I just wanted to write and thank you and your staff, and especially Jenny Smith, for giving me a new interest in life. Why? While visiting my cousin in Michigan, her husband showed me an issue of Rider magazine and I was so impressed I immediately subscribed as soon as I arrived back home. I read every issue from cover to cover. I have ridden motorcycles most of my life, but as I was aging I thought it was time to start backing down a bit—until I read Jenny’s review of the Triumph Speedmaster and the Rider motto: “Ride to Eat, Eat to Ride” (August 2018). I had been looking forward to each issue, reading the touring stories and feeling inspired. After reading her story I said, “Why not me?” So, at age 71, I purchased a new 2018 Speedmaster, added a Corbin seat and bags and after about a year of planning (which is now!) I’ll be taking a 4,600-mile trip. First to the Bonneville Salt Flats to help a friend of mine run speed trials on a 1955 Indian, then on to Denver, via Rocky Mountain National Park. I’ll head south to Pueblo, then over to Highway 12 in Utah to ride through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. Then it’s on to Las Vegas to meet my wonderful and understanding wife. Will I make it all the way? Who knows, but as they say, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.
So yes, thanks to all of you at Rider for providing me with renewed excitement in my life and the fact we can all enjoy riding even after 70. Who knows, maybe I’ll even find some great taco stands along the way.
Dave Allenbaugh, Santa Cruz, California
I have a friend at work that gives me his old Rider issues, which I really appreciate, so I read Mark Tuttle’s One-Track Mind “Function vs. Form” editorial in the February 2019 issue a little later than the next guy. What a great question he asks: “Have the motorcycle industry and consumers stopped caring about what looks good and are now focused solely on what works?” I understand completely why he asks that question, and the short answer is “no.” I can’t speak for the industry, but I can say that as a motorcycle consumer what matters to me are looks, performance and reliability, in equal portions, and in a different order depending how I feel on a given day. I have been riding motorcycles for almost 40 years and have seen many great improvements, but have become completely turned off by the design trends over the last few years, and the overly complicated functionality and user interface of the electronics. The blacked-out look on many new motorcycles is passionless, and I pray for the industry that this is a dying trend, lest the industry itself dies. It must be getting too expensive to make a nice looking motorcycle, so looks (and it seems cc’s) are being thrown out as a consideration. I couldn’t bring myself to pay money for some of the passionless bikes that are being built. My four kids are all just about out of college, and I finally have money to go after whatever I feel I need or want, but for now I will be sticking with my old 1983 CB1000 Custom and 1986 V65 Magna. Even a new FJR to replace my 2012 is on hold. Black rims, black plastic bodies, matte paint finishes. Performance, reliability, looks—if all three aren’t there my money stays home. If you want to reference an industry that shot itself in the foot, Google an image of a late 1970s Pioneer SX-1980 stereo receiver, and compare that to modern day stereo receivers. Which one gets your heart revving…the same goes for motorcycles, cars, women, etc. Our eyes drive many of our life decisions, but they seem to be getting ignored. Though I am a lone wolf rider, I can’t be the only one who feels this way. I think I need to listen to Rush’s “Red Barchetta” one more time.
Mark Nickels, via email
Eric, I read your article in the August issue. I could not agree more: we all need to learn more about the safe and proper way to ride. I have been riding for 40-plus years and got my first motorcycle in 1978 when I was 19, a 1976 Honda CL360. Paid the guy $550 for the bike, he showed me how to let out the clutch and shift the bike and I was on my way. My only lesson for a long time. That was my main mode of transportation for many years; I had a beat-up Pinto for when it snowed. I rode that bike to death. A couple motorcycles, about 12 years and one crash later, I saw our state offered the Motorcycle Safety Foundation class. I knew I needed some training, plus I could get a discount on my insurance. So I took the class and realized I didn’t know the proper and safe way to ride a motorcycle. The next few years I read books and tried to find riding schools (these were the pre-Internet days).
Over the next 25-plus years I have taken many riding and safety classes, Corner Spin, Total Control, California Superbike School at Laguna Seca (too cool for words), Ride Like a Pro and many others. I have learned something in every class to make me a better and safer rider. These classes have also let me learn what my limits are on a motorcycle. I am no expert motorcyclist but I am willing to learn whatever I can. During this time my riding friends and I have gone many trips over the years on the back roads and twisties, and I have left them in the dust without even pushing it to the limit. I found the correct and safe way to handle motorcycles and it makes so much more enjoyable knowing I can handle the motorcycle in any situation. Next month I am signed up for another class. I own a touring motorcycle, a sport bike and adventure bike. I like the different experiences each one gives me. Over my 40-plus years I have only owned seven motorcycles and still have four of them. The scariest thing I see are guys my age who have not ridden since they had to sell their bike when they got married and had kids.
Step back into motorcycling after 30 years, the kids are out of college and the house is paid off. They have money now and go buy the biggest most expensive motorcycle without updated training.
Just go take the safety class in your state or at the motorcycle dealer, most of them have the classes. I know Harley shops offer it so don’t be cheap – you just spent tens of thousands of dollars for a motorcycle, a bunch of gear and shiny do-dads for the bike. Take a class maybe you will save your life or another rider’s. I will take classes until I can’t get the bike off the kickstand.
Robert Clayton, via email
Really enjoyed the August issue, specifically the “Palms to Pines” and “Desert Secrets” articles, mainly because the two rides cover parts of a favorite ride of mine.
Living in Las Vegas, I find Nipton meets all my riding needs: a roughly 130-mile round-trip, solitude (except when lottery sales are peaking) and my love of train-watching. I like to go in the morning, grab some fast food in Searchlight, Nevada, and sit under the tree at the Nipton General Store and watch trains go by while I have breakfast. On a side note, I brought a buddy along to Nipton once and he asked the store clerk when the trains came through. She replied, “Whenever the hell they want to!” I’ve actually seen an engineer stop a full freight train at the Nipton crossing, go into the store for a soda and then set off again for Las Vegas.
But back to the ride…write this down: West of Nipton, turn south on Ivanpah Road then right on Morning Star Mine Road. That will take you to Kelso, a ghost town whose restored train depot is now a National Historic Site. Turn left onto Kelbaker Road and take it to Route 66, the National Trails Highway. Turn right and continue to Amboy, where you turn left onto Amboy Road. That will take you to Twentynine Palms, where you can pick up State Route 62 south into Joshua Tree National Park and to Interstate 10…which then takes you to the Palm Desert area where the “Palms to Pines” article picks up.
An important note: it’s about 160 miles from Searchlight to Twentynine Palms, with no gas in between, so planning is important. Another note is that, especially in the summer, staying hydrated is essential. I had a buddy from out of town who didn’t hydrate, got dizzy and crashed, breaking his collarbone, so a word to the wise….
Anyway, thanks for the great articles!
Tim Crump, Las Vegas, Nevada
The “Palms to Pines” story by Tim Kessel, detailing California Route 74, was well written and beautifully photographed. He covered everything possible: a smooth ride on a great route, a good book, two great movies and even tossed in a Christmas ribbon candy metaphor. On my next upstate New York ride, I will pretend my old DT1 is a BMW GS rolling through the “sharp curves and steep grades” on State Route 74 between Coachella and Dana Point. Thanks to Mr. Kessel for sharing his California trip and to the Rider magazine staff for another great month’s work.
Rick Rommel, via email
Please let Florin and your readers know that all Indians that use a fob also have a code to start the bike in case the fob doesn’t work (Response, July 2019). It’s a good tip for anyone renting a bike to ask for the code. Indians use the turn signal switch, as does Harley.
Todd Little, Kingsport, Tennessee
Riding west on California Route 74 is one of my all-time favorite Southern California rides. I have led many a rider up from the inferno of Palm Springs and into the blissful temperatures above the valley floor. I loved the mythological references and the author’s choice to include the entirety of Route 74. While I’ve done the entire route as described, including departing and returning to Phoenix in the same day, I try and avoid the endless traffic lights in Hemet and Perris in exchange for back roads into Temecula and Lake Elsinore. Despite my preferences, this is a must-do route for all riders, especially those who call Southern California home. Well done, now you’ve got me thinking about another Desert to Ocean crossing. I just completed our semi-annual “Donuts for Dinner” ride to visit The Donut Man in Glendora…but that’s another story. Keep up the excellent work.
Marc McDaniel, Buckeye, Arizona
First, let me say that of the different motorcycle magazines I subscribe to, I enjoy Rider the most. Keep up the great work. Second, shortly after I bought a 1993 Kawasaki Voyager XII in 2015, I joined the American Voyagers Association and found on their website a Rider article evaluating the then-new 1986(?) Voyager. I was impressed with the writing and decided to check out this magazine. One of my better decisions, thank you.
Now, the reason for writing. In late June I was in Summersville, West Virginia, attending the annual AVA rally. Afterwards, I headed east to Virginia Beach. At this point I need to say that I hail from central Illinois, which is basically as flat as a pancake and all the roads are laid out in square-mile grids. So I was having the time of my life riding the anything but flat and straight roads in the area. Unfortunately, I found myself staring at a patch of loose gravel two-thirds of the way through a tight downhill switchback. This was a new experience for me and I did the typical amateur move of wiping out. The bike was sliding on its left side and I was thinking, “There goes a lot of chrome,” when it suddenly decided that side was done, now time to do the right side. I was very thankful for my helmet, riding jacket and boots, as they did their job quite nicely. I ended up with only a broken collarbone and cosmetic damage to the bike. I was doing about 30 mph.
So here’s my question: what happens to cause a bike to flip from one side to the other? Obviously, something catches and causes it to trip. But what? There were no defects in the road surface and I stayed in the lane (no curb). The bike was perpendicular to the direction of travel the last I can remember. And it was nearly so when it came to rest. I believe I must have hit the windshield during the flip-over as my lower ribcage was sore for a few days and the windshield was broken at the bottom, but it had no signs of impact. It looks to me like when the bike is lying on its side, the center of gravity is above the guards and the wheels have very little weight on them to make them want to grab the pavement.
I figured collectively you all have a lot of experience and might have the real explanation. If so, it might make an interesting article.
Jim Miller, Decatur, Illinois
I recently re-read the article about the mystery writer Archer Mayor by Scott Williams in the July 2017 issue of Rider. As well as being an avid motorcycle rider, I am an avid reader, but had somehow missed Archer Mayor and his Joe Gunther series. I have now read 13 of Mr. Mayor’s 27 novels, and intend to read them all! I would not have known about this terrific author were it not for the article in Rider. Human-interest stories about such outstanding people in our riding community are what set Rider magazine apart from other motorcycle magazines.
William Moore, Montgomery, Alabama
EIC Tuttle you nailed it (“Perfectly Flawed,” One-Track Mind, August 2019)! I have been in a tug of war trying to decide on a new Venture or Eluder. Five years ago, I found a low-mileage Black Cherry (favorite color) Yamaha Stratoliner in California at a good price. Hooked up my trailer, picked it up and headed back to Texas with my prize. It was everything I wanted—I thought. After riding it a while it seemed to need a 6th gear, and oh yeah maybe a bigger gas tank. I thought if Yamaha had done that it would be perfect. Low and behold, it introduces the Venture and Eluder. So what am I waiting for? Test rides told me they’re both great: great ride, bigger tank, 6th gear and many more gadgets to boot. But why didn’t I pull the trigger? After reading your editorial I understood. Your article made me think about my flawed bike. I ride 90 percent of the time on twisty back roads and rarely need more than 5 speeds. After about two to three hours I generally pull into a gas station for a break and top off my tank. As for all the other features, I don’t use them now and I am in my 40th year of enjoying the ride. Helmets and gear have changed and I take advantage of those improvements but like you, I love riding the Strat and seeing it sparkle after I clean it. I think I will keep it! Thanks for a great magazine.
Bill Hall, via email
Your July-19 issue article “Binging on Colorado’s Best” brought back memories of one of my rides and how some people have no problem helping motorcyclists in need. I lived near Denver for many years and had to spend about two weeks per month in Houston. I rode when I could. One year, I was trying to get one last ride in before winter. I left a day early due to an approaching early snowstorm. I failed to leave early enough in the day, however, and only made it over Raton Pass to Raton before stopping for the night.
When I got up the next morning, there was light snow on the seat of my BMW GS. I decided to skip breakfast and hit the road. Several miles east on US 87, it began snowing (vertically at first, then horizontally). The road soon began accumulating a bit of snow, then some ice. I stopped in Capulin when I saw a NM state trooper at a gas station and asked how road conditions further east were. He said they were the same as I had been riding in. When he mentioned there was a motel 5 miles east in Des Moines, NM, that became my destination. I rode slowly and looked for dry patches of pavement. When I hit some black ice, I was down in a fraction of a second, sliding down the highway with my bike following. The sound of my helmet hitting the pavement sounded like a shotgun blast. I’d not likely be writing this if not for the helmet.
I was unable to lift the bike due to pain in my back. The first 2 cars passing by only waved at me. Finally, the 3rd stopped and the driver (#1) helped me pick up the bike. He even offered to turn around and follow me to Des Moines, maybe 3 miles
away. I thanked him, but declined his kind offer. After that, I stayed on the edge of the road in the gravel. When I got to Des Moines, I was afraid to drive across the road to the motel on the left side. I parked on the right and walked across. Unfortunately, the 1 motel in this tiny town had only 5 rooms; and it was opening day of deer season. With NM having lots of federal land open to hunting, and TX having very little, the rooms had been booked by Texans likely for years. I walked back to the gas station to hang out while waiting to check occasionally for motel cancellations. After a while, the lady gas station attendant noticed I seemed to be in a bit of pain, said she was an EMT, and suggested I take my shirt off and let her check me out (#2). I did and she found noting obvious so we decided a pulled muscle was likely. After several trips to/from the motel with no luck, the local bar opened. I spent some time there asking if anyone knew of any local B&B’s (no). Back at the gas station, my new friend asked if the motel manager had found me. She had not, so I went there again. She had no cancellations, but said she (#3) decided she would let me sleep in the bed in a hallway that was reserved for when her mother visited. I most graciously accepted, and insisted in paying, although she was offering it at no charge.
Before learning I had a bed for the night, if not a room, I had located an abandoned house where I planned to spend the night It had no roof, but at least it had walls. I was contemplating if a campfire would be possible and likely would have made one.
The next morning, with the road still frozen, I walked about a mile to the restaurant east of town. Chatting with the waitress, she said she had run off the road in the snow the day before and totaled her car. When she learned I was the crazy guy on the motorcycle, she holler back to the kitchen, “Yes, it’s him!”. She’d totaled her car, but I was “news” (silly biker, I guess).
On the other side of the equation……..I finally left about 11 am when it was safe. As it was still in the mid-30’s and I was cold, I took the opportunity to follow a truck and a car, both with radar detectors, maybe 10-15 over the limit hoping to get to warmer temps sooner. The cop, however, only pulled me over. When I asked why, he said he normally takes the easiest one. At least he let me sit in his car while he wrote out the ticket. He earned a (-1) in my count, however, when he mentioned he didn’t get to ride his Gold Wing much this past summer.
This one ride won gold stars for 3 non-riders, without which my recollection of it would be much different. The only demerit, in my mind, anyway, came from another motorcyclist. He was doing his job, though, I’ll have to admit.
Kelly Clark, Kerrville, Texas
I am a long time reader of Rider. I really enjoy the travel articles, especially those by Clement and Jenny. I also enjoy retrospective. The article on the Tohatsu 50 really hit home as my first bike was a Tohatsu trail model. Here is a travel tip for those, like myself, who tend to pack too much. Pack old clothes that are near end of life. At the end of the day throw those old clothes in the trash. The gains are more room in the bags for souvenirs and you clean out your closets to boot.
Locke Nutall, Emmett, Idaho
This latest issue (August 2019) holds some real
jewels Dilithium Crystals. Your Ogio/Fly 9800 bag review caused three genuine LOL’s, and “Jeh-ney” and the Ducati piece go together like peas and Carolina Reaper hot peppers. However, a couple of things just called out to my inner sci-fi nerd and tapped into both my Star Wars and Trekkie repertoire. The mention by J. Smith of the genre the new Diavel aims at defining, the “Disruptor,” harkens back to the Klingon hand-held arms, not phasers, which they called disruptors. Contributor Tim K., with his excellent piece on the Palms to Pines route, makes me think every ride he does is the “Kessel Run” and I ponder why it was not defined by the time in parsecs? Regards Live long and prosper, Obi-Wan Ben Getz-obi
I just received my August 2019 issue of Rider and the article about California Route 74 immediately grabbed my attention because Tim Kessel was writing about my neighborhood. I live less than five miles from Route 74 in Menifee, which happens to also be where Supercross legend Jeremy McGrath lives. Although I have ridden on all the segments Mr. Kessel wrote about, I have never ridden the entire route end-to-end since I live pretty much in the middle.
Since I am so familiar with the road, I thought I might add some interesting details:
1. The hairpin curves on the portion that climbs out of Palm Desert are indeed smooth and beautiful. Collectively, they comprise the “Seven Level Hill.” Surprisingly, I saw the Seven Level Hill before I ever thought of moving to California. In 1963, I rode my first bike, a 55cc Yamaha MJ-2, to the cinema in Sunny Isles, Florida, to see “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” which became a comedy classic. The movie opens with a chase scene where Jimmy Durante’s character crashes and, before he literally “kicks the bucket,” reveals the location of a hidden fortune. That scene was filmed on Seven Level Hill.
2. In my opinion the tightest curves on the road are just west of Mountain Center. That portion can be extremely challenging in the late afternoon when the sun is in your eyes when traveling down the hill.
3. The Ortega Highway is popular with all types of motorcyclists on the weekends, but during the workweek it is popular with impatient commuters traveling between Riverside County and their high-paying jobs in Orange and Los Angeles Counties. The road was named for Lieutenant Juan Francisco Ortega, who accompanied Junipero Serra on the Spanish expedition into what is now California in 1769.
4. The only time I rode the entire length of Route 243 between Idyllwild and Banning, I saw a deer in the middle of the road, so beware.
5. The author rode an adventure bike. There happen to be many dirt roads in the vicinity of Route 74, in both the Cleveland and San Bernardino National Forests.
Bob Kaufman, Menifee, California
Recently, as I was about to conclude a less-than-exciting trip to Devils Tower National Monument in the Black Hills of Wyoming, I parked next to a bike just like mine (a 2015 Suzuki V-Strom). I like to do this whenever possible, as it usually sparks a good conversation. Today, the group that I parked in the middle of had already geared up by the time I came out of the rest stop and were backing their bikes out. I figured I’d just missed out, when the V-Strom rider popped open his helmet visor and asked, “Where you headed?” Now, I’ve noticed that when I ride solo cross-country, I usually have to initiate the conversation. Usually group riders don’t say much to those outside their group (at least, that’s been my experience). But that day, the V-Strom rider was very nice and we started talking about where we were headed and where we’d been…and of course, the weather. They were headed into the Black Hills and I was headed to Yellowstone. Our paths crossed that day, going in opposite directions. All of a sudden the rider said, “Let me give you one of my cards.” Now I’m an avid reader of Rider magazine, so when I looked down at the name on the card and saw Clement Salvadori, I looked up with my mouth wide open and exclaimed, “This is YOU?!” Needless to say, he was very gracious to pull his bike back up when I asked him to pose for a pic with me. Thanks Clem, you made Devils Tower a most memorable ride.
Larry McGinnis, Searcy, Arkansas
I have a suggestion that addresses a pet peeve of mine: motorcycle seats. I’ve been riding motorcycles for around 45 years and have rarely been completely comfortable for an entire ride. Why can’t someone build an adjustable seat like a car has? It would be great to have the ability to slide the seat forward or backward a few inches as needed.
Tom Foor, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
Not one, but two of the articles in the August issue of Rider really caught my attention. First, I came across the “Ride with Ray” article (Kickstarts) that described the new 12-part video series about safety skills on the Motorcycle Safety Foundation website. I immediately went to my computer and watched four of the videos that I really needed a little bit of a refresher on. Then I read Eric Trow’s Riding Well column “The Ultimate Driver.” Wow, did that drive the point home about safety! His comparison between golf and riding was spot on—you really have to invest the time to develop your skills. It doesn’t matter if you have the best equipment or the best bike that money can buy, if you don’t have the skills you’re just wasting your money…or maybe risking your life!
Dan Droste, Paola, Kansas
I just had to write concerning Mark Tuttle’s “The Joy of New (to You)” editorial (One-Track Mind, July 2019). I too get excited to see my friends pick up great deals on new and used bikes. Sometimes I even participate and help find those great deals. It brings me a lot of joy to help someone find that perfect bike, whether it’s a beginner or a veteran rider. Recently I had my own “new to me” find. I love vintage bikes, especially from the early ‘70s which, to me, seemed like the glory days of motorcycling in America. I always dream of the “barn find” where I discover that old bike tucked away just waiting for me to find it and bring it to life again.
Well, that very thing happened! Just five houses down from mine a neighbor had a 1973 Yamaha RT3 in a small building leaning against the wall. The bike belonged to her late husband, who bought it brand new in 1973. The last time it was licensed was in 1983 and she had the clean title. I thought I was dreaming. I made her a very fair offer, which she gratefully accepted. I rolled the bike into my garage and onto my stand. I literally sat and admired it for about two hours, just looking it over and making notes on what it would need. Several friends even stopped by to admire my “barn find” and they are just as excited as I am to see the old girl run again. It will be my winter project, but next year I hope to be cruising the back roads and maybe even a vintage dual sport rally on the RT3. I definitely want to take it to Vintage Days at Barber to show it off. Old bikes are a blast and it’s nice to keep a piece of motorcycling history alive.
Sam Phillips, via email
A suggestion for riding in hot weather is an actively-cooled vest like Veskimo or others. I had wired the Veskimo device into both my wife’s bike and my own. The cooling reservoir was in a duffle bag on the back seat. A bag of ice split between us did the trick for 1 to 1.5 hours. We crossed Ohio with official temps of 102 F. On the pavement it was higher. Got us through the day almost comfortably. If you freeze water in containers like the plastic bottles you can drink it easily once thawed. We refilled the ice at the same time as topping off the fuel and taking a break in the hot weather. I do not think I have seen reviews of these types of active cooling vests. It appears that most moto journalists live in dryer climates than eastern part of the country. I am also wondering why no major apparel manufacturer has tackled the problem. There certainly is a market in much of the U.S.
Jean-Jacques Maurer, via email