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Feast Your Eyes on This Fabulous Ferrari… Motorcycle?

 

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Did you know that Ferrari once designed and built motorcycles? No, not Enzo Ferrari, but in fact a pair of brothers who happened to share that same last name, and thought they could capitalize on that tenuous connection to Maranello’s favored son. I came across this 1952 150 Sport at a recent show and found it to be a cheeky poke in ribs to the venerated auto maker.

This bike features a 150-cc two-stroke and is very similar in design to the contemporary Parilla. There’s a good reason for that, as one of the brothers who founded Fratelli Ferrari had previously worked for that maker. … Continue Reading

Bikes You Should Know: Honda CB400/450 Twins

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Bikes You Should Know appears weekly as part of Two Wheel Tuesdays. Since Hooniverse primarily caters to automotive enthusiasts, this column focuses on historically or culturally significant motorcycles that are likely to interest a non-riding audience.


Throughout the Bikes You Should Know series, I’ve found myself often tossing around superlatives such as “iconic,” “legendary,” and “groundbreaking.” That sort of hyped-up prose can wear thin, leaving the regular reader with the impression that I think every bike I discuss is the greatest thing ever. Today, I will use those words only once, and since they only appear in this opening introduction, you’re past them now.

Today’s topic is Honda’s six-valve 400/450cc twins, known by a variety of designations, including Hawk, SuperHawk and SuperDream. They’re not the greatest thing ever. In fact, it’s become very fashionable for riders to mock them. But such derision isn’t deserved either. The truth is somewhere in between. The six-valve, twin-cylinder motor was sold in a dizzying array of different models and configurations for various markets, and sold by the millions in markets all around the world. The basic architecture anchored Honda’s mid-size lineup for a decade and a half, and was among the most profitable designs ever marketed. That widespread popularity can only be labeled a success, and it’s why it’s a line-up you should know.

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Bikes You Should Know: Triumph Bonneville

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Bikes You Should Know appears weekly as part of Two Wheel Tuesdays. Since Hooniverse primarily caters to automotive enthusiasts, this column focuses on historically or culturally significant motorcycles that are likely to interest a non-riding audience.


The classic Triumph Bonneville was available (in some form) almost continually for thirty years. Throughout the 1960s, the Bonneville was perhaps the most iconic, widely desired motorcycle in the world. By the ‘Seventies, it had been eclipsed by both foreign competition and by bigger, faster Triumphs. But its amazing balance of ride, handling, power and size were too good for it to die without a fight. It remains a magic formula for riding enjoyment.

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Seven U.S. Motorcycle Events You Should Know

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Motorcyclists are a social lot, which is surprising for all the talk of individualism, and the meager passenger capacity of their chosen mode of transport. There are lots of informal breakfast runs and club rallies around the country, and motorcycle races of all kinds will attract a crowd of bikes in the parking lot, but there are some truly significant events that even non-riders may wish to familiarize themselves with. Here are seven big hitters you should be able to name.
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Bikes You Should Know: Triumph X-75 Hurricane

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Bikes You Should Know appears weekly as part of Two Wheel Tuesdays. Since Hooniverse primarily caters to automotive enthusiasts, this column focuses on historically or culturally significant motorcycles that are likely to interest a non-riding audience.


The Triumph Hurricane is significant not for what it was, but for what it portended. It was not a long-lived model. It was not a competition winner. It was not a cash cow for its maker. It did not offer any functional advances. But what it did do was change not only the style of motorcycles, but the process of how motorcycles are styled. And it would change for a generation how Americans viewed motorcycles, and how overseas manufacturers viewed the American motorcyclist.

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Jan Anderle and The Dálník: Blurring the line between Bike and Car.

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Repulsive, isn’t it? A gargoyle among the sirens of steel and rubber that make up the historic motorcycle collection of the National Technical Museum, Prague. It may be redolent of the kind of creature that lurks at the bottom of the ocean’s deepest trenches, but it also happens to be one of the more interesting footnotes in European transportation development in the 20th century.

I covered the way-ahead-of-its-time ČAS Sc quite recently, and this, the Dálník 250 prototype is even more extreme in its concept. Find out more about it and what it led to after the jump.

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Hooniverse Road Trip: Kinsley, Kansas – “Midway USA”

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In 1939, there were two concurrent World’s Fairs being held in the United States: the New York World’s Fair, and the Golden Gate International Exposition a continent away in San Francisco. That April, the cover of an issue of The Saturday Evening Post depicted two cars, each emblazoned with “World’s Fair or Bust,” passing each other in opposite directions under a fictional signpost marking the mid-point between the two cities. As it turns out, that imaginary signpost would have been located on U.S. Highway 50 just outside Kinsley, Kansas. The county seat of Edwards County has been promoting itself as “Midway, USA” ever since, but without managing to attract much national attention.

Fast forward three-quarters of a century. My close friend Rusty — an old co-worker and riding buddy of mine who relocated to Colorado years ago — suggested we get together for a motorcycle ride; the only problem is that he lives 620 miles west of me. I suggested that my wife and I should meet him halfway. A quick check of Google Maps indicated that the halfway point between his house in Pueblo and mine in Kansas City was within three miles of…Kinsley, Kansas. Even living less than 4-1/2 hours away, I had never heard of Kinsley. But once I learned of its long reputation as THE half-way point, kismet demanded we meet there. Not long after, under a cloudy June sky, we did.

What we found there was a quirky, threadworn small town whose acme had long passed without ever quite realizing its potential. But thanks to my equally quirky and optimistic traveling companions and the town’s genuinely sincere citizens, plus the great excuse for plenty of miles on sparsely populated rural roads, it was definitely worth the trip.

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A Honda Zoomer….. from 1921? The ČAS Sc.

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The Honda Zoomer, available since 2002 on the Japanese and American market, is recognised by several people I’ve met as an iconic piece of micro-scooter design. I happen to agree with them. Its stripped-down form and the way its vital structural members are laid bare for all to see makes for a refreshingly different take on the oft-cliche’d scooter convention. It’s an expression of High-Tech Architecture on two-wheels.

So, when working my way along the crowded line of motorcycles on permanent exhibition at the National Technical Museum in Prague, I was quite taken aback to see this machine for the first time. It appears to be everything the Honda Zoomer is, yet was built some eighty-one years earlier. It being two-wheel Tuesday, take a closer look after the jump.

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Bikes You Should Know: Featherbed Manx

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Bikes You Should Know appears weekly as part of Two Wheel Tuesdays. Since Hooniverse primarily caters to automotive enthusiasts, this column focuses on historically or culturally significant motorcycles that are likely to interest a non-riding audience.


The cutaway drawing above is from 1952. It shows a single-cylinder, air-cooled, grand prix roadracing motorcycle. Single cylinder and grand prix might not go together in the mind of a modern viewer. We are used to thinking of single-cylinder, four-stroke “thumpers” as pleasant, but distinctly underpowered when compared to multi-cylinder designs. Single-cylinder engines are suitable for dirt bikes, commuters and learner machines — but not world-championship racing. Right? Well, for most of the 20th century, that was wrong. The Norton Manx defeated two-, three-, four- and eight-cylinder machines regularly throughout its long and illustrious run as both a works racer and a production racer sold to the public. This success was partially because the Manx engine’s double-overhead-cam design was technologically impressive for the time, but a lot of the credit must go to the “featherbed” frame that debuted in 1950. The Featherbed established the handling superiority of swingarm rear suspension, which remains nearly ubiquitous today, and remained in production (in various forms) for twenty years.

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Bikes You Should Know: 1969 Honda CB750

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Bikes You Should Know appears weekly as part of Two Wheel Tuesdays. Since Hooniverse primarily caters to automotive enthusiasts, this column focuses on historically or culturally significant motorcycles that are likely to interest a non-riding audience.


Well, we might as well acknowledge the elephant in the room. I’ve resisted profiling some clearly significant motorcycles right out of the gate, so this series doesn’t gradually slide from true significance to featuring whatever also-ran we haven’t covered yet. But it’s starting to feel awkward to keep excluding the Honda’s SOHC 750. It was, by any meaningful yardstick, the most significant motorcycle ever. If this truly is “Bikes You Should Know,” this one is #1 with a bullet.

Honda’s CB750 was not the first four-cylinder, transverse motorcycle. It wasn’t the first motorcycle to wear a disc brake. It wasn’t even the first production, street legal four. However, when it was introduced, it was the first modern affordable, mass-produced four-cylinder motorcycle. And it was equipped with the world’s first standard-equipment hydraulic disc brake.

In other words, ordinary joes could suddenly go down to a local dealer and buy the most advanced, grand-prix technology in the world for themselves to ride.

… Continue Reading

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