The Annual Call of the Race Bike
Our Rambling Man gets the urge to go out and grab a new sportbike, with one option this year being the new American-made Roehr V1250SC.
Despite the nearly half-foot of crunchy snow blanketing my yard, there is an unmistakable hint of springtime in the air. Never mind the bare trees, gray skies, and eerily quiet mornings, spring is approaching regardless of what Punxsutawney Phil has to say about it. I know because my sportbike craving is stirring much like a lethargic grizzly in its den suddenly realizing that it hasn't eaten in five months. Almost as efficient and reliable as the desire driving the bear to leave its warm bed in favor of icy rivers and snow-covered hillsides, my own instinct turns to the pages of magazines and websites to begin comparing specs and prices. Last year's posters of scantily clad women posing beside Ducatis and Triumphs are replaced with, well, posters of scantily clad women posing beside this year's Ducatis and Triumphs. I have long ago accepted the reality that early spring means a natural gravitation toward rearward-positioned pegs, colorful fairings, and clip-ons.
Before I begin to ramble on about this year's specific findings, I thought it necessary to attempt an explanation for this annual phenomenon. Each winter I am driven by the fantasy that has sustained countless club racers throughout the past century; the idea of driving a vehicle to the racetrack, racing it, then driving it back home. There is something about the notion of eliminating the loading and unloading the trailer or pickup truck that I find deeply comforting (disregard the fact that should you end up crashing during the on-track action, you would be simultaneously without a ride home). I suppose the concept becomes additionally appealing due to the fact that there are so few vehicles capable of handling the transition. In my estimation, just having the dual personalities required to accomplish such a feat put the machine in question in the same elite category as say Ferrari, Porsche, the later Corvettes, recent Supermoto entrants, a few dual-sports (KTM & Husqavarna come to mind) and, of course, just about any repli-racer on the market today.
The problem with my fantasy is that rarely does it materialize the way I envision it. I've gone as far as to purchase brand
Will the sweet-sounding rumble of the Special Edition Triumph Daytona 675 be too much for correspondent to resist?
new 600 and 1000cc repli-racers just before the weather breaks with hopes of fulfilling my club racer ambitions fueling the entire process only to realize over time that to truly be competitive I have to begin the process of removing every ounce of unnecessary hardware (hence de-street legalizing it in the process). Once the bike in question is finally stripped down and modded out to the point of true competition worthiness, I suddenly realize the impracticality of loading up a trailer and quickly get rid of the bike to begin pursuing a bone stock, fully road legal, crotch rocket the following season. It's a vicious cycle, I know.
This year, I decided to refrain from running out and purchasing but another pricey race bike only to dump a ton of money into it then sell it off at a massive loss a few months from now. Rather than actually go through the motions, I figure perhaps I can live vicariously through magazine tests, dealership straddling and my Peter Egan collections. If nothing else it should be cheaper if not safer.
Having been playing the role now for a couple of weeks, my findings are being published below for the first time anywhere.
The appeal of the repli-racer runs deeper than I initially suspected.
It turns out I am inexorably drawn to any motorcycle directly inspired by competition racing efforts. Part of their charm is derived from the fact that on paper, every entrant into a given race class appears nearly identical. It is almost as if the bike's engineers have isolated the epitome of factors required to compete and none stray far from the formula in their efforts. While minor, especially to the inexperienced, each bike has a specific personality that reaches far and wide beyond what any spec sheet could indicate.
The more experienced the rider, the larger these differences become.
The pool is very deep.
It also turns out that in the world of repli-racers, the dollar is king and the kingdom is vast. If your budget will allow, there is no shortage of off-brands, custom builds, one-offs, and hybrids. This year's noteworthy entrants include the $45,000 Roehr V1250SC out of Illinois. Its pricy superbike may look an awful lot like a Ducati 999 on the outside but under the gorgeous fiberglass lurks a 180 horsepower supercharged Harley Davidson V-Rod mill. Interesting.
Also noteworthy is the 2008 Triumph Daytona 675 Special Edition. The British bike company just continues to improve the highly sought-after Triple year after year. Each time I attempt to whip out the old charge card it occurs to me that maybe I should wait for what they'll come out with next year.
In the past the name sportbike and Hyosung were not often in the same sentence, but the Korean firm is rolling out some competitive designs.
What's up with Hyosung?
The Korean motor company turns 30 years old this year and has been exporting its bikes to 80 countries around the globe in all that time. Hyosung America simultaneously celebrates a tenth of that longevity (3) but I can't help but wonder about bikes like their GT650R. I've yet to encounter one on the streets or at the racetrack but based on the spec sheets and photos alone, would probably consider one in a heartbeat.
The Pressure Mounts
Peter Egan's latest article describes in great detail how regret for parting with his old Ducati 900SS years ago has prompted him to repurchase the bike from the buddy he sold it to. He then likens his love for the marque to the type of addiction a smoker faces with nicotine.
Sadly, I know exactly where he's coming from!