About six years ago I went camping with a friend and within minutes of setting up, he came to the fire pit with a box full of old Rider and “Cycle” magazines. We spent all week looking at and talking bikes. We both had small dirt bikes over many years but never a “big” motorcycle. So when I got home, I checked our local “Bulkley Browser” for a used motorbike and, since I live in a small town, seeing only one listed for sale didn’t surprise me. It was a BMW R 1200 GS with 37,000 km, aluminum panniers and off-road tires. It looked nice to me so I took it home and was soon off to Alaska. I was hooked. The next summer I was ready to head south to Arizona, but just before I was about to leave the main shaft between the motor and clutch broke, and in my little town there was no way of getting it fixed. So back to the “for sale” listings, and I was wonderfully surprised to see a newer BMW R 1200 GSA with only 17,000 km for sale just up the road from my house. I picked it up, hit on the road and put more than 50,000 km on it in four years, through all of Canada and most of the Western States. We are all so blessed to be living in North America. Thank you for making two wheels my preferred mode of travel.
Jeremy Penninga, Smithers, British Columbia
Growing up in a neighborhood near an inactive gravel pit, we spent a lot of time riding dirt bikes up, down and around well-established trails, honing our off-road skills. Now the pit is active again and operated by the Dolomite Group. A couple of years ago a poster of a red BMW on the switchbacks of the Dolomites caught my attention. Now reading your story about the Ayres Adventures Switchback Challenge through the Dolomites (Switchback Challenge, January 2019) has filled in the blanks of what the BMW rider must have enjoyed. It also reminded me of my own nirvana in the gravel pit 50 years ago. Thanks for another great issue of Rider to kick off 2019!
Rick Rommel, via email
Thank you for your article on the Honda Monkey in the January 2019 issue (“Monkeying Around”), which took me back 48 years to the day I got a Honda CT70, Christmas Day, 1970. I was 13 and we were civilians living on the island of Okinawa. I rode my CT70 on the beach and over trails that went through rice fields (the fields were square so I had to pop a wheelie to make a right turn) and to the ocean to fish from the pier at the Okinawa Yacht Club. I always took back roads so I wouldn’t be caught by the U.S. Military Police, as I was too young to have a driver’s license. I also had a newspaper route delivering the local English-language newspaper, and I’d convinced the newspaper to pay $10 each month for the gas on my Honda (which got 60 mpg and cost only $1 per month at 25 cents per gallon) to ride the route. I still have my CT70 and cherish the memories. What fun these “mini bikes” can bring to a kid and an adult!
Lance Moody, Eagle, Idaho
Eric Trow’s article, “Letters from the Garage” (Riding Well, January 2019), inspired my old/new 1998 Honda ST1100 to write this letter:
I’m now a more balanced and boosted motorcycle, thanks to my new owner Ray. He purchased me from an 81-year-old Army veteran who rode me like I was a scooter. This past year was a rebirth for me! Ray gave me a complete tune-up, cleaned out my carbs and put new exhaust and new tires on me, along with a Corbin seat for our long rides. We went on a 1,300-mile trip into the mountains of Colorado, carving the highways and mountain roads, showing my true abilities as a sport touring bike. I was young again! Thank you, Ray, for bringing me back to life. I hope we continue to travel together so that I can relive my youth again. Let’s ride!
Ray Salinas, Arvada, Colorado
In reference to Clem’s review of the MotoBikeJack (Gearlab, January 2019),
I bought the jack and have a question about lifting my 2007 Goldwing. It looks like he attached the hook to the rider footpeg. When I start lifting the bike the strap pushes the top shelter in to the point that I am afraid it will be damaged. My question is exactly where did he put the hook and was the shelter or seat damaged?
Ron Cooper, Belton, Texas
Ron: you can see from the big photo that the hook was attached to the right-side rider peg, with the carry bag over the seat to protect it. The plastic panels concealing the engine have a certain flexibility, and we did no damage to panels or seat – with my friend looking on to make sure. I imagine that incorrect placement of the hook could create problems, but I have not encountered any, and so far I have picked up six different bikes. If you belong to a Gold Wing club, there may well be some members who have bought this device and have some advice. Here is hoping you will never have to use it. – Clem
I am confused about the new, optional quickshifter, quickshifter +, etc. now showing up on new models like the KTM Super Duke, BMW K 1600 and others. I did not realize a quickshifter was needed on a motorcycle to shift up and down without the use of the clutch. My recently sold 2005 Yamaha FJR1300 barely saw clutch use its entire life for any up- or downshifts over 130,000 miles of riding, except to get moving in first. Almost all the bikes I have owned or ridden did not seem to need such an add-on, although on my current 2013 BMW K 1600 GT it’s challenging to get clean, crisp, no-clunk, up- and downshifts without clutch use. I digress, but isn’t the skill of clutchless shifting part of the joy of motorcycling? Please enlighten me and/or your readers of the need for a quickshifter vs. simple skills!
Mark Wolocatiuk, via email
The advantage of a quickshifter (upshifting only) and quickshifter + (both up and down) is that you don’t have to change the throttle position when you toe the shifter, i.e. you can keep it WFO and upshift (as in a car with flappy paddles) or with a + even have the throttle cracked a bit as you downshift (although I have only done this to test it, never in normal riding). You’re right in that most motorcycles with appropriate gearboxes and torque curves can be shifted without the clutch, but you still have to blip the throttle at just the right moment. A good QS does it for you, and even matches revs on the way down. – EIC
Flicking through my January 2019 issue, something catches my attention. I’m not a bagger kind of guy, not my cup of tea, but the 2019 Indian Chieftain Limited caught my eye: it looks good and might be something I would enjoy. I read on and skip a few pages to the Royal Enfields…hmm, not bad either, but let me take another look at the Indian. Price as tested is $26,749, compared to the Royal Enfields at $5,799/5,999. I know I’m pitting apples against oranges, but the warranty on the Indian is one year, unlimited mileage. Warranty on the Enfields is three years, unlimited mileage. Almost $30k and you only get one year? Is this a typo?
Terence Smith, via email
Turns out it is a typo, Terence, good catch. The Indian Chieftains actually carry a 2-year, unlimited mileage warranty. – EIC
As an avid Rider reader, I look forward each month to sitting down and pouring through every article, from One-Track Mind to Retrospective. What an awesome surprise awaited me as I concluded the January issue’s Chieftain article, turned the page and was slapped in the eye with Alan Paulsen’s “Trek to Yellowknife.” It is almost like you folks have ESP since one of my riding buddies and I are heading along this exact route this coming summer. The pictures, suggestions and of course the map are just what this rider needed. As “a distant place at the end of the road,” we are adding one other reason for the trek. Yellowknife was the base for the old TV series “Ice Pilots,” which, as pilots as well, we wish to check out. Two questions I came away with, did you tour any of the Ingram Trail while there? And finally, knowing the riding season is short that far north, what month did you go? I have experience bug fighting but am smart enough to adjust my trip timing if it’s possible to get there before or after the worst time. As always, thanks for the great and sometimes surprising articles and keep that ESP tuner on high.
Norm Spafard, Woodstock, Georgia
Norm, Alan says, “The Ingram Trail is 42 miles of gravel road out of Yellowknife, and heavy truck traffic heading to the mines keeps it in terrible shape, so I didn’t want to undertake it on my BMW LT. For in-depth information on the Ingram Trail, contact ExploreNorth.com. I journeyed to Yellowknife in the latter part of June.” – EIC
I have been riding for more than 50 years and currently tour on a Ducati Multistrada 1200, but my wife found it ergo-uncomfortable for her 5-foot frame. That’s how I discovered that not enough credit is given to the capability of small-bore machines for two-up touring. I took my neighbor, who wanted to get back into local riding, to a dealer and found that the Honda NC700X fit his criteria. Once I rode this bike I thought it would make a nice runaround addition to my garage. I found it comfortable and forgiving from running errands to daily rides, with the added benefit of 70 MPG. I immediately located a used one and my wife found it most comfortable. I later added an Air Hawk for long rides. I decided to outfit it with a set of Givi bags and trunk and try it for touring. I had my doubts but with a combined weight within reason it was worth a try. In the last four years we have done many four to six-day rides in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, with trips up to 1,600 miles and averaging 65-70 MPG. This bike has proven to be up to the task as long as you use good judgment when planning to pass and it has handled every mountain pass just fine. It does require some patience at times.
Jay B. Free, via email
Reading the December issue, I came across the “Laing’s Journey” article. Awesome! Initially reminded me of the Robert Fulton, Jr. book, “One Man Caravan,” one of my favorites and one of a very few books I own. A couple of things stood out for me reading the article, first being his quote about life: “We may see the path clearly enough to the turn, but beyond it, the future must reveal,” which will be added to my short list of quotable quotes! The other is his mention of people questioning him on his personal safety. I travel almost exclusively by motorcycle and have been all over the continental U.S., Alaska and Canada, and a little out of country. Most of the time it is a solo adventure and I too get the questions about my personal safety. After more than 40 years of motorcycle travel I cannot think of one instance where I felt or was threatened. Well, there was that one time in east Memphis…. In fact most people leave the “biker” alone, but those that do approach are just curious as to where I’m going and details of my trip. I recall having to cut short a 15-minute conversation in O’Neill, Nebraska, with a local farmer and the lady behind the till about the battle with noxious weeds…golden! This film cannot be seen within four walls as Mr. Laing says. I can’t wait for the book to come out and I’m sure Rider will let us all know when it does. Thanks.
Jason Kirschman, Fort Worth, Texas
I smiled when reading Eric Trow’s “Letters from the Garage” in your January 2019 issue, written from the perspective of a motorcycle’s relationship to its rider, because on my ride from Pepin, Wisconsin, to Nova Scotia this summer I wrote from the other side of the coin – from the perspective of my relationship to my motorcycle. Crossing from Calais, Maine, into New Brunswick, Canada, departing customs at 7:30 a.m. on a fresh (read: cool, 62 and moist) Tuesday morning, I was gloriously alone on the road with Kairos, my 2014 KTM 1190 Adventure. I was approaching St. John when the following dawned on me: RELATIONSHIP.
Kairos and I first got to know each other in 2015 on a long ride (two months, 12,000 miles) to Alaska. Trust developed and a good partnership ensued. (That’s not happened to me with my four-wheel rides.) Shorter rides do not allow sufficient time for a relationship to develop, though they can build appreciation for capability. As I learned one week last year riding off-road around Leadville, Colorado, elevation 10,000 feet-plus, when Kairos amazingly got me through unanticipated rough conditions – vertical, greasy, rain-soaked, embedded rock and potholed dirt roads shouldered by high steely granite reaching the sky on the left and endless sheer black holes on the right – unscathed. Yikes!
On this long Maritime ride our relationship is developing further. Maybe it’s my constantly changing “personal” inputs interacting with Kairos’ immediate “personal” responses – plus a heightened regard for unintended consequences – that occur only on two wheels? Such intimacy with my ride is definitely a good thing!
Jay Eaton, Booneville, Iowa
Oh my goodness. Is it possible to trek from somewhere west of Albany, New York, to Yellowknife, Canada, on a motorcycle that is not the flavor of the day, the latest, greatest ADV motorcycle of the “GS” variety? And, based on appearance, an almost 20-year-old motorcycle. Of course it is, and yes I noticed mostly because I’m still riding the same motorcycle. She’s had a lot of maintenance, but with so little capital invested I can do more touring.
James Garton, Pewaukee, Wisconsin
I thought it prudent to vote now, just in case, against what seems to be a trend in motorcycle magazines. Please, Rider, do not trade good writing and informative articles for big photos and minimal content like some others have done. (I am not renewing those other publications.) Thank you for your work.
David Lay, Cumberland Center, Maine
In “Good Riddance,” (One-Track Mind, January 2019) EIC Tuttle mentions proper riding apparel, then on page 40 is a picture of Jenny Smith wearing a three-quarter helmet. Is that because the little Honda only does 60 mph? Have I been wearing a full-face helmet needlessly all this time? I’m confused more than usual. Could you un-confuse me? Thanks for the great magazine!
Eric Wickenheiser, Pequea, Pennsylvania
I was happy to see Honda cashing in on the nostalgia for their fabled old Z50 Monkey Bike. My little brother started out with one of the original Z50As back in 1968. I’m confident Honda will move a boatload of the new mini-bikes and continue the success from their expansion of the Grom line. The one part I don’t really follow is taking a mini-bike Grom and making it into a more mini mini-bike. When is Honda going to expand the Grom line up upwards? Use the Grom engine in a pressed steel T-frame with 18-inch wheels as a new Super 90? There is far more nostalgia out there for the Super 90 than a 236-pound “mini” bike. With the original Z50, it had fold up handlebars and we really did pick it up and put it in the trunk of the car. And electric start? Really? These bikes were so easy to kick over they were designed for 7-year-olds to do it. Honda, please give us a new Super 90 we can feel comfortable taking out on the streets.
Rick Averill, Margate, Florida
Congratulations on a great January 2019 issue! I appreciated the piece done on the Royal Enfield Interceptor/Continental GT 650. I have one on order for spring delivery, so I devoured the article and it makes me more anxious than ever for spring. Also, Clement Salvadori’s article on the Continental ContiGO! tires was timely and spot-on. I put ContiGO! tires on my V30 Magna back in 2009 in preparation for my first competitive motorcycle efforts at the SCTA World Finals at Bonneville. At that meet, the tires took me and the V30 to 104.536 mph. Indeed, the story was told in the March 2011 issue of Rider in “Bonneville on a Budget.” The bike was still shod with those same Continentals when we made another trip to Bonneville in 2012, but the weather was against us and I got in only one course survey pass. I think I may even have met Mr. Salvadori at this event during the driver’s meeting.
The tires have about 6,000 miles on them now and even the rear tire is showing minimal wear. Here closer to sea level, the Magna is able to breathe a lot better than at Bonneville’s altitude and the little, light Magna is scary fast for a 500, or even a 750, for that matter. The Continentals hold the road even when I get frisky in the twisties on old blacktop of highly variable surface quality and roughness. From hot mix patches to cow pies and horse apples, the ContiGO!s keep the bike hooked up and on a line. I hope you’ll pass this on to Mr. Salvadori and perhaps I’ll see him back at Bonneville some time. I am prepping a bike for a run there in 2020, so who knows?
I also really enjoyed his piece on the Moto Guzzi 254/Benelli Quattro. I did a piece on the “Mighty Mini-Multies” a while back and that bike along with the Kawasaki Mach 1 are a couple of mini-multis I’d love to have in my collection. I have Honda’s contribution to the collection already in the 1974 CB350F.
Gary Ilminen, Lone Rock, Wisconsin
Your road tests of the Honda Monkey and Can-Am Ryker (January 2019) confirmed what I already suspected regarding 20-somethings and their motorcycle tastes. Daily I park my very motorcycle-ish Kawasaki KLR 650 in the motorcycle space at the university where I work. I join a herd of scooters, mopeds, Groms, Monkeys (no Rykers yet) and a few totally rad mini-bikes. Although your reviews of the Monkey and Ryker state these bikes are all about “fun,” I think there is something else stoking the popularity of these downsized, go-slower vehicles among the college crowd. I regularly observe gangs of mini-bikers and mopeders cruising through campus, all of them checking their cell phones or sometimes even texting while riding. Try to do that – or not – with a fistful of horsepower and a climbing speedometer.
Jim Luken, Conway, South Carolina