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Retro/Vintage Motorcycle Reviews

Retrospective: 1978-1979 Suzuki GS1000

1978 Suzuki GS1000.

There is horsepower, and there is handling. Beginning in 1969, the Japanese were quickly winning the horsepower wars, but the Europeans had a far better understanding of handling. The Japanese could win races, but a chassis suitable for a racetrack is vastly different from one that needs to be used for doddering around town and then careening through the curvy ...

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Concept Bike: BMW Motorrad R 5 Hommage

BMW Motorrad's R 5 Hommage concept bike celebrates the 80th anniversary of its iconic R 5 model.

At the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, held in Cernobbio, Italy, on the picturesque shores of Lake Como, BMW Motorrad marked the 80th anniversary of its R 5, an iconic model with a lightweight frame based on the company’s 500cc factory race bike, by unveiling a one-off concept called the BMW R 5 Hommage. The heart of the R 5 Hommage ...

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2016 Yamaha XSR900 – First Ride Review

2016 Yamaha XSR900

Without a doubt, one of the most exciting engines to come along in the last couple of years is Yamaha’s 847cc in-line triple. Churning out more than 100 rear-wheel horsepower, it packs a punch and the “crossplane concept” design, with offset crankpins and even firing intervals, infuses it with a feisty blend of sound, feel and torque. The potent, versatile ...

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Retrospective: Suzuki SP500: 1981-1983

Year/Model: 1982 Suzuki SP500; Owner: Kennie Buchanan, Azusa, California.

Here was an extremely enjoyable dual-purpose big single, a trail bike, with reasonable suspension and good manners. And a honkin’ great 500cc engine, knocking out more than 35 horses at 6,500 rpm, pushing about 300-plus pounds down the pavement or over the dirt road on the mountain. This was a great way to explore the backcountry, limited only by a ...

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2016 Triumph Street Twin – Road Test Review

Quick handling, light weight and good cornering clearance make the Street Twin an able companion in the corners.

In the 1960s and ’70s, Triumph sold more motorcycles in the U.S. than in the rest of the world combined. A great many of those bikes were the iconic Bonnevilles, which were launched in 1959 to commemorate Triumph’s 1956 world speed record. By the time the company closed its doors in 1983 and industrialist John Bloor bought the Triumph name, the ...

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2016 Triumph Thruxton R – First Ride Review

Despite its short wheelbase and aggressive fork angle, the Thruxton R never feels skittish; on the contrary it always seems to be well planted no matter the road condition.

Read our 2016 Triumph Bonneville T120 Black review About the Thruxton: Take everything you just read about the T120, and toss it out the window. Despite the shared platform, the same engine and even an identical radiator, these are two completely different animals. Each bike is focused at totally different riders, with engineering aimed to showcase varying and disparate performance ...

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2016 Triumph Bonneville T120 Black – First Ride Review

2016 Triumph Bonneville T120 Black

Hustling the new 2016 Triumph T120 through blustery ocean breezes somewhere east of Cabo da Roca—the westernmost point of continental Europe—I had to admit: They absolutely nailed it. As the prodigious torque easily pulled me through endless coastal bends on highway N247, the steel-tubed chassis just soaked it all up, with just enough bounce at either end to remind me ...

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Retrospective: Ducati Monza Junior 160: 1964-1970

Year/Model: 1964 Ducati Monza Junior 160; Owner: Fritz Buehner, Lubec, Maine.

You can credit the Berliner brothers with this one. Joe and Mike had decided to make their fortunes by importing European (including British) motorcycles, beginning with Zundapp back in 1951. They picked up the Ducati distributorship in 1958, which had several nice lightweight machines at lightweight prices. Beautiful little 98cc and 125cc overhead-camshaft singles, creations of a brilliant engineer called ...

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Ariel 4G Square Four 1,000cc: 1937-1959

Year/Model: 1951 4G Square Four Mark I; Owner: Mike Barber, Shell Beach, California.

The magnificent Squariel! This one-liter engine was, in effect, two overhead-valve parallel twins standing vertically, with the two crankshafts geared together and all four cylinders fed by a single carburetor. This layout meant lots of low-end power and lots of torque, an excellent choice for pulling a large sidecar. A well-sprung solo saddle kept the rider happy, and the ride ...

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Retrospective: Ducati 860 GT and GTE: 1974-1975

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When descriptions of a motorcycle run like this: “exceedingly ugly,” “slab-sided ugly duckling,” “Stateside reception…barely rose to lukewarm,” “judged a disaster,” it might well be expected that this was a sales flop. Which the Ducati GT, and the electric-start GTE version, were. As one current observer notes, not many stock GTs are around, because the original was just too unattractive ...

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