Rider Magazine, March 2020

Rider magazine March 2020 cover

The March 2020 issue was a nice read, with the UJM comparison (“Return of the UJMs”)! Really nice to see the standards get some love. Despite my letter months ago decrying the small fuel capacity of the Katana, it sure delivers on performance. And after sitting on the bikes at the local dealer, I totally agree the Kawasaki Z900RS has the most relaxed riding position.

However, I think you could have easily included the XSR900 in the comparison. Yamaha had the XS750 and XS850 triples back in the day. I think you were too hard on yourselves trying to stay with the in-line fours, as a triple does not color too far outside the lines based on historical precedent. The XSR may well have handed the other bikes in the test a whooping in some areas of do-it-all performance. It certainly is no less mainstream in appearance or overall intended execution than something like the Katana. I know my opinion is just that, and a couple of cents along with it will get you a cup of coffee. With that said, I hope the hearkening back to the days of motorcycling when the bikes were more capable overall and not niche focused continues. And softening the lines while rounding the corners to create that classic UJM look is hopefully part of it too.  

In the meantime, I’ll continue to cherish my almost 20-year-old ZRX1200 that was a throwback to the UJM days two decades ago. Man, I would love a Z900RS in the garage though….

Howard Bonser, Palmer Lake, Colorado

In the March 2020 One-Track Mind article by Mark Tuttle (“Misconceptions”), “permissive use” was discussed. I honestly never thought about that clause before, and I’m one of those guys that swaps bikes with others. I also know that insurance stuff varies by policy and by state, so I felt I should call my insurance company and see if permissive use was covered. They assured me that my policy covers permissive use. Thanks, Mark, for causing me to pause and check into this. I encourage everyone to know what your policy covers, what its limits are and who is covered.

Robert Steinbrook, Northport, Alabama

I followed up with Robert, and he shared that he is insured with Markel. Another reader also checked with his insurance company (Geico), and was assured that occasional instances of permissive use were covered by his policy. –EIC 

I am a motorcycle rider of 55 years. I am also an insurance agent protecting more than 3,000 families. I take my job seriously. When someone asks me a question about insurance coverage I send them a copy of the insurance contract to show them what’s covered. But you are right, so many people don’t know what they have and what they don’t have.  Know your coverage before you need it!

Mark Eller, Savannah, Georgia

Mark Tuttle, you made me sit straight up in my seat—but not my motorcycle seat! Your “Misconceptions” column caused me to immediately send off a certified letter to my insurance agent asking for that company to mail me a written confirmation that what had been originally, verbally stated to me was, in fact, true: that if my friend, while borrowing my Harley-Davidson Road King, were to be in an accident, the company would treat the accident as if I, the insured, was riding it. “No problem Bob,” the agent replied. So I sat back down in my recliner and read every word of my car policy with its attached motorcycle addendum and I never saw anything even close to “permissive use” other than some vagueness. While I await the official answer, I thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Bob Lawson, Palm Desert, California

I just finished reading the March issue of Rider from cover to cover as I always do, but this time I was moved to write to EIC Tuttle about his comments on premium fuel. I run premium fuel in everything except my car and truck, but that’s because here in upstate New York, premium fuel is the only one available in non-ethanol. My motorcycles have a 67-year span in their ages and I don’t believe any of them are designed to use ethanol, any more than my other small engines, lawnmowers, chainsaws, snow blowers, etc. I always thought that was my reason for running premium, please correct me if I am wrong. Thanks, and keep up the great work!

John Brojakowski, Niskayuna, New York

Based on a search at pure-gas.org, it appears there are hundreds of stations selling non-ethanol premium fuel in New York, and some other Northeastern states as well. Although your power equipment and older motorcycles may or may not require premium, they will definitely be better off without ethanol, especially if they sit for a while between uses. Consider yourself lucky that New York has so many places where you can buy non-ethanol gasoline, premium or otherwise. In California, for example, non-ethanol pump stations are virtually non-existent outside of airports; it can generally only be purchased in cans and is very expensive. –EIC 

I am glad to see Mark Tuttle help lay the old wives’ tale to rest concerning the use of premium fuel in all motorcycles. As a lifetime gearhead, I agree. The only reason for raising the octane rating above what was recommended by the manufacturer would be an increase in combustion pressure, either by mechanical alteration or by forced induction such as a supercharger or turbocharger. Engine timing also should not be altered except for the same exceptions.

Jim De Shon, Hesperia, California

On page 32 in the March 2020 issue (“Arkansas Odyssey”) the name on the Civil War plaque refers to a Dr. Jackson who healed wounded troops. However, the caption below the picture has the name as Dr. Johnson. So, who was it really?

Dan Myers, North Bend, Oregon

Well, the sign should say Johnson, of course. Just kidding, Dan, our caption is incorrect. –EIC 

I look forward to each issue of your magazine. With Clement Salvadori’s revealing musings and Eric Trow’s safety insights, I can’t wait to read each issue from cover to cover. I feel a kinship with each writer and an excitement about this hobby, addiction and obsession many of us celebrate. In an age where other motorcycle publications have fallen away, I appreciate the unique vision Rider reveals about the lifestyle we have such a passion for. From the first issue I found on a coffee table a few years ago, I knew there was something special about this magazine. I own three motorcycles that span multiple manufacturers and riding styles, so I refuse to be pigeonholed into a particular subset. I am a motorcycle enthusiast and I take every opportunity to positively share it with the non-riding public. If we are to promote the amazing lifestyle of two wheels (or three, if you are so inclined) we need to work together to learn from our struggles, support each other and celebrate our successes as a community. Riderdoes a great job bringing together all the factions of motorcycling under one roof. Thank you for being a publication for the entire spectrum of motorcycling. Keep up the good work representing all of us.

Derik Yarian, Firestone, Colorado

What a thrill to read about Wendy Crockett’s historic Iron Butt Rally victory (Kickstarts, October 2019)! And then to learn that she rode the same 2005 Yamaha FJR as I do, with the bar risers and Russell Day-Long seat that I’m also crazy about. Last summer I managed a 9,400-mile circumnavigation of the U.S. in 23 days (plus 13 more days camping and visiting family or friends en route). Not the insanity of 13,000 miles in 11 days, but Wendy is an inspiration to us all to keep pursuing challenges (Alaska this summer?) and creating rich memories on two wheels. Thanks, Wendy!

Bruce Ente, Oberlin, Ohio

I’m 68 and don’t plan to stop riding anytime in the foreseeable future. What I tell myself is that as long as I have good balance I will stay on two wheels. If there is a way to ride my bike to the funeral home when the time arrives, I’ll find it. Having said that, I do pay far more attention to safety gear than I did when this long journey began. I recently purchased an expensive airbag jacket. I looked at all the options and decided this Helite jacket was the best “bang for the buck” option. I also wear full knee and shin protectors under my riding pants (I removed the pads that came with the pants). Perhaps you folks would do a comparison of the vests, jackets and leather suits with airbag technology out there. These are tough products to find in dealerships so your insights would be welcome. 

Bill Murphy, Reno, Nevada

Here in northern New England, I look out to my driveway and observe that an early fifth season is upon us: “Mud Season.” It is the season between the epic beauty of winter and that season known to many cold climate riders as “spring forth the motorbike from thee storages.” Of course, some riders in warmer climes ride year round. Very few here do. The approach of Mud Season is also the approach of Mindset Season for me. After reminiscing all winter about the best motorcycling moments of the past (a few Ozarks sweepers, Manitoulin Island cruising, Vermont “lost road” exploring…), I make it a point to think about the unpleasant surprises that exist too. I try to ask friends to share their stories, and share a few of mine as well, like one weekend ride years ago where paying attention to my surroundings and allowing myself plenty of space and reaction time saved me from potential disaster. These thoughts are the ones we tend not to consider all winter, but I choose to remember them every time Mud Season—and Mindset Season—blossoms with the daffodils.

Scott “Hop Along” Henkels, Canaan, New Hampshire


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