Honda Ascot help
1982-1983 Honda FT500 Ascot owners needing a replacement CDI ignition box — Honda discontinued the part long ago — finally have a solution thanks to the new Hot Shot CDI box from vintage electronics specialists Rick’s Motorsport Electrics. Made with heavy duty components, Rick’s says the Ascot CDI was developed with help from Ascot owners to work best from the rider’s perspective. A selectable rev limiter switch lets the owner choose the stock 6,800rpm setting or a 7,500rpm rev limit. $120. MC
Morbidelli isn’t exactly a household name in the U.S., but mention Morbidelli to an Italian or European race history buff and chances are they’ll wax nostalgic on the exploits of Giancarlo Morbidelli and his world championship-winning race bikes. Working with a small team often consisting of no more than four members — including rider — and building no more than a few motorcycles a year, Morbidelli and his band successfully challenged and beat the giants of 2-stroke GP racing, including Kawasaki and Yamaha.
It was a classic David and Goliath battle, yet Morbidelli, who entered GP racing and manufacturing more as a hobby than a business (his substantial fortune from manufacturing wood working tools funded his efforts) managed to win not just one world championship, but four, taking the 125cc championship in 1975, ’76 and ’77, and the 250cc class, also in 1977.
The history of Morbidelli and his team’s challenge has been captured by Jeffrey Zani and Matthew Gonzales in the recently released documentary film Morbidelli, storie di uomini e di moto veloci — a story of men and fast motorcycles.
The story of Morbidelli’s seemingly unlikely rise to championship victory is told through interviews with the players who filtered through Morbidelli’s team, including riders Graziano Rossi, Mario Lega (250cc champion), Eugenio Lazzarini, Paolo Pileri and Pier Paolo Bianchi (125cc champions), and others, including of course Morbidelli himself. Stitching the interviews together with period stills and race film, Zani and Gonzales provide a comprehensive and compelling account of Morbidelli’s incredible success on the track.
It was, as with so many things Italian, a success driven by passion, a passion for motorcycles and racing that was shared among all of Morbidelli’s team. Morbidelli is the first to recognize the importance of this, telling us that he picked his designers and engineers “not for their skills in designing the bikes, but for the love they had for their job.” Rossi, father of the great Valentino Rossi and a rider for the team, calls Morbidelli “one of the best [technicians] in the world … he was a flea compared to them [the Japanese], but he had great ideas.” $25 (approx.), includes shipping. More info: Morbidelli film website.
New shoes: 1979 Triumph Bonneville 750 wearing a set of Kenda K676 RetroActive tires.
We posted notice of the Kenda K676 RetroActive tire range when Kenda first announced it. Owners of older bikes are painfully aware of the limited tire choices typically available to them, and Kenda designed the new K676 specifically for riders of ‘70s and ‘80s sport bikes wearing then-popular but now increasingly hard to find 16-inch, 17-inch, 18-in and 19-inch tires. The V-rated (149mph) tires feature an all-weather tread design and a new rubber compound for improved durability and mileage, plus an improved crown radius for a larger footprint in corners. We got a chance to check out a set ourselves, recently installing a pair on ad man Kyle Jones’ 1979 Triumph T140E.
Kyle’s Triumph was definitely in need of a new set of shoes, wearing a set of off-brand rubber that came with the bike when he bought it last year. Before spooning on the new K676 tires – a 100/90 x 19-inch front and 120/90 x 18-inch rear – the Triumph’s cornering prowess was so limited it made Kyle wonder why anyone ever said old Triumphs handle well. Happily, Kyle’s discovered his Triumph does indeed handle sweetly, as the new Kenda K676 tires have transformed his Bonneville, turning it into his daily rider and relegating his late-model Hinckley Triumph T100 to second-choice status.
Front Kenda K676 mounted on Triumph Bonneville.
The new tires have seen almost 3,000 miles of street riding to date, and so far show almost no wear. Long-wearing tires typically trade handling for mileage, but that’s not our impression with the K676s, which exhibit a confident, predictable bite whether leaning into a corner or riding on less than desirable surfaces. Wet use has been limited, but even then the K676 tires feel planted to the road, which, of course, is exactly what you want and need in a tire. Kenda suggests a list price of $122.99 and up, but if you look around you can find the tires we used starting at around $95-$105 for the 100/90 x 19-inch front and $125-$145 for the 120/90 x 18-inch rear.
Looming cold weather means the riding season is pretty much over in our part of the world – the Midwest – but we’ll report back in the spring with an update on our K676 tires to see how they perform with a little more age and mileage. Judging from our initial experiences, we expect another positive report. You can learn more about the K676 RetroActive tires by visiting Kenda online. — Richard Backus
Rear Kenda K676 mounted on Triumph Bonneville.
As reported by Dealer News, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has produced its 300-millionth motorcycle, a Gold Wing made at the company’s Kumamoto Factory in Japan.
“This incredible milestone is the result of the millions of customers who have placed their trust in Honda,” said Bob Gurga, vice president and manager of Motorcycle Division for American Honda. “Now, we are focused on the future and the ways that we can harness the challenging spirit of Honda associates to create new joy for Honda customers.”
Honda began mass production of motorcycles in Japan in 1949 when it built the Honda 98cc Dream Type-D (pictured). Today, Honda produces motorcycles, ATV’s and side-by-sides at 32 plants in 22 countries, including two plants in North America. Overall, Honda has 16 plants in North America.
In 1958, Honda introduced the Honda 50, known globally as the Super Cub, which would go on to revolutionize the industry. This iconic bike paved the way for Honda’s expansion into the United States in 1959 and Canada in 1969. The Super Cub, which has sold nearly 90 million units globally since its inception, was the focus of a mid-1960s advertising campaign, ‘You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda,’ that played a major role in the transformation and growth of the U.S. motorcycle market.
In the 1960s, Honda became the best-selling motorcycle brand in the U.S. and the world, leading to the establishment of Honda of America Mfg. and the company’s first U.S. production facility, the Marysville Motorcycle Plant. The plant, which opened Sept. 10, 1979, in Marysville, Ohio, produced both motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) until 2009. Production of ATVs has since shifted to Honda of South Carolina Mfg. (HSC) in Timmonsville, South Carolina. Auto production started in Marysville in 1982.
Since the start of production in 1979, Honda has manufactured more than five million power sports products in North America using global and domestically sourced parts. Today, HSC manufactures FourTrax ATVs and Pioneer side-by-sides and engines, while the Honda plant in El Salto, Jalisco, Mexico, produces motorcycles.
The research and development of Honda ATVs and side-by-side vehicles for both local and global markets is now being led by a team of engineers at Honda R&D Americas – with Powersports R&D operations in Los Angeles, Ohio and South Carolina. MC
Published to commemorate the 2005 Memphis “The Art of the Motorcycle” exhibit, which was inspired by the original 1998 exhibit at New York City’s Guggenheim Museum, The Art of the Motorcycle: Wonders, The Pyramid, Memphis, had a short print run and has become increasingly difficult to find. Fortunately, a sizable stash of original, new copies has come to light. Beautifully presented in large format and featuring some of the most important motorcycles of all time. $29.95 plus shipping. More info: email@example.com. MC
Road riders should check out this comprehensive tool kit from RRR Tool Solutions. Much more than just a random selection of “standard” tools thrown together, the 46-piece RRR Adventure Tool Roll Set includes the tools you need when your bike suddenly demands attention out on the road. In addition to needed wrenches are a T-handle driver and bits, sockets, socket adapters, and RRR’s innovative nesting sparkplug socket set, all packed in a heavy duty tool roll. $144.60, includes shipping. MC
Moto Jewelry for the Holidays
Just in time for Christmas, Designers and siblings Glen, Rachel and Julie of Kinekt Design follow up their innovative and popular Gear Ring (it features tiny gears that spin when the outer rims are spun) with the Gear Necklace. Made from quality 316L stainless steel, the pendant has three gears in a heart; sliding the pendant or pulling the necklace chain gets the gears in the heart moving. Available in three lengths, lifetime warranty. $185, includes worldwide shipping. MC
More info at Kinekt Design.