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40 Years Ago: Mike “The Bike” Hailwood’s Isle of Man Comeback


Forty years ago, Mike "The Bike" Hailwood made one of motorcycle racing's most famous career comebacks. Following an 11-year hiatus from motorcycle racing, Hailwood, who had switched to Formula 1 car racing, decided to return to the Isle of Man, where he had first ridden as an 18-year-old in 1958, to take another stab at winning on one of his favorite circuits. Given his long absence from motorcycle racing, he was considered by many a long shot to win, but win he did, coming in first in the 1978 Isle of Man Formula 1 race aboard Steve Wynne's Sports Motorcycles Ducati 900SS.

Hailwood had actually quit car racing following a bad crash at the Nürburgring in 1974. In an interview with motorcycle journalist Alan Cathcart, Wynne said that Hailwood's re-entry into two-wheeled racing came about after a chance meeting at Silverstone, where Wynne had one of his Ducatis. According to Wynne, Hailwood threw a leg over the Ducati and said, "This is the kind of old-fashioned bike I understand — wouldn't mind doing another TT on this!" Wynne basically said, "why not," and after a brief discussion and a handshake — followed later by a contract for a mere £1,000 (roughly $1,900 U.S.) — Hailwood's victorious return was set in motion.

Already a legend for his race-winning years riding for MV Agusta and others, Hailwood's win permanently etched his name into the history books as the greatest motorcycle racer of all time. He raced the Isle one more time, in 1979, before retiring for good at age 39, leaving behind a legacy of 76 Grand Prix wins, 14 Isle of Man victories and nine World Championships.

Two years later, on a Saturday afternoon, March 21, 1981, Hailwood went out for fish and chips with his two children. A delivery truck making an illegal turn struck his car, critically injuring Hailwood and killing his 9-year-old daughter instantly. Hailwood held on for two days before succumbing to massive internal injuries. The truck driver was reportedly fined £100.

Keeping a Wheel Up: Wheel Jockey

wheel jockey

For bikes lacking a centerstand, simple maintenance like tire inspection and cleaning and lubing the drive chain can be a real chore. What to do? In the March/April issue, we tried out the SnapJack V2 from Tirox Products. A simple device, it lifts the rear wheel while your bike's on the sidestand, letting it spin free for servicing. We liked it, and looking for other options we landed on the Wheel Jockey.

Designed by veteran motorcycle tour operator Bill Kniegge, the Wheel Jockey was Bill's response to the hassles of prepping and maintaining bikes in his tour fleet, especially out on the road. Simple in design and operation, the Wheel Jockey is really nothing more than a miniature set of rollers. Center the wheel jockey in front (or behind) your bike's rear wheel, then simply push your bike to get the wheel up and centered on the Wheel Jockey.

I was a little skeptical at first, expecting it to be hard to roll my bike's rear wheel up and over the rollers, but it was surprisingly easy, the process aided by a small pre-roller that steps the wheel up to the main rollers. Your bike only lifts 1-1/2 inches off the ground, so stability during use is very good, and no-slip strips on the bottom plate keep the Wheel Jockey from moving while loading your bike. Quality of construction is excellent, with a stout steel body supporting aluminum rollers riding on sealed ball bearings. Further, its small size makes it easy to throw into a luggage bag so you can take it with you when you tour.

Appreciating that not all bikes are equal, Kniegge offers three versions of the Wheel Jockey: the Big Joc for bikes up to 950 pounds; the Sport for bikes up to 650 pounds; and the Joc Jr. for bikes up to 450 pounds. We tested the Sport model, which was perfect for the bikes we ride, most of them trending toward the mid-size point on the spectrum. Suggested retail: Joc Jr., $39; Sport, $59; Big Joc, $89.

Rapid Transit Recon 19 Tank Bag by Joe Rocket

Tank Bag

Finding the right tank bag can be harder than you think. Over the years, I've used just about every type, from small day bags to huge expandable tank bags big enough to carry a week's laundry. The problem is, they all seem to have built-in limitations. A small tank bag is great if all you're carrying is your wallet and a few necessary items like keys, phone, glasses and the occasional extra from the store, but you can run out of room so fast a small bag suddenly becomes as much hassle as help. Big tank bags are great for long trips, or when you need to transport groceries — or laundry — but they're usually bulky and sometimes less than secure, especially large bags with magnetic straps. Enter Joe Rocket's Rapid Transit Recon 19 tank bag.

An 18.7 liter capacity means it actually holds quite a bit, but its profile — longer than it is wide — makes it look much smaller than it really is. I've been using a Recon 19 on my 1973 BMW R75/5, and it's literally a perfect fit. Most bags I've used tend to be too wide for the BMW's somewhat narrow "Toaster" tank, over-extending at the sides and prone to shifting side-to-side in motion, leaving me forever nudging the bag left or right to keep it centered.

Helping keep the Recon 19 stable are six magnets, one in each of the three flaps and three more sewn into the bottom of the bag, and once on the tank it's absolutely secure. It's also hugely versatile, with two generously sized waterproof interior side pockets, a wallet-sized waterproof interior pocket, two exterior pockets running the full length of the bag, a small front pocket, two zippered pockets for toll cash, and an exterior pocket for your cellphone, although it won't hold phones any larger than an iPhone 7 or similar. There's also an access point for headphone cables, a map window, and a built-in rain cover tucked into a small zippered enclosure at the front of the bag. That last bit is pretty cool, made even cooler thanks to a tether on the rain cover so it can't get lost.

The Recon 19 also comes pre-equipped with an inner bag for an optional water bladder ($21.99), held fast with a hook-and-loop strip running its full length. The Recon 19's double-zippered, dual-closure system — the main top panel opens to the front, with a secondary panel opening to the rear — gives easy access to the toll pockets and the interior. The zippers, each set pulled with a single strap, seemed clumsy to me at first, but I quickly warmed up to them because the system works. Not too big and not too small, the Recon 19 is just right for daily use. Price: $94.99.

Ethanol Fuel Conditioner by Spectro Performance Oils

Ethanol Fuel Conditioner

Spectro Performance Oils would like to announce the newest addition to their already top quality product lineup ... Spectro Ethanol Fuel Conditioner! This product is a must in any gearhead or powersport enthusiast's garage. The Ethanol Fuel Conditioner will protect any fuel system components from damage by ethanol, which is present in most fuels, it will also inhibit the buildup of gums and prevent corrosion in your fuel delivery system. It will extend fuel life and allow for extended and no-maintenance off-season storage. The Ethanol Fuel Conditioner will work with fuel systems in all 2-stroke and 4-stroke vehicles, from yard equipment to classic cars.

Spectro Ethanol Fuel Conditioner is so new and improved, the only thing that wasn't changed was the bottle! This Ethanol Fuel Conditioner should be used with every fill up of your fuel tank to ensure maximum protection! The bottle will treat up to 17 gallons, just squeeze the bottle and fill to the top measuring line on the reservoir (0.5oz or 10ml) for every gallon of fuel in your tank. For fuel storage, add Spectro Ethanol Fuel Conditioner to the fuel and run engine for 10 minutes to ensure product is circulated throughout the fuel system and engine.

Head on over to our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (and don't forget to "Like Us" or "Follow Us") to get schooled on Ethanol fuels and their negative effects on your fuel delivery system and motor. More the reason to add Spectro Ethanol Fuel Conditioner to your vehicle's "insurance policy" and to avoid costly repairs down the road.

To learn more and find your local retailer, please go to www.spectro-oils.com.

Spectro Ethanol Fuel Conditioner (product code: K.EFC) is a new product and has replaced the discontinued Spectro FC Premium Fuel Conditioner & Stabilizer (product code: K.SFC). If you have any questions, please call 800-243-8645.

2-Stroke Crankshaft Services by Roy’s Rides

roys rides

Two-stroke specialists Roy's Rides now offers complete 2-stroke crankshaft rebuilding services along with complete 2-stroke motorcycle rebuilding, with an eye toward creating refurbished, one-of-a kind riders. Although mechanically simple, 2-stroke engines suffer over time from deteriorated crankshaft seals, which cause lean running and other issues that can lead to complete engine failure. Fewer and fewer shops are offering 2-stroke crankshaft rebuilding services, which is why Roy's Rides started offering the service. Prices vary depending upon make and number of cylinders.

Motorcycle Wash by Spectro Oils


Most of us know Spectro Oils for their excellent 2- and 4-stroke motorcycle oils, but the Connecticut-based company has an extensive line of other products including but not limited to chain lubes, air filter cleaner and oil, brake fluid, assembly lube, spray polish, and their premium Motorcycle Wash, which Spectro says contains no petroleum solvents or harsh chemicals. Water-based and non-flammable, it will not spot-blanch metals if thoroughly rinsed. It worked great in our trial, including cleaning a dirty Laverda engine. $12.99.

Honda CB350 Rear Wheels by Dime City Cycles

dime city

With extensive experience developing their own AHRMA Honda CB350 race bike, Dime City Cycles knows a thing or two about CB350s. They have a huge inventory of parts for the 350, including complete, ready-to-mount 18-inch rear wheels. The DCC wheels feature new stainless steel spokes, a new rim, and new brake shoes mounted to a reconditioned, custom drilled OEM hub with new wheel bearings and seals. Black powder coat or polished finish (shown). $879.95.