: Kawasaki KDX200, $3,249.

Other Issues
BMW and Yamaha introduce alternative front suspension solutions, BMW the “Paralever” and Yamaha’s single-sided RADD front steering system. Suspension specialist White Power introduces a one-legged fork system with a slider on roller bearings. All systems do away with conventional hydraulic forks. But seem to answer a question that nobody’s asked.

Triumph announces plans to begin distribution in the United States in 1994.

Harley-Davidson buys a 49% share in Eric Buell’s company.

The typical Harley buyer is reported to be 38 years old, with an annual income of $53,000.

Motorcycle fatalities declined 17% from 1992 to 1993.

Wayne Rainey suffers career-ending accident at Italian GP.

The 25th and last running of the 24-Hours of Nelson Ledges is held.

Several large companies announce intention to drop health coverage for motorcycle riding employees.
Maryland’s Baltimore county prohibits maintenance or repair of motor vehicles on residentialy zoned private property.

Three day Super Ticket for USGP at Laguna Seca, allowing admission and paddock access is $50.

Honda reports sales of parts for early twins and CB750 fours are way up.

Motorcycling in America – 1992

Life In America
1992 – Average household income is $30,030. DNA “finger printing” is invented. Bill Clinton is elected President. Mafia boss, John Gotti is sentenced to life in prison. The first McDonald’s opens in Beijing. The world’s largest shopping mall, Mall of America opens in Minnesota. Whitney Houston croons Dolly Parton’s theme, I Will Always Love You, and Clapton sings Tears in Heaven. At the movies the big draws are Unforgiven with Clint Eastwood, and Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon III. Debuting on TV, Mad About You, and Melrose Place. Gas is at $1.05 a gallon and the new Buell RS1200 will set you back $15,995.

Number One Motorcycle Trend:
While the Japanese seem to be singularly focused on sport bikes, the market, lead by Harley-Davidson is shifting to heavy-weight cruisers, 31.4% to 30.7% respectively according to Motorcycle Industry Association figures.

European Brands Road Tested
BMW: R100R, K75, K75S, K100RS, K1100LT. Ducati: 750SS, 900SL, 851 Sport. Husaberg: 501. Husqvarna: 610 WXC, 360 WSC. KTM: 300 D/XC, 250SX.

Asian Brands Road Tested
Honda: XR628, CR250R, Shadow 1100, Night Hawk 750, VFR750F, CBR900RR, CBR600F2, ST1100 ABS/TCS, RC31 (Kit), XR650L. Kawasaki: Ninja 600R, Ninja ZX-6, Ninja ZX-7, Ninja ZX-7REX500. KX250, Vulcan 88, Zephyr ZR1100. Suzuki: Katana 600, GSX-R1100, DR650S, Bandit 400, GS500E, RM250, GSX-R750, GSX-R600, Katana 750. Yamaha: Seca II, YZ-250, FZR1100, FZR600, FJ1200 ABS, YZ WR250.

American Brands Tested
ATK: 604. Buell: RSS1200. Harley-Davidson: FLHTCU Electra Glide, FXLR Low Rider Custom.

Quickest, Fastest, Best, Most Expensive, Cheapest
Quickest bike tested: Honda CBR900RR: Quarter mile, 10.59. Top speed 159 MPH.

Fastest bike tested: Yamaha FZR1000: Top speed 165 MPH. Quarter mile, 10.64.

Best Superbike:  Honda CBR900R.

Best Enduro: Husqvarna 610.

Best 750 Street: Honda VFR 750F.

Best Dual Purpose: Honda XR650L.

Most Expensive: Harley-Davidson FLHTCU $16,099, almost the same as the average new car, $16,950.

Cheapest: Suzuki GS500E, $3,245.

Other Issues
Cycle World celebrates its 30th Anniversary with a look over the past 30 years.

The American distributors of Bimota put together a leasing scheme; $6,000 down, and $399 per month for three years will put you on a new Tesi or YB8.

Legendary seat maker, Mike Corbin, debuts an electric partial streamliner, sets World Land Speed Record for class at 165 MPH. Bill Rannberg in England develops electric drag bike with a 20HP DC engine and hits the middle 12s at 101 MPH.

NHTSA is doling out $65 to states that pass mandatory helmet and safety-belt laws.

New Zealander, John Britten debuts radical garage-built V-Twin at Daytona Battle of the Twins. DNF due to electrical problem, but bike has stunning performance.

Scott Russell wins Daytona Superbike race to hand Kawasaki their first ever win at Daytona.

Harley-Davidson cracks down on unauthorized use of their logo and seizes 150 lbs of merchandise from vendors in Daytona.

ESPN agrees to televise 10 AMA Dirt Track Races. Prime Ticket will present 12 one-hour road racing events.

AMA membership hits 196,000, a record high.

Study by University of Chicago debunks theory that helmets cause neck injuries.