I graduated from college in May 1974. I planned to take a trip on my Suzuki 550 triple before starting a job. First night was a campground in Arkansas. A nice family from Houston invited me to share breakfast. After a few minutes of conversation, the little boy asked with a Texas drawl, “Mama, why does he talk so fast?”
The next night was at my relatives’ in Dallas. They took me to my first Red Lobster and to a rodeo. Then I started towards the Gulf. The ticking sound from the engine got louder and louder. I finally limped into a Suzuki dealer in Bryan, Texas. Bearings were shot. They could fix it but was going to take a week. I didn’t have that much time before getting back to Illinois to start my job. I noticed a burnt orange Suzuki 750 “Water Buffalo” in the showroom, so we made a deal for a swap. That evening I walked a mile to my first Taco Bell. Those boots were notmade for walking.
My dad wired me the required funds the next morning and I headed east to New Orleans. I was a little concerned about parking the new bike on the street but that was not a problem. The real issue didn’t happen ‘til the trip home through Mississippi. Travelling along on the interstate, it started raining. I didn’t realize there was construction clay on the pavement that got very slippery when wet. I was losing traction so I started moving to the shoulder. The wheels finally got out from under me and I laid it down and ended up twenty feet down the side of the ditch. Some angels came along and helped get the bike back up on the pavement. No visible structural damage to the bike so I rode it on into Jackson. Got my arm checked at the hospital. The worst part was that they made me scrub the wound myself. Still have some Mississippi gravel under the skin. “No, you can’t put a cast on my arm, I still have 600 miles to ride home on the bike.” Happy ending: started the new job, commuting 40 miles on the Water Buffalo (great bike) that summer. Met my future wife. We had many good trips on that bike.
So yes, I remember the summer of 1974. Now I have four bikes, the same understanding wife and a son and two granddaughters that love to ride. Still enjoying Rider every month.
Congrats on the 500th issue. Keep on riding!
Rick Leach, Concours Owners Group, AMA member
Report from the road: April 14, 2018. Getting to Eureka, California, from Interstate 5 in Southern Oregon or Northern California is a great ride whether from Grants Pass, Yreka or Red Bluff. This time circumstances required the route west from Grants Pass. Highway 96 west from Yreka is my personal favorite. Overnight at the historic Eureka Inn and breakfast at the Black Lightening Motorcycle Café make it perfect. Those who have experienced this know what I am talking about. Sorry to report that a bit of perfect is gone. The Black Lightning Motorcycle Café is permanently closed. If you’re a fan take your hat off and give a bit of thanks to Jeff and the crew for what was.
Randy Boek, Snohomish, Washington
Just a note on motorcycle storage. I never did until four years ago. Always rode them all year in mid-Michigan. I go away for three months in the winter now. Here’s what I do to the six bikes that stay behind. They are all carbureted. I fill the tank with E10 gas, add Startron stabilizer and a shot glass of two-stroke oil. I ride the bikes for a few minutes to make sure the mix gets into all the passages. On the bikes with an off position on the petcock I run them dry. The ones that don’t I just shut off the ignition. They all get battery maintainers. The two-stroke oil coats the insides of the carbs to keep the gaskets and seals wet. It also coats the intake tract, valve and upper cylinder. Four of the lucky bikes also go up on lifts to unload the suspension and tires. So far in the four years I’ve been doing this they all have started right up and run fine when I get home. No battery issues either.
Jeff Peticolas, Big Rapids, Michigan
Dear Clem, I’ve finished reading my 500th edition (May 2018) of Rider magazine and have been a subscriber for all 500 issues (44 years and counting). Your “Organizational Gene” article about clubs made me dig through my nostalgia file for the two “Rider Motorcycle Touring Club” cards I knew I’d kept all these years. I believe the only requirement was to be a subscriber to Rider. I know that has probably gone away a few decades ago, however, I still get a group reduction on automobile and motorcycle insurance through National General Insurance Co.
I enjoy your monthly articles no matter what you are nattering on about. Maybe it’s the bits of British “humour” you interject every now and then. Down south here in the Temecula wine valley is Doffo Winery and it is a motorcyclists’ delight. There are at least 100 motorcycles displayed of all makes and vintages. Some are in the tasting room, some planted around the grounds and buildings, some, four high, on two walls in the barrel aging room along with a very long glass case of motorcycle memorabilia. The family is from Argentina and one of their sons is a professional Ducati road racer. A serving of authentic Argentinian chimichurri and French
Bread on the MotoDoffo barrel room patio makes a nice respite. While you’re there, look up, there are about 20 motorcycles mounted above.
Owen Scovil, Escondido, California
Ironically Mark, I wasn’t too far into your piece (“The Ones That Got Away,” April 2018) before I was looking back to my first ride, a 1974 XL250 bought in ‘75 and which was sold for a ‘75 Yamaha DT400 two years later. Although the Honda was my first set of street legal wings out of the city and onto the power lines, the oil-injected DT400 made the XL seem like a Road King on the trails while dusting much larger street bikes off the line. Definitely the best “dual-sport” of its time and, as you noted about the trail-oriented IT250, remarkably reliable and easy to maintain. And now a few bikes and years beyond, and a life limited to the blacktop, I am on an ‘08 Ultra and facing that dreadful decision to move on and leave another great bike behind. Never easy.
Leo Miller, Paxton, Massachusetts
For fifty years I’ve ridden bikes and read bike mags. Once I had five different mags each month. As bikes moved into plastic wrap and 11- and then 10-second quarter-miles the mags began to look the same. Curves with sparks flying, power-wheelies and stoppies into the next curve, sliding tires throughout. I couldn’t do any of that. By chance in the 80s I picked up a copy of Rider. It had info of course but it had stories of bikers going places and seeing things. THAT’S what I do! Even saw a Favorite Ride that I had taken and even some familiar photos. Now I get one mag a month and it’s Rider. Good job!
Rick Rigsby, Cusseta, Georgia
Got my new issue today and gloried in the fact that it has not changed. Please do not change your format and/or content. Today I canceled my subscription to one motorcycle magazine, as I am tired of waiting every two months for an overly glossy, pale version of what I want in a motorcycle magazine. I don’t think its sister publication will be far behind. I have to wait another two months to decide. I don’t
have to wait, however, to decide to keep your magazine as it does its job quite well.
Keep up the good work and “don’t go changing to try and please me.”
Dave Kissel, Johnstown, Pennsylvania
A couple years ago I rang in my 60th birthday with the purchase of my first-ever new motorcycle after a too-long absence from riding. I promptly subscribed to
Motorcyclist, Cycle World and Rider. As I’m sure you’re aware, Motorcyclist has gone bi-monthly and Cycle World is now quarterly. I look forward to my copy of Ridereach month. Money is tight for everyone these days, and motorcycling ain’t cheap.
I agree with Keith Tait’s letter (Response, May 2018). Keep focusing on bikes within the reach of the working stiff! “Re-Cycling” is great and articles about bikes of yore are always welcome. The weirder the better! Keep up the good work and see you next month.
Stephen McUmber, Painted Post, New York
As a long-time reader and aging rider I was very excited when I received the latest issue with a full road test of the G 310 GS (June 2018). I sold my XT225 last year because it was just too small to keep up with traffic. Otherwise I loved it.
My hope was that the road test would cover road riding and give a better idea of where it stands in real world use. I hope you will have a more in-depth review in the future.
Bob Abrahamson, via email
Hi Bob, you’ll be pleased when your July issue appears in your mailbox, as not only do we go into much more detail on the new “Li’l GS,” we also compare it with two competitors, Kawasaki’s Versys-X 300 and the new Royal Enfield Himalayan. –JS
I appreciate the time and effort Mr. Tuttle put into his “Rider Needs You!” guide for editorial contributors in the June issue, but he could just as well have directed readers to page 18, where they would find “Island Whirl,” and said, “Do it like this.”
“Island Whirl” was a story of relationships, motorcycles and beautiful places, documented with the fine photography Mr. Tuttle described was appropriate and necessary. Author Jamie Elvidge should be commended for meeting the bar Mr. Tuttle laid out, and far exceeding it. She should also be thanked by Mr. Tuttle for so perfectly demonstrating how it’s done!
Robert Carle, Liberty, New York
As a long-time subscriber, I have always enjoyed Rider magazine. From the travel articles to the tech and product reviews, the magazine strikes a near-perfect balance. I only subscribe to two magazines, Rider and Owner’s News (BMW Owner’s News). If I had to choose between ON and Rider, Rider would be my one choice.
I wanted to make a comment or two about the article about the BMW K 1600 GTL and the Honda Gold Wing Tour (Six Guns, May 2018). Admittedly, I may be biased because I own a 2013 K 1600 GTL that I picked up last September with only 2,400 miles on it. It now has well over 8,500 miles on it. This is my third BMW; my first was a 1996 R 1100 RT. Why do I mention that? Well, it’s about time Honda came to the party with an adjustable windshield and duo-lever-style front suspension (or a variation there of). Those are two features that I have long appreciated about many of the BMW bikes. Once you’ve experienced the duo-lever suspension in a full-on panic braking situation, you’ll never want anything else. What I appreciate about the GTL is that it is comfortable, has plenty of cargo space without looking overweight and it handles almost like a sport bike. Which brings me to my main point of contention: one comment made about the handling of the GTL was in my opinion way off. The writers stated that the GTL demanded your full attention because it “bobs and weaves” on the interstate. You may want to check the setup on your test bike. If you have an overinflated front tire, you can get a similar response from most bikes, but I have over 6,000 miles on my GTL and “bobbing and weaving” is not one of its characteristics. It’s responsive, in part because it has a 17-inch front wheel as opposed to the Honda’s 18-inch wheel. My wife rides with me about 80 percent of the time and it is a very comfortable and stable bike to ride on the Interstate or twisties, with or without her. For me, the GTL offers the best of both worlds; it’s comfortable for all-day two-up travel, it has lots of luggage space and, when desired, it can handle the twisties better than any other touring bike. As for the information system, the handle bar dial that BMW uses is ingenious! It allows you to make easy changes to suspension setup or quickly see information. Could there be improvement? Of course. But I think some of the bikes are going too far with the amount of information. It can easily become a dangerous distraction. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Honda is a beautiful bike. And it’s good to see them make some much-needed improvements to their tour offering. I just wonder what buyers are going to think when they can’t pack that extra pair of shoes in the side bags. The best total package in my mind is still the BMW.
David Greenlees, via email
I finally got around to reading the February issue. Greg’s article, “North of the Border” was very well done! So proud to know this area intimately as both my wife and I grew up in the area. We, as Canadians, love traveling the USA to meet people, experience the beauty and subcultures and all that comes with it when we ride (especially the food!). I would encourage other riders to visit southern B.C. as Greg and his wife did, and although planned tours may be your style, you can feel safe and right at home and enjoy touring on your own too. Just plan ahead, especially for accommodation, so as not to be disappointed during the busy summer months. My suggestion is to tour in September as the weather is usually great, but not as busy.
Greg Snider, via email
I just wanted to say that once again I am pleasantly surprised by the content of your magazine. The story entitled “Island Whirl” by Jamie Elvidge was amazing for me. I was just flipping through the issue for a first glance but read the first paragraph of this story while holding the next page in my right hand, ready to move on. Once that first paragraph sunk in, I could not turn that page until I had read the story to that point. The story captures so much of why we ride.
This thing we do, these motorcycles, it is so much more. It is not a hobby. It is not a recreational vehicle. It is not even definable. It goes all the way down into our souls. It defines us, we riders. This story is a clear example of your magazine’s focus. Ridergets it.
Thank you for persevering and succeeding in a digital age and thank you even more for excellence.
Dan Kenshol, Hermiston, Oregon
Having ridden a motorcycle around Vancouver Island, I was eager to read “Island Whirl” by Jamie Elvidge in the June edition of Rider. As soon as I’d finished the opening section, I knew the story would be about much more than a ride on a motorcycle. Jamie is a gifted storyteller and, quite clearly, a good friend. Thanks for a great read.
Scott Williams, Wilbraham, Massachusetts
A Young Man in a Hurry With No Plan
I beat the draft in 1966: I enlisted. I went to basic training at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and lost 37 pounds in the less than three months I was there. I learned military customs and courtesy. How to shoot and run, do pushups and survival training; I was exhausted. I was then sent to Huntsville, Alabama, to learn radar repair at Redstone Arsenal. That first year in the army is one I will never forget. The thing I had on my mind most of the time was my 1966 Honda 450 Black Bomber. The first chance I had for a couple days off I made plans to pick up my Honda with a friend who had the same idea. We trailered the bikes to Huntsville, along with some gear. The army life was much easier to take after we got our bikes there and got a taste of two-wheeled freedom. We rode every chance we had.
My radar training lasted 30 weeks so I got to know the Alabama roads pretty well. The weekends were mostly free so we got a lot of riding done. After my training was completed I got orders to go Fort Bliss, Texas, in El Paso. I got ten days leave so I packed my things in a duffel bag and sent them home on a Greyhound bus. Now it was just me and my Honda for the ride home to East Chicago, Indiana, my first long ride. I was 19, not a care in the world and I didn’t really understand what this would entail. It was October and the weather in Huntsville was great, 70 to 80 degrees with no June bugs in sight. East Chicago, Indiana, was a different story. Fall was in full force and temps were in the 30s and 40s. My planning was zero.
The trip was going well until I reached the middle of Tennessee. It was getting dark and cold. My faithful steed just decided to die on a very dark and lonely stretch of road for no apparent reason at all. Lesson number one: plan. Lesson number two: bring a flashlight. The bike was equipped with the standard tool kit but that was worthless without light to be able to see anything. I removed covers and gave everything I could touch a poke and a tug. I got lucky and my unfaithful steed started. Oh, happy days.
My lack of planning included a lack of gloves. My fingers were so stiff and sore from the cold, they were permanently shaped to the handlebars. My jacket was perfect for Alabama weather. It was a thin black cloth jacket covered with white frost from the cold Indiana October weather. Who would have thought it gets cold at night…. I stopped at a gas station and got a newspaper to stuff into the front of my frosted jacket to help fend off the cold. I was shivering so hard that I was exhausted. I kept plugging away until I reached Indianapolis. It was there that I did what I thought was impossible: I fell asleep on the motorcycle and woke up while still riding in a ditch. I let the bike drop and ran up and down the quiet highway to wake up and get my blood circulating again. I was thankful that there was no traffic on that road. I rode on till I found a restaurant where I swallowed a gallon of hot coffee and regained some body heat. The next one hundred fifty miles seemed like one thousand fifty miles. There was no let-up in fatigue or temperature.
Oh, what a feeling of joy and success when I finally pulled into my destination. All I wanted to do was get some sleep under four blankets, two pairs of socks and a sweatshirt, never mind food or company. It was two days later before I even wanted to see that bike again. I was nineteen then and have learned a lot since then. That Honda 450 lasted through three hard years in the army. I learned a lot of lessons with that bike. It never failed me again like it did in Tennessee. I had over 30,000 miles on it when I totaled it. That was lesson number three. If the tires look bad, they must be bad. My rear tire blew out in Ruidoso, New Mexico, about 200 miles from the Fort Bliss army base. I was technically AWOL (absent without leave) because 50 miles was the limit we could travel from base without an army pass. Getting back to base without the machine that brought me that far is another story for another day.
I’m 72 now with a 2017 Victory Octane, and that first experience is always on my mind when I take a solo ride to the east coast to visit my son, still 650 miles away. I love the feeling of two wheels under me doing seventy miles an hour for hours at a time. I like to think that I am now better prepared for long rides; I have a roadside assistance card in case my bike quits, actual saddlebags bags that allow me to carry rain gear and emergency tools—like a flat repair kit and a flash light, and a smart phone that can tell me the weather ahead and even acts as a GPS. I try to rest up before my journey begins and plan my stops for gas and rest.
It’s cold in Indiana now and it will be a while before I make another long ride. I get just as excited now as I did when I was 19. I’ll be doing this for as long as I can swing my leg over the seat. It’s still a great feeling to be so free and alone doing 70 miles per hour on a two-wheeled machine of incredible power, especially with a little planning.
Marcel Thomas, Hobart, Indiana
I always enjoy reading and gaining wisdom from Mr. Eric Trow’s Stayin’ Safearticles. That said, I must comment that his advice in “Straighten Up and Ride Right” (Tips, Tricks & Answers, June 2018) can be difficult (if not impossible) to implement if one is straddling a machine poorly matched to the physical dimensions of the rider. The combination of foot control/handlebar height and their forward/rearward positioning relative to personal inseam, arm length, girth, etc., can make modifying said components (or getting another ride) the only alternative to painful cramping contortions for which no amount of good posture-mindedness can compensate.
I always look forward to the next issue of Rider (and by the way, if financial pressures ever dictate a need to modify your priorities, please raise your subscription rate rather than make the kinds of changes your good competitors have implemented). Keep up the fine work!
David McCarty, Culver, Indiana
Jamie Elvidge’s story of a road trip on Vancouver Island was inspiring. I started riding later in life and have kept several issues of Motorcycle Cruiser with Jamie as EIC. I’m not a cruiser fan, but the articles and comparisons, often with orange-helmeted Art Friedman, were always worth reading. Jamie’s story in Riderwas well written and illustrated, with a personal angle of a friendship and memories, including the Indian motorcycle, and lifted the tale above the usual “rode this road, ate at that restaurant, saw these sights” that often pass for travel accounts.
DS Holmes, Puyallup, Washington
Thank you for “Island Whirl,” June 2018. God bless Jamie Elvidge. I’ve always enjoyed reading her stories, but this one really struck home—as much about life and friendship as about beautiful places and an absolutely gorgeous motorcycle that has me drooling. I appreciate Riderbringing us stories that go beyond torque and horsepower comparisons, written by engaging people we care about.
Wes Bridges, Lakeland, Florida
What a fantastic piece of writing by Jamie Elvidge on her tour of Vancouver Island with her friend Elizabeth. I’ll wager none of us have seen such a grabber of a first paragraph in any moto magazine. My wife and I spent a few days in Victoria last fall, returning for our seventh time over two decades. In earlier years we’ve made the scenic trip to Tofino a few times (Jamie: next time go south to Ucluelet if you have time). Usually we’re in a car, thanks to the often-dreary weather on the west side of the island. If you don’t live in Washington state, it’s fun to fly into Seattle, take a seaplane to Victoria Harbor, then rent a motorcycle there to go exploring. My lovely co-rider, and now wife, Katherine and I did this for our honeymoon in 1998. Many thanks, Jamie, for an excellent and poignant story.
Larry Cole, Redmond, Oregon
I doubt that Rider readers care, but the author of “A Ride in the Wild” in the April issue might like to know that on page 42 the photo is not of a hex sign. That is a barn quilt, a piece of art that lets other quilters know that a fellow (sister?) quilter lives here.
Tracy, via email
Good afternoon gents and Jenny! Many thanks to Phil Holbo and his Favorite Rideon the Otter Trail Scenic Byway in my home state of Minnesota (May 2018). Land of 10,000 almost unfrozen lakes. In fine prose Phil showed us Inspiration Peak, a place I’ve frequented more than once, where the hike up is worth the extended lung workout because the view is fantastic! I try to get to Otter Tail County at least once a year, always seeing the Scenic Byway signs on my way to Inspiration Point Bible
Camp just a couple miles from I-Peak. Seeing as I’m going with the wife and daughter and a bunch of camping gear, I keep saying I’m coming back on the FJR! Thank you, Mr. Holbo, for whetting the appetite, and I’ll be using your map when I go.
Andrew Sherwood, South Saint Paul, Minnesota
Time to give credit where credit is due. After 70 years of riding and over 380,000 accident-free road miles, Rideris the only motorcycle magazine I subscribe to. I enjoy all the articles, including the travel features, but the ones that have helped me stay accident free are my favorites for good reason. The late, great Larry Grodsky and now Eric Trow were and are the best source of safety on two wheels. Their articles that stress practicing everything from lane placement to braking and swerving have served me well. The lessons on braking and especially swerving have saved my skin at least three times that I recall. The bottom line is to pay attention to their advice and practice, as you never know when you may need those skills.
Verlin Schultz, Hill City, South Dakota