Norton Goes For a Record

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Norton Motorcycles, the iconic British motorcycle brand recently resurrected by Stuart Garner, packed up their rotary-engined NRV588 racing motorcycle and left Britain today.  Their destination: The Bonneville Salt Flats, right here in the US of A, where Garner himself will attempt to pilot the bike to a land speed record.

If Garner is successful, the NRV588 will set the world land speed record for a rotary motorcycle.

And, speaking of the NRV, Norton has a road-going edition of this racer in the works.  It’s no where near as pretty as a 1991 Commander F1, but, it’ll probably be a whole lot faster.  They are being hand-built in Norton’s Donington Park factory, even as I write this.

The Norton NRV588, ready to be packed off to the Salt Flats earlier today.
The Norton NRV588, ready to be packed off to the Salt Flats earlier today.

Oh, and since I mentioned it…

1991 Norton Commander F1 John Player Special
1991 Norton Commander F1 John Player Special

I think there’s 55 of these left in the whole world.

The Great California Garage Sale

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If you’d like to add another motorcycle–or two–to your garage, and you don’t have the scratch for a new one, then you might be interested in the Great California Garage Sale going on in Sacramento this week.  As you may have heard, the state of California is…ummm…a bit short of cash.  So the state is going all out and selling cars, motorcycles, computers, and just about everything else they can think of in a big state garage sale.  The sale and auction will take place in Sacramento on Friday and Saturday, 28-29 Aug 09.

They’ve got at least 5 BMW R1150RTP’s from the highway patrol, which you could probably pick up for a decent price. I’ve seen some other bikes listed there, too, probably confiscated from drug dealers and whatnot.

You’ll probably get a better price there than you would from a regular dealer, anyway.

Touring Comparo: Electra Glide vs. Voyager

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Motorcyclist Online has the results of their big-tourer comparison between the Harley Davidson Electra Glide Classic and the Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager.  I’ve long wanted to see a head-to-head match-up between the king tourer from Harley and Kawi’s new flagship tourer, and here it is.

Harley Davidson Electra Glide Classic and Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager
Harley Davidson Electra Glide Classic and Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager

The Electra Glide sports Harley’s now touring frame, which is supposed to noticeably increase stability and handling, while the Voyager is a brand new version of the Vulcan, with a brand new frame, too.

The Harley costs significantly more than the Voyager, and reading the write up, that extra money pays off in a better, more refined handling, greater rider and pillion comfort, and better brakes and luggage.  The Kawasaki, on the other hand, seems to have the Harley beat in wind protection, engine power (slightly), and lighting (a lot).

Overall, the Harley has better fit and finish–which is unsurprising to me, since I’ve always thought Kawasakis are a little rough around the edges.  They aren’t bad bikes, but, I’ve just never been a big Kawasaki fan.  But, it’s nice to see that it’s not just an unreasoning opinion on my part, and others seem to think Kawi could use a little improvement in the finishing touches.

Still, for $3,000 less, the Voyager’s no doubt put together adequately.

Both bikes, of course, are massively underpowered from my point of view.  But then, I’m riding an FJR with 200 pounds less weight, and twice the horsepower, so take that into consideration.

I will tell you where I would throw my lot in with the kawi on this one, though, and that’s the fixed fairing.  I’ve never liked the batwing fairing on the Harley’s.  They look great, but having 40 or 50 pounds of plastic hanging off the front fork never appealed to me.  And I’ve ridden the Electra Glide, and confirmed that opinion.

That’s why my next Harley will be a Road Glide.