By Steve Tiedman
Recently, Dave Soderholm asked if I’d be interested in reviewing the 2016 Indian Springfield, Indian’s newest bagger. Being the new guy I told him I’m game. I took possession of the 852 pound (wet) “Indian Motorcycle Red” Springfield, gingerly negotiating the neighborhood streets, getting to know the clutch, throttle, and brake operations. Yep, it works as a motorcycle should, and it does not feel that heavy.
I got to the interstate and aimed toward home. This is a machine you sit in, not on. With the seat height of 26 inches, a mild reach to the handlebars and modest feet-out-front position, you are about as encapsulated in a motorcycle as one could be. For comparison, I’m six-feet tall, with a 30-inch inseam and somewhere around 215 pounds of middle-aged American male heft. Reach to the ground was no problem, and the positioning of the large footboards was good.
By Victor Wanchena
Flat track racing fascinates me. There is something elemental about it that appeals to me, from the first time I saw On Any Sunday, to watching pros race on the big mile tracks. My fascination has always included a desire to try it, but wasn’t sure how to start, what I should ride, and a dozen other excuses. That all changed when a couple flat tracker friends began working me over. “It’s easy”, “You’ll love it”, “Your bike is fine”, “Just go ride”, their cajoling had no end. So, I relented.
Step one was little bike prep. I poured over the rulebook and got the basics. I made a couple phones calls to my drifter friends and I was ready to dive in. My bike of choice was 2001 KTM 520 EXC. It had been my do everything bike. Dual sport, trail riding, and commuting so I figured why not race it?
In his HBO special (“Fully Functional”) one of my favorite comedians, Australian Jim Jefferies, asked his audience to raise their hands if their kids were “stoopid.” Obviously no one raised their hands and admitted to having spawned one of the many half-pint-half-wits who are overrepresented in our school systems. So, Jefferies reminded them that, statistically-speaking, it was impossible for a crowd as big as the one he was performing for not to have at least one stupid offspring. He went on to rant about Americans being a nation intent on breeding “stupid confident people . . . the worst employees in the fucking world.” When I hear motorcyclist revolt against the obvious truth that there are two kinds of motorcyclists–those who have crashed and those who haven’t yet crashed–I can’t help but think motorcyclists might be among the stupidest human categories on the planet. It’s even worse when the revolutionist admits he’s already crashed a number of times and still believes motorcycles “can be safe.”
By Bruce Mike
Celebrating 20 years of MMM last month has made me kind of nostalgic. I was thinking about all the bikes I’ve owned and ridden over the years and thought I would tell you about my favorites. I discovered that some of the bikes that made this list made it because of experiences I had on them and not necessarily because they were great bikes.
By Paul Berglund
I sold my Moto Guzzi V11 Le Mans. I really liked that bike, but I wanted a bike with a more upright riding posture. I took a deep breath and let my brain wander for a week. My next bike could be anything. Perhaps it was time to go out and buy that dream bike I had been lusting over for nearly ten years, the KTM 950/990 Adventure. It would be more money than I wanted to spend. But gosh darn it we’re talking a dream bike here. I started looking in ernest. I had to because there were none for sale in Minnesota. A feeling of desperation fanned the flames of desire.
By David Harrington
OK, you got me. Only the owner’s manual says this is a “scooter”. The Kymco K-Pipe 125 is a motorcycle, though one with operation that is both different and easier than most other motorcycles. So why the “scooter” reference? The K-Pipe is a small, light motorcycle being offered by a company better known for scooters in the US market. I believe it would also make an excellent transition for scooter riders seeking an urban motorcycle alternative.
By Victor Wanchena
Being a mildly cynical moto-journalist it is rare that I see a movie that gets me diving for maps or trolling Craigslist for another bike. Motonomad II was one of those movies. Sequels are almost always bad: Cannonball Run II, Blue Brothers 2000, Breakin’ 2 Electric Boogaloo the list is endless. Motonomad II on the other hand shows the refinement of a filmmaker’s craft and truly out does the first.
Flat Rivalry Reignited
The flames of an old and long standing rivalry are about to be fanned in the AMA Pro Flat Track series. In June came the news that Indian Motorcycles was reentering the world of flat track racing. This represents the first factory backed race team from Indian in this arena since the 1950’s.
Indian has a long history in flat track racing. Perhaps best known was the Indian Motorcycle Wrecking Crew, consisting of Bill Tuman, Bobby Hill and Ernie Beckman, who won race after race in the late 40’s and early 50’s. This also means the long-standing rivalry between Harley-Davidson and Indian on the racetrack will be revived.
The Indian factory team will enter the fray with an all-new proprietary liquid-cooled 750cc four-valve V-Twin engine specifically designed for flat track racing and engineered into a specially built chassis. The details as reported thus far are the engine produces an impressive 109 horsepower and weighs in at 105 pounds. The AMA has approved it for racing use.
“We are very excited to return to the AMA Circuit,” said Steve Menneto, President of Motorcycles for Polaris Industries. “We have established the new Indian Chief and Scout series as the cornerstones of our production line-up, and now is the time for us to return to racing in a big way. We know that fans of Indian Motorcycle have been anticipating this announcement and can’t wait to see Indian Racing back in action.”
Multi-time AMA Grand National Champion Jared Mees has agreed to join the Indian Team as a test rider this year. Mees, 30, won the AMA Grand National Championship (GNC1) title in 2012, 2014 and 2015. The Indian will race the new motorcycle at a track to be determined sometime in September of this year in preparation for a full season of competition in 2017.
More Flat Track News
If the renewed rivalry between Harley-Davidson and Indian wasn’t enough H-D announced in May the release of the XG750R, its first all-new flat track race bike in 44 years. The XG features the liquid cooled and fuel injected motor based on the H-D 750 Street power plant. The frame and running gear appear to be adapted from the current XR750 platform.
The XG750R made its official competition debut May 29, at the AMA Pro Flat Track Springfield Mile. Davis Fisher piloted it to a respectable 8th place finish. Fisher is in his first season racing with the H-D factory team and is a rookie in the GNC1 series. The 18-year-old racer from Warren, Ore., won the 2015 AMA Pro GNC2 championship. Brad Baker, 2013 AMA Pro Grand National Champion, will continue to race aboard the XR while Fisher races the XG750R through its developmental stage. The XG will eventually replace the venerable XR750, but during this racing season both machines will be campaigned, as the XG is refined through experience in competition.
The XG750R has shown great potential in testing and the first few races this season,” said Kris Schoonover, H-D racing manager. “But as with any new racing motorcycle, there will be work to do. We’re excited to continue testing the XG750R in real world competition, and as we make our way through the season, we will evaluate the performance of the bike and our factory riders to see if Baker might switch to the new bike.”
Sadly H-D has no plans to offer the XG for sale to the public at this time.
It’s A Car, It’s A Bike, It’s A…
Autocycle. In June Governor Dayton signed into law a definition of an autocycle. The new law defines the autocycles as motorcycles that have three wheels in contact with the ground, seating that does not require operators or occupants to straddle or sit astride, has a steering wheel, is equipped with anti-lock brakes and was originally manufactured to meet the federal safety standards for a motorcycle. This law allows drivers with a standard drivers license to operate an autocycle without needing a motorcycle endorsement. This was good news for the Polaris Slingshot, Campagna T-Rex, and other autocycle makers, which have lived in a weird state of appealing to non-motorcyclists, but requiring a motorcycle endorsement to operate.
An Evel Place
An Evel Knievel museum is scheduled to open later this year in Topeka, KS. Historic Harley-Davidson of Topeka is building the museum as a 16,000 sq.ft. addition to the dealership. The attraction will include bikes and memorabilia as well as exhibits on the science, technology, engineering, and math tied to the feats of the motorcycling daredevil. One attraction will be a bike that visitors can climb aboard to experience a virtual reality jump. Mike Patterson, the dealership owner, claims it will be the largest collection of Evel memorabilia if the world.