Rider Magazine, May 2019

Cover of the May 2019 issue of Rider magazine.
Cover of the May 2019 issue of Rider magazine.

After Clement Salvadori mentioned key fobs in his “Stupid Things” (Road Tales) story in the May issue, I recalled my own experience with motorcycle key fobs a couple of years ago.

I’d just hopped off I-70 at Salina, Utah after having put 130 miles’ worth of gas through my ’85 V65 Sabre, which is usually good for 180 miles or so, then it starts getting thirsty. Just after exiting, I noticed an Indian parked on the shoulder of the opposite ramp, and a figure walking along not far away, helmet in hand, which is never a good sign. Not one to leave a fellow biker stranded, I motored up next to him and asked, “Out of gas?” He looked at me blankly for a moment and then started gesturing wildly while talking a mile a minute in a language that I was almost sure was English, but I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. “Whoa,” I exclaimed, pulling my helmet off. “Slow down partner. Say that again, reeeal slow.” After a few much slower words, I realized that he actually was speaking English, but real English, as in “from across the Atlantic Ocean English,” and slowly I learned the language as I got the drift of his dilemma. 

He and his buddy were on rented Indians out of Las Vegas, on the last couple days of a ten-day trip. They’d pulled off to the side of the Interstate to talk for a moment, then decided to trade bikes for awhile. Fellow #1 hops on his buddy’s Indian and scoots off down the highway. After awhile he realized his buddy wasn’t following him, so he took the first exit he came to, Salina, turned off the bike and sat there waiting for his buddy, who never showed up. Growing concerned, he decided to ride back to find his buddy, only to discover that he can’t get the Indian to start. It’s totally dead. Suddenly it dawns on him: they had switched bikes, but had not switched those stinking newfangled key fobs. Bike will run till you turn it off, then without the correct fob it’s basically a boat anchor. So there his buddy was, sitting by the side of the road thirty miles back with a bike that won’t start and he’s sitting here, on an off ramp with a bike that won’t start. They are some umpteen-thousand miles from home, with cell phones that won’t work because there’s no coverage and no one to call even if they did. To say he was a little panicked would be accurate.

“Not a problem,” I told him. “Give me your buddy’s fob and I’ll run it up to him.” Without a moment’s hesitation and with blind trust, he hands me the fob thingy and off I go, in search of his stranded buddy. Sure enough, after twenty minutes or so, there’s his buddy, standing next to his dead Indian on the westbound side, but there’s a concrete barrier between the lanes so I could only wave at him as I rode by, with him waving madly back, probably thinking I was yet another American leaving him standing there stranded. No telling how many cars had passed him by. I’m not sure how far I had to go, probably only five miles or so, before I found one of those emergency vehicle crossings where I could make a U-turn. This was actually turning into an emergency as I’d now gone about 170 miles on a tank that I usually fill long before the 180-mile mark, and I’m 35 miles from the nearest gas back in Salina. I’ll never forget the look of relief on that fellow’s face as I handed the fob to him. He’d realized almost an hour ago what had happened, and an hour stranded by the side of the road in a foreign country feels like an eternity.

Anyway, we rode back to where Fellow #1 was parked and they had quite the reunion. They tried to pay me for my help, which I declined, but when we went to lunch at a local burger place/gas station, they refused to let me buy my own burger, which I finally agreed to. Turned out they actually owned a bike shop in England and had been planning this trip to the colonies for ten years. They’d had an adventure and a tale to tell! And I learned a valuable lesson that day: that Sabre will go 205 miles on a tank of gas if it has to. 

Florin Owens, Vernal, Utah

Congratulations to the men who made the epic journey along the Pan-American Highway and through the Darien Gap (“Where the Road Ends,” May 2019)! The great story by Scott Yorko and images by Alex Manne and Jake Hamby do justice to this test of courage, strength, will and wits by Wayne Mitchell, Simon Edwards, Mike Eastham and Rich Doering. Thanks to them for their service and for bringing this legendary trip to life! I found this feature particularly compelling because I just finished reading the late Ed Culberson’s book, “Obsessions Die Hard: Motorcycling the Pan-American Highway’s Jungle Gap.” The book’s images are black and white and only cover his 1985 attempt; all his film and journals from his successful 1986 effort were lost somewhere in the Atacama Desert in Argentina during the final leg of that trip. The color images in your story bring new life and dimension to Culberson’s achievement. Somewhere, Ed Culberson is smiling and giving this entire crew thumbs-up!

Gary Ilminen, Lone Rock, Wisconsin

I’ve suppose I’ve read every issue of Rider since I first discovered it on a newsstand many years ago, and have concluded that it is the crème de la crème of the rags specializing in the world of motorcycling. But now you’ve gone and done it. The May 2019 issue is, in my judgment, the best one you’ve ever published. To have augmented your usual excellent content with “You Can’t Get There From Here,” and then Ken Lee’s excellent ramble about riding out in the Gold Country, just pushed this issue to the very top of the heap. Although the Darien Gap story covered a lot of pages, I wasn’t ready for it to end. I hope these gentlemen will bring out a book or video documentary about their incredible journey. Ken Lee’s superb article, with photography by Katie, about some of the most enjoyable riding in California, covered both the riding and historical aspects of the area. My only quarrel with Ken is that his work is not published more often. He is an excellent wordsmith. So congratulations, Mark (and Clem, Greg, Jenny and all the staff) for this excellent issue. You’ve set a pretty high mark and I look forward to more like it in the future.

Jim Lattimore, Franklin, Tennessee

I was 15 years old in the summer of 1962, when I paid a whisker over $300 for my brand-new 50cc Honda Super Cub. What a summer that was! Wind in my hair, an occasional bug stinging my face and more joy than I imagined possible–all at 35 mph. No big twin with more roar and faster speed has matched it yet. Now, it is resurrection morning (“Time Machine,” May 2019) and I’m not sure if I died and went to heaven or if Honda really brought the Super Cub back to life. Either way, I’m loving it.

David J. Mills, via email

Every month I get my issue of Riderand read it from back to front. It could be because I’m left-handed but the more likely reason is getting to Retrospectiveto see what old gem is featured. The May feature really put a smile on my face: there was the same Kawi KZ400 I had years ago. Same bike, same paint scheme. Here come the memories. As the article states, it was a great little commuter. I bought mine from a friend in the mid-‘80s and kept it for more than 10 years. My only regret: I should have hung on to it! Thank you, Mr. Salvadori, for a great write up on a cool old bike.

Randy Norton, Palm Bay, Florida

Question: on page 71 of the May 2019, the article about using your clutch to back down a slippery slope is great but the picture shows the rider standing beside the bike? I don’t think I could control my Vision doing it that way!

Mitch Peevy, Buford, Georgia

Hi Mitch, we could have shown a photo of the technique with a rider seated on the bike, but we were trying to demonstrate that it can be done when that isn’t possible or practical for some reason–like when your legs aren’t long enough to firmly plant your feet on the ground while seated on the bike, or you’re unloading the bike from a truck. You can do it seated, of course, if you’re blessed with long enough legs and/or the ramp(s) is wide enough. –EIC

Regarding the April 2019 road test of the manual shift Honda NC750X, the text states that the redline has been increased to 7,500 rpm. The photo of the dash clearly shows a redline of around 6,400-6,500 rpm. All of Honda’s literature for this model refer to the increased redline in connection with the DCT model. Please clarify. Has the redline been increased on the manual model? If so, why does the tach indicate otherwise? If not, why would it be increased on the DCT model and not the manual since the engines are apparently otherwise identical?

Mike Phillips, Harstburg, Missouri

Hi Mike, Honda tells us that the redline on the display remained the same (6,400) from the NC700X to the NC750X, but that the actual rev cut (rev limit) on both the manual and DCT models did increase from 6,600 rpm to 7,500 rpm. Hope that helps! –EIC

On page 61 of your Vermont story (Favorite Ride, June 2019) you wrote that president Harding died of a gunshot wound, but that is incorrect. President Harding died of an apparent heart attack.

Julius Camelio, New Rochelle, New York

You are correct, Julius, thank you. Many believe that Harding’s death involved foul play, but he definitely was not shot. –EIC

My brother-in-law and I just returned home from a trip to Texas for the MotoGP race at the Circuit of the Americas track just outside of Austin. We both pulled small trailers containing our camping gear, George on his 1999 Honda Valkyrie and me on my 2017 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited. We settled into the tent camping area, right in the middle of what was apparently BMW R 1200 GS Central. We’d barely begun setting up camp when Brolin from Alberta, Canada, rolled in to introduce himself, along with offering a cold beverage. We then met Bobby from Illinois, Keith from Oklahoma, Don from Texas, Patti from California, Jeanine from Florida, Aaron from Georgia, Garrett from Ohio (transplanted from Ireland), Vic and Cy from Utah and a long list of others. Other bikes trickled in: KTM, Triumph, Suzuki, Honda, BSA, etc. One gent, originally from London but now firmly settled in Greeley, Colorado, after a lifetime of traveling, told of his four sons, each of whom was born in a different country and each married to wives from still different countries! Lots of campers dropped by to comment on George’s Valkyrie or to ask me about my Mini-Mate camper trailer.

The races themselves saw a sea of fans filled with a variety of nationalities and languages. While there were only a few children in our camping area, the race crowd contained lots of little ones running around, each with their freshly bought souvenirs, caps and t-shirts touting their favorite riders, even if they didn’t quite know yet who their favorite was. A young Italian couple sat next to me as their 18-month-old son ran around testing out his new legs, all the while sporting his oversized #46 Valentino Rossi cap. Spectators cheered the riders as the race began, groaned when leader and reigning series champion Marc Marquez crashed out, cheered when perennial champion Rossi took the lead, groaned again when Rossi was passed by eventual winner Álex Rins, then applauded all of the riders as the race concluded. There were no fights, no violent arguments over which rider was better or which manufacturer was superior…just a lot of motorcycle fans enjoying the spectacle of watching some of the best riders in the world race on one of the most challenging tracks on the circuit.

George and I packed and left early the next morning, saying our goodbyes as our neighbors all headed off to the four winds. We made a beeline to our homes in southern Mississippi, agreeing that this had been one of our better trips and that we should make plans to do it again next year.

I’ve been a Harley guy for most of my life and will likely remain so for the rest of my riding days. However, I’ve had my eyes opened to other areas of motorcycling as I read Ridermagazine and other publications. Meeting such a varied cross-section of riders from around the world was a great experience and I plan to do it again, as well as look into what other events are out there, just waiting on me to buy a ticket and show up.

Thanks to the Riderstaff for all you do. It’s a great publication…keep up the good work!

Bo Sills, Newhebron, Mississippi

I have been a subscriber of your wonderful magazine for years. As long as you don’t morph into a coffee table queen like your competitors I will continue to do so. 

After a long, cruel winter here in Iowa, riding season is upon us. This winter I turned 62 and was overdue for my mid-life crisis. I currently ride a ’14 Triumph Explorer. (Pretty much the bike I’ve dreamed of ever since, out of the blue, my father bought me a Rupp mini bike 50 years ago.) I just added an R NineT Pure to my stable. The bike makes me feel like a kid again. It really is a time machine. 

Jim Conner, via email

Now that spring has arrived in the Midwest, I’ll be out riding my new-to-me, leftover 2016 Honda Gold Wing. When I bought this couch on two wheels this week at the Honda dealer, I thought about all the bikes I have had over the last 54 years. It all started with a little Honda 150 that I was able to purchase with my first job out of high school. Then came a 305 Super Hawk, back when that was the second-biggest bike Honda made (1966 this was).

There have been other bikes, but they all left fond memories of life on two wheels, and the freedom you feel no matter what size bike you are on. This month’s article on the Honda Super Cub, I’m sure will bring back memories for all who at one time rode them. It’s articles like that one that puts Rider magazine in front of the other mags.

Russ Horn, via email

Just finished reading “Stupid Things That I Have Done.” The paragraph about tire pressure hit home. At 73 years young I attempted to check my tires. I ride a Harley bagger. After much difficulty I got the valve stem caps off. Very little space on the rear wheel. That was the easy part. Trying to get a reading on my pressure gauge was not good. I let out more air trying to get the reading. Having attended the school of hard knocks, I took the bike to the dealer and behold, a young man with a special tool had me rolling in five minutes. By the way the front was OK, the rear was eight pounds low. Must have let more out than I thought.

George Hapkiewicz, via email

While going to San Jose State University in 1979, I got ditched by the lousy public transportation system during a nasty rainstorm and, for the only time in my life, I hitchhiked to get home. I vowed to solve the problem, and since the SJSU course catalog had an ad for the local Kawasaki dealer that featured the KZ400, a couple days later I found my way to the dealer and became a motorcyclist. A few months later I became a Ridersubscriber.

A few years later I had moved up to a bigger bike and the KZ400 wasn’t seeing much use. It had still been lovingly maintained, back in the days when air-cooled engines meant getting out the toothbrush for cleaning. I decided to pass it on to my younger brother for Christmas one year. He kept it until he got a bigger bike, and it came back to my house, a little worse for the wear. Then a friend was interested in learning to ride, so I passed it on to him. He kept it until he got a bigger bike, and it came back to my house, a lot worse for the wear. (See a pattern?)

At that point, I decided I would keep it as a restoration project. It’s been off the road for 20-some years, while I’ve been collecting parts when I’ve had extra cash. I always thought it would be a retirement project, something to work on when I finish my 1888 house. But now you’ve done it. It took 40 years, but you’ve officially deemed the KZ400 a classic bike. I guess I better get to working on that restoration now, even though retirement is a few years away still.

Matt Knowles, Ferndale, California

Just got done reading Clement’s article on stupidity and at the end it made me think he may have stumbled upon the answer to the age-old question about immovable object and irresistible force.

Chris Shockley, Tacoma, Washington

I’m a new subscriber to this magazine, and was particularly surprised to see that you included a story about three riders and their trip from Alaska to the tip of Argentina, including an attempt to cross the Darien Gap. I helped sponsor a rider who rode from Michigan to Brazil, interestingly enough on a KLR650 as well. He elected to bypass the Gap, which no doubt your riders can attest is probably the smart thing to do. I stopped asking why people do such things a long time ago. What one considers smart is much different than another. One of the more interesting articles was the one on the KZ400, which began on page 90 and finished on page 89; that is an approach I haven’t seen before. So it happens that my tail bag zipper failed today, so I took a hard look at the Fly bag but elected to go with the Nelson-Rigg sport model. Looking forward to the next issue.

Ron Boals, Kewadin, Michigan

As a longtime Ridermagazine reader and a longer-time resident of Minnesota, I really enjoyed the Favorite Ridearticle in your May 2019 issue. I was a 55-year-old 3M employee in St. Paul, Minnesota, when I attended a pre-retirement meeting. The speaker said (among many other things), “People don’t grow old by living their years–they grow old by deserting their dreams.” I had always wanted a motorcycle but for one reason or another never got one. I left the meeting and went to St. Paul Honda and bought a 400cc Honda Hawk.

During the next 38 years I rode more than 200,000 miles on nine different motorcycles–ending up with two Gold Wings. At age 93 I sold the last Gold Wing–I really miss the ride–but I thought it was time. TheFavorite Ridearticle in your recent issue is about northern Minnesota–my country. I have good friends in Ely, and while visiting them I rode through all the spots your article mentioned–many times–and it brought back many good memories.  

I’m now 97 years old–still active–and still miss riding. By the way, I was a pilot in the South Pacific and Japan during WWII.  

Robert L. Wieman, St. Paul, Minnesota

Having ridden almost all of the trip Doering and the team took (missed Central America to Colombia by moto, but covered it by sail), I can attest that this is an amazing trip in such a short time. Frankly the Dalton and Carretera Austral portions can be horrendous due to the road and traffic, a different story to the Darien, but just as dangerous. Not to detract from the story, but when the team looked out across the waters from mile zero in Lapataia, it wasn’t the Drake Passage they looked across, but the Beagle Channel. To see the Drake Passage you either ride out to one of the old Estancias about 60 miles east of Ushuaia or sail around Cape Horn and look over your right shoulder, as we did. The KLR is definitely the bike of choice on the Dalton and in Tierra del Fuego. I can’t count the number of GSs I’ve stopped to help pick up on both roads. Thanks for a great reminder of these two amazing parts of the world. If I had a choice today, I’d go back to Tierra del Fuego, despite the winds.

Michael A. Whitby, via email

Spot on Eric, once again, with “The Dangerous Side of Safety!” If I’m driving a car that will apply the brakes for me if necessary, why do I need to pay attention to the road ahead? Of course this whole question gets into the politics of “we elites will take care of you little people,” so I won’t bother you with my political persuasion.
I have an example, though, that goes way back: remember the ERC exercise “Rear Wheel Skid?” When BMW first came out with ABS I would often have riders in my class who said they did not need to do the exercise because they had ABS. I wouldn’t make them do the exercise, of course, but I would always suggest that they try it. Almost without exception they would thank me afterward. Because, as I’m sure you recall, the early versions of ABS would chatter and squeal, which could be disconcerting enough to make riders want to let off on the brake. They had never heard the sound before and were now more prepared to use their brakes properly.
I have heard that when ABS came out in cars there were many crashes that could have been avoided by just keeping brake pressure and not pumping them like we were taught to do with non-ABS. And although I actually like ABS because it has saved by bacon a few times, I think there are too many unintended consequences in the quest to keep us safe.
Thanks again for a great column. You and Clement always vie for top honors (as far as I’m concerned) with your monthly missives.

Tom Overman, via email

“The Dangerous Side of Safety,” by Eric Trow, sure rang home for me in many ways.  He brought up how it effects the NFL and the motorcyclist. As a flight instructor for twenty-plus years, in smaller, single-engine aircraft, it is amazing how easily a pilot can get confused between confidenceand proficiency.How many times have I noticed pilots believe that they can be up to the task, with false confidence,just because there are a lot of screens and information instead of old-fashioned round gauges in front of them. Aircraft, unlike a ball game or even a motorcycle, where you can pull over and think it over, can put you in a bind in seconds. After fifty years on two wheels, some twenty different models later, I love to keep it simple. A BMW Airhead and a GS1100 is as technically advanced as I’d like to be, but I still love to read about the latest technology in Riderevery month.  

Matt Swart, via email

Wow! Thank you so much for the article, “Where the Road Ends,” and additional info on who has made the Darian Gap in Mark Tuttle’s editorial. What a great story. I want more, a documentary please! I’ve ridden solo from Pennsylvania to Prudhoe Bay and back, in the summer, and I’ve  ridden from Vena del Mar, Chile, down the Carretera Austral and through Patagonia to Ushuaia and looped back along the Atlantic through Argentina, so I have some idea of the difficulty…and beauty. As for the Darian Gap, I talked with Helge Pedersen not long after he did it, and he said he’d never do it again. I’ve read of two others doing it, but I didn’t  know about the others mentioned in your editorial. Thanks for the extra info and guide to more great reading. Ridermagazine is the best. Wow, just wow.

Robert Echard, State College, Pennsylvania

Reading Clement’s Retrospective on the Kawasaki KZ400 brought back a lot of memories, both fond and not quite so. The bike pictured in the article looks to be an exact duplicate of the one I purchased in the mid-70s. Put a lot of miles on that bike as a daily driver living in St. Louis. As the article stated I do remember the power to be rather so-so. Due to my using it as an everyday bike I installed a couple of extras, a crash bar and also a clear fairing. The fairing was nice for riding in the rain, but also had its drawbacks. An area that I rode thru every day was a stretch of Highway 40/61 called the Gumbo Flats (or Chesterfield Valley, now that the uppity-ups moved in), which ran parallel to the Mississippi River. Running east/west, it was a completely flat stretch approximately 2-3 miles in length. There were some days I had to battle a rather brisk headwind, and the fairing worked like a reverse parachute. Since the bike was somewhat underpowered even at full throttle, I had to fight to keep it going 60 mph. Other than that I loved that old bike. Reliable and never left me stranded. Now that I think back about it, I believe I sold it to purchase a set of wedding rings. In retrospect, I think I made a good trade–still have the wife after 38 years. Although, in looking at the pictures in this article maybe the bike would have given me less problems.

Paul Kundl, Charlotte, North Carolina

As a young man my dad purchased a little Honda and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The handlebars would fold over and I could drag it under the fence so I could leave the farm and go explore the country. As I grew older I hade various bikes, but my first street bike was a 1978 Honda 750 Super Sport. It was so quick it didn’t take me long to find the side of a Galaxy 500. They don’t move when you hit ‘em. On into the 2000s I got a Kawasaki Vulcan, which together we hit a Ford Tempo, which also don’t move much when you hit them–my bad this time. 

So the wife says no more bikes! And she won. Well, a few months later this strange vehicle comes to my house pulling a cargo trailer, inside was the Harley she bought me. She said she was tired of me going out on the porch to listen to bikes come by. So for 2017 I’m on the “geezer glide,” loving every minute I have on it and all the conversations with strangers about riding. What a lifestyle.

Jeff Boatright, via email

Rider’s 45th Anniversary issue took me back almost as far, with Clement Salvadori’s Retrospective on the Kawasaki KZ400. “Nice little bike,” he wrote. “Great for commuting, but entirely capable of a cross-country trip.” That’s exactly what I did in 1980 with my 1975 KZ400–a bike I’d purchased for $200 with easily-fixable damage after being driven into a porch. I left San Diego early one morning and headed east, and 8,800 miles later returned with the motor still purring. That little bike took me cross-country, up and down the East Coast from Georgia to New England, and home again, all with kick-start simplicity and reliability. I visited friends scattered across the U.S., camped under the stars, and felt the satisfaction of self-reliance–if stuff happens in your very small traveling world, you have to deal with it. I put over 20,000 miles on that KZ400, and then sold it for twice what I’d paid for it! Reading the article put me in a “retrospective” mood for sure – thanks!

Andy Rowe, via email

Eric Trow’s latest column, “The Dangerous Side of Safety”, reminded me of two things:

First , I have heard that when anti-lock brakes first became available on cars, insurance companies were initially charging owners of those cars higher (not lower) insurance premiums–why? Because the insurance companies noted that those cars were getting involved in accidents at a higher (not lower) rate than cars without ABS. This was, of course, because their drivers were driving faster than they should, thinking that ABS would protect them.

Second, a wise engineer once explained to me that contrary to popular opinion, a car with ABS will NOT be able to stop faster than a car without ABS. The advantage of ABS is that in poor road conditions, when traction is decreased, a car with ABS will allow you to steer while braking, but a car without ABS loses that ability.  

So, to second Mr. Trow (and all other such instructors): when road conditions deteriorate, slow down. Allow greater following distances. And avoid vehicles driving too fast for conditions. The laws of physics still apply, regardless of how many safety features your vehicle has.

Steve Hudock, via email

Clement really hit the nail on the head with “Stupid Things I’ve Done, and Some I Still Do,” in the May issue. Man! I’ve been there…. Like taking off with my tank bag lid flapping open, valuable papers inside nearly disappearing forever. The multiple marriage thing I avoided, as I got it right the first time (strictly by accident), 56 years ago. I did put 11 liters of diesel fuel into my nearly empty GS tank in Beaver, B.C., Canada, once. It seems that in places in Canada, the pump handles for gas and diesel can be any color. As opposed to the lower 48, where we feel secure in assuming diesel pumps will always have a green handle. I think the one I pumped from was gold. Anyway, we drained all we could out of the tank and donated it to the station. After fueling up on three tanks of premium, the bike quit smoking and has gone another 80k miles since with no mechanical difficulties. 

Chuck Thompson, Clarkston, Washington


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