There are some bikes that inspire awe and others which generate loathing. Mainly though, motorcycles are memorable merely because they are solidly unremarkable. These machines have a brief period of being fashionable, and desirable, and then fade into obscurity.
Then, very rarely, there appears a bike that engenders affection, a motorcycle that is the true embodiment of the mechanical horse. The Suzuki PE 250B was one of these.
The Suzuki PE250B designation is both elegant and mundane. PE stands for 'Pure Enduro' to show that the bike was first, last and middle a dirt bike with only a passing nod to road use. Why 'B'? Suzuki briefly had a flirtation with numbering model years by letter and 'B' refers to 1977. This means that there never was an 'A' model.
What a difference a few years could have made. If Triumph had launched the Triumph Daytona 600 just two years earlier things could have been very different. It was so nearly ahead of its time in many ways, but unfortunately in 2003 when the Triumph Daytona 600 was launched Kawasaki unveiled the first of the radically styled ZX-6R's and Honda unleashed the Honda CBR600RR.
Having learned its lesson the hard way with the dreadful TT600, Triumph put a lot more effort into the Triumph Daytona 600. The styling was radical, the chassis sorted and the engine and fuel injection.
So why did Triumph kill the Daytona 600 after just three years? It all came down to money. In the early nighties Triumph were fixated with beating the Japanese, which a small company in Hinckley, England simple couldn't do. It was in 2003 that the Japanese started throwing everything at the 600cc class. Slipper clutches, radial brakes, lap timers, titanium wotsits, you name it.
A single-cylinder race-bike, the Ducati Supermono was a product of the Ducati golden era that saw the creation of the 916 and the original 900 Monster, aesthetically and mechanically, this was a time when Ducati could do no wrong. Designed by Pierre Terreblanche, the Ducati Supermono clearly influenced his later SS models, though they couldn't hope to top this single's very delicate, classical beauty.
And this remains a fast bike, particularly for a 550cc single. With a four-valve desmodromic head and enviable engine balance, the Ducati Supermono develops an impressively smooth 75 horsepower at 10,000rpm, enough to push well over the 220km/h range. But the bike remains a study in engineering economy and light weight. It is tiny, with carbon and magnesium keeping mass to a minimum.
At 118kg, about the same weight as a Honda CBR-150R, it weights less than many contemporary, aluminum-framed motocross bikes.
Sometimes we stand still and wonder, why did the Japanese got so good in building motorcycles. It all started in 1959, when a little-known Japanese company, turned up to contest their first 125cc racing bike at a TT. Many onlookers laughed at their odd RC142 machines, loosely based on the OHC 125cc Benley roadster. But within two years Honda were TT winners and world champions.
But this all was nothing to technology invented by the East German MZ team. The MZ team had only one problem, Ernst Degner, defected from East Germany in 1961, taking with him many two-stroke technological breakthroughs, developed by engineer Walter Kaaden, expansion chambers design, transfer port shapes and rotary disc valves.
All these revolutionary motorcycle technology made their way into the factory Suzuki's, for which Ernst Degner was now racing, improving the power of Suzuki's 125cc racer from 9 horsepower to 25 horsepower almost overnight.
The 1993 Suzuki RGV500 is from an era when Grand Prix machines were beautiful like few before or since. It's also a touchstone to a golden age of fabulous fag sponsorship, wild highsides and day-glo cool, an era that gave us Schwantz versus Rainey, vast power versus scant control and Mick Doohan v Honda's nasty NSR500.
In outright terms, the Suzuki RGV wasn't the fastest thing on the grid. On the all-important Honkenheim speed trap leaderboard, 1993 saw this bike, Kevin Schwantz's, languishing in eighth, some way behind the ballistic, 320km/h Rothmans Hondas. But it's all relative. Blessed with, by 500cc two-stroke standards, a degree of user-friendliness thanks to its twin exhaust power valves, the Suzuki RGV's V4 was potent enough and, under Schwants's aggressive instruction, bagged five wins on the way to the title that year.
For the 1993 GP season Suzuki found consistency with the Suzuki RGV - race weekends were finally about fine-tunning the jetting and set-up rather than fixing big problems.
What is it with Harley owners and dealers, first I belief that you not buy a Harley for horsepower, but it seems that talking about horsepower is what the Harley lovers do. Not so long ago, a Harley owner, with a very nice bike, claimed that the private build bike had over 100bhp, and it could rival any other type of bike they've patently never ridden but care to mention.
A couple of months ago another Harley lover and Harley dealer in Germany, made the claim to have an over 110bhp for their modified hog which I naturally sneered at. They offered to proof it, but when we started to make arrangements to do some official testing, they quickly and conspicuously retracted the availability of the bike.
In 1885 Gottlieb Daimler patents what is generally considered to be the first true motorcycle.
Daimler, the automotive pioneer usually associated with building the world's first successful internal combustion engine (and, subsequently, the first automobile), staked his claim of priority in the two-wheeler world a year before developing his famous auto.
However, the idea of a motor-driven, two-wheeled vehicle did not originate with Daimler, nor was his the first such contraption to see the road. Sylvester Roper, who spent the U.S. Civil War working in a Union armory, built a primitive motorcycle as early as 1867. Roper's supporters - and he has more than a few - argue that he should be credited with building the world's first motorcycle.