Whatever: Carburetor Angst

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By John Burns

I wondered out loud the other day, during a MO conference call, how many new motorcycles still have carburetors? Not much more than a day later, Dennis Chung shared an Excel spreadsheet with all of them. It’s about what you’d expect: Three Rokon Rangers, Suzuki and Yamaha DS and TW200s, Honda‘s XR650L soldiers on alongside Suzuki’s DR-Z400s and DR-650s… the Honda Ruckus still has a carburetor. Beyond that, there are a bunch of Kymco and lesser-known small-displacement scooters you’ve never heard of. I have never had the pleasure of seeing, much less riding, Taizhou Handa Engine Science Co., Ltd.’s Adonis, Defender, Discovery, Excursion, Falcon, Falcon R, Super, Super R, Vestalian, or Wasp.

I’m not going to miss the carburetor in any kind of practical way, but I’m totally going to miss it in a romantical one, like people used to pine for liver and onions and mustard plasters and things. I messed with carburetors on a few cars before I found motorcycles, but most of them I just read about in magazines. Some had really cool names that just sounded fast: the Rochester Quadrajet. The Carter Thermoquad sounds like nuclear war. The Holley double-pumper (!) came in sizes up to 850 cubic feet per minute of air, and after that was the Dominator, for use exclusively on God knows what? Top fuel dragsters and NASCARs. Two of them mounted sideways on top of your blower! Foreign cars had Zenith Strombergs and Weber side-drafts and things, which looked like little musical instruments, a mini Tijuana Brass horn section hanging off the side of your engine. Fuel injectors come in 10-hole and 12-hole, far as I can tell. Not nearly as interesting.

Herb Alpert. Not really. Giotto Bizzarrini, Ferruccio Lamborghini and Gian Paolo Dallara at …read more

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