Let's ride : Sonny Barger's guide to motorcycling, Edition: by Ralph Barger; Darwin Holmstrom

By Ralph Barger; Darwin Holmstrom

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Additional info for Let's ride : Sonny Barger's guide to motorcycling, Edition: 1st ed

Example text

When I first started riding, if you said the word motorcycle in the United States, the first thing that came to mind was a big, heavy Harley-Davidson. At the time these were the best bikes available for comfortable highway riding, but a lot of us wanted more performance than a stock Harley was capable of delivering. We didn’t have much money to buy parts to make the engines faster, and even if we did, such parts weren’t easy to come by. We couldn’t just go online, order whatever we wanted, and have it shipped across the country.

With the exception of some Yamaha models, most modern motorcycle transmissions are as reliable as most automotive transmissions (I’ll discuss Yamaha’s past transmission problems in the section on buying used motorcycles). Most motorcycles use six-speed or five-speed manual transmissions. A few bikes use automatic transmissions, but these are still controversial and haven’t been widely accepted. The odds are one thousand to one that you’ll end up with a manually shifted motorcycle with a hand-operated clutch and a foot-operated shifter.

Unlike exotic Italian motorcycles, Honda’s CB750 was everywhere, virtually overnight. And unlike the earlier 450 twin, which could almost keep up with the Sportster, Harley’s fastest motorcycle at the time, the new 750 four, beat the Sportster like the Sportster owed it money. Harley responded by boring the Sportster out to 1000 cc, but this only made the marginally unreliable Sportster extremely unreliable. As a response to the CB750, the upsized Sportster was beyond pathetic. The Japanese were far from done having their way with the rest of the world’s motorcycle manufacturers.

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