So I’m pedaling away recently on my turbo trainer and reading through old issues, Rider magazine and others. I notice in reviews of jackets and pants one feature mentioned is pockets, both the number and capacity. This is sometimes followed by what item(s) might fit. Things like cell phones, keys, pocketknives, multi-tools or tools in general, cameras, tire pressure gauges, etc. My thought is that any of these items could cause harm in the event of an accident. Keys could puncture the skin, folded multi-tools or cell phones could break a rib. Maybe pockets are best used for softer items like hand wipes, bandanas or shop rags. What do you think?
John Sullivan, Woburn, Massachusetts
Just got done reading Sibling Rivalry (November 2018) and found myself getting frustrated all over again. As the owner of a 2015 Versys 650 I am a big believer in smaller bikes, but manufacturers seem to follow the same pattern: give the small bikes second-rate brakes and suspension. Why do they do this? I ride around 15k miles per year and tend to…how shall I put this…engage in “speed touring.” I would love my 650 even more if the suspension was more comfortable for those long days and handled bumps a bit better, and if it had better brakes for when the road gets twisty. I hate the idea that I have to buy a “big” bike to get those things. I have had bikes with more than 100 horsepower in the past and simply prefer smaller versions. (Plus, as noted, I’m not to be trusted with the extra potential on long straights.)
Dear manufacturers: riders on smaller bikes don’t necessarily ride slowly or fewer miles. Give us the same quality bike, just in the smaller engine configurations.
Chris Shockley, via email
In your October 2018 issue, Clement Salvadori attempts to take on the problem that has plagued riders for a century in his article “How Many Motorcycles are Too Many?” (Road Tales). The group I have been riding with for years has also wrestled with this seemingly unanswerable question. Our answers range from “one” (Road King, “Why would you need anything else?”) to “at last count, seven” (Ducati to go fast, Victory to ride his mother around, etc.). Many nights we have spent pondering this in establishments of low repute full of moral turpitude. We studied it from all aspects yet still could not come to a satisfactory conclusion. Finally, one afternoon a member bumbled onto the answer while drinking $1.25 Hamm’s at the Coleman Service Bar in Harper, Oregon.
Mr. Salvadori’s answer was, “As many as you want. And can afford. And have room for.” However, we argue that “want” has nothing to do with it; when you get to the point we are at, it’s called addiction. “Afford” is irrelevant, that’s why credit cards were invented. “Room for”—come on, I know two Beemers will fit in my den. So we assert the correct answer to the question of how many motorcycles you should own is: one more than you have right now.
Jim Kochenderfer, Klamath Falls, Oregon
Clement’s Road Tales in the November issue (“Off to See the Elephant”) resonated with me for a couple of reasons. After almost two years of planning, in 1999-2000 my wife and I did a 15,000-mile ride around the outer boundaries of the U.S. that took two months to complete. Our mount was a 1986 Yamaha Venture Royale, which carried us the whole trip without any problem. Starting in St. Paul, Minnesota, we rode north to International Falls, then west to the Pacific coast. Considering the long trip ahead, I was a bit apprehensive the first day, but after that each new day was an adventure that I eagerly looked forward to. Each day we checked off points of interest, national parks and monuments, ferries and roadside attractions that I had found during the months of planning. Our plan of riding the edges of the country naturally led us to the “four corners,” of which Key West was the most interesting. And we did see an elephant. In Margate, New Jersey, we stopped to see Lucy, the six-story-high “elephant” that town is famous for. It was the trip of a lifetime for us and I often enjoy looking at our pictures and reliving the ride.
Earl Morneau, Sun City, Arizona
Eric Trow’s warning about rider complacency on familiar roads (Riding Well, November 2018) was convincing, particularly for those of us who ride back and forth to work on a daily basis. He makes the case for rider mindfulness (RM). And of course RM comes into play before the engine is even started. Numerous times I have suited up ATGATT and walked out to my Kawasaki KLR 650 only to return inside and get the car keys. The reason: my mind was not in tune for the ride. It could be the result of a bad night of sleep, a nagging problem at work or just general stress. Regardless, doing a mind check before every ride is good practice and can be accomplished by asking yourself the simple question: am I alert and ready to ride?
Jim Luken, Conway, South Carolina
Inspired by Eric Trow’s Stayin’ Safe column (“Wheel He Or Won’t He?,” November 2018), I had to write and share a story. One clear, sunny day I was going down a wide city street with no parked cars on the sides. I noticed a vehicle pulling out of a business parking lot about 75 yards ahead on my right and the driver was paying more attention to something on the seat beside her than driving. I was going the speed limit of 30 mph and started to slow. As I approached the critical go/stop point I had slowed to maybe 10 mph. When I saw the wheels start to turn, I stopped about 30 feet away as she pulled out in front of me. Here’s the kicker: I was in a white full-size pickup! Defensive driving habits learned from many motorcycle miles pay dividends! And aren’t we all glad the “spinner” hubcaps seem to have gone away?
Mike Haines, Alamogordo, New Mexico
Eleven years ago, my wife and I encountered a situation exactly as described in Eric’s Stayin’ Safe column, albeit with a disastrous outcome. Although I emerged with only bruises, my wife broke her shoulder and my Gold Wing was deemed a total loss. While we followed the same procedure that was suggested to avoid an accident, just one little added step could have prevented this from happening: don’t take your eyes off the vehicle!
When we first spotted the vehicle it was stopped at end of the road. As we approached, the driver started to move forward, looked me right in the eye and then braked. We could see the nose of the vehicle slightly dive so we knew that the brakes had been reapplied. I then made the mistake of turning my head to the left to say something to my wife and, when I turned back around, the car was blocking the road. The bottom line is, keep the danger in sight until it has passed!
Brian Riley, via email
In regards to Jerry Smith’s October 2018 Tips, Tricks & Answers article, “Toolkits & Emergency Equipment,” his advice is spot-on about having a basic, good quality tool kit tailored to your bike and riding style. Of particular note was his comment about first aid kits and knowing how to use them. I suggest going a step further than standard first aid and consider taking a two-day Wilderness First Aid course, which are offered all over the country. This course goes into more depth than basic first aid, mostly by teaching proper patient evaluation and stabilization. If you frequently ride into remote areas where professional help may be several hours away, you owe it to yourself and your riding companions to have the tools and skills to cope with serious injuries.
Jesse Pacht, Thetford, Vermont
Like anybody with two brain cells to rub together, I love your magazine. Your writers and staff are top notch. In Mark Tuttle’s article, “New York Minute” (One-Track Mind, November 2018), he mentioned how his wife mounts and dismounts his motorcycle. I have a 2015 Gold Wing, a big, heavy bike that I love and that suits my needs perfectly. To have my wife get on, I sit on it but keep the kickstand down. She puts her left foot on the left rear peg, and lifts her right leg over the seat to settle in. To dismount, I put the kickstand down then I get off first. She slides down to my seat and therefore can slip off the left side easily and without obstruction. We’ve been doing it this way because of a former knee issue of hers, but I think it’s the best way regardless.
I have several fellow rider friends who get on then lift their kickstands, holding the bike in place, while their passengers get on or off. I have watched them fighting the bike to keep it upright, and watched as they struggle to do so. Now, ultimately, it’s their choice, but I feel it’s safer to have the kickstand down while a passenger mounts or dismounts.
William Rogers, Mesa, Arizona
I just received the November issue and I just want to say that I agree that the letter from “Nomad Max” was a good choice for “Letter of the Month.” I especially liked his sharing the phrase, “A mirror can only tell you no, it can never tell you yes.” Great words to ride by.
Lastly, in the “Re-Cycling” article (Tips, Tricks & Answers) you highlighted the 2001-2011 Honda GL1800 Gold Wing. I just thought I’d remind you that there was not a 2011 model. Honda spent that year moving its U.S. plant back to Japan.
Eddie Roberts, Granbury, Texas