The Roberts family is to motorcycle racing what the Andrettis and Unsers are to automobile racing. Kenny Roberts Sr. won the AMA Grand National Championship at 21 years old, making him the youngest rider to have won that title. He took his first of three 500 Grand Prix road racing world championships when he was 26. His son Kenny Jr. won the 2001 500 GP title at the age of 27. Youngest son Kurtis Roberts was racing in Europe at the age of 17. He rode the 250 GP class at 18. He won his first AMA title in the Formula Xtreme class while riding for the Erion team at 20. Last year, at 21, he won the Formula Xtreme title a second consecutive time and also took the 600 SuperSport championship.
You see a pattern here? One could argue that genetics makes the Roberts clan superior road racers, but that shortchanges them. Junior and Kurtis grew up on their father's ranch in Hickman, California, sliding around on Honda XRٱ00s with road-racing legends such as Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson, John Kocinski and Bubba Shobert, and have worked as hard as any of them for their success. The thing is, Kurtis started road racing in GPs earlier than his father or older brother and already has more titles than either of them at the same age. There are those who say the youngest Roberts could very well be the best.
The year after Kurtis Roberts came home from Europe, he joined the Erion team and has been with them ever since. He's progressed steadily and with remarkable speed, going from second in points in the AMA's 250 GP class to his Formula Xtreme title in 1999 to his double titles in 2000. Obviously there's good chemistry between him and the team.
"There are a lot of advantages to being on the Erion team," he says. "Honda is committed to building the best bikes, and the Erion team is really a unique group of people. They work together as a team. We win as a team, and we lose as a team. And that's very important."
For 2001, Roberts will defend his 600 title aboard Honda's new CBR600F4i, and will step up to ride the premier road-race class in the United States, AMA Superbike, on Honda's RC51 V-twin weapon.
Now, some riders might be more circumspect about their freshman year in the Superbike class, but not Roberts. He wants to win the title. And he's got some advantages that might help him do it. First off, he knows how to ride mega-horsepower motorcycles, having mastered the Erion team's snorting, tire-smoking Formula Xtreme weapons. Second, Roberts has been consistently quick when he's ridden the RC51. On several occasions last year he posted quicker times than anyone in the field.
"The first time I ever sat on the RC51 I was on pole on the thing the first day," Roberts says. "So I know I'm fast on the bike."
"I was always better on bigger bikes. Big bikes suit my style. I can slide them and do whatever I want with them better than I can on a 600." And we all know just how well he rides a 600.
"I want to win two more championships," he says. "I want to win the 600 race at Daytona again, and continue on from there like I did last year. And, you know, I'd love to win Superbike races and that championship, all of which I think are attainable."
Such goals certainly seem within his reachespecially when he talks about what he learned last season with a degree of maturity that should worry his competitors.
"I need to stop trying to lead every lap," he says. "And I don't need to win every race. Trying to win them all last year really blew out three or four 600 races which we probably could have won.
"I've just got to let things come to me rather than make them happen all the time. Like Road Atlanta, for instance. I tried to make too much happen too early and ran off the track, when we could have won. And I had three or four laps at that point faster than anyone else that weekend. So I've got to learn to let things come to me a little slower."
Combine the speed he's already shown, and the clarity of purpose in targeting championship wins rather than individual race victories, and you've got to wonder: Could Kurtis Roberts be the best Roberts we've seen yet?
(full size people, small motorbikes...)
Ever since I saw mini-moto on TV I knew I had to have a go. It just looked so STUPID.
Despite laughing like a maniac I didn't fall off on the practise first lap. Although I made up for that later, in the races.
These little bikes were reaching up to 22mph on a twisty track. But they are VERY unstable and it only takes slight wiggle, too much power, you knee touching a tyre or your foot touching the ground for it all to go pear-shaped very quickly.
As the pre-requisites for being good seemed to be lightness, flexibility and a willingness to fall off I thought I would do OK. I started well but tried too hard and ended up a rather modest 20th out of 33. But at least I didn't get any injuries beyond bruises. One of the other competitors got a broken collar bone (nothing to do with me, I might add).
Sorry to the bloke I jostled/headbutted racing for the line, I came off worst anyway - crossing the line being dragged behind the bike.
I've no idea who is who in the pictures, ecept that none of them are me.
Thanks to Alie Ball for organising it.
April 1-2, 2006
Team Hondaӳ John Natalie, the defending series champ, and Joe Byrd came into Budds Creek and round five separated by a mere four points (Natalieӳ 105 to Byrdӳ 101), and when the dust had cleared, they left tied at 126 apiece. Such is the tight battle between these two Honda TRX450R aces this season, and the good news is that it looks far from letting up.
In moto one, Natalie grabbed the holeshot and opened an early five-second (and as much as eight-plus-second) lead over Pat Brown, Joe Byrd, Doug Gust, Jeremiah Jones and Chad Wienen. By mid-moto, however, Natalie's gap would shrink as Byrd, Gust and Jones stepped up their pace. Shortly after the mid-moto point, Byrd, running second, and Gust, in third, tangled in a downhill off-camber section allowing Jones and Wienen by into second and third, respectively.
Meantime, Natalie had started to fade with arm pump, and Jones eventually passed him for the lead נand ultimately the win נat about three-quarters of the way through the moto. Natalie would finish second, with Honda TRX450R-mounted Wienen rounding out the top three. Team Hondaӳ Tim Farr, still suffering from back pain, crashed on lap one and remounted to finish 18th.
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INDIANΠMOTORCYCLE POWERPLUS٠100 V-TWIN ENGINE
The Power behind the Legendary Indian ChiefΠMotorcycle
True to the classic styling and performance heritage that makes Indian one of the most admired brands in American history, the powerful 100 cubic-inch (1638cc) 45-degree, Powerplus٠100 V-twin engine recreates the unique look and robust feel that captured the affection of motorcycle enthusiasts around the world.
For 2003, the flagship Indian ChiefΠline comes with the Powerplus engine, the largest displacement engine designed and built by an American OEM motorcycle company.
The signature feature of the new Indian motor is its serrated, billet-aluminum rocker boxes and stout, round cylinders that are impossible to ignore.
Distinctive and unique to Indian, the serrated appearance of the polished rocker boxes and the black, rounded cylinders pay tribute to Indian's past. This combination gives the Powerplus 100 engine a strong, unique profile, while the rounded cylinders increase the area of the cooling fins for improved air circulation and engine cooling.
The engine is fed by a 42mm Mikuni "flat-slide" carburetor that is mounted on the left side of the engine, which is unique to early Indian motorcycles. This carburetion package delivers smooth throttle response throughout the entire RPM range.
Although this engine configuration is carbureted, the Powerplus 100 platform is designed to accept fuel injection with minor modifications. To ensure optimum lubrication and scavenging, the motor features a gerotor oil pump system. The transmission is a proprietary wet-clutch, five-speed configuration with a final belt drive. Although the configuration is standard in design, the wet-clutch itself is strengthened for added durability. A two-into-one exhaust header completes this performance package.
The introduction of the Powerplus٠100 engine completes the return of Indian Motorcycle Corporation as an American motorcycle OEM.
The DSA Part 2 Motorcycle Test
If you are under 21 years old then you may only take your test on a 125cc and then you are restricted to 33 bhp for two years.
If you are over 21 you may take your direct access test on a bike over 46.6 bhp.
So assuming that you are legally able to take the direct access option, what are the pros and cons?
Obviously the major downside to taking your test on a smaller machine is the two year limit on what you can ride. The benefit is that the cost of your training will be cheaper, and you can ride on L plates prior to taking your test without an accompanying instructor.
However our experience here at ABILITY shows us that nearly everyone who is eligible for the direct access scheme (DAS) takes that option. The cost of training does increase, but more often than not this is offset by having a wider choice of motorcycles to purchase once you have passed. Supply and demand in the second-hand market dictates that everyone under 21, and those over 21 choosing not to do the DAS option, will be after a limited number of bikes, thus forcing up prices.
And the bottom line is that anyone doing any kind of serious mileage, are going to find themselves feeling very restricted on a limited power machine. The choice is yours. We are happy to train you in the way you wish.
How have you improved the second edition?
In the first edition I wanted to "break the links" with chain hotels and franchise restaurants so my recommendations centered primarily on bed and breakfasts. But when I heard from riders and readers asking for more nominally-priced options, I revisited the country and greatly expanded selections by adding clean and well-kept motels and motor courts, historic local diners, and including a reference list for every chain hotel within a ten mile radius of a destination. I also spent months tracking down and updating websites, motorcycle shops, area codes, prices, attractions, adventures and an in-depth appendix for additional infomrmation. This book contains everything a rider needs to take off on a great journey.
2) What was your favorite ride?
When you've traveled 20,000 miles across the finest landscape and most majestic sights in America, it's hard to pick one. I loved the solitude and expanse of the ride from Missoula to Bozeman, Montana, yet I also loved the lush forests and mountains of Highway 100 in Vermont. And for some reason, Death Valley, even with its absence of.... anything... was a spiritual experience I cannot forget.
3) What was your favorite bike?
Again, maybe it was a combination of the environment (Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota), but for me the Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad 1500 was just the right size and style for me.
4) How long did it take you to make these trips?
My first ride was on September 7, 1998, (Buddy Holly's 62d birthday) and the last was in July, 1999 (someone's birthday but I'm not sure whose.) I'd go out on the road for a month, return home and write for two or three, then go out again. I had to plan the trips so I'd miss the snows in New England and the Pacific Nnorthwest so it took a bit of fine tuning. But I'm a mighty,. mighty man so I did it.
5) Why can't you do this by car?
You canand I'd recommend that Congress pass legislation requiring motorists to carry a copy of GAMT in their cars. As I wrote in an article in the Miami Herald, "...there are no roads specifically designed for motorcycles ... just as no roads are built only for cars or RVs ... but motorcycle travelers know what they look for in a great ride. We seek freedom from the interstates and an escape from the homogenization of America. We search for back roads where we can shed routine and make every minute an adventure. We want to hone our senses with views of waterfalls and fields of wildflowers, to travel roads that rise and fall like the Roman Empire and lead to general stores and diners where the waitresses call us 'honey.'"
6) Why did you name each bike 'Kuralt'?
I was inspired to see America in large part due to the life's work of CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt. Even as a kid, I saw him traveling the country and showing me people and places that seemed foreign to a kid growing up in Florida, but were mine if I took the initiative. It was in his honor that each bike was given his name. I was thrilled when his daughter read a copy of 'GAMT' and told me that it was a wonderful book that her father would've liked.
7) How did you carry all the gear you'd need?
I was accompanied on all my journeys by my faithful Indian companion, my wife Nancy Howell (who is one-eighth Cherokee). She braved mountain passes, blizzard conditions and months of solo driving just to support my quest. What a woman!
8) Are you available for appearances?
Yes. There are stories about discovering America as well as meeting challenges that seemed impossible. There are dozens of stories interwoven into this adventure regarding emotions, relationships, discovery, spiritual enrichment, and taking a risk to do what you know is right-even if it means spending your life's savings.
9) I've got a full-time job/wife/husband/kids/responsibilties. How can I do a trip like yours?
Decide. I had the luxury of an open schedule and few responsibilities since I haven't had a regular job in ten years. I want my book to encourage you to go out and explore on your own. Even if you can only carve out time for an overnight, do it. As time goes by you can work on longer blocks of time and expand your riding range. But don't copy me. As I say in the introduction, "make your own discoveriesuse my book as a guide, not the Gospel."
Don't ignore your kids, though. Maybe you can ride with another couple, splitting time between a car and a bike. Be creative. And if the kids are grown and only a job ties you down, ask yourself the question I used when I had to make a choice between life as an employee or a freelancer: "If I had a million dollars and didn't have to worry about money, what would I do?" That got me real honest real fast and I answered myself that I wanted to travel and to write. With that, I knew I had the key to decide what I really wanted to do with my life. From there, it was a matter of figuring out how to do it and make a living.
10) You have a sharp sense of humor.
That's not a question, but people aren't used to reading a motorcycle book that doesn't deal with mechanics and a "coming of age" story. I can't fix a damn thing and I hate getting dirty so I left the fix-it and "watch me become a better man" books to other writers. I love the tempo and style of James Thurber, S.J. Perelman, Dr. SuessSeussSuess, Kuralt, Twain, Robert Benchley, P.J. O'Rourke, and John Hughes, so this was a chance to break the mold of boring travel books and write something as diverse and exciting as the nation I was seeing.
11) Why the Tina Louise reference in the 'Pack It Up' section?
Tina Louise (born Tina Blacker on February 11, 1934 in New York) portrayed starlet Ginger Grant on the CBS series 'Gilligan's Island'. The former model and nightclub singer trained at the Actors Studio and the Neighborhood Playhouse but is best known for her sexy comic role as the Marilyn Monroe-ish stranded movie star. Having first seen her on TV when I was six, I'd like to think that she was my first girlfriend. I'd also like to think that she is receiving the mental transmissions I send each morning at 5:43 am.