Between The Lines - Events, Shows, Rallies

Cobra's wild take on Kawasaki's V2KOne of the serious high points of the annual motorcycle dealer show held in Indianapolis each year is the unveiling of Cobra Engineering's innovative show bike at the start of the festivities. For nine years running, Cobra's Special Projects Division, headed by master customizer Denny Berg, has come up with a slew of eye-popping creations, each with a different foundation and style. And when the wraps came off at this year's event, the 10th-anniversary version of Cobra's radical ride did not disappoint.

As many had speculated, Cobra and Berg ended up uncorking their largest custom to date-the jaw-dropping "Mad Kaw" machine, created around Kawasaki's Vulcan 2000 V-twin engine. Although the crew did start with a complete '04 V2K, they pulled out the mill, sent back the rest and fashioned the prototypical yet forward-thinking 1970s-style chopper from scratch. But why a chopper? Berg replies, "It's really the only way we could make a bike with an engine that large look proportional."

And matching that massive 2000cc engine translated into some insane figures-from the Paughco Narrow Springer front fork riding a 21-inch wheel to the wide 240 Metzeler tire out back, the bike's wheelbase reaches nearly 84 inches. Berg adds, "When you lead the Mad Kaw up to a standard cruiser, it dwarfs the stock machine." During fabrication, Berg realized the engine would be an obvious centerpiece for the motorcycle, so he had it all polished to accentuate the elemental shapes. When the engine was replaced, it was into a minimal rigid frame of Berg's making with a six-inch front-leg stretch and a four-inch backbone stretch.

Additional super-trick, one-off fabrications include the underseat "bodywork" shrouding the Cobra radiators Berg relocated from the front of the bike and a slightly modified version of Cobra's new Speedsters exhaust system with chromed billet tips. As Cobra boss Ken Boyko summed up, "Out of the 21 Cobra customs we have built, this bike ranks up there as one of the best ever." Now that the veil has lifted, we couldn't agree more. -Andrew Cherney

Inside Indy's Dealer Expo
The annual dealer show in Indy has its share of big-ticket draws and flashy concept vehicles, but the majority of participants at the motorcycle-accessory showcase have smaller, though no less significant, items to unveil. Here are just a few of the more interesting ones we came across. (For more products and information on the show visit

Think Janklow Got
What He Deserved?
Of course not. visitors feel very strongly that the murdering South Dakota ex-senator's sentence was "much too light." In fact 44 percent of visitors are ready to boycott the Sturgis Rally in protest. Twenty-three percent are miffed but not taking action, while nine percent feel his 100-day sentence was "too harsh." And then there's the one-percenters who clicked, "What's a Janklow?"

The Pulse
Yamaha recalled 13,362 Yamaha Road Stars (including the 1999 XV1600AL/XV1600ATL and the 2000 XV1600AM and XV1600ATM models) for concerns that the muffler and hardware components could fall off, thus damaging brake hoses, hindering stopping ability and posing potential traffic hazards. Owners of these vehicles should check with their local dealer.

Harley-Davidson's Rider's Edge program introduced a new training course dubbed the Rider's Edge Skilled Rider Course aimed at current motorcyclists who want to further develop their riding skills. The Skilled Rider Course offers rider exercises, training and practice in controlled facilities and uses the curriculum of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's (MSF) Experienced RiderCourse (ERC) suite. All Skilled Rider Course instructors are MSF- and Harley-Davidson certified. For more information on the Rider's Edge courses, visit

Harley-Davidson Inc. trotted out its financial statements, which revealed record revenue and earnings for its fourth quarter in 2003. Revenue increased by 12.8 percent over last year's figures, and net income showed an increase of 20.9 percent over the same period last year. It's the 18th consecutive year Harley has racked up records for both revenue and net income.

And in other Harley news (you can't escape it this month), avid Harley motorcyclist Hiroyuki Okouchi commemorated Harley-Davidson's 100th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of Edmund Hillary's conquest of Mount Everest in an unusual manner. The mountain-climbing enthusiast survived a five-day trek up the huge Himalayan hill and planted a Harley-Davidson flag at the summit. That's what we call living high on the hog....

The American Motorcyclist Association announced a new nationwide initiative focusing on the sentencing of drivers who seriously injure or kill motorcyclists. "Justice for All" will advocate legislation to establish tougher penalties when traffic offenses or criminal actions by other motorists result in a motorcyclist's death or serious injury, a move that the AMA claims would benefit other vulnerable road users such as bicyclists and pedestrians.

IronHorse Up
Harley-Davidson isn't the only American manufacturer making news these days. Although it's still a long way from giving the Motor Company financial fits, American IronHorse recently earned a spot on Inc. Magazine's prestigious list of America's fastest-growing private companies. In the Inc. 500 Special Issue, the Texas-based motorcycle manufacturer was praised for its five-year sales growth of 1445 percent and $42.7 million last year.

American IronHorse claims to corner the market on factory-built, performance cruiser and touring bikes that are custom-ordered and designed, and the company rolled out its 2004 lineup in the hopes of expanding on its success. The main changes in 2004 include hopped-up horsepower on existing models and a brand-new chopper that takes the in-vogue fat-tire look to a new extreme.

The newly released chopper, the LSC, sports a stretched, low rigid frame backed by porky 280-series rear rubber balanced with a right-side drive design. The company says the rear tire is the industry's widest in production. Other notable changes in '04 include larger 111-cubic-inch engines with compression releases and a new adjustable air-ride suspension for its high-end Slammer model. The company has also introduced a new, proprietary American IronHorse crank-triggered ignition system, along with a new clutch and smooth-radius brake calipers. With 23 new head-turning paint schemes and five fresh wheel designs to choose from, the possibilities seem endless. Next stop, Milwaukee.

Cobra Calendar
MAY Indian Rally on Indian PointMay 21-23, 2004Branson, MO unrolls its inaugural event at Hunter's Friend Resort in centrally located Branson, Missouri. The shindig promises bike shows, a parade and a bike blessing, and welcomes all brands of bikes and types of bikers. For more information visit
B.A.D. Ride
May 30, 2004
Toronto, Canada

This annual 3.5-hour ride along hidden roads attracts 2000 riders from Ontario, Canada, Michigan and upper New York state. The B.A.D. Ride raises funds for the Distress Centres of Toronto; registration is $50 for riders, $25 for passengers, and there's even a party with a grand-prize drawing for a 2004 Harley-Davidson V-Rod. Go to for more info.
Berkshire Rally
June 3-6, 2004
Lenox, MA

The Berkshire Rally benefits the Children of Berkshire County and supports a variety of local nonprofit organizations. The Eastover Resort hosts this fifth-annual motorcycle event, which promises poker runs, observation runs, bike games, entertainment, the use of resort facilities, food and merchandise vendors. For details visit
Ride to Read Motorcycle Rally
June 12, 2004
Boise, ID

The second-annual Ride to Read Rally incorporates scenic highways on the way from Boise to Stanley, Idaho, where riders will lunch at Redfish Lake Lodge. The rally raises funds for child and adult literacy programs. For more information contact Jerome Eberharter at (208) 322-1166 or e-mail
Weirs Drive-In M/C Swapmeet
June 10-June 20, 2004
Weirs Beach, NH

Weirs Drive-In Theatre has hosted this event to coincide with Laconia Bike Week for 26 years running, and it's still going strong. Their Web site says it all: "Bikes, Bands and Babes." See the details for yourself at

National Rally of the Moto-Guzzi National Owner's Club
June 24-27, 2004
Hill City, SD

The 33rd running of the MGNOC event will be in the beautiful Black Hills (and twisty roads) of South Dakota. Although it's a Guzzi event, all bike marques and riders are welcome. Events will include a People's Choice Bike Show, a Trivia Run and a Weird Helmet Contest. Get the whole scoop at

Hall Of Heroes
If you haven't yet visited the "Heroes of Harley-Davidson" exhibit at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, don't worry-it's been extended to run through early 2005. Arrange a trip and see why this is one of the most memorable motorcycle-enthusiast destinations in the nation. "Heroes of Harley-Davidson" is a world-class exhibit, the largest ever in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame's history, and it provides an unprecedented introduction to the intriguing men and women who contributed sweat, inspiration, innovation and passion to build an American icon. For a look at how the exhibit took shape, click

Best Rally?
We wanted to know what Motorcycle- visitors consider the ultimate motorcycle rally, so we asked. Figures the rider-oriented Hoot (21%) in Knoxville, Tennessee, Daytona Bike Week (12%) and Americade (14%) in Lake George, New York, were chosen over beer and boob-minded events like Sturgis (9%) and Laconia (5%).