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


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

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

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.

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Bike (Technology) You Should Know: Modern Motorcycle Technology by Massimo Clarke


Hooniverse is generally not about motorcycles. Yes, there’s a good-sized minority of regulars who ride, but Hooniverse is overwhelmingly an automotive site. I pitched the idea behind Bikes You Should Know to Jeff as “helping our readers have something intelligent to say when the conversation at a backyard barbeque turns to motorcycles.” However, Hooniverse readers are a curious lot. For most of our non-riding visitors, motorcycles are still interesting in the same way that six-wheeled and tracked vehicles and gyrocopters are interesting, even if they have no desire to own any of them. (Although it seems that everyone wants a ‘Busa-powered something.)

I read Hooniverse from the point of view of someone who knows a fair amount about bikes, and not a whole lot about cars beyond being a decent car-spotter. In technical discussions, I am often struck by just how differently car and bike engines and transmissions are constructed. That’s why today I am recommending a book to my non-riding Hooniversalist brethren: Modern Motorcycle Technology by Massimo Clarke. This is a great means to learn all the way bike drivetrains are different than what you’re used to, and why. … Continue Reading

Crowdfunding A Mid-Life Crisis Cross-Country Scooter Trip


So you’re turning the big Four-Oh, and you’re itching to go on an adventure. Cross country road trips are adventures, right? Minimalist cross country road trips are surely worth double points. What if your road trip takes you from Daytona Beach to Long Beach? How do you get back across the United States? Do the Forest Gump, and turn right back around and head back the way you came. In order to complicate things even further, why not do this whole thing on two wheels? Screw it, step your game up and make it happen on a 125cc Yamaha Zuma scooter. Grab life by the cojones and hit the open road. Show the world that Forty isn’t boring!

This is exactly the plan that Mr. Thomas Heath has in mind. To make matters even better, he’s planning to document the whole trip in beautiful high-definition photography and literary prose, planning to publish a book on the trip as soon as he gets back. That’s where you come in, dear reader. Mr. Heath can’t make this massive undertaking on his own, so he is asking anyone who can to provide funding, resources, or support for the cause. If you check out his Indiegogo page, you’ll see there are a number of perks included in exchange for your support. Buy the guy lunch, give him a place to stay, or pay for some fuel costs, and you could grab yourself a copy of that book as soon as it is published. Heath is planning to get this road on the show as early as October, and assuming funding comes through, he says his book will be ready to publish as early as January of next year. That’s a pretty quick turnaround, and I’m sure interested in the outcome!

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Bikes You Should Know: 1976 Kawasaki KZ900 LTD

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.

For a period of time, “factory customs” took over the motorcycle industry. Honda called theirs Customs. Yamaha had Specials (and later, Maxims). Suzuki had their Low Slingers. And Kawasaki had LTDs. They were to bikes what disco was to music: a lowbrow pop phenomenon that was short on substance, big on glitz, and hugely appealing to the masses despite being roundly derided by “experts.” And, also like disco, when the public turned on factory customs they did so with a vengeance. Seemingly overnight, what had been the “in thing” was suddenly silly and uncool to the point of mockery.

But how and why did this outrageous and quizzical trend ever take hold? The genesis of the factory custom trend and most of the cruisers that followed is this bike: The 1976 KZ900 LTD.

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Bikes You Should Know: Honda Trail 90

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.

Many image-conscious people are attracted to motorcycles that make a statement about their grandiosity, machismo and fearlessness, or at least their audaciousness. The Honda CT90 “Trail 90″ (and it’s later iteration, the CT110) is the polar opposite: there’s nothing bad-ass about it. The Honda Trail was simple and non-threatening to ride, struggled to reach 55 MPH, and looked a bit gooney with its under-seat fuel tank and bright, primary colors. It was a whole lot more Hugh Beaumont than Chuck Norris, or even Chuck Conners. But what it lacked in style, it made up in practicality and utility. Albeit slowly, a Trail 90 could traverse nearly any terrain. From putt-putting down to the showers at an RV park to striking out from a remote deer camp, the Trail 90 was all about outdoor exploration.

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Two Wheel Tuesday – Get your GSX-R on Route 66’r


A good friend, Mikko, decided before this summer that what he needed in his life, along with American cars in various states of functionality, was a fast bike. He proceeced to acquire a 2004 Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K4 without hesitating, and he’s had a great summer riding around the country on the yellow menace. But now, he believes it might be for the greater good to get rid of it. Can you believe?

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Weekend at Beaulieu:- The Museum. Pt 2:- Bikes


A visit to England’s National Motoring Museum is something that, until last weekend, I’m ashamed to say I’ve never got around to doing. So when I visited the annual International Autojumble hosted there, I made sure I devoted the entire weekend to taking the place in properly.

On Thursday you joined me for a whistle-stop photo-tour of some of the more comment-worthy cars to be found among this immense collection. Today we bring the wheel-count down a notch or two and explore some of Beaulieu’s beautiful bikes.

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Bikes You Should Know: Harley-Davidson Livewire


My first eleven installments of Bikes You Should Know featured motorcycles introduced at least twenty years ago. But it’s not my intention for this column to focus exclusively on classic bikes. This is a spectacular age for production motorcycles, and there are plenty of new and notable motorcycles a self-proclaimed gear-head should be familiar with. And they don’t come any newer or more notable than Harley-Davidson’s new electric motorcycle, the Livewire.

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