Motorcyclist Archives 1987: The Best of Motorcycling

From the Archives: Motorcyclist Magazine September 1987

Motorcyclist in 1987
In 1987, Motorcyclist magazine was headquartered at 8490 Sunset Blvd, at the Petersen Publishing building, and the staff put together the "Best of Motorcycling" in the September issue.Motorcyclist Archives

Tough Days And Garaged Nights
Then-Feature Editor Nick Ienatsch found himself in a bit of a jam when he wrote this editorial in the September '87 issue. He was overdue on stories and pictures and had the art director after him for a photo. His lunch partner canceled shortly before their meeting and none of this really phased him. That evening, Nick knew that he had a much-needed date with his garage.

He realized that the time spent in his private two-car garage gave him the power to get through the rough days. And rough days he had experienced as of late, including a day at Los Angeles County Raceway. There he spent the day with a “recalcitrant test bike that insisted on doing everything but running down the quarter-mile. It coughed, sputtered, lunged and wheezed…” None of this bothered Ienatsch since he had planned an evening of adjusting valves on his FZ600 long-term test bike. Also on the list of potential projects to keep him busy were to change the oil in his Toyota, or wax his favorite project bike, a Harley-Davidson Evolution XLCR.

1987 Motorcyclist
The editor of Motorcyclist in 1987 was Art Friedman but in the time leading up to publishing the September 1987 issue, Friedman found himself in Europe and asked Feature Editor Nick Ienatsch to pinch hit for him with the monthly editorial.Motorcyclist Archives

Time in the garage is not always a singular pursuit for Nick. On occasion he was visited by motorheads like Joe Minton who might be tinkering with a project of his own or helping the writer with a more involved project.

The garage is a two-car affair set away from the house (and telephone) with a static-riddled radio and two sets of fluorescent lights. Lights are a thing he deems mandatory to a successful garage. His garage relies mainly on hand tools. To complement these things are a ⅜-inch drill, a vice, and a bench grinder. Also in reserve are three unnamed air tools without a compressor to power them.

As you would expect, Motorcyclist has a garage at the office but Nick prefered the comforts of his own garage. The tool selection was better and there was little order in that space. Too many mechanics sharing a space guaranteed that.

1987 Kawasaki Voyager
The 1987 Kawasaki ZG1200 (Voyager XII) was back from the drawing board with plenty of refinements.Motorcyclist Archives
1987 Kawasaki Ninja 600
Three years into production, Kawasaki reworked the Ninja 600. Here it is by the numbers in a clip from the 1987 road test.Motorcyclist Archives

Although he holds his own man cave in high regard, it is not the space which he pays homage to; it is the repayment to the machines for the incredible high that captured his love of the garage. He sees maintenance as an insurance policy for future performance. Torquing cylinder heads, gapping plugs, and tightening engine mounts are his form of payment for the excitement the machines give him.

No matter the space, be it a 3,600-square-foot garage or a tiny a carport, he saw this work as enjoyment that all should experience. When a machine breaks, there are basic steps that a mechanic can take. People are not quite as easy to fix.

He does enjoy people and in fact, they mean more to him than motorcycles. He just finds that garage time to be the thing that helps him unwind at the end of a challenging day.

Jay Leno, 10 best motorcycles
The Best of Motorcycling in 1987. Did they get it right? Were these the best things to come out of motorcycling in 1987? Leave your comments below.Motorcyclist Archives

The Best Of Motorcycling
For the September 1987 issue, the staff of Motorcyclist magazine compiled what are known as listicles today. The best of, the odd, and the offbeat.

In "Best Contemporary Collectibles," the staff saw these as the bikes that were different enough with small enough production numbers that qualify them as future collectibles. Did they get it right?

  • Kawasaki KZ1000Z ELR (No disputing the Eddie Lawson Replica.)
  • Suzuki GS1000S (Wes Cooley made this superbike a winner.)
  • Ducati 900 Super Sport (A Desmo classic.)
  • Suzuki XN85 Turbo (Touted by the '87 staff as one of "the nicest handling bikes.")
  • Yamaha RD400 Daytona Special (We know they got that one right.)
  • Honda CX650 Turbo (Flashy paint and even fancier performance.)
  • Harley-Davidson XLCR (Never took off but they were right, this is a collectible.)
  • Any Bimota (Yup!)
  • Suzuki RE5 Rotary (Any time a Wankel-powered motorcycle shows up it will draw a crowd. It is safe to say they were right about this one, too.)
10 best roads in 1987
The 10 best roads of 1987. Have you ridden any of these?Motorcyclist Archives

With the touring rider in mind, Harley-Davidson sponsored a contest to put this list together. The staff downright stole this one. Here are the results:

  1. US Highway along the Pacific Coast in California (aka PCH)
  2. Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina
  3. Highway 34 through Estes Park in Colorado
  4. US 1 from Miami to Key West in Florida
  5. The Great River Road along the Mississippi River in Illinois
  6. Route 424 between Napoleon and Defiance in Ohio
  7. Oregon's Highway 38 from US 101 to Drain
  8. US 6 across Northern Pennsylvania
  9. US 385 through the Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota
  10. Highway 35 bordering the mississippi River in Wisconsin
1987 Harley-Davidson ad
Harley-Davidson leather with snap-out linings, air flow and other "fringe benefits."Motorcyclist Archives

Harley-Davidson dealers handed out brochures of this list (50 total roads) in 1987. Stop by your local shop and see if they still have one floating around and let us know if you find one.

In this 1987 list of "Best Features," we were treated to some of the best motorcycle features seen on bikes that made them easier to work on and ride.

  • Hydraulic Valve Adjusters
  • BMW Foldout Centerstand Handle
  • Kawasaki Concours Mirrors
  • BMW One-sided Swingarm
  • BMW K100LT Nivomat Self-adjusting Shock
  • Honda Hurricane 1000 Front Brake Lever Adjuster
  • Suzuki GSXR 1100 Steering Damper
  • Harley-Davidson's Use of DOT 5 Brake Fluid